Friday, January 22, 2010

Cool web sites

As one who lives in a shared housing situation and sometimes communicates grievances and other meaningless information via notes, I found the following web site hilarious.

http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/

Here's a cool site about dumpster diving: http://www.thelivingweb.net/dumpster_diving_for_fun_and_profit.html

I may join the following net group and post pictures there of my finds:

http://www.dumpsterworld.com/

And here's a nice article about stealth camping: http://sectionhiker.com/2008/02/24/stealth_camping/

I can thank my brother for turning me on to this site. It's become a daily addiction. So far, I haven't made it on the site, despite getting the mullet and wearing the three-sizes-too-small rainbow spandex pants.

http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nonsensical nonesuchitude

Playa - A happening dude in a dry lake bed.

Virile - Contagiously fertile.

Atrium - Almost convinced, but not sure it's a tree.

Boorish - Hogging the conversation.

Highway - A technique for doing something while under the influence.

Freedom - To let stupidity go.
Incarcerate - To cut something while driving.

Incarnadine - Nadine's along for the ride.

Incarnate - Nate's coming too.





Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection. Sign up now.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The allure of dumpster diving (part 2)

In addition to wowing friends & family with passed on goodies, dumpster diving gives the diver a certain amount of street credibility. While one may be shunned or most likely ignored during the act of diving, once people find out about what the diver is doing, they applaud the pluck & courage of the diver's activities. Even when diving, many business owners, once familiarized with the diver, will often set aside potentially usable items aside for the diver. A downside is when a business owner gets wise and stops throwing out perfectably usable stuff.

There is also a certain renegade cachet to being a diver. Diving in the daytime tells anyone looking that the diver flouts the social strictures against trash. The diver is in this sense an outcast, thus satisfying, to some divers, the desire to flout stupid social taboos and to be different.

All of these benefits and many others are available to anyone willing to rummage around in a dumpster.

Happy scavenging!



Your E-mail and More On-the-Go. Get Windows Live Hotmail Free. Sign up now.

The allure of dumpster diving

There are obvious benefits to dumpster diving, especially the constant and dizzying array of free stuff. Dedicated divers should never have to purchase fruits & vegetables, beer, bread, soda, shampoo, lotion, or candy. There is also the ecological benefit of putting to good use what would otherwise be wasted in a landfill. But such lofty idealism gets lost before the mountain of stuff.

Less obviously, another draw of the diving life is the Christmas-y sense of anticipation one gets, especially at a reliable dumpster. It's a giddy quickening that many shopaholics are hooked on, but in this case is not followed by a credit card bill.

Diving brings in so much extra stuff that the diver can share the surplus. This giving away, light on labor and cost free, gives one a sense of contribution to the group and of being a provider. This is a powerful benefit because many dive out of economic necessity due to a lost job. Diving, in this regard, is a very dignifying act....


Hotmail: Free, trusted and rich email service. Get it now.

Gleaning notes

  "Scrounger" and "scavenger" are harsh, if not accurate names for a dumpster diver. There's also "forager" or, the kindest, "gleaner," which suggests a deft, light touch, as in, "we gleaned most of the sources for specific information and only read every jot and tittle of seminal texts." According to Webster's,"glean" also means to collect, and, more specifically, to collect the remaining grain from a field. So, in this sense of the definition, "glean" relates to dumpster diving.

But one of the definitions of "scavenge" is "to salvage usable goods by rummaging through refuse or discards." "Scrounge" has more outre (accent acute) credibility because one of its definitions is to steal, another to beg. It also means "to manage to get or find by hunting around." This definition addresses methodology whereas "scavenge" is most particular about what is hunted, garbage.

What is so alluring about scavenging, other than the obvious material gain? TO BE CONTINUED...


Hotmail: Trusted email with powerful SPAM protection. Sign up now.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A brief hike in suburbia

Last Thursday I went out to St. Charles to buy birthday presents for Jonny, in particular a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure. These could not be found in DeKalb, and the St. Charles Toys R Us only had a couple in stock, and only of Donatello. I guess he'll have to do. I also bought a "band in a bucket," in the hopes it may inspire a lifelong love of music.

After I was done with Toys R Us, I consulted the good ol' Rand McNally atlas, which lists every street and park in Chicago and suburbs, a veritable geographic tome, and found a section of the Illinois Prairie Path (Elgin Branch) nearby. I walked a little over an hour -- 4 miles total -- between mile markers 9 and 7 on this trail. I accessed the trail at Army Trail Road.

