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The climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro
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People That Have Inspired Me Along the Way!

My journey up Mt. Kilimanjaro began officially on July 31, 2009. From that day forward, every step I have taken is a step towards the summit of this mountain. This includes every person that I have discussed this mission with along the way. Their thoughts, support and basic good conversation has helped propel me forward as I stuff it all inside my mental backpack and plan to carry each thought up this mountain. During a nine day ascent, there will be plenty of time to recall all that we've seen and done leading up to this climb. For instance, my friend Lario Ransomi, the famous Italian racecar driver, bought me a genuine moleskin writing book, like the one Hemingway so amorously used. This page is dedicated to those who have touched me along the way.

This is my friend Mike Kalpan, who is a talented glass blower and owner of The Glass Bubble Project in Cleveland, Ohio. If you are ever by the westside market, be sure to stop in, especially on Saturday mornings when they put on a glass blowing show for guests. Mike did some personal glass blowing for me, as we discussed Kilimanjaro at length as well. Along with our dear friend Chris Topher, we then went over to Nam Phen for a wonderful dinner.

Check out The Glass Bubble Project online for more information regarding the Clevetian Glass scene.

mike kaplan

yoga bag

I just spoke with my sister on the phone and she told me that she bought this fabric in Trinidad because she said it looked very african. That's why she bought it. She asked the person about where their fabric comes from in Trinidad and found out that most of the fabrics they had was from India. Either way, this print has similar colors to the Tanzanian flag in it, making it the perfect yoga bag for a man about to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Debra W.

My sister is one of the greatest people I have ever met. Besides being my inspiration throughout my life, both in business and in the pursuit of personal enjoyment and growth, she is usually my “go to” person when I need real good advice. Many of the values and beliefs I hold have been passed on to me through her. I mean, I remember the days when she used to listen to WIXY 1260AM radio and had Peter Max posters. I remember her singing “Come on baby light my fire…” and thinking, “Man, those are some stupid lyrics.” Only years later to seek out all the records of her youth, because they were now records of my youth. My sister is probably my greatest influence in life, outside of my other family members. I am blessed though, I come from a wonderfully supportive family.
So as my journey has developed, my sister and my mother have been tremendously supportive. We are all three clearly climbing this mountain, though only my feet will actually touch rock.

One of the daily programs I have immersed myself in is Yoga. I love yoga and basically practice every day at this point. Mainly I do Hatha Yoga, but I also do Vinyasa, and also some Kundalini. Since I began, I knew I wanted my own mat. I looked around but nothing felt right, until this nice girl in my class, Lisa, gave me an extra mat she had. It’s actually a really nice mat, and has become part of me. I looked around for a yoga bag to carry the mat in but they were $60 and up, so I passed since there are more pressing items I need for this journey than a bag to carry my yoga mat in. I mentioned this to my sister and the next think you know, I have the best yoga bag around.
My sister, among other things, is a wonderful fabric artist. She has many art pieces showing around the country in several different galleries. She has a real interesting technique with fabrics that are unique and simply beautiful. Well she made me a yoga bag, as seen here. Everyone in class really liked it, as they all commented, or most of them at least. So today, in my People Along The Way page, I felt I wanted to add my sister.
It is also notable to add that she has supported me on this trip in many other ways. She has supplied me with gear she already has like hats, gaiters, gloves, sleeping bag liner, and many other things including one of the best cameras one could buy for a trip like this. For Christmas she gave me a Lumix 10.1 megapixel, wide-angle digital camera. So when you see all these great shots and videos, the clarity and definition is courtesy of my wonderful sister. I am a blessed man for sure!

My life long friend, Tom B., has been instrumental in helping me plan for this trip. He has pushed me to go the extra distance each week in our hikes and adventure. Of course that is how it always was when we were kids. We have been friends since the first grade.

Tom Brand

One morning before our 14 mile hike he presented me with this awesome Saint Christopher medallion and chain. Saint Christopher, whose name means "Christ carrier," is not mentioned in the Bible. While there may have been a 3rd century Greek martyr named Christopher, the story told of him is now generally acknowledged to be a 12th century addendum to the Christian canon. Christopher is typically depicted as a tall, middle-aged, bearded man with a staff who wades across a river carrying the Christ child on his shoulders. As the story goes, the extremely robust Christopher devoted his life to carrying people across an otherwise unfordable stream. One day a little child appeared before him and asked to be carried across. to Christopher's surprise, as he forded the river, the child steadily increased in weight until Christopher found his tiny burden so heavy that it was almost impossible to bear. When he asked the holy babe why he weighted so much, the child replied that he carried the world's sins upon his shoulders. As a reward for his service, Christopher's staff was miraculously transformed into a living tree, and Christopher himself became the Patron Saint of Travelers.

