Wandering through Time and Place in 2017… And Some Thoughts on Planning

Curtis Mekemson hiking along the Pacific Crest Trail behind Squaw Valley.

It’s time to start planning and dreaming about 2017. One of my goals is a seven week, 500-mile backpack trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. Here I am in the Granite Chief Wilderness behind Squaw Valley, California. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson)

It’s the first day of the New Year. It’s the time to make resolutions and plans— a time to dream.

There was a time in my life when I was obsessive about the planning process. I would lay out goals and objectives. And then I would move into YAPs, QUAPs, MAPs, WAPs and DAPs, or, to spell it out: yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily action plans based on my goals and objectives. I set priorities, created time lines, made to-do lists, checked things off, kept records, and made plan revisions. Things that didn’t work were modified or dropped. New opportunities were taken advantage of. I did it for my personal as well as professional life. It was how I accomplished things I wanted to do, and how I kept some control over my often chaotic life.

Early on I had learned if I didn’t plan out what I wanted to do with my time, someone else was more than willing to do it for me. And I had also learned that there is power in planning, in knowing what you want to do, and in determining what is important, what has the greatest impact.

I am not as obsessive as I once was, but old habits die hard. And, even though I am “retired,” it is still important to have an idea of where I want to go, of what I want to do, and of what is important to me. Of course I don’t exist in a vacuum. Ask Peggy. (grin) Most of what we do is jointly decided.

So given all of this, what are my writing and travel plans for 2017?

Kpelle footbridge near Gbarnga, Liberia circa 1965.

I hope to revise and republish “The Bush Devil Ate Sam,” a memoir about my Peace Corps experience in West Africa. Here, a much younger Curt makes his way across a river on a native bridge in the heart of the African jungle.

Under writing objectives, I plan to finish my next book, tentatively titled Tales of an Incorrigible Wanderer. My 10,000-mile bike trip plus other outdoor adventures will be included. (I am sure you will want to buy a copy. Grin.) I also plan to revise and republish The Bush Devil Ate Sam. I will continue to blog two to three times a week on current travels/adventures as well as past adventures. I am thinking in terms of doing one blog each week on current travels, one blog on past adventures, and one blog as a photographic essay. But we’ll see. I have to reduce the time I spend on blogging so I have more time for other goals, like play, for example.

Our travels this coming year will likely go in three directions. One, Peggy would like us to do a more thorough job of exploring the Pacific Northwest. I might add California down to Big Sur simply to expand my Pacific Coast blogging series. (And I really like Big Sur, Carmel and Monterey.) I expect we will also spend more time exploring the East Coast now that our two kids and their families are living there. Finally, I am hoping we can plan a trip to Ireland and possibly England where I would like to continue my genealogical research.

Photo of Scottish pony taken by Curtis Mekemson.

I photographed this pony in Kirkcolm, Scotland when I was doing research on my Scots-Irish ancestors a few years ago. I promised myself at the time that I would return for more research in Ireland and England.

I am also hoping we can make it back to Burning Man. It is one of my most popular blog topics and I would like to write a book in 2018 on my 14 years of experience with the event. We will know in February if we can get tickets for this year.

The Temple of Promise at Burning Man in 2015 is caught by the morning sun.

Morning sun catches the copper face of the Temple of Promise at Burning Man 2015.

Finally, it is time for another grand adventure. I celebrated my 60s by doing a six-week 360-mile backpack trip down the Sierra Nevada Mountain range from Lake Tahoe to Mt. Whitney. It seems only appropriate that I celebrate my 70s by doing a seven-week, 70-miles per week, 490-mile backpack trip on the Pacific Crest Trail. But I’ll have to see whether my 74-year old body is willing to cooperate. Maybe it will be a one-week 70-mile trip, or a one-day 7-mile hike, or a .7-mile hike to the mailbox. Laughing.

Whatever… I am sure there will be many adventures to share!

40 thoughts on “Wandering through Time and Place in 2017… And Some Thoughts on Planning

  1. Impressive Curt: a 500 mille backpacking trip – you go dude! In my corporate days, I was paid to plan, and if I didn’t it became obvious PDQ. And while old habits die hard, it’s been really nice to be a bit more relaxed about planning and leave some room for serendipity. For us, it’s important to know what drives us nuts, and for those things, we plan. The rest, we just see how it goes. ~James

    • I have to be careful with planning, James. Life resembles work a bit too much. It’s easy to become stressed and I’ve never done stress well. 🙂 Still, writing requires work and discipline. I enjoy writing, however. Marketing, not so much. Blogging, as you know, can also resemble work. Seven weeks in the woods is just what I need. –Curt

  2. Happy 2017!
    Yes, the idea to publish one each off current, past travels and photo essay is a good one! We also try mix this up too every week and put in alternate stories and opinion pieces.

  3. I think if there are no plans made then what happens is time just seems to slip away. To travel a lot we have to at least start by dreaming a lot and then some planning…that said, I have never had complex plans organised like yours…it’s more like a selection of countries and then some research into one way ticket costs. Ha.

    I wanted to get to Burning man for many years. One of my sons went 5-6 times. But when I found out the cost involved! The planning! I just kind of decided I would rather visit countries than put that detailed effort and dollar into an essentially U.S. event. And somehow I feel bothered by the pollution created by the end of B.M. fire and lack of concern for environmental impact…so I let that one pass…


    • I’m envious, Peta. I have loved the times I have been totally free, like when I was on my bike and all I had to do was get up and pedal in the morning. My backpack trek, if I can pull it off, will be like that.
      Burning Man is a fascinating even from my perspective, especially in terms of the art created. I also find the culture interesting. Events are now held in several other countries. Environmental-wise, they are working on it. I will say, litter-wise, it is the cleanest event I have ever seen. It certainly isn’t an event for everyone. Here’s a blog I wrote on who goes… http://wandering-through-time-and-place.me/2016/02/13/

  4. Hey, Curt, if you follow through on those Pacific Crest plans, sign me up as a supplies drop volunteer. I can meet you around the Mt. Hood-to-Columbia River stretch and ply you with Trader Joe’s goodies or an emergency restock. Everybody runs out of underwear eventually, ain’t no shame in it. I’ll even hike with you a few miles but you’ll have to change into those underwear in the bushes. I may be a Portlander but I’m not Burning Man Portlander.

    • What a nice offer. Seriously. And I can imagine it would be a kick to hike with you. I remember your story about the guy that wanted to hike in his underwear. 🙂 Not to worry. I want all the protection available when hiking through brush. I haven’t yet decided to head north or south from here on the PCT. Peggy is arguing for north and new trails. But I have a lot of well loved trails to the south… –Curt

  5. So, so cool, Curt. You and Peggy are such an inspiration. Love the idea of the seven-week trip for your birthday. The Pacific Trail is supposed to be amazing. As a writer I’m getting curious about your memoir. I think it would be a great book to publish. Younger people would be interested too!

  6. I’m envious and horrified all at once, Curt! I decided my way into a life that doesn’t allow for retirement, and sometimes I regret that. On the other hand, I know perfectly well that there are ways to “travel local,” and that’s what I’ll be doing this year.

    As for being “horrified”? That schedule! That planning! Obviously, a bike trip or back-packing trip requires far more than a casual auto journey, but still… On the other hand, I do think Annie Dillard got it just right when she said, “A schedule is a net for catching days.” It’s the balance that’s important. It will be fun to watch your balancing act over the next year!

  7. Planning is good. “I have to reduce the time I spend on blogging so I have more time for other goals, like play, for example.” 🙂

    Looking forward to reading about your adventures. Godspeed!

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