Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lazy with a side of Possibility

I haven't done anything in DAYS. Its so amazing. I wake up, eat breakfast, maybe shower, cruise the internets, write, nap, write, eat lunch, watch tv, nap, and finish writing.

I wish I was retired.

The weather sucks. Honestly its been beautiful every day I've had to work and slightly crappy for each day off - save one - for the past three weeks. At least this weekend will be nice. I'm going hiking in Vermont. It's a four hour drive from my house to the mountain so thankfully the guy friend I'm meeting up at the half way point is driving the rest of the way. I'll probably be wrecked on the way home, we'll see how much fun that ride is. I forget the name of the mountain, but I'm sure I'll have pictures.

Working on writing stories that you hope will one day net you an income is a lot of work. But I love it. I could spend every day as a writer. I consider it my ultimate dream job...although maybe being a Travel writer would really hit the dream job top spot. All in good time I guess.

For now I have this blog which generates .4 readers a week who actually listen to my blathering. But thats cool, I'm not exactly famous or anything.

On with the Alaska adventure! I have almost everything I need, just clothing and essential toiletries left. It has been quite the test to be watching my savings account sink deeper and deeper from its once somewhat glorious number. (Glorious for me anyway). As I've said before, I don't know what I'd be doing if I didn't have this to look forward to. As I've grown up, many of my friends have taken different roads, and a lot of them seem to have already taken that "next step" in life, while I feel as though I'm stuck in a place thats about 5 years too young for me. I work (worked) part time for a bank, just because I got laid off from a job that I actually did like and needed to "do something". Meanwhile some of my friends have bought homes. Some are engaged, some are knee deep in budding careers that anyone can see are lining up to be very successful endeavors. As for me? I'm 25, I live at home, I don't really find myself wanting to date anyone - at least not seriously. I have a bad case of "don't know what I want to do with my life", and theres no clear sign of that ending anytime soon...EXCEPT for the Alaska project. For me, this adventure is that engagement proposal, its that home closing, its that budding career, its that new baby.

Its Everything. Period.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mt. Monadnock

On Tuesday I found myself sitting up in bed at 10 am with nothing in my plans and no commitments to make for the day. It took me about 5 minutes to convince myself that it would be a good day to drive up to Jaffrey, NH and try a hike on Mt. Monadnock.

Given my late start (I didn't start up the trail till 1:30), I figured I wouldn't make the summit. I'm a pretty slow climber - worse on the downhills. Regardless, I set out on the long drive to Jaffrey simply because...well...I had nothing better to do.
The trail starts out harmless, but if you take the White Dot trail, as they suggest, you are quickly put under the realization that you are going UP, steeply at best.
Mount Monadnock is a pretty popular mountain. According to Wikipedia it is one of the most climbed mountains in the world and, (I think), the most climbed in the United States. There certainly was no shortage of people that day, I must have passed at least twenty other hikers. Its very name - Monadnock - is actually a term used to distinguish mountains who are topped by the same structure of glacial boulders at its peak. Thus while Jaffrey, New Hampshire's Monadnock is THE Monadnock, there are other mountains simply distinguished as "monadnock's". (Aren't you glad I knew that)?

I really love the commonality that hikers seem to have when meeting each other on the trail. Normally, I wouldn't feel the desire to say hello to every person I passed if I were walking down the street. However in the mountains its different. People are friendlier, in part because (I suspect), everyone knows that if they were ever in trouble, they'd need to hope a fellow hiker would help them. Theres also a sense of freedom when hiking in the woods. Your not always connected to a cell phone tower, or even other people. Its a great place to get away from regular life for a while and just experience nature, enjoy the weather, not worry about anything that might be bothering you. I love to leave the world in the parking lot and just hike.

As I got higher up, I started to snap more and more pictures. I'm not sure how far you can see from the top. Monadnock is 3,165 feet up. I didn't make it to the summit as I had suspected. I really want to go back on a day that I plan better and thus get there in the morning rather than afternoon. Either way, the vistas at 2,700 feet were still amazing in their own right.

Rock carins mark the way along the trail above the timber line.

That is as close as I got to the summit. The picture actually distorts the distance. In reality I was much closer than what this image portrays. So much for iphone camera quality. Either way...

I really wish I lived closer to mountain ranges. I'd be in them a lot more if I didn't have to drive at least two hours to reach them. There is something beautiful about elevation. You simply put one foot in front of the other and eventually you are above everyone and everything you know. I've flown a plane before - once - and honestly the feeling is very similar. The higher you go, the more and more things all come into perspective when you look down at the ground below you. You start to realize just how small and insignificant we all are. Houses turn into matchboxes and cars turn into moving dots. All that matters to you is the area immediatly around you, and what lies just beyond the next ridge. The only people you are in touch with are the people who came to the mountains for the same reasons you did. To climb, to have a little adventure, to look at the world from a different angle and - at the end of the day - return home with a renewed sense of whats important, whats not and maybe even...a new perspective.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

And the rain came down

So, given that its been about two weeks since the deluge, this is old news.

HOWEVER, it was a record rainfall, and I took pictures, so I feel like posting it. Rhode Island got the worst of it, with EPIC flooding to the point of the National Guard and FEMA being called in. However, we all know Rhode Island sucks. Either way, anyone tromping through the Southern New England area should note the alarmingly high water levels at all our local streams/rivers/ponds and lakes. There are also a large quantity of streams and ponds that currently would pass for rivers and lakes...but I digress:

Look! More water!!
That last shot is of a parking lot and a street. Yup, no pond.