St. Christopher's Medallion

Christopher was a widely popular saint, and was especially revered by mariners, ferrymen, and travelers. His feast day was July 25th, except in Greece, where it was celebrated on March 9th. In modern times a major center of his cult was in Italy and among Italian-Americans, a fat that did not stop the Vatican from de-canonizing him during a late 20th century purge of the list of saints. Saint Christopher medals and holy cards are more difficult to find now that his status has been downgraded to that of a mere legend, but they are still being manufactured and many Mexican and Italian Catholics still believe that his image is the best amulet to carry in one's wallet, wear on a necklace while on a journey, or hang form the rear view mirror attachment of one's car. The enamel and silver St. Christopher medal shown here dates back to the 1930's.

Moleskin Notebook

Moleskin before and after


Lario Ransomi works on the Guzzi

The history of a legendary notebook

Moleskine is the legendary notebook used by European artists and thinkers for the past two centuries, from Van Gogh to Picasso, from Ernest Hemingway to Bruce Chatwin. This trusty, pocket-size travel companion held sketches, notes, stories and ideas before they were turned into famous images or pages of beloved books.

Originally produced by small French bookbinders who supplied the Parisian stationery shops frequented by the international avant-garde, by the end of the twentieth century the Moleskine notebook was no longer available. In 1986, the last manufacturer of Moleskine, a family operation in Tours, closed its shutters forever. "Le vrai Moleskine n'est plus" were the lapidary words of the owner of the stationery shop in Rue De l'Ancienne Comedie where Chatwin stocked up on the notebooks. The English writer had ordered a hundred of them before leaving for Australia: he bought up all the Moleskine that he could find, but they were not enough.

In 1998, a small Milanese publisher brought Moleskine back again. As the self-effacing keeper of an extraordinary tradition. Moleskine once again began to travel the globe. To capture reality on the move, pin down details, impress upon paper unique aspects of experience: Moleskine is a reservoir of ideas and feelings, a battery that stores discoveries and perceptions, and whose energy can be tapped over time.

The legendary black notebook is once again being passed from one pocket to the next; with its various different page styles it accompanies the creative professions and the imagination of our time. The adventure of Moleskine continues, and its still-blank pages will tell the rest.

Pictured from top to bottom: The actual Moleskine Lario presented me with; a Moleskine before and after photo from the web (www.moleskine.com); and Lario Ransomi, the famous italian racecar driver, who honored me with the Moleskine notebook, and worked on my Guzzi when he visited.

Thanks Lario!

For more Lario see his web site at www.lagmo.com

During the Laurel Hill Bluegrass Festival just outside of Somerset, PA, I had a chance to talk with some of the 1750's American pioneers that had set up camp. On Saturday night, I was talking with Duane, a very talented leather smith. I told him how my Leatherman carrying case was torn and might not make it up Kili. Since he was presently in-between projects, he took on the task of water soak-molding the leather that night, then stitching up the case in the morning. He did fine work for sure!

When I had returned the following day to pick up the case, Duane had told me that they had discussed my climb at length the night before around the campfire with the other pioneers. This inspired me as well. Duane presented me with two beads, one that represented his father who passed some years back, and one that represented his wife's dad who passed of recent. In a small leather pouch which I wear around my neck, I am to carry these two beads to the top of Kilimanjaro.

Beads to the top of kili

I wear this pouch close to my heart. This is the kind of inspiration I plan to draw from as I climb the mountain.

Darryle the leathersmith


Leatherman case

Well, I made it to the top, and I deposited the beads. See the video action!


Kenny Johnson

I received a nice email from my dear friend Kenny Johnson. I felt like posting it here, along with a pic of us at an Orioles game. Those were the days Mr. Johnson, those were the days!

From: Kenneth Johnson
To: info@itsinafricayouknow.com
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 4:03:13 PM
Subject: Inspiration comes in many forms

"Inspiration comes in many forms and today for no reason I went to your web site and found inspiration. If you can climb Kili I can succeed in my new venture. LUV YA!"

More Inspiration

A good friend of mine, Frank Hale, called me the other day as I was sitting in the morning sun enjoying my first cup of coffee. I had seen Frank the night before at one of my Men's club meetings. I passed along to him a card promoting this web site and apparently he had a chance to check it out this day. I paraphrased his message to the best of my memory.

Frank called me and said that he was inspired by this journey we plan to make. He said though he knows it is something he can never do cause of his age and health, just being able to tell people he knows someone that is climbing Kili is like he's climbing it himself. He said that he was really excited about this expedition.

Thanks Frank, what a nice phone call to start my day with!



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