Monday, March 28, 2016

Day -34 : Live the Adventure

Someday I'll be hiking. That's not today. In fact hiking hasn't been at the top of things I've been thinking about. We moved Saturday, well sort of. Friday was a day of packing, as in filling boxes with stuff. Where's my stuff? Scattered thoughts, mostly not about hiking. I took a lap around my yard on Saturday, it's still my yard until sometime today. But it was my last lap. The first profession on earth was a gardener and somewhere deep in my DNA is a love for plants and gardens. When we moved into our home in 2009 the yard was a big field of weeds. We had it completely made over into a wonderful oasis of green. For the last few years the trees and shrubs, tended with care, really began to thrive. Everything is in bloom, the citrus buds are about to burst in that intoxicating tropical smell that comes from citrus trees. I will miss it. Saturday was my last day in my garden. Our new place doesn't even have a yard. I'm not sure yet even where I'll put my gas grill. What gas grill?

Saturday was a long day. We initially expected that our stuff would be moved from our old place to our new place. Our plan was to split up and divide the tasks of moving between us. Kelli would provide over-watch and direction to the movers at our old place. I would go to our new place and provide access to the Internet and TV techs as well as direct the location of the soon to be delivered stuff. That's where our plan broke down. Firstly, the packers on Friday didn't finish packing. The movers on Saturday decided to finish packing before beginning moving. We decided to go with a professional moving company instead of the 'Few guys with a Big Truck' experience of our last move.

Kelli and I called each other on the status of our different tasks throughout the day. The movers showed up later than we expected. Huh, well I guess they know what they are doing. Kelli's perspective was that they were not moving very quickly and that they seemed to need to stop and smoke a lot. I was having may own adventures with getting our TV service installed. I won't mention any names but all I want is to transfer my TV service from our old place to our new place. There is no easy way to summarize this part but I will try. I spend hours on the phone ordering a replacement service that is supposedly exactly the same as my previous service, only because the guy from the company told me the service I have was unavailable at my new place. The installer installs the replacement service, which is nothing like the service I had before, I tell him I don't want the replacement service (no DVR) so don't install it. I call the company back and find, oh, they do have the service I want. So today I wait for him to arrive.

Kelli calls in the middle of Saturday afternoon. The movers aren't going to be able to deliver everything thing today. They want to know what we want on the one truckload they can deliver and want to know when we are available on Sunday. I didn't choose my words very carefully and ended up saying things in a way that was less than friendly. "Come back over here." she said. When I arrived the movers seemed to be moving in slow motion. They moved about with the appearance of being significantly busy but it seemed like very little was actually being loaded onto the trucks. Weird. I spoke with one of the movers, they were all quite friendly. He suggested I walk with him and identify the things we needed to have on the first truck. So I did. I pointed out a few things that we must have, like all the things in our master bedroom. He said, "Ok, what else," So I identified some more things and said, "Stop me when the truck is full." I kept going and basically picked everything that we'd need. "No problem," he says. "Call me if you have any questions." and I give him my number and he tests it, my phone rings.

Cool, that was easy, that was easy, since I'm here, I'll grab the house plants and a few boxes of household cleaners and what not that they won't load on the trucks. Problem solved. I bring the stuff back to the new place. Hours pass, Kelli shows up tired and frazzled. "They are so slow..." We organize the few things that we brought ourselves. Mom shows up with take-and-bake pizza which we bake, eat, and sit around until the sun sets. I try calling the mover back that tested my number earlier, no answer. "Let's go check on them." I suggest. We drive back to the old place. Both trucks are about two-thirds full and it's getting dark. They seem to be loading things onto the trucks by they are clearly not done. They struggle to figure out home to get me desk out of my office. I help them dis-assemble it. They load it on the truck. We wait and wait, sitting on the steps as movers ebb and flow past like the surf on the beach.

The house is mostly empty and sad, I think it will miss us. I know that I will miss it. I wonder if this is how Abram felt when leaving Haran. Everything was comfortable and everything had its place. The house was just as he liked it. A voice said go, and he left the comfortable and familiar and set out for something new. We are leaving the comfortable and familiar, not because we have to or need to, but something, someone one, is saying go. So we go. Abram obeyed and spent the rest of his life living an unexpected life, living in tents. We won't be living in tents, well actually I will, for about five months. After that, no tents, but we'll be renting. I wonder if we'll ever own a place again. I hope to, I plan to... but I don't think Abram planned to live the rest of his life in tents, just like I don't plan to rent for the rest of my life. The unsettled life of the sojourner. We are but pilgrims passing thru. That which you think you own, if you're not careful, ends up owning you. To be truly free you must reject false masters and follow the One.

