Looks a lot like adventure.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sweaty Bedsheets

We arrived with only minor inconvienences compared to most travels...but still kept the excitement high despite being very tired. We didn´t expect our taxi from the hotel to still be waiting for us at the airport, but very relieved when he was.
To begin, Panama is BEAUTIFUL! While we were driving in we drove down amazing streets decorated by intense Christmas decor and fireworks going off over the water and around us. The downtown was kind of like a beautiful Dallas, which may be an oxymoron... anyway, it looked like a modern city, but with water all around and spaced out buildings.
It is very hot here (suckers - ya´ll are stuck in the cold). And it was awesome when the broken air conditioner sparked to life in the middle of the night. Just before it decided to grace us with its presence, i was thinking about how there were not many places on my itchy bed that were not drenched in Gaultney sweat (a.k.a. Man Fuel).
Well, I am of the hunger (need food) and this keyboard is difficult to type on so i will leave you with these accounts and start my day trying to make it to the next beautiful city.

We´re here!

Originally uploaded by trackbrad.
Our morning began at 4am to the ringing of 14 alarm clocks and a wake-up call. Hobo (as he will henceforth be referred to) claims he had been up since 3am, read the newspaper, ran a few miles, solved a jigsaw puzzle and caught the morning news, all before I rolled out of bed.

We drove to Dallas and met Katie around 8am for breakfast at IHOP before she drove us to the airport (IHOP we don´t miss our flight!). (Thanks Katie, you saved us over $150 each in parking!)

Even though we arrived an ambitious three hours before our flight to Atlanta, we had our share of tight moments. For starters, we walked up to our ticketing agent, who stared at us blankly and said, ¨What do you want?¨ I tried to fashion a response before he smiled and made the first of a string of sarcastic jokes -- he was funny, especially when we realized, as we were about to sit down on the plane, that he had assigned both of us the same seat.

To everyone´s surprise, we were late getting into Atlanta (shocker) and our hour layover for our international flight had been squeezed to just under 30 minutes. Thankfully, we arrived in terminal A and our flight was leaving from T (which are side by side, rather than the international terminal E, which is a distance away.)

It´s a good thing too, since we had purchased non-refundable, non-transferable, ¨getchu there and that´s all¨ bargain basement tickets.

And then, another surprise -- our flight out of Atlanta was delayed on the ground for over an hour and a half. I´ve heard whether you´re going to Panama or Hell, you still have to connect through Atlanta -- and you can always expect delays.

Our landing felt like a hitting a speedbump expectedly at over 30 mph -- and the passengers cheered. We made it through customs without difficulty and saw and man holding a sign that read, ¨Michael Gaultney¨ -- who then took us to our hotel.

It´s really hot here (over 80 degrees), so we were grateful at 1am when the AC kicked on in our room.

Today, we are headed to the Panama Canal and are going to try and make the bus to David, Panama. Thanks for your support and emails!

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dark Water

It was about two years ago, before my last college semester, that I had just finished packing my truck with everything I needed for Track Brad I. My homemade camper shell was locked in place and my clothes, GPS computer, money from supporters and laptop were all packed. I had meticulously planned and prepared for the trip over the previous six months and had run through nearly every possible scenario. My website was built and my friends and family, though they didn’t always understand, were looking forward to following my random wanderings. I was, in every way, intensely focused on the mission and the tasks ahead as I loaded the last gear into the passenger side and closed the truck door.

And then it suddenly hit me: What am I DOING?

A slight panicky twinge crept in my gut as the unknowns before me took a dark shape. It was the same suffocating feeling a child suffers when he believes a monster lives under his bed. What was once a safe haven is now deep, dark water. The thought of being alone, wrecking my truck, getting mugged… or worse, making a fool of myself… all screamed to cancel the trip. I actually considered it for about 30 seconds.

Maybe it was pride that made me get in the truck and start driving, or courage, or both – but I learned something crucial in that moment. I learned why many never truly feel alive… why they hold so dearly to their safety and whatever security blankets they know and never step down any dark alleys. It’s not only Goliaths we fear but also the valley of the deepest shadows. I understand that differently now – since I know it’s not only courage or pride that gives me freedom to dive into dark waters – but my Shepherd, who’s rod and staff comfort me. He guides me down paths of righteousness for his namesake… and I know I will live in the house of the Lord forever. (Psalm 23)

Tomorrow night, as we step off the plane into Panama City, my brother and I will be stepping into dark, unknown territory. Even though we have planned and prepared, there will be no turning back. Stay tuned…

Proof of Knife

Originally uploaded by trackbrad.
Less than two weeks before our bone-crushing adventure, Michael and I went "under the knife" and shaved our faces (or should we say “canvases?”) clean on December 16th, 2006. This marks the beginning of the highly anticipated facial hair design and grooming competition, Ridicistache, and a level playing field for its combatants. In an effort to maintain the integrity of this follicle duel, we both attempted to provide “Proof of Knife” with a newspaper from Dec 16th – however, I (Brad) lost my camera shortly after taking the picture. Nevertheless, the competition will continue – as several witnesses have testified as to my clean shaven face on that day and Michael has accepted this testimony as valid. Don’t worry, I am going to buy a new camera before leaving the states in order to record the sights and beauties of the "isthmus of deep mystery." Also, we have configured a site that will enable our viewers to vote on the most ridiculous stache, which we will be releasing with the photos of our creations.