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Walking on

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. -Lao Tzu
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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:

//funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf

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:

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MA 02324

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MA 02324 41.964741, -70.966568 My Training Camp

The countdown continues …

Now that we are approaching the end of 2013, it dawns on me that it also means that 2014 is …

RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!!

This means that this hike thing is coming up very soon. I am not saying I am nervous or any such nonsesadgjsokdlbks

Sorry. Dropped my keyboard.

I still have a LOT to do, mainly cuz I am one of those people who has mastered the art of doing things last-minute. One of my challenges is still the whole funding thing. I have not been so successful in actually earning the money I need … which really does not surprise me seeing as I always do things the hard way. I am far from giving up, but I figured opening up possible resources is never a BAD thing, so I started a Go Fund Me Campaign:

//funds.gofundme.com/Widgetflex.swf

These seem to be very useful at times, so definitely worth a try. As always any help is appreciated … but not an obligation by any means. I also still encourage people to use this adventure as an excuse to make donations to charities. With so much happening in current events, Typhoons, War, Poverty, Health Issues … there is no lack of people in need. Donating really does not require a specific reason other than the will and means to do so, but if this hike adds additional encouragement, then it is a good thing. Not to mention knowing that we might be doing something good will keep us on our toes (literally). One new cause that some might be interested in is the Wounded Warrior Project. Partner Maytag is affiliated with them, and let them know what we are trying to do, and they seem all for it.

Again if financial contributions is beyond your means or desires, no hard feelings. Just the moral support is appreciated. But feel free to spread the word to others that may be interested. I still have dreams of this becoming something notable … but if not at least we tried. A few updates on training and planning:

  • I have gained a few pounds back, which means I need to tighten the discipline a bit and get my arse back in gear. Working on it (anyone know a good dominatrix type trainer?)
  • Maytag makes some mean Jerky, so starvation is no longer a major concern.
  • While my equipment list has not actually grown, the list of WHAT I need and want is definitely getting clear … and long. Poor Santa!
  • I am still walking several times a week to the “office” (granted on that is not doing the diet any good … but good on the exercise front) with a 20 pound pack on my back. I even do it in the rain occasionally. Not sure how safe it will be in the snow though.

The goal still is to get started on March 20, 2014. But I need to make a bunch of things happen first. Mayday has done a good job of helping the cause so far. As far as I can tell I am the weakest link. But nothing a good whack up the side of the head won’t cure!

Later y’all!

A little heathy(?) begging

It seems that time has done one of those funky things again. One minute my trip is, “Plenty of time … it’s not until the end of March.” All of a sudden it’s, “Holy crap … it’s at the end of March!” I still have most of my equipment to buy, but my budget is about as lucrative as that of the US government. Unfortunately, I don’t have any credit with Russia or China, and my attempt to shut down the kitchen until I go what I want really was not all that productive. But I will not give up. I will am going to try that always so effective budget tool, and ask the average man on the street to fund my personal projects. I have one advantage that the Gummint Guru’s do not. I don’t have to call it taxation. Instead I can call it Crowd Funding.

will hike for foodFor those of you unfamiliar with Crowd Funding, It is basically a way for the average joe to ask other average joes (and maybe even the occasional above average joe) to help fund a project. There are several forums in which this can be done, I think I will be using Kickstarter.  This does not mean someone just posts somewhere, “I need a million dollars to put a pool in my back yard,” and suddenly people start showering them with money. Rather one needs to make a proposal, and sell their project, and hope people find it worthwhile enough to make a contribution. This is usually done with a good solid video or the like … basically a commercial.

So my challenge is to come up with a valid reason WHY someone might be willing to help out in this endeavor. Basically I need to let everyone know what benefits THEY might get for a contribution. I tried going to the streets and asking a few men (and women) on the street. After getting bailed out and the black eye healed, I figured it might be safer for me to try the internet instead. So I am once again looking for some feedback here.  What would be an incentive for someone to maybe throw a few dollars my way to help me make this trip happen?

