A Snowbird With His Seasons Mixed Up

Florida, it’s been fun, but it’s time for me to go. Considering the copious amounts of sand still coating the interior of my vehicle, you won’t be leaving me…

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A place for her to take a temporary rest.

My intention for this trip was to follow my gut at all costs, and keep myself in a position where I could do just that with the least amount of interference. Trust in the fact that every event has a reasoning behind it. The difference between fate and destiny. The Tao. The River of Life. God’s plan. Whatever limiting term you decide to apply to it. Follow the flow.

So, upon departing for the trip, I did just that. I got on the I-90 and drove. Straight to Florida.

Unlike the last car trip down here on the Juxtaposse tour, I was not on the Red Bull diet. No 20+ hour straight-shot to the gulf coast this time. I try, but the inevitable question arises…

Where to spend the first night? Keep it simple. It’s already dark by now.

That rest stop in North Carolina looks tolerable for a quick nap.

Oh fantastic! I get to watch shady drug deals all night. There are reasons other than brown bears to have a shotgun and a watchdog. I may have slept like a baby, but Jackson sure didn’t. Why would a dog sleep with this much fun occurring outside the car?

I’m awake, I’m alive, and the car is intact. Back to it.

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Co-pilot passing the time.

Blow through the Carolina’s. Hello, and goodbye Georgia, thankfully without incident (more on that another time). Hello Florida. Six more hours of driving in the land where turning signals are simply nonexistent, and I’m in Naples. Home of the “Nancy” himself, little Davey Kennedy.

For those who don’t already know, I’ve known Dave longer than my memories go back. With our parents being good friends, it was inevitable that we would be together to torment the world, from diapers on.

I wonder if Maribel, the poor soul who decided to marry Dave, knew what she was getting into when she watched me pull in. It’s an understatement to say the two of us are a handful together.

We do the things you come to Florida to do. Go to the beach. Watch dolphins off Naples Pier. Go out to eat. Check out the cool parks. Rent kayaks. Hit up the shooting range (where I learned that Maribel will show you up with an AR-15). Take the truck off-roading. Meet random folks in random places, as well as the infamous Carlos and his wife Linda. Life is good.
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Dave and Jackson

One could say my trip begins in Southern Florida. I may have departed from Buffalo NY, but that leg was nothing more than a long commute. The east coast is claustrophobic, and I felt it the whole way down. I need distant sight lines, open vistas and a larger scale to the landscape.

My time here in Florida is ending shortly. I may not miss the humidity, the insects, or the top-notch landscaping everywhere, but I will miss Dave, Maribel, and the rest of the crew. Good memories have been made but it’s time to move on.

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Good advice from the Picayune Strand

Back to the road.

The west is clearly calling.

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The Logistics of Sand to Snow

Would you bring your bathing suit out snowshoeing, wear waterproof boots in the desert or take your solar charger with you while caving?

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Eberlestock J79 Skycrane II and F4 Termanator. A home on your back.

The answers to these questions may seem obvious, but most situations are not so black and white. When taking on countless variations of terrain and climate, there is no “one fits all” solution.  Mountaineering gear doesn’t translate to the swamp very well…nor vice versa.

Unable to carry the amount of equipment needed to truly tackle this continent alone on my own back, the next step up was only logical.

Have my dog Jackson carry my stuff for me.

What a perfect idea. He follows me everywhere already, so why not just use him as my pack-horse?

My pack-dog.

Packs-on Jackson.

It doesn’t take long to notice that Jackson isn’t a one ton equine that I can strap a few weeks provisions to. His big headed body does just fine carrying his own things, let alone the addition of my shit.

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Jackson sunning on the pavement after a long walk.

Ok, on a serious note, the pack-dog is a no go, as is the pack-horse.  I’m not about to go cowboy across the countryside, chafing my ass on a saddle and dealing with an unruly, skittish, delicate creature and a remount. That leaves one choice.  A gas powered, 4WD vehicle it shall be.

So now I have a mobile hub.  Go anywhere, park anywhere, and take on whatever the terrain may throw at me.  Provisions for weeks.  Solar power.  Recovery equipment.  Medical supplies.  I’ll save the details for later posts.

Leave the car camping sites to the city turkeys.