It's dark, the movers have finished the house is empty and forlorn. It'll get over it, the new owner are excited to take possession, they'll be good care-givers to this house. Time to move on. We drive through the dark, Kelli and I, each of us with our own thoughts. The movers stop to get another case of cigarettes. We stand in our new empty living room waiting for them. It's dark and quite, there is a restriction on noise after 10pm that goes into affect shortly. Still no movers. Maybe they are smoking? A rumbling in the distance that ground shakes and thunders, the once quiet loop is shattered by the loud screech and hiss of two trucks' air brakes. Our neighbors frown and scowl, I imagine as they peer through the blinds and around the drapes. Just like that first Easter so many years ago. Everything was normal and quiet, Silence reigned and the Roman contingent sat around in a garden. On orders from Pontius Pilate as a sop to the religious leaders of this non-descript province of the Roman Empire. They were to guard a tomb to keep followers of a recently crucified enemy of the state and religious system from stealing a body. Their peace and quier was disturbed too, and the world is a better place because of it.

The movers, exhausted from a day of smoking, packing, and loading trucks, determine that it is no longer safe to unload a truck, in the dark, and up the stairs and ask us what we need. In my mind I think, the stuff on this truck is the stuff we need. I mumble something about bed, some clothes, basics. They unload a few pieces of furniture, climb around searching for boxes with the right labels. Sorting and shifting in the darkness of the back of the truck. "Sure would be nice to have a light back here," I say as I hold my iPhone with the light on over my head. They unload a few more boxes after shifting through other boxes to find the correctly labeled ones. I grab some of the rejected, unworthy to be unloaded boxes and haul them into the house myself. The movers stop for another cigarette. They are done, they pronounce. I wonder how much of my stuff has been crushed and broken by movers crawling over the top in the dark. "It's only stuf'f," I tell myself. With a roar and a hiss trucks roar off into the night with ninety percent of our worldly possessions in the back. That was two days ago. I tried calling the moving company this morning. Too early, I guess, I left a message.

The adventurous life has begun, nothing is comfortable or familiar.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Day -37 : One Less Thing to Think About

A day of change. It's funny how life goes on and on the same for long swaths of time then suddenly stuff is different. We finally reached 'moving day -1' also known as packing day. I am off work today which is a great treat. I spend a good portion of my morning doing packing type stuff. Like tearing my computer apart from its monitors and power. Packing up the stuff that I want to be able to find easily and loading it in my car. 
The movers show up and they are doing the really tedious stuff like packing up all the kitchen stuff. I just don't have the patience or skill to do that. I would end up breaking the glass stuff because wrapping and packing each piece is too much work. Yet the movers seem to be enjoying themselves. They are chatting up a storm and gladly going through each cupboard (I didn't know cupboard was spelled like that, huh) all the stuff I am too lazy to do, that are doing. Yay!

We sign papers tonight, move tomorrow. We'll actually have keys to our new place this evening and I'll bring my car load of stuff over there and do some measuring to figure out where our stuff is going to fit. It's really exciting to be moving toward our goal of a simpler life. Less complications fewer distractions. The place we are renting has no yard! It's kinda weird to be excited about that. But after so many years of yard maintenance. It's exciting to think that that is one thing I  won't have to do, nor will I need to pay someone else to do. 

Spring is here, and with it the snow in the  Sierra snowpack is probably the deepest it's going to get. April 1 seems to be the day when it peaks. Based on the web sites I've been monitoring it looks like the snow in the southern Sierra is only about seventy two percent of normal ( If it stays that way it ought to be perfect for the date that I have selected to start my hike, May 1. Starting at the Mexican border then traveling seven hundred miles north over the next month and a half will hopefully give the snow in the passes enough time to melt to the point where it will be possible for me to climb over the them with slipping off the side of a cliff. It's all getting rather exciting as the day draws closer for me to actually set off and start this thing.

Aaaargh! The garbage truck is driving away again. For some reason the trash collector has decided that my can is not worth stopping and collecting. The normal pickup day was two days ago and for whatever the reason he skipped us. So yesterday I called the city and asked them to send him back. They told me that he'll be coming back tomorrow. Which is now today. While I sit here blogging I hear the back-up beeping that a garbage truck makes when it goes in reverse. It's common to hear that when you live is a cul-de-sac. So I hear the beeping, and I think 'yay, the trash is gone' but no. It's not. There is a big moving truck in my driveway, and the neighbor's pickup in front of his house. There is only a narrow gap between them. The only way from him to reach my can is if he got out of his cab walked to my can and rolled it out past the trucks. He's not about to do that. So he's driving away. I run out to do that for him but he's gone before I get there. I call the city and they send him back, I sit by the window watching and waiting in eager anticipation of the garbage truck. Why? Because my can is full and I have more trash that I need to put in it. This is the last week I'll be living here... Woo hoo! He's back! 

Now he's part of my blog. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Day -40 : Losing my Footing

Five months of food and gear
Forty more days. You'd think that most of my thoughts would be taken up with preparations and planning for my hike. You'd be mistaken; We are selling our home. If everything goes according to plan, next week we'll be homeless. We are moving into a place less than half the size of our current home, and we'll be renting. As much as we love this home that we have lived in for the last seven years, it is not compatible with our values and priorities. We are uprooting our comfortable selves and changing this fundamental aspect of our lives. I feel very transitional, like I am in motion and not grounded. Like a cork bobbing on the waves, my life is becoming restless and unglued. We are currently still here, but mostly living out of boxes. Movers are scheduled for Friday. Movement, losing track, where's my socks? I can't find my shirt, digging through boxes I just packed.  I have a single room where I have put my gear and food boxes for my trip. My goal for the next week is to try to get everything in that room into a single place in our rental so that I have everything that I am going to need for the next five months in a place that can be located.