What my commercial will explain:

Reasons for the hike …

  1. For Mark, and Michelle, and anyone else who has had big dreams derailed by that mean bastard called Life.
  2. For myself, just to prove that I can do it.
  3. An inducement to folks to maybe help others who might be in need (via charities).
  4. A reminder to an over industrialized and technologied worlds that humans are actually capable of doing things the simple way still.
  5. To remind people that nature is, and always will be, part of our world, and needs to be cherished and nurtured for our world to remain healthy.
  6. To provide the material for a book.

Ultimately, my goal is to put together about $5000 dollars. How will the money be spent? About $2000 will be for the basic equipment needed. The rest will predominantly be food (and logistics) with a healthy buffer for emergencies and any replacement equipment that may be needed. Anything left over at the end of the hike will either go towards the book or charity.

The bit that is the most challenging is incentive. Most people will be thinking “What’s in it for me?” on some level. I can offer such things as a free book to anyone who contributes. If the contributor is say a business or an organization, I can offer publicity. But are these incentives enough? What else might someone want? That is my challenge at the moment. Any suggestions are most welcome, and will probably be used …. because I am that short on ideas. The one thing I DON’T want to do is to bully or guilt anyone into doing it, nor do I want to make anyone feel obliged in any way. In my mind any help will be appreciated, and even if no one is able … the trip will still happen. I will just have to find another way 🙂

A little less mud … maybe …

It was rightly pointed out to me in begging plea for assistance yesterday that not everyone will really have a clue what I am talking about … especially with regards to the charity donations thang. Not that many people often have a clue what I am talking about (including me). Maybe some came along later and never saw the posts explaining, and did not find the blog THAT interesting to explore more than the most recent posts. Not to worry boys and girls, I am here now to make the water (a little) less muddy, and explain all.

The original plan, proposed by THE Idiot was for two middle-aged man who have found themselves adrift in the world for different reasons to reclaim both a sense of self and a connection with nature by taking on an unusual challenge … namely hiking all 2200 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail. When he asked if I would like to do this, I hesitated about 3 seconds … roughly the amount of time it took me to type yes. Both of us being bloggers (that is how we know each other) we decided to create this blog to track the whole process, training and all, and maybe eventually coauthor a book. To make it more interesting for our followers, as well as help motivate us and, frankly actually increase the worth of the project, I suggested we treat it as kind of a really LOOOOOOOOONG walk-a-thon, and have people make donations to charities of their choice based on our activities. Mark was all for it, so we created a way of doing it.

The process is pretty simple. We would track how much weight we lose, how many miles we walk in training, and how many miles we will walk on the actual hike. Then people can pledge to any charity (or charities) they choose, based on whatever criteria they choose. For instance some pledged a flat fee presuming we achieved a certain goal by a certain time. Or some might pledge an amount per mile over a period of time. It is totally an honor based system, we would never touch ANY of the money. All we wanted to do was track the pledges, so we could get an idea of how much we potentially managed to raise. And maybe even get some backing from individual charities as well. The idea was pretty well received at first … until we ran out of friends and family to bully.

We then found ourselves another crazy person  driven idealist to join us, increasing the excitement and focus.

When Mark came to his sad realization that his body was not going to cooperate, life seemed to draw Michelle away too, but I am too stubborn to let minor inconveniences like losing my partners in crime stop me, so I am keeping the project alive. For me, for Mark and Michelle, and for the good we can do. I may be the only one of us actually hiking at this point, but that does not mean they are not there in spirit, nor that they are no longer part of the project as a whole. For that is what this is, not just a crazy hike, but a project to make a difference … even if only a small one. So I am hoping to get more pledges. I am hoping that those who have already pledged will honor their pledges. I am hoping that with all the darkness going on in the world we can provide a little island of light, a little proof the people from all over can come together and make a bit of a difference.

The form for making a pledge can be found here. Like I said, this is only tracking an intent. Whether you honor the pledge is entirely up to you. I am NOT asking for money for myself. That said, if someone chooses to help me on the resources side, I will not turn it away. But I make no claim to be a charitable institution, I m NOT tax-deductible, and I am neither asking or expecting any such arrangement. The main thing is that maybe some others can benefit from this.

