On The Road

Mason. 22. Lover of all things sublime. Travel, nature, community, photography, literature, volunteer work, backpacking, history, filmmaking, spiritual fulfillment, friends and family. These are the things that matter.

“Glaciers move in tides.
So do mountains.
So do all things.”

—    John Muir, Letters from Alaska (via theriverjordyn)

(Source: anintimatewoman, via mosiphy)

This unsuspecting lakeside home is the Wannsee Villa. Within these doors, high ranking Nazi officials formalized the systematic extermination of Europe’s Jewish population. Humanities darkest hour wasn’t orchestrated in a bunker or mountain fortress; it was planned in a beautiful summer home by men in suits enjoying cognac and cigars.

studentsgoneglobal said: Hey! We saw you are traveling abroad and love your Tumblr blog! We are StudentsGoneGlobal[.]com – A new social start-up for youth travelers! We would love to have you join our free community (and share your story you can even import tumblr posts)! All you have to do is “Request An Invite” located in the top right of our homepage :) We also have a new site coming out this summer!

Thanks for the message! I’m happy to hear that you like what I’ve got going on over here. I’m definitely interested in joining your online community and connecting with others that share a passion for travel.

BERLINER DOM (Berlin, Germany)
A glimpse into the life of studying abroad in Germany.
MEMORIAL FOR THE MURDERED JEWS OF EUROPE
(Berlin, Germany)
BRANDENBURG GATE (Berlin, Germany)
Off to Europe! See you in two months. America.

“The mountains are as a rule a world apart from civilizations, which are an urban and lowland achievement. Their history is to have none, to remain almost always on the fringe of the great waves of civilization…”

—   Fernand Braudel
What a game! Can’t wait to celebrate in Germany when I leave for Berlin on Thursday.

Had the privilege of grabbing beers, watching the World Cup match and hiking into Berkeley’s hills with the homies today. Glad to see them one last time before leaving the country next week.

10 Days Until Europe

May 23, 2014

It began as a typical Friday night in Isla Vista. A few of us were having drinks and sharing laughs at a friend’s apartment before heading to a party taking place down the street. At 9:41 P.M. I received the following text: “Everybody stay out of IV. There is an active shooter on Trigo.”

In the 15 minutes before receiving that text, six of my fellow students were slaughtered, with an additional 13 injured by gunshot wounds or vehicular assault. The entire Isla Vista massacre took place within a mile of my apartment. A friend named Kevin, the one who sent the text warning about the shooter, was at a park directly across the street from one of the murder scenes when the shooter drove by unloading rounds out of his car. Kevin’s interview with the Los Angeles Times can be found here. Two additional close friends, including a future roommate, were in a truck at a nearby stop sign when gunfire was exchanged between the gunman and sheriff’s deputies.

After a traumatic evening of panic and confusion, the details of what happened slowly began emerging online. Around midnight several Reddit users had shared the shooter’s sinister YouTube manifesto on the UCSB subreddit. For the next week, an expeditionary force of media crews flooded our small community. They parked their satellite trucks in front of IV Deli and the Alpha Phi sorority house to film our tears as we brought candles and flowers to the makeshift memorials.

Several services were held to commemorate the lives of our fallen classmates. The massive sea of people that walked together into Harder Stadium for the memorial service was unfathomable, dwarfing the attendance of our most crowded soccer matches. The weekend before we had come to the stadium to celebrate Extravaganza, an enormous yearly music festival held each year by the school. None of us could have possibly believed that we would be gathering there a week later in the tragic wake of another mass killing on American soil. At the memorial service, we remembered the lives of our fellow Gaucho’s that were taken from us.

  • Katherine Cooper, 22
  • Cheng Yuan “James” Hong, 20
  • Veronika Weiss, 19
  • George Chen, 19
  • Weihan “David” Wang, 20
  • Christopher Michaels-Martinez, 20

As a community we mourned together, and as a community, we have moved forward together as well. Several days after the memorial service, a paddle out was organized by students to heal and reflect. I rushed out of my history class that day and raced home to grab my surfboard and wetsuit before making my way to the beach. I paddled out towards the enormous ring of community members gathered in the water, swimming through an ocean filled with brightly colored flowers brought by the maritime mourners. After some words of wisdom and a moment of silence in honor of the victims, we as a community shook hands and shared smiles with one another. 

