Let’s Head South!

Howdy. I thought it was time for a little news. After an excellent 10 day stay in Northern Washington-Bellingham, I am headed back to Green Valley, California via Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area.

It was such a treat to be able to spend so much time with my friends and receive a mini-immersion course in Pacific Northwest living. I don’t know how much about that time I will share here. Certainly, sitting on the bus having said farewells yesterday and early this morning, this does not seem to be the right time. The memories and feelings are so new and fresh and precious to me. There is a warm, familiar, and comforting level of intimacy we found at our first meeting, almost four years ago now, that we still share easily.

But everybody likes pictures!

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FAQ:
1. How do you feel/are you OK? I feel good, but my feet still hurt. The damage from broken wet shoe blisters is almost healed. The soreness and inflammation at the toes, ball, heel-basically every part of my foot that can touch the ground-those parts still hurt and probably will until I force myself to get off my feet a lot.
2. Are you gaining any weight or ALL the weight? I think I am gaining some weight. I am battling hunger while trying to eat smaller meals/snacks, but this is a difficult game.
3. Are you still a crazy woods person? The transition from trail life is slow and incomplete. I am getting some of the social graces back, but I am still quirky. I carry a lot of food with me at all times. I bought a small fuel can, even though I may not use it once before I have to leave it with Joe because you can’t fly with them, because I couldn’t handle not having the ability to boil water and make meals at all times.
4. So, like, are you ever going home? Yes! I have not set a date yet, but I will fly back to PA in October. Perhaps something in a high teen or low 20…

Transitions

I am on the train headed to San Diego, and the long walk begins tomorrow. The journey, the adventure, this has already begun, but tomorrow I walk.

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I enjoyed my second trip to Green Valley. It is always good to see Joe and Terrie, the dogs, and the town. What a beautiful place. A few other hikers came through and we had some good times and spent yesterday throwing some disc at a great course near Wrightwood.

I am at a bit of a loss trying to figure out what to say. I feel like I am on the cusp of something and should have some wise words or deep insights. Right now, I feel mellow and nervous and excited and focused and scattered. I feel like I am fully prepared and I feel like a crazy person. Despite the mix and the contradictions – I think calm and excited is the predominate pair.

Things have been out of my control for a while. Now I am a passenger on a train. Soon a passenger in a car – a traveler on my San Diego trail angel’s schedule. Tomorrow will be more of the same. I can walk – everything else is petty much out of my hands.

Daunting and freeing.

I am looking forward to some quality silence and some time unplugged.

Tomorrow – my start date – is 6 months off the booze. That still feels great and this trip poses no challenges or threat in that regard.

I am a little over 5 months off the cigarettes and that also still feels good. None of the few people I hang out with in PA smoke, so this past week was my first time around any other smokers. Wow! Does that suck. I was a little concerned that it might be tempting but the opposite is the case. It was reassuring to be that grossed out.

Anywho. This highly focused and concise entry could be the last one for a bit. I don’t know how I will feel out there, but I expect that I will stay off the Facebook and won’t post a ton of blogs either. I have committed to one blog entry per month. There may be more, but there may not.

Oh, the tent! (I am sure you were on pins and needles.) As expected, I am starting with Joe’s zpacks hexamid twin. I will probably order my own hexamid solo in the next few days so that I can get in a tent with a smaller footprint. I may wait to make the order until my first town stop at Warner Springs so that I can have a few more days to get used to the zpacks system, the shockingly low door height, and hopefully see a solo model on trail and get to check out the size, live, in person!

That is it for now. Back to watching the ocean and the little towns.

Rock On!

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To CA and Green Valley

The trip to CA was lovely. My folks drove me to the airport in Philly and I had no issues with security.

On the plane, a lady with a 4 y.o. and a baby was seated next to me. Turns out that these were not only the best behaved children I have ever seen on an airplane, they were better than over half of the adults. The biggest impact they had on me was that the little girl would do a form of the milk step on my leg while she was nursing. That was actually kinda cool. Having a nursing mom next to me on the plane was absolutely no problem for me. It made me think of three awesome ladies – Kelly, Karen, and Olive.

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Terrie came to pick me up from LAX which was super sweet and a great surprise. We accomplished my major chore – buy a canister of fuel – and searched for vegetarian food. Joe recommend we check out Indian places and I found one with a name that sounded like it was from south India. They were closed which was a big bummer. The next place we checked out was open and had a sign on the building that said “southern Indian food”.

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This place was exactly what I have been looking for since I came back from India. They had all my favorites: masala dosa, mutter paneer, uttapam, poori, parotta, puttu with kadala curry, idly with really dry chamundi.

These were my people. We talked about India and they were shocked and pleased when they learned that I knew Thiruvavnthapuram well and could speak a little Mayalayam and Hindi. They knew my old neighborhood, Palkulangara, and where my old office was located above the SNDP hall by the Pettah railway station. They had an image of the key figure for SNDP folks – Sree Narayana Guru. By complete circumstance I was wearing a vibrant yellow shirt – the key color for SNDP.