It's hard to let go of stuff. Strange as it sounds, it feels like a piece of who I am is cut away when I sell the couch that I really don't want or need. Even though we delivered it to it's new home, somehow it felt as though I was somehow less for it. When I buy something I think I am obtaining ownership of it, but in some bizarre way it ends up owning me. I don't think I am alone in this. My dad accumulated a basement full of stuff that somehow had value to him. When he past away my siblings and I spent a whole lot of time filling dumpsters with things that my dad didn't seem to be able to part with. I drive by homes with garage doors open and I see piles of stuff. Stuff that sits there week after week, month after month, year after year. As hard as it is to get rid of my stuff, there is a wonderfully freeing feeling that I get once it is gone. I anticipate having that feeling in a few weeks. Right now though, in the middle of the process of moving, I feel like my world is shaking, an earthquake is breaking the foundations of my comfortable life. A tsunami is washing over my world and I am not sure when or if anything will ever be the same as it was. It probably won't. It will be better, for now though, it's 'hang on, its about to get a bit bumpy'.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Day -50 : Cold and Rainy Training

California is in the storm path. There is snow in the Sierras. Unlike the last four or so years, we have plenty of snow in the mountains, and its not over yet. My trip begins in a little over a month and a half from now. As it gets closer the more I realize how much work goes into planning and logistics. For some reason it didn't seem all that complicated when I read other hiker's blogs or when my hike was more of an abstract idea for the future. Now, however, as the day draws closer I realize that a resupply box of food is not just a list on a computer screen. It is a critical piece of my strategy to complete the entire PCT in a single season. I am trying to create enough diversity in my food so that I don't tire of having the same foods over and over. When I think about my diet in my normal suburban life, I find that it has a remarkable lack of diversity. I tend to have the same meals over and over again every week or so without tiring of them. With that observation, I am trying to plan for a unique menu that repeats with variations every five to seven days. I am planning for approximately eight hours of hiking every day, not counting zero days. I estimate that I should be able to cover about twenty four miles in eight hours. I want to be eating something without at least one hundred calories every hour. Preferably complex carbohydrates and or fat. This is probably the most difficult thing to plan. Eight different food items, each weighing about an ounce, I don't really know if that is enough or if I will need to be eating significantly more than that after a few weeks of hiking.

On the home front. Our house is back in escrow and may in fact actually make it all the way through the sales process this time. This is somewhat unnerving in that may we need to find another place to live in the very near future. Somehow I will need to make sure that I don't loose track of my gear and food during the move. We don't believe that there is enough time to buy another place before I hit the trail. The result of which is that I really will be homeless when I hike the PCT. We'll hopefully find a place to rent, otherwise we'll need to put our stuff in storage and Kelli will be living with family and friends for most of the summer. We'll probably be in the market for a new place once I get back from the PCT. We are turning this empty-nester thing into a real adventure. Coming back will really be like starting over. Who knows what I will think then? Who knows what I'll want to do with the rest of my life then? Clean slate, all things become new.

Training continues... I have turned my morning hiking routine into an alternating hike / workout routine. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I walk about six and a half miles, then I do a simple Abs workout. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays I jog to the gym, do some upper body strength training and then jog back home. Sunday is the special day, Kelli goes walking with me, we tend to walk faster than the other days, but it's really fun to walk together. I walk rain or sunshine consistently, but Kelli is a fair weather. So on the rainy, windy days I walk alone. Lately I have been giving my rain gear and umbrella a real test. There are no other walkers out while with me. It's cold, dark, the dark gray sky spits down drops intermittently with the dumping of buckets of rain. The birds seem to like it, there are ponds and puddles where I have never seen them before. There are puddles on the sidewalk that soak my feet when I step in them because it's too dark to see them. Just as it was starting lighten up, daylight savings time has come and now I am back to hiking in the darkest, coldest part of the day.

Shelly and I are still working on getting our promo video out. The first iteration didn't go that well. I couldn't remember my lines and unfortunately I said some things about ALS research that weren't completely accurate. We didn't have enough footage where I actually said enough correct things. So we are starting again from scratch. The rain is supposed to let up in a few days, perhaps we can get out and create a few more minutes of usable footage that will lead to a better representation of what we are trying to do. Bottom line, Shelly is my friend. She lives with ALS everyday and can't escape it. My trip on the PCT is also a descent into a simpler, more difficult life, but mine trip is voluntary and I can quit whenever I want. Shelly's journey is infinitely more serious and permanent. She is not voluntarily doing anything other than accepting her reality, evaluating what is really most important, and doing everything she can to encourage and help others. She is a remarkable woman and a courageous and dear friend. If you are moved and or motivated at all by my trip I would be honored if you would support research to find a cure for ALS by clicking here and going to our donation page. You can read more and find additional information about my trip and Shelly by visiting my Shellys PCT page.