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#186780 - 08/25/14 07:07 AM Extreme travel
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
I posted some thoughts under the road walk topic and decided to start a new topic because I did not want it to be interpreted as a reflection on Gershon or others who road walk or do long distance travel.

The book I referred to was "Walk Across America" by Nat Damm

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K5YVRF8/ref=kinw_myk_ro_title

My observation was that in reading several of these type of books lately was that it seems like the folks doing this type of extreme trip start out with a problem and think that this is a way to escape from their problems. In most cases they end up with the same problem at the end as they started out with. Doing extreme record breaking trips is is an entirely different thing than doing a recreational type trip. I guess that for all or at least most of us a backpacking or bike trip is a form of escape from the pressures of life but we do not go with the thought that the endeavor itself is going to solve our problem. It is a way to view life from a different more relaxed position and not a means of ignoring our life back in the "real world"

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#186781 - 08/25/14 08:49 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
GrumpyGord,

That is a great book. "Planetwalker" is also another good book. I wouldn't have minded if you put it under my posts as it is a good observation.

No matter how many times I take a roadwalk, I've never had it paint my house. True, that's a physical problem, but long treks usually won't solve emotional problems either.

Nate is still wandering, although now he is staying at a house in Maine his grandfather owns. I sometimes exchange emails with him and he is an upbeat person.

Nate's books are making about $900 a month, so that helps solve his problems. He is working on another book now. The royalties from the books have probably paid for his trips by now. I think he will have more adventures and write more books that sell well. Many writers have been long road walkers. It seems to be a common mentality.

Once a person gets over the fear of stealth camping, I don't consider a walk across the country to be extreme. It should only take four or five months, which is no longer than the Appalachian Trail. People who haven't done it worry about water in the Nevada desert. Nate said that was an enjoyable part of the walk and also an easy part of the walk. All you have to do learn is how to walk 75 miles between water availability. The cart solves this problem. The heat isn't as bad as people think except from mid-June to late August.

The United States has always had wanderers and I feel they are an important part of society for reasons we don't understand. Europe has had them for centuries. Even the Jews became wanderers for 40 years. Many of the prophets in the Bible were wanderers.

_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#186783 - 08/25/14 09:30 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: Gershon]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
Probably extreme travel is not a good category. Most of my friends and relatives view my solo backpacking trips as extreme so extreme is in the eyes of the beholder.

Recently I have read that book, the Bicycle Diaries by David Kroodsma and Wild by Cheryl Strayed. In each case the author starts the trip by severing ties with emotional partners in order to start the trip. Breaking up with your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse seems to be a common starting point. I am sure that hundreds if not thousands of folks start long trips or even short trips as a way to change scenery and gain a different perspective without cutting home ties. I know that when I start a trip it is with the understanding that I will return to my wife at the end and it is no way a reflection on our life. She goes to many things like retreats etc where she gains perspective.

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#186785 - 08/25/14 10:38 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Many long walks start with a breakup or a death. There are many walkers supporting charities for diseases that took a child's life. Some of these people have been walking for years.

People with ties aren't likely to be able to take a long walk. Maybe that's why so many who do take a walk have problems before the walk.

Some start walking after graduating from college and before starting to work. It used to be popular in the 60's and 70's. Others start walking after retirement, especially where a spouse has died.

It would be fun to prepare a questionnaire for those taking long walks, but we'd only find those who write about it.



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#186786 - 08/25/14 11:02 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: Gershon]
Goofytune Offline
member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Spokane, Washington
Wait a minute! You mean I could have wrote about my various cross country walks? And maybe even gotten paid for writing about it?

What my wife says is true. I am an idiot! crazy
_________________________
Of all the things I've lost in my life, it's my mind I miss the most.

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#186787 - 08/25/14 11:04 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: Goofytune]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
Originally Posted By Goofytune
Wait a minute! You mean I could have wrote about my various cross country walks? And maybe even gotten paid for writing about it?

What my wife says is true. I am an idiot! crazy


Books about long walks are one of the most popular categories on Amazon. Road walks are especially popular because there are few of them. Once people get into the category, they usually read all the books in the category.

