Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What Am I Taking?

If I could, I'd do the entire trip with a daypack containing only a tarp, jacket, snacks, 2 bottles of water, a knife and a first aid kit but I'm something of a realist and I also have the worst luck for any human being on Earth. This realization and the desire to not die (or at least not die from anything stupid) has driven my equipment list up quite a bit.

A 4200 cubic inch internal framepack will carry everything I need.
3 Changes of clothes
1 Hooded Jacket
Leather Outback Adventure Hat
Lots of Socks
Three 1-Liter Bottles of Water
Homemade Alcohol Stove
Bottle of Rubbing Alcohol
Lightweight Pot (made from large ravioli can)
2 cigarette lighters
Leatherman Multi-Tool (Skeletool)
LED Flashlight
Small Mirror
1 set of Utensils
Large Knife
Water Purification Tablets
First Aid Kit
Sleeping Bag
Solo Tent
Bar of Soap
Bag of Rice
Assorted Foodstuffs
Peanut Butter
Summer Sausage

I will not be bringing a compass, as I own 4 and have yet to use one... ever. I do not get lost in the woods, hills, fields or rocky regions and even if I can't 'just feel' which way north is, I can always orient myself by the sun or the stars. My toothbrush doesn't have a handle because it's extra weight. Much of what I'll be toting will be peared down to save on weight/bulk. Many items will serve multiple purposes. Like the Bandana which is also a sweat rag, wash cloth, pot holder and tournequit. The Multi-Tool comes with tweezers and scissors which I'll be using to trim my unruly beard. It's also my main knife. My jacket is waterproof, so it's also a rain coat and a dry place to sit when the ground is wet. My backpack will likewise be waterproof, eliminating the need for a pack cover on rainy days. The rubbing alcohol is for first aid purposes and it's also my cooking fuel.

All in all, I should only be carrying about 30-35 lbs. Along the way I'll probably discover that I don't need all of what I'm carrying. My load may get lighter over time.

A New Outlook on Life

Time is the only non-renewable resource. There will one day be more oil. In a million years there will be more coal. But we will never has as much time as we do right now and it's vanishing at a constant rate, regardless of how much of it we use.

We live overly complicated lives and somehow we have accepted this as being the only way to live. Wake up. Work. Eat. Wash. Sleep. Repeat. We buy expensive fast food because we don't have time to cook, and yet it takes an hour of work to pay for that meal that we could cook in 15 minutes.

Our jobs do not support our lifestyle. Our lifestyle is designed to support our jobs. We have a home and transportation and clothes that are all fitting for our careers. We're tied to our place of employment like a dog on a chain. We can only get so far before we have to come right back. Everything we do is for the sake of job security and the job rewards this with 2 weeks of vacation time a year. 50 weeks of servitude for 2 weeks of freedom. And then, after that little vacation, we've spent the money we saved and it's back to the job for another 50 weeks.

We have walls of DVD's but nothing to watch. We have 200 channels but end up staring at commercials or turning off the television. We buy 5 acres of land and then complain about how long it takes to mow the grass. Our pantries hold enough food to feed us for a month, and yet we go out for pizza because we're too exhausted to put something together. We need new furniture even though there's nothing particularly wrong with the old furniture. And if a car hit's 75,000 miles we are long overdue for another.

We spend and spend and spend, but at the end of the year we don't own anything more than we did a year ago, or five years ago. We make $14,000 a year, then $18,000, then $25,000 and then $50,000. But we're still broke. We have everything we say we wanted, but we're still not happy.

So we say we need a vacation. Then we see a bunch of sights, always rushing to get to the next attraction, always rushing to be somewhere else, and never actually seeing what we're looking at. Then we get home, exhausted, and never look at the 400 photos we took with a $700 digital camera. Then we go back to work for a year. Repeat as desired.

We'll spend $20 on wrapping paper, $50 on sunglasses, $75 on a pair of jeans and $300 on a jacket. We're trading time for money for items we don't need.

A few months ago I spent $23 on food at Wal-Mart. I bought the cheapest things that could create balanced meals and decided to eat only what I had purchased with that $23 until I ran out of food. I ate breakfast, lunch, a snack and supper from the contents of those bags and I ate well. None of my meals took more than 5 minutes to prepare and none of them required anything more complicated than heating water in the microwave. I never used a pot and I never ate out.

The food lasted a month.

I can't spend my entire life working with the hopes that one day I can retire and then start traveling when I'm 65. I can't pay hundreds of dollars a month on rent or mortgage, and I can't spend $250 a month on gas just to support a work habit. I can't pay more for 3 meals than I do for a month's supply of food.