Sunday, March 30, 2008

Be it ever so humble...

I'm back home. It was a full day of travel on Friday. After we were all loaded into the airplane and waiting to push back, someone noticed that we didn't have a pilot or co-pilot. I kid you not. Seems no one thought to check on that before we boarded. So, we came off the plane and called the 800 number. Three or four calls later, I ended up on the earliest connecting flight from Dallas to Nashville. I wasn't feeling too warm and fuzzy about my chances, but figured Dallas was a lot closer than Albuquerque (spell check says that is right...) so headed out on our delayed flight. I was really on the early flight, so I waved goodbye to the rest of the team, who had a later flight out, and was home around 5:30. I was greeted by rain. It was wonderful after 3 weeks in a desert. I got on a wrong shuttle to my truck, but they made an extra run for me, and all was well. I didn't even mind loading the luggage into the truck in the rain.

My enthusiasm evaporated in a general collapse yesterday, and I slept most of the day. Today laundry is the main thing I'm getting done. I'll try for baby steps during the week. Next weekend I may be heading to Gatlinburg to meet up with Shiloh, but that is tentative at this point. He is too far away to say when he will actually make it there until he gets to Fontana Village.

I'll try to do an update on the cool things we did on our weekend off in Santa Fe. Right now I'm still brain dead.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I'm in one of those 'resting' periods. That's the times when everything is going pretty well for me, enough money and no major stresses. After the year of 2 mortgages and little money, I am enjoying this. This fielding is also going well. I am grateful for this.

Yesterday a couple of the guys and I went riding around Santa Fe to see what is here. We drove up a mountain to a ski resort. We didn't particularly mean to go to the ski resort, but the road just ended there. According to the GPS the road continued, but we couldn't find it amid the parked cars a people waving us into the parking lots and such. It was 27 degrees up there. So, we drove back down the mountain. On the way we stopped at an overlook to take some pictures. We had to climb over a snow bank to get to the observation deck. Once we were back in town, about 15 minutes later, it was 48 degrees. I'd heard about this, but never experienced it before.

We went to Jackalope, a tourist shop. Actually, a gathering of several tourist shops. Between all the adobe style buildings here in Santa Fe and some of the cool gee-gaws in the shops, I'm getting motivated to think about working on the house again. We'll see if this enthusiasm lasts once I get home.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Another Class Done

I taught my second class on this fielding. It went well. I slipped up some, did some good things, all in all a learning experience for all involved (I hope). Tomorrow I start building the production system, which is small this time. I'm getting along well with everyone I'm here with this time.

Since we have these full kitchens again, I've been grocery shopping almost every evening while here. The guys all cook full means, and always seem to need more food again on the way home from work. I found some nutella. I've heard about it on the hiking forums, but never had any. It has real promise. Can't really describe it, but I'm thinking it may actually inspire me to actually start making my own energy bars. It has a nice, chocolaty, nutty taste that it seems would be easy to work the other tastes into.

Scott, the other IT person along this time, and I have both been sick since we got here. We each think we are better and eat a full meal, and our bodies tell us that we really shouldn't have done that. Not sure what is up with it all.

Anyway, so far, so good. The other instructors have started arriving, and we work tomorrow. One day off this week, but both days off next weekend. Not sure what sight-seeing we'll get to do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Mixed Day

That bar-b-que we had last night worked a number on me. It was awesome while eating it, but was a bit spicy for me after not eating much at all during the day. Also more meat than I usually eat. I was up in the bathroom at 3am for a half hour, in so much pain I actually had tears falling down my face. I made it to work today, felt almost human (almost...) after a shower. I was a zombie for most of the morning, and got confused a bit. It all worked out. I feel a bit better, but my body is sore and my stomach muscles hurt when I move, or even when I don't move sometimes. I have yogurt and maybe some fruit for dinner here in the room.

Shiloh called me when he started down from Springer to start his AT thru-hike today. I was looking out over desert at the snow-capped mountains myself while we talked. I wish him well on his hike. Zak has checked in, and Cannibal checked in a few days ago. Zak is going slow and enjoying himself, which is funny 'cause he's the young speed demon usually. Cannibal prepared endlessly for a year, and had equipment, weather, and knee problems. It is kinda nice that, for whatever reason, they are going slower than they planned here at the beginning.

I still feel under the weather, so it will be an early night. Scott, the other IT person who is evaluating me is even sicker than I am, which makes me feel a bit better (yes, I told him that). It would be easy for others to put this down to nerves on my part otherwise. Really, I'm not that nervous. Having Scott sick, too, puts my being slow in more perspective. I hope.

Monday, March 10, 2008

On the Road Again...

I'm in my hotel room in Santa Fe, NM. This will be my home for the next 3 weeks. So far the team is fun. Three of the four of us went out to dinner and went exploring to see what was here. Went to the grocery after dinner and I got water, cokes, and some fruit. We have full kitchens. The guys are all talking about cooking in. sigh. I may have to actually get some food for here. Tonight we found some killer bar-b-que. We were all so stuffed when we went to the grocery that none of us wanted to buy any food.

The flight to Dallas was interesting. As the plane was pulling onto the runway after a long taxi out I found myself thinking 'this bird wants to fly', and as we took off I found myself smiling more and more. There was a lot of turbulence on both flights, but I was kinda enjoying it.

I should be going through my work stuff to make sure (again) that I have everything. But, I had a beer with dinner, I'm still stuffed, and I'm now relaxed and sleepy. I don't teach till day after tomorrow, although I need to have all my images and stuff tomorrow... I'll get up early... really...

