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The Entire World is a Family

- Maha Upanishad

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Travel

Mar 04, 2019

A Passport To Freedom; Following Domestic Violence, a Publicized Divorce & Cancer.

Embracing a complete change of lifestyle and travel in the face of adversity, Janice Lintz shares her story, along with a challenge, to visit every country in the world.

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Janice Lintz

At the end of January 2019, The Outdoor Journal’s Sean Verity attended The New York Times Travel Show and reported on an industry event that left him shocked at “expert” panels bereft of expertise. During the panel, an audience member stood up to ask a question about social media followers – but was told that her story was perhaps “not good enough”. We subsequently spoke to Janice Lintz and invited her to contribute to The Outdoor Journal. This is her story.

I knew that leaving a physically and verbally abusive marriage was going to be difficult, but I had no idea that it would take eleven and a half years. I’ve still not completed my escape. The process of “uncoupling” was physical, mentally, and financially exhausting. Travel became my respite to detox from a judicial process that enabled a wealthy spouse to do what he could no longer do with his hands.

The Divorce

Despite being an attorney, the court was terrifying. The judge routinely, blatantly ignored New York State’s laws and even the court’s own orders. Having worked to change the world for people with hearing loss, I thought that I could quickly correct the legal issues. But testifying, meeting with politicians and writing letters accomplished nothing, as I explained in the Huffington Post. I came to the conclusion that the discussion about domestic violence was conjecture for ordinary women. Did I need to be well-known to matter?

United State of Women Accreditation

The more I spoke out, the more the judge used coercive tactics meant to silence and terrorize me. This included placing me in handcuffs and threatening to send me to prison on Riker’s Island. On one occasion the judge threatened to send me to the jail for 21 days when I demanded that she enforce my support order. Rather than address my ex-husband’s non-payment of my court-ordered maintenance, she chose to punish me for speaking out of turn. On the final occasion that she tried to punish me, I used my one phone call to call Vice President Joe Biden’s office. Thankfully, at The United State of Women Conference, where I was a nominated Changemaker, I sat next to Jaimie Woo who headed Biden’s Domestic Violence Taskforce. Miraculously, ten minutes after my phone call, the judge decided to release me.

The trauma of that day didn’t end when the handcuffs came off. I don’t even remember how I made my way home, whether it was a taxi or the subway, but the moment I had finished my journey, I wanted to flee. I felt like an escaped convict seeking freedom. I didn’t care where I went, I just wanted to get away from the toxic environment that treated me as if I was an entitled woman with no rights.

My Former Townhouse

Advocacy for People Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

The judge in my divorce treated me as if I was an entitled lady who “lunched”. I was lucky in many ways, but in reality, during our marriage, I worked for free to change the world for people with hearing loss on behalf of our daughter and others like her.  Our daughter was 2 1/2 years old when we learned she was hard of hearing. After advising me of her diagnosis, the doctor told me there were “special schools” for her. My idea of “special” was the Ivy League University that she would later attend. At the time, I didn’t like someone limiting her opportunities before she had even started.

Rather than accept the crumbs offered to her, I set out to change the world, since it was easier to change the world than my own standards. As explained in Forbes magazine, I used New York City as a model to design, create and implement best practice standards before going international, to include Greece, Canada, Switzerland, Netherlands, Korea, and soon Ecuador. You can find out more about hearing access here.

Further to this, in the United States, I helped to develop captioning standards that were the basis for the Federal Communication Commission’s captioning rules. When I approached Senator Warren about the hearing aid monopoly, she then introduced and passed an Over-The-Counter Hearing Aid bill with Senator Grassley. Hearing access in museums and theaters in New York City became the model for access around the country including locations such as Graceland in Tennessee, The Getty in California and Mill City Museum in Minnesota.  Airlines subsequently added captions to in-flight entertainment after I worked with Virgin and Delta Airlines. Delta also added induction loops in airports starting with Atlanta, GA, and Detroit, MI.

The National Park Service created Guidelines for Accessibility after I testified before the National Park Service Subcommittee.

Finally, I also ensured that cell phones maintained the telecoil, which provides hearing compatibility rather than proprietary technology.

During my marriage, I always worked without pay. Equally, I never accepted anything in substitute of pay, to ensure that no one questioned my motives. Suddenly, this judge treated me like a freeloader who mooched off her husband, rather than a team who worked together for the benefit of their family.

