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Happy Journal – Troubles to Blessings… Only in Texas

By 16/05/2014 Family & Friends, Journal, Travel, Uncategorized

Happiness101 Car Breakdown

19 April, 2014

Chris and I had woken up that day ready to leave Big Bend National Park. We were camped out in the bottom of a bowl of mountains surrounding us. As we started our car “The Bucket”, Chris drove up the one small road up the smallest hill. Immediately the engine began choking and back shifting. He would push down on the gas pedal and the engine would work, but the wheels wouldn’t. We immediately pulled off the road and got our phones out to call roadside assistance. No phone service… Chris and I started talking to people around us to see what our options were. It looked like we would have to hike to get service. Chris went and hiked while I attempted to see what I could do with the engine. WARNING: Chris and I have little to no knowledge about engines besides checking if there is enough motor oil… So I added a little motor oil and let the engine run while parked. It seemed to have helped as I tested it on the same small hill successfully. As soon as I felt bold to try the hill again, I picked up Chris who tried looking for advice rather than waiting a possible day for roadside assistance. We jumped into our 3 ton car ready to drive up this small, windy, and steep road for freedom! The car jumped back and forth, I felt like I was taming a wild horse. Moving about 20mph up this hill we finally made it. The rest of the way would be down hill and then flat road.

In a small celebration I let Chris take over the wheel as I pulled off one of our mountain bikes to drive down a monster of a hill. Since the RV was just rolling, Chris had no problems going down. I was following behind with my GoPro camera on my helmet as I was flying down at 40mph. It was a sunny day and the road was as free as my mind was at that moment. Re-strapping my bike in at the bottom of hill we had a 100 mile drive to our first city and our speed was capped at 45 mph before the engine would stall. We decided to stop by a hot springs along the way to ease the stressful situation of being stranded in a desert and get some happiness in for that day. We ended up making some friends coming from all around Texas including Austin and Houston. The hot spring was located right across from the Mexican border so we had to take a picture together in Mexico :)

The Big Bend Hot Springs

Once we reached the later afternoon, we made our way to the nearest city 100 miles away. Going at 45 mph and below it took us almost 3 hours to get there. Arriving in Fort Stockton, we had the misfortune of arriving on Easter weekend and all mechanics were closed. We drove another 100 miles at 45 mph to Ozona who managed to change our oil filter, but couldn’t do much more until Monday or Tuesday. This did not help the engine so we finally decided to drive to our destination Austin, TX in the hopes that a big city would have more options and since it was our next surveying city. This 230 mile drive took us a mere 7 hours to complete. Driving on roads with speed limits of 75, I turned on my emergency lights at certain points to try and be less of a hazard than we already were.

We finally arrived in Austin at night and we would have to find a mechanic on Monday after Easter day. One of the friends we had made in Big Bend, Sam, contacted us to take us around the city night life. We counted our blessings to have made it into the city and enjoyed our night out. Sam let us stay at his house the next night and it was Monday morning when we were prepared to drive to the local mechanic that the RV simply wouldn’t start. I called a local mechanic after a few referrals and managed to find a shop, B&M Transmission in north west Austin, that would tow our car in and check out what the problem was for free. The manager’s name was Phillip and he turned out to be the best guy would could have asked to help us. If anyone ever has transmission or other car issues in Austin and you need a mechanic, they are great with their customers.

The car would be in the shop for the next 9 days due to a busted transmission. So the next question was.. where were we going to stay? Chris and I had the option to sleep in the RV in the mechanic’s parking lot, but we had no way to get into the city and do our survey.

Almost as if God was up there listening did an old middle school friend from Hong Kong from 10 years ago wrote me:

“I noticed y’all got towed!! (on Facebook) No bueno haha if y’all end up needing a place to stay for the night or need me to pick y’all up just holla(…)”

And sure enough, I holla’d immediately. After calling and talking to Christine, she picked us up and took us back to her and her roommate, Lisa’s, place where we had a place to stay in the middle of the University of Texas campus! The adventure in Austin had only started there as Chris and I found parties, food, philosophies, religion, music and people that would make this place one of our favorite cities and rekindle an awesome friendship with this friend from the past.


