Here be dragons …  so I’ll move over here instead Here be dragons ... so I'll move over here instead

"Why I came here, I know not; where I shall go it is useless to inquire - in the midst of myriads of the living and the dead worlds, stars, systems, infinity, why should I be anxious about an atom?" -Lord Byron

Saint Augustine has been quoted as saying "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page".

I want to be an avid reader, and there have been times that I have been. But these days I seem stuck on the same page. The book got a little darker than I wanted, and I put it down weeks ago. Until recently, I simply did not want to pick it up again. But as scary as the story might get at times, if we don't keep reading ... we will never know how it turns out. It is really silly to hide from a book that hasn't even been fully written yet. I made the mistake of getting caught up in other people's chapters, thinking that the pages I am writing are inextricably tied to  said chapters. My mistake.

One I often make.

But I found my courage again. Or maybe my inherent stubbornness has had enough of my hiding under the sheets. Either way I am back again for the nonce.  I will not whine about my journey stalling, or make big promises about where it is going, for neither is particularly productive at the moment. Nor would there be much truth to the words.

No journey ever truly stalls. Even if we seem to stay in place, it is only in a relative sense. We are a small speck on a tiny planet that is both revolving and rotating in a small galaxy that is also constantly moving; said galaxy part of a moving cluster of galaxies; all part of an inconceivably large universe that is also in constant motion, How can we say that our journey has stopped. Each moment we are in a different point in the space-time continuum, and we will (probably) never cross that point again.

When seen from this perspective, stagnation is purely a mindset.

Time for me to shake that mindset. Bold words. Let us see if I can turn said words into action now. My journey is far from over, unless I call it over. I do not know what is next. Perhaps I will continue the promised book, for even if never read there is power in the writing. Or maybe my wander lust will find another outlet that is beyond site for me right now. Wherever my path takes me, I will begin reading (and writing) again. The Book of Life; The Book of MY Life, is far from over yet.

April 15, 2017 personPicnic Life, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, Writing
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The digital journey continues The digital journey continues

It seems the more I want to explore the world on foot, the more I find myself  sitting in front of a computer screen. Or maybe I want to explore more on foot precisely BECAUSE I am always in front of a computer screen. Some day this blog about my worldly walkabout will once again include walking about. But in the mean time I pursue my endeavors to document and save the world, and hopefully make a few bucks doing it.

So far, it is mostly none of the above.

The photo site is bursting with photos, with many more to add. There are two issues there. 1) There are about as man people who visit THAT blog as visit THIS one. And that person isn't all that interested in buying photos. B) The software that allowed me to actually SELL my photos randomly stopped working. Good thing my fan doesn't want to buy anything!

My Don Quixote complex is running strong. It doesn't help matters that I actually made a good call recently, not only giving PAX Nation the illusion of exposure, but gaining a few new members, no doubt as crazy as I am. This has encouraged me to push harder, to the point that PAX Nation has now become my main focus. I still want to wander the world. I just might be tilting with all the windmills I encounter along the way.

I also continue to not write my books. By the time I write The Tao of Picnic, my memory of events might border on fiction ... which may actually improve said events. Ironically, much of it is already written, since a lot of it will come directly from this blog. I just need to catch that disease called discipline. Unfortunately to catch something one needs to be exposed to it, and my social circle (which essentially includes me and Brown Dog), is severely lacking of infected folk.

I am not sure if I should be proud or ashamed that I managed to make an update for any interested in this blog into a commercial for some of my OTHER blogs. I may not be infected by discipline, but apparently the advertising bug has gotten into my system. Until the next time folks! Maybe I will have something more interesting to share!

September 29, 2016 personPicnic Blog, Humor, Life, The Tao of Picnic, Writing
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Stop seeking and ye shall find Stop seeking and ye shall find
One of my goals when I originally set out on this journey was to take a LOT of pictures. Photography has always been one of my passions, but as my skill (and the technology) improves, so does the passion. Why else would I carry a good 15 lbs of extra photo equipment in my pack ... especially since 35-40 lbs is the recommended TOTAL weight for such an endeavor? This extra weight no doubt contributed to my lack of success in becoming Hiker Extraordinaire, but only a little.

Part of the extra weight was a hard drive, to store all the evidencephotos. By the time I got sidetracked to Ohio, I had about 4000 (yep ... thousand) pictures on that hard drive. Unfortunately, due to the constant, unplanned uprooting of my life at the time ... the hard drive got ... misplaced.

As one might expect, I was a bit devastated by this. I had access to copies of many of the photos, but the originals ... let's just say my character grew three times that day. In a way it seemed I had invalidated a few months of my life. But ya can't change what ya can't change.

In the past few weeks, I have been upgrading my photo site, to make it more functional, add more photos, and add the capacity to (gasp) sell said photos (had to be done). Despite my "loss", I still had a couple of thousand pics to sort through and upload ... the vast majority NOT on the site.

It turns out ... 2 years later ... that I in fact did NOT lose most of those photos. I ... surprisingly ... did the smart thing and actually backed up the back up drive, without even remembering I did it. I may have lost a few photos, but the vast majority were actually hiding in plain site right here on the computer I picked up in my travels. Most of these photos are now available on the photo site (or soon will be).

A random image from the re-found photos.

It just goes to show you that if you let things go, they might just come back to you.

P.S. All of the original photos form this site are available on the photo site. You can even BUY them if you feel so inclined ... but either way they are often higher quality versions than displayed here. Swing on over and take a look.
September 5, 2016 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Hike, Life, On the Trail, Tale of a Trail
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Long time me no visit!! Long time me no visit!!
There is a difference between being a nomad and a simple drifter. Nomads may not stay put in one place very long, and may have a wide range of movement, but they move with purpose. They are following the resources that are needed to meet their needs ... whatever those resources, and needs, may be. On the other hand, a drifter just aimlessly moves from one spot to another, with no real purpose other than basic survival. As I look back at my life in recent years, it dawns on me that what I am seeking to be is a nomad, but what I HAVE been is a drifter. Even when I have stayed in one place for a long time, it was less by intent, and more as if driftwood caught in a cove.

This has gotta change!

I am working on it. That is part of the reason I have not been here in a while. I need to put purpose in my wanderings, so that I can be The Intrepid Explorer or The Noble Wanderer instead of The Shady Homeless Person. This involves a few things:

  • Establish a self-sustaining support system. I have been working on this in several ways, including making my photo "store" and custom storybook site prettier and more functional. Incidentally, if anyone finds any of the photos on THIS site pleasing, they can be purchased in varying different forms.

  • Remember to appreciate where I am. A nomad is present. A drifter often seeks to be elsewhere.

  • Have a central goal. Beyond exploring the world, I want to actually leave a mark everywhere I visit ... even if only a small one.  PAX Nation is the ideal, my nomadic lifestyle the method.

  • Live instead of simply exist. I have been just a marionette with an unknown puppeteer.  I need to cut (or maybe reclaim) those strings.

These are the basic steps for now. the book that this blog is essentially notes for continues to be written one day at a time. I just need to put it into a coherent whole, and decide on a good place to stop it ... for the story will carry on long past the end of the book.

A simple reminder that I don't have to actually GO anywhere to find beauty.

August 20, 2016 personPicnic Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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Shaving off my corners … Shaving off my corners ...
When I wasn't the Test Dummy, I was The Chronicler.

Can people change? Do they? I believe they can. I also believe that the vast majority don't, at least not without serious motivation and effort.

Once upon a time I was known as The Test Dummy.

It's not that I had no fear, but rather that fear never stopped me from pushing my limits. I was not exactly reckless. I fully understood consequences. I just did not let the possibility of negative consequences stop me from trying something. I knew my limits. I also knew when those limits could be extended. I would stop only when possibility became probability. In other words, if a bad outcome was the ONLY possible outcome, I would (probably) show restraint.

