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Monthly Archives: December 2011
The list is so long it’s crazy… But I figured I should spill out some of what’s on my mind.
26 dresses – nearly all need to be modified, cropped, stretched, torn apart, use your imagination, i don’t fit into most of them, and the long ones need to be hiked up. Think tons of brush and bushes and cactus, now picture gowns getting caught on all of that. Not good.
$2000 – I still need to come up with that amount of money to be sure, when i start the hike, that I can finish the hike.
Gear – I still need a hard shell (rain/outer jacket) $99-500 – Shoes. I know what I want to wear, I just have to buy them. – Mosquito Net – Hat – Shorts – Gaitors (worn around the ankle/shin to keep as much dirt and crap out of the shoe – I want a synthetic ‘sweater’. I have a down one, but prefer synthetic. – Silk liner for my sleeping bag (lighter than the one I have, increases the insulation in the bag to keep me warmer) – and i’m sure there are a few things that I’m forgetting
Food- Food and such that I’m going to put in with the gowns. Most people suggest not mailing food ahead because you’ll get tired of the same stuff, and you can’t possibly know what you want to eat this early on, but i’m sending the boxes anyway…
What am I gonna do about shirt sales? My friend Kayola in Newport is probably going to be in charge of shipping off my gowns to me, but the task of T-shirt and ’26 stuff’ sales is a little more complicated. The shop i use in town prints them off as i need them, which is great, but who’s going to place the orders and ship them when i’m on the trail? I have no idea how many to expect. I might sell ten T’s or I could sell a couple hundred. My family has offered to do the shipping, but they’re 2200 miles away from Newport.
I have nothing to offer those who are helping me, and it’s difficult to ask. I also have to have 100% assurance that whomever helps will follow through for the entire six months. I can’t have someone back out while in the middle of the hike.
Who’s going to keep up my blog, post photos that I take, video, etc? Who’s going to manage Sponsors etc if i happen to get them? I have a great option but an expensive one at this point. Well worth the money, but when the money isn’t there, it’s not an option. My sister runs the E-Marketing Dept of a major Hotel chain in the midwest… but I don’t want to put more on her table.
I still have a lot of food to buy and prep before packing.
There are sooooo many things to think about. It’s exciting, and tiring. So much to do in the next 3 1/2 months.
AND I have to work – get to the gym – keep you all up to date…
Am I forgetting something? Surely I am…..
Back in early Sept I received a message from Mr. Beal, a 2nd grade teacher from Lafayette Grade School in Seattle, Wa. He wrote ” I wanted to tell you that I’m really loving your story and your whole project….. I’m teaching my class of second graders about you and your dream….. I want them to catch your spirit and your easy going nature…. You seem like such a regular, outgoing guy, and it’s refreshing to have someone like that to hold up to my kids….”
It caught me off guard, that a teacher would be braving the possible backlash of sharing such a ‘guy in a dress’ project with 7 year olds. It shouldn’t have surprised me, it is Seattle after all, and as early as I can remember, I know I was craving creativity and stimulation of any sort. Mr. Beal and I tossed a few messages back and forth, I did a ‘shout out’ to them on my KYRS interview [ http://www.kyrs.org/mp3s/KYRSRonUlrichWeddingDress.mp3 ] and eventually he asked me for my address… I couldn’t believe it when just days before Thanksgiving I received an envelope full of handwritten letters, each complete with a drawing of me, or of something outdoorsy, on loose leaf paper. I was so touched by the notion of an entire class writing to me, encouraging me to follow my dreams as they follow me on my journey.
Time and time again I find myself surprised by the words people use to describe this project and what hiking 26 means to me. It’s hard for me to say this, but I think people were starting to loose faith in me, and any chance that I might ever grow up. I’ve been an entertainer most of my entire life, whether people were watching or not. Like I say in my video
[ http://youtu.be/UtApVuaaxKw ] “I want to entertain you, I’m entertaining myself” … Well I have an innate ability to make myself laugh and find humor in the strangest of things, but it’s of course more fun if others are enjoying as well. Now there are definite moments I had wished no one was paying attention, and those when I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting the attention I thought I wanted or deserved. So when I started asking around to the artists and friends in my life, their thoughts on my idea, and listened to the overwhelming positive responses, I couldn’t help but second guess myself – SOMEONE SOMEWHERE HAS TO THINK THIS IS A BAD IDEA ! How could putting on a dress and publicly humiliating myself turn out to work in my favor. Well, so far it seems it has. I’ve reconnected with friends and relatives, watched as complete strangers post amazing comments of their impression of 26, and now this, a classroom full of incredible students lead by an equally incredible teacher. What a confidence booster this has become…
Mr. Beal and your class at Lafayette Elementary in Seattle (ROOM 26 !!!) You’re amazing, and you’ve added an awesome new dynamic to hiking26. A huge THANK YOU for making me smile, and encouraging me to follow my dream to make this crazy project a reality. I’m having a great time with this, and I’m glad that you’re now a part of it !!