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Mayura restaurant in LA – Sree Narayana Guru (and the SNDP movement that grew up around him) was one of first voices strongly advocating for an end to the caste system and the concept of the Untouchables.

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SNDP Hall below my office in Pettah, dedication ceremony for the new Dr. Palpu memorial library

20140410-064332.jpgMy old office

They fed us great food and I shared some pictures of the big event in which we celebrated the opening of the Dr Palpu Memorial Library.

20140410-064343.jpganother view of the Pettah office
Back in Green Valley, I spent some time relaxing, soaking in the sun and the warmth, cutting grass, setting up my tent, and working on my disc golf
putting. Out back of the house, two hummingbirds were having a blast at the feeder. I enjoyed watching and listening to them, and I even got two short videos.

Sorry about the sound quality. That was the last straw for my lifeproof case. It will protect your phone. It will also make it largely unusable.

Ramble Bits ©

Fair Warning for new readers – this is only PCT adjacent. If you just came for hikin’ talk, this probably isn’t for you. Feel free to hit the categories or the search options to find some hikey goodness! – Disclaimer Ends.

After about a month of staying up until 3 ish working on plans and general preparations and getting up between 5 and 9, I am almost back onto a hiker’s sleep cycle. In bed between 8 and 10. Up about 5. The next two nights, who knows. My brain is in a bit of a revolt the past week and i have not been able to muster the fortitude to keep it on track. I am even having trouble listening to my audiobook because there are too many thoughts in there and i don’t stay settled. I know this is temporary, and it has been nice for me listening to more music! Though it may be freaking the other folks at my gym out a little bit. When i am in the moment with the tunes, it is all i can do not to sing – but the dancing, air guitar, and head banging cannot be stopped m/. I actually have Rock Neck today from yesterday’s workout.

Casa de Luna (Joe's House) July 2012
Casa de Luna (Joe’s House) July 2012

I expect that my time in LA at Joe’s house will be a further aid to getting back onto a hiker’s schedule as well as finally giving me more hands-on time with my gear. I have only pitched my new tent twice and have never slept in it.  I know this is less than ideal, and it was definitely not the plan. But it is a good reminder that our plans seldom stand up to actual life for very long. I can’t wait to see Joe and Terrie and be in Green Valley again sleeping in the Magical Manzanita Forest! I plan to do a little hiking and might check out the path up to the aqueduct. I will probably hike out to the oasis as well. I expect that there could be some disc golf in my near future!!

Terrie, slightly confused Korean Girl, Joe
Terrie, slightly confused Korean Girl, Joe

My head is so very full of stuff to write about that it is difficult to pick a starting place. I may need to resort to the old outline and bullet point system for a bit to track the very divergent tales. One recurring issue that i have never figured out how to address is dealing with stories that are an integral part of my life but that may not really be mine to tell – or at least not in sufficient detail. Aside from the ownership of events, an admittedly not insurmountable obstacle, there is the impact on others to consider as well. In that regard i am more concerned about the business implications of full disclosure – which is why you have heard very few stories about my time in Doha and Thiruvananthapuram.

Me and Emily - June 30, 1996
Me and Emily Campbell (oldest niece)

Business and matters of the heart – how do you write about stuff without really writing about it? I have no idea. Maybe i am no good at writing that way because i am also no good at all at living that way. With everyone in my life, i always want to get to the point past all the surface crap, where you can be the real you without your defenses up.* Where you don’t have to worry about being misunderstood or causing offense because you have and trust the good feeling you share and because you know that you can work through miscommunications. I am an “all-in” kind of guy and i prefer to spend my time with people who are also “all-in”.  If you are not already nodding your head and saying “yes brother man, i get you”, i offer these simple examples. For me, the best example is the behavior of dogs. Dogs and their bipeds, dogs and each other, dogs and other animals. You always know where you stand with a dog. You know if they want to do what you want to do or if they are just going along because they like to be with you. You know when they miss you. You know when they would rather just nap by the fire. You know when they don’t like you and to what degree. You know when they do like you and to what degree. The other example i offer for those of you who are not well versed in dog is children. I don’t know kids as well as dogs, but i have spent a goodly time with many a youngster and there are some similarities. In that magical time before the conscious brain takes over, maybe it is before self-consciousness (not self-awareness now, that is something else), they leave it all right out in front of you. I like this. I don’t like that. I like you. That guy is scary. Let’s cuddle up and take a nap. I need a hug. I wish she/he would play with me. All of it just right out there in the open. I think that is a great way to live and i deeply mourn that so many of us lose this ability as we age.

