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Drum roll please ….

WE SHOULD NOT LET OUR FEARS HOLD US BACK FROM PURSUING OUR HOPES.

-Fortune Cookie

We'll call this ... BEFORE.

We’ll call this … BEFORE.

If the technology demons behave, this should be posting as a jetBlue plane begins a flight to Charlotte, North Carolina, carrying a new-born adult male (who has a face smooth as a manly baby’s bottom to prove it.) Approximately 2 and 1/2 hours of heavy arm flapping later, he will be met by a mysterious man known to some as … MAYTAG … who will approach the baby-faced man with the purpose of determining if there are any ax murderers in da house. IF convinced, Maytag will invite this travelling stranger back to Maytag’s home, where the two will do the final preparations for a great adventure.

Yep, the countdown has not quite reached zero, but the journey has begun!

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The niece's artwork and a new good luck charm ...

The niece’s artwork and a new good luck charm …

I had a fairly busy weekend. I had a nice “see ya later meal” with family, having Chinese food in case I don’t get a chance for a while (resulting in the above fortune). I got some obligatory last-minute items, including a bracelet made by my niece to make sure I look like a PROPER nature type. I also decided to bring something of dad’s with me, since if he were still here he would have been all over this adventure. I did one last visit to the watering hole to say good-bye, thereby finally eliminating any delusions I had that anyone would actually NOTICE that I am gone. And I rearranged my pack and created a carry-on so I would not have to purchase an extra ticket just to bring my things WITH me (or get jumped as a terrorist).

Dad's signet ring ...

Dad’s signet ring …

Now all that remains is to somehow put my pack back together, figure out with Maytag everything we forgot, and then …

… HIT THE TRAIL!

Is anybody else excited?

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Logan International Airport

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Logan International Airport 42.365613, -71.009560

The most important map

There are quite a few descriptions that people might use if asked to describe me, but there are a few that will never make that list, even by accident. For instance I doubt anyone would even try to link me and the word “organized”. And I definitely fall short on such things as “detail oriented” and “a planner”. My usual method for packing for a trip is to start stuffing things in a bag roughly two hours before have to board whatever transportation method I am using. Considering this, I usually don’t leave anything I really need behind. It is usually the small things that I can easily pick up somewhere along the way, or simply replace with a little bit of creativity. I tend to approach most of my life in this spontaneous manner, and usually it works well for me. On those occasions I actually try to plan ahead … well let’s just say planning and I really don’t get along well. My inner MacGyver rebels I guess.

Thus one of the true challenges for me as I am preparing for this adventure is all the future planning that is inherent in the trip. I am trying to keep it to a minimum, so I don’t implode, but there are some things that simply cannot be avoided. Minor details like how I am going to get to the starting point, or where I am going to get pesky things like food, or what to bring. Fortunately I have had ample help in most of those departments, so will most likely survive without having to eat any fellow hikers. But, and this is actually from personal experience, I can’t do my normal packing method on this trip. Not only do I have to ensure I pack things for the best distribution of weight, but I also have to be sure I can actually FIND what I packed again, while having a fair chance of putting it back in the same place. For some this is par for the course in EVERYTHING they do. For me it is like learning a foreign language.

The most important map

The most important map

So today, I gathered all my piles of goodies together in one fairly spacious spot, and packed everything the way I intend to do it on the trail. To make sure I can REMEMBER where I packed everything, I went so far as made a MAP of my pack, and an inventory list based on WHERE it was packed. I suspect one of two things will happen on the trail. I will either get very used to this current arrangement, to the point where I will be able to find just what I need in the darkest of night even sand flashlight, or it will drive me nuts and I will slip back into “I know it is here somewhere” mode. I guess that will be part of my personal challenge.

The fully packed pack is a bit heavier than I was aiming for, but that is the price I pay for being a photography and blogging junkie. Removing all the gadgets that I need to take all the photos I want and make multiple blog posts a week would probably make the weight much closer to the ideal Possibly even less), but then half the reason I am going on this adventure would be removed. I figure I can lower the weight quite a bit if I simply remove all food, water, and clothing. One has to have their priorities straight after all!!

TWELVE days and counting!! If my dreams are any indication, I have a nice mixture of excitement and nerves building. Can barely wait to get to that first “Why the !@# am I doing this again?” point. That will mean we have actually started and my poor tortured body hasn’t yet adjusted to the extra person I am now carrying up and down hills.

THE INVENTORY:

TP1TP2RPLP
Sun glassesGoal 0Toilet PaperCamera and Glasses Cleaning Supplies
Glasses caseFirst Aid KitTooth Brush
Camera FiltersMulti ToolTowel
Macro LensScrew Driver Less Small Flashlight
Hard DriveSmall Flashlight
KeyboardDuck Tape
Camera Battery
Compass
Whistle/Match Case
Note Book
FPMO 
CablesClothesTripod
Power AdaptersFoodMess Set
Knife SharpenerTent & Tent SuppliesStove
Emergency Fire StarterWater FilterRain Gear
Multi Purpose LineWater BladderSleeping Pad
Camera CaseExtra TarpDr Bonner’s
Spork & KnifeGators“Pillow”
Big KnifePrescription MedsSolar Panel
VitaminsWater Bottles
Yep. I will be wearing THAT on my back.

Yep. I will be wearing THAT on my back.It’s all in there!

It’s March!!

Can ya believe that we will be leaving in about three weeks? It seemed like just yesterday this whole adventure was just a vague idea!

