What should we pack?

One of the challenges to a journey like this is figuring out how much and what kind of stuff to carry. We're not only traveling east to west across nine time zones, but also from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Arctic Circle. No fancy duds allowed, just utilitarian garb ranging from shorts and sandals to long johns and a parka.

How often will we be able to wash clothes? Not a clue. The idea is to keep it simple and as light as possible. I've packed for a week, knowing it'll have to last a month.

Very few frills allowed. I've tucked in a couple of books appropriate to the occasion: Antoine de Saint-Exupry, Charles Lindbergh, and a Bible.

Pilot and plane-owner Arthur Hussey has a gadget that lets him pipe music from a portable CD player through our headsets. I've brought a small packet of recordings ranging from the Bach cello suites to Miles Davis to Willie Nelson. I'm hoping Arthur doesn't lean toward polka music or disco.

In order to report the trip, I've also brought along a laptop computer, a satellite telephone, and a digital camera. With all the wires and batteries they need, that adds up to 26 pounds right there.

We're also carrying a lot of safety equipment. (Not that we'll need it, Mom.) A life raft, emergency locator beacons, fishing tackle, ax, 30 pounds of charts and maps, food for one week, a few tools, life vests, tent, sleeping bags, and a chart detailing over-water ditching procedures and what to do if intercepted by military aircraft. (Presumably, salute and smile.)

Oh, and snowshoes for the last leg across the Northwest Territories of Canada.

Where did Arthur get snowshoes in Africa? "I have to be the only person who has ever carried snowshoes from Alaska to Africa," he says.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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