The sheer quantity of rain was unbelievable. Of course, you have to believe it since I have proof. Humblingly, I am destined for a place that receives about as much rainfall as that on a constant basis. Southeast Alaska is a rain forest. It is sunny once a month I hear. (And I'm not exaclty exaggerating either).

I need to buy good rain gear for this quest. Thats for sure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I'm leaving

As of right now, my last day at work is supposed to be May 1st. Work does not yet know this. I will be putting in my two weeks notice at the end of my "work week", which is Saturday. I think that would be the best thing for me. That way I can spend the month of May in complete freedom to do as I wish. I have a lot to prepare for.

Once these six weeks has passed, and I am wandering the streets of Juneau waiting for my summer to start, I won't care so much. In the meantime, its getting mighty hard watching that bank account balance keep dipping and dipping downward. It took me so long to save that money. But this is worth it.

I'm moving to Alaska. I'm gonna live in a tent, and probably eat a lot of beans. When I'm not busy working, I'll stare at mountains and gawk at my reality. And thats it. And honestly...thats all I care about right now. I have a lot to thank God for.

If my back doesn't hold...I won't know what to do. So I've started physical therapy twice a week. I'll be going straight through till I leave, twice a week. I need to strengthen my back muscles for the road ahead.

I have a zero degree rated sleeping bag on order through Bass Pro Shop. I'll also be picking up a self inflating sleeping pad, tent and excursion pack from there. The clothing will come separately over the next few weeks. Oh, I need boots too. Those will set me back about $200. Yeah.

So, this is my life. And thats fine. The way things were looking about a month ago...coulda brought me to tears. I need this adventure. I need it almost in the way I need food. I'm hungry for a change. I need a change, I need that defining moment to come when I can shrug off the life I live now, and take the next step.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mt. Tom

Sunday I took a trip out to Mt. Tom in the western area of Massachusetts. I really love it out there. Its rural, green and beautiful, full of rolling hills and the graceful, sloping Berkshires.

I met up with an aquantence from Highschool I hadn't seen in many years. We had agreed to meet up and hike Mt. Tom as neither of us had had a chance to do so before. It ended up being a fun afternoon. The weather was perfect, and there werent too many people out on the trail yet. The mountain wasnt too bad, 1,200 feet, and you don't stop at the very bottom so it was less than 1000 feet of climbing to be sure. The views were spectacular.

The trail led us right along the ridge, so that at all times we were steps away not only from the craggy ledge, but from stunning vistas of pioneer valley. The top of the mountain is almost overrun by weather equipment and radio towers, but the thrill is there none-the-less.

On the way down, I began planning my next trip. However I wasnt able to do what I wanted - which would have been hiking Mt. Monadnock today - due to soar thighs and a dismal sense of will power. The air is a bit cool today, and I really couldn't pull myself out of bed at 6:30 this morning to make the two hour drive up to Jaffrey, NH

It's hard living in eastern Massachusetts. You are hours from teh nearest ranges. And once you get there, there are so many ridges you want to cry because you know that in order to come back you are looking at more hours worth of driving. I'm looking forward to living closer to the mountains, so that I can walk out my back door and strike a trail. Thats not to say I am totally turned off by where I dwell now. Thanks to my parents having plenty of their own land, I have a tiny forest right out my back door. Funny though, how the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I never want to go out there and tromp around. Probably because its not very wild. But it is 40 acres, a parcel I don't think I'll ever be able to afford. My goal is to live somewhere close to protected wild lands, so that even if i can't afford to own the land myself, I can at least know that the land around me won't turn into a parking lot any time soon.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The road not taken, yet.

Have you ever dreamed of doing something so off-the-wall insane and held back because of some preconceived notion of you as a person? Do you ever stare out of windows dreaming of what your life could have been like? Like the girly girl who is dying to go backpacking, or the cube dwelling tax accountant that wants to base jump? Maybe your a housewife who always wanted to lead a guided tour through the Amazon. But no, no, no...thats too hard. What would "they" think. Have you ever felt boxed in by a stereotype?

So often I feel that we are trapped down to whatever conventions are put in front of us as parameters for success. While homeownership and family establishing is important to many, it is no longer important to me. There was a time when all I wanted was a house and kids and a husband. Then I became single and started to wonder if that was actually what I wanted after all. Answer was simply: No, not at all.

Thus I began my quest to find out about other people who, like me, are left unfufilled at hte concept of a 9-5, a co-op and a goldfish. I've stumbled over many unique blogs in my research. Some about people who live on boats as they sail around the world. Others about people who have chosen to live out of a van/RV and travel around the country working odd jobs to support themselves. I've read about people who spend months at a time on bike tours, people who work trap lines in the northern BC forests, hundreds of miles from the nearest town.

I find THAT portion of life-living to be absolutely enthralling.

So here is my own blog journal. It is mean to capture my adventures, as well as the adventures of others if I feel so inclined. It is a place where I hope people will eventually be able to come together to talk about the fun, quirky and often dream inspiriing world of those who have chosen to live out the lines from Robert Frosts famous poem:

"I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."