the animal's journal

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theanimal
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Post by theanimal » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:19 am

Hello to all!
I recently finished reading both YMOYL and ERE within the past week. Before that I knew that I did not want to do the '9-5 till 65' and through this I found a logical way out!

A little bit about myself:

I am a 20 yr old from the Chicago area. I am a sophomore at Miami University and am planning to graduate next year with a degree in finance. Even though I'll be graduating a year early I will still be leaving with about $40k in student loan debt. My overall goal after that is to pay off those loans within 2 years and retire hopefully 5-7 years after I graduate. My motivation over this is to actually LIVE a life instead of working everyday to accumulate money and waste it on material objects. I want to be free.
I believe that my spending habits are pretty good for where I'm at right now but they can certainly get better. I don't spend much as I don't enjoy going into town to pay money to go in a bar and stand around with people I don't even know. Currently, major weakness is books...once I get into a subject, I buy a good amount of books (definitely will have to improve on that).
And finally, these past two weeks I have watched my food spending and have actually improved it dramatically. Sidenote: I have been a vegan for about 3 months now and cook all my own meals. I tried to limit my spending on grocieries before I knew about YMOYL or ERE before but now I spend even less because I buy produce that is in season!

I think that's enough for now...look forward to conversing with all of you.
Jack
P.S. already started creating a "bucket list" of things I want to do once I retire..haha I guess you could say I'm pretty excited.


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Post by jacob » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:36 am

WRT books. First, library/interlibrary loans, kindle and accessing overdrive can prevent a lot of spontaneous purchases. Second, buying new books at B&N is an expensive habit.
Buying books used online, insofar they're good, is often a wash as you can sell them for close to what you paid for them. A high used/new price ratio is generally a good indicator that the book is worth reading. And that the depreciation rate is low.
I think not buying books at all is one of the worst ways to try to save money... the opportunity cost of not gaining an idea from reading yet another book (even if it's only a single sentence that makes the difference) is generally a steep price to pay from saving $10.


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Post by theanimal » Sat Jan 26, 2013 3:51 am

I agree. A lot of my life philosophy has changed over the past year and I think that a good portion of it has been jump-started by books. With that being said I should have mentioned that I recently got a kindle for my birthday. I have also started buying a lot more books used like you said and I definitely should be going to the library more considering it is only about a 2 minute bike ride from my apartment. The total amount is really not that much but as I'm sure you know it all adds up. Thanks for the advice!


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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Fri Sep 27, 2013 11:09 pm

A lot has changed since I posted this but still planning to graduate this coming May..
My expenses are basically only food which comes out usually between $100-125 a month.

Anyways, thought I'd update what I plan to do based off the thread I created living in a tent long term. After I graduate I hope to become a wilderness therapy instructor (for at risk-youth) in Utah. The job is 8 days in the field and 6 days off. While I am in the field I will have no expenses, so I will essentially be spending around $0 for 30 weeks of the year.

For the 6 days I'm not in the field I have decided that I am going to live in a tent in the multiple national parks, forests and recreation areas that surround the region. Thus, my only planned expenses at the moment are food, gas, insurance and student loans which ends up with a conservative estimate around $3500 in expenses a year. This would allow me to save $20,000 plus each year while having the time of my life. Not sure if this qualifies as semi-ERE but I'm pretty excited about it.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Sun Oct 06, 2013 2:34 am

It's frustrating at times, as many of you know, to live in a society where people deem what is being done here as impossible or a sacrifice. Tonight, I spent over 3 hours in an intense discussion with a couple of my friends about money, expenses, the future etc. They were shocked after I stated that the job I'm looking to get pays around $30,000 and wondered why I wanted to live in poverty(thinking I'd spend all that. I didn't dare mention how I plan to spend only 10% of that). No matter how much I tried to describe it to them, they could not understand the basic math of early retirement or even why you would want to save your money. The discussion evolved leading to things like charity/service and raising kids. I almost lost it when they thought I'd be depriving my potential future kid if (s)he didn't have an Ipad.

I'm glad there is at least a community of others here who share similar values as myself but often times I wish that I had people close to me who had a better understanding my values/practices/beliefs and realized they were completely logical/rational. If only...

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by rube » Sun Oct 06, 2013 6:12 am

A part of them will learn along the way. 10-20-30 or more years from now back they'll think back about the discussion you had.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by sshawnn » Sun Oct 06, 2013 7:12 am

theanimal wrote:
I'm glad there is at least a community of others here who share similar values as myself but often times I wish that I had people close to me who had a better understanding my values/practices/beliefs and realized they were completely logical/rational. If only...
Yes, this community is valuable to a lot of us in the way you mention above. I think in time your actions speak louder than your words and the people you wish for will also end up close to you. Swimming upstream in the mainstream will continue to frustrate you from time to time.
rube wrote:A part of them will learn along the way. 10-20-30 or more years from now back they'll think back about the discussion you had.
^ True. And a portion of those will be wishing they had they had altered their course some of the ways you are doing.