Most of it was far enough away from a road to keep traffic sounds at a minimum and give a slight sense of removal. This section is located in Wayne, a sleepy burb of horse farms and large lots. Later on in the hike I saw a couple horseback riders ahead of me on the trail. The only sound of civilization I heard in the snow-muffled world was the crackle of nearby power lines. But this sound comforts me for some reason.

I only crossed one road and one railroad track in this short section. This bit of trail has enough forest surrounding it that a few stealth camping spots could be eked out. On a scale of 5 boot prints, (1 meaning a hellish experience to be avoided at all costs and 5 a life list hike of epic proportions), I give this hike a 3.

The day was overcast and gray almost all day. No sun. But right at dusk, just before I got back to the truck, the sun dipped below the clouds and long shadows stretched before me for a couple minutes before further clouds or the horizon obscured the sun for good. That was a magical moment, to witness gradual darkening, then sunlight, then onto dark.

It is a mostly flat rail trail with many access points. Summer will see me return with a bike, or possibly on pack. I've already got a couple prime flat spots scouted out! Watch out Wayne yuppies. A hippie hiker may be in a woods near you!

[For more pictures, check out the various twitpic links on the right sidebar of my blog page. Facebook readers need to click on the original link to find these.]

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Maps

As I catalogued my National Geographics last night, I shook out a bunch of maps. Here's what I found, in no particular order:

The solar system (July 81)
British Isles (Oct. 79)
Archaeological map of Middle America (Oct. 68)
Ontario (Dec. 78)
Wild & Scenic Rivers of the United States (July 77)
Central Rockies (Aug. 84)
Western Soviet Union (Sept. 59)
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, & eastern Thailand (Jan. 65)
Nile Valley (May 65)
North America (Apr. 64)
The United States (July 61)
The physical World (Nov. 75)
The political Word (Nov. 60)
Japan & Korea (Dec. 60)
Northwestern South America (Feb. 64)
China (Nov. 64 & July 91)
Southwest Asia (May 63)
Mexico & Central America (Oct. 61)
State of Alaska (July 59)

A fun classroom/research exercise is to compare one of the older maps with a similar modern one and compare differences, exploring stories behind the changes. Even the solar system (or our definition of it, at least) has changed since the map I own was published.


Hotmail: Free, trusted and rich email service. Get it now.

Fear and loathing in 10 minutes

It's nice to tackle new things. It makes one humble and adds to an experiential resume.

Fear of failure is silly. Everybody fails. Do it spectacularly, with gesticulating panache. Failure is the key to learning. It keeps you humble and aware of your place in the scheme of things.

I'm looking at a shelf full of Chilton auto repair manuals. In the spring I'd like to tune-up my truck by myself; replace all the belts and hoses, change all the fluids, rotate the tires, etc. I'm not the least bit mechanically inclined, like my brother Bob. He has a natural aptitude for that sort of thing. I'm more abstract, able to weave through the various webs of information to glean interesting and useful bits. My natural aptitude is for mental constructs.

But I'm willing to take on this truck project because, in spite of self-image I have of being a thinker, I am in actuality a very physically restless doer. But I'm a doer in the vein of my mother. She creates so many things, food, quilts, craft projects, etc., but get out of her way when she's in the process. She makes a mess when she's working. I'm just like that, stumbling and bumbling my way through the physical world, seeking some sort of physical grace and elegance, but in full knowledge that is my natural state.

How does one balance this physical restlessness with the mental acuity and organization required to work in academics. Easy. I impose an order on the operations that gives elbow room for flights of fancy and the chance to go down various side roads. When I take on a project, be it a lesson plan or long-distance hike, I leave ample room for improvisation and inspiration. This approach has served me well because I love stepping into the void with an end goal in mind and then seeing what's uncovered by the various perambulations of thought and deed.

This tendency to impose a loose structure (but a structure nonetheless) makes me incompatible to control freaks. Unfortunately, control freaks are rife in the teaching profession. I have to fight my tendency to rebel against them which I need to quell if I'm to continue in this profession. Or, I need to be hired by someone who has the same educational philosophy I do. But people like myself don't make good leaders. We don't inspire confidence with surety of action. We're always rubbing our chins, pondering the situation. We tend to have great, spontaneous adventures.

This is a case in point. I started 10 minutes ago with no idea what I was going to write about. And here we are...

Have a great day!

Monday, January 11, 2010

National Geographic (part 2)

Here's the 2nd part of my list of National Geographics I have collected since May 2008 entirely for free from garage sales and one library liquidation (W.H. Goble Library, Elgin High School).

