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My Past Year Of Travel

I'm currently taking a little break from traveling and visiting family up here in Washington state, so I thought I'd take a minute to review the past year of my life and all the destinations in between.

June 2012
Seattle Folklife Festival – Seattle, WA

I visited the Seattle Folklife Festival for the first time, and came across my friend Kurt from the school bus adventures of 2010. The highlight of the weekend was Blackbird Raum (of course) and drinking at the bar later in the night. It was great hanging out with other crusties at the festival, but there were way too many drum circles and too little folk music for me to really go out of my way to do it again.

Plan-it-x Fest – Bloomington, IN

After Folklife, I took a bus to meet up with my friend Sydney in Bloomington, Indiana. She had a free ticket for Plan-It-X Fest, and no one to go with her, so I figured “why not”? I'd heard about this festival many times before in the earlier days of my travels, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to check out.

It was more painful to my ears more than anything else. Imagine a straight edge all ages venue filled with super-posi-core (happy, positive) sudo-punk-rock, and that’s pretty much what this festival was. Sydney is pretty young herself, but even so, we both had a really hard time connecting with anyone there in the mostly twenty-and-under crowd. We both agreed that it wasn't really our cup of tea and spent most of our time drinking a space bag in the park in true crusty kid fashion.

July 2012
Abandoned Church – Gary, IN

Explored an abandoned church in Gary, Indiana. Sydney and I drove up from Bloomington to Holland, Michigan after Plan-It-X Fest, so on the way up we stopped to visit this church. It had been on my destination list since I first started researching urban exploration locations, and despite it’s ever-worsening condition, it was well worth the visit and really easy to get into.

Holland, Michigan


After we got to Michigan, Sydney let me crash with her and I started working in a factory assembling car doors for the Ford motor company. I lasted about a month until I just couldn't take the monotony anymore. I worked 5-6 days a week from 11pm to 7am, so I didn't get a whole lot of daylight in that time, and it really wore me down. Not to mention that the people I worked with were a bit of a mid-west stereotype: mid-twenties or younger with a ton of kids and going nowhere in life, which I found to be a little depressing. I did get an opportunity here and there to hit the beaches near Holland, which are pretty neat.

August 2012
Train hopping in Chicago, Illinois

Sydney dropped me off in Chicago, where I visited a few friends from college. They in turn dropped me off at the CSX Barr yard where I rode my first freight train in four years. It was the first time I'd seen piggyback cars carrying semi-truck trailers with the new wind skirts. Usually I hate riding piggybacks, but being able to get out from under the wheels and sleep behind the skirt of the trailer was kind of nice. Also, it was a nice feeling of nostalgia to be back on a train, feeling it pulling forward and speeding through the night, as well as that awesome feeling of getting away with something for free, which is something I haven't really felt in a long time.

Unfortunately, as I've done several times before, I got on the wrong train. My intention was to go to Baltimore, but instead I woke up in Buffalo, New York. My train was slowly cruising by what felt like a million workmen fixing a section of railroad tracks, and I panicked somewhat, jumping off the train at the first opportunity, certain I'd been seen. It was a very long walk to the bus station where I finished the rest of my journey to Baltimore.

It had been about five years since the last time I was in Baltimore. Fortunately, the many friends I had there hadn't forgotten me, so I had an awesome time catching up with them and partying in the usual Baltimore fashion.

Black Fly Ball – Machias, Maine

My friend Magpie Killjoy arrived a few days later in his van, and we drove up to Machias, Maine for the Beehive collective’s Black Fly Ball. Machias is a beautiful little town in a secluded part of Maine, and we spent several days swimming in lakes and hanging out at the ball, which was basically a fancy dance party for punk-ish people.

Raliegh, North Carolina

Afterwards we drove back down to Queens, New York to visit the house of Combustion Books, then moved on back through Baltimore, and on to Raleigh, North Carolina. We spent the next week or so hanging out in Raleigh shooting the Kickstarter video for Magpie’s Steampunk’s Guide to Sex.

Geeked my face off at DragonCon – Atlanta, Georgia

Next we drove down to Atlanta, Georgia for DragonCon. We were going because Magpie was speaking on steampunk related matters, and I literally knew nothing about this convention before showing up. In my opinion, it was the geek festival to end all geek festivals! I had a ridiculously good time at this event. I got to see panels hosted by some of my favorite podcasters (like Scam School), a Q&A with the cast of The Walking Dead, watched Stan Lee at 80 years old dancing around a stage and being hilariously clever, walked around the crowd of 60,000 people (most cosplaying their favorite characters), watched a Star Wars themed parade march through downtown Atlanta, and partied my butt off to some pretty decent techno bands at the end of each night. At the end of the four day convention it had easily become the highlight of my summer.

September 2012
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

We departed Atlanta heading towards Wisconsin, but first we made a stop at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, one of the largest cave systems in the world. The coolest part of this visit was doing the lantern tour, where each person was given a lantern to walk around in the completely dark cave system. My favorite part of this tour was when they took everyone’s lanterns away and walked off into the darkness. It looked like the sun was setting in the distance, and when they were gone, it was very strange being in that kind of ultra-still-darkness. They returned from a different direction with the lanterns and it looked like the sun was rising again to meet us.

House on the Rock – Spring Green, Wisconsin

After another stop in Chicago, we continued on to Wisconsin to visit The House on the Rock. This was one of the places on my destination checklist that I've wanted to visit for a really long time, since reading about it on Atlas Obscura, and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. A bizarre house-turned-museum, it’s one of the most epic places I've ever seen. It’s HUGE. It took us about five hours to explore only two thirds of it, and it’s well worth the almost thirty dollars to see it.

