Thursday, May 20

Yesterday, I ordered a backpack from Cabela's.

I did this for two reasons: First, I had a small stack of hoarded gift-certificates. Second, I decided that if I was leaving the continent for a while, my everything-in-one-bag philosophy was going to require something better than the shapeless and ill-balanced Eastpak bookbag I've been lugging around for three years.

Oh yeah. Just by the by, I'm leaving the continent for a while.

So, anyway, the pack I bought is actually not that big. Closer to a daypack, but hopefully just over the threshold where anything you really need (as long as you're close to civilization) will fit. I could have gone for a full-size model, but I kept having these visions: This is Brennen trying and failing to jam his pack into an overhead luggage compartment while people demonstrate their ability to swear in three or four languages. This is Brennen getting stuck in doorways. This is Brennen toppling in a high wind.

As is, and I've been thinking about this the way people who write for outdoor magazines write that they think about fishing trips, what do you really need if you're going to spend a month in England and parts beyond, cadging on the hospitality of a girlfriend and other unwary parties?

Things to take: Half a dozen tightly rolled changes of underwear. Similar quantities of socks. Toothbrush. Floss. Bandanas. One pair cargo pants (worn on plane), two pairs shorts, three shirts, one gray hoodie. Well-rehearsed but passionate I am not the actions of my government speech. Moleskine, sketchbook, and writing stuff (three pencils, one eraser, two archival markers; nothing that leaks or explodes). Guitar. Disc. Water bottle. Rubber bands, thread, safety pins, roll of athletic tape, extra elastic cargo strap thing. Belt. Passport.

Things not to take, even though I thought about it: Yerba maté and drinking gourd with funky filtered straw. (No, it doesn't really look like weed and you wouldn't want to smoke anything through the straw. You try explaining that to a harried customs officer after a stop in Amsterdam. I should ask Martijn if I can post his account of Japan and unprovoked body cavity searches some time.) Super-useful Leatherman tool. Heavy books. Battery-guzzling personal electronics. Flask.

Things I am still not sure about: Hat.

Guitar aside, what I'm not wearing should fit in 3600 cubic inches. Right? Maybe?