Check out this story that Nicole Hensley of KXLY in Spokane, wrote about these letters.
If you caught yesterdays blog entry, this is Tim’s version from his blog.
For some time now, I’ve thought over blogging about some of the people in my life that have led me to where I’m at now. Most of them are indirectly related to hiking26, and some I haven’t seen in decades. Each of them, though, added a piece of the puzzle that is my life, molding, shaping, and influencing me in one way or another. In no particular order, each week or so I’d like to introduce you to just a few of the people that helped make me, me. And for their part in my life, I get to shed responsibility of the crazy that is hiking26, and place blame on them….
For beginners, meet Tim Anderson of High Mountain Ranch. This week, we’ll blame him for the wall of wedding gowns that hang behind me.
Nearly 7 years ago, living in the heart of the city, in St.Louis, I ended a long running relationship. This led to me partying, bar hopping, and socializing like I hadn’t done in years. I tend to make the most of everything, so to me, this rough and reckless behavior didn’t look so bad – I was having fun and that’s all that mattered. I spent a great deal of time surfing the internet as well, where I came across http://highmountainranch.blogspot.com. Here I read tales of adventure, road trips to amazing destinations, and viewed photos of scenery that left me in awe. Tim Anderson is an incredible writer that has lived quite a life, as a trucker, horseman, and most recently, completed his Masters in, well, writing.
Tim’s blog and photos of his stunning surroundings, literally from his own front porch, called to me. It was obvious that he enjoyed showing off the Inland NW, and I wanted to be next in line. So for my 30th birthday, My parents bought me a plane ticket, and I did something unlike I’d ever done before, and flew into Spokane, to spend a few days getting to know all that is Anderson, and see this scenery with my own two eyes.
Within 48 hours, I was completely enamored with this quaint little town settled on the banks of the crystal clear, North flowing to Canada, Pend Oreille River. (Pend Oreille – it’s French – say it with me now, POND-ER-AY (or we’ll make fun of you, just as they did to me, when you pronounce Pend Oreille as you THINK it’s spoken). We have one stop light in town, and I think half of it belongs to Idaho. We’re situated right on the state border, and sixty or so gorgeous miles south of Canada.
You see, I grew up on a short street in the suburbs of North St.Louis County. The subdivision, with each street named for something equestrian, was in itself, a little town. Close enough to the grocery stores, and all we needed, where everyone new everyone else. Neighbors looked out for each other, and and no one was a stranger. I was taught to hold the door, say please and thank you, and be kind and considerate by everyone surrounding me. As I grew up and was able to ride my bike further than the comforts of the ‘horse streets’, I found that the world wasn’t so friendly. Specifically, I recall wiping out on my bike, laying on the ground, and no one stopped to see if I was alright. It was obviously a frightening enough experience to stick with me, as I realized what kind of world really lies beyond the comforts of home.
So with my first trip down North Washington Ave – our town’s ‘Main Street’ in Newport, I felt transformed back to the place I was raised. An afternoon stroll yielded friendly replies to greetings of ‘Hello’, people seemed to fight to hold the door for others, and the Post Woman on her lunch break came over to tell Tim that his P.O. Box was full and he should stop to get his mail… I knew this was a place I wanted to call home. I mean, really… the Post Woman knows which box is yours and how full it is! There are 2100 residents in town, how could she know such a thing!? My sometimes simple mind, responds significantly to such kindness and consideration. (or maybe it’s a matter of me not being able to remember names and numbers, ADD can be a real problem sometimes… So in turn I was highly impressed.)
