Long Walks

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Now I feel bad for thinking that Mr. Arlin’s book didn’t have enough of my favorite topics: sex and money. It was an enjoyable escapist travelogue and it got me thinking about long walks again so it is a valuable read. First I thought about the Coast to Coast, but I don’t have enough vacation time. Then I checked my bookshelf:

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Look, the Appalachian Trail is right on top! And I can get there by bus while Nick and Caper perfect their kombucha recipes.

Remember when I walked one day on the AT? I can just pick right up where I stopped and keep going. I can write my own account and make sure to include sex, psychology and money in it. Probably 20 miles is enough for this year, but I’ll see how it goes.

 

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Chilly Daffodils and Birds

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They know the cold won’t last

Great walk today in the sunny park and then plenty of time for a cozy afternoon writing and knitting. I saw so many birds. I wish I knew what they are, but at the same time I know that this moment when every identification is exciting and there is so much learn is very precious. Perhaps if I keep going with my observations in a few years I will go on a walk like I did today and see nothing new, nothing I can’t identify immediately. I could be bored instead of fascinated and alert.

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look, a rock

But then of course if you know all the birds you can move onto plants and rocks and fungi, etc. for ever. When I was a child I very much wanted to be a geologist when I grew up and my father built me a specimen box that I kept my labeled treasures in. When I am out looking and learning I get to feel that thrill of collecting and naming and the wide open feeling of childhood.

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oh god there are different kinds of sparrows…who knew????

What I like about the “Urban Monk” is his emphasis on rest and renewal. Very important. Get more sleep and good sleep and take moments to relax throughout your day. In the later chapters he goes off on more advanced techniques for removing heavy metals from your bones and other complicated things. I think rest rest rest is enough for me for now.

Witch Hazel in Bloom

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springy Witch Hazel in bloom in Prospect Park

Not only did I find these blooms, I learned a new duck today.

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my apologies, this Ring Necked Duck was shy

Last week I tried comprehensive meal planning, but with the weather jumping all over the place I found that I had no interest in my prepped rice and beans by Wednesday. My idea was to avoid eating a lot of processed food and generating a lot of fast food waste. I think I prefer sandwiches and snacks so we’ll try that this week.

Central Park: Trip Report 11/11/15

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Still plenty of autumn color in the park

Transport: $0 (I used my unlimited subway pass purchased tax free for work) 4 train to 86th st and then the Q from 59th St back home.

Food, Lodging, Entertainment: $0 (I brought a sandwich and flask of tea from home.)

Weather: Very damp but not raining, warm enough for a light jacket.

Recommended: Yes!

With my new camera, I approached the park slower than ever with my eyes tuned toward patterns of light and dark and natural phenomenon.
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Ack, I realize I forgot to identify this tree. I will look it up in my tree book and get back. Cloudy days make for great contrast.
image of polish national hero sculptureHere I am playing with light and dark and composition, I’m out of practice!

image of polish national hero sculptureIs this better?

image of patriotic polish man in front of sculptureAnd then, the wonderful city asserts itself. A young man came up to me while I was photographing the sculpture and asked me to take some pictures of him. For a moment I thought he was an eccentric groom, but he explained it was Polish Independence Day. This is exactly the kind of interaction one hopes for when one is traveling in a new place- learn about the local customs and have a positive interaction with a stranger. I was a bit startled by this wonderful event, and I forgot to ask his name or give him my card, but he said I could post this picture anywhere as long as I stated it was for Polish Independence Day.

Did you have any Veteran’s Day adventures?

Appalachian Trail in New Jersey 8/15/15 Part 3: Food and Biology

  For true voyeurs (if you like reading shopping lists)

Backpacker sites and videos tell you to pack 2 pounds of food per day for the AT. I brought all my food with me and brought my bulky Kelly Kettle because I wanted to test it. Here’s what I brought for 36 hours:

  • 2 one cup servings of homemade trail mix (almonds, raisins, and chocolate chips.) eaten as intended
  • one peach and one orange, eaten for breakfast en route
  • 4 tea bags (just in case!), Yorkshire brand, strong  drank one Sunday AM
  • 4 peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam sandwiches divided into two bags so I wouldn’t eat them all the first day.  ate all as intended
  • 2 packets Egyptian “chicken” ramen noodles. ate one packet Sunday AM
  • 1 packets dried pasta “alfredo” with  broccoli ate for dinner Saturday
  • 1 cup oats (for healthy breakfast) didn’t eat

This is a lot of food, although I didn’t weigh it. And it turns out the Mohican Outdoor Center serves sandwiches to all and you can book dinner and cooked breakfast on summer weekends if you call ahead. However, I spent zero dollars on the road (lodging and travel were prepaid), and I didn’t eat anything I hadn’t carried with me, so that was a useful experiment. 