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Great Quote

From Sgt. Rock's trail journal: "If I was in a hurry I wouldn't be walking". This was about how he stayed up late talking to one of the hostel owners on night and wouldn't be getting an early start the next morning. I think I'll be using that in the future. It's so easy to get caught up in asking 'how many miles did you do today?' and 'when will you be at ?', or worse, 'when do you think you'll finish?'. Better to take the attitude of Sgt. Rock. It's not about hurrying.

Here's a link to his trail journal. It think it is one of the all-time best. He is way cool, and I hope to be more like him when I grow up.

Friday, March 07, 2008


I am on the way to bed. I remembered that I said I need to start updating this journal regularly. So, here I am, trying to write coherent sentences instead of snuggling down in the waterbed.

I've been dehydrated lately. I've downed a bottle of water, and I still feel parched. This past weekend on the trip I let myself get really dehydrated, and again told myself that I need to stop that. I don't know if I'm getting worse at taking care of myself or if the consequences just hit harder now than they used to.

Tomorrow and Sunday are my days to get ready to be gone for 3 weeks again. I planned to be further along in the process, but I always plan to be further along than I am. This is one reason I'm trying to simplify and get rid of stuff and processes and whatever it is that seems to take away my energy and keeps me feeling like I'm always behind. I'll hit it again tomorrow.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Magical Times

As I read through others' journals I keep feeling the pangs of guilt from not updating this one. So, here goes...

Last week The Only Wanderer (from came through Nashville and several of us met at Hooters downtown to help him pass the time of his layover. It was great fun. While there Lil'red was trying to talk Ewker (successfully) into going to Amicalola Falls the next weekend for the Hiker Send-off festivities the park was having. Zak (cerberus) told me quietly that he was going to start his hike that weekend but wasn't telling anyone but family and me. All in all, I decided to go down to Georgia myself. Shiloh, who had stopped by my house after the Whiteblaze dinner a couple of weeks ago PM'd me and said he had a campsite that he was willing to share. So, Friday night I headed south.

I got to the campground at the park around 1am, and Shiloh already had a tent set up. It was cold enough and dark enough that I didn't want to fiddle around finding trees to hang my hammock, so I slept in the tent on an air mattress while he slept in his van. I knew when I started that I should have more insulation between me and an air mattress in winter, but was tired enough that I convinced myself that the quilt he had on it would be enough. It wasn't, and I was chilly most of the night even though I had my down sleeping bag and my down underquilt over me. I was disappointed that again my new 'winter' down bag just isn't keeping me warm enough. Both times I've had the problem, though, I've been ground dwelling, so maybe in my hammock I'll be ok.

The next morning we discovered that our campsite neighbors included Kirby, a 16yo guy who is a kind of minor celebrity on Whiteblaze because he's thru-hiking this year as young as he is. We found Zak and Lost at their site, and headed to breakfast at the lodge. Kirby's group arrived for breakfast, too, and we were all in the same corner of the dining room. At one point Jan Liteshoe, an AT celebrity of sorts, came over and said that our corner had 'that look' of being hikers. The fact that we had 6 thru-hikers all together there was a tip-off. Kirby and Zak both got their pictures taken with her. When we went down to the visitor's center after breakfast we found Lil'red and Ewker. As we wandered around the booths and such I met some more of the names I've read on the message board. It was fun.

At some point Shiloh and I went looking for Lost and Zak, since we weren't sure when Zak would take off. He was in a group that included someone I hadn't seen before. I knew we were waiting on Cannibal to show up, and as I walked up this person said 'THAT'S SHADOWMOSS' and I knew it had to be Cannibal (from He gave each other a big hug hello. From that point on for most of the weekend we were a group, me, Shiloh, Zak, Lost, Cannibal, Ewker, and Lil'red. Cannibal and Zak started their thru hikes on Sunday. Shiloh will start his this next Monday.

I may try to upload some pictures of the weekend. Mostly it was just hanging out having fun. We heard Cannibal checking in with his Dad on his cell phone saying 'I just met a bunch of friends I didn't know I had', and that was how it felt. The guys put off starting because it was just so nice to hang out. We did to the 624 steps up Amicalola Falls that is the start of the approach trail now. The guys did it without their packs. I did it with them, and was slow but not a total zombie. Cannibal said he liked hiking with me because it made him feel like a strong hiker.

On Sunday after breakfast we dropped Zak and Cannibal off at the top of the falls where we finished the hike the day before. That was the last I saw of Cannibal. Lost left immediately to drive around to the parking lot near Springer to meet Zak at the summit that is the start of the actual AT. Shiloh, Ewker Lil'red and I went to the campsite and played around showing Lil'red the hammocks and I think we have converted her to the dark side (using a hammock instead of a tent). After she and Ewker had packed up and headed back to Nashville, Shiloh and I drove to the parking lot near Springer and hiked up the mile to the summit. We met Lost who was leaving having said her goodby's to Kak on the summit after getting the pictures of the start of his real hike. Shiloh and I went up and sat with Zak and Many Sleeps, who is the caretaker up there during the busy season. We were waiting on Cannibal, who didn't show up. We decided that he stopped at an earlier shelter for the night. Zak headed out to make it to the next shelter before dark, and Shiloh and I took our time hiking back to the parking lot.

All in all, it was a totally magical time from the dinner at Hooters through the time at Amicalola Falls State Park. I am concerned that I need to toughen up a lot. I was cold the entire weekend, and it wasn't that cold. I need to be in a lot better shape in general. And, I need to decide if my sleeping bag is really a winter one or not. I need to get this together before I can feel I seriously have any chance to make it on my own hike. Also, I need to get this journaling together better. I really enjoy the trail journals, and most of the folks who keep them update them every day. They may not get posted every day, but the journalist is writing about what happens every day. I'm at home with electricity, a computer, a full kitchen with food, hot showers, etc., and I only manage to write about once a week. Lots to work on in the next 2 years.