Adventurers 1

Adventurers 1

I am temporarily side-lined for a while with an inflamed tendon in my leg. The good thing is that it happened during the heat of the summer when I had not planned on very many long hiking trips. So, I will have plenty of time to recuperate and work on other things for my walk across America.

I think most of us find people who inspire us. Whether you are a cook, a musician, an athlete, an intellectual, a parent, or adventurer, we look to all who have come before us. I have certainly done this with music (John Prine and Steve Goodman) and most everything else I have done: climbing, kayaking, traveling, hiking etc. So, when I started thinking about rekindling the adventurous part of my soul when I turn 60, I sought out some remarkable people. I would like to list a few of them here. If you happen to be an “armchair” adventurer, I highly suggest following their social media links or reading their books!


Freya Hoffmeister:
One of the things I love to do is travel alone. Of course, I like company and the occasional partner. But it is really great to be able to make all your own decisions, set all of your own goals, and to accept all of your own successes as well as defeats. However, traveling alone is tough. It requires that little “extra thing” not everyone has. Freya is certainly someone who is a living lesson on mental toughness. In 2009 she kayaked around the continent of Australia. Yep, alone. Crocodiles near her campsites and a great white shark nipping at her kayak! She then kayaked solo around South America. And now she is in the process of kayaking the entire North American continent (30,000 plus miles.) So, I think if someone in her 50’s can kayak 30,000 miles, I should be able to handle 3,500 miles!


Kevin Biggar:

The next person was Kevin Biggar. As he says in the intro to his book: The Oarsome Adventures of a Fat Boy Rower: How I Went from Couch Potato to Atlantic Rowing Race Winner. “Overweight and out of work, he sits on the sofa, eats fast food and watches daytime TV. He’s nagged by his mum. He’s bullied by the cat.”
So, Kevin is just your average guy who did one simple thing anyone can do.
Kevin made a decision. For me I truly believe you can do almost anything in the world you want. You just have to make a decision!
And it was all uphill from there! But what I get from him is also the fact that it has nothing to do with money or your physical abilities; it’s all mental! The guy not only rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, but he won the international race! His book, by the way, is quite a humorous read! 


Jessica Mills:

Next up is Jessica Mills: “Dixie” (her trail name) has thru-hiked the AT (Appalachian Trail) 2,100 miles (you might have seen the movie with Robert Redford: “A Walk in the Woods”) and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) 2,600 miles. (“Wild” is a recent movie starring Reese Witherspoon)) She is currently hiking the CDT “Continental Divide Trail” 3,100 miles. When a person completes all three trails, it is called a “Triple Crown.” As of July 1st, 2018 she has hiked almost 6,000 miles carrying a backpack!
You can go to her YouTube channel and watch individual videos of her trip or she actually has a 90 minute film on her channel for the complete AT as well as the PCT trips.
Having hiked about 1,000 miles of the Appalachian Trail, I must admit I have a great admiration for the people who not have not only hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, but the PCT and the CDT as well! Over the last 80 years, there has been about 18,000 people who have completed one of these trails. However, there has been less that 200 hikes who have completed all three!

 While I am constantly drawing my inspiration from different people, I just wanted to start with these three. I will post more later and focus on other great long distance walkers.



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Ducks in a Row

Ducks in a Row

I just moved the needle from a 60% possibility to a 95% probability of starting my trip as planned! I had a few major concerns over my Social Security benefits starting next year. However, after several phone calls, including one with the American Embassy’s Social Security division in Guadalajara (I live in Mexico,) everything should be fine! Also, I have been doing longer and longer day hikes and my body seems to be painfully submitting to the fact that I will be expecting a lot from it over the next two years.

The Route! I will be walking the Historic Route 20 from Boston, Massachusetts to Newport, Oregon. 3,400 miles. I plan on leaving March 1, 2020 even though temps will be mid-20s at night and occasionally above freezing during the day. If I want to make it over the much larger Western mountains in Autumn before the first snows, I’ll need to leave at this time. If not, or if delayed, I will have to turn south at some point before Yellowstone.
Equipment: It is way too early to narrow down exactly what I will be taking with me. I know I will need a -0- degree sleeping bag, rain gear, and one pair of waterproof boots for at least the first two months. After that I will more than likely ship all of it back and switch to lighter, more useful stuff for crossing the plains in the heat of summer. Luckily, I have had years of experience camping in the winter, so I am pretty comfortable with this part of the trip. Since 90% of people who complete a cross-country hike like this start carrying a backpack but end up using some form of a push cart, this will also be my choice. Again, not sure which once but a high-quality jogging baby stroller looks like the best option.


