Sunday, January 25, 2009


Maybe I'll feel less-overwhelmed if I make a list. To make it tangible.
Here's a start. I'll probably add to it in the next two months.
  1. Keep on drying foods. Finish carrots and cabbage, start broccoli.
  2. Organize dried foods, pack into week's-worth bags, organize for mailing.
  3. Make list of approximate mail-stops based on approximate hiking progress.
  4. Clean out closet. Steve wants "my" side while he's home alone 'cause he doesn't have to crawl over the bed to reach it.
  5. While cleaning closet, organize my stuff and throw out a lot.
  6. Go over contents of backpack, re-organize.
  7. Make list of weekly groceries for Steve to buy and send me.
  8. Update immunizations for dog and cat so Steve won't have to worry about it.
  9. Or forget that one and let him do it.
  10. Buy headlamp.
  11. Buy new battery for camera.
  12. Buy second memory card for camera (so Steve and I can exchange full and empty ones.)
  13. Go over contents of backpack, re-organize.
  14. Sew loops onto Tyvek ground cloth so I can pitch it as a tarp if I want to.
  15. Sew extra gear pockets into tent.
  16. Re-waterproof rain gear and tent.
  17. Re-seam seal tent.
  18. Grow out hair to no-fuss ponytail. Stick it out thru in-between stage. Do not cut now.
  19. Make sure enough family and friends are watching out for my mother.
  20. Finish woodburning hiking poles with family/friends' signatures.
  21. Get snail-mail addresses for postcards.
  22. Shop for sample/travel size toiletries.
  23. Order 6-months' supply of contacts.
  24. Fill prescriptions.
  25. Make sure all adult children are on birth control -- NO ONE is to have baby till Nov.
  26. Arrange automatic bill-pay for my Achilles physical therapy.
  27. Go over contents of backpack, re-organize.
  28. Spazz over whether I have the right assortment of early-spring clothing.
  29. Prepare box of stuff I'll need (or might need) Steve to send me later on: different shoes, warm-weather sleeping bag, warm-weather clothes, different or extra xyz's
  30. Go over contents of backpack, re-organize.
  31. Get traveler's checks. Also will carry some cash and bank card.
  32. Go no-mail on my email groups. Give Steve access to groups so if I get killed by bear he can notify them.
  33. Worry that I'm not ready.

That's a start. I'll add more if I think of more......


I seem to be going through a few days of feeling unmotivated to do anything about my AT hike, now coming up in 9.5 weeks. I don't want to dry food, I don't want to plan my town stops, I don't want to go out and train (last week I put in four 7+ mile hikes up and down the New Orleans levees with a 15-pound pack.)

I just feel tired. Maybe I've been doing so much towards it and thinking about it so much and talking about it so much, I feel like I've already done it or something and just want to rest.

Maybe it's because I've run out of foods to dehydrate until I go shopping again. Maybe it's because I only have 2 months to get my food all done and finalize everything and I feel overwhelmed..... withdrawing is my common response to overwhelmed-ness.

I do have brown rice cooking on the stove. Cooked and dehydrated, it rehydrates nice and fluffy in 5 minutes in hot water. The soak-all-day method didn't work. I'm glad I tried it ahead of time.

Yesterday I spent all day reading a novel. I think I'll just chill one more day today, making a grocery list for tomorrow, and then start with the food again.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Tree in Time

Tree in Time
Originally uploaded by imagainst_the_wind

It's not about the Appalachian Trail.... but I was going through some of my photos and thought I'd post it. I've got so many photos, from so many places, and some of them are good.... I'm going to start to go public. So far it's the only one on my Flickr page, but I'm going to add more.

Why I started this now, when I've got so many AT preparations on my plate, is beyond me. But that's why they won't be coming thick and fast :-)

Saturday, January 17, 2009


The push is on.

Each tray is 13 inches diameter. This is about 4 pounds of carrots and 3 pounds of cabbage, lightly precooked (to stop enzyme action that could cause spoilage even in fully-dried food) and ready to go into the dehydrators. Each tray is 13 inches diameter; one dehydrator holds 4 and the other, 5.

I have a list of what I will need to finish dehydrating and bag up in the next 10 weeks, based on a 6-month or 24-week trip:

12 cups dried measure of each of the following:

  • Carrots
  • Cabbage
  • Corn
  • Broccoli
  • Green beans
  • Turnip/collard greens (yes, I like these, and yes, they rehydrate well!)

This will give me 1/2 cup dry = 1 cup reconstituted per week of each... a different vegetable each day for 6 days. The seventh day I plan to eat in town.

