Entries by Dakota

Holy cannoli, I’m officially an Italian citizen!

Last Friday my mom called me, voice pitched with excitement. “Check your email! I GOT MY CITIZENSHIP!!!” And indeed, after three years of navigating the byzantine bureaucracy of Italy, it was official. I too was now a citizen of Italy and (therefore the European Union) via “jure sanguinis,” my blood right to Italian citizenship. My […]

Goodbye van life (for now), hello Airstream life!

My first experience towing our Airstream was down a serpentine 1.5 mile driveway, a steep descent through an overgrown orchard. At the exit gate, I somehow forgot I was lugging a 28’ tail behind me and almost hauled the trailer over a tall curb and through a giant bush. *gulp* Chelsea immediately adopted a mantra: […]

Traipsing into a new (business-free) chapter

Recently, I was forced to shut down my business. After over a decade in business, July 4th signified a new kind of freedom for me: I no longer have employees and payroll to think about. My business is was heavily impacted by rising interest rates. In case you’ve been marooned on Mars with Elon, rates […]

Adding a piano drawer to my camper van

We designed our DIY Sprinter van to be a bike hauler with most of the comforts of home. Eight years later, I fell in love with playing piano and needed to figure out how to travel with a piano in the van PLUS bikes. At first, I simply tossed my keyboard onto the bed and […]

Maybe a magnifying glass isn’t enough

In my last newsletter, I wrote how future casting with a telescope is no bueno for me and that peering through a magnifying glass is a much better approach. Present moment for the win. With my focus in front of me versus spiraling on the future, I feel centered, connected to others, and generally good. […]

Ditching the future telescope

Recently a friend asked me what I’m looking forward to. My answer wasn’t bikepacking or a trip overseas, but “continuing to develop the ability to be happy and satisfied without constant new experiences.” Boring, right? Who kidnapped the old Dakota?! (C’mon, you don’t actually read Traipsing About for bikepacking photos and van build posts, do […]

How to Bikepack on a Plant-Based Diet

This post is also featured here on Bikepacking.com. It struck me recently that I’ve bikepacked or bike toured for over a year of my life. Starting in 2014, I’ve pedaled across states, countries, and mountain ranges, over a thousand hours of exertion and 10,000 miles. Along the way, I’ve burnt a few calories. I fueled […]

Two years of memorizing everything with Anki

As James Clear wrote in Atomic Habits, “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” Well, my past efforts to learn a language fell apart because I didn’t have a system that allowed me to stay on top of phrases I’d learned or new concepts. […]

Bikepacking the Odyssey of the VOG

I’d eyed bikepacking in the Oregon coast range quite awhile, so I wasn’t TOO sad to pivot from a fall bikepacking plan from Idaho after a forest fire messed up plans. Luckily, my ultra-endurance bike racer friend Ben organizes a race in the coast range called the Odyssey of the VOG. (VOG=Valley of Giants, an […]

Revisiting the same-but-not-boring

I clearly remember the first time I rode Tyler’s, a popular local bike trail. I walked some rocky uphill ramps, awkwardly landed jumps, and generally hacked my way down it like a noob. I still had a hell of a fine time. These days, I’ve ridden Tyler’s dozens of times and know every major feature. […]

Taking a big step toward my Italian citizenship

I’m gonna get an Italian passport someday In fall of 2020, COVID raged world-wide and forest fires burned on the west coast. Oregon’s air quality hovered between a smoking pack of cigarettes a day and Chernobyling people’s lungs. It was…not awesome. A breath of fresh air arrived via a second cousin who called my mom […]

The less stressful way to accomplish your goals

It’s almost a new year, which means it’s time for random strangers on the internet to offer you unsolicited advice on setting big goals. Time to join a new gym! Lose weight! Meh. Instead, here’s the low-key approach I take to achieve improvements in my life, calendar turnover be damned. It works for anything, be […]

Designing my perfect day

Recently a friend mentioned their goal of aiming to create perfect days. Not an indulgence-filled last day on earth (we’d eat too much cake!), but a repeatable, enjoyable, productive day that moves a life forward. A typical Tuesday. Like Annie Dillard says, How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. […]

How I learned to play piano as an adult

Two years ago, my wife surprised me for my birthday with a digital piano. I’d mentioned my desire to learn a few times and, ever the muse, she called my bluff. She was right. At 38 YO, I tumbled rapturously into the world of piano. The honeymoon phase is over, and yet I remain motivated […]

Building solid friendships (the right way)

During the past three years, two of my friendships blew up. One major reason sticks out: I started setting boundaries…and holding them. For instance, when I asked one friend if he could call me for a conversation instead of sending lonnng monologue texts, he responded, “I’ll call or text whenever I fucking want to.” Say. […]

A better side of envy

For a long time, I struggled with envy. People with money, people who took cool trips, people who did Ironman triathlons…color me jealous. Along the way, I (slowly) realized something: those people either carried baggage or made tradeoffs to achieve those things. Plus, as Joseph Epstein said, “Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is […]

Personality flipping

The Myers-Briggs test classifies personalities into 16 distinct types. It can help us understand why we are who we are and why we do the things we do. In college, my results were ENTJ: Extroverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging… aka The Commander. Analytical, efficient, decisive, motivated to accomplish things. (And boooring.) This week, my results from […]

Before and after

Recently I found a 2020 photo of our backyard prior to our garden revamp. Crappy lawn, no plants, no wildlife. Today, it’s a veritable jungle with birds flitting about and bees bumbling flower to flower. A complete transformation…thanks to untold hours spent working our butts off. That got me thinking about before/afters from other projects. […]

BS investing, or my crypto misadventures

After the recent crypto crash, I did a postmortem on my behavior. What started as casual interest and minor research in crypto last May morphed into me caught up in the wave of greed and irrational exuberance by November. I thought I’d left that behavior behind after dabbling with (ill-informed) day trading in 2007? Nope. […]

Bikepacking the Oregon Big Country route

Way out yonder in SE Oregon lies the Oregon Big Country bikepacking route. If you’re looking for a remote desert getaway, you’ve found it. Overall, I expected cruisy gravel roads, mild vertical gain, and hot springs to soothe bikepacking soreness. I nailed 1 out of 3: the hot springs were amazing. In reality, the Big […]