This image really strikes home, especially as I embark on this solo adventure. Source: “PostSecret” by Frank Warren.
As things wind down to the bitter end, I find that I am probably taking more pairs of glasses than anything other than socks and skivvys. I have a pair of progressives, a backup pair (really?), single focus for computer/reading, prescriptive sunglasses, and plain sunglasses. Wait. FIVE pairs of glasses?! How did I get here?
I need the dailies, well, because daily. A backup pair is a nice-to-have, but probably not really needed. Those go to the bottom of the list. Computer/reading? Yeah, my progressives have that prescription at the bottom, but I am finding myself looking down my nose at the computer when I work. I guess I could sit up straighter, but I'm fucking retiring, and you can't tell me what to do, MOM.
I guess it depends on how much time I may spend on a laptop. I plan to update this folderol semi-regularly, and I do have a couple of work contracts that I may get some work out of, so...I don't know?
Prescription sunglasses? How else am I going to read on the beach, and still be able to people-watch properly behind dark lenses? Pretty much a necessity, don't you think?
Non-prescription sunglasses? Definitely necessary. Anyone ever tried running a technical trail wearing progressive lenses, where the bottom of the lens is for close work? Yeah, trip and fall likelihood just went up by a factor of 100. I guess for as long as I plan on running (or cycling for that matter), non-script sunnies will be tagging along. Although, they are cheap and easily replaced wherever I may be.
I may have to forego a shirt or something to accommodate the multitudes of lenses. Thankfully I take no meds. That'd take up way too much room, and I'd have to leave them behind.
Last night I attended an outdoor, free concert here in my (current) home town featuring Mumbo Gumbo, a band that has been playing the area for thirty years. Of course I went, since I'd seen them play probably eight or more times since I've lived in the area. What made this experience especially poignant to me was how it bookeneded (if that's not a word, it now is) my living here.
Mumbo Gumbo played my wedding way back in 1997. That was really the cement on my adherence to the area, as now I was married, had a good job and had plans for kiddos. The ceremony was a blur - ask anyone who attended, since I mispronounced my future wife's name - but the reception was memorable to all: it was a party for the ages. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, who attended had the absolute best time: great food great music, plentiful alcohol and the dancing went on into the night.
After last night's show, I had the opportunity to meet and chat with the two lead singers (Chris Webster and Tracy Walton).
"1997, a wedding at Edgewood. Do you remember?"
"OMG! We were just talking about that yesterday! Who stole a piece of the challah bread?!" I jokingly pointed to Chris.
They remembered. I was disproportional happy about that. We chatted about how they were at the beginning of my life here, and now, at this particular concert, they were at the end, since I'm on my way Walkabout. I'm pretty happy they remembered playing the reception; I always will. I'm glad they played at the end of my stint here in this town as well, as it was less bittersweet and more rockin' an exit. I'm going out with a bang.
Over the weekend, I did a practice packing with the minimum of stuff I planned to take. Wow. I didn't realize I had such bare minimums. I was able to add a fair amount of additional clothes.
Overall, things are progressing nicely, and the countdown inexorably continues. I've turned over nearly all work to my replacement, I've put ads out for all my furniture, and what doesn't get given away, I'm making arrangements to have taken. What I plan to keep is containered and scheduled to be housed in a friend's storage shed. The photo below is the bins of keepsies, and the two packed travel bags.
I'm going light. If I find I need anything along the way, I have a suspicion I can get it wherever I happen to be.
All that's left is to arrange for turning off my utilities on the day I split, party before I split, and split.
It's the final countdown. This holiday weekend I will be doing a full practice packing to see just how many pairs of socks and shirts I will be taking along. It's pretty remarkable how many can get packed into a small bag with the new fabrics. What gets bulky and requires more concentrated decision-making are bulkier items like warm outer layers and, most especially, shoes.
Shoes tend to be the biggest problem - pun intended. I'm not intending to get all stereotypy, but from personal experience, women tend to think to bring along multiple pairs when traveling: day, night, beach, casual, exercise, etc. At least my ex did. Me? I've never gone in big on shoes, and I'll be addressing this with a single pair of shoes that can be used across all situations: running shoes. They are only optimal for running (which I plan to do, definitely), but, and I stress this, can be used in virtually all the situations I envision myself in. I can sightsee and visit museums, I can walk the beach, and I can go out to restaurants wearing them. Since I'm not taking any kind of even semi-formal wear, upper class restaurants where I'd need something a bit more classy, are not on the docket at all. I'm also taking along flip-flops, because my dogs need to breathe.