That's just the vegetables. I'll be mixing them with:

  • Dry beans (need 24 cups dry measure = 1 cup per week = 2 X 1 cup rehydrated.) I buy them dry, soak & cook, dehydrate, and end up with "instant" dry beans. I'm not drying any more of them, though, since I discovered that lentils and split peas, after soaking 3-4 hours, cook in 5 minutes. I'll put them into a jar with water at lunchtime and heat them up for dinner.
  • Brown rice (I'll need about 5 pounds for the same number of servings; soak & cook like lentils)
  • 24 cups tomato sauce = 1 cup per week; I'll dry it and flake it in the blender and divvy it up; it's less expensive than 72 tomatoes (3/week)
  • 8 pounds hamburger = 1 serving/week of 1/3 pound
  • 8 pounds ground turkey = 1 serving/week of 1/3 pound
  • Onions -- however many it takes to make 6c. dried minced onions

Then there's fruit. I don't have this fully-planned yet. Just something to mix into my oatmeal, basically. Probably:

  • Applesauce "leather"
  • Banana slices
  • Maybe pineapple rings

That's just the stuff I'm going to dry myself.

So my dinners will include a couple servings of meat a week; complete protein the other days from the beans/rice mixture, plus cheese (buy en route); and a different vegetable every day, along with onions and tomato sauce.

I'll save breakfast, lunch, and snack plans for another post.


I'm tired just from making the list. Burned up a pound of calories right there, I think.

Friday, January 16, 2009


I've been to the supermarkets on our side of New Orleans looking for family-size bags of frozen broccoli to put in my food dehydrator, but I can't find anything bigger than a one-pound bag.

But you can get bags of frozen okra big enough to last until the Second Coming.

We're in Louisiana.

Oh -- yes, dried-and-rehydrated broccoli is good. I've tried it out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


What I'm doing is, I have one hiking pole for family, one for friends. I've had the opportunity to see most of my family and have them personally sign my "family" hiking pole. Then I wood-burn over the signature to make it wear-proof. I've got 4 generations on my "family" pole. Granddaughter Abbie, then 5, signed her name and then her yet-unborn sister Sarah's name. Sarah's almost 8 months old now.

My "friends" pole is still relatively unsigned. Who wants to go with me on the Appalachian Trail? I gotta get movin' on gettin' these names on. Spread the word.... my blog readership isn't very large, so any of my readers who have a large following, get the word out.... the more friends I have with me, the better!

If you want to be on my hiking pole, write a comment telling me so! I've got ten weeks left :-)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


This one involving the dehydrating of a 6-lb can of green beans.

Preamble: it's very windy in New Orleans today, steady at 28mph gusting to 40.
Preamble Part 2: Around the front of our RV, we have a "skirt," like this,

that provides an enclosed storage space with protection from wind and rain.


The rest of the story:
Yesterday I posted about my bin of Ziploc-bagged dehydrated food getting wet under said canopied storage space, where rain came in around the top of the skirt right over my bin. I saved some of the food.

Today, in the wind, the skirt flapped around so much (guess we hadn't gotten around to securing it to the ground yet) that it knocked my running dehydrator right off the shelf. Luckily, it didn't break. Unluckily, 4 trays of nearly-done green beans flew onto the ground. Into gravel.

Now, the loss of a $4 can of beans isn't that big a deal, but 3 quarts of beans on the ground rehydrating in the humidity and predicted heavy rain is. Rotting beans on the ground, ew.

So I took a colander out and picked all the little bitty dried-up beans out of the gravel. Little-bitty means about the thickness of coffee stirrers. An inch long. Strewn around in the gravel. It took awhile to pick them all up. And as long as I'd picked them up, I might as well try to salvage them, so I rinsed them off in the colander until I was sure they were gravel-free, and stuck 'em back in my *indoor* dehydrator to dry them off. Can't just let them air-dry b/c they'll start to rehydrate.

I have an indoor dehydrator, which is quiet, and another one, which lives outdoors under the skirt because it makes a noise like a stove's hood-exhaust fan.

I guess it's not as much of a disaster as, say, a raccoon or bear getting into a whole week's worth of food while I'm hiking. Which is why you hang your food bag overnight from tree branches or, where provided, special "bear cables" or even (as in New Hampshire) lock it up in metal boxes secured with chains.
If the Trail is as much fun as getting this food-trying thing figured out, it's going to be fun :-)

Monday, January 05, 2009


Sometimes I've thought I don't blog much because I don't have anything to blog about. But today I decided it's because I have too *much* to blog about. For days I've been thinking, blog about getting to New Orleans, blog about dehydrating food for my AT hike, blog about the thunderstorms, blog about finding a hill to hike in flat, flat New Orleans which lies 8 feet below sea level. Or the aforementioned dehydrated food spending the night under the one place where our storage enclosure leaks, and the ziploc bags leaking, accidentally re-hydrating some of it. Thankfully I only had a few days' worth of food in that bin and I was able to re-dehydrate some of it.

And as I was thinking about all this today while returning to the campground from walking/hiking/hill-climbing, trying to decide how and when to organize it all into a blog post or several, I saw a driver's license in the sandy grass by the side of the road. I picked it up and noticed a credit card a couple feet away. Same name. Hmm. What else is here? Did someone's wallet blow off their car roof or something? Found another credit card. Then I saw a soggy PlayStation box nearby and thought, did they lose a PlayStation too?? No.... inside was the purse that the cards had fallen from. More cards with the same name were in the box with the purse.

I picked it up and carried it the remaining quarter-mile or so to our camper. I started feeling nervous... I hoped the woman wasn't missing and the perp had dumped her purse. I found a business card belonging to the owner of the license and called. She was alive and well. Whew, relief. The purse had been stolen last week. Amazing to me that her credit cards were still in it.

