Jan.1, 2007, Gray, Maine

What a wonderful New Year's day. It is so cozy and warm in the trailer that I often let the back doors swing upon to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors around me. Casco, my friend Christian's husky, is so perfectly equipped for the cold that she prefers to lay outside in the snow than be in the warm trailer with me and Job. Living self-contained and off-the-grid has really allowed me to enjoy the best of both worlds. I'm surrounded by tranquilityl and nature, but when I like I can walk up to the main house and spend time with my new friends, Christian, Nate and Catherine, who live here at Caswell Farm. I had to leave the last farm because of the animal abuse that was going on there. I addressed the matter with the owner and the parties invovled and then the local authorities, but nothing was done, so I had to remove Job and I from that environment to avoid a physical confrontation (i.e. beatin someone's ass). We are much happier here. Catherine purchsed the place from her family and it has been a little hub for young, independent, creative people. Because I don't believe in commuting and never have, I've always lived where or in walking distance to where I work, we rough it in the suburban during the week while at the feed store and travel to Gray, a few towns away on my days off until what's next reveals itself. Wood stoves toast the best bagels.

Jan.28th, 2007, Gray, Maine
God works in mysterious ways. I've been putting off going to Europe for I don't know how long waiting to take care of every little last thing, so now that my home has burned down....

....I think it's time to go.

February 28th, 2007, Scarborough, Maine
*Gretchen at Advanced Cosmetic Dentistry & TMJ for being more than an indifferent voice on the other end of a phone.

April 22nd, 2007, Marshfield, MA
Sayin good-bye.

April 25th, 2007, London, England
Spent the night in London's Heathrow Airport, a couple hours sleep on a desk at an empty airport counter.

April 26th, 2007, Limerick, Ireland

From what I've seen so far, it's been a very positive experience. There is a civility that people have for one another here. What a well groomed green countryside. I'm sure it doesn't hurt my opinion any that I'm Irish. I covered around 10 miles today which is a good first day with a 60lb. pack.
*Paul Foster, was on his way home from work and offered me a ride into Limerick.
On a palette of 2x6's.

April 27th, 2007, Bohereen, Ireland
Under freeway overpass.

April 28th, 2007, Hospital, Ireland
Went to the Saturday evening mass in the Catholic church in the small town of Hospital. Said a prayer for Mum, Marie Josephine O'Connell.
In the bushes by some warehouses.

April 29th, 2007, Camp, Ireland
In the dunes over looking the ocean.

April 30th, 2007, Aughacasla, Ireland
At an empty campground, washed clothes in sink, plugged in and charged up electronics, took a cowboy shower with a barrell of hot water.

May 1st, 2007, Brandon Mountain, Tiduff, Ireland
*Benjamin, from Switzerland, picked me up in his VW bus.
On the lower slopes of Brandon Mt.

May 2nd, 2007, Dingle, Ireland
Climbed Brandon Mt. with Ben. Headed to the beach with Jen, from Canada, and met Willy, from Ireland, and had a good dinner by beach bonfire at a cool secluded beach that only the locals know 'bout.

May 3rd, 2007, near Caragh, Ireland
Ben likes to pull the bus over at nice spots and set up his table and chairs for each meal.

May 4th, 2007, Roaringwater Bay, Ireland
Ireland is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

May 5th, 2007, Cork, Ireland
Cork is the first dirty full-fledged city, like I'm accustomed to seeing, I've experienced in Ireland.

May 6th, 2007, Dublin, Ireland
Wished eachother well and parted ways with Ben then jumped on a bus to Dublin. I've seen and learned enough in Ireland.

May 7th, 2007, outskirts of Vasteras, Sweden
The plane landed around 8:30pm. I was relieved to discover the airport was tiny and situated way out in the country. Got something to eat and walked just down the road and camped. Camping is almost a right here compared to a crime of trespassing in the states. Ben told me they, also, use the euro for money, but he was wrong. I'll have to hike into the closest town and make it to a bank and exchange the money I just withdrew before my flight, and get a map of Sweden. I looked in 3 bookstores in Dublin and in the airport here, but haven't found one yet. Despite having no money, no map, and unable to speak Swedish, I'm calmly elated to be here.

