Thursday, January 5, 2017

#6 - Thursday, 5 January 2017 | Hoffman Estates, Illinois

Another Thursday has dawned and I am still in Illinois. It wasn't part of the plan to blog only on Thursdays, but it seems that has been the story of the past three weeks. I had intended to post much more often, from much warmer and scenic climes. But, here I am, still driving a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport AWD and still hoping for the phone call from Tom Peck Ford that will upgrade me to a shiny new white gold truck.

I've begun reading a book called AWOL on the Appalachian Trail (2010, David Miller). The "AT", as it is known among the thru-hiker community, and those who weren't fortunate enough to make its end and gain that title, begins atop Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends at the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is 2200 miles that takes most six months to cover averaging twelve miles per day. Only 20% or so who attempt the AT succeed. It is seldom a stroll on flat ground and has numerous vertical ascents as it crosses summits along the way that make it a greater distance. Maybe it will be my 2018 adventure. Regardless, the reading is only making me yearn to hit the road even more.

It's currently 9ºF here 25 miles west of Chicago, which is -15ºC for my friends from more progressive countries. In Homestead, Florida–the gateway to the Everglades and Keys–it is 72ºF/22ºC and going up to 83ºF/28ºF. You do the math. Yearning increased.

Today is the 5th and that means it is exactly seven months until my birthday. The significance of that is my desire to spend that anniversary in the pristine wilderness of Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. I've traveled in all 48 contiguous states, and only have Alaska and Hawaii remaining to see the entire U.S. I have a great deal of snake and spider hunting to do in the next seven months so each day I remain in winter conditions is a day less in the field. Alaska will be more about scenery and birds and mammals. The invertebrates will be savage mosquitoes and deer flies.

The delay of the arrival of my travel trailer has jumbled my itinerary. I had hoped to have over a month in Florida with both RV and truck before returning to Chicago to fly to Asia on February 8. Now my plan is to head to Florida in the truck within 24 hours of driving it off the lot, stopping in Atlanta for the first night along the way. I've been told the RV will come off the factory line on January 17. Guessing that it would be another week before it was delivered to the dealer and prepped, I am guessing that I'll have to leave southern Florida around the 23rd to head back here, pick up the RV and spend a day or two loading it and then I'll head back to Florida for a short time, store the RV near Tampa and return by the 7th to prepare for my two days worth of flights that will take me to Dubai, Kuala Lumpur and, finally, Kuching, Borneo. I'm arriving on my mate Mark's birthday and the first night in Borneo we are both getting traditional tribal hand-tapped tattoos. Mark already has eight or so and has no machine work on his body. I have about 80 hours worth of machine work on my arms and legs. This will be my first hand-tapped. After five days or so in Borneo, our entire group will be flying back to Kuala Lumpur on the Malaysian mainland to catch our short flight to Langkawi Island off the west coast, close to Thailand. The temperature there right now? Today's high will be 32ºC, which is 89ºF to Americans.

All the best, MJ

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