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Monthly Archives: January 2012
Work Ethic. That’s the thing that gets you up ever morning and sends you on your way, that thing that keeps you from calling in sick when you’re feeling half dead but still able to walk – so you go in anyway, that thing that pushes you to do your job well, and enjoy whatever aspects of it you can…. At least that’s what it is to me. I may be constantly distracted and a bit of a slob when it comes to my truck and my… well… barn, but my job, for the most part needs to be well organized, and functioning properly.
I’ve come to think of a job as a marriage of sorts. At least 5 days a week you see these people every day, you often have to try to get along even when you’re mad at them because you’re right and they’re wrong, and every day there’s a new ‘honey-do’ list. You talk about your family, your friends, and sometimes you go out for a beer. My job is the only constant I have in my life… it’s something I must have, it’s something I must do, it’s something I tend to live…. When all else in life seems a mess, I still have my job.
Nearly 5 years ago I took on a job as an industrial painter at a steel fabrication shop out in the middle of nowhere, just north of here. The building was a wreck, I was one of the few guys that didn’t seem to have a felony, there was only one other guy that didn’t own a gun, and I was one of only a few that had all of my teeth… In fact, the man I worked closest with, had only 11 teeth. A former Meth addict and dealer turned drug counselor, I learned everything I never wanted to know from that man. This was my first true blue collar job, and what a different world it was for me. I initially had hoped to learn welding, but I was quickly learning the ins and outs of the paint shop, and in time I realized I wasn’t leaving the paint shop, I’d learned too much back there. From wheelabrating (a giant machine that hurls steel pellets at I-beams as they pass through, breaking off the millscale formed on the skin of the steel in production *yawn* (i know, i just thought I’d explain), to sand blasting (like having the power of God in your hand ! Blast pressure that could change a weather system), to a multitude of paints and coatings, I took in everything I could learn.
2 years into my employment, the owner built a multi-million dollar facility closer to Spokane. We went from leaky roofs and drafty …. everything, to an incredibly clean, large, well thought out building. The paint shop was top notch, and warm in the winter, which is more important than you can imagine. Prior to moving to the new shop, I took on the position of Lead, which meant nothing more than i got to tell my trianer what to do now…. I think I only got the job, because I had a cell phone, and therefore the boss could get to me easier =-) At the new shop I put nearly everything into place… The shelves and everything on them are all there because three years ago I put them there. Through the years, as new employees have come and gone, I still fight to keep everything organized and clean as I feel it should be… which is quite the fight that can drive my boss nuts…
Now a quick word on the company itself… The owner built this company from the ground up, a good dozen or more years before I began working there. Without any need to kiss ass, I think anyone would say that he’s a kind and giving man that takes good care of us. Time off when we need it for emergencies, and doesn’t can us for missing a day (back to work ethic and lack there of)… I was shocked when I received a rather large bonus 3 months into my employment, and nearly every year, twice a year, even through the tough times we’ve all seen, we’ve received bonuses… Some of them were huge. So I’m telling you all of this, so you’ll understand just how hard it is to be leaving my job…. I’m one of the few in the entire company that have never been laid off (it pays to learn everything you can in every aspect of a company… you’re the one person, then, that can do nearly everything, so they let you stick around =-) Even if they ARE tired of hearing you complain about other peoples (lack of) work ethic)
The first Spring we were in the new shop, Spring of ’09, I told Andy that I was contemplating going back to school but didn’t want to leave such a good company. Was there anything within the company that I could train for? He thought about it, and thought about it, and would pass by every few weeks and let me know that he hadn’t forgotten about our discussion, until the point came that he would pass by and, I’m guessing, had forgotten about our conversation (or so I tell myself so I don’t have to think that he just may not have been interested in having me around very long LOL).