May 8th, 2007, Vasteras,Sweden
On the ground, in a tree, under a boat.

May 9th-12th, 2007, outside Kolback, near Algrypt, Norrkoping, Helsingborg, Sweden

Spent 4 days in Sweden, covered a lot of ground on my inner journey, but have not traveled very far socially on my outer one. Spent a few miles and a few minutes with the good guys who offered or gave me rides, but for the most part the human landscape is barren. Everyone drives volvo stationwagons (except the guys who stopped). Thank you to...
*Tobi, Kim (a dude), Thomas, and Mr. Cool for the rides.

May 13th, 2007, Helsingor, Denmark

Arrived lastnight by ferry. I wasn't in Denmark two minutes before I met a new friend and was surrounded by jovial comradery.
*Teit, for reaching out to a stranger.

May 14th-17th, 2007, Helsingor, Denmark
At Teit's
Worked on gear and did errands.

May 18th, 2007, Tonder, Denmark
In a vacant lot.

May 19th, 2007, Hamburg, Germany
On a trashed couch on an empty patio down a dark street. Wore my rain gear to stay clean.
Layed down in the sun on a bench near all the boats in Amsterdam harbor. I'm not a partier or a smoker and it would be doing this city an injustice to accept a popular American opinion which suggests that this is all this city has to offer.

May 20th, 2007, Amsterdam, Netherlands
In a broken down old sailboat on dry land with a street person named Stewart from England. He planned/dreamed of fixing up the little sailboat and sailing around making sandcastles on the world's beaches and getting rich from it.

May 21st, 2007, outside of Abcoude, Netherlands
*Man on his bike who stopped and offered me directions.
Up in a tree.

May 22nd, 2007, Kijkduin, Netherlands

On the beach dunes.
*Jan, who was walking his French mastiff, invited me to breakfast.

May 23rd, 2007, Brussell, Belgium
On a steel storage container.
*One of 3 dudes who gave me the thumbs up on the jetty in Hoek van Holland.

May 24th, 2007, Paris to Venice night train.

Didn't sleep because the 5 out of 6 of us in the compartment had to deal with a drunk guy all night. The train employees wouldn't do anything to help. I finally kicked him out into the hallway around 3am.

May 25th, 2007, Napoli, Italy
On top of a large electrical box near a big office building.

May 26th, 2007, Pineta Grande, Italy

Napoli to Pozzuoli to Pineta Grande.
I don't think I could classify this part of Italy as first-world. There is trash and graffitti everywhere. Many of the store fronts are empty and I don't mean there's nothing in the windows. I mean there are no windows or walls. It's like there was a war here. Trees grow in swimming pools while just down the road a private security gate and giant fence keep people out of the Holiday Inn resort and casino. I broke down and got my first room of this trip at a small local hotel. I think it once was a big fancy hotel because the building is large, but only some floors are operational. I haven't seen any other guests or hotel employees except the girl at the front desk who only speaks a little English. My room is big with tall ceilings and a full kitchen and washing machine in the bathroom, but the furniture is salvaged with sheets draped over them. Showered, did laundry, and got a good night sleep. Tommorrow I will start the second part of this journey. Truth be told I've come here to find my roots. I believe my grandfather was born somewhere in this area and I've returned to find out exactly where and to see if I have any family here. He died when my father was just a boy and our name was changed just prior to my father being born so I lost all connection with my Italian heritage, my father's mum being Irish, not to mention my father growing up from the age of nine without his dad. I added my real Italian name back as well as adding my mother's Irish name to mine when I was in my early twenties after discovering this. I asked the girl at the front desk for the phone book and there was one Cocorocchio in it a few towns away. I wrote down the address and tommorrow I will go there.

