The adventure starts tomorrow!

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I saw this in the mall.

Tonight is my going away party (you’re coming, right?) For the next 6+ months, I will be on foot, walking through 14 states from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. I am virtually homeless, a nomad. My life is new. Nothing will ever be the same again.

Concerned friends and family have focused on what I gave up to do this. I sold my house. I gave away furniture, nick nacks, decorative items and a lifetime of kitchen gadgets and dishware. I went without cable TV and put over 200,000 miles on my old  car to save money. I sold a profitable side business. I quit a relatively secure job with the state. I’m leaving my friends and the life I’ve know.

Yes, I’ve given up things, but it doesn’t feel like sacrifice if you are making a space for something else that you want so much more. It’s like a snake shedding its skin so it can grow. It’s true that I may never own more than can be carried in a couple suitcases, but I like to believe that things are not what is important. I like to believe that I’m walking toward something.

And I believe so much that I’m betting my life on it, my new life.

Tomorrow a good friend will drive me to the trail and probably hike a couple miles with me. The ten day forecast for Suches, GA (near the start of the trail) looks pretty fair: High temps in the 50’s, lows around freezing. Winds less than 10mph. Rain Monday. That’s about the best I can hope for.

In the meantime, it’s been a busy fun week. Here are a few photos:

Cakes & Ale, 2
These are risotto bites, spiced with fennel, pollen and encasing cheese. Best thing I had a Cakes & Ale, downtown Decatur. This was my most expensive meal in months, but it was worth it.
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Cakes & Ale. I always sit in front of the mixologist. It’s like a free show!
Downtown Decatur, 1
It’s not just in Sochi. I took this photo at a Decatur park. Really.
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You might see anything in downtown Decatur.
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As my friend Michael said: Beth gets the bird!
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I helped Kathy and her husband Larry celebrate her birthday at Sapori di Napoli.
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Cannoli for dessert for me…..
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…and this amazing lemoncello cake for the birthday girl.
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Sometimes I do my walking indoors, like the Fernbank exhibit.
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skeleton of an early proto-whale.
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kids can play in the replica of a blue whale heart!
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I just take the photos. I can’t always explain them.
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I buy a lottery ticket about once a year. I was feeling lucky and bought a scratch off. I won $15! And I quit while I was ahead.
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My birthday was this week and friends took me out to help me celebrate. This birthday candelabra is on lemon raspberry cream cheesecake!
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This photo does not show how handsome my lunch partners were. Thanks for lunch, guys!

 

My adventure starts Saturday, come to my send off!

1924589_10151877739427377_580472203_nJust a reminder that I plan to start my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail on Saturday March 1. The forecast looks fair, so keep your fingers crossed for a mild March, weather-wise. It will take about six months and when I finish, I hope to teach English as a way to travel the world. Please follow along on my website, WanderForLife.

If you are in the Atlanta metro, please come wish me off Friday, February 28 at Square Pub in downtown Decatur (address below). I’ll be there from 5p until 8p. Nothing fancy planned. Grab a beer. Get dinner. Or just drop in for a minute to wish me well.  I’d love to see as many people as possible before I start walking in the woods for six months. Some of you have already wished me well and let me know that you can’t make it, but for the rest, I hope to see you.

It’s also my birthday, but no presents. I have gotten rid of almost everything I own and my backpack is too full already.

Square Pub

115 Sycamore St.
Decatur, GA 30030

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Everything is falling into place

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It is less than a week before I hit the trail and I’m so excited. My room is practically empty as I find a home for most of my belongings and prepare for my big adventure: Thru Hiking the Appalachian Trail.

First some inspiration from another blogger who finished the trail in 2012. 5 Things To Expect In Your First 5 Days On The AT is written by guest blogger Evans Prater and posted at the blog for the book, Appalachian Trials (which I highly recommend you read if you are going on any long distance hike).

“You were made for this. Remember: this is a privilege. While many people would not choose to contemplate life’s bigger questions, to truly connect with other people, and to restore their faith in humanity, you have. Oh, and most of all, expect the unexpected.”

IMG_1742Despite that advice, I’m still making plans and organizing things. Here are some of the things I’ve accomplished in the last few weeks:

