travel

Something personal…

mountains nature arrow guide

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Two weeks ago I asked in a post if you were paying attention. Apparently, you aren’t, or at least most of you aren’t.

I had only one response in the comments to the “poll”. That one vote came from Bel at RoadsBelTravelled. Thanks for paying attention and playing along! So, since she was the only one to vote she wins the vote by default. She chose “something personal”…

Now the question is…what to share? How about I climb into the “way back machine”?

Desert Trek

Once upon a time I used to hike and backpack quite a bit. That is, until I got married and had a child. It slowly decreased after that and over the last few years I am lucky if I get in one hike. I actually did two last year, but they were fairly short. I am hoping to work back into more this summer! Anyway, on to the details of the desert trek.

It all started in college when I decided to go on a one week backpacking trek with some college friends and two professors from the college I was attending. I had never done this before, but I had a good friend who had done it a lot so it was fun to go to REI and purchase the essentials that I would use for years to come (I finally unloaded some of that old gear – though it was still good – two years ago).

We trained for the hike, during the winter months, in the nine story tower on campus. Up and down the stairs we went, walking, running, and at first maybe even crawling. Then with extra weight, in our hiking boots, etc. It was a good way to build stamina and leg strength. Most people don’t know, but going downhill and maintaining balance takes a different set of muscles than going uphill, so the walking down the stairs slowly and methodically was essential to the training too.

After months of preparing, we all piled into a 15 passenger van the professors borrowed from the school and we loaded up our gear. It was a little cramped in that van, but it was fun as we road-tripped it from Chicago to the Superstition Mountains of Arizona. There isn’t much I specifically remember about the road trip other than I do know that we realized we were going to be going through Winslow, Arizona, so we played a lot of The Eagles’ “Take It Easy” in the van and when it came time…yes, we jumped out of the van and took some moments “…standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” and “it was such a fine sight to see…”

It ended up being perfect weather in the desert. We hiking in the sun. We relaxed next to a brook. We swam in the brook (the water was really cold!). We played Rook sitting around a camp fire or in the sun on a giant boulder next to the brook. I can’t describe what it felt like to be out there, feeling like you were the only people on the Earth. It was glorious!

Again, I don’t remember the particulars except on experience did leave an impression on me. There were some lessons to be learned one particular day.

We used camp as a base and took different hikes from there each day. So, one day, we decided to take a hike. It was supposed to be about a 10 mile round-trip hike and it was going to go near some of the Anasazi ruins in the surrounding valleys. The day hike started out rather normal but as we got farther into it, the guide book that the research was done from didn’t appear to be as accurate as we though. We were on Mile 6 and we hadn’t gotten even half way to the destination. So, part of the group decided to turn around and head back and part of the group decided to continue on.

We found the ruins and they were SPECTACULAR! It was really cool to see that kind of history and imagine what life would have been like at the time. It was hard to imagine, quite frankly.

I should mention that the ruins were about Mile 12 of the hike that day. Now we are well past mid-day and we have to return back to base camp. There are five of us (our group was a total of 12) and we have to make a decision – return the way we came or find another way back to base. This decision was key because we know what we just went through to get to this location and returning the way we came would be difficult to say the least.

We gathered around the map and saw there was another route back to base and it appeared that if we kept going ahead, instead of turning around, it would only be about 8 miles back to base. Mind you, we haven’t been on the trail and the sun is well past the high point of the day. We are all in pretty good shape and there was definitely some hill climbing to be done as we left the valley we were in, but we thought we could do it if we kept up a good pace. We refilled out water bottles in the creek through our filters and off we went. Through the bottom of the valley for a while and then…uphill.

The uphill part was not as steep as the route we came down through. There were no switchbacks and the trail, at least at first, was pretty clear. Yeah, you read that right – “at first.”

In many places, the trail had markers or signs to help point you in the right direction instead of just using the map. Up to a certain point, it was pretty useful until we came up to a spot where the trail split from one to three. The signs had been pulled out of the ground and thrown in a pile slightly off the trail. Great! Let’s hope our map reading skills are better than we realize because now we are solely relying on a compass and a detailed map that didn’t show a 1-3 transition. Really great. We knew where we were, approximately, and the three options didn’t really offer any sure-fire sense of which was the correct trail to take.

So, after studying the map and looking at the different trails, we decided that we would take the one that looked the most traveled, and by that I mean that there were hoof marks on the trail so we knew a mule or a horse had followed the trail. We assumed they knew where they were going…yeah, not so much! We followed the trail for about 45 minutes until it just kind of petered out and there was no trail to be found, just cacti and scrub. Super awesome! Not only did we pick the wrong trail, but we just wasted at total of an hour and a half of light going the wrong way! It was now late afternoon and we knew we were not getting back to camp before dark.

This was not a good situation since we were not prepared to hunker down for an overnight and our supplies were limited since this was just supposed to be a day hike. It left us no choice but to power on and hope for better results this time. So, we chose a different trail and started up the hill.