A Process of Exploration

Every great journey begins with some motivating factor.  Something new, beyond what you have already seen in your day to day life.  Most of us feel it at some point in our lives; that inner sense to wander to distant places, without regard for where the destination may eventually be.  Some write these feelings off, some dabble in them, while others fulfill them.  Where do you fit in the spectrum?

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You think packing a suitcase sucks?

Its a big, small world out there.  More places than you could count, and hundreds of ways of getting to each one.  Quaint mountain villages, lively boardwalks, bustling cities, empty beaches…we all have places in our heads we imagine existing somewhere. The question ultimately becomes, “where should I go, and how should I get there?”

Many people think of having to cross oceans to find new places and peoples to experience.  What most of us forget is that right under our noses, this very country contains numerous landscapes, climates, cultures and histories.    One could spend a lifetime or more experiencing what this land has to offer.

So we’ve narrowed it down, at least for myself, where the general destination is.  Conveniently, those old dudes with wigs and muskets left us with a system where being able to travel the country freely is held with high regard.  No passports, no customs checkpoints, and most importantly, no scumbag TSA agent groping my junk.

Why yes, dear Watson.  Roads.

For of hundreds of years people have been plopping paths down everywhere, to every corner you can think of.  Premium high speed highways, all clearly labeled for the unprepared, distracted, and usually quite irate motor vehicle operators.  Massive sprawls of suburban communities, where multiple lane roads sectioned off by stoplights neatly flush massive amounts of  impatient traffic to their choice of delicious artery clogging food.  Back country roads in the middle of nowhere, sitting there all day, slowly boiling away in the sun until the momentary relief of my cars shadow zips past across its surface.  All that road…unused 99% of the time.

It only takes one a few hours of traversing thick woods on foot to get an idea of how slow and rough travel can be without the modern infrastructure we grew up around.   Don’t ever forget that thirty minute drive we complain about used to be someones day trip 100 years ago.

Thank you modern society.  Its time for me to put your collective products to use.

I’m not here to see roads though, however grand the scope and scale may be.  It’s once I pull off the road that the fun starts.

The sights, the silence, the simplicity, the serenity; the back country is clearly my favorite place to be.  It only takes one a few minutes in the full grasp of nature to feel at peace with any troubles that may be plaguing them.  Much like the effect of a long, hot shower, thoughts and revelations slide forth smoothly.  In all this blissful thinking it’s easy to forget the perils that come with such beauty.  There’s no hospital to crawl to should you make a stupid mistake, let alone cell phone reception to call for help.  Preparation is key.

I have two sayings that dictate my life in the back country.

First– a monkey is only as useful as the tool in his hand.

Second– there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

These two ideas lead to one principle.  Given a sound mind and body, you are ultimately limited by the gear available to you.  Learn to be clever with how you use your equipment, and be good at carrying it over distances.  Given the right combo of food/water/equipment/clothing, time spent in the back country can be nearly effortless.  It is 2013, you know?  We have solar power, gps, LED’s, self cooking food, and an entire backpacking industry pumping out top notch, lightweight equipment.  While still being definite things to know, we don’t have to waste time building shelters and braiding vines.  I have a tent and 550 cord for that.


What is Xpedition America?

DCIM100GOPRO

Some semantics to kick this off…

ex·plo·ra·tion

/ˌekspləˈrāSHən/

Noun
  1. The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it.
  2. Thorough analysis of a subject or theme.

…a simple concept that one can easily understand, but as you know, the devil is in the details.

In a world populated to this degree, chances are someone has already seen it, done it, or thought it.  It now comes down to sharing these experiences so that others may, for a moment, live vicariously in body and mind.  We see it all around us.  Reality TV shows, movies, theater–the list goes on.  There is some part of us that loves to sit back in total comfort and watch something we could do ourselves, if we were only motivated enough to do it…

So I’m doing it, whatever it may be, and I’m going to document it.  Not in some mass ejaculation of photos of my trip over some social media network, but in a categorized, entertaining manner.

night

Pre-dawn moon about to greet the sun.

The site is divided into five categories, so you can find the stuff you like, and ignore the crap you don’t.

PERSONAL

Personal insights, thoughts and other assorted junk ejected from my head.

LOCATIONS

Unique and diverse locations that spot the american landscape.

PEOPLE

The individuals that we share this land with. Their faces, their stories, their lives.

POLITICS

The topics and subjects that mark our times, with emphasis on individual freedoms.

GEAR

Reviews, tips, tricks, and general equipment related topics.