Here’s a photo Gerard took years ago on one of our trips:
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Give a man a gun, he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, he can rob the whole world.
Make a man a fire and keep him warm though the night. Set a man on fire and keep him warm for the rest of his life.
And the swanz iz luvlay.
A little diff camera angle and they’d make a valentine.
Awww. I heard a rumor that swans mate for life.
Gerard occasionally posted links to Neil Foard’s short little videos, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s a link to one, titled The Laws of Attraction, which I think somewhat explains why many of us considered AD our gathering place. Video runs 1 minute 34 seconds.
Thanks, John. Enjoyed a 2nd one too, “The Bribe”.
All of Mr. Foard’s videos are awesome, but some are doubly awesome. I can’t get through “Postcard from 1969” without more than a few tears. Once I start, I can’t stop.
Yes, all Foard’s videos are awesome Rob, and he has an wonderful ability to articulate inspiring truths in less than 3 minutes.
FRom Mike Austins web page.
Central America 2023
It seems like forever since I have been in the jungle. And maybe it has been. The last time was 12 years ago. I was teaching then, a profession I practiced for 27 years in 3 countries. It is now almost 4 years since I was in a classroom, and I hope and pray I never enter another one. I paid my dues, I am done with it, and goodbye to all that. My time since retirement has been spent bikepacking in Oklahoma, Utah, Kansas, Colorado, Arkansas and Mississippi, acquiring more audiophile equipment and adding to my stable of ferociously expensive bicycles. But there was always something missing, and that something was the jungle. It is only recently that I could fully take advantage of my free time—and all of my time is now free time—and head back to Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua for a few months. As I am 69, I had better get there soon as biology is unforgiving. It is now or never.
Solo backpacking in lowland jungles is difficult in the extreme, much more so than backpacking the well-marked, well-traveled and well-maintained trails in the USA. I call backpacking in North America, Canada and Europe “Grandmother’s Backyard Backpacking”. Such a thing offers scarce adventure, is tedious and absurdly safe. Those who claim that well-established trails such as the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail are adventurous have no idea what adventure is. Adventure is not safe—quite the contrary. For my money, if a man doesn’t want danger, then what the Hell does he want? Why does a man exist therefore? A soft life is for soft men.
A ship in the harbor is safe.
But that is not what ships are made for.
I have since 1986 solo backpacked the jungles, Andes, forests, foothills and grasslands of Central and South America. My focus this time is northern Guatemala—a section of that country called Petén—and the Mosquito Coasts of Honduras and Nicaragua. Much of northern Guatemala is primary rain forest, which means that walking through it is not difficult at all. The dangers are heat, humidity, insects, arachnids, wild animals—mainly puma and peccary—and a scarcity of water. The jungle demands of every solo backpacker a number of things: tent, stove, machete, snake protectors, compass, map and jungle boots just to name a few. To be unprepared in Petén is to be very foolish—and possibly very dead.
Should my knees give out I will still be able to spend one month in the jungles of Guatemala at Yaxha, Tikal and Laguna del Tigre. This will allow me two months of travel in Honduras and Nicaragua, countries I have visited many times. A dream I have had for years is to travel overland from La Ceiba in Honduras to Waspam on the Rio Coco in Nicaragua. From there I would spend time in the largest expanse of rain forest in the Western Hemisphere outside of the Amazon Basin, La Reserva de la Biósfera Bosawás. This involves extremely hard-core traveling and the ability to survive for days at a time with whatever is in my backpack. For this reason once I leave Guatemala for Honduras and Nicaragua I will travel in what climbers call “alpine style”, taking only what is absolutely essential for survival and leaving the rest with friends in Antigua, Guatemala, and pick it up when I return from Nicaragua.
While in Nicaragua a journey up the Rio San Juan to the Caribbean is in order, then crossing into Costa Rica—where I lived for two years—for a day or so, then returning to Nicaragua. It seems that for two months I will be surviving off rice, beans, eggs, chicken, coffee, rum, beer and cigarettes. Such is the food of the gods. Ok then.
All the dates and places below are extremely tentative, and will depend upon how well my knees hold up. I am doing all I can before I go to strengthen them. The rest is in God’s capable hands.
A word on equipment: Some of “Grandmother’s Backyard Backpacking” gear will be adequate for the jungles of Central America, some will not, and some will get you killed. Keep in mind that the “ultralight backpacking” fanatics have no real place in the jungle, though going as light as possible is always a good idea, whether in grandmother’s backyard or in Central America.
I will post a travelogue and photos here.
Never venture out into the jungle without a long machete. Practice first at home so that you don’t slice your leg open.
Most backpackers use internal frame packs. I prefer an external frame pack. This is the Kelty 5500. Just to look at this pack would cause ultra-light backpacking afficianados to get the vapors.
YouTube channels devoted to backpacking all recommend wearing Trail Runners rather than leather hiking boots. Trail Runners are only for backpacking in grandmother’s backyard. Imagine what the fangs of a fer-de-lance would do to trail runners.
I use Altama jungle boots.
I am taking two ultralight tents. One stays in the hotel, while the other is in my pack on the trail. If one fails, I will use the other. It is near-impossible to replace a state-of-the-art ultralight tent in Central America. And use a tent, not a tarp. A tarp is very popular among grandmother’s backyard backpackers. Using one in the Central American jungles would expose you to all manner of insects, arachnids and snakes, as well as leishmaniasis, Chagas Disease, Dengue Fever and malaria. You would be dead in two weeks.
I use the MSR XGK EX multi-fuel stove. It will never fail.
A GPS and various apps on your phone are silly and useless “Grandmother’s Backyard Backpacking” toys. Get a Suunto compass, set the declination, get a topo map if you can—this will take effort and patience in Central America—and start walking. Always—as in ALWAYS—trust your compass. It will never fail.