Emily and Rachel
Rachel and Emily

Is there a line between boldness and stupidity? Evidence indicates that there is. I am finally pretty clear that such a thing exists. I am even getting better at locating it and abiding by it in business. But for other aspects of life, i am still not very good at these distinctions. I wanna live bravely, boldly, and in the open. I do manage that most of the time, the rough spots generally occur with “new” folks. I don’t know how much of this is normal and how much may be related to having a natural bias towards addiction – If one is good, more must be better. If once was good, all the time has to be the best, right? I am getting pretty good about controlling my relationship to substances, but i can get hooked on people too. How do you know what is really your heart and what is just some crazy expletive that the really freaky diseased part of you is excited about? Stupid heart never checks in with brain anyway. I  don’t know what that guy is up to half the time. But i do recognize him as one of mine because of how he goes about loving what he loves and that he wants to do it all Super Size!

Now that this post is firmly lost in the tall grass, it is probably time to stop.

I should have a more PCT related post coming in the next day or so about physical preparation!

Rock On Peeps. Be Bold. Live fully. Try not to hide!

n

* I am not saying that i always get to this magical place with everyone, but it is my goal, and i tend to spend more time and have longer relationships with folks when we DO get to the point where we are free to be ourselves without any worries or psychic baggage.

Stuff and Things

G+N.pa 96-97
G+N.pa 96-97

Howdy folks. It is getting pretty exciting round these parts. I am leaving in a week. I am thrilled and anxious and a little nervous and really jazzed up and a little scared. One of my new hiking friends and i were talking a bit about fear/anxiety. I shared a thought with her. This is not my original concept, just something i have heard from many sources and that i draw strength from at times. Bravery and courage do not imply an absence of fear. To be brave, to act with courage, is to be afraid and to carry on despite your fear.

I am practicing with a few acts of bravery here in PA 🙂

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G+L+N 2003

The previously endless task list is no longer endless and all the big chunks are done. There are still a few things to tend to. If you are as “particular” as i am, there are always more things to do. All the resupply boxes are packed, addressed, and ready to ship out. I have a stockpile of backup food prepared in case i need to have my mail drop angel Liz adjust my portion sizes. I have two boxes of backup gear packaged and labeled for easy identification in case stuff breaks, wears out, or i want something else once i am out there doin’ it.

I filed and paid my taxes. I enrolled in a health insurance program. I got my booster shots both for regular USA life and for almost definite international business travel that will commence as soon as i return to everyday life after the hike (Tetanus and a Typhoid booster). My car is at the doctor’s office getting a new lung so that it will be ready for my folks to use in my absence.

I got some great tent repair tools from the maker of my new tent and have patched the hole i inadvertently made in the rainfly the second time i ever set up the tent. This kit includes a very lightweight device that will preclude the same kind of incident occurring again.

My desktop since 2006
My desktop since 2006

All of that necessary surface stuff aside – there have been some interesting emotional shifts and other reflections during this time of preparation. I look back at the years of drinking and smoking and continue to wonder how and why i lived that way at all, and for so long. There are so many great benefits for me in being sober and an ex-smoker. (I can never be a non-smoker. Even if i thought that it was possible for that title to apply to a former smoker, which i do not, Bill Hicks would crawl out of his grave, join Facebook, and become my friend – just so that he could unfriend me for applying that label to myself. No one wants that.) I will be 5 months smoke free on Friday, but i don’t really feel any different. That does not make me want to smoke again. I love not smelling terrible (or at least not terrible in THAT way). Many people have commented that it should be much easier to hike now. I don’t feel that. I don’t know if not enough time has passed, or if it has more to with me just having a very large lung capacity and staying active even when i was about 40 pounds overweight. I like not smoking. I like not spending the money i used to spend on cigarettes!

The not drinking has many more tangible, immediate, and longer term effects. One of the biggest things for me is that i am not depressed anymore. After living in a constant state of at least mild depression with several rather severe swings into deeper dark places – i have not even really been sad since i quit drinking, and it feels great. Aside from an initial few weeks of changing body chemistry, i sleep so well now. I fall asleep easier and actually sleep all through the night. What a great change that is. Having good sleep alone has probably helped reshape my attitude into the happy sunny guy you all know and love those days 😉 (Yes, i used to be even grumpier. Don’t you wish you knew me then?) I am still me, still have my own ticks, and tendencies, but i let more stuff go now. I am hanging on to less. I do still bottle things inside and am far more likely to channel emotions inside to try to understand and control them rather than just letting them run free – but i am doing it less.

A final thought to keep this “brief” and not spiral into a super lengthy introspective ramble – an unexpected correlation between long distance hiking and sober time. Many guide books offer the advice that if your goal is to thru hike a long distance trail like the PCT, you have to expect some changes out there due to fires, floods, landslides, mudslides, endangered species, and other factors. However you do choose to surmount these difficulties, the key is to walk a continuous foot path from start to finish. You don’t want to have to say, “i hiked the whole PCT, except for that bit near Idyllwild because of the …”. I understood this immediately, both what they were trying to say and why it might be important, particularly in your own memory and in talking with other hikers.