I'm addressing the problem of bulky outerwear with a decisive two-pronged approach. The first prong is the easiest: since where I go and when is completely under my control, I'm not going to go where it's really cold. Boom, done. The second prong on this is to go with multiple layers: layer one is a Houdini windbreake that is ridiculously compressible. Layer two is a puffy jacket. Not an expensive one, like a Patagonia, but one I've had for a few years, and quite serviceable. Layer three is a rain jacket. I spent some coin (for me not my Witcher) on a Nike Hypershield Flash a few years ago as well for quality and visibility. (It appears this is no longer available. Huh.) When I'm out there in the dark, I look like a running disco ball when lights hit me.
Top that off with a beanie, gloves and neck gaiter, and I'm good to decently bad weather. Stay tuned for how well the packing goes.
In my inexorable march to purposeful homelessness, I sold a vehicle over the weekend and made my last rent payment. Accordingly, I canceled my renter's insurance and removed the car from my auto policy. Nice to see that premium drop significantly before next month, where it'll fall off the cliff. I'm going to go with a driver-only policy, where I am insured to drive, but don't have a car covered. This will let me rent a car in this country, and not have to own one.
In other news, the breaker of my heart has again moved on to another. I suspect I will never be the one she wants. Couple that with the fact many of my favorite places to run are currently on fire, I think it's a really good time to exit stage right. I will be going right, cuz I'm heading east. It's too bad their entire song won't be my anthem, but at least the beginning will hold true. Check the lyrics for "Never Been Any Reason" by Head East if you're curious. How's that for a musical reference to identify my age cohort?!
All that aside, I'll be putting some significant d into this equation, and as a result, t will also go way up. A(r) is likely a zero for the foreseeable future. Has been for quite a while. The goal is to get a GO value greater than one. I'm still not quite there.
Until next time, ta!
I’m coming into the final stretch now. In the next 30 days I’m going to complete my reduction from a 4000 sq. ft. house full of furniture and stuff and four cars, to the contents of three storage bins, and two bags. These two bags will conform to the flight attendants instructions of placing one in the overhead compartment and one under the seat in front of me. Everything else, and I do mean everything, is getting given away, sold or tossed. That’s some Marie-Condo-on-steroids shit for ya.
I’m putting my second car up for sale this weekend, since the She-Cub has jetted off to NYC for school, and it’s no longer in use. I’ve arranged for the transfer of my couch and TV. I’ve found a home for my bike and mementos. I only have three other things:
I find it kind of sad that the Denver Museum of Natural History turned down a donation. The She-Cub wants them, but she’s too mobile (living in a dorm) to take them. The Man-Cub isn't living in a place conducive to fragile antiques: he's in his 20's with other 20-something roommates. If I remember my 20's, and I vaguely do, they would be somewhat endangered.
As for the rest of my stuff, it appears it doesn’t interest anyone I know. Fair. My plan is to hire a couple of well-muscled folks to take it off my hands and out of my apartment. Take it to their houses, their friends’ houses, to the charity of their choosing, or the dump. I think it’ll all go somewhere before the dump, though.
Stay tuned for the continuing adventure!
"What begins?" you ask.
"Valid question," I reply. I suppose it could be construed as my great personal upheaval - as if getting divorced wasn't a great enough upheaval - but I digress. This upheaval is my conscious and meditated decision to become homeless and nomadic. It's been a route to get to this point, but now that I am here, I'm kind of itching to get things moving.
Over the last several years, I've been thinking on and off (usually while on a trail) about what to do when I am ready to retire. There were options to stay here, move to another place, get another job, really, I had no practical limit to the options available - except my imagination. In typical boring-me fashion, I figured I'd buy a place locally, hang out and do what I've been doing, except less going to the office. My son, on a road trip in 2019, put the bee in my bonnet (I look cute in a bonnet!) by asking "Why stay there?"
It hit me, why indeed? As I mentioned to my tens of readers (optimistic of me, I know) in Sept. 2020, why stay where ghosts of the past, and ghosts of what will never be haunt me. Every. Day. There was nothing to keep me from moving on and starting fresh. Things have progressed. I have begun the process of divestment of "stuff." I'm slowly unloading anything that I own that isn't used regularly. The latest victim was the stereo. Gone. The process will accelerate until mid September, at which time I plan to have nothing but a bed, a TV and maybe a couch - all of which will be either given away or, less optimally, landfill-fill.