Why do I bring this up?

Since my physical journey stalled, I have slipped into a state of limbo. I am existing instead of living. I recently had a regular check up with my doctor, and discussed this with her a little. She (rightly) sees this as depression, and recommended I seek counseling. In our discussion, she said to me that sometimes people have to be willing to jump off a cliff. That made me laugh internally. I am The Test Dummy after all. But it also made me think.

Have I actually changed that much?

I don't think I have. But I do recognize that the weight of experience in an unkind world has siphoned my energy level enough that what I once did without thought I now need to convince myself to do. THIS I am not so happy about. Have I started let the insidious siren song called FEAR actually influence me?

I don't know that counseling is the answer for me. One cannot fit a square block in a round hole without altering either the block or the hole. In my mind, counseling is just trying to reshape the block to fit in the hole, when the problem may actually be the hole itself. I am no fan of society as we know it. For me to actually fit in it would require society to change an awful lot. It's not that I feel somehow superior to others, but rather that the shape society has taken has not been defined by what is best for humanity as a whole, but rather by those who would mold things to conform to their own selfish needs.

Some might call this a midlife crisis. In my mind, neither my attitudes nor my desires have changed since my youth. I just understand them better. Ironically this does not help clarify a very uncertain future any more than when I was younger. What I lack most is purpose, something I seemed to find much easier when I was younger. So where do I go from here? That is really the question that needs to be answered, and that is precisely the answer that I do not have. The only certainty I have is that simply existing is not going to cut it.

Time to start living again.
April 10, 2016 personPicnic Life, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about
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Confronting my inner hobbit … Confronting my inner hobbit ...
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

When does a journey truly begin? Is there a specific beginning? Or are all journeys just a continuation, the journey endless though the participants are ever-changing? Does the journey pick the path, or does the path define the journey? Does the destination matter? Or is the quality of the journey what is truly important? Perhaps it is neither, but rather how the travelers choose to approach the journey.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

Does staying still mean the journey has ended? Or just changed speed? Is a journey defined by the distance traveled? By the places visited? Or is it defined by its effects on the traveler? Who defines which is the correct definition? If the destination changes, does that mean the journey has changed? Or is it still the same journey?

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin,
But I at last with weary feet
Will turn towards the lighted inn,
My evening-rest and sleep to meet.

If the journey seems to end, is it truly an end or just a paradigm shift? If the road appears to end, does that mean the journey has ended? Are endings truly endings, or just changes in direction? Are endings ... or beginnings ... just a matter of perspective? If so, whose perspective?

Is there only one answer to any of these questions? Or ANY answers for that matter? If we find an (the?) answer, how will we know it is the correct one? Do the questions even matter? Does the journey?

My walkabout continues, though the journey has stalled. Or has it?
February 17, 2016 personPicnic Life, On the Trail, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about
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Rex Chestworthy is in da house!! Rex Chestworthy is in da house!!
Those who have been following these wanderings for a while know that this journey was ultimately initiated by the collision of two bloggers. The whole idea started when one wise idiot had a world-changing idea. The world that was about to change may have been limited to a world of two, and the changes ended up completely different from what had been planned ... but such is life. Every once in a while, I give an update on what the founder of this whole project is up to, even though our paths have gone in slightly different directions.

Mark, despite many speed bumps on the road of his life (some might even call the speed bumps mountains), keeps showing us the power of perseverance and a positive attitude. Like many who jump into the blogging world, for him blogging was a method of self-healing. His ability to turn difficulty into humor quickly gathered a large following for his blog, and he turned being an Idiot into a rather enviable status. However, his path changed, and he slipped away from blogging to become a master painter, with an equally avid following. Recently, he has decided that the world could once again benefit from his humorous yet insightful take n life, so has rejoined the world of blogging ... sort of. He has sadly been forced to step away from the persona of The Idiot, because others far less worthy (insert the name of your favorite Tea Party Republican here), have claimed, and totally tarnished, the title. So he has instead brought another of his alter egos out, one Rex Chestworthy, to regale us with wisdom and the healing power of laughter. Those of you who are his friends may already have encountered his new page on FB, but for others who may be interested, or who may just need a good dose of eye-opening thoughts, take a wander over to The Ramblings of Rex Chestworthy. You may not agree with everything he says, but you will definitely not be disappointed for visiting.

December 13, 2015 personPicnic Blog, Tale of a Trail, Writing
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What are the rules again? What are the rules again?
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

-Lao Tzu

I have probably used this quote before, especially because it is a simple yet profound truth. But I also have recently realized that it is not completely accurate. No journey really begins with the first step. Rather it begins with the decision to take that first step.

For those of us who seek meaning, the soul searchers and the questioners ... I am coming to truly understand that the answer to these profound questions may actually be less important than the search itself. I have come to the conclusion that there may not be a definitive answer at all, but rather an answer we each create for ourselves. For how can an answer that gives us peace of mind and purpose be a WRONG answer? Unless of course peace of mind and purpose are not something we should be seeking. And there is the basic problem with the search. How will we ever know we have found what we are seeking?

What is out there? Guess I best go and find out ...
What is out there? Guess I best go and find out ...

Every destination is ultimately also a new beginning. For if we consider it an end, what more is there to live for? Is the goal of life to find and end to life? Those who value the afterlife more than life itself would basically say yes. Yet I think that even in an afterlife there would be goals to aim for, otherwise it is just stagnation. Perfection is a destination with no further goals. Is that something we really seek? Sounds kind of boring to me.

Basically this is a long-winded and rather flighty way to say that it seems to me the journey is much more important than the destination. I need to stop thinking that I have somehow failed because I have not reached a certain goal, or because I am not even certain what those goals may be, and simply appreciate the journey that I am on. Sure it is not always be exciting, or even enjoyable ... but what journey ever is? I may not be physically exploring the world at the moment, but sometimes my imagination makes for much more exciting places to visit. So for now I explore THOSE realms. My walkabout is mostly metaphysical at the moment.

Yet I do still want to explore this physical world of ours before we make a complete mess of it. Guess I need to sill figure out some purpose after all.

Conclusion ... life has whatever meaning we want it to have. But sometimes we have to play the game by other people's rules.
December 5, 2015 personPicnic Life, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about
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Walking in place Walking in place
What exactly IS adventure? A dictionary definition is "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity", but does that really give us the full meaning? Adventure falls into the same category as other, life changing yet often sought after mysteries, such as love, happiness, and hope. Each of these concepts is ultimately defined by the individual. Concepts that, when found, often turn out far from what we expect. Not everyone seeks adventure. Adventure is for those who like to push boundaries. Those content with comfort and safety are not likely to go out of their way to seek adventure.

I am definitely not one of the latter. My life has really been defined by a search for adventure. But like so many, I truly did not know what I have been searching for. Adventure is the province of the imagination. And because of this, much is left vague or undefined. Part of my starting this journey was to once again chase after that mysterious entity called adventure.

It has taken a few hard moments and a LOT of boredom for me to realize that adventure is not really something I ever needed to seek out. For life itself is an adventure.

Is that adventure over there?
Is that adventure over there?

The truth about any of these most sought out concepts is that when we find them, we will realize that the exciting parts, the parts that we think we are looking for, are actually only a small part of the picture. We are trained by the Tale Tellers of the world that adventure is all about excitement and constant activity. But the tales tend to gloss over the mundane, sometimes even negative, aspects that fill up all the time in between the exciting moments.

Sounds like a fair description of life to me.

I am once again in my cave, with a very limited and often boring routine. And yet I truly understand that my adventure is far from over. Even as I sit typing on the computer, my mind explores the 'what were's and the 'what could be's. I am in the process of completing ALL the manuscripts I started over the years. Ironically, the two fiction ones may be the easiest to finish, because I control the outcome. But my real life manuscript, the one that is based on what has actually happened to me ... I have no idea how THAT one will turn out. I will never lack for material in THAT story, for my life is full of experiences. Whereas in the fiction, I need to create what is not already there.

