Thursday Thoughts…rambling into Friday

  • I don’t need huge success with my “career” to feel fulfilled.  I will work hard and I will learn more, but I do not aspire to be in charge of everything or really anything.  I want to continue to work, maybe with a bit of added effort, to keep living life the way I am now.  Sure, more money could be nice, but with more money comes more problems – mostly at work.  I’m not saying I’ll pass on a promotion or a better opportunity, but I know for damn sure I will not be any happier with more responsibility at work.  My main goals: reduce commute, continue to earn the salary I have or more, and expand my knowledge base through classes and volunteer opportunities.
  • I was researching the process of buying a house yesterday and it is truly crazy.  I am very overwhelmed by what appears to be a lengthy, invasive, and confusing process.  I’ve never wanted to own a home – maybe a cottage or cabin – but never a main dwelling.  My plan has always been to have a small home/condo/apartment that was near work and to have a cottage/cabin/lot with camper close to nature.  Now, I’m not exactly sure what I want – because camping is so much more versatile than owning a specific place for relaxing.  Plus, I have access to several cabins and cottages through family and friends – that may be mine someday anyway.  All I know, home buying scares me but the possibility of having a solid place to store my gear sounds good some days.  For now, the rental life continues – to save more money (because you can’t buy a house with what little I have set aside), to remain fluid in location possibilities, and to remain irresponsible when something really important breaks down.
  • My Subaru Outback is by far the best car I’ve owned.  It is smooth, comfortable, and has all sorts of tech to help keep me safe.  It is great for commuting, but I know it aches (like I do) to get out and see the world a bit more.  I have just over 7,000 miles on Black Beauty (like the horse from that movie) and they’re MOSTLY from commuting the past three months.  We did, finally, take it camping recently and to Arkansas for a quick friend visit.  Sigh.  I promise, little Black Beauty, that I’ll give you more adventure soon.  In November and December you’ll get to see a little bit more of this country.
  • Thinking about friendship over the years – the ebb and flow – and how it all works.  I’m truly lucky to have some quality people in my life – here in Texas, back where I’m from in Michigan, and out in cyberspace via a chat about common interests.  I’ve become an outspoken person – fighting for my rights, what I believe in, and for what I think is generally morally responsible.  I am not sorry if people recoil in horror as I speak some truth or stand my ground.  I used to agree with everyone and I was always trying to go with the flow.  The flow isn’t working right now.  I’m not going to continue to pretend it’s okay to support one thing if it doesn’t support me – like the orange guy.  I am not perfect.  I’ve made terrible jokes, assumptions and been a stereotype myself.  I’m working hard to carve a path for me, people like me, and others who want to have a similar life.  I’m a work in progress and will continue to work on improving my word choices, joke subjects, and general conversational topics.  I will continue to fight for the rights of people less fortunate than myself, so long as they want me on their side.  I will continue to be unapologetic about speaking out or calling out bullshit.  You can argue with me all you want, and if you have points I’ll respect them, but I am not going to cave and agree if it does not align with my path.
  • Moving to Texas in 2011 was a choice out of desperation.  I moved to get a job, because I knew people that could get me a job.  I moved from my shared apartment, with friends, to my family’s home.  They had a boat, let me live there and contribute what I could, and life was okay.  I partied a lot, got that sweet job that paid more money than I ever dreamed… then got promoted to another job that paid EVEN MORE money.  My buddy, and previous roommate, moved to Texas for a job too and we rented a house.  I was reunited with the cats, friends, and had family – life seemed so good.  I met my other half, made a couple of friends, but began to feel sad.  The newness wore off – I missed my friends (many of at least 5 years) and my other family.  I started to miss trees, nature, cool weather, and all that was happening back in Michigan.  I left it all – so I could pay my student loans, buy a car that worked, and start a career.  Was it worth the “trade” in the end?  I am not sure.  Would I trade the experience? No.  Do I desire to get on with life and try something else? Yes. Do I think I’m ready to start over again? Hell yes, more fearless than I was in 2011.
  • The DFW metro area is huge.  I work 40 miles from work, but have to drive 60-90 minutes.  My family lives in the same place they did when I moved here, 70 miles southwest of my current apartment and it takes about 75 minutes on a bad day.  My friends live a mile from my family, in the same subdivision, and my other friends live 50 miles west of my apartment.  NOTHING HERE IS CLOSE.  The nearest, semi-nature unpaved path area is at least 25 minutes from my apartment.  If I were to drive from my office to my family’s house, it could take 150 minutes.  I can remember complaining about traffic in Grand Rapids, where I used to live.  It would take a whole 15-20 minutes to get to work while that same distance here takes at least 30.  I took Grand Rapids for granted.  I took Michigan and her natural beauty for granted.  I’m never doing that again.  We’ve been looking at cities to explore and move to, and I’m hoping we can find that “smaller city vibe with big city features while being near nature” mix that we want.  Good examples include: Grand Rapids, MI; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; and Santa Fe, NM.  I’m sure there are plenty of other great places, but these pop in my brain.  Someday, I’ll live where there is seasonal snow again!