Beyond Newport itself, Tim proved to be a relentless tour guide. Once we would jump in his big-ass pick up truck and hit the road, he’d keep us moving until the sun set, and I’d seen every last point of interest in that direction. He was always pushing me to get back in the truck, as I would wander off with my camera… “There’s something else I want to show you” he’d say. How could there possibly be anything more amazing and beautiful than what I was looking at!?? Well, there always was.
In a days drive we would see ancient cedars, snow, dry desert-esque canyons, grasslands, and mountains. Humidity only exists in the shower. And the pace of life was casual and comfortable. I shouldn’t embarrass myself by telling of the stupendous customer service, as well, that I found at the tire place, Les Schwab… They RAN out to the truck to see how they could serve us !!!…. No one mentioned that’s their ‘schtick’, and they’re paid to do this… LOL) Upon my return home, I sold off most of my belongings, and planned to move Northwestward. I donned the handle ‘Northwestern Adventure’ and planned a life in the hills of Pend Oreille County. I began life here, living in my 22′ 1968 Airstream, and started blogging of my newly adopted town. I often tell tales through photos better than words, so friends and family were able to live vicariously through my blog…. And I felt as though I had a new beginning….
It took me a few years after my arrival to settle into the life I imagined. There are a few years in the middle, where the many distractions of a new life averted my focus. I fell in love with Seattle and as quickly as i moved to Newport, started dreaming of a life there. Across the state, I made wonderful friends, as well as watched, and learned new practices in friendship. In a small town, with a small circle of friends, you’re nearly forced to get along and work things out, instead of moving on and finding new friends as is done so easily and often in the city… whichever direction I was headed, I embraced this new way of life.
It seems this blog entry turned into more of an explanation of my town, but Tim is a huge part of it. On and off again friends for a while, I think we’ve finally settled into a friendship we can handle. I can be a bear to deal with, and so can he, but I wouldn’t change a moment of our story. (there was that sketchy moment when my moody behavior and his stubborn side left me standing in the middle of the desert, at dusk, with a few miles of walking and nothing but my camera (in the great expanse of the horrible, dangerous, frightening, rattle snake infested darkness that is Arches National Park .) I got out of the truck to take pictures, dude… really I did. Honestly, It wasn’t that dramatic- But hey… it’s a great story to tell)…He’s encouraged me to write and is one of the many that thinks I’m a good photographer, despite my urge to push that notion away. Actually he thinks I’m a Brilliant photographer, but only since this project, have I been able to embrace that I may have a knack for this kinda thing.
So there you have it. Because of Tim Anderson, I ended up in the Northwest. Because of Tim Anderson I took to the hills. Because of Tim Anderson I ended up where I am today… Had he not shared his life so eloquently and vividly as he had (and continues to), on line, then continued to share it in person, I wouldn’t be right here today.
Tomorrow I’ll post something he wrote about us, and a link to his side of the story.
Hey Howdy. What a few weeks it’s been. I moved out of my little cabin and into the barn. I don’t have much in furniture, but DAMN I have a lot of stuff. Since I wasn’t able to find the perfect free spot to store my stuff for the next year, I rented a 4 1/2 X 11′ storage unit for $21/month. It’s a good thing the ceilings are 15′ because I stacked that sucker to the roof. Now I have to budget $147 for storage into my hike plan. April – Oct. It took quite a while to get everything situated in the barn, including the install of a wood burning stove, hanging a bar that spans the room to hang so many gowns, and making everything look organized. Creativity doesn’t flow when everything is a disaster. I have pretty insane Attention Deficit Disorder, and if i can’t see something i need, or find it, I forget about it or tear the place apart. It’s incredibly counter productive.
My friend who owns this little farm has been great. The plan was that I work in exchange for rent, but I haven’t had time to do much. I get fed often, which is better than the junk food diet I would be on otherwise. I’m not a cook, I can’t spend money to eat out all the time (not to mention we’re 12 miles from the nearest fast food), and with the kitchen in the house, It seems like a hassle… SO I’m glad Renee is being so generous and feeding me.
From my landlords down the driveway at my old cabin, to the barn, to some of the people in my life, i’m truly amazed at the generosity of my friends. There’s been a lot of stress, as I found early on that I couldn’t count on many people to follow through with promises and offers to help, but I’m incredibly grateful for those who are giving and helping, right down to my WONDERFUL Chiropractor. She’s making sure that my back stays in good condition pre-hike… I’m a lucky guy, getting support for such an odd endeavor.