Things in the Works + Some Podcast Interviews by Wookie Kim

It's been a long time--a really long time! Despite my inactivity, I'm still alive, and I still have plans to bring this trip to a proper ending point (so that the next one can begin, right?). To that end, I want to share the things I have in the works. I also wanted to share two podcast interviews in which I got to chat about my running road trip.

Things in the works:

Final daily blog posts. I still have 5 daily blog posts pending: the last 3 days of my trip--oops!--and then a couple days that happened to slip through the blogging cracks. At this point, these points won't be live updates, but I'm nevertheless committed to finishing them. My hope is that I'll one day put the daily trip narratives into a unified document, as a trip keepsake.

Summation posts. This trip was a learning experience in so many ways. I've yet to sit down and put into words some of my final thoughts. I plan to do so soon. Some topics I plan to write about: my lessons/take-aways, the "best of" lists, defining the word "epic", running economy, how you can run across America, what's next for 2016 (and beyond).

Posts on the National Park Service and our national parks. I'd originally planned to read as much as I could about the NPS and the history of our parks while on the road. That turned out to be an overly ambitious plan. But since finishing, I've begun this work (for example, I recently finished William Tweed's Uncertain Path: A Search for the Future of National Parks) with gusto. I want to share what I've learned and write more broadly about our national parks. This is somewhat of a long-term project, but I think it's even more appropriate in 2016, the National Park Service's centenary.

A video. This blog has hosted so many of my photos, which in themselves capture and convey so much of what made this trip so memorable. But I can't forget about the 400+ video clips I took along the way! I'm slowly beginning to consolidate the diverse landscapes I saw into a short music video. I need to learn a bit about video editing, so this might take a few months. Here is my "proof of concept", which has confirmed for me that this is a project worth pursuing:

A revamp of the website. This is the lowest priority, but I'd like to transform what has functionally been a blog into a resource on the various national parks that I visited. I already have landing pages for the various regions of the country. But there's no content on any of the park-specific pages. I hope--but don't expect--to update these at some point to include descriptions of each park, the trails I ran, and "best of" photos.


The Ultra Mindset Podcast.  Damian Lynch invited me to come talk on his podcast after he stumbled across my Instagram account. On his podcast, he interviews "people from around the globe who are achieving the exceptional and pushing the boundaries of what is possible for all of us." Specifically, he focuses on the mindset that allows athletes and adventurers to do really cool things. I had such a blast chatting with Damian, about not only the trip, but also what makes me tick--what keeps me motivated each day.

You can listen to the Ultra Mindset Podcast episode here:

PersoNatalie Podcast. Natalie Kim invited me to talk on her podcast, on which she interviews "a diverse array of people to get a slice of their personal stories – what motivates them and what makes them who they are – in order to inspire thought and action in others." (There seems to be a common theme here...) During our conversation, we talked more about the stories--funny, scary, motivating--by which I (and maybe others) will remember this trip. 

You can listen to the PersoNatalie Podcast episode here:


That's all for now. Stay tuned for more soon. And thanks for reading!

On blogging. by Wookie Kim

Very quickly, blogging while on the road has become just as central a part of what I'm doing this summer. The response to my trip has been wonderful to see. 10 days in, and this site has had almost 10,000 page views from several thousand unique visitors. I'm encouraged that people are getting a glimpse into my journey, but, more importantly, I hope that what I document will help show just how magical our national parks are. They simply are not to be missed.

One question that might be on a reader's mind is how I actually go about blogging while on the road. I've literally found my first wifi hotspot on this entire trip (excluding my one night in Chicago at my friend's and my one night in a motel in Bismarck, ND). Early on, there were certainly plenty of Starbuckses, but I never had the time to stop and pull out my laptop. Daylight time is precious to me, so if I'm inside a coffee shop instead of out on the trails, I feel like I'm wasting time. So, how do I do it?

Here's my process. In the morning, I break camp and hit the road. While driving, I use a car power inverter to recharge anything that needs charging. I always prioritize my portable battery pack (made by Jackery), because this ensures that I can have 2-3 full charges of my iPhone. But I also charge my laptop, my Garmin GPS watch, and my spare camera battery. I often go through very extended portions of the day with absolutely no cell signal. The beauty of the iPhone is that it still tracks your blue dot through GPS. So if I've preloaded a map or route, I can roughly see where I am and where I should be headed.

When I arrive at a trailhead, I kind of put all of this to the side. I always bring my camera--a compact Canon SL1, with a very shallow 22mm prime lens. Because the body is already so small, this set-up is perfect for running. If I want to--and occasionally I do--I can actually run while holding the lightweight camera in one hand. It's just like holding a hand-held water bottle. For runs where I know I want some more camera firepower, I consider bringing my telephoto lens. This is how I've gotten such great close-ups of wildlife. But bringing that lens comes at the expense of a heavier pack. I need to have a pretty good reason to bring it.

To avoid feeling schizophrenic on the trails, I break up my run into chunks. I begin with the camera put away. I run as freely as I'd like, just getting a feel for the land, and soaking it all in. Eventually, when I reach my first picturesque segment, I pull out my camera and make frequent stops. Of course, magical things happen on each run. Even if I'm in a groove, I'll stop to take a photo. Interestingly, these photo breaks are very good short recovery periods from running.

After a day out on the trails, I'm usually making my way to a campsite, hopefully somewhere very nearby. Once I arrive, I set up camp, cook dinner, and relax for a bit. And it's after that period that I make the blogging magic happen. I begin by taking my SD card out of my camera and into my laptop. From my laptop, I can cull the photos that I want to include in the blog. But if I don't have wifi, how do I get those photos online? The answer is that I use my iPhone. Squarespace has a mobile app. It's pretty barebones, but allows you to post text and images. And that's really all that I need. To get the photos onto my iPhone, I use iTunes photo-syncing feature.

Once the photos are on my phone, I begin writing the blog post. You're probably wondering how I'm able to type such long posts using only my iPhone. Again, the reality is that I have technology on my side. I've always had a Bluetooth keyboard for my smaller devices. I brought that keyboard along with me now. I'm so glad I did. It is that keyboard that lets me type just as if I'm using a regular computer. So, I type up a post, add in some images (because words can do only so much), and prepare to post it. If I'm in an area with cell service, I'll publish it right then and there through my phone. If not, I'll wait until I reach a point the following day where I do have cell signal. (For instance, I'm actually at the Wind Cave Visitor Center right this moment, and I've found my first free wifi hotspot, so I'm actually using internet on my laptop.)

The Jackery iPhone battery pack, good for 2-3 charges, and a bunch of maps, good for the many places where I've had no cell service.

The Jackery iPhone battery pack, good for 2-3 charges, and a bunch of maps, good for the many places where I've had no cell service.

Why do I even bother? Well, I've realized that part of what makes this blog interesting is that it unfolds somewhat in real time. Many people have told me how they enjoy living vicariously through me and my blog. To make that vicarious experience as real as possible, I'm doing my best to share bits and pieces of my progress each day, while on the go, instead of waiting until I next hit a coffee shop (in this area of the country, potentially never), and dump everything at once.

I've already violated my principle and have spent 30 minutes here inside this air-conditioned visitor center in Wind Cave National Park. I just went on a cool tour of the cave system. It's now time to gear up and run some of the trails on the surface. And then I hit the road again, this time for Bighorn National Forest.