My buddy
Me and Lucas at Mickey and Max’s House – 2011

I quit drinking (this time) in January of 2013, just a few days after finding out that one of my dear friends and mentors who also struggled with depression and addiction killed himself by hanging. But on April 14th, 2014, the day i will start my thru hike attempt, i will be 6 months sober. That is because i chose to drink last October. It was something of an experiment. I didn’t go crazy or shirk my duties or anything – but i did drink for several days. I am glad i did it. If only to know that i don’t need to ever run that test again. I hated it. I was so very disappointed in myself for doing it. I had to make sure that i made a few public statements about it so that i would not have a bunch of my supportive friends trying to wish me a “happy one year sober” in January of 2014 that i did not earn. I don’t declare that i have been sober for a little over a year except for that little incident in October. That would sound and feel false and wrong to me. I don’t want to have a similar thing with my thru hike. I am not a purist in the sense of “every possible mile of the PCT must be walked”. There are several alternate routes that are not mandatory, they just take you to different sites and i am really excited about hiking those paths. For me, those alternates do not break my chain of thru hiking the PCT. Skipping sections in a car or something like that – something that does break the concept of walking a path all the way from Mexico to Canada – that would violate my personal goal. So, i get what they are saying and i am on board!

I am not judging the choices others make. That is their decision and their lives. You go out have the hike that you want to have. This one is mine.

PS – i keep meaning to write about music and m/ METAL m/ but i just have not had the time. And yes, those issues are timely and hike related! My new buddy Minda and i have a lot of common musical tastes, though as of yet, she has not found any Metal that works for her and we have been talking about metal. I wanted to write a bit about it and explain what it is about Metal that appeals to me. It may not be what you think…

Anywho – be well folks.

Rock On!

PPS – i have written about my dogs throughout this blog and i am sure i will again. With the anniversary of both of them passing – Guthrey at the end of March in 2004 and Lucas 03/30/2012 – my company getting really active in the MidEast again (which happened right after Guthrey died), and me going to hike in California again (i hiked the JMT a few months after Lucas passed) it has been on my mind. I miss my buddies every single day. No day is really harder than any other. But i am feeling it quite a bit right now.

 

Gear List – PCT 2014

Hi Folks! It has been awhile. I hope you are well. Aww thanks, me too! How is the family? The kids? Great, great, good to hear.

Holtwood Dam 3/22
Holtwood Dam 3/22

I have been super duper ultra busy the past few months getting ready for this hike – working on the plans, buying the last minute gear, figuring out my resupply strategy and buying food, packing boxes, testing gear and replacing a few items, and doing my real job, and working with my favorite volunteer group Lancaster Young Professionals. I have been the acting event chair for a gubernatorial debate to be held this October and had many tasks to finish up as well as finding and briefing/training my replacement. Work at RAI has exploded with opportunities, which is good, but the timing is problematic. My dad and I have gamed out as many scenarios as we can, done lots of contract work, and created plans for many different possible futures. Yesterday and today we have been doing all the last minute stuff before he gets on a jet to the MidEast. Normally, i would be going with him, but we both decided it made sense for me to continue on with my plan and let him run with the ball solo for a bit. Potentially missing some of the early stages of the pending business development just means i lose the right to complain about how things are set-up when i get back 🙂 I have also had to wear my tech hat quite a bit getting my dad up to speed on a new computer, introducing an iPad into our workflow, and preparing my mom to be as tech savvy as possible during the research portion of her sabbatical. That’s my paragraph long update and excuse – now to business!

Humbled receiving LYP's Humanitarian Award
Humbled receiving LYP’s Humanitarian Award 3/20 – Photo Credit: Melissa Engle Photography

If you research lightweight hiking, or ultra lightweight hiking, you will find loads of information and many, many gear lists. I get frustrated reading some gear lists. How one approaches hiking and gear selection can be deeply personal and i am not trying to change anyone’s mind about their process. But it does irk me to see so very many gear lists trumpeting Base Pack Weights (all gear and supplies except food and water) at or under 12 pounds that are about 15-20 items long. Any hiker can read those and know, there is tons of small stuff left off of those lists. Small stuff adds up. If you are taking the time to weigh your stuff and make and publish lists, just be real about it. That is my feeling. With that said, here is my actual, no expletive around, gear list.

Base Pack Weight without Bear Canister = 16.17 pounds
Base pack Weight with Bear Canister = 18.73 pounds

The Big Three Description Weight Oz.
Pack Gossamer Gear Mariposa 28.00
Sleeping Bag Z Packs 20 Wide XL with sack 22.70
Sleeping Pad Neo Air X Lite 12.70
Liner Homemade Silk 6.40
Tent, stakes, Stuff sack Tarptent Contrail 29.30
Totals – Ounces   99.10
Totals – Pounds   6.19
Kitchen Description Weight Oz.
Stove Pocket Rocket w/case 3.95
Lighter Bic Mini 0.40
Fuel Can Large Full MSR 227 g canister – 13.2 oz 13.20
Pot SP TI 600 w/lid 3.50
Spoon Yogi Orange 0.20
Cup Sea to Summit X Mug 2.20
Drying Cloth Cut Micro Towel 0.20
* Bear Can BV 500 40.95
Totals – Ounces   64.60
Totals – Pounds   4.04
     
