A New Friend

I can’t really claim credit for this idea, but I’m excited to share my take on it here. One of the things that gets me down when I travel is there aren’t many pictures of myself. That’s not horrible. How many pictures of me do I really need? But I also travel alone, so taking pictures of myself means they pretty much have to be staged somehow. I have to set up a tripod, figure out the timer, all that stuff. Never mind that I don’t get to take pictures of anyone else.

I have a week off and I’m planning on doing a little bit of local traveling so all these thoughts have come to the forefront again. It’s easy to get down about it. Someone recently shared with me this website: http://www.postcardsfromgoat.com. I thought it was a super cute idea. It’s kind of like that thing where people put a URL on dollar bills and people log in and track them. I liked it because it was a cute stuffed animal, and people were treating it as though it was going on these adventures with them.

So I thought about it and tried to think of what I might like to do that was similar. I wanted to get a cute stuffed animal that I could take with me on my travels and take pictures of. While I’ve always been very fond of my stuffed toys, and felt they should have meaning, I didn’t know where I could get one I wanted locally, so I found one online.

It’s a koala. I think I’m going to call him Kip. He’s very soft, and adorable to the max. I hope we have many fun adventures together. While he’s not a person, I think it’s a very good substitute.

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Me & Kip

Me & Kip

Ready to Roll

Sometimes I think I’m an idiot. I get all anxious about things and forget that I’m actually really smart, and can really problem solve if I want to. So I have my new (used) car and I think I’ve finally put it through all its shakedown cruises. I know it’s quirks. I’m confident in driving it. So I can take it on a little road trip, right? Oops, shouldn’t have thought of that. Here are some doubts, fears and things to be anxious about. Traveling alone. What if something goes wrong? Fears fears fears worries fears worries…

Or…or I could use the fleshy thing inside my skull to help mitigate those concerns. That’s what I decided to do today. I ended up spending a pretty substantial amount of money, but in the grander scheme of things, it had to be done. If it helps me do the things I want to do in life, then it’s worth every penny.

Actually, I had started this process when I first brought my car home. I decided that I drive a lot and with two cars now, AAA is probably well worth the money. I think it was like $80 for a year of roadside assistance and up to 200 miles of towing. Done. That’s a no brainer in my opinion. But then I stopped. As though AAA would solve all of my concerns. It helped with the big ones, but I was still worried.

Today I put together the beginnings of a kit for my car that basically just makes me feel better. There are still some things I want to add, but all the stuff I got represented a pretty substantial chunk of change, so I’ll add in other things as I can. Anyway, here’s the spread:

spread

I’ll do a rundown of everything I got, rough costs and why I got it. From top to bottom:

  • 1 quart Castrol GTX 10W-30 motor oil ($6.50): Look, my car is 25 years old. It burns oil at some rate. Unless it’s hemorrhaging oil so badly that I need a tow, a quart of the good stuff gives me peace of mind.
  • 8-Gauge Booster Cables ($24): To be perfectly honest, I’m surprised I didn’t already have a set of these. I got the nice 8-Gauge ones even though they were about $10 more because why not?
  • Hydrogen Peroxide ($1.50): Tried and true.
  • Bactine ($8.30): The stuff you didn’t want mom to spray on your scrapes as a kid. Between this and the hydrogen peroxide, I feel confident that any minor scrapes or injuries will be no problem.
  • Shop Gloves ($17): Have you ever tried to work on a car with bare hands? It’s a pain in the ass. Worse if you’re near part of the engine that’s warm or hot. Save the bactine and hydrogen peroxide for injuries that can’t be avoided.
  • 50FT Nylon Braided Rope ($7): Rope is one of those things that’s really versatile for its cost. Just a silly thing NOT to have.
  • Mini-can of WD-40 ($3): I’d rank WD-40 right underneath duct tape in the list of handy tools to have. On an older car that has a lot of seized or rusted bolts/parts, WD-40 is going to be the difference between cursing for 2 hours and sitting and waiting for 2 hours.
  • First-Aid Kit ($14): Normally I don’t like pre-packaged first-aid kits because you don’t know what’s in them, or what the quality is, but this was pretty cheap, had some things I didn’t want to buy separately and just seemed like a nice addition to my kit. It includes:
    • (2) Butterfly bandages
    • (1) Medical tape 1/2″ x 10 yards
    • (3) Knuckle Bandages
    • (5) 1 x 3″ Bandages
    • (1) Conforming Gauze
    • (2) Sterile gauze dressing
    • (3) Antiseptic towelettes
    • (2) Triple antibiotic ointment
    • (2) 200mg ibuprofen tablets
    • (2) 25mg diphenhydramine tablets
    • (2) Anti-Bite sting/itch relief
    • (11) Moleskin blister patches
    • (2) Alcohol swabs
    • (1) Splinter picker / tick removal forceps
    • (3) Safety pins
  • Stoke Firestarting Kit ($11): I’ve always kept a box of matches in the car. I was actually going to buy a tube of the weatherproof matches for my kit here, but saw this and thought it was a better option. It’s a waterproof steel tube with a flint striker, several pieces of flint and tinder. Why do I prefer this? Because even if all of it got soaked the flint striker will still create a good spark. I tried it out with a cotton ball just to see how easy it was. Answer? Extremely easy.
  • Emergency Poncho ($2): Silly thing to not have. Small, cheap, easy and the difference between being wet and unhappy and dry and much better.
  • USB Car Charger ($13): These things are so cheap nowadays. With cellphones that have batteries that don’t last very long, it helps that while you’re car is running, you know your phone is topped off. I actually use this exact same one with my PV power station. It works great and has 1.5 amp and 2.1 amp ports for phones and tablets respectively.
  • Heavy Duty Weatherproof Duct Tape ($10): Don’t cheap out on this. Don’t get the imitation ones. Get the brand name 3M stuff.
  • Roll of Gauze 2″ x 2.5 yards ($3): Cheap thing to have that has many uses. This stuff works great on larger scrapes where a band-aid won’t do.
  • Antibiotic Band-Aids ($4): Self explanatory.
  • LED Flashlight ($24): Very bright. Weatherproof. Drop/shock proof. Two brightness settings. 1 AA alkaline battery. LED bulbs don’t burn out. They’re much brighter. Make sure you get a flashlight that takes alkaline batteries (the fewer the better). Why? Because you can store alkalines for a long time. They’re cheaper and easier to find than lithium which some fancy flashlights take. A Maglight is probably also a good choice here, but I don’t know if they have LED versions. I love my mini-mag, but the xenon bulbs it uses burn out too often.