I've also firmed up The Plan. Whatever fits in the Volvo gets a ride to my brother's place in Spokane for storage. Then it's a 1-month road trip to get to Denver, because the first of the one-way tickets has been booked: Denver to New York City on November 1. Why NYC? I'm going to visit my she-cub at NYU for a few days. I don't yet know where I'll head from there, but I think I can catch a flight to somewhere interesting. I'll figure that part out over the next several months. I've been thinking Canary Islands, or Cape Town. Any other suggestions?
My weekend was supposed to be spent checking out the aspen on Bates Mountain, looking for carvings made by the Basque shepherds from the early 20th century. As such things go, the route to the mountain -- somewhat remote in Central Nevada -- was more than my 14-year old Volvo could comfortable accommodate. It was deeply rutted, and filled with the color and fine grain of the antagonist of Robert Heinlein's scifi classic The Moon is a Harsh Mistress: moon dust. But instead of causing my moon rover to overheat, given its consistency and traction capacity of slick mud, it made progress more challenging than I wanted. Getting stuck wasn't on the agenda.
I found a place to pull over as the sun set, and made camp. I was reasonably confident I could retrace to pavement easily enough. Plans were about to change.
I spent most of the night thinking of a friend who’s going through some real challenges that are only compounded by Covid-19. I wish I could help more than buying some groceries, but I hope that little bit buoys things a bit for them.
The rest of the time I spent planning alternative activities. I decided to visit some places I’d seen on the way out to Austin: Cold Springs and Earthquake Fault.
Cold Springs is host to a Pony Express stop, a stagecoach stop, and an early telegraph station. They are all separated, so I turned it into a run (10K with some reasonable climbing), and got my exercise as well.
The earthquake fault was less fun. I was followed up the dirt road by OHVs sporting rednecks with beer and Trumpistan flags. I took a couple of photos and left and continued my way west.
On a whim, I decided to stop at Sand Mountain. I did the nature walk around another Pony Express station while I was in the area. The sand mountain itself would be interesting to play on, but I didn't want to get run over.
When I got back to the car... a flat. Swell. This was the second one (the first wasn't my car) in a couple of months on dirt roads. <Sigh> I got out the spare and jack and lug wrench...
Typically, no biggie, but a combination of super tight lugs after getting brakes done earlier in the week and a short-handled lug wrench with a rounded socket, meant I could only manage two of the five lug nuts. Apparently I’m gifted with foresight, since I bought AAA a month ago. Spotty cell service meant a juggle getting the truck out there, but it happened, and eventually I was on my way, riding on the baby spare. I made it to the tire shop before closing and they had me back on the road in about an hour. I’m buying a new, and better, lug wrench tomorrow.
As I started discussing in the last post, in approximately one year, I plan to chuck it all and head into the figurative sunset: retire and bail on where I am living. Not that Northern Nevada is a bad place to live - au contraire, mon frere! - it's a great place if one is disposed to outdoor activities as I am. No, I am leaving because of too many ghosts. As I said, my preference is to go internationally with minimal belongings attached. That's the dream. The reality may differ due to something you may have heard of - a pandemic.
If things have not settled enough for me to jet off, my Plan B is to load a few things in my 2006 Volvo wagon and hit the road in the USA. I've done it a few times - camping on the side of a road, or in a campground - so I don't see why I can't continue the practice. The difference would be that I wouldn't have a home base - I'd just keep on moving. What things I don't take with me and I want to keep, I'll put into storage here. I will maintain an official residence here via a friend's physical address and a PO Box, too, for tax purposes (no state income tax on my pension).
I figure a schedule of two nights on the road, and one in a place with a shower and a bed. Rinse and repeat. The car has a lot of miles left on it, and sleeping in the back isn't a problem for one. Seeing as I'm a solo adventurer now and in the foreseeable future, I think it'll all work out fine. The freedom of letting the wind blow me wherever is almost daunting in its breadth. I mean, how many people actually have the freedom, and willingness to just...go? Anywhere, at any time?
I will have that freedom. What I do with it remains to be seen.
Just a guy out exploring the world. Former world-class never-was endurance runner.