The Second Spring, 2010, I told Andy that I was contemplating moving to Portland, OR, to be nearer to a city, culture, nature, the coast, and art… if I was closer to the art scene, maybe I would do more with my photography. I asked him if he knew anyone down that way that could give me a job, he thought he did… and time marched on. I wasn’t ready to give up my life in Newport, and wasn’t sure I was ready for the big city again…
The Third Spring, 2011, I approached Andy about Insurance. I wanted to know if I quit, could I buy 6 months of insurance. He of course asked why I’d be quitting, and that’s the day I took one step closer to realizing that the PCT might actually happen for me. He sat and listened as I described the Pacific Crest Trail, and, if I remember correctly, he said “that’s crazy!”… “I don’t understand it, but you’re young, so GO FOR IT!” And that’s when he offered me my job back when I wasn’t leaving for a year, and that job offer to return, wouldn’t happen for 18 months from that day… I was shocked. I hadn’t counted on such an offer. Although through the conversation he commented that I might find something else along the way and never return, but if I did, and there was work, I’d have a job…
OF course at this point…. although I knew, It seems I’d forgotten to mention one tiny little white wedding gown of a detail about the hike… But that’s a story for another day.
Fast forward to 2012. My boss and I discussed leaving on my 5th anniversary, March 19. But as things go, and now as we see things slowing down, the time for me to part ways may be sooner than expected. Feb 3 will get me insurance through the end of Feb, and I’ll have the time to continue to attempt funding this adventure, hit the gym and trials, which i haven’t done much of, and modify 26 wedding gowns to fit me…. I’m looking forward to having the time to focus fully on the hike, and let go of my attachment to work, but it’s such a difficult thing to conceive. I’m still walking around trying to train people, and ask them to do this, or do that, because it’s the way I like it done… But none of that matters, and I need to get used to it. So in the last few weeks of work, they’re calling an end to swing shift, I’m getting thrust back into the day shift, and will have to learn to get up for work before 5 again. To put this in perspective, I arrived home from work just over an hour ago, and typing this at 2:30 in the morning, no where near ready to hit the sack…
I hope the last weeks of work go smoothly. We all talk of when I return, and I wonder if I ever will. I have every intention, but when one dons a wedding gown and goes hiking from border to border, there’s a possibility life may change a bit…. Who knows… For now, I’m focusing on the hike, and all that lies ahead… but how odd it is to not know where my life will lead me as I hit that Canadian Border…
Sleep system? who needs and entire sleep system for camping? From Desert floor to Forester Pass @ 13,153 Ft i elevation, I’ll be dealing with all sorts of temperatures. I’ve used everything from just my sleeping bag, to a cheap-o blue foam sleeping pad from Wal-Mart, to a deluxe ExPed air mattress with integrated headrest, and not to mention my backpacking pillow, that, in the world of backpacking, is HUGE. Without a good nights sleep, hiking is rough. Saving money, I didn’t buy a new sleeping bag, I kept the REI Lumen 25* bag (the 25* refers to the temperature at which you could theoretically be comfortable in while using the bag). Since I returned my Christmas Present of Trekking Poles, that I decided against, but in turn ended up with a SPONSOR !!! http://rutalocura.com/trekking_poles.html I was able to purchase the ExPed SynMat UL 7 air mattress, as well as the Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite Sleeping pad. Although it looks like it’s going to be a low snow year, I’ll purchased a Sea To Summit Silk Sleeping Bag Liner as well. The liner increases the temp rating by 10*.
In the desert, I’ll likely only need the Z-Lite and sleeping bag, but the air mattress will be needed to better insulate my body from the frozen ground in the Sierra Nevadas, and surely in the North Cascades.
REI Lumen 25* Sleeping Bag – 2 lbs 15 oz – Already owned, retails @ $149.
Therm-A-Rest Z-Lite Foam Sleeping Pad – 14 oz – $39.95
ExPed SynMat UL 7 – 16.2 oz – $123.97 (on sale)
Sea To Summit Silk Liner – 4.8 oz. $64.95
I purchased all but the sleeping bag at http://www.mountaingear.com/ Their only store is down in Spokane, but they’re a major on line retailer. I can’t say enough about the FANTASTIC customer service I get from them, not only on line, but in the store. The people there are knowledgeable, and Extremely friendly. I had rather hoped they would sponsor me, but that hasn’t happened yet. The staff at the store seems to be rooting for me though. They put up with all of my questions, and after countless hours of searching for gear on line, I like to walk around and just ‘touch stuff’ and try it on… they put up with that too. LOL.
