Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the road again

I'll be back on the road within a couple hours. I just have to do a few more things before I'm all ready to go. Even though I could be ready to go by noonish, I think I'm going to wait until mid-afternoon, to avoid the hottest part of the day and to give myself a half-day to ease back into things.

I have a new backpack, which I think will make a HUGE difference in a whole bunch of ways. (For example, my attitude. Let's hope, anyway.) Unlike my huge Kelty Red Cloud 6650, which is only available in one size, the Gregory Palisade 80 (Medium) is made to fit me. I feel like the new pack has a superior design, in terms of comfort and ergonomics. With most of the pack's weight resting above my butt (on my lumbar?), it just feels right, even when I don't have it adjusted well. Instead of dragging the pack with most of the weight digging into my shoulders, which is how I felt with the Kelty pack after several miles each day, this pack feels like it's a part of me. I can adjust it so it barely even touches my shoulders, and I can even run while carrying it.

I have jettisoned A LOT of stuff from my pack, making the load about 7 lbs lighter than it was on my most recent venture. Some of the items I removed:

2 cotton t-shirts (9 oz each);
Tripod (21 oz);
Electric shaver (9.5 oz);
4 pairs of socks (10 oz); and
Condiments and stuff left over from the MREs (9 oz.).

I also removed a lot of smaller things that add up to a lot of weight, like a Drakkar bathroom bag, flashlight (I still have an LED headlamp), small bottle of Listerine, sunscreen, Purell, waterproof pack cover, and "other crap." Additionally, I replaced several items, trimming a few ounces here and there. I replaced my denim jeans with lightweight, convertible pants, which weigh 11 oz less than the jeans.

But some of my new stuff is actually heavier than what it's replacing. My new tent, for example, is about 12 oz heavier than my old one. Oh, but it's worth an extra 3/4 of a pound. For starters, it's much easier to set up than the other tent. Also, the canopy's mesh is considerably more durable than the other tent. Unlike the other tent's canopy, I'd have to be very abusive to put any holes in this one. But what really makes the new tent great is the extra room. There is tons of room for me to move around or sit up, and there is plenty of space inside for both me and my gear. This tent is awesome!

Not all of my gear swaps are so easy to assess, though. For example, I've replaced a desert camo Army jacket (given to me by a young Iraq War vet in Mississippi) with a down jacket and a fleece top, adding about 18 oz to my pack weight. However, I can use the jacket(s) as a pillow, so I don't need to take my compressible pillow (13 oz) this time. As a result, I've added about 5 oz to the total pack weight, but I no longer need to avoid or worry about very low temperatures. Plus the down jacket feels awesome!

For the first time ever, I feel really good about my gear situation. I'm pretty much equipped to go anywhere in the United States at any time of year now. But with the showdown between the Buckeyes and the Trojans coming up in mid September at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, you can bet I'll be heading to SoCal pretty quickly.

My injuries have not healed 100 percent, but they're getting close. I'd say both my hand and my toe feel about 90% healed. They feel pretty good; good enough to get back on the road without feeling handicapped or otherwise affected.

One more thing for now: No credit card this time. Even though it might be smart for me to have a credit card for emergencies, I'm leaving it behind because it is too tempting and I think it compromises the integritah of this project.

Aimless Video Evidence

Thursday, July 17, 2008


I've said a lot of stupid and embarrassing things on this blog over the last two years; some things I'd like to take back and other things that just came out wrong. Considering I am a very introspective individual who tries to learn from my own mistakes as well as other people's mistakes, I assure you my future blog posts will be...

[Scroll on down.]

...just as ass-brained, profane, and embarrassing as they've ever been!!!


With my hand nearly healed and my toe getting better, I expect to be back on the road within about ten days, maybe sooner. This time I do not plan to return "home" in October. In fact, once I hit the road again, I'll have no plans of returning to central Ohio at all--not even for Christmas--unless I end up here randomly.

Come November, I would like to vote, but I'm not sure I'll be able to arrange that.

Aimless Video Evidence

Friday, July 11, 2008


When I got the cast off my arm last week, I mentioned my toe injury to the doctor. He said I should put tape around the two smallest toes. I didn't do it.

So today I jammed my little toe again and it hurts like hell. It feels like I totally nullified the past two weeks of healing. You don't realize how important your little toe is until you injure it like this, then try to walk.