The last few days have been a bit … outside the routine. Which is not necessarily a bad thing since my routine is about to change drastically anyway. But this shift in routine was a little thought provoking. For one, my uncle passed away (from dementia), resulting in a funeral and my family reconnecting with some people we have not seen in over thirty years. The next day I found myself coming down with some sort of bug that refused to be named, which I am just today recovering from. So the recent days have been filled with a crazy mixture of thoughts of the past, family, mortality, whacked dreams, and what we will be facing on the trail. Mixed in with the constant, “Am I forgetting anything?”

Evolution of a fashionable back pack ...

Evolution of a fashionable back pack …

Now that I am sort of thinking clearly again, I can most definitely, without a doubt say that I am almost completely sure that I MIGHT have just about everything I need … I think. Thanks to the random bits and pieces of advice that have been sneaking in, I seem to keep thinking of just ONE more thing that might come in handy. I got this nifty bungie web thing that attaches things tightly to the outside of the pack. So no more danglies. And it even matches the pack. After all it is important that I hike fashionably. If I pack only a weeks worth of food at a time, I actually have  fair amount of room to work with, so it just comes down to keeping track of post offices now. I still have not done an official weighing of the pack … the recent affliction put it off. So the current to do list:

  1. Do a full packing (including food and water) and weigh it, as well as do some practice walking with it.
  2. Make a map of the pack so I actually know where I put all my knew toys.
  3. Figure out a shipping plan to keep my stomach happy.
  4. Pretend to get some more exercise in.
  5. Visit the local watering hole at least once more to make sure they will survive six months without me.
  6. Hopefully not spend too much money in said watering whole.
  7. Spend some time with the family members who might miss me for a few minutes.
  8. Buy the small things that I did not need to special order but still need.

This list is growing as I type. Seems I still have a few things to do to prepare. Which is actually better than having nothing to do accept gnaw on the woodwork until I actually go.

More updates when I actually have something useful to say. Just felt the need to check in.

 

To eat or not to eat? That is the question.

Because I have not really had all my supplies in one place at one time yet, I have not quite figured out exactly HOW I will be packing my pack. I got the food I ordered today, which is about a month’s worth if I actually listen to their portion sizes … probably half of that if I listen to my stomach. And it is taking up quite a bit of space, forcing another batch of pack remodeling.

Yum???

Yum???

All part of the fun really.

I still need to get some external strapping, since the food is forcing even more dangling things. I am starting to wonder if this eating thing is really worth the space it takes up. How am I gonna bring all my cool toys if all that unnecessary food gets in the way? Besides there are plenty of leaves and branches to gnaw on along the trail. Maytag has some similar packing dilemmas … after a test run WITHOUT a tent, his equipment survived a rainy night with everything nice and dry, so he is now debating if he even wants to bring a tent.

I planned a snow test run the other day. It was the perfect night for a test (some sort of precipitation, and snow on the ground), and I was all set to snuggle up in my tent and see how I survived the night. I quickly was reminded of exactly how NOT to set up a tent in the snow. My attempts of getting a little backyard camp set up were no doubt rather amusing  … for anyone crazy enough to stand out there and watch me. Fortunately, my masterful bit of fumbling has me pretty convinced that everything will work fine … and barring full plunge into a pond … should keep nice and dry.

I also ordered a backup pair of glasses, presuming I might want to be sure to actually see where I am going being a visually oriented kind of guy. Of course I forgot to take into account the wonders of health insurance bureaucracies. I might not actually GET them before I leave. Not that I expect to break my glasses … but ya never know. I also got the OK from my cardiologist … seems the battery is working up to par. Of course the personal pharmacy I need to take along is also being fouled by the bureaucratic demons, but we wouldn’t want things to be TOO easy would we?

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Wonder tools

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I am not sure where we will pack the trees ...

I am not sure where we will pack the trees …

I feel like a little kid counting the seconds until a Disney Vacation (before I realized that Disney is actually an incarnation of evil that is). I get the feeling Maytag feels the same way. He has been doing a good job of testing out his equipment … most recently he was practicing camp settings to make sure we keep dry and comfy. I would like to be doing the same thing, but the weekly snow storm is making playing in my yard more of a challenge. Granted practicing in the snow makes sense, since all indications are that we will be seeing a bit of it on the trail, but I am not quite THAT devoted to it until I really have no choice.

In the mean time, I have been wondering around my house with a bag of weights on my back. I have been doing my best to get used to not giving into the constant whining of my stomach and nibbling every time it tries to convince me I am hungry. Based on my personal history, much of that hunger stems from boredom anyway. I continue to do what I can to keep a few pennies coming in. Beyond the occasional gig at the Wedding Hall that has basically allowed this trip to even be a possibility, I have also gone through the torture of endless inane online surveys to make a few dollars. I am still waiting on a few deliveries of cool stuff so I can do a proper map for packing my bag properly. Yes, I said map. How else will I ‘memba where I put everything?

Greatest inventions since the wheel ...

Greatest inventions since the wheel …

I have found that somehow a hiking guru or two have stumbled across this blog (poor gurus!), and even offered some advice. This combined with my original guru, who still wishes to remain anonymous, has actually convinced me we might be pretty well prepared for this adventure. The most recent advice (thanks TimB) was to avoid dangly things. As much of a fashion statement having things dangling from the bottom of the back pack may be, they are not wise from a physics point of view. For dangling means swinging, which means screwing up my balance and “sucking my energy like a tick” (TimB’s words). Which makes sense to me. So I need to rethink the packing at least for those items.

Fortunately, there is a wonder invention called Bungie Cables, which is the equivalent to duck tape for extreme usefulness and fixing everything. Put the two together, and NOTHING is impossible. I am not sure how I neglected this fact that I know all to well, but that has been corrected now. So that is next on the ever growing list of things to get.

Which reminds me … I forgot to get duck tape too.