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    The Road

July 23, 2016

Saving Cash for an Emergency. . . or a Trip.

A good friend tonight updated their social media that due to a tropical storm, their bank was closed and they had no way to get money. They weren’t going to starve or die or boredom, but it was an inconvenience.

But seriously, how much cash should you put away for a disaster?

Exactly how much cash you should put away for a vacation?

Do both.

Between and during all of my long walks, I would do ridiculous amounts of research on the area I’d be travelling. In my notebook, I would tuck any extra daily cash I had between the pages while writing my notes. (I did not carry this notebook around, obviously.) For the longer trips, I had a series of map books; the Delorme Gazeteers, for each area I would be travelling. Each page had about 3-5 days worth of hiking to cross at a realistic, long-distance pace. As I did my research, I would tuck the money needed for that page into the map. Eventually, I would mail the maps ahead to post offices, general delivery, and would have enough money to finance the journey.

So, you want to have an emergency cache of cash or perhaps you want to plan a trip around the world. Here’s an easy way to do both.

  • Go get a two year outdated tour book from a used bookstore for $2.00 (or amazon for $0.25)
  • Start reading it.
  • Get a rough idea of what your weekly luxury budget is (lagers and lattes). Each week, on Friday (or whatever day starts your weekend) go withdrawl that budget in cash.
  • Stick in the middle of the book.
  • Keep reading the book but now, whenever you want a luxury, you grab some cash from the book.
  • DO NOT CHEAT. Don’t use credit cards, apps, or bar tabs to exceed your budget. 
  • As you read about things you would like to do, annote how much it will cost.
  • At the end of the week, withdraw next week’s recreational budget in cash.
  • This time, before you stick your cash in the middle of the book, take what was left over and put it in between the pages of the places you want to go. Tuck it all the way in, it’s not a damned bookmark, it’s a savings account.
  • Keep this going. The first few weeks of this, you’ll be motivated and trying to tuck some extra money into canoodling with camels in cairo or swimming with sharks in San Antonio. You’ll still get your lagers and lattes, but at the end of the week, there will be some more left over. Someday, there won’t be

Withdrawing money from your disaster savings account:

At some point, before your trip is financed, you might have a good week and spend all your budget by Monday, or, the dead may return to life, and you may need to buy a chainsaw at a yardsale. Hell, you may mid-life crisis and want to spend all your money at REI and live in the woods forever (or buy an Audi).

  • Now go back to a page that has a denomination you want.
  • Read about what you were saving for.
  • Decide, are you willing to give up draughts in Dublin for drink downtown? Do you want to drink lattes in Timbuktu or traffic?
  • Use that money if it feels right. One of the most memorable nights of my life was funded with an 18 pack of Natural Ice, and I knew it before I bought it. I was a bartender during 9/11, and wound up half past broke for 3 months, and the cash kept me from drawing on any retirement accounts (and paying half of it in taxes)
  • If it doesn’t fell right, turn the page. Find something less interesting than what you are planning on spending your money on. If you can’t, by the time you realize it, you’ll have probably decided not to impulse spend.

Eventually, You’re going to have enough money to go on that trip. Start saving money in the bank for it as you make your reservations and plan. The goal now is to try and put together enough money that you don’t need the cash, and you can simply put it someplace safe and have it set aside for a rainy, earthquaky, disastrous day.

March 21, 2016

Aquaman and Ghost Trains – Day 7 – March 18th

Stopping on a trussLeaving town, we stopped for an hour to hit the internet at the library. I posted quick updates on GNN and MySpace. Saw a copy of Steven Levy’s Hackers in the used book bin. Had an email from Bryan and saw that Ed had posted out postcard online. We then stopped on city green, and books on the green, discovering the town was founded in 1992. So much for old town. Bought postcards anyways.

Leaving town, we encountered a span bridge over a fairly busy road, with a plague indicating it had been built in 1905. We stopped for a brief rest and snack, enjoying the first truly gorgeous day of the trip. While leaning against the truss, a hispanic man in knee high rainboots stumbled towards us. Holding a three gallon water jug at chest height, he offered congenially, “Aqua?” as the effort of the task caused him to drunkenly stumble off the side of the tracks as he past us. Feeling introspective, I leaned over the edge of the bridge. Every third or fourth car honked and waved.Aquaman's Secret Base

Welcome to wine country.

Leaving the bridge and heading north, we soon came to AquaMan’s presumed camp or hangout, a well placed tarp amid a mountain of half crushed beer cans.

We paused again at a picnic table on the outskirts of Healdburg to heat up some of our homemade dehydrated Chili. Breaking off to grab a couple of cold beverages, I returned to Ryan sitting next to our camp stove, the dehydrated chili resting/burning dry in the pot at high heat. We all get tired sometimes.

Monroe Under Train TracksEntering Healdsburg we came across another amazing yet decaying truss bridge across the Russian River. In the sandbank below, two boys and a girl sat smoking cigarettes. We shouted briefly back and forth about the trip. Looking back, Ryan was stagger stepping across the bridge curing how she hated it, fearful of it’s immeninet collapse.

