Boiling water redux

Quick update on the stove situation. Since I’m strapped for cash and my backpack is ridiculously full (4.9k cu ft) and heavy (42+ lbs), I nixed buying a “real” camp stove à la MSR’s Pocket Rocket. As mentioned below, the Sterno idea went busto too. So I made a semi-pressurized alcohol stove using an empty 3oz cat food tin with two rows of eight holes punched in. The pot/pan sits right on top to seal it and create gas pressure so the flames shoot out the holes just like on old gas burners. Voilà:

Those of you “in the know” will recognize this as a ghetto version of Jim Wood’s Super Cat Stove. It ain’t pretty, but it works like hell. An ounce of denatured alcohol burns for 8+ minutes and it brought 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in ~5 minutes. Obviously these weren’t field conditions, and I still need to work on a windscreen… but I’m quite pleased. The “stove” is light, the fuel cheap & widely available, and I feel infinitely safer carrying alcohol than propane, butane, or whatever.

They call me the seeker

An update on my walk across America:

I’ve been slightly delayed, and wont be leaving until Sunday or Monday. Yes, I’m really doing this. No, I’m not sane.

I have 98% of my gear bought & packed. My backpack comes out to just over 40lbs. This looks like a manageable number on paper, but it is unbelievably heavy in person. Thank God for external frames.

A few annoyances already: my sleeping pad… really light & comfortable, but super bulky. I had also planned on using canned heat (Sterno/Magic Heat) only to discover that boiling 1 cup of water takes over 20 minutes (I gave up). As always, I’m exceedingly concerned about water.

For those who asked about my route… I’m just heading northwest. Always. Basically diagonal to Chicago, then straight across Iowa. I’ll clip the NE corner of Nebraska and the SW corner of South Dakota en route to Yellowstone in Wyoming. Then slice off a SW corner of Montana til I’m level with Seattle then just head west. I’m giving myself roughly 100 days to do this.

I will mostly be eating ramen, beans, rice, oatmeal, peanut butter, and power bars. That’s what’s packed initially at least. I will likely be bringing four small books, but no iPod.

Lastly, I am not technically walking “for” anything. Certainly not, for many reasons, a company or charity. If you’d like however, it might be fun to pledge $0.01 or $0.10 per mile and at the end I’ll give the money to an organization. Maybe WorldVision. Or Amnesty International. If you would like to support me personally, you can give via PayPal ( to help ensure that I can still afford food by the time I reach Iowa. Every penny counts. Thanks.

No guru, no method, no teacher.

For those of us who have lived by the cry Fuck the noise, what to do when we suddenly find that the Noise fucked us? We go walking I guess. On May 9th I plan on walking out my door in Ohio and starting a three-month trek to Seattle. I’ll be leaving on St. Christopher’s day, leaving the comforts of home for an ill-conceived trek. Abruptly sans site, I will become (a) para-site. I will join a Holy Order of saunterers and meanderers – of tramps. The opening to Thoreau’s “Walking” is worth repeating in full: (more…)