Water Description Weight Oz.
Bladder/Hose Platypus Hoser 1L 3.15
Bottles 1L powerade 1.70
Reservoir Platypus 2 L 1.75
Reservoir MSR 4L 4.30
* Filter – Sawyer Squeeze Mini 16 oz Bag, filter, and Backflush tool 4.15
Purification Aquamira full 3.10
Water gear bag StoS XXS 0.40
Totals – Ounces   18.55
Totals – Pounds   1.16
     
Clothes in Pack Description Weight Oz.
Socks – Hiking second pair Smartwool PHD Run Mini Light Cushion M 1.65
Long Underwear tops Cap 2 Large 5.65
Long Underwear Bottoms Patagonia Cap 2 Medium 4.90
shorts Nike black with white stripe 4.00
Rain Jacket Marmot 13.55
* Rain Pants EMS (11.6 oz)
Balaclava Army 1.50
Down Jacket Golite 6.75 6.75
Hat Army Watchcap 1.25
Gloves Cheap cotton garden gloves 1.60
Camp Shoes Crocs – size 10 14.00
Bag for clothes gossamer gear poly sack 1.35
Totals – Ounces   56.20
Totals – Pounds   3.51
     
Incidentals/Emergency Description Weight Oz.
Whistle Fox 40 Sharx 0.45
Compass Burton Classic 1.25
Headlamp/main light Photon Light w/necklace 0.25
Kindling Sol Tinder Quik 0.05
Emergency fire starter Matches in Waterproof case 0.90
Skin Repair Super Glue x 2 0.45
repair kit/q-tips/earplugs sewing/gear tape/qtips/ear plugs 0.60
Tick Key Tick Key 0.15
Soap Dr Bronners 0.55
nail clippers toe 1.55
Microcloth – personal towel Cut up 0.55
Rope 2 mm 30 ft plus cord wrap 0.50
Headnet Sea to summit 0.90
Bandanna Lucas and PCT Class 2.20
Notebook/Pencil/Zip From Marie 1.70
iPhone 5S with lifeproof 5.35
charge cords 1 Lightning 1 mico usb 0.90
usb charge block Anker 5 port 8.45
Camera lumix DMC-ZS20 7.40
external battery Anker 6000 4.70
more cords camera 1.30
Headphones Sony DREX61IP 0.45
Tooth Kit brush/paste/floss/zip 2.00
Sunblock Sport 1 OZ 1.30
Watch Small w/band 0.60
Lip Stuff Bert’s Bees 0.25
Knife Swiss Army small 0.75
Maps HalfMile Sections per food drop 3.00
Summit Backpack Stuff Sack Sea to Summit 2.60
bags/Zips camera zip 0.25
bags/Zips anker hub/bat/cords zip 0.25
bags/Zips StoS XXS drawstring emergency 0.45
Totals – Ounces   52.05
Totals – Pounds   3.25
     
Toilet Kit Description Weight Oz.
Trowel GSI 2.95
Hand Sani 2 oz container 2.35
Triple Antibac-cream Equate hydro 1.00
Wipes MYO 10-pack from bulk pack 2.15
Trash bag 1 quart freezer zip 0.20
Toilet Gear Bag StoS XXS Drawstring 0.45
Totals – Ounces   9.10
Totals – Pounds   0.57

* items: Bear Can – only need for around 300 miles through the Sierras
Water filter – may send home after the desert, may keep whole hike
Rain Pants – i will not carry these for the ~1,700 miles of California. Might mail them to myself in OR or WA, might not. Never seen or heard of comfortable rain pants. Mine certainly are not. I kinda figure that i am planning to walk outside for 4-5 months, sometimes i might get wet.

Not part of Base Pack Weight Calculations, but important gear none-the-less:

Not in Pack Description Weight Oz.
Hike Pants EcoMesh pants w/belt 12.00
Hike Shirt Patagonia Cap 1 Large 6.75
Hike Socks Smartwool PHD Run Mini Light Cushion M 1.70
Hike Hat Tilley 3.80
Sunglasses Ironman Triatholon 1.10
Poles w/duct tape Leki Khumbu 21.00
Shoes Merrel Moad Vent (10 W) 34.50
Gaiters Dirty Girl Large 1.10
Insoles Super feet green E 3.90
Totals – Ounces   85.85
Totals – Pounds   5.37

There may be some other gear write-ups later, but there may not. Let me know if you have any questions or if there is anything you would like to know more about.

If you made it this far down the page, shouldn’t you get a little reward? Of Course! How about a short little movie combing still pics and video from this weekend’s hike near Holtwood Dam?

Tech Post 2 – iPad

BOC Correspondent #2
BOC Correspondent #2

I thought this was going to be a dream come true. I had been lusting after the iPad since it first was revealed, and not just for personal use, but as a business tool. The vision was that Vance and I would be able to get rid of laptops and have pads for the road and an iMac for him and an iMac or Mac Pro Tower for me. Initially we would probably still need to travel with our phones, but “soon” we should be able to ditch the phones and do all our work and manage all our client conversations just via the iPads.

