Many many people helped me along the last 3 years,the last 2 of which I have spent on the road,traveling around the country and photographing people,places and events that I encountered along the way.
The most influential and helpful person in my life is my Mother,without her confidence and support in me,it just wouldn't be as rich and full.
Thanks Mom,for everything.
Interestingly enough,many of the positive influences in my life in the last few years have been women,and i'm very thankful for them being there for me.
Mandy Miller,a major major factor in me being here today.
Thanks to Mandy and her friend Michele,they both co-ordinated to get me into re-hab 3 years ago this January 17th,so I could get myself sobered up and become a productive member of society instead of being a drunk.
Thank you Mandy for all your help then,and your continued help and support.
Because of Mandy introducing me to Maj.Mike and TeamRWB I have found a way to give a little back by volunteering my time and photography to their events.It's not much compared to what the Veterans that TeamRWB helps have done for us and their country,nor compared to what Maj.Mike Erwin has done in setting up the organization to help them,but it's a good start from where I was was three years ago in re-hab in a facility on Davie Rd here in S.Fl.
Maj.Mike and Mandy Miller both continue to influence my life tremendously,both in what they do for others and how they lead by example for me to learn from.
Thank you Major Mike Erwin for everything.
My itinerary will take me through Europe,a place I have not been back to since 1977 when I was 15,and a stop in Zermatt Switzerland,to climb the famous Matterhorn,which I attempted in 1976 when I was there.
At only 4,478 meters/14,687 feet,the matterhorn is not the highest mountain in the Alps,or even the highest peak in Switzerland,but it's four marked ridges and faces give the Matterhorn it's nearly perfect pyramid shape.It's even more beautiful as is stands alone with no other mountain close by to detract from it's majestic pinnacle.
There are a few reasons I want to do this climb as I turn 50.The first is,as George Mallory once said when asked why he would wanted to climb Mount Everest answered "because it's there".
Another reason is this man and fellow climber,the late Dr.Sean Egan,whom I met back in the day and whom I did a post on,and just found his philosophical and basic approach to life one of the keys to happiness that I have no intention of letting pass me by again:
It sounds really simple,right?.
Well then,what are you waiting for?.
I'm a climber,and the Matterhorn is there,I have always been a climber from a young age,it's just in my blood.My God is in the mountains as I discovered at an early age,but along the way I lost the map and nearly drank my way off the mountain and Planet Earth,so I need to go back and finish the job I started 36 years ago.Besides,it's a relatively easy climb and a good way to get in shape for the big one's like K2 or Everest,(oh,did I forget to mention that I wanted to go to Nepal and stop by Everest too?My bad).
I also intend to climb the Matterhorn with TeamRWB as my cause,my way of contributing to them,because i'm just not a runner,never was.I try to keep fit by doing a few miles,but a knee injury makes that very difficult for me,and running just isn't my thing,I don't enjoy it,but climbing,well,put a 40lb pack on my back and a pair of crampons on my boots and I can go all week long up a 40 deg incline in -50 deg temperatures.
So I hope to summit with a TeamRWB banner,since Maj.Mike and all the other athletes make marathons and triathlons as their goal or summit for the TeamRWB organization,the Matterhorn will be my TeamRWB goal/summit to prove to myself and others that any goal is attainable,it just all depends on how much you want it.
In 1977,3 months shy of my 16th birthday,through a friend of my old man's,I bought a pair of the best Alpine climbing boots I could find in Ireland at the time,a pair of all leather Meindl's,made in Bavaria,W.Germany,and I still own them today,35 years later.
Founded in 1928 by Lukas Meindl Sr.,the Meindl shoemaking tradition dates back to 1683,when Petrus Meindl worked as the first shoemaker of the Meindl family in Kirchanschoring.
In 1990,Lukas Meindl Jr. joined the company to bring the 11th generation of Meindl's to the shoemaking family business.
In the background behind my Meindl boots are my two Alpine Ice Axes from my 1977 trip to the Matterhorn.I left them at Mum's place in Boulder as a keepsake,as they are certainly a great axe,but needed to be retired for newer technology axe's that are half their weight and 50 times stronger.
Bordeax,1977 with my Meindl's en route to Zermatt,CH.
The laces that came with the boots when I purchased them in 1977 were leather laces,and my intention when I get to Austria on my RTW trip is to stop by the Meindl offices and visit with the Meindl family and show them that 37 years later the boot they made for someone in 1976 is still today being used for it's intended purpose and in great condition.Maybe they might have a pair of leather laces for my boots,who knows.
At age 16 in Zermatt,Switzerland,1977,my Meindl Alpine boots playing in the snow while I pose for the camera.
The Matterhorn will not be my only climbing endeavor of my RTW trip,as one of my dreams is of course to get to Mt.Everest in Tibet,not to climb the mountain,as a solo permit is about $25,000,and that's ONLY for the permit to be allowed on the mountain and the certificate from the Nepalese government IF you manage to summit,then of course there's sherpas,oxygen at $300-$400 per bottle(you'll need at least 5 or 6 bottles),and a host of other expenses.
But all I would like to do is at least get to Base Camp,which itself is at an altitude of nearly 18,000 ft.
Base Camp II would be icing on the cake so to speak,but maybe I can trade some high quality pictures in return for hitching a ride.You never know.
Of course there's always K2.
