Unexpected Farewell!

This was totally unexpected but I guess, I should have known, knuckleheads that they are, they love the blog.

But show up they did and bid me farewell Bon voyage and safe journey. God save the Monarchy.

I’ve promised them dinner in London Saturday night, but they have to pick up the tip.

Yip yip!

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Hello, it’s time to say goodbye.

I’m at the airport waiting for a Delta flight to Chicago, then onward to London.

That’s me (on the left).

I don’t know about you, but I think airports are on the uptick. TSA is friendlier, people appear more relaxed and I seldom get strip searched anymore. Even when I ask for it they kindly say no.

One of the advantages of being an American Express member since 1979 (yes, I joined when I was six) is I get access to private clubs at airports. So, I find myself at MSP enjoying a free meal.

I’m certain they laugh at the thought of free and Amex in the same sentence. But there you go.

It’s aproaching time to board, more later from the Windy City.

Made it safely to O’Hare, through security. By-the-way, one of the benefits of wearing a sport coat and a real hat (me a pork pie) these days is everyone thinks you are flying —at the very least—business class. As I walk to security, there is one line with travelers lined up with chickens, farm tools and dreams of a better life and another with folks sporting fedoras and sport coats. “Sir, are you traveling business or first class?” “Yes, pretty lady, I am.” It was as easy as that. And she never once mentioned the small leghorn I was carrying, despite its squawking.

I am now ensconced in the Air France Club (although flying BA) It is jammed and like a holding pen for those longing for the days of travel luxury.

Waiter, please bring me shad roe

I’m not complaining, well not a lot. It is free. The tortellini is cold and the white wine is warm. Perhaps this is a new food trend I’m not aware of. If that is the case, then there are a ton of restaurants Ive been to in my life that are finally on the cutting edge of gastronomy.

A very cool thing about my flight is that I am on a maiden voyage for British Air’s first Airbus 380A flight from Chi Town to London Town. The 380A is the double decker plane that now holds more souls than Dante’s Inferno’s third circle of hell.

I believe that is all for now.

And a couple of disclaimers; first I do my best to spell check, make certain my sentences are correct and generally that I am coherent. So when you see the mistake, cut me some slack and attribute it to Spellcheck (which I believe is Dante’s 10th circle of hell). And if you are reading this on Facebook please follow on WordPress, where this is created.

Time for more cold tortellini and warm white wine. Yip Yip!

“All my bags are packed I’m ready to go I’m standin’ here outside your door…”

Well, not exactly, that would be creepy. And there are way too many of you. at last count, 2,386 and counting. That does include me rereading, so perhaps it is closer to 12.

My nails are clipped, the bills are paid and just to build up the drama, I’ve had two visits to the doctor in the last 24 hours. It appears there is some sort of lesion on the bottom of my left foot. It’s kind of cool, it looks like I’m growing another toe down there. The foot specialist said there’s nothing to do, suck it up and sign this release form. I asked for a second opinion and he said I looked anything but invincible. IMG_5175.jpeg

Bags packed (backpack in duffel bag)

So tomorrow it is off to Heathrow via Chicago. And in the morning, the ceremonial donning of the invincible iPhone case. I may not be invincible, but phone will be.

Yip, yip.

Two Weeks Away. Time To Start Packing.

Truth be told, I’ve been packed for a year. The great thing about doing this for the third time is that the only thing i really need to buy is Kleenex.

My tent is good to go. My sleeping bag is good to go (okay, i did buy a new one, it weighs thirteen ounces less than my old one and that is a big difference. Plus it’s very pretty and you need pretty in the highlands). And the rest of my kip is good to go.

I only wish i could say the same about me. I finally did a hike today (yes, two weeks away is TGOC-Day, i know, i know). I did eight miles with a half-pack, hiking along trails covered in snow, mud and goose shit. Here in Gotham on the Prairie, Spring is a month late.

To be fair, i have been religiously doing CorePower yoga every day for a couple months to create some sort in-shape-ness and have also attempted to go to more restaurants with buffet lines for dinner rather than have a server serve me. It does cause me to eat more than five times what i would normally eat, but i think the slow shuffle through the line works a lot of it off. And i am a fan of the three times fried suet salad with butter balls. I do believe if buffet line restaurants would promote themselves as a workout facility, they could seriously increase their revenue. And i think funeral homes would like it as well.