1987 - all except Sept.
88 - Jan.-May, July-Sept., Nov.-Dec.
89 - Feb.-Sept., Nov.-Dec.
90 - Feb.-Mar., May-Dec.
91 - all except Feb.
92 - all except Mar.
93 - all except Feb.
94 - Jan.-June, Sept.
95 - all except Jan.
96 - May.
97 - June.
99 - Dec.
2001 - Feb.
04 - Oct.

This list may be of no interest to anyone but myself. It's just nice to know what I have. Although I'm not even close to reading all these, I always keep a couple in the bathroom. My initial interest in this magazine was an adolescent search for native titties. Now I enjoy the photos of other beautiful scenery along with the articles & map supplement.

National Geographic is one of the most ubiquitous titles in the world. I have little doubt my collection will expand greatly without spending any money.


Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection. Sign up now.

National Geographic


Here's a list of all the National Geographic magazines I've collected entirely for free in the past couple years. This is 451 issues total, including complete sets for 12 years.
1944 - Mar.
47 - Feb., Apr., July, Sept.
48 - Jan., March-May, Sept.-Nov.
50 - Feb.-Aug., Oct., Dec.
51 - Jan., Apr.-June, Aug., Sept., Nov.
52 - Feb.-May, Sept., Nov.-Dec.
54 - Feb.-May, July-Aug.
55 - May, July, Sept., Dec.
56 - Jan., May, Oct.-Nov.
57 - Feb.
58 - Jan.
59 - complete.
60 - all except July.
61 - all except Feb.
62 - Jan.-May, Aug.-Dec.
63 - complete.
64 - Jan.-Feb., Apr., June, Aug.-Dec.
65 - all except Oct.
66-67 - complete.
68 - Jan.-Feb., Apr.-Sept., Nov.
69 - Jan.-Apr., June-Aug., Oct.-Dec.
70 - Jan.-July, Sept.-Oct.
71 - Jan.-Mar., June-Dec.
72-74 - complete.
75 - all except Oct.
76 - all except Apr.
77 - complete.
78 - all except July.
79 - Jan.-Mar., June-Dec.
80 -complete.
81 - Jan.-Mar., May-Nov.
82 - Jan.-June, Nov.-Dec.
83 - Jan.-July, Oct.-Dec.
84 - complete.
85 - Feb.-May, Aug.-Dec.
86 - complete......




Your E-mail and More On-the-Go. Get Windows Live Hotmail Free. Sign up now.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This is my first post using my phone to access Hotmail. Anti-capitalist sentiment and a desire for more than 126 characters drove me to this. I didn't like the built-in ad for Cricket that came with text message posts.

Sunday night. Had a good weekend with son. He stayed at my place Friday & Saturday night for the first time since I moved here. We had a good time. Jon befriended a neighbor's kid & played Wii for the first time. He also begged me to play his Game Boy so he could watch.

On Friday night we made two pizzas. Jon helped spread the sauce & lay down toppings. Movie night, 3 episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Yesterday we went ice skating in Genoa. This was his mother's idea. We got the skates at Citizen's Bank. We signed out for them, but they let us keep them indefinitely. Esther still has them. I remarked that this was the first time I've ever sat on the floor of a lobby as I tried on the skates. Our sledding trip was brief. Jonny & I wiped out our first run & he got a bloody nose. Ouch!


Hotmail: Trusted email with Microsoft's powerful SPAM protection. Sign up now.

Friday, January 08, 2010

I explain each error and show the original text. Then I show the revised text & explain all the changes made.
---------------------------------------------
Sent by a Cricket mobile device
---------------------------------------------
Total English teacher wanna-be moment. I want to fix mistakes in my post-trail notes, but do it as another blog entry.
---------------------------------------------
Sent by a Cricket mobile device
---------------------------------------------
I forgot about being able to post directly to Blogger. This TWITTER-like function w/ lead to more frequent and inane posts.
---------------------------------------------
Sent by a Cricket mobile device
---------------------------------------------

Just 10 minutes of your time, please

I'm at that great bastion of democracy and free thought, the public library, and am doing one of those 10 minute free write thingies where I don't stop typing and just leave all this schtuff up there unedited for the world to enjoi. Besides, this ain't a paying gig, so whatsamatta U?

