Author Archives: kirk.kittell

Return from Mojave, Day 17

Camp Wilderness, Park Rapids, MN to Ingersoll Scout Reservation, London Mills, IL

Start: 91407 miles


coffee, BP, Park Rapids, MN, $0.95

Gas; BP, Owatonna, MN
$22.85, $2.059/gal, 11.099 gal
369.5/91698 miles, 33.29 mpg

Dairy Queen, blizzard, $2.97

Gas: BP, Davenport, IA
$17.01, $1.999/gal, 8.510 gal
267.7/91966 miles, 31.46 mpg
Soda, $1.43

Return from Mojave, Day 16

Bismarck, ND to Camp Wilderness, Park Rapids, MN

Start: 90906 miles

Camp Wilderness, Park Rapids, MN

I'll tell you a few things that I admire about the Boy Scouts organization. First, you are never a stranger in a strange land. That core set of values expressed in the Oath and Law provides a common ground no matter where you are coming from or going to. Second, the emphasis on teaching skills in an outdoor environment is an important facet of life that is often neglected in modern everyday life. Finally, the leadership skills acquired in the program are second-to-none. In a nutshell, this is the basis of a solid program.

Anyway. They have a very nice lake here at Camp Wilderness, a nice place to watch the setting sun reflect on the rhythmic waves. And reflect, myself.


Gas: Conoco, Jamestown, ND
$24.79, $2.159/gal, 11.480 gal
335.2/91013 miles, 29.20 mpg

Burger King, $2.13

Gas: BP, Hawley, MN
$21.97, $1.999/gal, 10.991 gal
315.2/91329 miles, 28.68 mpg

Return from Mojave, Day 15

Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit) to Bismarck, ND

Start: 90553 miles

River Bend Overlook, Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Unit), morning after storm

Sunrise after the storm. I realize that I do not know when there will be another morning like this. When will I wake up again in such a beautiful and strange place? It is sad to think of this, but I am still happy for the opportunity to be here. I am pleased that I made the journey, one which was met with curiousity by some that I met along the way.

To express this feeling better -- there is no sadness at all. I accomplished what I set out to do. I better understand my personal machinery, how it operates, where it was failing, and most importantly, how it is to be used from this point onward.

Along the way, I encountered good friends and family. This was an important step in the process of self-awareness. I like to think to myself that solitude is the only state pure enough for the process of self-examination. This is a lie, at least for myself. Experiencing the friendship of others is vital.

(For situational reference, a small herd of buffalo, perhaps 12, is crossing the Little Missouri River, their snorts and splashes audible from a mile away)

Self-awareness. Taming the beast. Understanding what lies within. Cliche, but an important waypoint on an ongoing journey. Life, and how to live it.

Understanding the landscape is one thing, but navigating is another. This is the next challenge. This trail will not require boots, but the footing is treacherous still. I'm eager to go, to apply my new experiences, and to arrive at the next waypoint with the same enthusiasm and curiousity that allowed me to venture this far.


Gas: Conoco, Williston, ND
$12.95, $2.199/gal, 5.889 gal
182.7/90678 miles, 31.02 mpg
Coffee, $1.00

Captain Jack's Liquor Land, Bismarck, ND, $17.15

Return from Mojave, Day 14

Bismarck, ND to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND (North Unit)

Start: 90321 miles

Petrified Forest Loop Trail

There, on the grassy prairie. No signs of humans anywhere except for the intermittent trail sign. No roads. No cars. No planes. No contrails high in the sky. No powerlines. Hell, nobody.

With my current possessions -- notably, 1.5 liters of water, no food, and other odds and ends, what would survival be like in this green ocean?


Dan's Supermarket, groceries, $6.87

Gas: BP, Bismarck, ND
$13.79, $2.179/gal, 6.328 gal
202.5/90323 miles, 32.00 mpg
Coffee, $0.63

Gas: Tesoro, Belfield, ND
$11.72, $2.099/gal, 5.585 gal
172.7/90495 miles, 30.92 mpg

Juniper Campground, $10.00

Return from Mojave, Day 10

Morrell Falls, Lolo National Forest, MT

Start: 89407 miles

With only a few more days remaining on this trip, I believe the groundwork has been laid to address some of the important questions behind this trip. Through encounters with friends and wild places I have had the opportunity to see within myself. Short story: things are good, but there is ample room to improve myself.

