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(almost) funny

(almost) funny, Tales from the Trail

7 tips GUARANTEED to make the most of your bear encounters

March 19, 2017
enjoying bear encounters

I smelled them long before I saw them. It wasn’t the flailing arms and hurried pace of a pair of day-hikers dressed in bright t-shirts and shorts rushing towards me that got my attention. It was their laundry detergent. Tide. Maybe Cheers. Either way, it was delicious enough to break the hypnotic spell that comes from hiking 20+ miles a day for more than two months.

“Hey!” the husband shouted. He was a little out of breath. “Hold up. There’s a mama bear and her baby cub back behind us.” The wife, also excited but a little triumphant, held up her cell phone. “I got pictures!”

Yup. I thought, Definitely Tide.

Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Bucket-Lister Pro-tips

I am sorry for myself, I no speak in this language very much

February 12, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I got into the Bucket-Lister business for the perks. Trying new things, traveling the world, and immersing myself in cultures most tourists don’t have time for. The pay isn’t great, but you can’t beat these benefits.


And I was a natural. I avoided food poisoning from meals that roamed around on the table, filled a passport or three with colorful stamps, and maintained a respectable frequent-flyer status.


I even mastered the international Bucket-Lister language. Initially, communication was mostly an intricate series of hand and arm signals that would make any Air Traffic Controller proud. It wasn’t pretty, but I could get a taxi, directions to a restaurant (usually not the one I was hoping for), and a hotel room. However, fluency evaded me until I discovered the real Rosetta Stone. With this handy tool, I rarely had to resort to embarrassing peeks at Google Translate, or flail like a duckling trying to find its momma in order to get my message across.


What is the Bucket-Lister’s Rosetta Stone? Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Lost in Romania

Surviving Snow Days

January 9, 2017
surviving snow days

Finally, Global Warming is over. It’s snowing!


If your days are like mine, you’re buried in the bedroom, reading several great books, watching reruns on HBO, and art therapizing to keep the next funk at bay. No?

You’re weird.


I’m giving my inner child plenty of space to play, and my outer-introvert some much needed time away from people. Not all people, just real people.


Normally, this is where I’m supposed to say, “It’s not you, it’s me.” But Facebook just told me that it’s snowing everywhere. Cars are covered in snow, schools are closing, and yet again some ass is showing me a better way to get through those obstacles that block me from getting where I need to go. (Sure, that last one isn’t really relevant, but this post is going to be short on pithy insights. You deserve your money’s worth.) Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Tales from the Trail

Lessons Hollywood taught me on the Trail

January 5, 2017

It’s the beginning of the new year. Since my Facebook newsfeed is almost exclusively hiking porn and family updates, I’ve been inundated with excitement from hikers getting ready for another hiking season. Usually it’s hiking the AT, or the PCT, the CDT, and occasionally it’s one of the cool European trails like the Camino (“cool” because that’s where Monica and I are heading this Spring).


Blended with the excitement are lots of questions. Good questions like: “Is it safe to hike the AT solo?” (Absolutely- leave your guns at home too); and, “If you could choose a super hiking power, what would it be?” (Since the ability to eat as much sugary/salty crap as I want while still losing weight comes standard with all hiker packages… scaling the White Mountains like a mountain goat sounds like a handy alternative). These are great questions. And this is “just the tip.” I can already tell, it’s gonna be a great year.


However, there is one question I haven’t seen yet, one that nearly every hiker will ask themselves at least once during their hike (and probably in our “regular” lives as well). Continue Reading…

(almost) funny, Lost in Romania

Goodbye cruel world

April 17, 2016

A guest post from Steelcharmer…


Don’t worry… I’m not planning to drape the back of my hand against my forehead and swoon melodramatically like bad actors do.

But you get it right? I’m leaving for 6 months of sleeping in the dirt, eating crap, and walking, and walking, and walking. So, goodbye indoor plumbing. Goodbye laptop and wifi and HBO OnDemand and (damn it’s harder to say than I’d expected) goodbye Jack Daniels. Goodbye wife who is probably already sleeping on my side on the bed. Yes, goodbye cruel world…hello cruel-er world.