So my walkabout continues, though to some it seems that I am not moving at all.
November 9, 2015 personPicnic Blog, Life, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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Brown Dog teaches … Brown Dog teaches ...
"Not yet Brown Dog! It's too early! Go back to bed!"

This is my equivalent to hitting the snooze button on an alarm clock. Every morning Brown Dog enthusiastically and urgently prances about, essentially saying "Gottagogottagogotaago!!," while her mean and unfeeling companion hasn't the energy to crawl out of bed yet. This has become part of the routine. On some levels, there is resentment in these actions: I went on this grand adventure, and all I have to show for it is a dog I did not ask for. Yeah me!

Don't get me wrong. I love Brown Dog. Precisely because of that, she is often the target of my frustrations with life in general ... and with myself. She has an exuberant energy that drives me crazy ... mostly because I envy it. The irony being that my NOT having it is essentially my own fault. And any resentment is really just my inherent allergy to responsibility. Truth be told ... once I actually get the walkies project started ... it usually turns into a moment of peace (if often slightly agitated peace thanks to B. D.), reflection, and ... believe it or not ... learning. I take these moments to appreciate: appreciate what is around me; appreciate what I DO have and what I don't; appreciate the simple fact of living. These moments are also good for letting the mind wander in nomadic bliss. My thoughts are often random, but I will explore that randomness to its very edges.


This morning, as I admired the early morning light on the autumn colors, the chill, brisk air instilled some nifty thoughts in my head. One that I may actually pursue (let my inner inventor run for a change) is the concept of a treadmill for dogs. As seems to be the norm for this time of year, Brown Dog's focus was torn between the desperate need to GO NOW!!, the finicky need to GO HERE!!, and the distracting need to  CHASE SQUIRREL!! Basically a typical morning's walk. Nearing the end of the walk, our slightly frayed, "ghetto" rope of a leash once again burned my fingers as B. D. once again decided THAT squirrel was Public Enemy Number One. So I said to her: "They are everywhere, girl. If you chase them all, we'll never get anywhere."

With an eye awakening smack, the cold air put its fingers to my cheek and I suddenly GOT IT!

I was talking about squirrels to a dog, but there was a profound lesson in what I had just said for myself (and maybe others). This simple statement so well applies to many other things ... but most applicably in MY life to dreams and ... causes. Dreams are everywhere. So are battles to be fought. One of the temptations an Idealistic Thinker faces is the need to follow ALL the dreams; the need to fight ALL the battles.

THAT way lays eternal frustration.

Maybe part of the reason I feel so adrift these days is because I have CAST myself adrift. If I keep chasing everything that catches my attention, my own personal squirrels, I will never get anywhere. To reinforce this message, B. D. suddenly got another scent, and started towing me at the cost of her own breathing ... again. This time I said, "Stop choking yourself chasing after something you will never catch!!"

The cold air slapped me in the face again as soon as I said this.

Yep. Brown Dog is one fine teacher!

October 17, 2015 personPicnic Family, Humor, Life, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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Journey’s end? Journey's end?
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.

-T.S. Eliot

I am a wanderer. This is not something new. I can't honesty say that I 'memba my first great exploration as I left the birth canal ... but I suspect I was pretty excited about it. My earliest memory (technically my second earliest memory) is actually of a man in a big, bulky white suit jumping down a ladder creating a puff of dust ... and to this day many will say it never happened. Whether it DID or not, does not matter. Nor does it matter if I actually remember seeing that, or it is just something I manufactured for myself, for that image has in many ways shaped who I am today. The irony of my attempted wanderings is they have taken me on great adventures, only to find me right back where I started from, wondering what actually happened, and more importantly ... what's next.

That is where I am now.

The best way to explore life is to ... well ... explore life.
The best way to explore life is to ... well ... explore life.

I started this last adventure, not truly realizing until this very moment that I was not truly STARTING anything but just continuing, only to find myself right back in my old cave. But somehow it is more profound this time. Or maybe the contrast is sharper. The last few years of my life have been extremely epiphonious (Real word? Maybe not, but it applies.) Especially the months around my "hike". I am back here, trying to absorb all that I have learned about myself; about humanity in general; about what is important and what is just part of the great drama known as human life. It has left me with more questions than answers ... the biggest being, "What do I do now?" There is so much more of the world to explore, both physically AND metaphysically, yet we live in a culture where such exploration is reserved for the extremely wealthy or the outcasts. Otherwise one is not behaving as one should ... defined by those who would control the masses and supported by said controlled masses. So now I am in limbo, spending my days in vast amounts of thumb twiddling in between going walkies with Brown Dog.

I have to admit, this is not all that productive on any front.

I do not wish to stop exploring the world ... which is to say exploring LIFE. But I can't find it in myself to squeeze back into a box that I never respected in the first place ... and respect even less now as our culture slips into what to me is somnambulance. So I wait here, hoping for a path to follow, knowing all to well that waiting rarely gets one anywhere. I need to create it myself.

So me, tell me ... what's next?
October 8, 2015 personPicnic Appalachian Trail
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Walking on Walking on
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Lao Tzu
Reconnecting 0010

Once again it has been a long while since I have dared put my ongoing journey into the weak vessel that is written language. Photography is a better method of sharing for me, but sometimes it too does not relay what needs to be relayed. Anyhoo, as happens when time passes, much change has come into my life. Paths past have been left and/or revisited, while paths future still live in the nebulous land called Possibility. Companions have moved on with their own journeys, which for many now means a separation of ways ... though our paths may cross again. Such is the wonder of the land that I once again am heading towards.

Though I did not complete the Appalachian Trail as a Through-Hiker, there is no doubt that it has changed not only my view of life, but how I live it. The experiences I had there and around it; the people who I met on it ... the journey so far has helped shape who I am becoming and where my next steps will take me. The irony of this adventure is that much of the journey has me staying put in one place for indeterminate lengths of time. Right now I am back at what I guess I can call my home base, the "attic" of my mom's house. While here I need to start repairing some of the inadvertent damage my exploration of parts unknown caused, nurturing the seeds that have been planted along the way, and regrouping for the next part of The Grand Adventure.

One of the potential seeds planted would have me joining a fellow explorer, known on the A.T. as EZ Rock, as he does a documentary in Colorado. This is a photographer's dream, and I seem to more and more be calling myself a photographer. But there are a few stumbling blocks (as usual) that I need to ... well ... stumble through.

The biggest challenges are a lack of functional equipment, and the transport of my newest hiking partner, none other than the famous(?) Brown Dog. To that end, a new gofundme campaign has been started:


More importantly, since four-legged companions seem to be discriminated against in the travel world, I need a method of getting myself and Brown Dog from eastern Massachusetts to somewhere in Colorado. Volunteers, suggestions, and/or donations would be most welcome!! Spread the word and maybe I'll have a chance. And since I know that four-legged companions get way more attention than scruffy middle-aged men, here is a cute pic of Brown Dog:

A new park 00000029

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August 21, 2015 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Exercise, Family, Hiking, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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This time I took a left This time I took a left
It has now been over a year since I began this ... you know, I am not quite sure what to call it anymore.


It started off as an adventure. Gradually it morphed in walk-about. Then it shifted into a whole new realm ... maybe the world of dreams. But as a I ramble about this, I am clarifying for myself. What I am doing is simply LIVING LIFE.