On a brighter note... From your first post... I would be interested in hearing more about your bucket list.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Sun Oct 06, 2013 4:44 pm

Rube and Sshawn, thanks for your comments. I just find it interesting how they talk about how they want to live certain lifestyles that would thrive with ERE or even MMM but fail to understand the whole concept. Part of it is I think they are hung up on the word "retired." Anyways, enough of that I agree that they'll probably look back eventually as this discussion has happened multiple times now.

As to my bucket list...

The number one thing that I want to do is build a cabin in remote Alaska and live there for a significant portion of time, if not indefinitely. I guess you could say that Dick Proenneke is one of my idols and after spending 3 months this past summer in the Alaskan wilderness I have fallen in love with the state.

I will list my others, some correspond with my main goal but others are random adventures that I'd love to do.

Hike the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trail
Bike across the US
Earn a pilot's license
Spend a summer in the Brooks Range (Alaska)
Learn to sail and sail around the Carribean
Become highly proficient at an instrument
Grow my own food
Ice climb in Iceland
Canoe the Boundary Waters (Minnesota/Canada)
Learn to ride a dog-sled
Spend a couple months in the Scottish Highlands
Backpack Europe

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:09 am

75 Days in Alaska's Wilderness: My summer in Alaska

Some have asked that I write about my NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) expedition in Alaska this past summer. I will do my best to give a concise summary but obviously a lot happened! As stated elsewhere, I'm in the process of writing a book about my experience and hope to have it ready for sale by early 2014. I apologize in advance for the length.

Back in January 2013, I stumbled upon NOLS' website and immediately decided I wanted to do a course. I had always wanted to go to Alaska but my mom said that I didn't really have any of the skills required. Well I thought this could certainly help out!

Some quick background info before I detail our adventures
No electronics
Carried all our food on kayak section. Re rations by plane on the mega section.
Took water from rivers/lakes/snow melt
12 Students. 3 Instructors. (Ended up being 11 Students. One was evacuated during the first week)
16 College Credits


Sea Kayaking
For the first 23 days of the expedition we paddled over 200 nautical miles through the beautiful area of Prince William Sound. We were lucky enough to have great weather 18 out of the 23 days in an area where it usually rains 90% of the time. A typical travel day would consist of waking up at 6 am for a condition assessment. From there it'd be about 2 hours of getting ready and loading boats before hitting the water. For the first few days of the trip we traveled around 8 miles a day but we eventually ended up doing around 16 miles a day with a high of 22. In this section, we had classes both on water and land. Classes were centered around leadership skills, kayak skills, Leave No Trace Principles and first aid. We were fortunate enough to see abundant wildlife. Hundreds of baldeagles, humpback whales, sea otters, sea lions and many more. The end of our trip culminated with an Independent Student Group Expedition without instructors.

Glacier mountaineering and Backpacking: The Mega Section
Following the sea kayaking section, we spent a continuous 48 days in the wilderness of Wrangell=St. Elias National Park backpacking and glacier mountaineering. This place is considered remote for Alaska, and although it is the largest national park in north america, it is also the least visited. During our 48 days there, we saw no one outside of our group besides our re-ration pilot and an Alaskan State Trooper. We started out on tundra, hiking for 2 weeks to the Nabesna Glacier. We spent 18 days living and travelling on the glacier, summitting 2 mountains in the process before making a difficult exit off the Copper glacier and continuing back on the tundra. I don't remember the exact number but I think we traveled around 160 miles.

In my following post, I will post the brief summary of the mega section by one of our instructors.

If you are interested, here is a brief collection of photos that another student took on the trip. A few of the captions are wrong but the photos are great nonetheless. I have over 800 myself and if people are interested, I will upload more for viewing.
https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set ... 035&type=3

I will write about some of the lessons I learned at a later point. Feel free to ask any questions.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:12 am

Brief detailed summary of the Mega section

As stated in my previous post, here is a summary about the glacier mountaineering and backpacking expedition, penned by one of my instructors.
Our NOLS expedition went to the Wrangell Mountains this year. We began our 48 day trip with a close encounter with the local mega-fauna, a dicey exploration of a decrepit gold mine, and an improbable river crossing of the Jacksina River. Finding ourselves pleasantly enthralled by the wildness of our surroundings and unexpectedly successful with the river, we tackled the long march across tundra hummocks and tussocks to the Monte Cristo Creek. Plagued by physical injuries and illnesses, we were forced to rest over a day before we canyoneered up through deep channels and difficult river crossings into the high lands. We were resupplied by Kirk Ellis and the Hulk on Horseshoe plateau and immediately dived into learning the requisite skills for our first peak attempt. We tackled Mount Gordon on July 1, contouring across the west shoulder and ascending the north face, a steep snow route culminating in a difficult technical step at the bergschrund. Summiting and returning to our base camp took 14 hours, the first of our many long days mountaineering.