After watching Orson Welles' "The Stranger" and Roger Corman's "The Pit and the Pendulum," I realize that modern technology has robbed filmmaking of the simple and dramatic use of light and shadow. CGI has made subtlety an anachronism. Please bring back powerful characters, an interesting plot, and camera action that adds to the drama and beauty of a scene rather than bringing attention to itself, a la handheld first-person techniques so popular today. Not that I mind CGI or hand held shots. I just think something has been lost due to ease of technology.

POST-POST-TRAIL

All life is lived post-trail, for the trail, the outdoors, the wild places, sing in the soul, reverberate on the heartstrings and play freely in the memory, even while the body is encased in the protective womb of January.

THE DIRTY DAWG

The Greyhound experience is not to be missed. Bus vibration bringing all the body's essential oils to the surface. Scintillating overheard conversation like, "I guess I'm on furlough or whatever you want to call it. Cheap bastards just gave me food stamps and a bus ticket to get me to the halfway house." Riding Greyhound makes one ponder over the rationale of self-tattooing hearts and crosses on your hands. Or getting a neck tattoo done professionally. What goes through the minds of people who do such things? Do they hear all those doors of opportunity closing behind them. Two places where the cult of the neck tattoo go: County Courthouses to deal with their various legal difficulties, and Greyhound stations.

Setting the tone for the Greyhound journey, I paid $65 for a ride to a couple of recovering heroin addicts who know Asheville well because "that's where the methadone clinic is." Before I knew about this, they asked me if i minded if they smoked. I said "No," and that I had smoked for 10 years, quitting Oct. 26, 1998, at 5 p.m. I still dream about smoking, I said. Addiction's a powerful thing. The couple looked at each other in silence.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

post-trail notes

Even though these aren't quite done, here it is so far...

Sitting back in my DeKalb atelier, stuff strewn about on the table, half in and out of the hiking life. Packets of ramen noodles, oatmeal and macaroni and cheese in plastic bags, pop tarts. A gleaming, shiny, metallic pile of food. Knife open, summer sausage cut into, lies open unprotected on table. There’s no need to seal it away from small animals or bears.

I look forward to seeing the boy in a few hours. Going to walk over there instead of ride my bike. Or start the truck. Need to renew my license. The day is so bright and cold. A crystalline day. So cold icy fractal forms crawl across my window panes. When going from one warm place to another, cold has no power. Take the promise of heat and warmth away and cold is an imperious, insistent bastard.

The cold has been a predominant theme lately. I got off the Appalachian trail early because I was not able to comfortably or properly deal with the cold. If I could go back, I’d take more leg coverings, a warmer sleeping bag, and an air mattress. My foam pad, cut in half to be used unrolled as a frame for my GoLite Breeze rucksack, just didn‘t cut it. The ground, unless cushioned by a layer of dry leaves, is cold and cold-sapping. The whipping winter wind licks away warmth without a moment’s hesitation. Cold became personified, a malevolent, inevitable force to be dealt with through movement or insulation.

I was fine during the day. Day means movement, warmth, scenery, progress. Night means cold and boredom, the darkness interminable. Cold and darkness and too much solitude is what did me in. But I’d still be out there if I had the right equipment. That, and a greater respect for condensation and its ability to sap heat in its own way.

Wasabi warned me about the wet cold of the southeast. I got the full brunt of it. A couple of the nights, I set up camp in a fog. Taking my parka off at Blue Mt. Shelter and being enshrouded in my own mist, the steam of my body heat coalescing with the oncoming fog. And then to look up and see stars. Mama always said you had your head in the clouds…

In my own defense, I did face some gnarly weather, from torrential downpours to snow to low temps in the teens, gusting winds, only small snatches of sunshine, solitude in spades. For a few days, I liked the solitude. It is rare on the Appalachian Trail. But that, along with the sleeplessness and long nights, got to be a bit much.

I guess I’m a wuss. If this was a thru-hike, or I feel I had something to prove, or if this was anything else but fun and recreation, I would have stayed out there. And I admit a measure of regret for coming home early. I could have camped low for a day, caught up on some ZZZs and either kept hiking from where I was or skipped ahead. Guess I missed my family and network of friends too. I’m more attached to the creature comforts of civilization than the rugged image I have of myself is willing to admit. I’ve gotten soft.

But that’s just how I feel now, rested and recovered, restless again, agitated, ready for action. I’ll get some fresh air and exercise in a bit, and will be thankful to have a place to come in out of the cold. I know how hard it is to live without the promise of warmth.