I’m looking at this bulging orange backpack, trying to come to terms with the fact that this will be my home until the NFL season starts back up again. I look at the half-drank gallon of milk in the fridge and wonder what it will smell like when I get back (because there is a very good chance my dad won’t throw it away before I get back). Will I smell worse? Will my food standards drop so much that I still drink it?

I know it won’t be all bad. There is a free moonshine sampling place in Gatlinburg, and a “naked day” sometime during summer. I’ll probably get rid of enough of my gut to reintroduce myself to the valuable real estate below my belly button (I’m talking about my feet you perverts), but there is going to be sooo much time and walking in between these distractions.

I also know that it’s important. Life has been a not very fun merry-go-round for several years. Keep revisiting the same disasters. Something needs to change. Maybe this will be it.

So, let’s do this thing. Let’s hike the Appalachian Trail. Let’s hike really fast so we can get back into bed with Monica before it gets cold in Bucharest again! (Wow. Some of you really are kinky. I’m not suggesting group sex when I say “WE can get into bed with Monica.” I’m using the royal “we.” And I’m almost positive she would never go for it.)

I heft my pack (I’m sure it will feel lighter once I get in better shape) and meet Dad at the truck so he can take me to the airport. Dad is great about being supportive, says things like “this will be a great adventure” and “you’re going to meet some great people.” Lots of platitudes with the word great in them. (I think he’s just happy to have his storage room back.)

Although I had to check my pack (no way it was going to fit in the overhead bins), I can’t believe they let me carry on my trekking poles. No water bottles or nail clippers allowed through security, but the two spears with handles are no problem.

Anyway, I barely get a chance to wedge myself into my window seat when an overweight mother plops down into the seat next to me. Of course she has a lap warmer that couldn’t be much more than a year old and it’s already cranky. The mother starts talking at me, something about hating to fly and problems with the family in Atlanta. She is almost as oblivious to the cues I’m sending her as she is to the squeaking coming from her irritable child. Nonetheless, when she pauses to catch her breath and pull something squeaky out of a bulging diaper bag to compete with her kid’s noise, I recognize this as yet another one of those character building moments I see in movies. I could put in my earbuds and try to ignore their existence for the next few hours, or, I could let her in on a social experiment with lots of potential that she should be interested in.

I begin to explain, using the smallest words I can. We have forgotten that as far as children (below a reasonable drinking age… say 14) are concerned, vocal cords are a privilege, not a right. To illustrate my point, the toddler gets really expressive as we lift off and cabin pressure drops enough to make its ears pop. Mom is absentmindedly bouncing it on her knees as much as the seats will allow, but she adopts this weird bug-eyed look. I assume that she’s having a hard time concentrating while her kid howls in her lap, so I start speaking louder.

I mention that the vocal cords (removed humanely, and under general anesthesia of course) would be stored in some embalming fluid like formalin and put in a decorative jar. Maybe she could put the jar on the mantel of her fireplace – like a motivational reminder? Taking the vocal cords out wouldn’t be too much of a problem, but there aren’t that many surgeons with the experience to reimplant them, so we may have to do something to hurry the technology along. She starts looking for the flight attendant to change seats.

Deep down, I suspect she sees the beauty of my idea even more profoundly than I do. After all, she has to live with that all day (and all night). Besides, I bet when circumcision was first suggested, there was probably some pushback. Now, even the medical students are snipping away the “extra” skin on newborns as practice. And most babies do fine with a pacifier dipped in sugar water (there is still some screaming, but again, this could be controlled with a combined vocal cord-ectomy/circumcision). After enduring an earful from the histrionic mother, the flight attendant tries to tell me to keep my comments to myself, and offers us both a complimentary drink. Since the mother has her hands full, I take hers too. After all, I’m the one that has to look like the bad guy here, even though my idea will make everyone’s life so much more pleasant. Who knows, it might even fix a lot of the problems with kids today. Make them model citizens.

I know this idea is still in its infancy, but it’s got potential. And given our current political climate, now is the perfect time to try our some of our more progressive social experiments. If nothing else, I’m sure the beneficiaries (the children of course) won’t voice any criticisms.