Feeling strong, we pushed over the Ice Fields to our secondary resupply at Tuttle Plateau. From there, we climbed onto the broad Nabesna Glacier, fighting through white-outs, soft snow, and difficult conditions to the base of Mt. Jarvis. Weather and travel encouraged us to flip our schedules twelve hours, rising in the early evening for breakfast, working and traveling through the night before setting up camp and eating dinner around 7 in the morning. Students took full ownership for this section of the course, driving the expedition to summit Jarvis on July 15, at 13,421 ft, and requiring over three weeks to approach, the mountain is an outstanding Alaskan objective and our expedition’s successful climb of it was a remarkable fear for a group of novice mountaineers. the ascent took 20 hours and allowed us only 5 hours of sleep before we had to push five miles further for a resupply with Paul Claus.

Desperately needing rest, we abandoned the night schedule and laid over multiple days high on the Copper Glacier, prioritizing scouting missions and skill development while we were still in the snow, and resting our tired bodies - allowing migraines, foot injuries, and the like to run their course before pushing down into the unknown Lower Copper Glacier. After another 19 hour day rappelling 800 feet to the valley floor, we rested in an avalanche amphitheater for one wonderful full night of sleep. Then came the long march, the arduous push to make our fourth resupply. Beautiful moonrises, alien landscapes, and hard travel filled our days and nights as we struggled to find a way through the heavily-crevassed terrain of the massive glacier. Eventually stumbling off the east flank at the toe, we continued to fight for progress through thick alderbrush, down loose boulder fields and scree slopes and across flooded torrents and glacial run-off.

We arrived at the Copper River gravel bars 15 hours late and unbearably exhausted to be greeted once again by our friend and savior Kirk Ellis with our resupply of food. With a day of rest we pushed on, fearing that our difficulties would continue, but our hard efforts and staunch optimism in the face of the unknown finally aligned with sunny days and easy walking. As an expedition we universally exhaled a sigh of relief and relaxed: we gave up our watches, forgoing time schedules and turned our focus inward on ourselves, our team, and our final goal of independent student expeditioning. After one day with instructors, students led themselves through the tundra, climbing a 7,000 foot pass and descending down an unnamed valley to Sheep Lake and our final resupply with Kirk. Students planned their routes and discussed their own group’s dynamics, trading feedback, voicing concerns, and managing to work through their accumulated stresses of 40+ difficult days in the field on their own. Watching all this unfold, the instructors were proud to have been part of a rare course, where the finer points of expeditioning - teamwork, communication, respect, and forgiveness were considered and taken on by the students. In the end, the group proved not only that they read the map, travel and camp as experienced wilderness travelers, but that they could take care of themselves and each other.

We traveled in small groups, alone for four days, before reuniting on the evening of the fourth of August to climb ‘The Lump’ and enjoy one last sunset and ‘peak’ ascent as a group. Then, with a day and a half left in the field, we unanimously decided to take on one final challenge: to make a full circle of our route. Starting early on the morning of the fifth, we pushed out an extra fifteen miles in addition to our planned objectives by just after 10 AM on the 6th, so we could enjoy our final field-meal with the Ellis‘ and set ourselves up for a smooth, full-and-filling re-entry to the front country. We left the sweet taste in our mouths of an amazingly successful shared experience with fourteen incredible expedition mates.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:11 pm

Awesome stuff! Not awesome like a hotdog, but really awesome.

1) What was the average expedition age? I looked at the NOLS site and I saw the average age is 19, so do they mainly cater to the college crowd or how does that work?
2) Are the mosquitoes in Alaska as bad as they say they are?
3) Could this be done in another way? I noticed the $4-7000 price tag. This is 2-3x the cost of a guided hunting/fishing expedition (which on the other hand doesn't last 75 days).
4) After this experience/skill-acquisition, would you be comfortable going out on your own now, Proenneke style?