That said, part of the lack of posting about life recently is being too busy living it, part of it is living said life in the woods far from any communications capabilities other than smoke signals. Fortunately, I am momentarily pretending to be civilized, so time for a bit of an update. Team Idiot finally escaped the dangerous jungles of suburban Cleveland, managing to make it all the way to the safety of the Spiritual Way Station known as Damascus, VA. Unfortunately, the spiritual world is both of light AND shadow. It seems this past winter shadow seeped in deep, and instead of the bright greeting we were hoping to find, we were instead met with the worst of the human spirit. Apparently free and happy spirits are not welcome to the spiteful spirits that actually try to dominate this otherwise beautiful haven.

But I digress. Back in part of the heart of Appalachia, the team intends to hang here until the Bacchanalian Fest known as Trail Days is over, then decide where to wander to next. Gonna find a place to sit down, do artsy stuff, sell said artsy stuff, hopefully rendering financial issues less of a P.I.T.A.  I will personally try to actually finish one or three of the ever growing number of projects I keep creating.

That was an awful lot of words to get to my ultimate point, that I have gone and started yet ANOTHER blog, kind of spin-off from this blog. Our newest member of Team Idiot is Brown Dog, who has left the city for the first time to explore the wonders of nature. It's a work in project, but check out ...


Waterfall play   0007 large



April 15, 2015 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Exercise, Family, Hike, Hiking, Life, Nature, On the Trail, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Uncategorized, Writing
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The Tale Goes On … #1000Speak The Tale Goes On ... #1000Speak
How do legends become legends? What makes deeds great enough that they need to be shared across the land? Is it the actions that make the hero? Or is being a character of legend something we are born with? I suppose it pays to have a good advertising team. It’s all about spin.

I would love to share the tale of a legendary character here. I would love to give the exciting details of his journey, a journey like no other. Yes I would love to share such an exciting tale, but sadly I can only work with what I have. THIS particular story is just about lil ole me. Or more specifically, some recent adventures of mine.

“Who,” one might reasonably ask, “ARE you?”

I guess that might be a good place to begin.

These are the first words I wrote as I began turning this grand journey I am on into a book. Yesterday was the one year anniversary of me setting on this path, and ironically I was at a loss on how to start this post. But it suddenly dawned on me that particular beginning is a good place to start.

Every morning the story should start that way.

We are all writing the story of our lives. Who we are is key to that story, the very plot of it even. Thus we are the heroes of our own story. But the beauty of every story is they are actually parts of a greater story ... the Human Story. Together we are writing the Greatest Story Ever Told, sure to be a Cosmic Best Seller. Each chapter we write of our own lives becomes just another detail in The Ultimate Novel, the Book of Time Itself.

I have spent a year on this particular series of chapters ... I have spent a lifetime; maybe even many lifetimes. This is the story I took up as I cried my first cry, and it will be the story that continues as I sigh out my last ... for there is no true beginning or end, just new chapters.

Two years ago, paths crossed, and the first idea for new chapters began. One year ago, the ideas became a reality as a first step was taken, and yesterday ... TODAY ... the story continues from totally unforeseen pastures. I am here in a place I never envisioned, unsure where my next step will take me, totally uncertain as to what future I will write myself now, but absolutely KNOWING I am on the path that I need to be on.

For we always are.

A Long Overdue Adventure 0048
Where will the next step take me? What will the next chapter read?

This journey has reminded me that I am a minuscule part of an infinite whole, while at the same time encompassing that whole in the universe that is me. Every meeting, every pain and joy, every hardship and ease, every failure and success just makes me a unique part of the whole, and The Story Continues. I have no hope of containing the immensity of this story in one measly book, not even my own infinitely small part of it. Yet I can also be thankful to be part of the whole, a necessary part just as everyone else's chapters are.

I cannot actually telly you where the next steps of my Walk-about will take me. But I can tell you what will drive them.

Compassion. Hope. Laughter. Healing. Change. Brightness. Beauty.

I look forward to interacting with YOUR chapters. What future will YOU write?

March 25, 2015 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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Digging out of the snow Digging out of the snow
With the advancement of technology, the concept of exploring the world has vastly changed. Actually much about how humans interact with the world ... and each other ... has drastically changed since the pre-internet years. It is debatable (and a personal choice) how good or bad these changes are. I for one find them both exciting and terrifying. Exciting because we all can now directly experience much that was practically legend before, without ever having to get up from our chair. On the other hand, the terrifying part is that we don't get up from our chair. And we believe digital "truth" too easily.

But, once again thanks to advances in technology, we have plenty of things to fear in this world, so I will conveniently ignore that part and focus on the positive. This whole journey, that started as a digital escape from a cave, became a plan for a couple of dreamers to take over the world (at least THEIR world), and ended up with a slew of unexpected tales that were not in any way expected ... is far from over. However as some doors shut and others opened, a maze of choices became apparent. I have been so busy wandering this maze lately that I have neglected actually documenting the journey, which has not only increased my own confusion, but left a few interested parties hanging. In other, less long-winded words ... time for an update!

Of the original idiots, THE Idiot is now an artist of note. He has shifted his talent as a writer into equally amazing talent as a painter, and the only thing that really stops his works from becoming invaluable masterpieces is that he is ... in fact ... still alive and painting. He has evolved from Notable Idiot to a man with a superpower. Shelbygrl has reemerged, doing her best to live a happy life despite the various roadblocks obstacles some trickster deities keep tossing in front of her. My newer hiking companions have all continued on with there lives, though Grey Wolf may be starting the trail fresh. And then there is me, myself, and I.

Ironically, I seem to know the less about where the three of US are going then my companions.

My physical journey with a destination turned into a mental journey with multiple destinations, and now it is a spiritual journey where not only is the destination unclear, but I am not even sure of the path I am ON. I now have THREE manuscripts in the work, NINE pseudo active blogs (and several more I have a hand in), two of them theoretically to earn money, one to consolidate, one to save the world, and the rest to entertain or at least generate a thought or three. I am physically sort of stranded in Ohio at the moment, which was not on ANY path that I envisioned taking.

Despite the multiple projects, lack of direction, occasional battles with dark lords, and horrible diet, I oddly feel I am right where I need to be.

This blog will get a bit of an overhall in the near future, as I have been doing with the others. I am working on pulling all the parts of me into a coherent whole. I don't know what the final product (or products) will be, but if anyone is still curious ... stay tuned!

The beginning of the pulling together ...
The beginning of the pulling together ...
February 3, 2015 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Canada, Hike, Life, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Uncategorized, Writing
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What comes after the summit? What comes after the summit?
Hey guys! It has been far too long since I last updated the masses (all 6 of you) on the status of my journey. By now 4 or 5 of you have had a brief moment (no more than a passing thought) wondering if I have ended up in a ditch somewhere, then immediately went on with the more important things in life such as finishing cleaning the toilet. But I will type away, keeping my delusions that SOMEONE might be a bit curious.

Before I set foot on the Appalachian Trail, it was pretty clear that there would be a lot of climbing involved ... clear to anyone who has ever seen a mountain. It was less clear to the middle-aged couch potato who still thought of himself as 18 how STRENUOUS and painful some of that climbing would be. But without fail, reaching the summit always carried a sense of achievement; frequently a sense of awe; and all too often a sense of severe pain and hunger. Yet we continued on, sometimes because we really had no choice if we wanted continued survival, but usually simply because that is what we do. But as I have no doubt mentioned many times before, my life is governed by irony. Little did I know that the pains and rewards of that first part of my current journey ... a mere hiking a few hundred miles through varying terrain with a house on my back ... PALED in comparison to what came next.

logo-546e4da8_site_iconWithout getting into TOO much detail (after all that is what my best-selling yet to be book is about), suffice to say that the emotional and spiritual part of this journey that has defined the last couple of months is to the hike like The Incredible Hulk is to the kid that always got stuffed into the locker. If you want a less S.A.T.-ish metaphor, or better yet clear speech, it was downright HARD! I reached the depths of despair ... not even being able to envision continuing another moment ... yet still continued. I found moments of pure nirvanic bliss, so content that if my life stopped at THAT moment, I would know the Question to the Ultimate Answer ... yet still continued. I did manly battle with inner demons galore, with many a scar ... yet still continued.