In the Fall of 2012 it looked like we would soon be doing a lot of work travel to the Mid East, Morocco, and India. It was time to test the iPad. My over three year old MacBook Pro had some sound issues that indicated a logic board replacement and the system was getting slow overall. A pre-disaster change was propitious.

I had a lot of concerns. Would the lack of a standard file management system be a drawback? Would I be able to perform all the various tasks that my many jobs and responsibilities require? Can I manage, edit, and create new websites on the thing? Of all the concerns that were troubling me, I was secure in the knowledge that my Mac files would be safely and simply accessible via iCloud and that I would have no trouble with word processing via Apple’s Pages, with spreadsheets via Apple’s Numbers, nor with presentations via Apple’s Keynote. Since these were Apple programs designed by Apple for both the OS and mobile/iOS environments there should be no trouble with these critical tasks.

After some deliberation and hands-on time at the Apple Store with the Business Team and the selection of iPads, I chose the iPad mini. After playing with the device for a few days to simulate as many scenarios as I could, I learned two things that were quite surprising. 1) All the issues I was worried about had multiple, simple, and in many cases quite elegant, solutions. Generally the solutions were free apps, though some inexpensive apps were called for as well. But all the things I needed to accomplish that involve non-Apple software were covered. 2) The three main things I was absolutely not worried about at all, Apple failed big time in all three of these areas – Pages for word processing, Numbers for spreadsheets, and Keynote for presentations (collectively “iWork”).

iCloud did successfully provide reliable access to iWork files across multiple devices. But the iPad cannot display iWork documents the same way on the iPad as on an OSX system. Things generally look the same, but you are required to create a copy of the document in order to open and edit it. Part of Apple’s innovation at the program/app, OS, and backup system level over the past few years has been a concerted effort to remove any worries one might ever have related to versioning of documents. “Now, on our newest line of fancy devices, here is a problem from 1990. Enjoy!”

If that was the only problem, it is possible that I might have stuck it out. But it isn’t the only problem. The iOS versions of iWork do not have the full feature sets that their OSX siblings provide. This was not a huge problem for me with most basic tasks in Pages and Numbers, though I do like to send business correspondence on our digital letterhead (which is very simple) and it would not render properly on the iPad. Let that sink in. In fact, take a look.

RAI Base Letterhead
RAI Base Letterhead

Sometimes I add a little data to the footer as appropriate, but that is a really simple letterhead. Pages on the iPad cannot display this document correctly. If that was the second and last problem, it is still possible I may have stuck it out. But it isn’t the end.

Keynote. If you listened to any Mac news since at least 2006, you heard about Keynote often. You heard that it is much better than Powerpoint. It has more features than Powerpoint. It is far simpler to use than Powerpoint. In my experience, this is all true and I have enjoyed using the great and simple features in Keynote. Many of these features are not available on the iPad. The iPad does not even contain the same color pallet as the OSX version. I developed a very simple slide template in Keynote and the iOS version cannot even display the base template correctly, never mind actual data on the slide. If you get around the template flaws  for some reason, the amount of information (amount of text/number of words) that can fit on a slide in iOS is less than the amount that can fit on a slide in the OSX version. Maddening!

Truthfully, the first strike would probably have kept me off the iPad, the second would definitely have done the trick, but now with this third problem, Apple, you are really just starting to piss me off.

I ended up returning the iPad and switched to a MacBook Air with which I am very pleased. The screen is bigger. It can do more stuff. It is more powerful. It can hold more stuff. It is very light and easy to carry. It already has a keyboard and mouse attached. Most of the folks I know and see who do use iPads for business also carry and use wireless keyboards, so i think this actually puts me ahead of the curve in some respects. When I am at my home office, it plugs right into my 24” cinema display which is quite nice.

I will return to the simmering rage hinted at in this post in the concluding remarks for the series.

Next Up: iTunes

Just a Quickie

Howdy Folks. It has been a while. I have some stuff lined up for you, but some of it still needs a little polish. I had some good momentum going on with the writing and then things got a little weird for me just before Christmas. I got overwhelmed by a wave of unspeakable sadness and was stuck weeping and thinking many a negative thought.

My little blond girls!
My little blond girls!

I did manage to pull things back together and proceed with my holiday travel plans and visited with family and friends. Christmas with my sister, brother-in-law, his mom, and my three lovely nieces was splendid. We played some of our favorite games and a few new ones too. I also got to spread a little Christmas cheer with Mickey and Max and their bipeds!

Max and Mickey
Max and Mickey

New Years in Richmond was a blast as usual, though the sadness started trying to creep back in on January 1. I rode it out – not splendidly, but i did not get overwhelmed.

On a brief return to NoVA, i got to take the nieces out to visit an old friend’s farm to ride some horses as well as share some time with her family. This has been a wonderful reconnection largely facilitated by Facebook.

Girls and Horses!
Girls and Horses!

