Lincoln Logs and Barbies

a roaming love letter from the appalachian trail and the wild wild west

A PSA for all you dudes

You do not know everything.

I have become overwhelmingly infuriated by how men (and it is always only men) are constantly trying to dissuade me from what I’m doing. Trying to tell me I’m wrong. Trying to convince me to give up. Urging me to listen to them or do as they do.

With every open question comes a retort of negativity. This is not a competition. You are not being helpful. I did not ask for your help in the first place. I am not an idiot. I am not a ninny. Nine times out of ten, I’ve gone further, faster and done it lighter and cheaper than you. This is not the first time I’ve left my house.

Just because things are difficult, it does not mean they are impossible. Certainly, if you’re doing it, it is not impossible. Why then try and tell me it will be worse for me. Stop laughing at me when I tell you my plans. Stop turning to the internet as fast as lightening to prove me wrong. Stop pandering me and infantilizing me by acting like you’re protecting me from myself.

I don’t care about the gear you have chosen. I don’t want to discuss it with you because it will ultimately lead to competitive bickering about all of my gears’ flaws. Do you think I’m unaware of the issues? Do you think I’ve come all this way with out considering them? Do you think I’m stupid enough not to care? Do you imagine I lack basic reasoning skills that would preclude making a valid decision for myself on what might work best for me? Wouldn’t it just be easier if I had a dick to whip out so we could measure them and get it over with? Do you think your thread for thread, chain by chain, mile by mile critique will get you laid? What is the deal?

I am so exhausted by the constant, depressing moral aggrandizement and countered chauvinistic belittling from men in the outdoors (or men who don’t step 3 feet from their computers but fancy themselves experts by way of penile exceptionalism). I am good at this. In many cases, I am better at this than you. As are my female compatriots who are shattering time, age, and distance records. I interviewed the father of the youngest Triple Crowner, Sunshine, and asked him why he thinks women tend to be better distance athletes. I loved his response: Men are too busy competing with one another over stupid things. Women figure out what is good for them quicker, often, and with conviction and push hard forward. Men are left back at camp analyzing what everyone else is doing wrong.

I have come across this time and time again. When I’ve written articles urging others to “Hike your own hike,” I was conscious of the fact that all my examples of such negativity have come from men.

Strangely, for as stubborn and (I am mildly uncomfortable with saying this, but eh) accomplished as I am in adventure travel, I still get worked up over the constant barrage of bull shit from my male counterparts. Just today, I was pushing hard on my bike through the Icelandic countryside, struggling immensely, but trying to focus on the joy of finally getting onward on my bike and reveling in the sunshine. I felt good even though things were hard and getting harder. I felt finally that if I had more time, I’d be able to finish the whole thing. I felt proud of myself and my endorphins were electrifying.

Then I ran into a fellow cyclist. A man.

He made me feel small. He made me feel stupid. He gave me a million things to do differently. He told me to change my plans and do what he did. This was a 3 minute exchange. I didn’t tell him that he was fat, slow, carrying too much gear, and stupid for wearing his constricting rain clothes all day, even in the sun. What good would that have done for either of us? But he made me feel miserable. I only made it 5 more miles past where I saw him. They were the hardest 5 miles of biking I’ve ever done. They were miserable. I stopped a hundred times to try and boost my morale, but he had killed it. Usually, these things can brush by me, but this time, since they were some of so many negative (and entirely unwarranted and unsolicited) critiques, it just made me snap. Each time I attempted to get back on my bike today, I felt weary and defeated.

I am a strong person and a strong willed woman. I travel on my own often. I have no great tolerance to sit around and wait for some dude to catch up or come with. If this man could bring me down so much, how many other women are deterred entirely from even starting?

So I urge you, men who love the outdoors or feel yourself an expert on anything, SHUT UP. Or at least learn what an actual conversation is. Trying to one up one another only sets us further apart. My accomplishments, be it with the shittiest gear, the lightest gear, the best time, or ten days behind you, in no way diminishes your accomplishments. We are all partners on the journey. You can come celebrate adventure with me, or you can just eat my fucking dust.

Ladies, please share this.

“You have
galaxies inside your head.
Stop letting people
tell you
you cannot shine.”

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.

—Albert Ellis (via h-o-r-n-g-r-y)

(Source: observando, via h-o-r-n-g-r-y)

Waiting at another FUCKING bus stop just trying to get the hell out of Reykjavik. Apparently, there are several streets with the same name and also Easter is 6 days long. I just want to ride this damn thing more than 10 miles already.

Waiting at another FUCKING bus stop just trying to get the hell out of Reykjavik. Apparently, there are several streets with the same name and also Easter is 6 days long. I just want to ride this damn thing more than 10 miles already.

Setting out today. Short ride to the land of hot springs and waterfalls, then I think I’m going to attempt something close to this route.

Setting out today. Short ride to the land of hot springs and waterfalls, then I think I’m going to attempt something close to this route.

no filter

no filter

Dear Iceland,
Don’t you realize how beautiful you are when the sun is out? Why do you hide behind clouds full of hail, then, huh?