Wednesday Reflections

It’s funny how things come into perspective after the fact… Also, I’m the worst when I comes to sticking to one train of thought.

  • Throughout my childhood, we planted trees every year.  I can remember planting hundreds of them – white pine, red pine, and blue spruce.  We turned some fields into forests and planted a wall around our main yard.  I’m thankful for this experience.  While planting the trees wasn’t always fun, I learned the importance of replenishing the land.
  • Cutting, hauling, and stacking firewood was by far my least favorite chore.  I was kept from my friends on the weekends and until I got a job, it was the way of the land every fall weekend.  Even after getting a job, my dad would throw it through the chute to the basement and I’d have to stack it.  Even during the week, we’d have to come home from school and stack it if he was on an off shift or on winter leave.  Ah yes, firewood – it’s true it warms you twice.  I look back, and kind of wish I could go up and help him on the weekends now.  It was a great way to sweat it out and being in the woods in the fall was the absolute best.  Nothing beats the smell of fall in the woods.  Second to the smell of fall is the smell of fresh cut wood – oh my gosh.  Maybe someday I’ll be back in Michigan and can help him out a bit.
  • My first car was my mom’s 1988 Plymouth Voyager.  The doors didn’t lock, you could start it without a key, and the heat didn’t work.  It only had an AM/FM radio and half the speakers were shot.  BUT… It was mine to do with what I wanted – free and clear.  The seats were comfy, there was PLENTY of space for stuff/people, and the windows rolled down – total win.  In the winter, we just bundled up when driving – the heat kind of worked, not even sure what was really wrong with it.  Surely I wanted a newer or more functional vehicle for my first one, but I didn’t make enough money for that and hanging out with friends.  I look back and realize it really wasn’t so bad and it makes me appreciate every nice feature I have on my car today – that I pay out the ass for.
  • As a kid, we never really went anywhere far or too adventurous for vacation.  We camped, which was great, at nearby state parks with the major exception being going about six hours away one time.  Without my grandparents, I wouldn’t have visited any of Michigan’s “major” cities or adventured through Ontario around Lake Superior.  As a baby, I think my mom flew me to Texas with her to visit my Granny, but that’s not a memory I have.  This lack of adventure really sparked a major need to see the country in college – once I starting researching what was out there.  I met my best friend, another person who hadn’t really traveled the country, and we started road tripping.  We followed our college football team to Alabama, we crossed the Mississippi together for the first time, we saw the Rockies for the first time, and saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time too.  Once you start road tripping and seeing the amazing things this country has, you never want to stop.  I never knew what I was missing as a kid but now I do and I work so I can travel.
  • Back to the camping thing – so thankful we did it as a family.  It was always overkill, though, with many coolers and grills and an abundance of crap.  I learned the basics such as how to find good spots, how to build a fire, and that I loved hiking before I really knew it was a thing.  From these family trips, I learned that less is more and now when I go I’m scaled way back to the essentials.  No longer taking enough food for an army, cases of pop or water, and just enough gear.
  • As much as I didn’t appreciate the outdoors back then the way I do now, I am thankful for the lessons I was taught.  I am good at identifying trees without a book, know a lot about plants, can usually figure out animal tracks, can build a trail, and so much more.  Thanks parents, grandparents, and friends.
  • I kind of have one regret:  I didn’t really enjoy Michigan enough when I lived there.  I try not to beat myself up too much over this, but some days it’s difficult not to.  I didn’t hike enough, didn’t camp enough, didn’t enjoy the outdoors enough.  It was all at my fingertips, and I didn’t utilize it enough.  I sit here, in this Dallas suburb office, after commuting from my suburb apartment and kick myself every damn day for not taking it all in more than I did.  I know, my retail schedule was nuts when I was there – but if I had truly been motivated I could have gone hiking before an evening shift, after a morning shift, or enjoyed a people free mid-week hike on a random day off.  I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Michigan, I visited many places and did many things… This “regret” really led me to the biggest lesson, and something I’ve been really trying to do this year – LOVE WHERE YOU ARE and take advantage of everything you can.  Yeah, DFW kind of sucks, but I’m fully utilizing nearby parks, state parks, and national parks.  I am really living it up in nearby national forests and lakes.  Yeah, things may take some driving and may not be exactly what I love to look at, but it’s so much better here now that I’m truly diving in and utilizing what exists around me.  Yeah, sometimes my go-to parks are full of people or have a bike race, but overall life is better now that I’m at least trying to get out.