And of course:
Where When Nights
February 20- February 22
February 23 – 25
February 26 – March 2
Yaxha – Nakum – Tikal
March 3 – 8
March 9 – 11
March 12 – 14
March 15 – 17
Campamento El Cedro
March 18 – 19
March 19 – 25
Campamento El Cedro
March 26 – 27
March 28 – 29
Dos Lagunas-El Mirador
March 30 – April 4
April 5 – 6
El Mirador – Carmelita – Flores
El Mirador – Uaxactun
April 7 – April 13
Hotel / Tent
April 14 – 15
Laguna Del Tigre
April 16 – April 21
April 22 – 23
April 24 – 26
Honduras / Nicaragua
April 27 – May 28 Tent and Hotel
Antigua May 29 – 31 Hotel
I’ve been missing Mike’s always intelligent comments. Would you have
a link to his website, Joe, please. Thank you.
Thank you, Ghost!
So that’s why we hadn’t heard from him. He’s been out in the sticks for the past 3 weeks or so. Good luck Mike!
Yes, and every day I’ve been checking at the place he said he’d provide updates, yet he hasn’t. Hope he’s ok. https://mikeaustin.org/thereturnofscipio/
He’s one tough old character. Probably writing an old style journal and planning to fill in the online blanks later. Sounds like there’s a lot of really off-grid times in his itinerary so wouldn’t worry too much.
And if the jungle did take him, it’d be a dang sight better than being at the mercy of Shaniqua 20 years hence. The man’s got what the insufferable Nassim Taleb calls Optionality. Glass at least half-full either way.
Sure miss his comments though. You know where you and your ideas stand with Mike A.
Deus Vult indeed! Thank you Mr Krill,for this reconnection to Mr Austin and his trek into the wilderness of untamed visceral reality.
May his boots be strong and the viper’s fangs blunt. The rum,beer and cigarettes will help blunt the knee pain.
The Lord be with you,Mr Austin. Please return.
Or, “If God be willing”/ “God willing”:
Deo volente Latin phrase Deo vo· len· te ˌdā- (ˌ)ō-vō-ˈlen-tē ˌdē- : God being willing
Not worrying about Mike, thrilled for him actually. Being a couple of years older than him I get the attraction of adventuring in wilderness before the sands in the biological clock drop. I’ve told my daughters that should I die in the wild know I went with a smile, content. And let us remember also Mike’s strong faith and that ultimately he is not “solo.
Friends I was going thru a box and discovered 5 of the tee shorts GV was marketing late last year.
I would be happy to gift them to any of this crew that did not receive any.
These are white still in the wrapper , the logo is orange in color, and it says “ Just Say No!”.
Five available ex large size. If interested contact me. Free to any of his friends of family. I’ll mail them to you guys free if you’re interested.
. I’d assisted him with a donation, I didn’t want the shirts, I wanted him to market them and make some money.
Anyways GV gifted me the shirts, a “Saturday Night Post”, magazine with his Paradise story, and another book he had gone thru and under lined stuff important to him.
The books stay with me, I cherish them.
Nice to read, Dirk. Thank you for sharing.
You cannot make this stuff up. City of Newark, N.J. has to have the dumbest manager in the history of our great country.
Look at the line up in that vid.
What would anyone suspect with that DEI group?
That shit and much worse is going on in virtually every zip code in this country.
It cannot survive this many multi-sided attack much longer.
I predict that in my lifetime this country and maybe the whole world will fall back to primitive tribal rule, where your “country” is as far as you can travel on foot while well armed. I’ve been laying in plans for it for awhile now. More later…
Mike Austin is a good man. I spent part of 1, and all of the next summer right where he’s going on the Nicaraugua-Costa Rica border. It is, to put it mildly, “Indian Country”. I wish he’d consulted me on that gear load, though. Damn, brother.
Meanwhile, on the home front, the banking crisis developing is interesting. Only democrats would hand you a banking crisis on their watch and expect you to re-elect them. Epidemics are yesterday’s news, and now over half the people see through that thin screen of bullspit. Not the best move for the next crisis. By the same token, the weather crisis, or whatever they want to call that, is also not as popular as they wish it to be. People just don’t believe the government line about temperature. The war is removed, and people worry but they aren’t invested emotionally in Ivan on Ivan, and it’s all like reading Greek to them, anyway.
So, how about a nice, fat bank failure? That will definitely get people’s attention. If there is a bad downturn, I can’t help but recall the words of Rush Limbaugh: don’t participate in it. My infrastructure improvements at Camp Casey will go on apace and I hope and pray you’re all going to be well.
Anyone else have wisdom on the bank crisis?
Went to the local bank to get 30 rolls of quarters–handed the cashier $ 300.00 which I had just withdrawn from their ATM. . Been with the bank for over 40 years. She asked for ID. Would not give me the quarters unless I produced ID. Was told it is now policy for banks to require ID when people want coins. Something is very unsettling with what I just wrote.
The dot gov is most likely tracking coins for later confiscation. They did this with gold during the great depression. My family was in the gold mining business in the Mother Lode of Cali from 1849 till up to WW-2. The gov thugs got no gold or anything else with their knock on the door at my family’s home. They got shotgun muzzles in the face. “Get out of town or your body parts will be at the bottom of a mine shaft.”
Look up metals content in nickels and quarters. Then look up the daily spot metals valuations for a quick lesson in coins versus paper cash real value.
Best not to think the dot gov is not going to seize coins, and gold and silver you may have. These bastards hate you and me.
What’s in an ID? Why, it’s your social credit score, of course! Wouldn’t want Elmer Fudd going down to WalMart and exchanging coins for ammonishun.
Never tweeted that Blag Likes Matser? SCS goes down a notch. Registered republican? That isn’t good.