Dear Iceland,
Don’t you realize how beautiful you are when the sun is out? Why do you hide behind clouds full of hail, then, huh?

geothermal foot bath by the sea

geothermal foot bath by the sea

Keep Iceland Weird

Truthfully, they don’t need any help with this.

Being here over Easter weekend is turning out to be a massive headache. When I had read that this holiday was particularly special to Icelanders, I thought, “oh good, here will be loads of stuff going on.”

FALSE!

In fact, this seems to be the week that almost all of the island just shuts down and sleeps in. Oh, except between the hours of ten and three AM when they’re all out getting hammered. I’ve been up late most nights hanging out and feel guilty going to bed in the wee hours since that’s the time I’m actually missing anything.

Today is the actual holiday, but there are more shops open and people out than any other day since I’ve been here. They seem to have a strange interpretation of the timeline of Jesus’ famous hiking route to the hill, making Thursday and Friday the official days of rest and barely blinking on the day with that whole: the rock has been moved guess he’s a lovable zombie day part. Doesn’t matter much, except that despite having forgotten my wrench in the first place, I seem to have had 45 wrenches thrown in my wheel thanks to the insanity of Iceland Easter.

Thanks a lot, Jesus.

I did finally get out of Reykjavik yesterday, which was lovely. Met up with Molly, a fellow solo traveler from Manchester, UK, and hopped on a bus heading North. We were going to get off in Akranes, but it looked boring and was snowing heavily so we just stayed on. Got off in Borgnarnes just north.

I don’t understand Icelandic towns. I’m not 100% sure how to begin describing them. The architecture looks like if Den Haag (where I lived in Holland) was finger laced with Cape Cod and then some strange troll dropped a few Irish cabins on the shore. Generally, I like it. However, outside Reykjavik, a lot of the towns are a gas station, a hostel, 600 cars parked on the sidewalk, and a swimming pool.

I had read more about Borgnarnes being interesting than Akranes, but was a bit surprised that we spent most of the day in the rest stop or hostel trying to decide what to do next. It snowed pretty hard for a bit, but every time the sky opened up, we ran outside to look at this or that. When the clouds finally moved away from the mountains, it was breathtaking. I’m sure these mountains are beautiful in the summer, but peaks are always better covered in snow. Always.

After a spell, we decided to hitch hike. We wanted to go to a glacier east of us, but we didn’t he get much roadside lovin, so we took the first ride offered to Akranes. This lady was A TRIP! Her car smelled like cat pee, she had a pink scrunchy in a scraggly ponytail, there was a carton of Salems in the back seat with a crushed beer can, a plastic dolphin dangling from the rear view mirror, and her mumbled heavily accented English was muffled almost entirely by her blaring American country music. She might have been talking about cleaning chicken pens, but I can’t be sure. If it weren’t for the mountains and roaring sea outside my window, I would have sworn I fell through a black hole and wound up in Nebraska.

Akranes turned out to be a wonderful stop. The sun was out the entire time we were there. It was beautiful and I had to stop to cry a little for not being on my bike. I was grateful I wasn’t alone so I could be distracted from those feelings with chit chat. We hiked along the shore for several miles, enjoying the sculptures dotting the coast and stopping often to marvel at the torrent of waves and sea birds and the hum of the steep sided mountains. I was so happy to be able to see more than 100ft ahead, not blinded by hail, and to stretch my legs. The wind was crazy and it was very cold, but we only got a few moments of hail and even then, the sun was still shining. We caught the bus home and parted ways.

I was going to rent a car today, but it turned out to be as frustrating as anything else, so I jumped on my bike and resigned myself to another day close to the city. There are bike paths all over Reykjavik, which is marvelous, but their almost entirely devoid of signage. Still, I was pretty proud of myself that it took a long time before I felt lost. I went the rest of the way mostly on intuition and landmarks. There’s a different fjord or jut or cutoff every half a mile, though, so there’s no such thing as the fast way round. I tried to stay on the coast as long as possible, for the view and the ease of direction, but it kinda veers off in strange ways and I wound up near the bus depot/ship yard/auto shop part of town and had some trouble wandering back to the right way.

Getting out on my bike finally (!) was amazing. I felt so great. I’m rockin my custom bike pants from 2611 Art (check out their Etsy shop for custom orders) and the sun was good for my soul. Despite being confused 99% of the time I was riding it was freeing to feel like I finally had some agency in this journey. The wind was BONKERS and actually blew me clear off my bike once and sideways into another lane a few miles later. There was a few times where I was pedaling into the wind, but not moving forward at all. Pretty common all over Iceland and I’m sure I’ll continue to run into that inconvenience as I keep pedaling.

For now, I think the plan will be to set off for Selfoss or the hot spring town just north of it for tomorrow night. Onward from there till Hofn, then who knows. Probably hitch back to Reykjavik since the buses to and from only run on Tues and Fridays. We’ll see how the weather holds up and how fast my legs can carry me.

This is an adventure.

Lunch breaks can be ok I guess.

Lunch breaks can be ok I guess.