I must say though despite the conditions the people here are more eager to fellowship or simply have fun than any other place I've ever been. I've run into a fare share of miserable people, too, but I repeatedly see people arrive at a bus stop or sit down on the train and strike up lively passionate conversation with one another. It's wonderful. Though I don't speak Italian a few times I've even been included. I'm not sure if there is a connection between the conditions and the gregariousness. I'd have to visit other parts of the world with similar conditions, but I think there might be or maybe it's just "an Italian thing".

May 27th, 2007, Caserta, Italy
I was finishing my one meal of the day on the steps of an empty plaza adjacent to many busy beach store fronts getting ready to walk across the street to a big ritzy hotel when David approached me wearing a "USA" basketball tank top. I was planning to have a note I'd written about my search for my family translated into Italian by one of the nice ladies at the front desk I'd met, yesterday, when I'd stopped there to ask directions to the nearest campground (which I never found). I said "USA?" and David began speaking to me in Italian. He didn't speak English and I don't speak Italian, but not longer after I was having another meal at David's father's dining room table which I did my best to force down. It wasn't hard. The pasta, sausage, and potatoes where delicious. After exchanging contact information with David's father, who did speak English, and then heading back to the beach because David insisted we hang out for a while, it was time to move on. I got my note translated at the hotel and caught the bus to Caserta which is where I believe my grandfather was from. It's Sunday and the streets are filled with people. Caserta is an improvement. I must keep in mind that since I left the quiet winding roads of Holland I've been traveling primarily through cities and I am not a city person. I'm a country boy. I'll go by the town offices tomorrow morning when they open.
Up in a tree in a tiny little park in the city.
*David Patriaca and family for a nice meal and good company.

May 28th-31st, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
A room with a view.

June 1st, 2007, Venturina, Italy
In a bulldozer bucket.

June 2nd, 2007, Rome, Italy
Took a $20 ferry ride to an island off the coast of Italy in the hopes to find some unspoiled nature, didn't, headed to Rome with a different plan.
On the ground in the walled in courtyard of a fancy church in the middle of the city.

June 3rd, 2007, Lago di Bracciano, Italy.
It rained all night and all day. Headed out of the city to a lake about 20 miles north to find some nature and maybe a swim. Right now, I got more funk than Sly and the Family Stone.

June 4th, 2007, Rome, Italy
Got cleaned up, yesterday, at a little campground by the lake, still haven't found any pristine nature. Grabbed the train back to Rome. There's a lot history to see here, so I figured I'd take it in casually. Arrived after dark, followed a dead end section of railroad tracks that I noticed as we were pulling into the station, Stazione S.Pietro, and camped there for the night between a row of trees and an extremly high wall. Took the city in flip flops in the late morning. Turns out that really big wall was the perimeter of the Vatican. No wonder there were cameras mounted on top of it. The line at the Vatican was one of the longest I'd ever seen, until I saw the one for the Sistine Chapel. I don't do lines and I'm not much of a tourist.

June 5th, 2007, Rome, Italy

Got up real early and walked through the Vatican when it was empty and quiet. Bagged the Sistine Chapel, though I really wanted to see Michaelangelo's frescos. It didn't open until 10 am and by then the line was 5 blocks long, plus it was $19. Walked through Rome to the Coliseum. The present city and the ancient buildings and architecture are woven together so traveling through it at moments is like going back in time. Another line and $15. Contimplated scaling the walls after dark. There was no way I wasn't going to see where it all went down, but decided to just wait until evening when the line diminshed and pay after hearing back from, Sandra, the only English speaking person in the little town of Sant'Elia where my grandfather was born. She agreed to help translate for me with Lucia, a nice woman who worked in the records department of the town office. I had decided to leave there after 5 days of not making much progress. We found my grandfather's name in less than an hour, but after that it was going to take some work. It was apparent only authorized personel could handle the birth records of whom I was not. I knew tracing back all those years to find out whether I had any living family in Sant'Elia was a lot of work which I was willing to do, but asking a town employee to do it I was afraid was too much, so after 4 days of trying to keep busy with things I myself could do, calling numbers in the phone book with Lucia, going to the cemetary, "talking" with the old men in the park, I left them with a nicely written note thanking them for their help and in a very delicate way suggested the idea of me looking through the records then I left the area to give it some time and space.
Sitting outside the Coliseum not having heard any response in 4 more days I explored the idea of leaving Italy and seeing other parts of Europe I'd passed up wanting to give myself enough time in Italy to find my grandfather's birthplace. I decided to call Sandra. She made a few calls for me and got me another meeting on the 7th in the records department, so I had to get back to Sant'Elia, about 110km away.