I hope this clarifies the confusion a bit. I am not trying to guilt anyone into anything. The hike will go on even if this results in nothing. But if it CAN become something more, why not aim for it? If you can’t offer money or other resources, maybe you can just share the concept. Or maybe even offer suggestion on how to improve it, make it into something even more worthwhile. It could even be as simple as visiting me at a town to say hello and give me a boost. Or joining me on part of the trail. Or helping ensure I get needed supplies. I will take ANYTHING offered, even if it is just a cheer when I am lagging.

Thanks ALL. I hope I am not just spinning my wheels here … but even if I am … spinning wheels are needed to make the vehicle go! 🙂

Yep. still plugging along.

Here I am again. I have been suffering from a severe bit o’ “Why bother getting out of bed?” It is not so much depression but a basic lack of progress in … well just about anything … lately. It is hard to motivate when no matter what level of energy we put in nothing seems to happen. It is like the whole “why bother washing when you will just get dirty again?” conundrum. Unfortunately, as well as this attitude fits for the lazy side of me, “the guy that gets bored easily” side of me is having none of it.  Which means not only do I have to get out of bed … I have to wash too!

I have a large number of projects going on: five blogs,two books, a new business (of sorts), losing weight and getting fit, saving the world, and of course preparing for a really long hike. Unfortunately I am not making much progress on ANY of these things. It could be a classic case of me biting off more than I can chew. Or it could be a lack of belief in myself. Or it could be that sheer laziness thang. Probably some combination of all of the above.

BIG biteBut we have already established that I am also an Idiot. Which among other things means I don’t know when to quit. So even if I took way to big a mouthful … I will keep chewing, and chewing, occasionally gagging, until I swallow it. Even if I occasionally stop chewing to catch my breath and wonder if I actually CAN swallow it. In short guys …

… I have started chewing again. Ultimately, everything I am doing is pretty much focused on the AT Hike, even if not directly. I have a few months to achieve a few (miracles?) deeds. I still need all the help I can get (and no we are NOT talking psychological this time). What needs to be achieved:

  • A crazy partner. I will still do it even without a hiking partner, but I just old enough to recognize that I might NOT actually be invincible.
  • Increase my fitness and weight loss. That is pretty much up to me.
  • Get the funding I need to make this happen. This includes successfully getting some income. It would be ideal if I could make some progress on my business, but so far it seems I have chosen the wrong type of business for my personality (i.e. one that makes money). If out of sheer pity’s sake (or you happen to actually have fitness goals of your own), let me know and I can try out my used car salesman self on ya. Or just visit taochild.info and buy stuff. I am also hoping to get some sponsors involved, but really have no clue what I am doing there. So feedback, names, offers, bags of cash … anything thrown my way will be much appreciated.
  • Equipment. Once I have actually figured out the whole funding thing … I need to get the supplies. Donations and suggestions welcome!
  • Publicity. As much as this is a project to prove my own craziness; manhood; determination; boredom ; your choice of words here … to me it is also all about actually doing something positive for the world. The whole charity idea is still very important to me, and I need to get the word out there. If people can’t afford to make a donation, they can help by spreading the word. The more people who know about this crazy idea, the more chance of making a notable difference. Again if doesn’t happen that way … I will still go on. I am not doing this for acclaim. But it would be OH SO cool if it actually DID make a notable difference in this darkening world. Wouldn’t it be great to say you were part of it too? You might even get a few lines in the movie!

Of course nobody is obliged to help me in this. But for me it has become a group effort, even if I am the one doing the actual hiking. I would love for the effort to grow; for it to become a truly communal project that both benefits and gives satisfaction to many. But in order for that to happen … well there has got to be many. I will get off my recently lazy arse, and chew harder. But I am quickly becoming aware that no matter how determined I may (or may not) be, this is NOT something I really achieve all by my rather inadequate lonesome. So if anyone is still paying attention … alert the press. Tell ALL your friends. Pretend I am your child with girl-scout cookies! Let’s see if this Endeavor of Idiots can become a truly NOTEWORTHY Endeavor of Idiots.

I just hope my motivational begging works on me too!

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