Electronics: I plan on arriving to the States about a week before I start my trip. This will give me a chance to get used to the cold (It will be five years since I have been in a climate colder than 55 degrees.) I also will do all my last major shopping for the trip: down vest, walking shoes, wool hat, food, etc. I will be taking a netbook (for social media updates) a phone, and a camera. I will pick these up during my first week in the States. The camera, (I am looking at the Canon PowerShot SX730) I will be getting soon (within six months) I need to start using this for my blog, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram posts.

I have had many people offer to help as far as places to stay along the way as well as chipping-in with financial support. (This is great because I will be using the SS checks to support Marvy while I am gone, so most of the trip will be supported by contributions.) My Go Fund Me page can be seen here! Early contributions really help in setting the budget for equipment!


40 Years Ago

40 Years Ago

I was living in Denver, Colorado in 1979 with my friend Scott.  I had just finished working at a summer camp for teens in the Rockies. (You know, the kind of “adventure” camp where you can spend $3,000 to get rid of your kid for the summer.) It was a horseback camp where, for 30 days, the owner of the camp and I would take 12 young teenagers on horseback into the mountains.  It was a fun summer job, but after that job, I was aching for something new.

 In late July, I had taken a short week-long job transferring data in documents by hand for a small company. (think:1979.)   Every day I would hitch-hike from my apartment to downtown Denver to work. I had decided to leave the following Monday and “drop-in” on my Mom for her birthday in San Diego.  The trip would take me down from Denver south through New Mexico and into San Diego, about 1,000 miles.  One of the mornings while hitch-hiking to work, a girl my age gave me a ride.  Her name was Lori, and we hit it off quite well!  I decided that night that if she gave me a ride the next day, I would ask her out for dinner.   As fate would have it, she did.  Over dinner, I told her of my plans for leaving on Monday on my trip.  Lori told me she had never done anything besides being a student at Colorado State University and thought it would be a fantastic adventure. By the end of the evening, we had decided to “partner-up” for the journey!

 That summer there was a heat wave in the southwest that often exceeded 118 degrees (48 celcius.)  At times, even though we were thirsty, our water bottles were so hot we had the hardest time trying to stay hydrated.  Back in 1979, there was not nearly as much traffic as there is now, especially on smaller state highways.  We often waited for hours just standing on the shoulder of a simmering hot highway waiting for that occasional car or truck to blast by us at 80mph.  I had found from my years of hitching, that I had to be more than just be some guy standing on the road with my thumb out to catch a ride.  People generally are cautious. I figured out that by juggling while hitch-hiking, people would not only notice me easier but also feel more comfortable offering a ride.  (How many documented serial murderers have been known to lure their victims to their death by juggling on the side of a road?)

 One sweltering night, Lori and I found a small truck stop just off some remote highway in New Mexico.  We climbed down from an overpass, across two sets of railroad tracks that ran underneath and then up to the front door of the small truck stop diner.  As always, the sign on the door said: “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service.”  I was relieved because during the 1970’s there would often be signs on truck stop diners that also said: “NO hitch-hikers!”

Next to that sign, there was also a handwritten sign on the door that read: “Door is jammed- use your shoulder!”  On the third attempt, I had to really slam the door with my shoulder to open it.  The bell at the top of the door clanged loudly as we stepped through.  It was a small diner with about eight tables.  Only two were occupied.  At the table closest to the door sat a huge, bearded truck driver covered in sweat and grit. He didn’t look up to see us. He was busy shoveling a plate full of chipped-beef-on-toast into his mouth and taking deep swigs from his coffee cup.

 We quickly worked our way to the far side of the diner and grabbed a table near the bathrooms.  Lori and I were very hungry, hot, and tired and did not want to be kicked out.  So as soon as the waitress came over with the menus, we told her we didn’t need menus we just wanted burgers, fries, and cokes. While we were eating, the huge truck driver stood up and walked towards us.  I was bracing for the worst when he continued past our table and went into the bathroom behind me. We finished the burgers and added a slice of apple pie to the bill.  Feeling much better after a couple burgers and some air conditioning, we were ready to leave.  I told Lori I needed to use the bathroom and I’d be back in a sec. 

 The bathroom door was an old beige-painted wooden door with years of dirt and grime surrounding the worn doorknob.  I pushed on the door, but it wouldn’t open.  I then remembered the front door sign: “Door is jammed-use your shoulder!”   I also remember it took me three tries to get the front door open.  Not wanting to have anyone stare at me while I made several attempts to open the door, I leaned back and hit the door with my shoulder, full-force.