Restarting Life.

Fortunately, having returned home from court, I could lean on a stash of frequent flier points from my divorce settlement, and from sign-up bonuses that I earned from opening 70+ credit cards in order to pay off my attorneys. My passport, coupled with my priceless “slush fund” of about three million miles, provided me with the freedom that I needed from the insanity of life.

First up? I had decided to use a sign-up bonus of three complimentary nights at a Ritz-Carlton property to visit Aruba to celebrate my upcoming birthday. A quick scan of flights revealed some availability, so I booked a trip to leave the next morning.

The trip was glorious. While the judge had used the divorce proceedings to treat me as if I didn’t matter, the manner of those working at the hotel thought otherwise. My birthday was celebrated, and being taken care of, and made to feel like I mattered was just what I needed to restore my spirits.

However, these positive feelings that my vacation had offered were brief. I returned to find a broken pipe in my house’s basement. I had no water, which meant I had no basic amenities. My ex-husband and the judge ignored the order and requests to have my ex-husband make household repairs. Thankfully, the insurance company wielded their power.

For four months, I was “stranded” at The Surrey Hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side which became a luxurious prison. My ex-husband knew that I couldn’t travel if the insurance company was paying for a hotel, so in my opinion, he delayed the process to stop me from flying.

The insurance company advised me to eat my meals at the hotel restaurant, which happened to have a Michelin star. Either that or equivalent restaurants around the city. I was terrified to spend, given how I was treated in court. I only ate one meal out and ate yogurt for breakfast and lunch to not gain weight. As I told the insurance agent, free is not free if it’s on my hips.

Still, given the opportunity, I decided to cross-reference the Michelin list, Eater 38, Eater Heatmap, Zagat, World’s Best List, and any friends’ recommendations to develop a dining list. Four months in a single room can be tough unless you are dining at New York City’s finest. I turned my time at the hotel into a “steakation” and developed my own hashtag, #IAteManhattan. Never one to waste a crisis, I ended up visiting every New York City’s Michelin star restaurant, except for sushi (I’m not a fan).

Steakcation with Jean George, at Jean George

It was around this time that my friends and I noticed that I hadn’t put on the weight that I should have, given the amount of food that I had been eating. I hadn’t suddenly developed a miracle metabolism. Doctors couldn’t find anything that was wrong with me, but there was a concern, so I was monitored.

When I finally returned to the townhouse, the temperature was 94 degrees, and of course, the home’s air-conditioning didn’t work. My ex-husband had refused to fix it, and this time the insurance company couldn’t help me. Rather than melt, I tapped into those air miles again and fled to the Caucuses, Lebanon, and Italy. I suspected that I was sick, but I also knew that I needed a trip before the medical ordeal started.

The C Words

I returned home to find out I had incorrectly diaried my COBRA (COBRA is a federal law that requires employers with 20 or more employees to offer continuing coverage to individuals who would otherwise lose their health benefits) expiration date. All of a sudden, I had a month to visit all my doctors, and importantly, find a new insurance plan. I raced around New York, visiting many medical providers, until I learnt that I had thyroid cancer, and potentially breast and blood cancer as well.

Over the next two weeks, I had six medical procedures and surgeries. The final surgery took place on the final day of my COBRA coverage. It’s a strange thing to say, but thankfully, I only had thyroid cancer and it was caught early. Over the coming months, the doctors monitored many other issues including a potential lung cancer diagnosis. The cherry on top, caused by was thyroid surgery, was an immobile vocal cord. I could barely speak for four months. I was deflated.

My voice was my power, and once again I had been silenced. The upside was that this gave me a lot of time to reflect on my life, a life that had changed for many reasons, including children that had now grown up. Over the years, on behalf of my daughter, I had accomplished so much for hearing advocacy, it was now time to take care of me.

The Dream

My biggest dream had always been exactly that, a dream, and had I always expected that it would stay that way: To travel to every single country in the world. Like many of us, I had already made significant inroads into my quest through vacations. However, should I wish to actually achieve my dream, then I needed to focus on the endeavour. I also wanted to experience each country, rather than just race around the world.

