Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not All That Wander Are Lost

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” - Henry David Thoreau

“The Road is Life.” - Jack Kerouac

Tomorrow I leave for a month long solo backpack trip through India and Nepal. Here are a couple of author’s notes for the Mark “Roughing It” Twain and the John “Travels with Charlie” Steinbeck in all of us. This travel list is an homage to, other than the Bible, the greatest book ever given to a boy, Henry David Thoreau's Waldon:

ITINERARY: I will be covering almost the entire west to east peninsula of India, rolling through sub zero Himalayan mountain ranges in the “moon city” of Leh on the Tibetan boarder to blisteringly humid deserts region cities like ancient Delhi, through Bandhargarh, to bathe in the mystical ghats of Varanasi. I will stroll through crowded filth ridden slums in Calcutta, wash my face in the Ganges, and ride along packed trains for days into Darjeeling and peer into Bhutan. I will not travel luxuriously. True to my backpacker roots, I will try to live humbly and by my wits not my credit card. My plan is to tour India by train, camel, plane, and thumb, depending upon the kindness of strangers and the sharpness of my instincts. Finally to end the journey in Nepal where I will climb mountains, live off snow, and stand as close to heaven as humanly possible.

MY GOAL: To continue to experience firsthand the beautiful poetry of the world, to find a belief in people once again, and to get back to a sense of wonder and adventure I fear I have lost.

MY HEALTH: I’ve been training for this trip, and even more rugged trips I have planned for this summer, for the past six months. In an hour workout I can run five miles at 7 minute pace and complete over 500 sit-ups and 250 push-ups. It’s not a lot, but I feel I’m in better shape than I’ve been in the last ten years. At the onset of this journey I am forty years old, and I wouldn't mess with me.

BAGS: I am taking two bags: One sturdy and proven rucksack with belt support for long hikes through mountains and city streets; one very comfortable day bag with secret pockets. I can keep my hands free and don’t care if a bottle broke inside one or if either fell in the mud. I keep my possessions very dry inside wrapped in clothes and plastic bags. Also included:
Two Lonely Planet Books: India and Nepal; One Journal: Masked as an e.e. cummings book of poetry; One map of India; One package of Par Avion Air Mail Letters; Four Passport Sized Photos; $500 US Dollars in Twenties; $25 US Dollars in ones and fives, good for bribes and tips; One credit card, one debit card, International Youth Hostel Card; One Personal Banking Account Check; One leatherman pocketknife with corkscrew, essential checked luggage; One whistle; Ziploc Bags: Assorted Sizes; My passport, and Taiwanese Resident Card

MEDICINE: I packed all of the following into a zipped plastic bag I recycled from a bedsheet bag bought at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They are very sturdy and reliable and I once lived by the motto: Throw Nothing Away. Paid off. I kept a small pocket sized zipped bag for day trips: Inhaler, chapstick, eye drops, allergy medicine.
One toothbrush / toothpaste; One Lanolin plastic box of Clean and Conditioning Cloths; Two inhalers: Seretide for everyday use, Albuterol for emergencies; Two vials of chapstick; One Purell hand sanitizer, mini bottle; One men’s health formula one a day bottle of vitamins; Twenty tablets combined Aspirin and Ibuprofen; One small jar of tiger balm; One small vial of allergy eye drops; One tube of Hydrocortisone Cream; One assorted Ziploc of drugs: Imodium, Sudafed, Tums capsules, vitamin c tables, and script of Benadryl tablets; One Speed Stick Regular Deodorant; One Mosquito Repellant spray; Two disposable tubes of shampoo and conditioner, one water bottle, plastic screwtop bought at airport which will last me the whole trip; one flask of whiskey, conversation starter. Also, most importantly, one bar of soap I keep in a separate Ziploc bag.

MISCELLANESOUS: The following are things I just couldn’t travel without. I packed them all in another plastic bag from Bed and Bath. They come in handy, you know.
One Ethernet cord; One iPod and USB cord; Two sets small headphones; Camera and USB cord; One USB flashdrive; Two small clip on 110/220 adaptors for laptop; Laptop computer; Small flashlight; Pair of sunglasses, prescription; Pair of prescription glasses.

CLOTHES: I’m traveling light. There is no need for excess. Nothing I am bringing I can’t roll up in a bindle smaller than a loaf of bread. I can wash clothes in bathroom sinks, scrubbing them with my one bar of soap, and dry them on window racks. I do though need warm clothes for the subzero temperatures in the Himalayans and something light for extreme heat of the southern regions. That said, I am bringing:
One mid-sized hand towel good for scrubbing armpits and bedding for my head; one pair of black cotton socks, one scarf and set of mittens; one pair of worn-in jeans; one pair of long, rugged cotton climbing pants (good for sleeping, tucked into socks to ward off mosquitoes) two pair of light and dark cotton shorts; three pair of boxer shorts; five cotton t-shirts, disposable at any time; one long sleeve cotton t-shirt; two button up dress shirts, one long sleeve, one short; three pairs of dri-fit, waterproof running shorts used for underwear with very comfortable under-stitching. (If you are planning on being in humid conditions and having to walk 8 to 10 miles a day, you never want to deal with rashes. Even the word: Jockitch, should scare the devil out of you) One big woolen sweatshirt, (I am taking a risk of this being in low temperatures and not carrying more, but I don’t want to be weighed down, and later this comfy sweatshirt can act as my pillow when street sleeping) Two old crusty hats, one for cold, one for hot; and finally shoes: One pair of rugged and tested gortex, lace-up hiking shoes, and one pair of .99 cent Dollar Tree flip-flops I’ve been wearing rain or shine the last year. (Although, I was given a warning about open heeled shoes today by a fellow traveler who said his friend was in India and received a tapeworm from walking through wet regions that managed to climb all through his body and settle in his brain causing a stroke. Egads! Maybe I’ll just stick to hiking boots laced all the way up.) Oh, also, one proven black leather belt.

Final Words:
I don’t know… I wish my daughters were old enough to really start walking the earth with me. We have so much to talk about, don’t we? If I don’t return, the treasure map is buried north of the Colton house. Follow the deer path to the tree line and count twenty paces into the woods. Then dig. There you will find…

1 comment:

  1. I just saw this and am so excited for you! I'm sure you're already back, I'm reading it from older posts to new. I have two midterms tomorrow I should study for but, no story is more important than this at the moment!