I felt a little rocky again once i got back to PA, but i have spent time focusing on what needs to be done and applied doses of “Fake it ’til you Make it” as needed and i think i have righted the ship again.

Vance and i have made some excellent progress on the business front, i have some consultations set up with another LYP member regarding RAI‘s technical evolution, and have a few social outings on the agenda as well. I am also nearing completion on the JMT movie project. I need to review it again, but i believe that all the visual content is set. Once i verify that, i will add in some voiceovers where appropriate and be ready to set up a mechanism for those interested to either download it or receive a DVD.

I used my Christmas present from my sister’s clan, an REI gift card, to replace my old backpacking pan with a new one that i like much better. It boils water faster, has a non-stick coating, and can actually nest a fuel canister.

Jake/Floyd and i got to talk on the phone several times over a couple of days as well as exchanging some emails and it was really great to get to spend some time with him again. We have not had much time to chat since we left CA in July.

Me and Jake on Forester Pass
Me and Jake on Forester Pass

The next few days should be pretty full with business research and presentation creation, but i expect to have some time to dedicate to personal projects (writing and the JMT video) in the second half of January. I had hoped to have the JMT video ready for Christmas, but hopefully it won’t drag on past the end of January.

I hope your holiday season was filled with at least as much cheer as mine and hopefully far less battling with demons.

Cheers!

The Last Day – JMT Day 26 – June 26, 2012

Guitar Lake – Summit Mt Whitney (14,505 ft!) – Whitney Portal – Casa De Luna!!!

11,480 – 8,330 (+ 3,455 / – 6,175) – 15.1 miles * Mt. Whitney!!

Free Maps Online – Day 26 – Map 2 and 1

Photos Open to the Public on Facebook

Guitar Lake Morning Alpenglow
Guitar Lake Morning Alpenglow

I did wake up very early, but went back to bed until about 5 AM. I was moving about and making preparations before 6 AM. It was a beautiful morning, though quite cold. Jake got up soon after and actually hiked out of camp before me. The ascent to Trail Crest gave us our first real views of Guitar Lake, and while misshapen, it does strongly resemble a guitar when viewed from above.

Guitar Lake from above
Guitar Lake from above

The final ascent from Trail Crest to the summit of Mt Whitney was breathtaking in two ways – more astonishing views, and some scary bits of trail. There were a few tight corners, a few short, but thin ridge walks with nothing on either side but a long way down, and a beautiful, but sketchy snow field.

Dicey snow field
Dicey snow field

But we made it to the summit and spent about an hour and a half taking in the different views, getting some pictures, and making phone calls.

Fox Force Three on top of the USA
Fox Force Three on top of the USA

Back at our parting at Onion Valley, Joe told us, “when you get to the top of Whitney call me. It is about 4 hours from my house, but I will still beat you to Whitney Portal trailhead.” We did not know for sure if that was something Joe said in the emotional moment of our parting and that a few days back in civilization might change his perspective. We had the number of another great guy we met at VVR who said we could call him from Whitney and he should still be in the area and would drive us back to our car in Yosemite. It is also not usually difficult to get a hitch from Whitney to the nearby town of Lone Pine, and I had researched the bus routes back to Yosemite from there. But we hoped Joe would be able to come get us, so after lounging a bit, we called Joe.

He told us that we would probably not get down to Whitney Portal until 8 PM, and he would be there waiting for us, probably by 7:30. Now that we knew that we would not have to camp on Whitney, or hitch to Lone Pine, and we would get to see Joe and celebrate the conclusion of our journey with him, we were in high spirits and ready to tackle the final leg of the journey – a 10.4 mile, 6,130 ft, descent.

Aside from a few snowy patches in the shadow of the mountain, the trip down was relatively smooth and easy – it just seemed never-ending. I did not stop one time from Trail Crest until a little past Outpost camp, about half of the distance and elevation. Jake caught up with me there and we rested together for a bit, but I moved on sooner than Jake. Not to long after, I met a guy asking for distances. I told him where we were and asked him why he wanted to know. He said that the last food and drink orders at the grill at Whitney Portal must be in be by 7:45, and he took off.

I am slower on the descent than the ascent, my legs were beginning to feel the burn, and I was getting tired. The only way I had stayed ahead of Jake on such a long downhill stretch so far was that I had not stopped at all. Jake soon caught me and I told him what the guy said about the grill. Jake decided to kick it into that weird other gear he has and make it down to the food. I yelled after him, “order me one of anything veggie and a beer! Whoop Whooop!”

I got down not too long before I would have needed to use my headlamp – just about 8 PM. I found Jake and Joe and it was a glorious reunion. We ate  our veggie burgers and fries and drank a beer and some fresh gatorade. In true Papa Joe fashion, he not only ran into someone else he knew there at the grill, it was his neighbor! We were so excited that Joe wanted to come and see us and that he was able to and that Terry let him go. That’s when Joe told us “the catch”. “Terry said that I could only come and get you guys if I brought you back to Casa de Luna – tonight.”

So after walking about 240 miles, from Yosemite to Mt Whintey, we got in the car with Joe and headed further south to Casa de Luna, not but 45 minutes from LA.