So -- with the waters below me rushing and the ridges beyond shrouded in mystery, I seek the thoughts rushing with my own shrouded wild.

I embarked on this three-week trip to discover both what capabilities I have for creativity and leadership and to find what was blocking their passage from idea to reality. I hoped to do this through time alone in remote, aesthetic locations on my journey home. I believe that I succeeded, but will not declare the journey a victory until I can isolate a plan for knocking down the wall.

My leadership ability draws its uniqueness, its identity, from a few things: my honest desire to work on the lowest tiers (i.e. dirt under nails, not office managing); my agility and "travelability;" my ability to keep multiple tasks going at the same time. My approach has several weaknesses: lack of confidence; worrying about bothering others with requests and followups; strong pushes in the middle of projects with weak finishes; lack of desire to be recognized.

At the onset of this trip, I was seeking a cure for my weaknesses. This was all wrong. This would have treated the symptoms but not the disease. The correct approach is this: identification and concentration. Identify the instances when my behaviors are passive and weak, demonstrative of above-listed traits. Concentrate on what the behavior should be. Do it. Not easy -- but I am capable.


Barnes and Noble, $12.90

Gas: Exxon, Big Timber, MT
$21.75, $2.339/gal, 9.298 gal
281.7/89823 miles, 30.30 mpg
Coffee, $0.79

Gas: Cennex, Glendive, MT
$21.30, $2.269/gal, 9.389 gal
296.8/90120 miles, 31.61 mpg
Coffee, $0.75

Return from Mojave, Day 9

St. Mary Peak Trail, Bitterroot National Forest

Start: 89290 miles

It is a good day when the only sounds are the wind in the pines and the snow sprinkling on your head. With the conditions outside my little region covered in clouds, essentially invisible, it is like being isolated in a room of pine trees. With the wind and snow for company.


Lolo National Forest map, $6.00

Barnes and Noble, 2 books, $32.95

Gas: Holiday, Missoula, MT
$20.49, $2.199/gal, 9.318 gal
295.5/89305 miles, 31.71 mpg

Return from Mojave, Day 8

McCall, ID to Missoula, MT

Start: 89002 miles

The clear cold water creates
A ropy texture
In the places where
The rocky bed underneath
Forms a consistent up down
Diagonal across the stream
In the waves above

I'll tell you what progress isIt is always moving downstream
Over the rocky bed underneath
Down and on
Picking up strength
Down and on
Cool and clear

Gas: Shell, McCall, ID
$24.74, $2.429/gal, 10.186 gal
325.2/89009 miles, 31.93 mpg

Rossauer's, Missoula, MT, $13.58

Return from Mojave, Day 7

Ochoco National Forest, OR to McCall, ID

Start: 88620 miles

Act I

Disaster -- averted!
Catastrophe -- avoided!

The road leading north from Deep Creek Campground to Mitchell and the John Day Fossil Beds National Mountain (Painted Hills Unit) is a one-lane, gravel road -- Forest Service Roads 42, 3010, and 22. For brevity, an oncoming truck and I barely missed becoming a single piece of metal while rounding a blind turn around a hillside rock embankment. The picture of his wheels cocked to a hard angle away from the direction of the road to evade a collision is still burned in my mind (however, I could not describe the color of his vehicle, maybe green?). A few unstable oscillations in and out of the ditch, and a gallon of adrenaline later, all is well, albeit more cautious. On to the Painted Hills and Idaho, in one piece, and very thankful for the opportunity to drive on.

Act II

From the 1.5-mile trail marker, Blue Basin Overlook, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument:

"What is it that urges a man to risk his life in these precipitous fossil beds? I can answer only for myself, but with me there are only two motives, the desire to add to human knowledge, which has been the greatest motive of my life, and the hunting instinct , which is deeply planted in the human heart. Not the desire to destroy life, but to see it...

It is thus that I love the creatures of other ages, and that I want to become acquainted with them in their natural environments. They are never dead to me; my imagination breathes life into 'the valley of dry bones'...

--C. H. Sternberg, paleontologist


Gas: Dayville, OR
$28.00, $2.499/gal, 11.203 gal
335.3/88684 miles, 29.93 mpg

Patch at Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, $4.00