I slept only briefly my night at Muskrat Creek Shelter. This was after a rough night’s sleep at the hotel in Hiawassee. All told, I probably got 4-5 hours combined sleep the two nights. I consulted the maps and knew that if I stayed on the Appalachian Trail, I’d spend the next 30+ miles above 4,000 feet. A storm was coming in. This I knew as well. And it promised to stay a couple days. Elevation and cold meant the precipitation to fall would most likely be snow. This is a benefit because it is easier to brush off snow and stay drier during snowfall. But if the trail accumulated more inches, it would make for slow hiking and feet that got wet early and remained so throughout the day. I brought neither snowshoes or crampons.

I now realize I was thinking too much like a thru-hiker. If elevation and cold are a problem, camp and hike lower. I didn’t have to be a purist. There are numerous other trails and forest roads, all on my maps. There were options I could have explored.

My lack of sleep at Muskrat Creek Shelter was caused by a number of factors. First, I gathered wet leaves to make a cushioned bedding. My body heat melted the snow until it accumulated enough to freeze. So what started out as a soft, warming cushion, quickly became rock-solid and cold-sapping. I took my ¾ length ridgerest (but really a half length because I cut about a foot away from it so it could act as frame support for my Go-lite Breeze pack) and laid on the shelter floor. It was not a very windy night, but a gentle breeze sent little fingerlets of cold into my bag at each opportunity. Wearing all my clothes, with the bag zipped tight and drawstring around the head tugged tight enough to just leave an opening for my eyes and nose, my feet and butt, the two extremities, could not stay warm. I lay in what I call the funeral pose, on my back, legs extended, hands crossed across lap, and still those two places got cold.

One problem is the foot of my sleeping bag was still moist from the night before. The other was all I had for leg warmth was a pair of long johns and my rain pants. And I really, really regretted not taking an air mattress. Even though it leaks and weighs three pounds, my 2-inch thick almost 10-years-old Thermarest Luxury LE Long would have added immeasurably to nighttime comfort and spared me the effort of fetching leaves.

The next time I winter camp I will take my first backpack, the REI Wonderland Trekker (10-years-old, same one taken on 2000 AT thru-hike). Of course, the shoulder straps, frayed and repaired with dental floss, will have to be replaced. I will also patch up as best as possible the Thermarest (bought in Hot Springs, NC in 2000), and bring my camp pants and two extra pairs of long johns. In lieu of buying a $600 -40-degree rated 900 fill down bag, I’ll use my fleece liner inside my decrepit 30-degree bag inside my equally, if not more so, and feather-flying, 15-degree Marmot Sawtooth down bag. The Sawtooth has been used for 300-400 bag nights without washing. I’ll wash it before I use it again and hope that restores loft. All of these changes will be tested in cold weather conditions BEFORE I embark on a trip to guarantee they will work.

Another extra weight I will take on my next winter excursion is the Kelty Zen tent in lieu of the Tarptent. For one thing, the Tarptent, no matter what preventive measures I’ve employed, leaks water on the floor in a rain storm. Although I will have to take extra time to seam seal the Zen and it has lost total storm proof capabilities over the years, it has always had great ventilation and proven to warm substantially and retain body heat.

My attempt to winter backpack using the GoLite Breeze rucksack was successful in Arizona in December, a dismal failure on the southern AT in December. Valuable lessons learned from shivering sleepless nights.

LEAVING THE TRAIL

My last moonlit night on the trail, a couple hours before the dawn, I lay shifting and shivering in my bag, finally dozing into some kind of almost dreamy stupor, when I hear the leaves crunch in front of the shelter. It looked like a big rat by its black outline. I think it was an opossum by its size, gait and long tail. Either that or a humongous rat. In any case, its passing kicked off the excitement. A coyote howled, then an owl let out a long series of whoots, loud enough it seemed right next to the shelter, confirmed when I heard the whoosh of wings, another whoot, then a spine-tingling scream as some rabbit (or maybe the leaf-crunching rat/possum) met a taloned demise.

The next morning I put my frozen shoes under the bag for 20 minutes and burned off knuckle hairs warming my hands by the licking flames of the alcohol stove. The sun was still rising when I began to hike. I had no watch or phone to tell time, and considered its non-necessity a luxury.

What motivated me to get off the trail is I knew the AT would stay around 5,000 feet elevation for the rest of my hike, and knew I did not have the right gear to camp comfortably in the cold. Although it was a nice, sunny day, there were streaky clouds on the horizon, and I knew from the radio that lots of precipitation was imminent, meaning snow at my elevation. The promised dip in temperature clinched it. I had to escape the cold.

