Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Touring Pace

This is the link to a fascinating guy and his faithful mutt as they traverse the country vagabond style. I am so envious of them. By the way, when I no longer can handle just being on 2 wheels, I will get a version of his rig. Love it. I would nix the BMW part though (too expensive and finicky) and replace it with possibly a Yamaha Super Tenere 1200.

What I really think I enjoy about him and his touring - in contrast to my touring style - is the pace of his travel. It is something I commented on before, but his story really cemented the idea of..,..taking my time. Relax. Go slower; meander more. Stop and investigate, experience things, write more and take more pictures, meet more people. Don't be in such a hurry to get to the next place where you're not expected anyhow. There is no hurry. I have the whole Summer off.

I am really going to try to calm my anxious, productive self and slow down. Camping and cooking for myself will aid in that endeavor. If it takes me 2 or 3 days to roll through a town, so what? Whose counting?

I fee like my blessed life is a taut guitar string which has the ability to make its own music. But come Spring, that string feels like a steel cable; strong but inflexible, static and making no sound, fighting the rhythm of life and muscling its way through it. All the more so until the bike leaves my street, the wind hits my face and I see the sun breaking the horizon to greet me, as if to say, "Where have you been?" It is then that cable loosens to become the guitar string again. Music once again is playing inside of me and exuding out my pores. Somewhere in the solo journey, that string turns into a ribbon; flowing loosely in beautiful shapes that are hard to describe....but I surrender to it.

It is there I find my real self.

When the wife asks me this time how long will this trip be, I will say with a smile, "I have no idea," and let it be. As life does, the road unfolds and holds its own agenda and timetable.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Better Meals on Trips

One part of long-distance touring that bothers me is meals. After about a week of eating in restaurants, McDonalds, dives, stands and greasy spoons, I miss 'real' food and in the smaller, healthier quantities I usually consume.

So, since I camp most of the time on the road anyhow, I am toying with the idea of cooking most of my meals. Which means I have to tote all the requisite gear and food.

I worked with a guy once who cooked his own lunches all the time with just one hot plate. I learned the value of waste right then and how you can eat better and cheaper in most cases. I am going to try to tap into that mode during this experiment.

For food, I could bring some instant oatmeal for breakfast. All I have to do is boil water. For lunch, I usually just east some fruit, gorp and a drink and I'm pretty good - especially in hot weather.

Dinner would be my most complex meal I would have to prepare. For that, some planning is in order. I would either stop at a market before finding a campground, or set up camp and then venture out to shop. All I need is a protein and a side....but the trick is enough food to satisfy without having left-overs which I have no room to store and no refrigeration to store safely.

My aforementioned friend just walked down to the grocery store, picked up a small chop, steak or piece of chicken breast and a frozen bag of his vegetable of choice. He had about $4 or less invested in that meal I figured. He would only use one pan: he cut some garlic in the pan, added a few drops of oil, cooked and ate the protein, then stir fried the veggies and ate them after....all in one pan. Cool. I think I can borrow that system.

Now then, what kind of cooking kit should I bring? I have two choices in my current stock of camping supplies. Here's the first set up:

The box contains a Coleman burner and base that attach to a small, disposable propane bottle. I am a little nervous about transporting fuel - just because I never have. This is a sure-fire setup that would efficiently do the job I require. A knife/fork, small bottle of dish soap, tiny spatula and a small towel for drying shouldn't add considerably to the size of the set-up.

This is my other set-up I have in inventory and is really a backpackers rig:

My Westwind alcohol stove is a much, much smaller bit of kit. It's pretty cool too; the stand comes apart in 3 pieces and lies flat. You pour some alcohol in the burner and light it. When your done, rotate the sealing lid to cover the opening and that kills the flame. Then you can screw the lid on and the un-burned alcohol is saved and stored inside the burner with the gasketed screw top. But I would need a transporting vessel for the denatured alcohol. I think REI makes a small container for transporting fuels that might work. I am leaning to this set-up for the sheer space savings.

More work to be sure, but I would be eating better and saving a bit of money. I also like the idea of being self-sufficient.