Monday, August 27, 2007

New York? New Liver!

I'll be on the move again today. I had the itch to leave on Friday night, but somehow Friday ran smack into Saturday with awesome suddenness. I missed hitting the post office by noon, so I lived up my marooned status until Monday. I never thought I'd say it, but thank god trail side tiki bars with all day drink specials went out of style; my liver needs to air out.

I've picked up some public domain audio books from librivox to help keep the noodle from drying out. I had some insight into ol' Ted Kasinski's mental break while trying to get some of the commercial audio book folks to work with the public library system and my MP3 player at the same time. He may have been crazy, but luckily he got sent up river before trying this stuff out. The horrors that he would have unleashed make me shudder.

Speaking of soul deep chills; I walked through a day of rain to get to the train station into NYC. Once I get to the train platform, everything was soaked, and the temperatures were in the mid 50's. Those conditions and a nice breeze whipping across the platform, and through the train during the hour or more ride made me wonder how embarrassing it would be to walk this far and die of hypothermia in the city. Luckily, the shivering and rocking was enough to keep my temps up, and the seats next to me empty.

It was great seeing all the NYC crew! It's difficult to leave, but I did start to realize that I'm not in the right frame of mind to live here right now. I'm not sure if that's a temporary thing or not. More thinking on that... as it helps me decide what I'm doing after this.

Whoops.... gotta run. Food, then train. Ah... NYC food. Wish I could marry a fried chicken sandwich... or coffee, or even the ribs :(


Monday, August 20, 2007

Connecticut Re-connection

I've been moving a bit faster than I was expecting. I had my first 23 mile day, which I felt for two days. I'll be in NYC probably Tuesday night, and may stay through the weekend. I'm looking for temporary lodging... (drat team untie)... so folks, give a call if you want to stink up your apartment a bit, and have a guy polish a 3' x 6' space on your floor. Also, if folks want to do any goofy tourist stuff, or teach me to sail, then give a call. Oh.... and the pouring beer and/or food into my food portal... call now!

As for all things mental, I'm doing pretty dang ol' good. Mass and Conn have been very good for me. The variety in terrain has been fun fun fun, and I got to hang out with some other hikers for a moral lift, and some lifting of spirits to my lips. I really like the woods out here. Walking out here reminds me a bit of Maine, with changing from river walks, to rocky scrambles, to mossy stream sittin' spots. I kind of wish I weren't hitting NY so soon. Alas, NYC calls and the miles pass.

Funniest hitch hike of the week: truck with locked bed cover driven by stoner guy (also he fishes and is a carpenter... JC is it you?), had to drag the banjo and pack into the front seat with me again. Tight hitch. Not as bad as the mini cooper hitch, but a close second. You haven't lived until you are swinging around 30 MPH curves at 60 MPH, with no seat belt, and no option of jumping from the moving vehicle. He was fun though! And smelled like pot! Second coming, indeed!

Best magic of the week: met three guys walking down this steeeeep hill that lead to a shelter .5 miles off the trail. I had night hiked in and didn't realize how steep it really was. These guys were older folks, and asked me to pass on word of their whereabouts to two others ahead of them. I met the two others and passed on word. Later in the day I got the three guys seriously lost when the trail was ambiguous, but got them straightened out again after a half mile detour. Then I hit a road where the other two were driving back to find the the hikers I misled. I mentioned that the pack of three were going to be just a bout 15 minutes behind me. So the two guys pull over the car and whip out beer! Two beers later, I stumbled off into the woods again. Getting paid in beer for losing your friends; priceless, unless beer has a monetary value, in which case it's two beers worth of money.

Worst smell of the week: close tie between my socks, and the water I had to filter a couple days back. One smelled like death, the other like a sulfur pit. Filtering that water through my socks may actually have mellowed the scent. Mmm, poland springs may be on to something.

Strangest recent connections:

  1. Allied One, a company that insists I may have already won a ford explorer or 25,000$ keep leaving me partial voice mails.
  2. Google, who are trying to interview me again while out here. What an odd time and place in life to try taking a technical phone call. "Patricia trie? Nah... but lots of maples!"
  3. Bumped into a section hiker that I met in Maine. It's a small trail.

Well... I'll be turning on the phone tomorrow when I zero in on NYC. Hopefully there's a place to sleep, and a cold one waiting. Here's to figuring out the train system again, after spending 2.5 months where the most complicated part of the day is lifting your foot up and putting it back down again, or working a spork. Pot-smoking-hitch-driver save me!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Critical Mass; Lovermont or leave it

I may have to cut this one short...

So, I've left Vermont for Massachusetts and all the Huggy folks there. I liked the people much, much, much more, than I liked the hike through Vermont. I hit a mental barrier that I used to laugh at when I read other people's accounts of hiking long distances. I thought they just didn't like nature as much as they thought, or were just quitters. As I've learned, after walking 600 miles, it is just hard to get up and spend another 8 hours walking. I'm still going. I'm just not sure anymore that I'll be walking all the way to Georgia. I keep having to remind myself that this trip isn't about walking from Maine to Georgia, it's about jumping at opportunities, learning, living a more full life, meeting great people, seeing great things, and shitting in the woods.

If walking Vermont killed my soul, it's people helped me forget that I don't really believe in souls. I popped into towns as much as possible to help relieve the boredom that I was feeling while walking. I met several folks along the way... and now they are on this list as well... Howdy newcomers! Hitch hiking has been loads of fun, but sadly almost no terrible stores have come about due to hitching. I was picked up by a couple of guys in a sporty yellow 2 door, that looked like they were up to no good, but even they turned out to be okay; they weren't the gang banging shoot-a-guy-in-the-face-for-his-shoes type of guys they appeared to be at first blush.

It took me much longer than expected to do the last couple hundred miles... I'm physically able to do 20+ mile days now, but I just have a hard time getting my head to do it. I find every excuse to sit down, or get distracted, or sleep in, run to a town, read a book, or pluck a banjo. I've seriously considered getting off the trail. Before Vermont, I never doubted that I'd finish, but now I just can't say one way or the other. I've been trying to figure out what I'm really doing out here, and if I ever figure that out, my plans may very well change.

Today I'm sitting at around 620 miles in Dalton, Mass, in the cool (AC!) library. Thanks to yet another trail legend I have a place to sleep as long as I need. I had planned on staying only one night, but now I'm on my second zero day here. I'm doing some thinking, I think... and some resting, some drinking, and some reading, and lots of eating. I've been having a grand old time, but I'll be moving on shortly, hopefully with a clearer picture of what the heck I'm up to.

I'm feeling pretty good in the head today, but we'll see how that is when I get walking again. I've picked up a new pair of shoes today, as the last pair are pretty close to dead. By the smell, they've been dead for quite some time... and rotting in the sun. I've also picked up a banjo (punny!), because I got it stuck in my head that I'd like to learn how to play the banjo. The sales clerk was cruel enough to keep trying to lead me to the much smaller and much lighter mandolins, but finally agreed to sell me a banjo when he realized I was seriously going to put cash in his hand that moment. That I agreed to not playing the banjo in the store also made the transaction go much smoother.

So... the banjo is yet another excuse to move slower. It's also one of the goals of my hike. This trip is partially to help me change how I live. Impulsive acts and enthusiasm for learning are on the list of things I want to keep alive.

I think I'll be getting to NYC in around 3 weeks. As I get closer, I'll be calling down the list for folks that want to pour beer into my burger hole. On the other hand, maybe I'll just show up, that way you can't cheap out on me by leaving town before buying me a beer.