And here I am, at the proverbial peak ... wondering what is next.

Now I can finally start this blog post. Since I spent so much time in prepping you, I'll shorten things up a bit. What is next is to continue climbing. No more path to WALK on? Guess I am going to have to fly now. So my new life plan in one long-winded set of words: yet another website (which is also a business) up and running; one old website in the process of being revamped and also turned into a business; two more websites to be upgraded to join the team; all to fall under one shell that also will require a website; three books to finish writing; going to massage school to round off the plan; all this with no steady place to live and no active income yet.

I think I got it all.

Stay tuned folks, it is really starting to get interesting now!!
December 8, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Exercise, Family, Hike, Hiking, Humor, Life, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, The Walk-about, Writing
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Return of a footsore Idiot Return of a footsore Idiot
As I think I have said before, I am not sure one can really go walk-about if they are not doing too much walking. Now that I have survived the most recent pass through the forge as I turn myself into whatever tool I will be, I decided to start taking some control back. Winter is approaching, which means that it is a good time for nomads to stay put for a while. Plus it would be good to replenish the coffers. Gotta start paying back money I owe, resupply, and ensure I actually survive the winter. Since me becoming a wealthy award-winning author seems a very slow process, this means some temporary work. I consulted the digital genies and immediately found a new bar opening up only a couple of miles away. Walk-able, and in many ways ideal. Food service is good for flexibility of schedule and occasional cash in hand.

Being the excellent planner that I am not, I checked routes on Google. To the bar; from THAT bar to "MY" bar ... er ... um ... office. Filled out an online application, got an email saying come in for a talk, and the process was started. Of course in my usual perfect timing, this day it decided to snow. Oh well. Walking in a light snow can actually be quite refreshing. I walked to he potential job site, actually FOUND it with only slight difficulty, had my ten minute canned interview (stay tuned for results), then began the walk to the office to get some REAL work done.

Pause for sarcastic laughter.

deep-snowIt is one of the many ironies that govern my life that the more "civilized" and area is, the less capable I am of navigating it. Put me in the woods, and I will rarely get lost. Put me in something man-made, like say a city or a mall, and I will be lost for hours. I am glad (?) to say yesterday was no different. I apparently totally misread the map for my return journey. Add to that the lowering temperature, the increasing snow, and my tendency to go into the "zone" when conditions become less than comfortable, in no time I was ... completely unsure where I was.

I am one who travels by landmarks. Like trees and rocks. Stock buildings, highways and advertising signs completely baffle me, especially when they keep repeating themselves. After a few, "I'll turn here, it is bound to take me somewhere," mishaps, I finally ended up somewhere that there was potential for warmth and better yet ... directions. I shed what remained of my pride and ... dun dun dun ... asked. I may be remembering incorrectly at this point, but I am pretty sure the answer was, "You are in the wrong state."

Finally I figured out where I needed to be, roughly 5 miles That-a-way. Fortunately it was now getting darker, colder, and snowier, ensuring I didn't settle down in someone's yard for a nap. So after a walking only about nine miles out of my way, I finally made it to the "office", I stayed long enough to thaw out before I skied back to my room to crash for the night.

So basically I walked roughly 13 miles and got slightly hypothermic for a ten minute interview for a job I may or may not get. All in all a rather productive day.
November 14, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Exercise, Life, On the Trail, Planning, The Tao of Picnic, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Writing
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Walk a mile in my shoes … or better yet in my mind Walk a mile in my shoes ... or better yet in my mind
It is odd how a journey that was supposed to be of the feet has recently entered the realm of the metaphysical. This is part of the reason I have not shared much recently. My physical walk-about has temporarily stalled in Ohio (still not quite sure how I ended up here), but my mental ... or rather spiritual walk-about has entered realms that I never even imagined before. This adventure has gone so far from my original image to something out of the realm of dreams ... including nightmares.

If I didn't believe it before, I sure do now. What we NEED and what we WANT are rarely the same thing. Maybe true understanding will come when they are.

I have learned so much in recent weeks, ironically much of it in the last few days. I expected to face physical and mental challenges on this adventure ... what I did NOT expect is to come face to face with my deepest fears; to stare despair directly in the face. I recently posted this in the Social Media world:

Achieving the heights means looking deeply into the depths, and going the other way. A true test of character - how we deal with despair.

This particular lesson I learned in a very direct and painful way. I have had a VERY rough few days. Anyone who actually bothers to follow me online in any way may have noticed a trend in my recent status updates ... this was all part of my new lesson. Without getting repetitive, I will just list a few things that I have most recently learned (or re-learned yet again). Maybe others will take something out of it ... maybe no one will even see the list. Either way, putting it in words ensures the lessons, taking it from the realm of ephemeral to the solid state. Maybe I will actually benefit this time?

Life lesson time:

  • This is really a reminder that I seem to keep needing ... EVERYTHING in life is based on choice. Love, hate, happy, sad, pain, pleasure ... EVERYTHING. The image we see in the mirror is perceived ENTIRELY how we CHOOSE to. You don't like it, change your perception.

  • Ultimately, the only person we can rely on to make our lives what we want is ourselves. Others will come along who will help or hinder, but only WE can make ourselves into the person we want to be. The moment we relinquish this power to another we have basically failed ourselves.

  • A sense of humor may be even more important than a sense of hope.

  • Life is ALWAYS precious. ALL life. Anyone who does not recognize this fact has seriously missed the point.

  • Barring some drastic cosmic event, tomorrow will always be another day. Which means that WHATEVER may have happened today will now be the past. Instead of living life as if today would be our last, maybe we should live it as if today is our first; as if we were just born. Maybe if we choose to experience life with the wonder of discovery instead of in a desperate effort to not miss anything, we would have fewer difficulties.

  • Happiness is not really my ultimate goal. ALL emotions have value. The key is to incorporate them all into the Ideal Me, to own them, not to let them own me. The simple truth is sometimes there really is nothing to be happy about. Pretending it does not make the "bad" things go away. But if we just remember that difficulties are ALWAYS temporary, and do our best to do what we NEED to do, happiness will return.

This list could go on and on. Like I said, I got slammed with a barrage of epiphanies recently. But I guess the rest of the lessons have to wait for the proverbial book. Which is one of the things I need to complete to finally make me the me I wanna be.

Stay tuned. Maybe I will start getting it right this time around.
November 12, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Humor, Life, On the Trail, The Tao of Picnic, Uncategorized, Writing
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A morality tale A morality tale
Once upon a time there was this man who was feeling mighty lost. Unsure how to deal with the hollow feeling that was plaguing him, he locked himself in a nowhere room for a couple of nights … but found the company very lacking. Since hiding from … whatever it was he was hiding from … seemed ineffective, he decided to start walking. He put his bag on his back, left the nowhere room, and walked to the end of the street. Here, something told him to go right. He walked to the end of THAT street, and something told him to go left. He didn't really know where he was going, just that forward motion was needed.

He walked. And walked. And walked. Then walked some more. As he walked, worlds were created and destroyed. Thoughts paraded in an endless stream, and then were no more. Sadness opened the floodgates, anger beat holes in the walls, and curiosity did its show and tell. And the man continued to walk.

Sometimes the little voice inside the man, the voice of wisdom … the voice of censure … the voice of creativity … the still small voice that should be heard but is so often ignored … spoke to him. It said that maybe he should ask for directions. The man answered his voice, “How can I ask directions when I don't know where I am going?” The voice then said that there were people wondering where he was … maybe even concerned about him. Again the man flippantly answered, “I'd tell them where I was if I actually knew.”