 Suddenly a loud cracking sound erupted as the door flung opened and the splintered wood surrounding the bolt lock on the inside of the door shattered. Sitting on the toilet, right in front of me, sat the slightly terrified and confused over-weight truck driver trying to cover himself with a newspaper he had been reading. An endless moment of silence passed while we stared at each other. I then merely pointed my finger at him and just said…”OK, ….I see you!”   Which I think confused him even more.  I then turned quickly around, walked back to our table, tossed $15 on the table for our meal, grabbed my pack and Lori, and headed out into the unforgiving heat of the night.  Disappearing into the shadows as quickly as possible, we found a bridge underpass where we camped for the night, sleeping fitfully… with one eye open.

 While there were several other great stories from this one trip, it was only when I found this picture that I remembered the face of that poor truck-driver, who to this day, if he is still alive, has probably shared an entirely different perspective of what happened that night with his friends and family.


Where it all began

Where it all began

About a year ago I made a decision to go on an adventure. My entire early life had been a series of one adventure after another. Somewhere along the way I stopped. I got into a day job, got married, and raised a family. As life changed, my wife and I decided to move to Mexico. I left the financial security of working in the corporate world to teach English online. Mexico allowed me to live a simpler lifestyle.
The adventure was originally to leave in 2020 on a 4,500 mile sea kayaking trip along the entire west coastline of Mexico. However, after a series of surgeries and discussions with my wife, I decided that the kayak trip was not going to be possible either physically or financially.
Weeks ticked by and my unrest continued to grow. I started to recollect all of the travels around the United States I had gone on. I had hitch-hiked seven times, ridden motorcycles three times, taken a bus three times, and have driven many more times. Then it hit me. I had never walked across the United States. I immediately went to YouTube and watched every video possible of people who had made the successful crossing. I knew then that this was going to happen!
The plan: The mental part was a no-brainer (pun intended.) I have hiked a lot of the Appalachian Trail and several hundred miles of the Pacific Coast Trail and understand what long distance walking is about. The only variables that I have to deal with now are physical and financial.
This last year I have been invested in fixing up an out of shape body. After 20 years of little activity, surviving cancer twice, and having high blood pressure and diabetes, I knew I needed to make some major life changes. I stopped eating all animal products and processed foods. I completely stopped drinking alcohol except for tequila. (Tequila doesn’t count as alcohol because I live in Mexico and therefore, according to every Mexican I know, it is healthy for you.) I also began walking and stretching daily. And I bought some good walking shoes and started on short walks ranging from 2-3 miles to 10-13 miles. My weight dropped from 190 pounds to 168.
The financing of this trip should run, at the most, around $7,000. (Less than 1/3 of what the Kayak trip would have cost.) This will include equipment, airfare to and from my home to the start and finish points, and all the expenses on the road. OK, well the problem is, I do not work in corporate America anymore and the life of an online English teacher’s salary is pretty hand-to-mouth. Luckily… I will be starting the trip when I turn 62 and will be getting my Social Security. That money, plus money I will be able to save in the next 18 months, plus the much needed donations from people before and during the trip should make everything possible.
The Route: Too early to say. Many people try the AMerican DIscovery Trail which basically goes in a straight line from Deleware to San Francisco. If you know me, my mind is incapapble of understanding anything as a straight line. I am thinking about Portland, Maine to Portland, Orgeon. Or maybe Los Angeles. (It really depends on who I know would have the best “Congradulations” Chocolate Cake for me when I arrive.)
Moving forward from this point. I have created most of the Social Media I need so that friends and followers can read and watch as the trip preparations continue. I will post YouTube Videos and Instagram pics of 15-25 mile walks while in Mexico and link all of these to my Facebook page. I have a few Doctors I will need to visit to make sure my body is training correctly. I am mostly concerned with the feet, ankles, heel, tendons, and knees. And since I will be pushing a cart (more on this in a later post) I will need to have my wrists looked at. I fractured them last year when, while fishing on a jetty, a wave knocked me down about six feet between some rocks. I ignored the advice of friends of mine who are nurses and did not go to the hospital for x-rays. Another decision which I have already filed in Rob’s Life: Bad Decision Folder. (Very thick folder)
Lots of details I just don’t have at this point. But as my blog posts continue, there will certainly be fun pics and interesting videos. The trip will be a great read for everyone. But no adventurer can deny that the preparation is at least as exciting and as much fun as the actual trip!