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June 17, 2020: The Things We All Carry

The title of this dispatch comes from Tim O’Brien’s book, The things They Carried. I read it a number of years back. I am bringing it along with me for a number of reasons, one of which is that I want to reread it. I had students read it in a class I taught locally, Memory, Memoir, and Memorabilia. O’Brien introduces the characters by talking about the things they carried while serving in the Vietnam War – this provides a much-needed context for the rest of the book.

This also, locally, is a banned book. I can talk about this and about other books with those I meet along the way. I have Bright Lights book information with me, which I will also pass out to people.

I’m leaving here on Saturday, heading to Fairbanks with my friend Bonnie and her daughter Shelby, and then heading south, back in the direction of home.

I have two days to get ready. I recently told a friend that trip preparation has never been more difficult. I have done numerous bicycling, sea kayaking, and horseback riding trips in the past, but never before done all three during the course of a given trip.

Ryder watches Shadow

Plain and simple, I am now having to deal with a lot of stuff. I should join a support group, maybe Stuff Anonymous. It would take some doing but mid-meeting I’d stand up and say “I’m, Alys and I have a problem. I have thirty years of accumulated gear and I’m getting ready for a three-part trip and I somehow have to winnow it all down, beginning with the bicycling gear.”

If I had a vehicle, I’d call it a Whinny Bagel. I’m taking along a photo of Raudi and bagels Pete made. I suspect the photos will get wet and the bagels will go stale, but I am not going to forego either.

I have not yet purchased anything new for this trip. I’m going to ride my mountain bike, which I’ve had for near twenty plus years. My last long ride was in 2003 – I did the Great Divide Ride, which took me from northern Montana to southern new Mexico. I’m bringing along equally old clothes, this including two pairs of very old bicycling shorts. And I’m carrying dehydrated food that dates back to 2011. The dates of this food, including dehydrated apple sauce and bean soup, have been written on the front with a permanent sharpie marker.

I’m bringing along two notebooks, both previously belonged to Bill Fuller who was a good friend of Pete and mine when we lived in Fairbanks. Bill passed and I inherited his archival materials, which includes an account journal in which he wrote down two pages of expenditures, and a travel journal that’s still in its box.

I couldn’t find either. They resurfaced when I took a break and sat down in the chair of my upstairs study. I searched and searched and finally found my copy of the above-mentioned Tim O’Brien book. Will wonders ever cease.

I value organization, to me this is like the ring on the carousel. Always, for me it has remained elusive. The more I acquire, the more elusive it becomes. The less things I carry, the better off I will be. The more things I carry, the better off I will be. Up and down goes the painted pony.

Next: 169. 6/18/20: Trekking in my Backyard

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