Adding to this, I think if a person spent about four years walking and writing, they could generate a passive income to live on. Then they could keep walking and writing indefinitely. It's as good a career as any.

_________________________
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#186788 - 08/25/14 11:42 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
I am most familiar with the thru-hike community as an example of 'extreme travel' and your observation that the urge to undertake a long and physically arduous trip often originates with a problem that the traveler hopes to solve does apply to some thru-hikers. I don't think it applies to all or even a majority, but it certainly exists.

The very fact of a long period of travel tends to place a break in one's life, where one's life story acquires a new framework of Before, During and After the Trip. The more extreme the trip, the more this is true. A big event like a thru-hike becomes a prominent landmark, like a marriage, birth or death.

Not everyone who is seeking this kind of Big Life Event does so from the same motive, but the motives do seem to cluster around several common themes. One of those themes would be a desire for more adventure and challenge, a feeling that one is not using one's potential or doing enough with one's life. Another theme might be a need to escape from life's many complications by reducing daily life to the absolute basics (I think this includes a lot of backpackers, but we're usually satisfied with a much briefer hike). Another would be seeking to fulfill the fantasy of oneself as a hero who requires a bigger stage upon which to play this role. Another would be an avid curiosity about new places, people and ways to be alive.

The motive of walking away from one's problems certainly fits into the list, too, but it's just one item on that list. I'm sure there are more of them than I came up with here.

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#186789 - 08/25/14 11:51 AM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3890
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Your observations seem spot on to me.

I'm not all that inclined to commiserate with those who's personal problems lead them to believe they'll find truth and meaning and solutions in life with these kinds of endeavors.

That's not to say that there's no market for a book/play/movie about it. There certainly is. People, by in large, do love to wallow in other people's misery and they've been paying for the chance to do that for almost ever. My wife loves that stuff. I get bored instantly, then annoyed shortly after, with that kind of stuff.

I suppose we could all gush on producing soul searching prose about why we backpack or go for a walkabout and talk about our attempts to discover ourselves, that's why I can't read books like that. "Into the Wild" just kind of pissed me off. Both because the guy it was about was full of self pity and really did almost nothing for anyone and leaned on others kindness and generosity for almost everything, and the author, while a skilled wordsmith, goes out of his way to romanticize and dramatize this guy's petty little problems. And one of the results of his work has been to inspire a bunch of others to do the same. I guess it's fair to say that if I smell someone going out of their way to find something to be miserable about I tend to pinch my nose.

On the other hand, I am very much interested in those who go out to explore. I've got dozens of old books detailing the accounts of great explorers, and those never cease to amuse and enthrall me.

Those tales of explorers describe almost the exact opposite personality type. Self pity almost never shows up in their accounts, and when it does it's not described with anything close to endearment or compassion. Those types knew they were going to face hardships yet they were driven to discover or document something that would be a benefit to themselves and others. Many of them did it solely to extend the base of human knowledge. There was nothing whiney about them.

I suppose that's a pretty hard look at it, and it's not as cut and dried as all that, but these are some of the feelings and thoughts I have about the subject.
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#186790 - 08/25/14 12:05 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: billstephenson]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
My mother used to say the reason men went off to war or exploring was to get away from their wives. She was a wise woman.
_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#186791 - 08/25/14 12:17 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 862
Loc: Michigan
It is interesting to see the different motivation for "extreme travel" for different folks. For me it has been just a desire to get away from the pressures of normal life for a brief period. I have never been drawn to long duration trips. I have done a couple of 2 week+ trips but for the most part I have enjoyed shorter trips of 2-5 days. At the end I have been ready to come back to my life in the "normal world".

I have found that since I have retired and therefore have less pressure in daily life I look forward to a couple of days out in nature but have even less desire for extended trips.

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#186796 - 08/25/14 02:42 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
Gershon Offline
member

Registered: 07/08/11
Posts: 1109
Loc: Colorado
People do have a prejudice against anyone who walks too often or far.

Most people who walk across the country say they were stopped a few times by law enforcement for an identity check. I'm not including places where people were walking illegally. Imagine being stopped in your car every 1,000 miles or so for an "identity check."

I've never heard of anyone being arrested and thrown in jail forever for failing an identity check. That's because they are in jail and can't write a book.

