I am still (after 3 weeks! I know!) on a Coast to Coast walking path trip planning tear. I have my guidebook and I’ve picked out some likely pubs and B & Bs. I’ve emailed my English cousins to see if they might be available for a visit before or after our walk. I got on my bike this week and did a long ride up to the Bronx for the first time since the spring. I’m critically analyzing my wardrobe for travel readyness.
There are a few big questions to sort out.
1) Will it rain every day and make me miserable and hate the walk? (I check the weather at the starting point in St. Bees each day- today is predicted to be 61 and partly cloudy.)
2) Should I try to camp? It’s so inexpensive! If you bring your own “kit” and carry it, it is only 5 pounds a night per person. We haven’t used our tent since the 4th of July, which was one night, and we were quite happy to abandon our campsite for the Franklin’s nice cabin after that 8 hour period of “roughing it”. I’m imagining a stranger reading this and thinking there is no way in hell that whoever is writing this will survive 15 nights of camping. However, in addition to the cheapness, camping is the only way to give your walk flexibility as far as accommodation goes. It is a popular walk and all b&bs and hostels need to be booked far in advance. On the other hand, why not keep it simple and stay somewhere nice and convenient for a little extra money.
3) Should we try to do the whole walk at once? At a ten mile a day pace, this will take 20 days. Alternatively, we could split it up into weeklong sections, sacrificing some of the triumph of long distance pilgrimage for the ease of spreading the expense and difficulty (and fun planning) over several years.
I imagine the Lake District will look a bit like this-
Another weekend upstate- this time with two events to attend and autumn weather to match the atmospheric music.
The weather is turning and the light is changing to suit. Yesterday morning when I took Caper out for her 6 o’clock walk, fall struck me with the urge to lift my umbrella and see where the wind is blowing. Thrillingly, I am grounded here in Queens, enjoying the feeling of security that come from not moving house in over three years. What makes a home base? What creates refuge amongst the strivers and struggle of this city?
I’m reading Essentialism which is one of these self help/business books that takes several hundred pages and many charts and graphs to reassure the reader that a) you have free will in all realms of your life and b) you’ll probably be more successful if you use it. But we all need bolstering on the free will front now and then.
And I’m following this blog, The Frugalwoods, written by a funny couple in Cambridge, MA who are saving up for their escape from the working world and illustrating their blog with excellent photos of their dog being put upon. As someone who just weeded my dog’s closet of the half her clothes that she refuses to take one step in, leaving only those that cause her to waddle in shame, I salute the Frugalwoods dedication. Caper terribly needs a haircut and is the worst photo subject-
but maybe I will submit her financial advice to their ongoing segment on Frugal pets.
Learning how to do my new job is difficult. To take my mind off the challenge of work I took out the old Atlas 150 and made some fresh linguine for dinner. It was delicious and easy and I watched two episodes of Rick Steve’s travel show while methodically making my noodles. It takes time and effort, unlike ordering delicious tacos. But look, that is the point. And my pasta machine has earned its real estate in our 400 square foot apartment.
When I find something I like I really dig in and read a lot about it and try to figure out how it works from as many angles as possible. Sometimes I discard an idea, but usually I incorporate it in some form and then move on to the next interest. For a surprisingly long period of time last year I was fixated on the Tiny House Movement. This is strange because I actually live in a tiny home, but without the hype. I wasn’t thinking about my home and how to improve it, i was shopping for a new luxury trailer. I have since decided that is a waste of time because I live in very nice small home in New York City. That’s some people’s entire goal. So to spend a lot of time pining for a smaller home somewhere else is basically erm,
dumb not productive.
How about digging in to my own home for sanctuary?
Italian food was another topic I studied a few years ago. We’ve been on a low fat diet at home so I hadn’t picked up my Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking in a few years. Time to dig in.
Look at Caper, it’s like a Where’s Waldo photo.
