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.
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.
Hungry Mother State Park36.883776, -81.526499Hungry Mother State Park
“Why am I out here?”
Ultimately, every hiker will be asking themselves this question… most likely after a particularly bad or painful day. The funny thing is, at that moment in time they may not even know the answer to that question. We all start the trail with our reasons; our own justifications for attempting such a grand adventure. However, it seems to me that the justification we give ourselves to get started may be completely different from the “real” reason we are out here… often to our own surprise.
But that is how life really works.
This question has been bouncing around my mind like a pong ball of late, especially as any vision I had of the HOW of this journey has been completely replaced by that pesky bugger known to some as reality. In the last few weeks, I have found a new hiking partner, systematically gotten caught by every hiking town with any allure in a 300 mile radius, spent about 6 times my budget, found at least 3 places that will be my future life and career, walked several hundred miles … most of it NOT on the trail, embraced my inner savage, helped my current hiking partner find her future porch rocking chair mate-for-life, had a nasty stomach flu, and dyed my hair and beard red, blue, and purple.
Yet I still am not clear what I expect to find.
This confusion, combined with a severe lack of cooperation from the Gods of Technology, is why I have not updated in a while … incidentally causing a few folk to wonder if I had been abducted by aliens or possibly eloped with a Sasquatch. Now, as I lie beneath a clear night sky in the oddly appropriately named Hungry Mother State Park (Virginia), I am in a position to share once again, even if I am not quite sure what I am actually sharing. My future vision, usually vague when it comes to myself, is now about as clear as wearing a blindfold in a sandstorm. The way I see it, these are the possible scenarios:
I will eventually finish. Preferably before the grand celebration party that is no doubt being planned as I type. Or at least in the next decade.
I will be kidnapped by aliens or elope with a lonely Sasquatch.
I will start a hippie commune. Or go a little more upscale with a bed and breakfast/hostel. I will eventually become part of the mythology of the trail.
I will actually complete a book.
A combination of any of the above.
None of the above.
Yep. All is clear now.
NOTE: One of the tech issues I have been fighting with tooth and nail has to do with photo transfer, so sadly youse guys are gonna have to wait for a new batch of masterpieces.
Clingmans Dome, Tennessee35.562755, -83.498498Clingmans Dome
Day: 39 Trail Miles: 199.1
Rain. Snow. Pain. Slow.
That kind of sums up the last few days. I finally entered the “dreaded” Smoky Mountains. Why dreaded. Well first there is the whole bureaucracy involved with getting through the park. Can’t even escape The Man in the woods. Add to that every previous hikers tales of what to expect … and the imagination has you quivering in your shoes.
First lesson learned: don’t listen to what anyone else says.
This section of The Trail is beautiful. It is cold and unpredictable. It is both harder and easier than one expects. And the local Trail Runners have a nasty habit of telling you it is MUCH easier than it actually is (note the first lesson).
Second lesson learned: most of our physical limits are self imposed.
What still remains the best part Of the journey is the people met along the way … on and off the trail. There is a whole trail based culture that truly can not be fully understood by those who have not experienced it. This includes those who offer trail magic … even the spontaneous kind. With that in mind, I want to offer a special shout out to Joe, Linda, and Jonathan. Thanks again for the ride. It was great meeting you.
A couple of side notes: I am writing this from Gatlinburg, Tennessee, the “Redneck Las Vegas”. As usual, it is sucking me in for a few days. I also am about 3 inches smaller in belt size.