The Lawnmower Chronicles – Episode 8

I decided to honor Labor Day by doing a little labor – mowing the lawn. Today’s mow went fast. I got it done late morning about 11:15 AM, A time when most of the back lawn is in shade. The ground is very dry and hard, the day is hot and humid, the grass not terribly long; just sort of shaggy and unkempt.

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I managed to get the lawn cut in pretty much record time, about 35 minutes. The pop-up camper is up and basically drying out. I have only had it open for about two weeks this summer, but they have been dry weeks, so it’s been a help to get the musty smell out from being closed up for almost two years. Did some sweeping, but still have to do a bit of spot cleaning. It’s for sale, in case you’re interested.

My thoughts during the lawn mowing today centered mostly around hiking the Appalachian Trail. A few days ago I was looking Kinja Deals, and the book AWOL on the AT was one of the deals at $2.99. I’ve been interested in the AT for some time, so I bought it. I read it over the last two days, as well as another book entitles Appalachian Trials, a book about the psychological, emotional and mental aspects of hiking the 2,200 mile trail. I have not seen A Walk in the Woods yet (I’ll probably hate the movie for its inaccuracies), and probably will not until it’s on TV, but I did read the book many years back. Walking the lawn with the lawnmower made me think of all these things.

I think the AT may be something I could do to make the transition from working to retirement. Spending 5 months or so hiking the AT would be a very nice period of time to basically be doing nothing while doing something – something difficult and challenging. Certainly it would be something that would make the transition less shocking to the system. Since I really have not decided what I want to be doing during retirement, this might be just the activity to spend time thinking about that. I like hiking, and while I haven’t really hiked any more than 25 miles at any stretch, I do like the activity. I did a lot of hiking while on tour with the American Shakespeare Center, but I was in the best shape of my life during that time. Ten years have passed, so ten years older and fatter. Maybe the AT would be just the ticket to get in shape for the next 20 years. Get physically fit, make the mental transition from work to retirement, accomplish a major life achievement – why not?

The question is do I really need to do it? It’s a very challenging task in all ways, and perhaps it’s too much. Only 3 people in 10 who start the trail finish it. I have not read a single book that talks about how easy it is. Everyone mentions the “roller coaster” – horrible days followed by good days. Lately there have been outbreaks of norovirus (people don’t wash their GD hands), West Nile Virus (mosquitoes) and Lyme disease (deer ticks). It’s not easy. Yet everyone does talk about the feeling of grand accomplishment, and that’s the attraction.

There are options, though. I like the idea of doing the Finger Lakes Trail first. That one is all in NY, and only about 550 miles. I could consider it a warm-up hike, a shakedown cruise. And perhaps I could do a “round trip” on the FLT, or complete all the FLT spurs. A “thru-hike” of the AT generally speaking is completing the entire trail in one calendar year, so I could do half one summer and half the next in “flip-flop” fashion. Or I can finish in my own time as a “chunk hiker,” hiking large sections in 4-6 weeks at a time until complete, without concern for becoming a “thru hiker.”

Another alternative is to do scooter trips on my 300cc Kymco scooter. Such trips would get me to many places faster. Riding a 300cc scooter on all backs roads and state highways (no interstates) and tent camping along the way sounds enticing and perhaps less taxing physically. Cross-country would be the way to go. Or maybe doing nothing is good. Or maybe taking the RV with Ann Marie (but she has to learn to drive it).

At any rate, the question of the transition was what was on my mind during this quick cut session. Pretty apt as we transition from summer to fall (although to judge by the Labor Day weekend weather, you’d hardly know autumn was around the corner – hot and humid!). Until I make up my mind about this, I am content to spend a Labor Day holiday doing this:

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watching the Yankees play the Orioles, broadcast in Spanish (English broadcast blacked out because of stupid fucking antiquated blackout rules of MLB) via the ESPN WatchNow app on my Roku streamer through an HDMI computer monitor. The setup is on my back porch, which will by the end of autumn become a screened-in porch room. I can transition this way too!

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