Here are some videos if you had missed them of our activities in Austin!



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Happy Journal – Not Much, But Hard Wood

By 28/04/2014 Contribution & Spirituality, Fun & Recreation, Happiness, Journal, Travel

There were no signs of the wild dogs we had seen yesterday. Chris and I brushed our teeth and washed our faces at Denny’s. They have a lovely bathroom by the way :D We stopped at a local supermarket. The town of Tuba was a run down Native American populated town in the middle of Arizona. There was one beggar outside the grocery store. When he asked me for money, I offered him food and gave him soup and a few granola bars. As soon as I did this, two more people came over to me asking for food as well. Seeing the pattern, I knew I couldn’t keep giving out food. It made me wonder how money could come into this stop, gas, and go town.

We made a quick granola and almond milk breakfast and started driving. Our destination was the Petrified Forest National Park. We drove through lots of flat land and managed to arrive in the early afternoon. Chris and I sat through a quick introduction video to the park in the information center and then went and explored. The process of a tree becoming petrified wood was interesting. A tree would fall into a river and get stuck under the sand bank, sealing it off from oxygen. Minerals from the sand would then replace the cells of the tree, while still maintaing its bark texture. After thousands of years of this process, the tree would eventual turn into a rock with a variety of colors based on the mineral it was surrounded by. To be honest, this was one of the more bland national parks I have seen. It was relatively flat compared to Zion and Bryce Canyon and there really wasn’t to much besides rocks and a few hieroglyphics. While the sun was setting at the look out points, Chris and I stopped to meditate and soak up the moment.



It turns out we were on the old Route 66 route, which had been a pinnacle road for the United States to travel coast to coast.

We drove out of the park and continued towards our first city in our survey, Santa Fe. It was getting dark quickly so I pulled off a side road from the highway. Chris and I bought chicken legs for that night and we pulled out of mini BBQ. We grilled the legs in a vinaigrette, cajun marinate and had a garlic broccoli and rice on the side. IT WAS DELICIOUS! One of the few really satisfying meals we had on the road. Of course we pulled out some marshmellows later on to take advantage of the “small” fire we created. It was a nice being under the stars with a full belly and a day of good travelling.


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By 28/03/2014 Contribution & Spirituality, Fun & Recreation, Happiness, Personal Space, Travel

Have you ever wished somebody gave you a shortcut to happiness.
Me, too. And it has a name: It’s called travel.


Because travelling includes all three types of happiness (according to science)


1. Short-Term Happiness
– everyone knows that type of happiness, it’s the one that grants us immediate gratification but doesn’t last very long: the next piece of chocolate, the next coffee, the next time you have sex (uups did I say that?!)
2. Flow
– according to Csikszentmihalyi flow is a state in which we are so immersed in the task we’re doing that we forget about our surroundings, athletes also call that “to be in the zone”
3. Purpose
– this one is the longest lasting type of happiness, if we have a sense of ultimate purpose it gives us a meaning and makes us feel significant.


1. Short-Term Happiness applied to travel
In my opinion there are a lot of little situations that make you feel happy. It might be the thrill of skydive or just enjoying a piece of chocolate when there’s not any food left. Other situations are, being on top of a mountain and enjoying the view or just driving on an empty road.

2. Flow applied to travel
In travel there are lots of situations/challenges in which you are fully present and immersed in what you are doing. It might be asking people for the way, walking on a trail you’ve never been before or building a tent. These are all things that make me forget about the future and the past – I am fully present/alive.

3. Purpose applied to travel
Well I think there’s not much I need to say about here. Your travel always have one single purpose: to feel alive & connected. This urge to feel alive & connected makes you spend all this money and efforts for travelling.

Now you know why travel is a short-cut to happiness and can help us all to learn more about ourselves, connect with one another and grow personally.

Wish you all a day full of bliss & sunshine.

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