Without a conscious motive, I “Marie Kondo’ed” my life. I sold my five-story Upper East Side Manhattan townhouse (I know that I was lucky to be able to do so) and downsized to a 650 square foot (60 square meters) one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn. Leaving Manhattan, where I lived for the last thirty years, and reducing my space was going to be difficult but living on my own for the first time in my life was exhilarating.

Anything I didn’t love or wasn’t the color blue was sold, given away or donated, including my car and televisions. I cut the cable, landline and fax cords and every expense was examined. I viewed every object as a potential hotel night or tour guide.

The shackles had been removed, I was finally free to move and realize my dream. However, as I had a weak voice, I decided to leave on a test run, to see if I could physically handle travelling. Determined to cross another destination off my list, I flew to El Salvador. This trip kickstarted my passion for travelling again, it renewed my energy which had been zapped after losing half my thyroid. My medication still wasn’t being regulated, but I knew that after hiking up Santa Ana Volcano and seeing the fantastic milky green crater that I could handle an extended trip.

El Salvador. El Tuncojpeg

Slowly but surely, my dream had started to become a reality. I organized my new life and started to plan trip after trip. My initial goal was to travel for four weeks, come home for the next four to undergo medical tests, and then depart again with this sabbatical from life continuing for two years. Life rarely works out as planned, so it’s been a hodgepodge of planning, often whilst on the road.

The never-ending legal drama taught me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, so I can easily pivot when I need to change plans while on the road. My visiting museums around the world dedicated to genocide, slavery, racism, and the Holocaust helps remind me to persevere even in the most trying of times. My issues are annoyances rather than a crisis.

Where to go? I decided to make a list of the things that would hurt most to miss out on, should I die tomorrow. Gorillas and polar bears were at the top of that list, but I also added unicorns so that I always had an excuse to never finish travelling.

My first trip had a simple objective, to see the gorillas in Rwanda. However, when the planning started, it soon took on epic proportions, as every country seemed to be “in the neighborhood”. Before I knew it, I had planned a seven-week adventure, with strategic rest stops along the way to ensure I periodically rested. My doctors thought going away was a terrific idea to rejuvenate me, but I am not sure they realized what I meant by “going away.”

The journey was unforgettable. A witch doctor in Côte d’Ivoire, dining among hippos in Burundi, eating at a restaurant on a rock in Zanzibar, chimpanzees in Uganda, the Dinkas in South Sudan, swimming in the waters around Comoros, climbing the Tsingy in Madagascar, snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of Mozambique and riding on a quad bike in Malawi. Of course, the main objective was also achieved – I met the gorillas in Rwanda.

Hanging out with the Gorillas in Rwanda

For seven weeks, I was in heaven. I didn’t think I could top this trip, but each adventure has been just as amazing. Over the coming years, I will continue to pursue my dream, and I hope that you will join me on every adventure.

The Outdoor Journal will be with Janice throughout her adventures. In the meantime, you can find out more about Janice here, and follow her on Instagram here.

Cover Photo: Above Victoria Falls.

All Photos belong to and are courtesy of Janice S. Lintz.

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Travel

Nov 05, 2019

A Flotilla Cruise Through The Inside Passage: From Alaska to BC.

With radios coordinated and quiet water ahead, adventure, whales, porpoises, sea otters, eagles, stunning channels and vista await.

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Shortly after 9 AM, the mist over Ketchikan Marina lifted. The crews of our six motor launches fired the twin diesel engines, loosened mooring lines and coordinated radios as anticipation escalated. One by one the Grand Banks cruisers eased out of the close quarters and bustle of the working fishing port and rallied in the main channel. Our flotilla passed two 10-story cruise ships as we motored southeast. Other maritime facilities, including the Coast Guard station, appeared to port. And then, as though walking through a bulkhead from inside to outdoors, we left urban development behind. We were on our way!

We were offered the chance to join long-time sailing friends, Dave and Janet, for a 10-day, 450-mile voyage through the Inside Passage from Southeast Alaska into British Columbia. Although we had sailed in Desolation and Puget Sounds, motor cruising through the stunning fjords, inlets and channels of the coastal Northwest promised an exciting new adventure. Coupled with the rich marine life of pristine waters, and the opportunity to visit a Kitasloo community, a life-changing voyage unfolded.

As though walking through a bulkhead from inside to outdoors, we left urban development behind.