Those dried noodles tasted so good eaten out of my travel mug for dinner that I skipped the oats and went for ramen noodles for breakfast. Delicious.

  If you go bring small change- there is a full range of vending machines in the Martz bus station at Delaware Water Gap and I have a lifelong fascination with “coffee” from a vending machine and always buy it if it’s under 90 degrees and I see it anywhere. If you go with a group or family consider booking meals, the mess hall at the camp was very cozy.

Kelly Kettle fail- I was interrupted in my test run by a helpful family “Let me get you a lighter!” and so got self-conscious and just used the hob in the bunkhouse to boil water for my noodles. Next time. 

footnote: Bathrooms (for those who like reading about bathroom habits)

My hike worked out that I did not have to use the woods as a bathroom once on the whole trip. I was very pleased. There were clean facilities available at the station, the visitor’s center at the Gap and at the lodgings. On my return hike there was a well-used portapotty available at a parking area on Old Mine Road just when I needed it. Probably I was dehydrated too as it was very hot. But, worked out great for me. 

What do you eat on the trail? Do you like bringing your own food or do you pick it up on the way? How many meals in a row can you eat ramen? Related: Do you bring a special trowel for burying excrement in the woods?

Appalachian Trail Trip Report 8/15/15 Part 2, analysis (navel gazing)

But that’s not frugal!

Having read part 1 of my trip report, you may be saying that $191 for a 36 hour trip is not frugal. Part of the problem is the time = money equation. The largest expense was transport to and from the Delaware Water Gap, an expense that would’ve been roughly the same whether I stayed one night or four nights, so a longer trip would’ve evened out the expenses- especially if I stayed in shelters/tent on subsequent nights and just added $10 a day for food.

port authority- nerve racking line but everything turned out fine

in fact we arrived in PA 10 minutes early
 Also I don’t own a car and so pay zero ongoing monthly car expenses like gas, insurance or maintenance, car payment, parking all zero. Some frugal weirdos keep a car to get to remote trailheads.  But I hate driving or even riding in a car if I don’t have to! True fact- I saw the aftermath of three accidents on the New Jersey highways from the windows of my comfortable bus. On the return trip I had two seats to myself, could take my boots off, charge my phone and read a book. That kind of recuperation time was very valuable to me (especially since I had ridiculous blisters). I like the challenge of figuring out public transportation and I like being around different people. I also believe that the only way for the transportation systems in our country to improve is for yuppies like me to go all in. And to gently persuade those of you who may not have considered it to do so as well 🙂

   

  

  

 Finally, there is a learning curve I am climbing.  I am a novice outdoorswoman and travel writer and I think it will take me a number of trips to figure out my physical limits, interests, and ROI on various adventures. Stay tuned and please share your tips in the comments.

Wow, reading and hiking are different!

So, yes, I’ve been reading about travel, pilgrimage, and long distance walks in the US and UK and Spain for years now and fantasizing about month long adventures. Do those fantasies have anything to do with the reality of hiking? Not much.

What I actually experienced while hiking: A strong reconnection to my childhood spent in the eastern forest ecosystem of Western Massachusetts. I recognized the smell of the hot fern understory in the hardwood forest. The lowbush blueberries, wild turkeys, garter snakes, long green tunnels and vistas from rocky ledges all reminded me of home. I recognized many plants and wished I had my guidebook to identify more. I also wished I had my binoculars to watch the 20+ buzzards (eagles?) circling over the Gap.  

   

  

  

 

 Both days I felt tension between wanting to slow down and get into observing nature, drinking water and resting my feet, while simultaneously feeling I had a time to beat and I wanted to get to my destination. I imagine one of the treasures of the trail for thru hikers could be coming to an understanding with your body and hiking the right amount for your energy level each day and setting up camp where it suits you. And that is exactly my struggle every day at work! Calibrating and focusing energy and knowing when to stop. So, travel gives you different beautiful settings to work on your personality problems. 

I gave myself five nasty blisters which definitely would’ve been a problem had I stayed in the woods longer. 

Have you done this hike? Any tips or tricks for the novice? Please comment below!

Walking tour of Guilderland

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I walked the 4.5 miles from my hotel ti my conference this morning. As I walked I thought about my slow travel principles- go slow, look and listen carefully, and stay local. How could I get the most out of my limited time?

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I knew I had a nine hour meeting ahead of me with lots of unhealthy food on offer- I needed exercise! Also, spring has finally arrived and I wanted to smell it. And finally I wanted to have a physical experience of the place, not ride in a car.

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I knew my colleagues might see me walking and think I was weird or poor or lonely. I wanted the walk more than I wanted to fit in.

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It was totally worth it.

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I saw so many things I couldn’t see from a cab or car. It also gave me empathy and a new way of thinking about the topic of the conference. I will write about that on my other blog- for this one, I say listen to your body and start walking and looking carefully.