I had no idea citronella was a plant

But I found that out tonight. Then I partook of some of the mostly dead leaves and smeared their blood over my arms, so that mosquitoes might not take my own. So it goes, my people. So it goes.

Not citronella. Trees. But with useful foliage underneath!

O, my people, I am so clean and showered! I have scrubbed my clothes in the bathroom sink, and hung them up to dry, next to my rain poncho (obtained from a shelter, because it was very nice and someone had left it there). My tent was wet, and my sleeping bag was wet (if it’s not the rain, it’s the sweet, sweet morning dew. So refreshing. And moist [hurrrghh]). And now they are not wet, but dry. Huzzah!

I have the strangest dreams, though. Last night’s involved Jimmy Dean’s Sausage Biscuits for breakfast, and then a lot of other unrelated things that I no longer remember (except that I woke up and was vaguely confused before going back to sleep) and a few storylines that are totally unremarkable in terms of life stories, except that I was watching them and my subconscious brain decided to tell them to me while I was closing my eyes and washing my neurons (that’s the technical term. You can ask any biologist. I promise). Otherwise, the stories would be great stories. About people. And lives. Totally unrelated to me. Heh. Brains are weird.*

Ok. So I have a confession to make. My pack (when chock-full of food and loaded up with water) weighs about 34 lbs; my base weight (that’s the weight with no food or water, just my tent, sleeping gear, cooking gear, books, science, non-essential nice things to have, etc) comes in around 17 lbs… and I write to you on a wee, wee bluetooth keyboard.

That’s a citronella leaf on the left.

Oh. Whoops. Try this:

I am very self-conscious about this. I like writing things by hand… and yet I also like writing to you. And strongly dislike swiping across my phone for long periods of time. Also sometimes I write too much, and how can one compose long and irrelevant blog posts like yours truly when all internet access is done through my largely addled smart-phone? Indeed. What a quandary. For the next five years (or whatever). Indeed.

Anyways, that was my confession. Horrible, I know. I spend hours wandering up and down mountains, for hundreds of miles, thinking about these useless things, and now here we are. You, reading this. Me, sitting clean and dry in the dark at a table at Uncle Johnny’s Nolichucky Hostel and Outfitters in Tennessee, having walked from somewheres in Alabama, with my tent set up behind me all ready to be slept in, having eaten a truly ginormous dinner of a truly ginormous burrito at a Mexican place with a friend of a hiker friend, who subsequently paid for the both of us because they only gave us one bill and he removed it from my reach, and then laughed at me. When these things happen part of me nods sagely and says things like, “It is so. You are poor,” and the other part is outraged and demands to help with recompense. Truly, I am simply storing up karma for the days when my wallet does not belong to a penniless hiking vagrant.

Also, so you do not think I spend all my days eating food that I have obtained in sketchy ways, here is a picture of a bug that I found two days ago at midday, right before I ran into someone else who gave me pizza ($3), a coke (free) and a box of peanut M&Ms (also free):

Wasn’t a bug like this on the movie poster for Silence of the Lambs?

This was also right after the school bus drove by on the road between mountains that this bug was by. The driver gave me a very queer look. (“Queer” used to mean “strange” or “weird,” kids. Calm down.) This may be because I was taking pictures of bugs by the side of the road; I don’t know. Mostly I was all, “What a strange bug,” and, “That was a school bus. Oh… Now my students are back in school.” (I totally had a dream recently that y’all were in. I just remember that we were all in a very rectangular room- don’t ask me why; it was just rectangular. There were white walls, and other people, and then a lot of teachers and students from Red Cloud… Study harder! You are quite excellent. Stop reading this and go back to work. Eat hot cheetos too, though. Have some for me.)

Anyways, tomorrow is Mass in the morning and hiking afterwards. I’m a day behind my general plans, but not too miffed about it; I got to meet cool people whom I would otherwise have missed. I tried to camp for free at the church, but they would have none of it, even though I called them up and asked very nicely. What the heck, Catholics. Baptists let me play on their pianos, and Presbyterians let me sleep on their lawns. The last Catholic church I tried to play piano on kicked me out. Whatever. I guess it’s true I shouldn’t have been playing Marian hymns in the house of God, which was otherwise empty of all humanity. (Scandalous and thoughtless, really.)

Baptists let me play blues.

Anyways, I’m offski. Best of luck with everything, and I shall catch up with correspondence right after I finish putting in data for about 25 or 30 streams *hurghWhydoessciencetakesomuchwork*.

Enjoy the turning of the globe!

*That’s why I don’t study them. Take that, biology! Everyone knows you’re just an extension of chemistry anyways.**

**We can still be friends, though. I guess, you know, life and stuff is all right. Just don’t expect me to fully appreciate your building blocks and their constituents; I like the disassembled pieces better. Or whole plants. That I can eat. Or smear on my arms to keep blood-sucking creatures off of me. Science!


  1. MOM says:

    Well, my Anna, I thought I’ve taught you everything I know already. I guess I missed the citronella part. So, in case you didn’t know, it’s usually the oil in these plants that ward off the tiny pests. And lemongrass will do that too, but it is a “rough to the touch,” tall grass-like plant that smells good and you can use in your food to give it a distinct nice smell. It’s great tied up in a bunch and put in some soups or stew. In the Philippines, they call it tanglad. Bet you didn’t know.
    Love you and take care,


  2. Bob Conover says:

    I always wondered what your pack weighed and how you typed your long messages. I’m reading another blog from my old office mate at work who is hiking the continental divide trail with his family. The Ravens. Nice hearing about your adventures. Take care.


  3. Grampa Jay says:

    That’s interesting about who will let you pitch your tent and play their piano and who won’t. I was just watching (again) the movie Trading Places. All these little experiences let you see humanity through different windows. So now we know your plans. 20,000 miles. Five years. Berry interesting.


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