With Dave as captain, the four of us crewed Thea, one of six boats forming a flotilla led by NW Explorations. (NWE) She was moored among boats of all descriptions. Large commercial fishing operations were mixed with day charters, amid all the sights, sounds and smells of an active marina. We took possession of our new home with a launch due the next morning. Berths secured, personal gear stored and provisions on board for the first days, we bedded down for an anxious night. Compatriots hailed from Florida, Arkansas, Wyoming, California, Washington and Oregon.

Thea in Ketchikan Marina. Photo by Jack Billings.

Thea, a Grand Banks classic yacht, was well-equipped for cruising wilderness waters. Designed like a 46-foot trawler, she carried an impressive array of navigational equipment, including GPS guided autopilot, lap-top displayed depth and distance charts and radar. Featuring twin-engine diesel motors, she was most efficient at about 8 knots. There were three berths, two heads, a well-appointed galley with fridge and freezer, an ice maker and microwave, washer and dryer, with a drop-leaf teak table in the adjacent salon. All-in-all, quite commodious accommodations.

“turn where we turn, not when we turn…”

Affable veteran guide Brian Pemberton captained the lead boat Deception (Mother Goose). He was assisted by Jordan Roderick, an encyclopedia of First Nation and European history, marine mammals, other creatures and seabirds. Jordan was aided by Chris Fairbanks, also a marine biologist. Andy Novak, our mechanic and general factotum, rounded out Deception’s crew.

Deception in the van. Photo by Jack Billings

With Deception leading the way, and other flotilla members spreading out behind her, our course was set: Foggy Bay, 38 nautical miles away. Salt spray, the call of seabirds, rugged forest coastlines scalloped by tides and winds heralded entry into the Inside Passage. When a change in course was needed, we received the admonition: “turn where we turn and not when we turn”.

Flotilla rafted at Foggy Bay. Photo by NW Explorations.

By midafternoon we manoeuvred into Foggy Bay, located at the end of a small inlet, a charming pocket anchorage no more than 1000 feet across. Despite its name, sunny skies welcomed us. To arrange for an inter-boat gathering and accommodate the tight mooring, we rafted the six boats side by side. Three anchors and three stern lines kept us in formation. After assembling for hors d’oeuvres in Deception’s salon, sea stories began. Roland Barth’s Cruising Rules applied to food and tales.

Harbor Master, Prince Rupert. Photo by NW Explorations.

Good weather prevailed the next morning out of Foggy Bay, in route to Prince Rupert, the largest city in the northern part of British Columbia. Several bald eagles monitored our entry into Cow Bay Marina.

Our itinerary called for a layover day, to allow provisioning for as many as seven days. The refrigerator had unaccountably shrunk, so we pressed two on-board coolers into service. With the help of block ice and a steady stream of cubes from the icemaker, food stayed fresh for the remainder of the trip.

Returning to Thea the second afternoon, we encountered a boat hand with three large bags of shrimp. He pointed out their boat, docked on the next boardwalk. The captain sold us enough for three meals.

Because Prince Rupert has both rail and highway access to the interior of British Columbia, it is an important shipping hub. The marina is the largest between Ketchikan and Vancouver Island and provides shore power, potable water, Internet access, a restaurant/pub and a large grocery store within walking distance. Its laid-back pace fit our needs exactly.

The sights and pounding reverberating across the waves cast indelible memories.

Rested and fully provisioned, we set our course over the next four days for passage to Newcomb Harbour, then to Patterson Inlet, Bishop Bay and on to Aaltanhash Inlet, a total of about 185 nautical miles. Our itinerary brought us down the narrow Petrel Channel and then across various sounds and reaches. We saw virtually no one except when we crossed the shipping lane at Granville Channel and a few boats moored at Bishop Bay.

The narrow passages into these inlets are quite protected, with tide changes, but little surge. Reflections along the water line strike vivid angles on the glassy surface.

Reflections at Patterson Inlet. Photo by Jack Billings.

Early mornings in these anchorages were magical. Overcast skies meant light emerged slowly, coupled with the first cries of sea birds, and the salmons’ leaps and jumps as they pursued their spawning destiny. Hot coffee cups warmed our hands each morning as we sat on Thea’s bow; remote did not mean sacrifice. Fishing was irresistible and often rewarding.