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 21, 2013 6:47 pm

1. Yes, the average age for my group was about 20, with the youngest being 18 and the oldest 27. I don't think they necessarily cater to the college crowd but that age range makes up the vast demographic of most courses. However, anyone is free to take a course. There have been people as old as 70 on the courses. I think a big reason that it is mainly college aged kids is because all courses offer some type of college credit.

2. Yes. They are brutal when you first experience them but you adapt after a while and don't pay much attention to them. With that said, there were other members who were still bothered by them towards the end of the trip so I guess it depends on your mindset.

3. Yes. The total cost of my course actually came out to somewhere around $13 k with credit fees, equipment rentals, tuition etc. This actually saved a lot of money for me because it's less than what I currently pay for a semester and I'm able to graduate a full calendar year early.

If someone has the skills and equipment, they can easily do the same trip (unguided) for somewhere around $3000. The biggest cost is re-rations by plane. I think I remember one of the instructors saying that it cost $200-300 a trip(Re-ration on glacier is around $500). With 6 re-rations that's about two thirds of the total cost. If you figure out someway to reduce or eliminate that cost I'm guessing you could do it for $1000 or less. That would easily get you all the food you need and enough money to rent any gear you don't have.

4. I think I would be very comfortable living and travelling in the wilderness on my own. I don't really have any carpentry skills at the moment though so I guess that would be my only setback. I'm planning on becoming certified as a Wilderness First Responder (Advanced Wilderness First Aid) in the near future and I think that combined with the skills at NOLS gives me a very solid foundation to do something like Proenneke.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by SoCal Will » Mon Oct 21, 2013 10:52 pm

Hey Animal,

I got your PM, but I don't have enough posts to respond to it yet (some kind of anti-spambot feature I guess)

So I'll just you answer here. You asked about the wilderness counseling gig:

"It seemed like you had a positive experience. Would you recommend it? Was it difficult dealing with the students?

Yes, I had a great experience as a wilderness counselor, best and most rewarding job I've ever worked by a long shot. I would definitely recommend it. It helped me grow as a person more, in a shorter period of time, than almost anything I've done, ever.

I didn't find it difficult dealing with the students, I enjoyed them. Of course it's a challenge, they aren't in these programs if they don't have some problems. But mostly it felt like the little brothers (and sisters...I worked some of the female groups as well) that I never had, or younger kids from the neighborhood who looked up to you or something. You see them grow and learn in many ways.

There can be disappointment, for sure, because of the emotional investment you put into it. Many of the kids are very, very manipulative and very good at it. I've had to break up fights, tackle kids into the dirt, track "runners" (every now and again, some would try to escape/flee...a "runner". Mostly they were just looking for attention and wouldn't go that far, we were working in southern Utah in one of the most remote areas of the lower-48, and always considered line-of-sight to lights of any towns when choosing hiking routes/field areas). Had some kids who I knew would never turn it around and spend their life in and out of the criminal justice system. That's tough to stomach sometimes. It feels like you've failed. Failed both them and yourself.

All I would caution is, have a plan for the second year. Most people in this line of work don't last very long. Turnover is extreme. A year or two in the job is normal. So don't go into it thinking this will be a long term proposition, but another rich experience and personal growth opportunity.

It sounds like you are on the right path, and at a much earlier age than I got there. Best of luck to you!

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Mon Oct 21, 2013 11:12 pm

Thank you very much for your detailed response. It's great to get the inside perspective. You didn't by chance work for Second Nature? If you don't want to answer that I understand, but that's where I was looking into and some of the details from your post seem to line up.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by My_Brain_Gets_Itchy » Tue Oct 22, 2013 1:55 pm

@theanimal: what an awesome experience, thanks for sharing that, sent you a PM.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jennypenny » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:08 pm

@theanimal--That's awesome. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to see pictures.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:21 pm

I don't buy many books. As I told you in the pm, this one I look forward to buying.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:01 pm

Lessons from the wilderness

Tolerance for adversity and uncertainty
You can't control how long you'll be travelling, whether the terrain will be tough or cruiser, or how many obstacles you face. All you can control is how prepared you are for each situation and how you react to it. Very similar to life in civilization.

Patience
This was basically a forced lesson. Multiple periods of long waiting forced me to basically accept that I was just going to have to wait as long as it takes. Key lesson was from waiting for 5 hours in the middle of the glacier during a snowstorm from 1-6 am... Huge plus in any life situation.

Communication
A good leader communicates the plan effectively providing all necessary and relevant information. Also important in resolving disputes and staying amicable with others when living in close quarters for long periods of time. Another plus for any life situation.