Long story short, she came to the campground, the local police came to the campground, took my info, took her info, she got the purse back. The policeman was very nice and made the whole issue sort of fun, actually, believe it or not. The lady pushed a $20 bill on me; I refused. I said "Give it to the March of Dimes or something." She stuck it in my pocket and said, "I'm giving it to you; you give it to them if you want to."

Actually I guess if my purse was stolen and someone found it and called me and I got it back I'd probably give them twenty bucks, too. It certainly wasn't necessary.

4 days here and already I've gotten involved in something weird. First the transmission in the truck, delaying our trip by a day; then the broken hanger under the camper; now an encounter with the police over stolen property. This is going to be an interesting winter.

Thursday, January 01, 2009


Well, he looked mean, but he wasn't.

We left Tennessee, um, I guess it was yesterday morning, and stayed uneventfully near Birmingham, AL overnight. There were no amenities other than electric, water, and sewer hookups at that campground, but for $15, what do you want?

So this morning we left AL, and drove across the lower part of Mississippi towards New Orleans.

I swear this trip is cursed. We stopped for diesel fuel, and on his walkaround check Steve discovered a broken spring hanger on the camper. He got a car-repair/welder's business card from the truck stop. He called, the man was willing to service our rig on New Year's Day, and the fun began.

This was somewhere in Southern Mississippi. We drove to where the repair guy said he'd meet us. We waited. A man approached our truck on foot, making eye contact and waving. He had old dirty clothes, a grizzled 3-day beard, no teeth. Steve said, "I hope that's not our guy..." The fellow came to Steve's window and held out his hand. Steve shook it and said, "Are you Joe?" "Naw, I ain' Joe," the man said. "You jus' look like nice folks an' I didn' get no Christmas presents and I spent las' night in a cardboard box an' I bin wearin' the same cloes 4 months and I'm jes' lookin' for someone t' help me some...." Sounds like how I'll be living a few months from now, only in a thin nylon tent instead of a sturdy box, but we gave him two bucks and wished him well, and closed the window.

Soon the real Joe arrived, in a vinyl-top Cadillac that had seen better days. It had a lot of missing parts.

This is the car-repair guy? Yup. He looked at the broken hanger and said, "Yeah, I kin fix 'at, y'all follow me." Journey didn't like him much, growled and whined. Come to think of it, I don't think Journey's ever seen a black person. Forgive me for saying "black" but no doubt Journey just saw a black man, I mean literally a man who was black, and this gave her pause. Plus, I don't care if someone calls me a white woman, but let's get on with the story.

So Joe drives his has-been Cadillac through a maze of back streets through questionable neighborhoods where some people had bars on their windows, others were boarded up, and most had plastic or duct tape where one or more of their car windows had been.
After a number of turns, we arrived at Joe's repair establishment.
The next-door neighbor's front yard, car's rear window replaced with tablecloth.
There was a lot of debris in the yard. You can't really see this, but the weight plates back there behind the mirror say "Gold's Gym." So did the weight bench. No doubt Gold's was getting new stuff and sold their old equipment for a reasonable price.

OK, on to the dog. The repair yard was fenced, and inside the yard was a pit bull chained to a dog box with a chain big enough to hold the Titanic. Just for good measure, there was barbed wire on top of the fence, and along the bottom edge, razor wire, in case anyone including the dog tried to dig under it. No one was getting into this yard.

I like dogs. I watched this pit bull for awhile, noted his body movements as he watched us, and decided to go a little closer. He wagged his tail happily (not stiffly, a defensive sign) and had a friendly look in his eye. I approached cautiously.... you know, pit bull on a monstrous chain in a junky repair yard and all... and he sniffed my knee. I offered my hand and he sniffed it, but then his expression changed and I felt a curl of anxiety and withdrew -- I didn't want him to smell fear or whatever it is that dogs do. I figured he smelled Journey on me. He looked like he'd seen his share of fights. Scars on his face. I backed off.

A few minutes later I went back. He sniffed my hand again, and licked it. Again his expression changed and again I backed off.
This went on a few more times, each time a little more contact until he finally let me scratch him under the chin.

Awhile later he was rolling on his back for a belly rub. When I'd stop, he'd get up and press his body weight against my legs, almost knocking me down just by leaning. He liked me a lot. He slumped to the ground in sorrow when I turned to leave after the welding was done.

You can see the razor wire along the bottom of the fence, and the barbed wire at the top.

So Joe, who was a really nice guy who complained teasingly that I was "spoiling" his dog, spent two hours fixing our broken hanger, on New Year's Day when he probably would rather have been watching the Rose Bowl, and only charged $100. We gave him an extra twenty. He thanked us and smiled that the dog was going to pout the rest of the day wondering where that friendly lady went. He said not many strangers try to pet his dog.

I liked the dog.
We got to New Orleans three hours later than we'd anticipated. Like I said, the trip is cursed. This is our second try at a winter in New Orleans. The first time we started planning it, Katrina hit.

We'll see what the winter brings.