We stopped for coffee at a newsstand coffee shop in downtown, getting the familiar mixture of curious and disainful stares as we changed our socks and read the newspaper. Leaving, a near toothless woman asked us about our packs and upon hearing our route implored us to stay off the tracks as she still heard trains every night.

Hidden Camp at Dusk

Yes, there is a tent in this picture.

As we hit the tracks, we began seeing quite a bit of tagging from “Sur 13 El Vatos Locos” which encouraged us to get a bit more distance north before stopping for camp. We made camp about 100 yards south of the Simi winery, able to hide our tent between two small trees with the help of our camouflage ponchos. Knowing it was saturday night, we wanted to avoid attention from any drunk teens who might be out wandering the tracks.

March 20, 2016

St. Patrick’s Day Freedom Dip – Day 6 – March 17th, 2006

IMG_0558After laundry in Santa Rosa and a quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some dried fruit and energy bars we started on the suburban trek to Windsor, the last notable town south of Healdsburg.

The city line of Santa Rosa was palpable; The police line where a shooting had taken place cordoned off an entire corner near a union building. We treked west to the tracks through Coffey Park, a subdivision with creative street names like Espresso, Perk, Arabica and Mocha. Once we got to the tracks and began heading north, the character of our trek changed drastically. Read More

March 16, 2016

Broken Rails and Irish Stout – Day 5-6 – March 16th and 17th, 2006

Stealth Camping south of PetalumaYesterday, we woke up under our little tree and walked about a mile towards Petaluma before encountering the worst bridge crossing yet, an impassable two rails over a flooded basin of agricultural run off. Turned around and started across a muddy dairy pasture. As our boots became mud laden, we were approached by the owner in his truck.

“Sorry for being on your land, the bridge about a mile north is out, and we’re walking to Petaluma.”

“I saw you two last night, and wondered what you’d do when you got to that bridge.” Read More

March 16, 2016

Hiking Novato – Day 4 – Wednesday, March 15th, 2006

Camped out south of Novato next to the Southern Pacific Railroad. First day on the rails. It was great. It’s finally a bit more like wilderness, getting to see jack rabbits, geese, ducks, swans and fellow hobos. I’m rockin’ it. I was worried before we started with the extra gear, but I can still move a big pack with ease. I wish we could cut food down a bit and run fast jaunts, like the air assault course (12 miles, 128 minutes) or even the 4 hour 12 mile we did in basic, but by the time we leave Emandal, we should be much more ready for faster days. Read More

March 14, 2016

Rain, Frogs and Churros. Day 3 – Tuesday, March 14th 2006

Camping on the Southern PacificSheltered in the tent as I write this. The rain is torrential, if not biblical. Thankfully we are dry, having decided to pitch the tent 20 minutes before it started. I got moderately wet rigging the camouflage ponchos over our rain fly, but thankfully, I can dry my rain gear in the vestibule of the rainfly by draping it on our poles. Read More

March 13, 2016

Suburban Hiking and Breakdancers. Day 2 – Monday, March 13th 2006

View of San Francisco from North Bay campsite. Up with the sun and spent a few moments watching a half dozen fearless deer poke around while I looked out across the Golden Gate. Had 2 dried meal packets for breakfast. Shared “Hash Browns, Red and Greens.” (Crunchy. Gross) and “Chicken Salad with Almonds” which was pretty good, except the almonds reminded me of the crunchy hash browns at that point. We bought a two pound bag of grapes from a roadside stand and sat in the grass near where Tennessee Valley road runs into the 1. Reminded me of the banks of the Cumberland outside of Nashville. Read More

March 13, 2016

The People You Meet – Rob Burgess

“Listen man, it’s been good catching up, but I need to go, I’m interviewing the county sheriff right now.”

The Rob Burgess ShowBesides being the bad-ass who would ignore the county sheriff, mid-interview, to take a personal call, there is a lot to say about my friend Rob Burgess. He’s an award winning journalist, a memorable banjo player and a connoisseur of good books, movies, and music. Most recently, he became a podcast personality at The Rob Burgess Show, where he was insane enough to interview me for his first episode. Read More

March 12, 2016

Wet. Day 1 – Sunday, March 12th 2006

Gregory Palisades and Kelty packs on day 1 of the 2006 trip. Wet, but I’ve seen worse. Light drizzle and a good crew crossing the bridge. Gib and Correne left early citing a fear of heights. No news crews, but tons of helicopters flying over and under the bridge.

We have an amazing view of the golden gate from a picnic ground next to the campsite. Lucian gave us a small chairdog ball complete with a little sculpted butt. Definitely going to be taking some pictures of it on the walk. Ed brought phone cards, stamps and sandwiches when he arrived later this evening to hang out on day 1. Read More

March 11, 2016

Living out of a backpack. 4am Saturday March 11th

Signals green, get out of town.Guerrilla Camping – 2006 Trip Journal – Day 0

This was written sitting awake on our last night in the city. We had gotten rid of everything except what would fit in two well thought out packs that we had spent a few hundred weekend miles testing and training with. We were finally living out of a backpack.

It all comes down to pack weight now.

Everything is mailed, stored or ready to be heaved onto our backs.

In about 30 hours we walk.

Read More