Needless to say, as you are reading this blog, we survived. LOL  Our legs were scratched from brushing against cacti we couldn’t see in the dark. Our flashlight and headlamp provided a little light, but only two of the five of us actually brought lights (not sure why we did for a “day hike”) and we discovered that the starlight provided better light as our eyes would get all whacked out when we used the bright lights, making it harder to see a small trail. We really only used the light to look at the map, which looking back was kind of dumb since we couldn’t see any landmarks, but once in a while we would come to a trail sign and we could reference the map to see where we were.

All in all, we made it back to the main trail we hiked to get into base camp and then followed it back to base that night. We ended up walking in the dark for four hours and we were back to camp well after dinner. We were all famished! And we were lucky.

Lesson learned: Be prepared for an overnight, even if it is just a day trip. Obviously, we were not prepared if something had really gone wrong. We weren’t prepared for a cold night in the desert and we weren’t prepared for injuries. Luckily, no one got hurt, and we didn’t end up having to huddle together for body heat. LOL But, it is better to be prepared than not to be. So, if you think you may be over packing, you probably are and that is OK.

I have never forgotten those lessons. So, even on those occasional day hikes I take now (and hope to do more of this summer) I may look a little funny with a bigger than normal pack, but I am ready for the end of the world! Wanna hit the trail with me?

Do you have any good hiking stories or lessons you want to share? Hit me up in the comments with your learned wisdom!

**Sorry I don’t have pictures to include with the post. That was back in the day when photos were taken with real film, had to be developed, and the printed. I haven’t had those pics digitized yet.**

Why isn’t this reality?

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For just a short minute, my car hit max fuel economy.

I bought a new car a little while back. Like, a brand NEW car. Not a car that is new to me. I have never had one of those before so I was kind of fun.

I did my research and though I probably could have gone out and gotten myself a “mid-life crisis car,” I did not. I was relatively responsible and tried to keep it affordable when it comes to fuel since I drive over, on average, 2200 miles a month. Fuel economy is kind of important. However, I didn’t get the most fuel efficient vehicle because I did want something that was more attractive than the last vehicle.

Anyway, it occurred to me in my search that perhaps a hybrid would be better than an all electric (thought Tesla is intriguing), mostly because places to charge your vehicle are limited at this time.

So, why a hybrid? Well, it seems to me that it is the best of both worlds. The fuel obviously is needed to help supply energy to the car. But the electric motors also help with lowering fuel consumption at the same time. So, after doing some research I decided on a vehicle that I thought was most attractive and relatively efficient – a 2018 Kia Niro.

Now, I am not going to go into a sales pitch. That isn’t the point of this post.

The point is the picture at the top of the post. Why can’t we get max fuel economy all the time? It seems to me that 99.9 miles per gallon should be the standard. I believe the technology is out there to make it happen, so why doesn’t it?

My guess is that the oil industry/lobby has a great say in the matter. Of course they are protecting their profits, who wouldn’t want to do that? But, at the same time, perhaps investing in or creating engines that maximized their products for the consumer would be just as profitable if the consumer had the option? Oh, I am being silly. I am sure the oil industry is or has already been doing that. But, at the same time, we don’t see fuel efficiency in vehicle continually going up so someone is holding or killing the tech to make it happen.

I guess I am preaching to the choir here. I know you all want the same thing too. Just imagine, a small tank of fuel (10 gal?) and 100 mpg. Who doesn’t want 1000 miles on a tank? I know I do!

What do you think? How do you feel about the issue?

Not Just Fishing – An open letter to my dad

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Sunrise @ Nootka Sound, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada

7/22/18

Dad,

I just wanted to take a moment and let you know how much I really appreciated the fishing trip to Canada this year. I know I said “Thank you” in person, but it just didn’t seem like enough. I have so much gratitude for what you have done and the chance you have given me and my daughter to do this together. There are a lot of things I want to say, so I will do my best to convey them concisely so I get them all in.

Thank you for the work you put in so many years ago. Thank you because the work you did in the past, owning a business and investment properties, has paid off. Over the years there have been many fishing trips with you, and typically there is very little cost to me or my siblings when we have decided to go. You have always covered the majority of the costs, leaving us with minimal expenses to and from the fishing location. I realize this isn’t without a substantial cost to you. I also realize that you have the means to do it because of the wise choices you have made in the past and the hard work that was involved with that. God has blessed you because of your choices and your faithfulness. Thank you, because it hasn’t gone unnoticed

Thank you for the memories you created in the past. As I mentioned before, there have been many times in the past that you have taken me, my siblings, or all of us at one time

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Another sunrise.

or another on a fishing trip. Whether it was individually or together as a group, there was something special about it. We had time to talk, to share, to be in God’s great creation. We’ve seen the beauty of His wonder and marveled at the spectacular sights. We’ve laughed at situations we have found ourselves in, we have laughed at each other, we have grumbled a little (ok, sometimes a lot), and we have felt loved no matter what. As I sat on the boat, waiting for a fish to take the bait, I realized that all the years of trips to remote places are some of the best memories I have. They aren’t necessarily specific, though there are many of those, but they all just kind of blend together to create a collage of memories that involve a fishing pole, water, and fish. Whether it was standing in the rain next to a stream or baking in the sun on the ocean, those are memories to be carried for a lifetime. Talking about life, playing games together in the camper or lodge, dragging in small fish and big ones too, those are memories that have an impact.