As many of you know I am an alcoholic and managed to drink my way out of $4 million worth of property and personal money 3 years ago,and nearly drank my way out of life too.I had all the money anyone could ever need back then,but all it got me were ulcers and a near-death experience.
Now,i'm broke,with no income to speak of(picture sales and donations are it basically),living on the last remainders of what I came out of that with,which is not much,maybe enough for another year or two.But the big difference is that I just don't worry about anything anymore,anything material that is.
As Sean Egan said in the above video,80% of what people worry about never happens.I live in the present more now than I ever have,it's like being on an edge for me,but I find it keeps me sharp and out of my comfort zone.I like being in a comfort zone too much given the choice,so forcing myself not to be in that position makes me more mentally creative and active,both keys to staying alive and healthy.
Losing the material comforts that all my money bought was,for me,the best thing that could have happened,especially at my age,as I firmly believe that as people are socially conditioned to slow down coming into their "Golden Years",that very process of "slowing down" is the what will age them quicker than the aging process itself,as Sean Egan and many others like him will attest to.Shutting down the mind by not feeding it with problems that require solutions or activities that require you to be sharp and on the ball will send you to an early grave from sheer boredom and lack of self worth.And i'll bet my BMW Motorcycle that there's a mountain of research out there that backs that up.
Thats my Dad on the far right,me kneeling in front of him.
When I was 12 or 13,my Dad and I,we used to build and fly remote control planes.Well,we flew for a bit,crashed,and then spent the next 4 weeks building another one so as we could crash it again.
We got better quickly.
We had a friend,Tommy Short,that was also an avid and expert RC flyer on the weekends and a Master Mechanic during the week,in charge of the mechanical maintenance division of a large motor fleet,had 20 or so guys he was in charge of.Tommy was an up at 5am everyday person,worked all day,sometimes Saturdays too.
Well,it came time for him to retire,thought he'd have all the time in the world to fly now.
He was dead within 2 years.
The very thing he thought he was retiring from,being in charge of 20 mechanics and a fleet of vehicles was the very thing that kept his mind active and alert,and in turn the process of getting up at 5am to go to work all day to take charge of those men and vehicles was the very thing keeping his body active and the juices flowing.
Me 'n my ole Man,circa 1972-ish.
And in '77 the ole man snapped this one of me working on my Triumph Chopper.I remember I had just got the engine together and was measuring for brackets.
I am at present back in Florida liquidating everything I own in my house that went into foreclosure.I signed off on my bankruptcy paperwork and handed the house back to the bank.I hope to at least get enough from the proceeds of the contents to pay for the sidecar conversion and my passage over to EU.
Thank you guys for all and a Happy New Year to each and everyone.
The always gorgeous and wonderful Erin Hunter.
Executive by day,World Record Holding Land Speed Racer from August through October at the Bonneville Salt Flats and El Mirage in CA,and my most ardent follower and supporter(aside from my Mother of course).
Erin Hunter is one of the women that I spoke about earlier in the post,a tremendously influential person in my life,both in what she does for others,and also for her support of myself,my writings,my photography and my travels since I met her and her partner "Shorty" racing at the 2010 BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials at Bonneville,Utah.
She saved my bacon many times with well timed donations,late last year for example when she bought me a set of fresh knobby tires for my November snow ride to Steamboat Springs CO,without which I wouldn't have made it through.
Erin and Shorty will be racing under their new team in 2012,Hunter Sills Racing,and of course I wish them all the best,as I won't be back to Bonneville until 2103 at the earliest.
Just recently Erin,from reading my pre-Arlington post,made a very large donation to me,and as she said in her voicemail she left on my phone,"Murph,i'm not rich by any means,but have been fortunate along the way and like to pass it along when inspired to do so,and inspiration came when reading your blog about Arlington yesterday".
Erin and Shorty,Hunter Sills Racing.
BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials 2011,
Erin,thank you so much for the donation,and especially for the sentiments in the message you left me sharing your thoughts on what inspired you to do so.
I have your voicemail saved on my phone,and it lifts me up and puts a smile on my face when I listen to it.It's a permanent message on my phone.
The Pope,aka Jerry Pope.
Jerry,you're a great friend to have and thanks for all in 2011,meet me in Switzerland in August 2012,we'll ride down to Italy and get some good espresso,need I remind you of the sentiment you wrote to me in the Ed Abby book you gifted to me?.
I better see you in Zermatt Jerry.
All the best for 2012 to you and Rosie.
The people I have mentioned here are but a handful of people helping me make it throughout the course of my life.There are many more that are unmentioned who I will get to eventually,I just can't fit them all in one post.
To all of those,thank you for all you have done and continue to do in support of my travels,from as simple as leaving a comment on one of my posts,a comment on my Facebook Timeline page,giving me a warm bed to sleep in for the night,or a $50 donation here or $100 donation there.
Speaking of which I would like to wish my friend Garth G down in S.Florida my best for his continued support and donations for as he calls it"Entertainment Value".Thanks Garth,you're a Rock Star.
They all mean a lot to me and are greatly appreciated.In the upcoming New Year,I am going to try to link donation I receive to a print copy if at all possible,i'm just not sure how feasible it will be in the middle of Russia or Mongolia,but rest assured,upon docking at a port with all modern conveniences,it will be a priority.
Thank you both.
Love and Best Wishes to all for 2012.