The Coliseum, 70 AD, was worth every penny, well, every euro. Just being there inside that arena knowing what took place there was enough, but there was an additional gallery of sculptures, paintings and artifacts dating back to 430 BC installed on the upper level.

Thinking about how somenone on a particular day in their life made these with their own hands and, now, I was standing here looking at them on my own journey connected a lot of time and history between us.

At my campsite near the Vatican.

June 6th, 2007, the outskirts of cassino, Italy
Took the train from Rome to Cassino and walked the road to Sant'Elia to where I remembered it crossed over the Fiume Rapido, Fast River. I needed to clean up for my meeting. Lowered the pack down off the bridge and the jumped over the rail myself the moment there weren't any cars coming from either direction. Washed my clothes along the banks of the river and then myself. Though there was still trash in the woods around me it was nice to find a little sanctuary down there out of sight along the high overgrown banks of the clean and peaceful flowing river. Big cities tax my spirits after a certain amount of time. It's been weeks since I've had an actual conversation with anyone.
There was still plenty of light left in the day after I finished my laundry so I left my little camp under the bridge and walked back into Cassino and got a bottle of milk and a box of cereal and had a big bowl for dinner and one for breakfast in the morning. Kept the milk nice and cold by leaving it in the mountain waters of the river overnight.

Slept on the concrete pillar that supported the bridge in the middle of the river with my own little moat rapido around me.

*Steve Chadborne back in Maine, USA, for contacting me and offering financial support if I ever needed it on the road.

(Though I feel lucky for the opportunity to travel and see all the places I've had a chance to see, this freedom comes at a price and I've paid for every penny either lugging grain, shoveling muck, or going hungry to stretch a dollar because you don't know when you'll find work again. Steve knows this because he's a workin stiff, too. He drives a bus for the city of Portland and has done his own fair share of traveling by the seat of his pants. I appreciate his support and all these experiences because they don't come easy.)

June 7th, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
Rocco, one of the oldest Cocorochio's in Sant'Elia, was waiting for me with Lucia at the town office. I didn't make a lot of headway. He didn't remember any family members going to America. I wasn't allowed to touch the books, and Rocco and Lucia kept stopping to talk. The time was up before I knew it. Rocco told me I should give up on finding my family. He said I was just young and that my father forgot about it and so should I. With a smile, I told him whether I let go of it is my decision and that my father never forgot. His father died when he was nine and he never had a choice. I thanked him for coming and said it was ok if we didn't agree, but that it was very nice meeting him. I asked Sandre, my interpreter, "Who can authorize me to look through the records?" We walked back to the library and she called her best friend who worked in the mayor's office and told me to check back with her in the morning. Father Reno passed me in the street and gave the key to the room I had stayed in before.

June 8th, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
I was authorized to look at the books myself and found my grandfather's brothers and a sister, aunts and uncles. Bruno, the president of the Bureau of Emigration, met with me and has arranged a reunion at the Emigration hall for all the Cocorocchio's in town on Tuesday and drove me to a hotel in town where he got me a room to stay in for the remainder of my time in Sant'Elia. Still have more work to do on Monday.

June 11th, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
Considering the opportunity I had and the amount of time I had to work with rather than try to guestimate what years I should concentrate on I decided to look in all the records. I looked in all the handwritten ledgers for every year from 1860, the earliest record they had, to 1950, and found over 137 Cocorocchio's. My great great grandfather, Ferdinando, was born before 1860 so I wasn't able to determine which of the other Cocorocchio's from that generation where his brothers and sisters, but it was still a very rewarding undertaking.