So here it is, all stacked up with me cozy inside… Thanks Helena – She sent along this feathery ensemble for me to wear when i’m needing a break from dresses… Good call… I think you’re as goofy as I am.
at 9:53 p.m. on Sunday January 8, 2012, I officially called off the search for Wedding Gowns !!! 10 Long months of collecting, borrowing, begging, trashing, washing, photographing, begging, searching, hoping, wanting, needing, crying, begging, whining, and now… I have all 26. For weeks now, some of you have seemed a bit frustrated that I hadn’t given an official count, and I sincerely apologize for this. All along there have been alternates. There was a mess of a dress I hacked apart assuming I wouldn’t be able to use it, this too was one of the Canadian finds. There was the loaner, that i REALLY wanted (still do) but I would have to buy it, and I can’t justify that. (As it was, the entire project started off with the purchase of a gown that was on loan, but it ended up a wee bit soiled as I plopped down on a set of train tracks… that shot should be familiar to you by now. ) There was the lacy lacy mess of lace, that was found at a Salvation Army in St.Louis. I was MOST appreciative of it, but the more I contemplated the hike, the more I realized the parameters of what could be made ‘hike-able’ and what was just a hiking disaster. Because it didn’t come with a story or great history, I deemed it an alternate. The Red Wedding gown was never color set, so I would have to fire up another 55 gallon drum of water to attempt a vinegar or salt bath, and keep my fingers crossed that it would work, otherwise everything, including my pack, would turn red as I hiked along in it. Julia was a princess for giving me that gown, and I feel terrible that it’s not going to get it’s time on the trail, but the story of dying it red-neck style, was SO WORTH IT !!!
I’m still waiting on 2, but I am positive they are headed this way by trusted friends. I’ve weighed them all, checked for tags/sizes/designers etc, now I’ll photograph each on me. Then Cindy- a surprise guest seamstress in this project- 8and I will begin the complicated and crazy process of sewing in panels in gowns too small, or taking in the gowns that are too large. If I’m correct, the largest I have is a size 28, and the smallest, (Bambi, I love you for this one) is a size 4. Bambi is also 1’4″ shorter than I.
So there you have it and there you are…. Photos will start appearing of the gowns that didn’t make it, and eventually the ones that did…. If you’re not a Fan on Facebook of the hiking26 page, you’re probably missing out on some of the action, although I’ll be doing my best to keep everyone updated.
Thanks again to all that donated and sought out gowns for me… and most definitely – Thanks to Helena for seeking and sending FIVE of them.
I’ve been using Snow Peak’s Giga Power Auto Ignite stove since I started backpacking. It’s a great little set-up that combines the stove and the pot rest in one, screwed onto the fuel canister. I love this stove, it boils water very quickly, and it’s nice and small. The ignition switch is right on the contraption (only useful when you don’t accidentaly spill water all over it – oops) which makes lighting it a breeze. The problem with this stove for the PCT – Shipping the fuel canisters is a sketchy business, they must go via ground mail, and finding them in smaller towns isn’t so easy.
So I finished ‘ The Soda Can Stove ‘ which is literally a backpacking stove made out of a soda can, that i began constructing back in… March? It’s an ULTRA lightweight stove that uses denatured alcohol as fuel, which is found at most hardware stores, OR in a pinch, one can use HEET – that bottled stuff you can find at a gas station, that increases performance when you dump it in your vehicles fuel tank. So the options for finding fuel in resupply towns are much easier. The alcohol can be carried in a light weight empty soda bottle (whereas the giga fuel has a heavy metal canister, and no way of knowing exactly how much fuel you have left). I still need to construct a pot rest, but that too, will just be a bit of light weight aluminum that’s wrapped around the soda can stove to rest my pot on. The downside – it boils water much more slowly than the Giga. So cook time is increased, but since I’m going to be doing most of my cooking via Zip Lock Bags – All I’ll be doing is heating water. There have been comments that alcohol stoves don’t burn as efficiently in the higher elevations, but most of the PCTers haven’t mentioned any great problems with this.
Weight of Giga Power Stove (w/o fuel canister) – 3.8 Oz
Weight of Soda-Can-Stove (w/o alcohol/bottle) – .4 Oz. That’s LESS than HALF an oz.
Aluminum Wind Screen (can’t use w/giga – canister could explode) – 2.6 oz.
So I have a decision to make here…. I’ll probably opt for the Soda Can stove, but now that i have it assembled, it’s a decision to be made at a later date…