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.

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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.

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.

Powering Through.

This week is short, and that excites me.  We have a four day work week, thanks to a huge summer celebration event we’re having on Thursday night.  My boss is out of town until Thursday, so I also get a less watchful week to catch up on things before I head off to Alaska.  I am at my most efficient working stride when I can have TV shows on in the background.  I can sometimes work okay with podcasts or books, but the TV shows really make the day fly by and I get so much work done while being mildly entertained by the Food Network.

A couple of weeks ago I strained my calf by rolling my foot on a root while hiking.  The pain subsided, though it was never that bad.  On Saturday, I jumped off the boat using my toes to push off an strained it again.  This time, I was limping and could hardly walk for the rest of the night, through yesterday, and into today.  I’m hoping it stretches out and goes away by the time we fly out Saturday.  I don’t want to be limping through the forests of Alaska!

As I get into the week, I have a lot to do before we leave Saturday.  I’m so glad work gave everyone Friday off this week because it give me an extra day to prep for the trip.  Friday will be cleaning, last minute laundry, copying keys, meeting with our friend who is watching the cats, and hopefully an early morning hike for me!  I’m just trying to stay positive this week, keep an upbeat attitude, and work on making my calf feel better.

I’m going to work on being less critical of others – as I’ve picked up that nasty habit of playful banter turned cruel.  I am going to remember my goals.  I’m going to have a good week, despite any setbacks.  Time to be a big boy and power through it all!  I have a lot to be thankful for.

Slow Down!

I’m always thinking about all of the road trips I’ve taken over the past decade or so and smiling at how lucky I am to have those memories.  In 2007, our spring break road trip opened my eyes to the country west of the Mississippi.  In 2008, I saw the west coast.  In 2009, we actually camped at Arches and saw the west coast.  In 2010, I saw many things in southern Utah and Death Valley.  In 2011, I moved to Texas and visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon  In 2012, I saw my first Saguaro.  In 2013 I saw the Oregon Coast again and everything in between there and Texas as well as the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  In 2014, I saw Big Bend for the first time as well as the Rocky Mountains up close.  In 2015, I saw the the Petrified Forest National Park and the Grand Canyon again.  In 2016, I revisited the west coast and spent some time under the mighty redwoods.  This year, I will revisit Alaska, with more exploring, and I can’t wait.

While I know I’m lucky, fortunate, or whatever, my goal since our first road trip has been to stop and explore a little more.  Our first trip was so unplanned and rushed, we drove through the Rocky Mountains, made a rest stop, and kept going.  We drove right on by Arches and Canyonlands without even realizing it.  On our 2008 trip, my best friend and I set out with our good friend at the time to head west wanting to see and do as much as we could.  We got to the coast, but didn’t explore much.  We went to the redwoods, but didn’t hike much.  We went to Death Valley, didn’t do much.  But, on the way home our third friend was insistent on going to some big name brewery.  My best friend and I almost lost it – this guy was so unwilling to alter plans to hike to the coast in the redwoods or through Death Valley, but had to go to a brewery?  So, from that point on, I vowed to explore more wherever I went – planning trips with like-minded adventurers.  And, in following trips each year, I hiked more, saw more majestic views, and spent more time in all types of random places.  I feel as each year went on, I took more time out during road trips to see and do various things.  As the years clicked forward, my trips became more about exploring and less about getting somewhere.

The shift from 2008 to 2009 was simply being more adventurous, and making the most of the time we had.  Back in 2009, we hiked to all the major arches in Arches as well as several short hikes in Canyonlands and Grand Staircase Escalante – this was all on our way to US 50  to drive, camp, and hike along the loneliest road in America before reaching Sacramento to pick up a friend at the airport.  In that 2013 trip to Oregon, we stopped at Arches along the way and hit up the Rocky Mountains on the way home – just to see them!  During our 2014 visit to Big Bend, we hiked as often as we could for as expansive a place as it is.  In Colorado, we took some dirt roads through a national forest along a winding river to get home.  Our 2016 trip to Redwoods included an abundance of scenic drives, hikes, and even a spontaneous trip along the Smith River up to Oregon Caves National Monument for a tour.

Not every road trip is going to allow extra time to stop and explore, or include the most adventurous people, but it doesn’t mean giving up.  There is always a thrill in not fully planning a trip, but nowadays I will at least check the map before finalizing anything in case there is a spectacular piece of public land to explore or some attraction to see.  All of this rambling is just a reminder to myself, and anyone choosing to read this, to slow down.  Slow down, check stuff out, and enjoy every little trip you get.  You can be efficient and adventurous all at once, I promise.