Tabling the Minneapolis Anarchist Book Fair – Minneapolis, Minnesota

We continued driving until we reached Minneapolis, where we stayed for the next few days tabling Combustion Books merchandise at the Minneapolis Anarchist Book Fair. Minneapolis is much like Portland, Oregon in some ways, especially in the sense that it’s gorgeous during the summer, but seems like (to me) that it would be pretty miserable place to be during the winter. The majority of my time was spent meeting people and talking about books, hanging out in the park, and getting to know the awesome people that were putting us up while we were there.

On a ridiculous side note, this is also where Magpie and I came up with the concept for a Dungeons & Dragons themed erotica novel that would essentially be a rip-off of Fifty Shades of Grey and a joke novel like The Diamond Club. I came up with the title Face Fucked by Dragons, which I couldn't stop laughing about for the next few weeks. Like many things, we never got around to writing it, but I certainly wish we had.

Glacier National Park, Montana

After a long drive across many states and a ton of boring landscapes, we finally reached Glacier National Park. Magpie and I have a habit of visiting national parks when we travel together (Yosemite, Death Valley, Grand Canyon) and this was no exception. We camped and climbed in awesome mountain landscapes that were definitely worth the visit.

Visiting my parent’s destroyed house – Cle Elum, Washington

Unfortunately, my parent’s house had burned down earlier that week, so on our way through Washington state, we stopped by for a brief visit to see what was left.

After reaching Seattle and hanging out with LeftCoast and BoyOfMetal, I took a Greyhound bus down to Austin, Texas.

October thru December 2012

Austin, Texas

This was one of those typical rest stops that are necessary for near constant travel. I spent the majority of my time in Austin, Texas hanging out with friends and working a temp job at the University of Texas that I got through Craigslist. Goal: save up money for film equipment and further travel.

January to February 2013

Visiting Slab City, California

Christmas day I arrived in El Centro, California via Greyhound. My plan was to spend a few months in Slab City visiting friends and maybe making a small documentary about it. Unfortunately the documentary never panned out due to delays in getting my film equipment, a back injury (from falling out of a hammock), and also getting in a fight at The Range.

Desert Explorations – Salton Sea, California

One of my favorite things to do in Slab City is wander the desert just to see what I’ll find. One day my friend Shannon was visiting from San Diego, so her, Drew, and myself decided to expand our explorations around the general Salton Sea area using her car. We spent a night on the bony beach of the Salton Sea in a tent that was way too small for three people and a puppy, then moved on to exploring the Glamis Sand Dunes. As you can tell from the picture above, it’s a reminder of what the Sahara Desert looks like in a lot of movies we've all seen.

The Midnight Ridazz Gathering – Slab City, California

One of the highlights of my last visit to Slab City was the Midnight Ridazz Gathering. Midnight Ridazz are a bicycling group out of Los Angeles that decided to come out to Slab City to party for the weekend. Like one of the comments on my YouTube video stated, “it looks like a poor man’s burning man”, which I think is a compliment.

So We Decide to Sail

One of the main reasons I came to Slab City was to hang out with my friend Ryan Cummings. While hanging out this year we stumbled upon a mutual interest in learning to sail a boat, and I showed him the documentary Hold Fast. The seed was firmly planted at that point, and we set about making plans to find a boat and learn to sail. This was particularly ridiculous on my part because at the time I had never been on a sailboat in my life, and I was also one of those unfortunate kids that never learned to swim.

March thru May 2013
Getting a sailboat – Key West, Florida

After traveling across the country to Florida, Ryan and I met up with his friend Balu, who had his own sailboat in Key West. While we were helping him repaint his boat, he helped us find our boat, a 26ft 1976 Grampian that we dubbed the Liquid Courage. We spent about ten days sanding and repainting it before putting it in the water.


We spent the next three months in Key West meeting a lot of really amazing people. There were a lot more punks on boats that I had expected (about 2-3 groups besides us). I was sure Ryan and I would be the only ones out there, so it was nice to have some like minded people around to hang out with and learn from. Our friend Tyler was especially helpful in learning the intricacies of sailing.

I finally learn how to swim

It was really weird living on the ocean, constantly surrounded by a dark void on all sides of me all the time. A big blue void that could possibly kill me if the circumstances were right. So it was definitely a relief when (with a lot of encouragement from my friends) I finally learned the basics of swimming, and felt a lot more confident about being in and around the water.

Sailing to the Dry Tortugas – Caribbean Ocean

Just before leaving Key West, I fit in one big sailing adventure to the Dry Tortugas in Tyler’s boat the Rocksteady. It was a great trip to an island with a fort on it in the middle of the ocean, and it was my first experience not being able to see land anywhere in sight.

May 2013 to Now

After that trip I decided the heat was getting to be a little too much for me, so I decided it was to take a break from the ocean and head back up north where it would hopefully be a little cooler. Since getting up here I've been trying to figure out what my next move will be. I have a few ideas, but I'm going to leave that for another article.

For those of you on the road, I'm curious to hear what the past year has been like for you. How many states did you hit? Where did you go? Do you have some pictures you can share with us? Hit up the discussion thread and let me know what kind of crazy shit you've been up to.

Edit/Update: I would like to note that the two pictures of me from glacier and my parent’s house were taken by my friend Magpie Killjoy and you should really check out her flickr photostream, there’s some pretty epic shit there.
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Hey, I'm Matt Derrick, the founder of Squat the Planet. If you're reading this, you obviously want to know more about me, so here we go: So if you haven't guessed from seeing this website, I'm a big computer geek / gamer, but I like to do other...
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Di Cruz31

Oct 3, 2015
If you ever need a traveling buddy, let me know, I'll be on the road again in a couple of weeks :)
Thanks for this btw, I got more ideas on places to travel to now, and things I can do, what kinds a jobs do you get when you are traveling?
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