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”

JMT Day 11 and 12 – June 11 and 12, 2012 – VVR Part 1 – The Staff!

Vermillion Valley Resort (VVR) – Two Full Zero Days!

VVR on Facebook

7900 (+/- 0) – 0.0 miles

Free Maps Online – Day 11 and 12 – Map 10

Photos Open to the Public on Facebook

Let me just say, I love VVR. We ate a ton of good food. We drank many a fine beer from the incredible selection of fine beer there. And we met so many fantastic folks.

I developed deeper connections with more of the staff than I did with most of the other hikers – probably because the staff is there every day, Jake and I were there for at least part of 4 days, and most hikers were there for a day or a day and a half. These are my VVR peeps! (I don’t think I missed anyone, but if I did – Big Sorry!)

Marie, Olive, Kevin, Jim, Vicky, Gary, Randy, Rene, John, Robert, Mark, Joe, Roy – and the 4 leggers, Feather, Emma, and Stella.

Marie helped us get settled-in, took care of our many requests with a smile, and we had some nice chats about life and school. One of the amazing parts of her brain allows her to remember everyone’s name, trail name, nickname, and who is with who. Marie gave me a little notebook that I used the rest of the trip and to which I have referred often while writing this. I fall at least a little bit in love with almost every waitress. You give me a super cute one named Marie and it is Game Over. From my previous super-cute-waitress-Marie-love-experience, I was already playing some tracks from Harvest Moon in my head when Jake leaned over at breakfast one morning and sang quietly, “I used to order just watch her float across the floor.” Jake and I both had a big Marie Crush, and I would imagine many hikers leave there in a similar state. We could not find Marie to say goodbye to before leaving for the ferry and were sad about that until we saw her come running down to the lake (cue the music!) to give us farewell wishes and hugs!

Olive is a unique and wonderful lady that I enjoyed both sparring and actually talking with. We talked about life, school, travel, books, dogs, people, and many other things. There are tons of fantastic Olive moments and I will put one or two down here to give the flavor. One day, many non-hiking folks showed up around lunch time. There was a table of college-age looking guys near our customary spot at the outdoor bar. Olive came out, looked at us, and said (rather loudly) “I am so tired of pretending to be nice to people!” I think that put those dudes on their best behavior. One of our greatest and most public sparring sessions was at breakfast one morning. The room was not full, but there were at least 6 other folks eating breakfast at the time, and Olive started talking about how gross milk is. We went back and forth a bit, with me taking the side that milk is natural and no weirder than pretty much anything else about eating. Olive maintained that it is different and gross and weird because it is special food made for babies. Out of the blue she changed tactics and asked, “Would you drink a woman’s breast milk? Would you drink Marie’s breast milk?” In a rare fit of self-control, I kept the first two or three things I thought of in my head and only responded with a smile, “You are just sweetening the pot here Olive.” The room responded with joyous and approving laughter. Olive made one final attempt to regain her footing by approaching a distinguished looking hiker and trying to recruit him to her side. Grey Wolf was smiling and shrugged saying, “I agree with everything he just said.” Oh man, we had fun. Good Times. Olive and I have stayed in touch and i look forward to our next chance to visit one another!

Kevin is a wonderful Chef and a great guy. He cooked us many fine meals and seemed to enjoy the challenge/variety of cooking for vegetarians. He busted out his cookbooks and capped our great string of meals with some fantastic fried eggplant! I don’t usually enjoy eggplant, fried or otherwise, but this was super. He and I spent part of several evenings talking about cooking and travel and life. Before we left, Kevin realized that we were going to tell everyone we met how awesome VVR is, how awesome the food is, and that there were quite a few #6 breakfasts in his future. Kevin rode over on the ferry with us on our way out on the last day.

Jim, Vicky, and I talked about VVR, hiking, dogs, the VVR website and marketing, as well as other lighter stuff. They were both gracious and welcoming and maintain such a friendly vibe at their place.

Gary and I talked for a long time every evening sitting around the fire and covered a ton of topics.

Randy and I talked about skateboarding, growing up, mentoring kids, and hiking.

I got to spend less time talking with the others, but enjoyed the time I did share with Robert, Rene, Mark, John, Joe and Roy. I did get to watch John training Mark on the ferry and he seemed like a good and patient teacher. One day I heard Marie saying that she wished there was a way she could open the sliding glass door with her foot as she came outside with many plates of food in her arms. I thought that i was the only on that heard her. But, within an hour, Joe was there with some cut-to-fit angle iron and affixed it to the door and now she can open it with her foot! These are all great folks dedicated to doing a good job and helping each other. It was a joy to witness.

Feather is a lover and will accept love from anyone. I got some nice dog time in with her.

Emma seemed more selective than Feather, unless you wanted to throw her ball. We played ball for about an hour one day.

Stella is more discerning. I got to pet her a few times, but did not make it into her inner circle.

Stay Tuned for VVR Part 2 – The Hikers!

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