Moving forward, my wants and needs are more clear than ever.  Now, to get to where I want to be.

Happy Friday & October.

Fall and winter are my favorite time of year since moving to Texas.  I don’t mind spring, because I love the rainy season, but I love the light that fall and winter have and I don’t mind the shorter days.


Some goals for October:

  • To get somewhere (Oklahoma, Arkansas, East Texas, San Antonio, etc.) with changing fall color and enjoy a few minutes of it.  If not the places in parenthesis, maybe even all the way up to Washington – still trying to work that into a reality.
  • Since I can’t seem to give up the things I love in terms of food, I am setting a portion control goal.  Despite hiking a lot, I’m not really staying very healthy.  Less food, more exercise between hikes.
  • Continue to work on my GIS skills – I have a few courses left for refreshing, hopefully I can get my ESRI program to work.
  • I’m going to find a place to volunteer my time – probably with trail building.
  • I’m going to take a few classes at REI to learn more about some outdoor stuff.

You can always find somewhere to hike.

Earlier this week, one of my favorite people that I’ve never met based solely on photos and brief interactions, posted a lovely photo and some words on Twitter basically saying that despite not being able to get to the mountains due to life being busy at times, he was thankful to have local trails and preserves to enjoy between mountain visits.  And damn, if that doesn’t speak to my life goal, I don’t know what does.  Never stop exploring, appreciate what is around you, make the best of every situation, and learn to love where you live.

Where I live in Texas (Dallas-Fort Worth metro area) isn’t the prettiest, to me, in terms of natural landscapes but it does have a few redeeming qualities.  First, I’m thankful for local parks in the DFW metro area – they serve the purpose of partially escaping and disconnecting.  Second, I’m fortunate enough to have several worthwhile places that are within a few hours of the metro area by car – within Texas, up to Oklahoma, and up and over to Arkansas.  Third, If I’m feeling adventurous, I am lucky to have an array of majestic places within 12 hours by car that include mountains, forests, desert landscapes, and flowing water.  DFW is a hub for American, which gets me across this great nation at a reasonable rate with many nonstop options.  Dallas is a hub for Southwest, which includes two checked bags for gear, and they’re always offering reasonable rates to many of my favorite destinations.  I feel lucky.  While Texas isn’t my favorite place (and hopefully not my final destination), I am going to continue to embrace the positive aspects and make the most of it while I’m here.

My journey on 52 Hikes With Mike has been about embracing where I live and taking as much of it in as I can.  By participating in the hiking challenge, I managed to branch out and actually learn about the outdoor culture in my area and beyond.  It has awakened a part of me that went dormant years ago and connected me with many like-minded people in just the nine short months so far.  Here’s to many more miles and seeing more trees than people!

Same story, different day.

Big shout out to a few coworkers and Instagram friends that are inspiring.

I’ve been maintaining my weight over the past few weeks – kind of.  I haven’t been exercising very much, and I’m kind of a human garbage disposal these days when it comes to food.  We had set up a challenge at work and I’ve been bombing at it on the daily.  I’m always making excuses – it’s too hot to exercise, I’m eating out with friends, I’m at a family barbecue, it’s vacation, I didn’t go grocery shopping, etc. – as to why I can’t eat well or exercise.  They are all bullshit, I know this, but this is the first time in a while I’m admitting it again.  I’m supposed to be on week five of ‘Couch 2 5K’ training and I’m not.  Tonight I fly to Portland, OR to join my other half and tomorrow we begin our drive home, so I’m sure it’ll be a mixed bag of junk/fast food and a lot of inactivity.  I’m hoping to get a couple of miles in at the Redwoods and then a little in at Sequoia on Saturday.  I’m hoping I can focus my motivation next week and get back on track.  I’m hoping I can use the inspiration I find in others and the beauty of what lies ahead (Redwoods, Sequoia, Utah in a week, etc) to ignite the flame.