That’s it for now. In case you are at all interested in what to carry for two weeks of hiking across the great country of Scotland, trying to anticipate every conceivable challenge, i’ve attached it here.

The only new addition not listed, is my tuxedo that I’ve packed on the off chance I should be invited to the royal wedding at the last moment. Hope springs eternal in a young man’s heart (mine, too).

Resolute. Resolved. Recumbent. And to quote Humphrey (a TGOCer for I believe 14 crossings) Yip, Yip.”

18 Days and Counting

Yes, it’s time to start training. And training I am.

Like a mad man.

I’m rewatching Reese Witherspoon in Wild, and Nick Nolte in A Walk in the Woods.

The weather in Gotham on the Prarie has been so bad with snow covering everything (up until a day or so ago) that i have been forced to drive my car around the city lakes for exercise. It’s really not that bad, the stereo in my car is so much better than ear buds.

But i do know i need to hunker down. i just weighed my backpack and it is coming in at 78 pounds. That’s a bit much. I guess maybe if i get rid of the Mr. Coffee maker and the hair dryer that might help.

Hair dryer? Well, wishful thinking.

More later.

Third Times a Charm

The Great Outdoor Challenge (TGOC) is now officially 30 days away.

I leave for the UK on Friday, May 4, to spend a few days in the country with, yes of course, Nick and Belinda.

Right now, scanning maps, packing, working out (well, if you call watching Tom Hanks in Castaway exercise), and generally trying to understand why I am doing this again. Well, mostly because it is a challenge and mostly because it is fun (with the exception of the rain, the cold, the freeze dried food, the constant climbs, the back aches and the lack of decent Chardonnay).

So, stay tuned. We are back. We are ready. We are hoping to hike into the Royal Wedding.

A Recap of the Zipper/Velcro Convention.

As I mentioned. I finished. Exhausted. Sore. And satisfied. 

A friend of mine, Mark Wirt, a capable Ironman in his own right (and for years the fastest man in his age group for the one mile), asked if I planned as much this time as the first time, his assumption being, once you’ve done it, you rely on muscle memory. And he was right. The first crossing I literally spent hours a week in planning, going over maps, double checking my kit list and arranging logistics. This time, not so much. 

But I have to say the second crossing, aside from the route selected, was harder than the first. Because this time I knew what to expect. 

Last year it was all new. Most unexpected and it was expected I had to persevere. Which I did. This year, I knew what was coming. I knew the back pain, I knew the rain was going to be an omnipotent partner. I knew what I was getting myself into. Last year it was blind bravado that got me through. This year it was blind determination. More than one TGOC’r has said it is all a mind game. 

Anyhow, last night was the reception dinner for all who finished this year, over 250. Some had a smaller dinner the night before and some the night after. But this was the big one. 

Dinner was at 19:30 and by 18:30 the place was packed with zippers, Velcro, man-made materials and the only cotton worn, were the t-shirts celebrating the 2017 crossing. 

Russ, the ever charming gentleman he is, congratulating those who have done this a dozen times.
There were toasts and stories and the acknowledgement that this is a singular club you cannot buy your way into. You earn it by hiking. Simple as that. 

It’s hard to describe the feeling of bonhomie, a feeling of being a part of a family you never knew existed. As I’ve said before, a Jet amongst Jets. A singular amongst a host of singulars. 

Family.

Humphrey, whom I believe is on his 20+ or so crossing and may very well have been conceived on the trail, pulled together a band that played exceptionally well: They were quite wonderful. Humphrey in white.

Well, that’s about it. The crossing is done and I am melancholy. As I said earlier, the first was perhaps a tad bit more rewarding, having done it. The second, more difficult in that I knew it wasn’t a cake walk. But did it, I did.

So, a final update on my feet:As you can see, a couple nails are good to go. Last year, I lost seven, this year it looks like five. The big toenail on my left foot is already flapping, which is okay. I’m thinking I can keep breath mints stored under there. Let me know if you need a throat freshener. I have them. I’d show you the bottoms but again, I don’t want to put you off venison.

That’s it. Melancholy. But happy. Ready to come home.

But what? Wait! Fuck! I’m starting to think about next year. Lord, have mercy.

Thus ending the sermon.

(I’m ready for that orange juice in the dining room.)