Timeliness
I quickly learned how much it sucks waiting for people after waiting almost every day for the same people in all types of conditions. As someone who had routinely arrived a few minutes late to class and appointments prior to the expedition, this was huge for me. I've only been late to something once since getting back.

Self-care
I learned this one the hard way..after not taking great care of my feet on the glacier I developed a pretty bad salt rash on the insides of each foot. Each step for over a week was a painful reminder of how negligent I was to my feet/body.
Just as important in civilization..Exercising, eating right, getting enough sleep and cleaning yourself. You only have one body, take care of it.

Importance of a positive attitude (Expedition behavior)
Another critical one..early on there were a small handful of my peers who complained about just about everything. This brought down everyone's attitudes in the group. Thankfully it changed and we were better able to handle each stressful situation with a clear and positive outlook. Same thing goes for life in society...all you really control is your reaction, find the positive!



These are just a few of many...I thought I'd share. I'm still working on uploading the pictures for those who are curious, should have them up sometime later this week.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by arebelspy » Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:05 pm

theanimal wrote:Anyways, thought I'd update what I plan to do based off the thread I created living in a tent long term. After I graduate I hope to become a wilderness therapy instructor (for at risk-youth) in Utah. The job is 8 days in the field and 6 days off. While I am in the field I will have no expenses, so I will essentially be spending around $0 for 30 weeks of the year.
I know several people who did this (and, I'm betting, with the exact same company).

Not a bad gig if that's your thing.

You certainly learn some sweet survival skills. And you get a fun nickname when you are accepted by the staff.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:06 pm

Year in Review

What a year. I discovered ERE a little over a year ago. Happily discovering how I could live the life that I had dreamed. This combined with my time in Alaska this past summer have changed me in ways I couldn't of imagined. And the best part is that 2014 seems like it could be my greatest one yet!

2014
In a couple of weeks I will be entering in my final semester at school (graduating in May). From there, the plan is to head back up to Alaska, where I would be working until sometime in September. I plan to cut my alcohol consumption to zero by the end of the semester and also start rock climbing/bouldering more at the school's gym this semester, I believe it could bode well for me down the road.

Here are some of my planned adventures for the year:
-Climbing Mt. Rainier with a couple of friends from NOLS
-A personal solo expedition covering 280 miles of Lake Clark N.P.
-Culminating with the most ambitious one...a 3500 mi bike ride home from Anchorage to Chicago via the Alaska-Canadian Highway


I can't wait!

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Jan 01, 2014 9:32 pm

Thanks for sharing your journal, it's been a good read. I'm jealous of the bucket list!

The NOLS and first responder skills are useful for a lot of reasons. One you haven't mentioned is working for as a ranger or search and rescue or become a climbing or kayaking guide (if any of that appeals to you) if you get tired of wilderness therapy.

I've got a place you can stay while you are on your way back to Chicago (assuming my location is on the route and I'm still there). I'll pm with contact info and location.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Wed Jan 01, 2014 11:44 pm

Thanks Gilberto de Piento. Do you have a bucket list yourself?

I have not mentioned working as a ranger etc. but I have considered it. My plan for the wilderness therapy instructor job is not a long-term one (i.e 1-2 years). I am pursuing the job as a base, or stepping stone, to gain experience for my ultimate dream job, a NOLS instructor. That's a couple years down the road but from there I would have the opportunity to be an instructor for any outdoor sport/pursuit you could imagine (Backpacking, kayaking, mountaineering, climbing etc.).

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Jan 21, 2014 5:28 pm

So I've decided to place my writings on a blog instead of publishing a book. I just don't think I have the time at this point and I think there will be plenty more opportunities for me down the road.

Anyways, the link to my new blog is below! Any questions, comments or criticisms would be happily received. There are 17 installments/chapters so I think I'll post one every day or every other day. One quick point: IMO it gets better and better as the story progresses. So stay tuned if you are interested!

http://animaltreks.wordpress.com/
Last edited by theanimal on Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by wizards » Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:16 am

Nice read, thanks for sharing. Looking forward to read the next chapters :)

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal » Tue Feb 18, 2014 12:22 am

@wizards-Thanks!

I know I've kind of bounced around with what I've been thinking I want to do after graduation the past few months, but I finally made the decision on what I'm planning on doing. I'm going full force after my dream job: professional adventurer. With this decision, my plans for this year changed as well. I have a big adventure planned from summer to early fall then after that I'll try to develop as many income streams as possible to make this a successful venture. I'll post more details soon.

Also, to those looking at my blog. I apologize for not updating the NOLS material as I said I would. I sent it to someone close to have it edited a while back when I was still planning on doing the book and its taking a bit longer than expected. The final 12 chapters will be up asap.

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