Archive for March, 2013

Party, party, party

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2013 by wordsandpixels

No one was wearing a John Belushi beanie hat but spirits and laughter were wafting from “Buffet de la Guerre” a delightful French restaurant in Hastings NY. One of our most spiritual and artistically talented friends, Carolyn, gave me a poem she had written:image

There was once a fellow named Gary

Who loaded up all he could carry

Said, “This challenge I like,

it’s a hell of a hike.

When I finish I hope I’m still merry.”

Phew. I thought that last word would rhyme with the institution of matrimony.

Her husband Jack presented a solar powered battery charger, a little too heavy for a 2200 mile hike but perfect for shorter hikes, car trips and yacht voyages. Pictured also is my new little Ten-Tec 4030 QRP (read low power, Morse Code only) ham radio transceivers which is a perfect match for the charger.IMG_0042 Speaking of which, I finally passed (thanks to remedial instruction) the exam for “Amateur Extra” class operation. Bonus: A new call sign, N2GEM (how cool is that?).

As hinted in an earlier blog, I need to get away from technology for a while. The iPhone will be only used for emergency communications, since the phone booth seems to have disappeared. I also said how much I appreciated a 3-oz. stove that boils a pot of water in seven minutes and works even in the rain and cold. Titanium good. Computer bad. Sometimes. See? It’s not a quick either/or answer. But I think on this trip I need to follow my friend Carolyn’s advice and sit quietly, jot down both real time as well as real emotion thoughts. And continue on. One foot in front of another.

The AT is said to be a trip of five million steps. And Confucious, or one of his colleagues, said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. When I got my last pre-trail haircut the other day, I said to Michelle, “you know, when you measure this trip in haircuts, it’s only four haircuts long.”


27 Pounds Without Water

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by wordsandpixels

Well, the big moment arrived. I had decided to ship my bag down to Hiker Hostel in Dahlomega GA. I did this mainly to avoid dealing with the grief at the airport. Plus, I wanted the pack to get to ATL in one piece. If a bear wants to chew off a piece of the bag that’s one thing. But an airline who has the greed and avarice of a Tyrannosaurus Rex? No thanks.

Anyway, back to the UPS store. 27 pounds, including food but sans h2o! Yeah team. We’re off to see the wizard Friday morning.


PS This blog is being written on an iPhone. Forgive the brevity but praise the technology.

A 65 yr-old Hiker, a 65-yr-old event, and a 65-yr-old camera and (gasp) FILM

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 21, 2013 by wordsandpixels

IMG_0049Starting a 2,200 mile hike on my 65th birthday (March 30), got me thinking. Here I was, 65, starting out in the year of the 65th anniversary of Earl Shaffer’s historic first thru hike. What else could I do to honor this milestone (besides finish in one piece)? Aha! Why not use the same kind of camera Earl Shaffer (left) would probably have used? (It’s hard to see in the accompanying photograph, but it sure looks like a Kodak Retina, with the shallow case protecting the folding front.)

And why not use FILM? That old, trusted media that doesn’t show you the results right away. You have to wait until you pull it from the fixer and hold it up against the light to see if the image “turned out.” The media that doesn’t allow you to change from ISO 100 to 25,600 from one frame to the next. It’s a tad heavier, at 609 grams or about 21.5 ounces, than most digital cameras. A definite game changer is its fixed 50mm f/2 Schneider Xenon. Nice lens!

For many photographers, especially those coming home from WWII, the Retina (made in IMG_1531Germany, ironically, for Kodak) was their introduction to 35mm photography. Today, there are thousands of them sitting in attics and basements. Throw a roll of film in and off you go.

Not so fast! In many cases, there might be a light leak in the bellows, the shutter speeds are bound to be sticky and slow, the rangefinder may need adjustment or any other of a half-dozen maladies caused only by the passage of time. Had these cameras been in daily use, they’d probably work fine.

I wasn’t so lucky. My Retina II, gotten off eBay, needed a lot of work. Fortunately, however, there is a shop in Providence, RI named Zacks Camera Repair and their motto is, “We do the impossible.” And yes, they do. A call to owner Michael Zachs (401-273-7247) and a tour of his website convinced me he was the man to do the job. At a reasonable price.

Michael did the miraculous and in short order not only repaired what was wrong, but covered her in a new leather coat. How’s that for style?

Next blog we will talk about the photographic approach necessitated by such a rig, how we foresee things going, etc. And, oh yes, a report on the contents of our 27 pound pack!

Food for Thought

Posted in Ramblings, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 17, 2013 by wordsandpixels


For for ThoughtThere are two schools of thought about solving food needs along the Appalachian Trail. The first says “live and let live” which means getting food in whatever form you can find it, wherever you find it, and at whatever cost you can afford. Apparently that has worked for about half those that hike the trail.

The other idea is to buy either all or some of your necessary calories at home, (see photo to visualize $600 worth of food) put them in boxes and mail them to various “drop box” locations along the way i.e. U.S. Post Offices, hotels, motels, etc. Then you know that (unless it’s Sunday and you need the P.O. Open) you will get predictable food instead of the Ring Dings Sam’s gas station sells.

The problem with idea #2 is it takes a lot of time, money and effort to make the drop box system work. As indicated above, if you arrive at the P.O. five minutes after it closed, you’re SOL until Monday morning, especially with increased cutbacks in the USPS system. However, as indicated above, you can send drop boxes to a lot of different destinations using FedEx, UPS, etc.

The good news is that the USPS has a medium sized Priority Mail box that costs about $13 to mail, no matter the weight or the distance. In my case that means gourmet instant Cappucino, high-quality Gorp, mini Cliff bars, golden raisins, etc. Bon appetite.