One sunrise a tall, black timber wolf scampered out dense forest onto a low tidal beach, nose down looking for treats then up again skyward. We held our breath, hoping for more, as it disappeared a moment into large reeds. Then out again, it retraced its path into the trees. This rare sighting happened in a flash before we had time to nab the camera. Within two minutes, silence settled in again, we caught our breath, and the usual world was far away.

Soon after leaving Patterson Inlet we crossed through Otter Passage and into Squally Channel. Our flotilla came upon a pod of feeding humpback whales. We slowed to idle and spread out, maintaining a respectful distance. The whales were fishing by concussing, slamming either their pectoral fins or massive tails on the surface, stunning the small fry below. The sights and pounding reverberating across the waves cast an indelible memory.

Then, without warning, two whales seemingly the size of Thea surfaced next to us, almost within reach.

Humpback at Squally Channel. Photo by Jack Billings

Apparently unconcerned about our proximity, with the sweep of a fluke, they are gone.

Humpback fluke with resident barnacles. Photo by Jack Billings

Out from our snug mooring at Aaltanhash Inlet, we set our course down the Princess Royal Channel toward our rendezvous with the Kitasloo village of Klemtu. Deception reported a small school of Dall’s porpoises feeding along the port side. As Thea came forward, several swam over to investigate.  Incredibly, they fell in with our bow, matching our speed of about 9 knots, crossing from one side to the other. Then, in a flash, they lost interest and were gone.

Shortly beyond, Klemtu came in view on the western hillside. We passed the community and made anchor in a small bay called Clothes Cove. We took the dinghies back to the village where we were given a tour of their magnificent Long House by Shane, a hereditary chief. Ceremonial uses were heralded by the lightly acrid smoke in the air. Built with massive cedar beams, its spectacular carved lintels at each end represent the four families of this Kitasloo village: eagle, raven, killer whale and wolf.

Long House at Klemtu. Photo by Jack Billings.

Since at least the retreat of the last ice age, indigenous peoples have lived, fished and hunted in the stunning, rich waters and islands of what is now southeast Alaska and the Pacific coast of British Columbia. The arrival in mid-1700s of Spanish, English, and Russian explorers brought deadly disease, slavery, and overt debasement of their cultures. The Canadian government later established residential schools, for which students were forcibly removed from their families and beaten if they spoke their native languages. Today Klemtu’s 450 residents struggle to regain lost cultural sovereignty. With a determination steeled by centuries of survival in an often-harsh environment, the people of the village persevere.

By the next morning, several boats were running low on provisions and fuel, so our destination changed to Shearwater, about 38 miles distant. Here we found the only large boat haul-out facility in a wide area. Its pub restaurant brought a break from on-board meal preparation and clean up. Fussy kingfishers patrolled the marina. After dark, a full moon, bright enough to walk by, cast mirrored reflections on the water and forest silhouettes against the horizon.

Full moon at Shearwater. Photo by NW Explorations

Not long after we departed Shearwater, a large raft of sea otters appeared. Mothers sometimes wrapped their young in floating kelp beds, leaving them on the surface while they dove for food. Sea otters were hunted almost to extinction during decades of high demand for their pelts. While their numbers have rebounded across two-thirds of their historic range, they have not returned to their earlier abundance.

Raft of Sea Otters. Photo by NW Explorations

As we prepared to leave Shearwater, the Deception crew advised that weather was building ahead of us, over Queen Charlotte Sound, to our southwest. Our course would take us down the Fitz-Hugh Sound, still protected by an outer island, but then out into the open Sound, directly off the Pacific. The likely rough seas prompted a change in plan, to turn southeast into Queen Charlotte Strait, and Blunden Harbour, 83 miles and 10 hours away.

As we entered the Sound, winds held steady at 20 knots, Thea bounced and tossed in four-foot swells and scattered squalls. Though the boat was well-designed for rougher seas, the open passage required our constant attention. In gathering darkness, the flotilla eased out of the strait and into the anchorage. After a quick meal, we called it a day and thanked the star-filled sky.

The next morning brought our last day on the water. Our destination, Port McNeill, British Columbia, was now nearby after yesterday’s long run. We left Thea, and Dave and Janet, as three new passengers were set to embark on the next 10 days down to Bellingham, Washington.

Returning home, we were refreshed by memories of marine life seen up close in native surroundings, stunning fjords cut into the pristine forest and First Nation resilience and renewal. Great fellowship, discoveries every day, gourmet meals and more. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.

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