I almost took the Chunky Gal Trail to Hwy. 64, but wanted to get a good glimpse of Standing Indian Mountain, so took the AT to its base where FR 71 has a turnaround. I sat in the sun, and ate a candy bar, enjoying the soft cushion and warming fragrance of pine needles. I found a capo for a guitar (it works!) and a quarter on the ground. I got a liter of water from the first stream I crossed. Although I brought a bottle of Polar Pur (iodine), I only used it once or twice. Even on the heavily-used AT, I consider almost all spring water and most mountainside streams to be okay and had no stomach ailments this trip. But that’s just me. My stomach is probably a little more acculturated than most.

My slow walk down the forest road was something of a depressing death march. I kept admonishing my stupidity (or is that cupidity?) with gear choices. For the first couple miles the road gradually climbed as it skirted the side of a long ridge, descending as it rounded a corner. There was nothing spectacular about the scenery, just white boulders, algae, rushing streams, creeks, seeps, and rolling forested mountains. Beautiful enough to fill me with regret for leaving early and inspire me to return.

Of course, after the road cut through a ridge and really began to descend, further signs of forest service development appeared. There were more numbered roads going up various creek beds, but they were gated off for the winter, beer cans on the ends of tree branches, oil bottles, the usual industrial dreck that welcomes a road walker back to civilization. I passed by a hunting camp, big honking trucks, a canvas covered hut with a smoke-spewing wood chimney. That was the only sign of life. Warm, I thought. That’s going in style. Cots and coolers. Comfort. But their hogan had no windows. I imagine they don’t hunt too long after dawn or dusk, so this makes for a long time spent in the lamplit confines of the hogan. While an inviting prospect, I’d rather be mobile and more in touch with nature.

Further descent, littered road and creek side campsites. Small tree stumps, stickless forest floor, garbage-strewn firepits, toilet paper, and some fool laid out a roll of carpet. Signs near these eyesores indicate the creek is a natural trout habitat and to please “keep it clean.”

The forest road parallels Hwy. 64 the last mile or so, a roaring creek and steep embankment separating them. I was tempted to bushwack across, but didn’t. Where I emerged on Hwy. 64 is a good place to get a hitch. It is on a rise with a clear view a half mile or more to oncoming traffic. They can see you a long ways off and have plenty of shoulder to pull over. I only waited about 5 minutes for a hitch.

There was a family of four in the mini-van with three rows of seating. A husband and wife sat in the front two seats, the husband’s brother next to me, and, quiet as a mouse, so quiet I didn’t even notice her until she was introduced, was a little girl, about four or five. Everyone except myself and the little girl smoked cigarettes. At least they opened the windows a crack.

The brother/uncle talked almost the entire time. He told me he picked up an AT hiker near here named Mr. Zip, a 64-year-old retired postal worker, who took this guy’s name and address, and told him he’d write to him when the hike was over. Brother/uncle said of course he forgot all about it until around Christmas time when Mr. Zip sent this guy a summit photo from Katahdin. I’m no Mr. Zip. Not only did I not get an address, I forgot the guy’s name.

I emerged from the van, streaming smoke a la Fast Times at Ridgemont High, at the Franklin Inn motel. The family wished upon me the blessings of Jesus Christ. I thanked them and wished them Happy Holidays, then wished I‘d said Merry Christmas. In the lobby was the owner of the hotel. I forgot his name too. He owns two hotels in town. I explained to him that I would need a shuttle ride to the nearest Greyhound station tomorrow and that the 2009 AT Companion book pages said this hotel offered hiker shuttles. He assured me he could arrange everything. Swipe of a card ($45, ouch) and I’m in what’s probably the crappiest room in the entire hotel. I’m used to this and don’t mind. Trail proprietors know hikers are easy to please and put out horrible odors that take time, cleaning solutions and ventilation to get out of a room.

After a shower and change into far less offensive smelling camp clothes (a long-sleeved turtleneck and full zip rain pants that still make me look like a dork), I went for a walk in search of fast food. En route I crossed the Little Tennessee River and read an informational placard about the Nikwasi Mound, an important meeting place for Cherokee Indians. I walked back through the downtown and read a long, two-paneled account of the BATTLE of ECHOE. Check out the following site about the Bartram Trail for more information about this battle, but the gist of it was stupid, haughty, imperial powers being thwarted by superior guerrilla tactics of the native population, but then later being overcome by sheer numbers of imperial invading force. This area is full of Cherokee lore, the most mentioned tribe by those claiming some scant native American heritage.

Still more to come... including the adventures on the Dirty Dawg, a.k.a. Greyhound.