  • I’ve moved up my start date to March 1, 2014. There’s no reason to wait around, plus this will give me more time to enjoy the trail and not rush. I have added some additional clothing to deal with potential had weather.
  • I’ve worked out insurance! Seems that since I am “traveling” I qualify for travel insurance! There’s no deductible. If my backpack is stolen, that’s treated like lost luggage. And it’s much less expensive than COBRA through work for insurance that fits my needs better. Bonus: the insurance covers “extraction.” If I break a leg on the top of a mountain, the insurance will cover a helicopter to get me out and to a hospital!
  • I’ve stored my things with my few remaining items with my good friend Sue. Two plastic boxes full of papers, books, a few pieces of clothing; a suitcase; a travel backpack and a guitar (which I really don’t play well, so I shouldn’t keep). Thanks again Sue!
  • I’ve changed my permanent address to Ann’s house. Thanks Ann!
  • Ann is also helping me with my car. It will be available for me when I finish the trail. Such a relief! I can walk from Georgia to Maine, but walking in metro Atlanta is dangerous and nearly impossible!
  • I finished my taxes and filed them. Getting back money I hadn’t counted on. BONUS!
  • Canceled Netflix and pre-paid my phone through the end of the hike. Those are all the bills I have!
  • Made my final trip to GoodWill. All I have left are a few pieces of non-hiking clothing. As I dirty them, I’m throwing them away. That’s definitely a new experience.
  • I wore out a pair of shoes training for the hike. I’ve started on a new pair of shoes that I thought I’d be wearing later. I love Merrell’s.
  • I’ve got the backpack loaded, even food. And I only expect to repack it a couple dozen more times. 😉
  • My friend Michael has agreed to take me to the trail on Saturday.
  • I’ve had my final dental appointment. Don’t want to have problems with my teeth while hiking.
Really. Life is short.
Really. Life is short.

And I’ve started making arrangements for when I return, too. I had an interview with Berlitz, my first choice company to work for to teach English around the world. This is my plan to keep traveling for the foreseeable future and see the world. The interview went well and they sent me links to apply to their top three countries, all in Asia, where they typically send new hires. I’ve applied to them in this order: Thailand (probably Bangkok), China (various locations, but I’m most interested in Taiwan or Beijing), and South Korea (probably only Seoul).

Yup! It’s all falling into place. Wish me luck!

Photos from my walks

I’ve spent much of February just walking. It’s the best way I know to prepare for my Appalachian Trail hike that starts March 1. And now that the weather has improved, it’s a lot of fun to be outside.  Spring may be a month away, but it’s looking much closer than it did last week during the ice and snow.

From the Decatur cemetery. This is a huge place and it's great to walk in.
From the Decatur cemetery. This is a huge place and it’s great to walk in.
I wondered where my muse had gotten to.
I wondered where my muse had gotten to.
My first spring flowers in a yard in Decatur.
My first spring flowers in a yard in Decatur.
OK, so sometimes I stop for lunch. This is from Chat Patti. YUM!
OK, so sometimes I stop for lunch. This is from Chat Patti. YUM!
An unimproved section of the Beltline.
An unimproved section of the Beltline.
Finding four leaf clovers is my super power.
Finding four leaf clovers is my super power.
An unimproved section of the Beltline.
An unimproved section of the Beltline.
An unimproved section of the Beltline, located near Reynoldstown.
An unimproved section of the Beltline, located near Reynoldstown.
An unimproved section of the Beltline, located near Reynoldstown.
An unimproved section of the Beltline, located near Reynoldstown.
Another lunch stop. This is near the capital at Bada Bing, located in the refurbished Pencil Factory Lofts.
Another lunch stop. This is near the capital at Bada Bing, located in the refurbished Pencil Factory Lofts. The burger was have beef and half BACON.
All the spring flowers bloom first in Oakland Cemetery. Crocus.
All the spring flowers bloom first in Oakland Cemetery. Crocus.
Oakland Cemetery, Witch Hazel.
Oakland Cemetery, Witch Hazel.
Daffodils are my favorite flower and these are the first I've seen in full bloom. Oakland Cemetery.
Daffodils are my favorite flower and these are the first I’ve seen in full bloom. Oakland Cemetery.
Lenten Rose, Oakland Cemetery.  The city offered free tours during Black History Month.
Lenten Rose, Oakland Cemetery. The city offered free tours during Black History Month.

Planning my trip on the AT, rough calculations

200 days of adventure!

Based on an average of 12 miles a day, I’m giving rough dates to where I will be and when along the Appalachian Trail during my 2014 thru hike. This is the most up to date mileage, based on the latest AT Guide. I’ve only scheduled the location of zero days (rest days) for the first month of the trip since I know that section pretty well. After that I’ve listed “floating” zero days at the beginning of each month and will take them as needed, based on how I feel and what’s happening around me. This schedule has me starting off with fewer miles initially, but working up to 12 miles a day, average. This shows about 185 hiking days. If I add in 15 or so zero days, I’m at a 200 day adventure (just over six and a half months), which seems about right. If I’m feeling good in my second or third month of hiking, I may increase this average. Since I’m starting March 1 (depending on weather), I shouldn’t have to flip flop, but I will if I need to.

AT Schedule spreadsheet: AT mileage, Hostels and Hotels

This is what I’ll be carrying: backpacking gear

I’ve updated my Appalachian Trail Hike Tab with all this information and more. You can always find these spreadsheet there.

Wish me luck! 1528454_527517900679484_879700002_n