I was planning on hitting the road again in about two weeks (with a fresher, more positive attitude), but I fear this re-injury may set me back a little. That sucks.

Aimless Video Evidence

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Broken bones and Pittsburgh

Wow. Until the last week, I had no idea how difficult it is to regain mobility after wearing a cast for less than three weeks. I've had my cast off for a week now, but my ring finger (which was not even injured) is still very stiff and immobile. I can move it reasonably well, but I still can't do much with it.

I guess when your tendons are completely inactive for a while, they shrink. That's what it feels like, anyway. I don't know because I didn't ask. (I didn't ask because I didn't realize I was facing such a long recovery.)

The only other time I've ever had to wear a cast was when I was ten years old, when a broken beer bottle severed five tendons in my wrist. That time, considering surgeons had to overlap my tendons to stitch them back together, it naturally took quite a while to recover mobility in my hand and fingers. (I think they had to make the tendons overlap, anyway.) Also, I had to wear the cast for much longer that time; two months maybe.

The broken bone has not healed fully yet, but it's not really giving me any trouble; just a little pain here and there. It has taken a lot of work, however, just to get my uninjured ring finger almost back to normal.

About ten days ago, after taking a clumsy step at the top of the stairs, I jammed the little toe on my right foot... really hard. As much as it hurt when I did it, I immediately hoped I'd just bruised or sprained the area around the toe. However, ten days later, I'm 95 percent sure I broke it, too, because it still hurts like hell and it's still causing me to limp when I walk.

Urgh! This is frustrating, especially because my sense of balance was already shaky after carrying my heavy-ass backpack 600 miles in two and a half months. When you carry a heavy backpack around for so long and then stop, you don't just get your balance back in a day or a week. It takes a really long time to get your coordination back. I don't think I have felt normal walking without the backpack since April 2007.

I went to Pittsburgh for the first time in my life yesterday because there is an REI store there. Almost the exact same distance from the REI stores in Detroit and Ann Arbor (the whore), I decided to go to Pittsburgh mostly because the drive from here to The State Up North (MI) is really boring and generally unfun.

One thing I realized on my way there is that a lot of Ohio is actually very pretty. That would be eastern (and southeastern) Ohio. Because I have rarely been in eastern Ohio, most of "my Ohio" could be best described as "Nebraska with some trees." But basically once you get east of Columbus, it starts getting very pretty. Although I've lived in and around Columbus most of my life, I've rarely had much reason to venture very far east of downtown.

Entering Pittsburgh from the south, you don't feel like you're in a big city; you don't even feel like you're close to a big city. There is no visible sprawl of suburbs, and the hills (mini mountains) keep you from seeing downtown from afar. Then you go through a reasonably long tunnel through a hill and BAM! there it is: Downtown Pittsburgh.

So the first time I ever saw downtown Pittsburgh (except from 35,000 feet in the sky) was from about half a mile away. Cool way to see a city for the first time.

Pittsburgh seems to be a very pretty, interesting city. I can't say for sure, though, because I didn't get much opportunity to see it.

A word of caution: If you have never driven in Pittsburgh, DON'T!!! But if you do choose to drive in Pittsburgh for the first time, make sure you study a map of the city inside and out for a few months before you go there. Make sure you know all the roads and all the curves. Zoom in on a satellite map so you can see what it's like up close. And when you finally go there for the first time, plan to arrive at a time when traffic should be lite.

There are tons of twists and turns in Pittsburgh. There are multiple horizontal planes of roadway and traffic in Pittsburgh, which may intersect but not necessarily connect to each other. There are lots of tunnels, each of which go somewhere.

In other words, Pittsburgh is not like any other city I've ever driven in.

Aimless Video Evidence

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Cast away

I got my cast/splint off this morning. The bone is still a few weeks from being completely healed, but it is much better than before. When they took off the cast, my ring finger was totally stiff and angled away from the middle finger (as if I was a humanoid TV alien greeting someone). An hour later, it's still very stiff, but I can move it a little bit.

My brain has recently begun mega-processing the sensory overload from my latest travels. This is tough because it floods me with a million "repressed" memories and emotions all at once, many of which are not pleasant, like much of what I witnessed in New Orleans. This is hard to explain; it's probably nearly impossible to comprehend if you've never traveled how I travel. I suppose it's something like PTSD because it is very traumatic. Seriously. Maybe I'll try to explain in better detail when my hand becomes more mobile.

Aimless Video Evidence