In the midst of ugliness ... beauty. Or is it the other way around?
In the midst of ugliness ... beauty. Or is it the other way around?

The man walked on.

The still small voice, not to be deterred, got wily. It appealed to the one thing the man rarely ignored … his hunger. With this backup, the man decided that he would stop walking … at least for the moment. He found the nearest place to sit and eat (at this point no longer so near), and stopped his feet for a bit. The still small voice took advantage of the pause, and finally got the lost man's attention.

After eating, the man considered what the voice had been telling him. He also considered maybe actually picking a destination. As these thoughts bounced around the emptiness inside, a couple with a cute young girl came in to order some food. Shortly thereafter, a woman came in with an equally cute and young boy. As far as the man could tell, these people did not know each other.

This did not deter the young girl. She was so excited to see the young boy, that they were immediately friends. For several minutes they interacted on a level of pure joy, giggling and laughing. It was a pure, innocent moment. It made everyone there, including the lost man, smile with the simple love and happiness of the moment. The man thought to himself, “Yes, that's it.” The still small voice agreed.

Suddenly the persistent shadows; the enemies of innocence, came rushing into the room. It dawned on the man that his enjoyment of the moment would so easily mark him as something not to be trusted in this world gone mad. He was a nameless wanderer; a stranger. If ANYTHING happened to these children in the immediate future he would be the automatic scapegoat, the demon in the room.

The moment was made. The moment was lost.

Shortly after this stark and ugly thought, the little boy left, and the little girl slipped into a screaming tantrum. The man, always alert for lessons to be learned, wondered what the moral of THIS story was.

Even the still small voice has not answered him yet.
October 3, 2014 personPicnic Family, Humor, Life, On the Trail, The Tao of Picnic, Uncategorized, Writing
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The best story ever told … for real this time … The best story ever told ... for real this time ...
It is odd to me how many of us seek to hide from the "real" world in creations of fiction. Especially since the unfolding of any life is vastly more interesting if we just open our eyes and truly SEE it. We especially need to pay attention to our own stories. We spend our lives seeking understanding; happiness; love; success ... there is an endless ever-changing list of possibilities. Ironically, as often happens when we think we are looking for something ... we find what we actually NEED while looking for what we think we WANT. It seems the real trick of a complete life is recognizing the difference. But no matter what path we end up on, it will always be a unique story to tell.

For instance this particular tale, which is labeled (now somewhat inaccurately) a Tale of  a Trail, has grown so exotic that even those of us living it are not completely believing all aspects. It started as an attempt for two slightly scarred by life kindred spirits trying to find something they both felt they had lost. Months later, we both are in the process of exploring what it is we may have actually needed ... again ironically barely following the path we set out on. Mark, Idiot Extraordinaire and Dream Starter, thought he would regain his life and heal by a healthy little stroll through the woods with a friend. He may have indeed regained life and healing ... yet he never even set foot on the trail. Not only has he become a master artist that can still be successful without having to spare an ear, but he is returning to his literary genius persona with a ...

 ... NEW BLOG ...

In the mean time, I am still on walk-about, trying to figure IT all out. I am more and more realizing that I need to stop looking for what I want and allow my needs to be heard. Somewhere in there, I hope to write a book or three, sell some photo art, and maybe even accidentally help an occasional soul in the process.

I like to think I am becoming more and more "Picnic" as I keep stepping forward. Good or bad, Picnic is gonna be a damn enjoyable story!!
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September 23, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Family, Hike, Hiking, Humor, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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Open your eyes! Open your eyes!

Now that the nature of my journey has changed, I am beginning to see the world differently. Where I have been ... Damascus ... is a crossroads of sorts. Physically it is a bit of nowhere that somehow connects many different pathways. It is nature and man-made trying to find a balance. Yet spiritually, it is much more. I call it the Doorway to What If. Because it is connected to both the human world and the world humans are trying to leave behind, I am still inundated with all that I was escaping (recovering?) from. Every time I see or hear the news; every time I see the worst of humanity in action ... all I want to do is run back to the woods ... which is easy in Damascus. On the other hand, at times it is a struggle for fringe dwellers to easily survive the area.

Thus for the moment the adventure once again moves to Ohio. It is not the state of my dreams. I have never even considered it as tops on any list of places to visit. But I am here now, and may be for a while. Fortunately I have learned (remembered?) one simple little fact that oh so many seem to forget often ...


As the darker side of life invades our senses, we start forgetting this. The ugly; the dirty; the undesirable somehow claim our focus, blinding us from that refreshment that our souls so need. But the beauty is there if we remember how to see it. It takes effort at times, but a single flower; a smiling child can still be seen in even a war-torn country. And sometimes it is just that small bit of hope that keeps us going.

Not that Ohio is a hopeless place. But the reality so far has set straight some preconceptions I did not even know I had. These are a few moments and sights I caught the other day. I know many who have followed this journey might be disappointed by the new directions it is moving in, but I hope there is still something of interest in what I share.

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September 6, 2014 personPicnic Blog, Family, Humor, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Uncategorized
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Another excerpt from the Tao of Picnic Another excerpt from the Tao of Picnic
My newest manuscript is unfolding moment by moment. I ony hope I have the skill to capture those moments and share them. I wrote this in my recent sojourn into Ohio, and it seems to ALMOST touch the reality of that particular moment, so I figured I would share it here. I hope it will help convince the masses that whatever my end product it will be worth the read.



“At that moment, I realized that I was actually LIVING a Hemingwayish novel. I also realized that I was using my glasses like an old man.”


Picnic looked up. Something had shifted. He felt it in the very center of his being. It was more than the obvious release of tension for everyone in the room, though that was part of it. It was also more than the influence of the salad of mind altering substances he had been exploring lately … though that too was part of it. It was more like he had suddenly left a dark smokey bar to find a brilliant scenic vista from a fantasy world. Blinding at first, but as the eyes adjusted focus became clearer and clearer, and with it both amazement and understanding. The back-up glasses he was now wearing were also playing a role, somehow acting as a filtering lens bringing it all into clarity.

Maybe he was just very stoned. Downright tripping. But he had explored altered consciousness enough throughout his life to sense that ... this time … it was so much more than that. He knew without doubt that something significant was about to happen. It was as if his awareness was preparing to step into a whole new level. For the first time a quite a while, Picnic was truly excited for what was to come.

He looked about, taking in the details of the room around him. Sleeping forms, clothing scattered about, a room that was no stranger to the frenzy of high energy people. Dream Girl was a strung bow at full pull … just trying to find her target. The tension this time was far more excitement than stress. Finally! That too was adding to the sense of pending transformation. The Cowboy was coming to get her. Was she ready for him yet? This room, home for the last week, had a definite lived in look, with an atmosphere that was an odd mixture of hope and desperation. Son of Dream Girl and Girlfriend were limb entangled in peaceful slumber, while one of the Lost Boys was deciding what to do with himself for the moment.

Just as it was decided that Picnic, Dream Girl and Lost Boy were going to the store, the peaceful dreamers woke up … and so did the tension again. Healing would be long for this family, but his current level of awareness told Picnic that it WOULD happen. Plans shifted a little, and soon Picnic and Dream Girl were on their way to a little of her favorite stress relief. As soon as they stepped out of the hotel, Picnic's awareness shifted again, almost splitting. Yet he felt no disorientation this time. The last time he found himself this open eyed he could barely walk a straight line.

I wish I had a way to record all this!” Picnic thought to himself. The writer in him was sure that if he could remember all the details he was now experiencing he could convert a simple few hours into a transcendental novel. The geekier side could totally envision them as an award winning independent movie that would alter lives. However the only truth that really mattered is that for this moment, Picnic had an understanding of What Is that went far beyond words, or even coherent thought. He simply got it. And wished that he cold keep it long enough to even have a remote chance of expressing it with that limited tool called words.