June 12th, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
Addriena and Monia took me to lunch at a beautiful restaurant tucked into the side of the hill under the square the town center. All the time I'd spent in Sant'Elia I never knew it was even there. A four course meal that consisted of some of the most delicious food I've ever eaten accompanied by two pretty Italian young ladies compared with eating granola and yogurt in the woods by myself is quite a contrast.
There turned out not to be a reunion. I'm not sure why. It was Bruno's idea, but I never saw him again. I was happy with finding Sant'Elia and hanging out in the park with the old men many who had the same last name as me. A t.v. news crew did come to the emigration office and interview me.

June 13th, 2007, Sant'Elia Fiumerapido, Italy
I dropped off flowers for Lucia, Ennia, Anna and Elettorale at the town hall and then walked up the hill to the emigration office and dropped off some for Sandra, Addriena, Monia and Bruno, said good-bye to Carmine Cocorocchio who happen to be at a cafe in the town square and headed out of Sant'Elia.

Spent the night in a field behind some bushes near the Rome Fiumicino airport.

June 14th, 2007, South Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Happy Flag Day.

Had a beer (or two) in Southie with my cousins, Michael and Jon O'Connell, and Jon's friend, Court. (Best birthday ever.)

June 15th, 2007, Marshfield, MA

Home is where the heart is.

June 18th, 2007, Portland, Maine
We are more susceptible to complacency where things are familiar. I have to be careful not to lose any of the perspective and discipline I've gained recently. Having sold my truck which was my home base before I left, after seeing the Inconvenient Truth, should help me with this concern. You have no choice but to stay focused when you have no place to get lazy and slack off.

July 9th, 2007, Buxton, Maine
Picked up work back at the feed store for the next couple weeks to put some money in my pocket and some meat on my bones then Job and I will head west.

Although I'd prefer to travel on foot, the harvest season is approaching and if I'm going to find work on a farm, time is an issue, so I'm taking advantage the fact that I have temporary use of a car (I'm delivering one to the west coast) to get me where I need to be.

Aug.1st, 2007, Marietta, New York
Aug.2nd, 2007, Gettysburg, Ohio
Aug.3rd, 2007, crossroads near Woods, Kansas
Aug.4th, 2007, Taos, New Mexico
Aug.5th, 2007, Salt Lake City, Utah
Aug.6th, 2007, Point Arena, California
Aug.11th, 2007, Port Orford, Oregon
Aug.12th, 2007, Coquille, Oregon
Aug.13th, 2007, Eugene, Oregon
Aug.14th, 2007, Goshen, Oregon

Aug.15th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon
Went paragliding then went into town to grab some dinner and fell in love with Astoria.

Sept.11th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon
I've come to the end of the road. I've been in 11 countries in the last 4 months on a farmhand's wage and enough is enough. I remember what an old man down in Georgia once told me after we'd met and spent a couple days together. I was passing through his small town on foot with Job one winter. He said, "Chris, you can't chase rainbows forever." That was almost 4 years ago and though I don't agree that chasing rainbows is what I've been doing, it is time to do something else, something more. As a lay in a hotel bed back in Italy bought for me by someone else experiencing the stark contrast between the comfortable accomidations that were arranged for me and the somewhat grueling nature of my usual lifestyle I knew I had to make a decision. What little money I had was running out and though I may have been able to find work and hop a ship to the far east in search of some remote village, Shambhala, Shangri-la or another place that may or may not truly exist where people lived simply and peacefully in harmony with nature and just disappear, I wasn't convinced that was the answer for me. I know exactly how life would be like in such a place. I've dreamt of it, studied about it, prepared for it, and worked towards it all these years. It's time to stop searching and start building. Looking for it outside myself would not be building. It feels more like retreating. Even disapperaing has complications (Job, being the first) had I decided upon this. The right decision is suppose to alleviate stress and anxiety not create it. Though I haven't granted myself permission to completely plunge back into mainstream American society, I did allow myself to return to the states (get Job) and find a town somewhere in America where I can live, stay put, and begin building the magical place I've been searching for. People are wrong when they assume all those who search leave to find themselves. Some know exactly who they are and go to find a place where they can simply be themselves. I guess the screwy-er you are the longer it takes. My old friend in Georgia, also, told me I was the first yankee he ever liked (I was probably the first yankee he'd ever met).