I need to get back to weekly meal planning and prepping – which means regular grocery shopping.  I need to stop restrictive diets such as low-carb – which means increasing veg and still avoiding refined crap.  I need to eat more of a balance and I need to eat in moderation.  I need to continue my daily water intake, and add more.  I need to limit booze and diet soda, as well as calming my coffee consumption.  I need to go to sleep earlier and build a consistent schedule – and shut my brain off to fall asleep.  I need to hike further on the weekend and build up my endurance – and exercise more between weekly hikes.  I know what I need to do.

I’ve covered this before, many times, and I always hope it’ll be the last time I have to write a stupid blog post – either in private or public – about this lame ass struggle.  I go through phases in regards to how healthful I am.  I go on about my health or happiness, the vanity, or the things I want to do that require me to be a little more in shape and a little less sluggish.  I know what I need to do, but I always give up before I do it.  I’m a planner by nature, so one would think creating a plan and sticking to it would be right up my alley, but I give up too easily.  I can plan all day every day, but I rarely energize enough to follow through with the plan.

Blah, blah, blah.  I know, here we go again.  I need to get over that I don’t live somewhere beautiful.  I need to move past that I will have a slow transition and results take time to show up.  I need to accept that I’m not currently on a healthy path and find the willpower to change direction.

Tuesday is the new Wednesday

…or Monday part II?  A little of both.  Tomorrow I fly to Portland, Oregon to meet up with my other half and drive back to Texas.  We are going to the Redwoods, Sequoia, and hopefully Death Valley on the way home.

The Redwoods make me happy.  To spend a few hours under the giants, hiking about will be good for the soul.  I’m excited for Sequoia because we are going to see a few of the main events.  I have driven through the National Forest before via the Kern River Valley out of Bakersfield.

I’m hoping to get a good 1-2 hour hike in Redwoods on Thursday and at least the same at Sequoia on Friday.  Saturday will be spent driving nonstop until we can’t anymore in hopes of making to at least Amarillo, TX if not home.

This trip is simple, and mostly just a more scenic drive home.  I would have liked to hike at Crater Lake on Thursday, but the wildfires mostly crushed that plan.  I’ll take the Redwoods any day, really, so I am not complaining.  I honestly think of the Redwoods often, as if they were a part of the family that I miss.

Road trips in general have always been my greatest source of joy.  At first, it looked as though I would not be flying to Portland to drive back and that was kind of depressing for both of us.  The vacation gods came through, and I found out I had more time!

I hope you all have a good week – don’t let all the news stories crush you completely.

Full stop.

Today started with a Starbucks mobile app order for TWO venti iced Americanos.

Woah, vacation is over and that is poopy.  I spent the past 11ish days in Alaska and I miss it already.  The air was so fresh, the trees were so green, and the people were so fit.  Talk about motivation – these people hiking to glaciers and on trails were inspiring.  I’ll do a full write up of our adventures in Alaska in a few days, but I’ll sum it up as being one of my favorite places ever.

We boarded a plane on July 4 at 11pm local time, which is 3 hours behind Dallas time, and arrived via two flights to Dallas at noon July 5.  Yesterday was a blur.  I must have snuggled the cats for a while and fell asleep.  We went to get Chewy the dog, and boy did I miss his rotund body.  So happy to be reunited with the pets and so happy that the cats did not go crazy and ruin anything while we were gone.  We are lucky dudes to have friends to watch the dog and check in on the cats – but I think we’ll start using services to relieve them of the burden.

Today, I’ll be working one of two days this week and let me tell you – it’s weird.  My brain can’t really comprehend that I’m at work and my body just wants to be in bed.  I slept weird yesterday due to the overnight flights and such, so I was up at 3 and kind in and out since then until it was time to shower and go.  My work pants are a little tight, despite increased activities over the vacation – the food was just too good I guess.


Hope you all have a great week(end) ahead.