He was creator and observer all at once; the wandering statue; the frozen stream. He was a well flavored stew of emotions, though no specific spice overwhelmed another … all were needed to make it a nutritious meal for the soul. He was here and not here, everywhere and nowhere. Yet he was also simply Picnic, walking along the sparkling path that Dream Girl always left as a wake in her passage. Together they walked the short walk to Target; together they glided through a new doorway to What If.

It's really going to get interesting now ...” Picnic laughed to himself as he picked up his pace to try to catch up to Dream Girl.

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August 19, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Family, Life, On the Trail, Uncategorized, Writing
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I should have taken a left at Albuquerque I should have taken a left at Albuquerque

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This journey has always qualified as exploring the unknown. Even when I was under the delusion that I would leisurely walk 2200 miles with nary a sweat, I truly did not know what to expect. But I have to admit, ending up in Ohio never even entered the realm of far-fetched possibility. It is definitely NOT on any trail map I have encountered.

Yet somehow that is where I am today.

This journey has definitely shifted in ways I could never even imagine, yet it is all the more exciting as a result. I am truly beginning to explore the world as I always wanted to, even if some areas are not on any list of Place to Explore I might have ever made. This just brings to the forefront a very simple reality ... there is beauty and ugliness to be found EVERYWHERE. We often all have expectations every time we visit someplace new, whether from information gained through the information storm technological societies face daily, or our own imagination. And most likely our expectations are at least partially wrong.

"Why?", the more curious might ask, "ARE you in Ohio anyway?"

Well I'll tell you.

As my journey morphed from a jaunt in the woods into a nomadic wandering, any budget that I even imagined got completely shoved into the realm of poorly written fiction. Sadly, this means some people have been hit harder than others in the capacity of supporter (thank you thank you thank you THANK YOU mom). In an effort to recoup some of the excess, as well as have something to work with to start actually earning funds again, I have come to the land of Kelly (my fellow nomad). Here she will use her skills and connections to earn a few bucks so we can get back to th realm of survival again. So we will be exploring the wilds of Ohio for a couple of weeks.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of the beauty I have already encountered along the way.
August 8, 2014 personPicnic Blog, Life, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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Where IS home anyway? Where IS home anyway?
Though I seem to be staying put at the moment, I in a way< I am still travelling far ... at least in a spiritual and mental sense. I was talking to a fellow nomad (one also trapped in the vortex), about where HOME is.

A "home" with a view?

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I have yet to find the answer to that question. I think it is a false assumption that home describes a precise place. It is becoming more and more apparent that home is really more of a state of mind. I have lived in many places, some quite comfortable, others barely a comfortable rock on soggy grass. I have occupied the same location for years at a time, or found myself relocating on a daily basis.

Yet I still don't know where home is.

I have encountered home a few times ... usually when I least expect it. But there is no specific defining characteristic that said to me: Yep, THIS is home. For many, home may be conjured into being by a specific location, but I guess for us wandering nomadic types, defining home is not so easy. The platitudes tell us home is where your heart is, but what if your heart keeps moving too?

I guess this is also part of my rebirth ... defining home for myself. It has fully obvious to me that it will NOT be a specific location, but a part of myself that I will discover (or create?) that I will carry with me continuously. I am seeking my home.

I am kind of annoyed by the belief that I already have it with me. I am just too blinded by my own choices and over-active ego to SEE it yet. Anyway, if there are still folk out there who are interested in my oddly evolving adventures (even if they are a far cry from what they started as), sometime in the next few days I will be going with my partner in crime (or adventuring) to the wilds of Akron, Ohio. There she will ply her trade as a professional torture artist, while I turn a blind eye and ears to the evident agony and help book her clients, all to recoup some of the money we have been shovelling out in recent weeks. She calls it deep tissue massage, but I am still struggling with my conscience over this. hopefully I will have tales to tell of the flora and fauna of the area, and maybe even find a few notable sentences for the pending book. In the mean time, here are a few more pictures to distract y'all:

July 30, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Exercise, Family, Hike, Hiking, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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Learning to play a game with broken rules Learning to play a game with broken rules
One of the reasons I took on this journey in the first place was a fundamental disrespect for the society we live in. I find many of our societal priorities completely backwards. If anything, much of what the mainstream considers important actually makes me cringe. I have been told many times that I need to learn to compromise, but my definition of compromise means that all parties give a little. The definition of compromise in our "me" centered society has metamorphosed into "do as the more powerful party wants and learn to like it". I simply can't play by broken rules, no matter how much easier they would probably make aspects of my life.

It is an interesting linguistic fact that the concept of "give and take" is always expressed in that order, no matter the language. Give ALWAYS comes first. Since language is ultimately just a representation of the way we perceive reality, how is it that we tend to live in the exact opposite way. Much of the human world ... especially the modern world ... is driven by The Profit Motive, which is really "take and give". Too many of us will not do ANYTHING without some sort of personal gain or recompense. We take first, and if we feel satisfied we might give in return.

Like I said, to me that is totally backwards. My personal philosophy is if someone needs something from me and  I have the resources and the skills needed, then I will give them what they need, expecting nothing in return. THis does not mean I won't accept a reward if offered, but I neither expect or require it. In other words, I find it difficult to ask for money for something that I am willing to do for free. Admittedly this make my life very difficult at times in a "what's in it for me?" world, but I am who I am, and frankly like that person.

A major draw of the hiking community is many understand that GIVE come first. People take care of each other, and often if one can't "pay" for services, pay it forward comes into play. Barter is frequent. This kind of living makes a lot more sense to me, and makes for a much friendlier and happier community. Unfortunately, as much as I think this is the way the world SHOULD operate, it plain and simply doesn't, which means I am usually scrabbling to survive (at least financially).

Basically, I need to make some money to survive in a world I don't like. I no longer have the patience to work at a to me pointless job just to pay for bills that would not exist without the job. I have skills that I can use, but as I said, if I CAN do something for another I will ... pay or no. And if I actually enjoy doing it, I might just do it for the sake of doing it. For instance, I have skill with writing and photography, and I guess I should be able to make some money with either or both. Yet it goes totally against my grain. Art, especially, is MEANT to be shared. So I dabble with selling my skills, never really getting anywhere because my heart is not in it.

Sometimes having a moral code is a pain in the butt!

In the meantime, while I try to figure out how to get paid for something that I love to give away, here is a crayon drawing from one of my trip pictures. It may not resolve any of my issues, but I think it looks pretty good and I enjoyed making it. Hopefully you will enjoy it as well. Feel free to reward me for it if you feel so inclined. KIDDING! Mostly.

Crayon mountains
July 21, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Hiking, Life, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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The Tao of Picnic The Tao of Picnic
Fence 0001
As I recently mentioned, this adventure is destined to be the next book project I start. Now it remains to be seen if I will actually finish ANY of my manuscripts. I seem to have fully slipped into the role of starving artist (except for the starving part apparently). I even have a coffee shop I frequent almost daily now ... though I usually get fruit smoothies. I am not sure If I qualify as a writer without caffeinated products altering my bloodstream.

Anyway, I spent a few hours this morning expanding the few sentences that I realized were the start of my story. It is interesting to me, that now tha I am specifically trying to write about my OWN adventures, the writing is that much more difficult. I have dabbled in writer's block before, but usually find that it is just my own demons trying to catch my attention. But somehow with me as the actual FOCUS of ... I don't know ... reality fiction? ... I am not sure what to say. I guess I want to keep things interesting without tooting my own horn too much. Didn't expect it would be that much of a challenge. But then again little of my life in recent months has been as expected.