After the Aurora and Newtown shootings unfolded, I voiced my outrage on social media. I talked about gun control and mental health. I expressed anger and disgust towards the shooters, the NRA and the world. But in the aftermath of the Isla Vista Massacre, I was almost silent. The few words I shared were in remembrance of the victims and disbelief in what had happened. And I noticed that those who were from UCSB and Isla Vista did the same.

It was the people who didn’t have a personal connection to the shooting that were the first to take Tumblr and Facebook by storm and use the tragedy to advance their political agendas. Social media activists spread the name of the killer and not the brave young people who lost their lives. The Isla Vista tragedy highlights numerous prevailing issues in American society. Misogyny, gun control, mental health, power and status, wealth and racism have all been brought into the spotlight in an attempt to analyze the reasons why someone could do something so unbelievably dreadful. These are all serious discussions that need to be had within our country. However, these conversations should:

  1. Come after a sufficient amount of time has passed, not directly after an incident when details are still unconfirmed and sufficient time for mourning has yet to be held.
  2. Not use the tragedy as a justification of one’s ideological political agenda.
  3. Place the lives of the victims, not of the killer, at the center of the reports in the media.

In the days after the massacre, I made an interesting observation. Several of my friends online were incredibly vocal about the issues raised during the Isla Vista killings, with feminism and gun control in particular being the most prevailing topics discussed. Both sides used the tragedy to defend and attempt to advance their political ideologies. Yet out of those most vocal about misogyny and the 21st Amendment, not a single one of them reached out and asked if I was okay. It was the people that said nothing but reflected on the horrible events of May 23 that sent texts, phone calls and Facebook messages asking if I was safe or how I was coping with everything. It was the parents of the “activists” who had more life experience and a better understanding of the emotional and psychological burden of loss that sent messages asking how I was doing and expressing their sympathies for our town.

Despite the horror and sorrow that Isla Vista has gone through, we as a community are stronger than ever. As I sat in Harder Stadium during the memorial service, surrounded by thousands of fellow individuals coming together as one, I felt part of something larger than myself. We were connected as students, as a community and as human beings. I had never been more proud to call UCSB my school and Isla Vista my home than I did sitting silently there in that moment. Sometimes it takes tragedy to remind us of our priorities and remember that we are born into this world with a simple mission to listen, to help and to love one another. 

Isla Vista has become a beacon of strength, love and grace for the world to see. We honor the lives of our fallen comrades by continuing to live our own lives not in fear but with compassion and thanksgiving. Staying true to our school motto, “let there be light” and continue shining, UCSB. Together we are one, and together we are strong.

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“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

—   Anthony Bourdain

Off the Road and Back Online

Many moons have passed since my last post. What began as a fast from social media during the Lenten season snowballed into complete blogging hibernation.

The most exciting update concerning this page is that I’ll be spending the summer studying abroad for a month in Berlin, followed by a five week backpacking trip across Western Europe!!!!! This has kinda’ been my dream adventure for the past few years and I still don’t know if I’ve fully processed the awesomeness of what awaits in just a few short weeks. Expect more updates to come!

Some other rad things I have had the privilege of experiencing while on my Tumblr holiday include:

  • Taking this selfie with a giraffe on a wilderness safari in the Bay Area.

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  • Participating in this vibrant Holi festival of colors amidst the scenic backdrop of Santa Barbara.

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  • Sailing the high seas onboard DJ Cashmere Cat’s boat party with these beautiful people.

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  • Experiencing a real life Project X type scenario during the massive Isla Vista street party known as “Deltopia” that escalated into in a full scale riot and the teargassing of half my graduating class.

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  • Forming a football club with a few friends that has quickly evolved into a bi-weekly event with dozens of amazing players from all different skill levels.

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  • And lastly, reuniting with this righteous babe.

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    I’m so grateful for all of the memories I’ve been blessed with over the past few weeks, especially in light of the tragedy that recently struck my community. If you’ve followed any media outlet anywhere in the world, then you’re aware of the horrific events that unfolded in my beloved college town. I will discuss the Isla Vista shooting rampage in detail with my following post.

    That being said, with summer fast approaching, I’m already underway getting prepared for my latest upcoming adventures and can’t wait to share them with YOU!

    What are your summer travel plans? Have some advice for my first trip to Europe? Are you a fellow travel junky who wants to connect? Send me a message and let’s get in touch!

    -Mason