Thank you for letting me include my daughter this year. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive to have her come along since she would have to get up early, not have much access to the internet and her friends, and that sometimes fishing can be boring. I know she can be difficult, especially now in her teen years, as the attitude can run amok and make things not so enjoyable for those around her. I was excited, however, for her to experience the things I did when I was a kid. I have memories of fishing with you, obviously, but there are also memories in my head of fishing with grandpa and grandma too. Those memories are a little fuzzy as I was really young, but they are there nonetheless and they make me smile. So, I was anticipating this trip and having a chance for her to fish with you. I could not wait for her to have what I had as a kid.

As the trip unfolded, and now as I look back, I think there is some obvious evidence that she had a good time, despite the challenges I was anticipating. There was some grumpiness, but not nearly to the level that I feared. I think a large part of that was because of you. You were patient with her, spoke to her with love, and didn’t push her to do too much. How do I know she had a good time? Did you hear those giggles and see those smiles? She did a lot of laughing, at us mostly, but it was worth it! And the smiles? img_4932Well, who can’t help but smile after working hard to get a fish in the boat? The fact that they were her first ocean fish makes it even better! She reeled in by herself a giant Yellow Eye she couldn’t keep (and her disappointment in that) was surpassed by the joy in getting her first King salmon. Regardless of whether she did it by herself or not, you were there the whole way and coaching her with patience and love. It was awesome to watch you two, working together, to make that history happen. Thank you. It is another special memory for me to tuck away and hold onto. I also know that she will do the same, though she may never express it.

Another thing I realized while sitting on the boat this time around is that we weren’t “just fishing.” I couldn’t help but think of a country song by Trace Adkins that has been on the radio for some time now and as I ran through the lyrics in my head I couldn’t help but relate to the song on a deeper level. I think it not only relates to the experience my daughter just had, but I think back over my time fishing with you and it also applies to me (though the details are obviously different). Sure the words may not apply directly to her, or to me for that matter, but the message of the song clearly does. There was always more to this trip than just fishing. In fact, it has always been that way but it took this trip for me to see it. This time for me as the father.

The fish were not plentiful this time and the frustration of not getting them in the boat may have shown a time or two, but what was plentiful were the memories being made and that is what really lasts forever. Thank you for taking the time to make those memories with me so long again (and continue to make) and for taking the time now to make those similar memories with my daughter, your granddaughter. They are incredibly special and I appreciate the chance to make them with her.

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First King salmon (Chinook). 16 pounds of rod & reel fun! Look at the smile!

Who knows what the future holds? No one. We may never get to do it again, or at the very least she may never choose to do it again, but either way the memories will endure. There will come a time when we can look back and remember those times, those laughs, those smiles, those giggles. I hope there are more chances in the future to make more memories like that, but if not then I am happy to tuck these away and cherish them as priceless treasures.

Thank you. Thank you from me. Thank you from my daughter. Thank you.

Love,

your son

 

California, you have gone too far!

Well, California, you have gone and done it this time. Only this time, you have gone too far and taken on a whole world that loves coffee.

If you have not seen it or heard it yet, read the article at the bottom about a judge in California and the ridiculousness that is California law (or you can read here).

So, I think it is high time someone actually declares the truth about California and put it on every sign as you enter the state…

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The reality is, California will kill you.

Sometimes it will be quick. Sometimes it will be slow. But for all intents and purposes, California is proven to cause cancer, either directly or indirectly. Either way, California will be the death of you.

Shall we name the ways it can cause cancer? Well there are just too many to name, so I will give you an abbreviated list:

  1. Smog – there is plenty of it.
  2. Sun – seems it is everywhere.
  3. Water – let’s just assume there will be transference from everything in this list and more.
  4. Air – actually, this may be a limited source since it has mostly been replaced with smog.
  5. Wine – it causes cancer, then it doesn’t, then it does, then it doesn’t…where will the wheel of fortune stop for you?
  6. Disneyland – because anything that is fun must cause cancer, and California has a need to kill all fun.
  7. Every product the state produces or consumes…

So, from now until eternity, the state should sell all sunglasses with a non-removable warning label on the lens reminding all wearers that everything they see in California will kill them. It seems only fair to warn people.

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A Los Angeles judge has determined that coffee companies must carry an ominous cancer warning label because of a chemical produced in the roasting process.

Source: Coffee companies must carry cancer warning label, California judge rules


Fair Warning:

There are actually things in California that will kill you! But, before you physically visit the state (hopefully you don’t live there already), you likely will get brain cancer trying to figure out what the hell California is doing to ruin everything, and how they come up with this moronic stuff.

My head hurts…I think I have a tumor…