I've never heard of anyone riding a bicycle being stopped for an "identity check." If I ever have to avoid the law, I'll be sure to steal a bicycle. smile

Pushing a cart seems to avoid problems as people assume there is a baby in it. Nate had a problem in Kansas on a hot day as people kept calling 911 saying some crazy guy was pushing babies in a cart in the heat. (I learned this from another book.)



_________________________
http://48statehike.blogspot.com/

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#186797 - 08/25/14 02:56 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: Gershon]
4evrplan Online   content
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 653
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Originally Posted By Gershon
People do have a prejudice against anyone who walks too often or far.

Most people who walk across the country say they were stopped a few times by law enforcement for an identity check. I'm not including places where people were walking illegally. Imagine being stopped in your car every 1,000 miles or so for an "identity check."

I've never heard of anyone being arrested and thrown in jail forever for failing an identity check. That's because they are in jail and can't write a book.

I've never heard of anyone riding a bicycle being stopped for an "identity check." If I ever have to avoid the law, I'll be sure to steal a bicycle. smile

Pushing a cart seems to avoid problems as people assume there is a baby in it. Nate had a problem in Kansas on a hot day as people kept calling 911 saying some crazy guy was pushing babies in a cart in the heat. (I learned this from another book.)





I believe we have an innate prejudice against lower income individuals, not just in our society, but throughout history. The evidence of this is everywhere if you look for it. Everything from country clubs and restaurants requiring nice dress to people buying the latest and greatest car, even though their old one has low mileage and would give them years of loyal carefree service (even if they can't afford it - the social cost of appearing less well off isn't worth it). When I took History of Art in college, one of the things we talked about was how wealthy individuals would have outlandish hair styles in their portraits that clearly required the help of servants. It made the statement "Look how rich I am." Cycling requires you to at least have enough available funds to purchase a bike. Walking doesn't require anything but an able body. If you ever are on the lam and have to walk, might I suggest business casual wear, at least a polo?

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#186798 - 08/25/14 03:06 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: 4evrplan]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2862
Loc: Portland, OR
wealthy individuals would have outlandish hair styles in their portraits that clearly required the help of servants.

Thorstein Veblen wrote an entire book, Theory of the Leisure Class to drive this point home. He wanted to refute the idea that all economic activity was driven by hard-headed rationality aimed toward seeking the greatest individual gain, which is the most fundamental assumption of classic economics. Veblen knew that a lot of buying, selling, lending and spending is done for reasons very far remote from practicality. Another of his many examples was keeping pets. But be warned, Veblen apparently hated dogs.

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#186799 - 08/25/14 03:25 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: GrumpyGord]
Goofytune Offline
member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Spokane, Washington
I will admit that my first extended trip was a matter of survival. I was just a kid when my mother's boyfriend mentally snapped and tried to kill me. So once I got clear of him I took off running and didn't come back for a month.

But ever since then, all my extended trips have all been more about curiosity than anything else.
_________________________
Of all the things I've lost in my life, it's my mind I miss the most.

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#186800 - 08/25/14 03:33 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: Goofytune]
4evrplan Online   content
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 653
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
My gosh, Goofy, that's horrible! If it's the sort of thing you're comfortable talking about, you could seriously write about your experiences. I'm sure a lot of people would like to know. I'm guilty myself of 'wallowing in other peoples' misery', but I firmly believe it helps to talk about it. Plus we can all learn from each other. That's the sort of thing we all hope our own kids never have to experience, but unfortunately, I know too many people with terrible childhood experiences, so we do what we can to protect them and hope for the best. Thanks for sharing.

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#186808 - 08/25/14 08:03 PM Re: Extreme travel [Re: 4evrplan]
Goofytune Offline
member

Registered: 07/12/14
Posts: 27
Loc: Spokane, Washington
That experience is not one I revisit very often. But I work with the youth group in our church and sometimes tell stories from my past to help illustrate the message I'm trying to get across.

It seems to help the kids when they see that not much has changed from one generation to another.

As far as writing about, I just might. Or maybe at some point I'll get fed up with my current life and go have some new experiences to write about. wink
_________________________
Of all the things I've lost in my life, it's my mind I miss the most.

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