Possibilities for my near future: I will actually finish A manuscript. I will maybe sell some of my photos (even though it goes totally against my grain) and maybe even make a few bucks. I will do a road trip to Ohio with my partner in crime in an attempt to recoup some (or all) of the money spent in recent weeks, refilling coffers that really should not be emptying in the first place. I also am dabbling with the idea of making some web pages for folk ... also with the possibility of earning from that. The first challenge is getting over the to me rather awkward concept of charging for things that I am perfectly willing to do for free. Someday I may manage to fit in this backwards culture of ours yet ... though I have my doubts.

Here is the intro to what I think I will be calling The Tao of Picnic. Let me know if it is something that you might want to read:

How do legends become legends? What makes deeds great enough that they need to be shared across the land? Is it the actions that make the hero? Or is being a character of legend something we are born with? I suppose it pays to have a good advertising team. It’s all about spin.

I would love to share the tale of a legendary character here. I would love to give the exciting details of his journey, a journey like no other. Yes I would love to share such an exciting tale, but sadly I can only work with what I have. THIS particular story is just about lil ole me. Or more specifically, some recent adventures of mine.

“Who,” one might reasonably ask, “ARE you?”

I guess that might be a good place to begin.

It all started some four plus decades ago in a classic example of industrial suburban. In Brockton, MA, halfway between Boston and Providence, a small city that grew from shoes and boxing, trying its best not to become another fallen paradise … in other words a typical small industrial city, one condominium complex bordering a large park was welcoming a new arrival. Without revealing too much too soon, suffice to say that that new arrival, a quiet and inquisitive (not so) little guy, went through the cauldron of youth in suburbia to grow into a nature loving, out-of-the-box thinking, wandering soul with a lust for learning. This is That Guy's story.

I was That Guy. I guess technically I still AM That Guy. Yet I have learned enough throughout my personal adventures to understand that we all are like the proverbial water in a river, constantly changing, never the same we were a moment ago. The man I am now, as I navigate my current adventures, is That Guy Plus. That Guy is the foundation of who I am now, and will always be part of who I become.

Is this a sufficient introduction?

Inherent in the human condition is a visceral need for labels; reference points in our maps of reality. Since I am guessing most of my audience here will be human, I will attach a few labels to myself. I was born Steven Howard Kramer. That has morphed through many incarnations, finally mostly settling on Steve for family, and Kramer for everyone else. Until the recent adventures, that is, in which Picnic was introduced to the world. Yes folks, I am Picnic.

Ultimately that is what this story is all about. This is the evolution of Picnic.

July 19, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Hiking, Humor, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Uncategorized, Writing
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Anyone for a visual journey? Anyone for a visual journey?
Now that I seem to have formally switched from Hiker to Traveller, I have access to more of that pesky technology that I have a love/hate relationship with. Which means I can now bombard people with the millions of pictures I have (and will be) taking. OK, maybe I am exaggerating that number a TINY bit. I have picked 538 of the pics I am least disappointed about, and created a slide show for anyone who has 8 or so minutes to waste. I was going to add music and make it kind of cool, but I don't have the patience for copyright nonsense at the moment. So pick you favorite travel music and enjoy!

If you want a better look at the individual pics, they can be found here. I am also in the process of trying to set up a website so I can actually sell prints of the better photos. If anyone has any desire to have one of the accidentally good pictures hanging on their wall, contact me and we will talk. Or you can inundate The Idiot with painting requests. I hope some pleasure is gained, and maybe y'all can get an inkling of what I have been experiencing in the last few months. :)
July 16, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Hike, Hiking, Humor, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Uncategorized
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Making like a leaf and … ? Making like a leaf and ... ?
Yep. I am still in The Void. But while I existententially explore, I have also decided to at least deal with the technology issue a bit. I went and got myself a cheep computer, and now I can actually do things with my pictures ... and maybe even write regularly. In the mean time, while I continue to figure out ... well ... what I am actually doing, here are a few more pictures of the area. I will be able to take ans post many more now! :)

Error: map could not be loaded - a map with the ID does not exist. Please contact the site owner.
July 13, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Hike, Hiking, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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Once upon a time … Once upon a time ...
How do legends become legends? What makes deeds great enough that they need to be shared across the land? Is it the actions that make the hero? Or is being a character of legend something we are born with? I suppose it pays to have a good advertising team. It's all about spin.

I would love to share the tale of a legendary character here. I would love to give the exciting details of his journey, a journey like no other. Yes I would love to share such an exciting tale, but sadly I can only work with what I have. THIS particular story is just about lil ole me. Or more specifically, some recent adventures of mine.

"Who," one might reasonably ask, "ARE you?"

I guess that might be a good place to start.

Everyone has a tale to tell. And each tale is unique to the teller, even if it may share much with another's story. In the last few months, I have shared parts of my personal story with many different people, while learning bits and pieces of their own tales. All the snippets are blending together in a mosaic that to me display human life in all its complicated simplicity. Truth is often truly stranger than fiction.

I may still be wondering where this my adventure will take me, but it has become clear to me that wherever it goes, I won't be going alone. A book was always part of the "plan". The above quote might just be the first few sentences. I think I am now officially writing THREE books.

Just imagine if I not only manage to finish one, but actually get it PUBLISHED. Stranger things HAVE happened.


July 5, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Family, Hike, Hiking, Humor, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized, Writing
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Life and the Tao of Picnic Life and the Tao of Picnic
It's eerie how I can write the most incredible and awe-inspiring post in my head in mere seconds, only to lose all ability to write when I try to convert it to text. This is one of those kind of posts. I have anticipate this post; maybe even dreaded it, for a long time. It was bound to happen. The question always has been... when? I guess when is now. Or part of when is now anyway.

About now, anyone who stumbled by here is wondering: when will this Idiot actually SAY something? What is this big reveal he is clumsily dancing around? Get on with it already! Stop stalling! OK. OK. I'll just come right out and say ... I have no clue what I am wanting to say.

It seems that I too have become a spectator for my life.

For those of you who have been following this adventure from the beginning, I am surprised as you to say we may all have been wrong about this journey's destination. It started as a way for for two men who have been knocked askew by life to regain a sense of self and the world. Gradually a sense of purpose was added to that list. The character of the adventure has morphed before our eyes, but one theme held common ... the ultimate physical destination is Katahdin. Wanna be thru-hiker -> walker -> painful hiker -> "thru-hiker" -> explorer of Appalachia -> explorer of realities -> ???

I am not sure I ever was just intending to do a long hike. I have gone walk about.

I have very long-windedly gotten to the point (I think). I am torn about the next step of my journey. This area I have stalled in is a gateway to the Land of What If? There are so many directions I can go right now that even my rather broad imagination can't encompass all the possibilities. Ironically, the lands I can't imagine are the ones I want to explore.

Forces are pulling me in many directions. Big deal. That is life. But right now these forces are pulling so strongly in opposite directions that I feel it in the center of my soul. The black hole pull of the unknown is countered by the chains of other's expectations (the strongest chains no doubt my own PERCEPTION of other's expectations), while the me that I want to be, the me that I think I am, and the me that IS fight for dominance.

This me ...
This me ...

... or this me?
... or this me?

What's next for me? I truly do not know. I am blind at a crossroad, and cannot even FEEL where to put my feet next. I have found more truth and honesty in the fringes of humanity than anywhere in that manufactured reality we call the mainstream. Every time I hear news of THAT world, it screams in pain. A pain I have no power to heal. "What is in it for me?" has replaced Right Action. Having for the sake of having has replaced compassion. And the "appearance" of right has replaced actual morality. That is the world I am trying to gain freedom from. Yet the only way to do this right now is to cut ties that should not be cut. Follow the heart? Follow the mind? Follow the soul? Or find the eye of the storm where all three meet?

What's next for me?
June 26, 2014 personPicnic Appalachian Trail, Blog, Family, Hike, Hiking, Life, Nature, On the Trail, Planning, Uncategorized
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Steve Kramer

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