I've checked out an earth-home village, an organic vegetable farm, an intentional community, a hippie eco-commune, a sustainable living education center, and a modern day homestead. As unique and innovative as they all were when it comes right down to it there's no getting around one simple fact that confronts them all: income. Unless you're living as a mountain man, or woman, hunting for your food and finding shelter at night by a campfire in some remote wilderness area where you won't be arrested for trespassing, these new attempts at living are no different than mainstream lifestyles when it comes to being dependent on the need to make a profit, so after all my traveling I decided to just get a job.

Oct.1st, 2007, Astoria, Oregon
Having found a place with the proper amount of wilderness and waterways where a person can get around by bike or boat, I landed a laboring job at a feed store 3 days after selecting the town that will be my new home and have been working full-time for the last couple months. No longer with a vehicle, I've been camping in the woods by a river just outside of town though my employer and the customers would never know it. I'm always clean shaven, on time and organized. Today was my last day. My boss shook my hand and told me not to be a stranger. He'd given me a raise after only a couple weeks of work. When I told him I was leaving I felt like I was letting him down, but he assured me I wasn't. I don't know when, but somewhere along the line life has become a business. Life is not a business. I'm not giving 5 out of 7 days of my life to making money. I've learnt too much and been too free. This doesn't mean I'm giving up on rejoining society. I'm just going to have go about it a different way. Over the years of living simply, work has actually become a joy to me which is a gift that I don't want to lose. I'd rather spend 7 days a week working on becoming a better person and making the world a better place even it doesn't make me any money. This is why the world is going to heck because we're working on the wrong things. I could continue living on the fringe of society saying I don't believe in the direction our culture is heading, but how is this going to make the world a better place? Until you couple your beliefs with your survival, it's all just a bunch of talk. Living by them is how you prove their worth believing in. Anyone can point their finger at a problem, but how many are willing to work towards a solution if it means changing their lives.

Oct.12th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon

Did errands by canoe and got the steel and aluminum needed to build a new trailer, but this one won't need a truck to pull it.

*Tina D. for getting me an old camper left on a piece of property her son had recently purchased that they didn't want, and her whole family for invitng me to dinner and their hospitality.

Oct.16th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon
Finished washin' the campa. Having a place to work on and build stuff out of has been advantageous.

Oct.17th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon

Did errands in the pouring rain all day. What would take a person with a car 20 minutes to do, now, takes me hours with a lot of energy and planning, but I'd rather be strong, disciplined and humble than out of shape, lazy and complacent. Plus, it's fun playin in the rain and Job loves it.

Nov.9th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon

Doesn't Job look good on his new front porch.

Nov.30th, 2007, Astoria, Oregon
Starting from scratch in a new town where I don't know anyone without a vehicle with winter arriving may have been a little bold or naive. The point was to come off the road and "rejoin society" in a capacity where I try to be part of the solution to problems we are facing as a culture, but all I feel like I'm doing is trying to survive day to day. There were benefits I anticipated staying in one place was going to create like taking care of my health and eating better and more regularly, having a place to call home, being a member of the communtiy, volunteering my time, finding creative outlets, making new friends and someday starting a family, but the honeymoon is over. The novelty has subsided and all I find myself doing is applying my old survival skills to this so-called new life. I need to find a better way of achieving what not having to live out of back pack can allow me to achieve.

Dec.4th, 2007, Astoria, OR
Bad storm hit Oregon and Washington.

Dec.15th, 2007

Trying to live without a truck (or a car), I'd built a 4x8' aluminum wagon to carry lumber and stuff around. I used it to move my things from the boat and into storage until I figure out what's next.
-thank you to the Delay family for letting Job and I camp out on their little farm and for all their hospitality while the storm blew through town.

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