So is this kit complete? Not quite. I’m very satisfied with what I have here, and would feel safe going out with it. Some things that I’d probably also just throw in the trunk would be my ratchet set and a towel. For the kit, I’d also like to have a nice leatherman multi-tool. I didn’t see any that I liked at the camping store today, so I’ll probably look online. I’m also going to look into some kind of non-perishable food to keep in the kit. I’ve heard almonds are good for that. If I wanted to be super prepared, I guess I could get some MRE-style pre-packaged storable meals. I’m also going to get another pack of bungee cords. I have some in my primary car that I got before a camping trip some years ago. They are way more useful than I initially thought! I’m not sure but I might also get a second crow bar as well. I bought one for my Subaru last winter because I had to have some way of knocking the ice off from the wheel wells. Best. Purchase. Ever.

I’d also really like to have some kind of water purification system available to me. They had so many options at the camping store, but that’s out of my realm of expertise. My brother is a pretty serious wilderness/backwoods person, and I know he’s done water purification things before, so I’m going to ask him about it.

Longer term things to think about? I really would like to get a gun. It’s something I’ve thought about for a really long time. I don’t want anything insane, basically one step above a BB gun would be preferable. I’m very partial to the Walther PPK .22LR. One thing people don’t realize is that guns are loud. Sometimes just shooting one can be enough to scare away a bear or moose or whatever. Obviously there’s a lot more involved in getting a gun, and I’d need to learn to shoot it, but I’m pretty sure it’s something I want to do.

Future Version of Me

I don’t know if there’s any truth to it or not, but I think antidepressant medication causes strange dreams. I used to have recurring dreams where my car got stolen or just moved somewhere other than where I left it. Another recurring dream I sometimes still have basically revolves around the world ending in some way. It was always different, but always disturbing and upsetting.

I try not to put too much weight in dreams. To me, if they’re good, fine. If they’re not good then all they’re doing is ruining a good night’s sleep for me. That said, occasionally “interesting” dreams come along that I feel are worth remembering. Before I forget it, I want to write about one of those here.

There was a lot of stuff going on that was relatively unimportant and random. I think I was helping people move a bunch of stuff and load it onto a trailer. There were a number of people about, most of whom I didn’t know. A few seemed to have names of people I know in real life, but weren’t actually those people. I think it was when we were done loading the trailer with stuff I was walking back to some house with a few other people. There was one girl in the group who I was talking to. She seemed really familiar, but was not anyone I know in real life.

Anyway, we were talking and getting along quite well. She was very nice. Ok, I can’t believe I’m going to write this so candidly here, but it’s critical to the story, so I can’t leave it out or allude to what I’m talking about. We somehow began talking about transgender people and transitioning. I mentioned that I was starting to work on just that. She stopped, and said that it was a big deal, and that I should know that it was what I really wanted. I replied that it was, and that it was very important to me. Seemingly satisfied, we continued walking to the house and continued chatting. I remember she was so nice. She seemed so familiar.

When we arrived at the house I realized that I hadn’t gotten her name. I asked her and she replied that her name was “Scotty” which is about as feminine a version of my given name as you can get. Then she walked into the house. I remember feeling stunned, like I had just witnessed the twist at the end of an M. Night Shyamalan movie. Then I woke up.

Was that girl me? Was that why she seemed so familiar? The dream left me feeling so good. Like some potential future version of myself met up with me in a dream as if to tell me that “yes, I am you. Things are going to be ok.”