A few months before my wedding I went on my first walking holiday to Hadrian’s Wall in Britain. It was wonderful. We were only in England for a week and we had many folks to visit so we spent only two nights on the National Trail and only one real full day of walking. My memories from that day are vivid. The meal we had at the Old Repeater Station after Les, the proprietor, had tracked us down lost in a sheep pasture on our first night, was one of my top ten dinners of all time. When you walk long miles in the wind, food tastes better, beer is more euphoric and a warm bed is transcendent.
Lessons from that trip:
Buy Bigger BootsI had bought very attractive discount hiking boots online and it was obvious after two days of walking that they were at least one size too small. Fine for one day, but one’s feet swell right up after two.
Don’t buy the pack that the Brooklyn fancy store recommends Nick’s backpack was twice as big (and likely twice as costly) as he needed and he was carrying clothes for going out in London as well as adventure clothes. That can slow a person down.
Don’t be deceived by maps A mile or two when you are tired, wet, hungry, or disoriented is a very very long way. I trusted the guidebook’s optimistic opinion on my fitness and walking speed, based on nothing. What I like about walking is going at my own pace, stopping frequently to drink tea and local beer and eat rich pub food, and visiting museums, houses, and scenic viewpoints.
Nick’s wonderful sister Alex sent over the Wainwright guide as a gift. I know people who read cookbooks in bed as fantasies- I read guidebooks. I love costing out imaginary journeys, choosing this hotel over that one, plotting journeys from airport to beachfront. My own life as an adventure story! So I picked up the highest rated practical guide, Henry Stedman’s Coast to Coast Path (Trailblazer Guide.) Happily, there is a travel book store left in New York City and it is walking distance from my office- Idlewild Books.
I am thinking of breaking the 20 day walk into three weeklong sections spread over the next few years. That way I can try out my equipment, see how I like the accomodations, and maybe go camping on one leg, but on another go for B &Bs so we don’t have to walk so far with heavy bags. Have you done this walk? Please advise in the comments!
Once upon a time I thought that I needed a long weekend to really enjoy myself on a getaway from the city. Not true at all. A 24 hour visit to a nearby loved one is ideal. You can pack in 3 good meals and have plenty of time to chat. Especially if you don’t drive. Then you also have two hours to meditate on the gorgeous Hudson River views from the train, and you can read, sleep, or drink white wine as your preference dictates. After a day and night in Hudson, I arrived back in New York refreshed and ready to tidy my apartment before starting the week. Gosh the people are nice up there. Hopefully next time we will have a chance to catch up with Jesse and Sarah as well as my relatives.
My current effort is to pare my possessions down to what I would like to have for a month at a rental cabin. If I make my tiny home a restful retreat with plenty of space, time and ease of use to create new things and to focus on activities that are most important to me today, it will be like a permanent vacation. I think.
The disposal of an object, batch of papers, or ugly photos is accompanied by a lurch in my stomach as if I were throwing them out of a hot air balloon and each college binder or extra frying pan jettisoned lifts me higher. It is disorienting to no longer be anchored by a familiar thing that generates a predictable feeling. I think that the freedom I feel when traveling is partially freedom from old thoughts and habits stored in objects.
Anyway, I’m having a great time. This week was one of the best weeks I’ve had at work. This is largely due to a message I received from beyond the grave mwah ha ha. I had some of my mother’s old journals from when she was my age and I read a few pages and they were truly and completely indistinguishable from the angst filled selfdoubt that fills so many pages of my own diaries.
This led me to some conclusions. Firstly, it’s not a personality flaw that I think and act this way, it’s a carefully learned behavior that I have cultivated to be like my mom who I loved and admired. Secondly, this attitude is entirely optional. Thirdly, once you are gone, nobody gives a shit about how hard you tried at work. Totally irrelevant. What matters is how you make people feel and how you yourself feel day to day. There is absolutely no percentage in suffering, obsessing, perfecting, proving yourself etc. etc. My status, how other people think about me is irrelevant. What a relief.
It frees a persons time up to do stuff and consider other people whenever you can drop the selfobsession. Exciting. So, time to drop another box of papers into the recycling. I hope that you are having a great Labor Day weekend with lots of rest and love.