Trip Across America (Part 1)

Field notes of the adventure from Utah to Wilmington, NC

Goodbye Utah, Goodbye Oaks

Goodbye Utah, Goodbye Oaks

It doesn’t take you long to realize what you do not like ha! For me… it is the Midwest. Now I thought I didn’t care for California much, but that was before I truly drove through all of Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. If it wasn’t for family I would say get rid of if all. I gave it 25 hours to change my mind, and it did not win me over. Once you have seen 10 minutes….you have seen it all!

Motto of the Midwest - "Ehrmahgerhd Crn"

Motto of the Midwest – “Ehrmahgerhd Crn”

Luckily, I had my father driving halfway with me, and seeing family in Iowa and Illinois made the suffering very manageable.

After a couple of days in Iowa and Illinois, the next stop was the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. I had a few more grueling hours of corn, but once I hit Kentucky all was well. Forested rolling hills and grassy horse pastures I can handle for days. It is pretty country.

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With no delays or issues in my trip and being well over half way, I was bound to run into something. That something was a total of three major accidents within a 5 mile stretch about 30 miles north of Knoxville, TN. There is no other route and no exit to pull off so I was stopped with my car turned off on the highway for a good 3 hours and another hour of stop and go traffic for 5 miles; a 10 hour day turned into 14! No worries. I got out, stretched, and made friends with my new car neighbor. She is from South Carolina coming back from Ohio. She teaches science, and likes to drive her Honda Shadow motorcycle. You just have to make the best of your situation… and eat your dinner on a frisbee.

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My heart’s desires were fulfilled once I was in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Wow…. just WOW!

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I only had a morning so I drove around Cades Cove and ran 5 miles of trail to Abram Falls. Euphoria! I hadn’t run any type of distance for over a year and it felt fantastic. Plus, it is simply gorgeous!

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I left late morning and headed through Cherokee National Forest to Asheville, NC. Put that on the adventure list, I have to make it back and explore the hills above Asheville! The rolling forested mountains are to die for, and Asheville is the up and coming craft beer capital with an awesome art scene. I think I could be happy living there, and I only spent a few hours.

It was in Asheville were I had my first real BBQ. I was lead on to the restaurant/shack of 12 Bones BBQ by my friend from the area. It was in a run down part of town, had a dirt parking lot, and a line out the door. It was legit!!

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I stopped at a brewery, Wicked Weed, to grab some of the good stuff, and hit the road to Augusta, GA. I spent the next two nights in Augusta visiting a best friend and his family. No matter how little we talk or see each other, it is like we hang out everyday; love the kid, his wife, his three little girls, and of course Mama. It’s that kind of friendship that makes life worthwhile.

The last leg of my journey was the 5 hours to Wilmington, NC. I arrived and went straight to the ocean to put my feet in to mark my trek complete. Now…. lets just get this town of Wilmington figured out.

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Big News!

GeorgeBernard Shaw 1

For a long time I was striving for this American ideal of corporate success. I was applying for jobs to reach that “next level” on the corporate ladder. It was only after not getting a promotion, that I had determined would make life perfect, that I asked myself if this was indeed what I truly wanted.

After much soul searching the answer was not only no, but hell no. Nothing about climbing this ladder or this ideal job was truly me, or what I wanted. I wanted to better myself, but I wanted to live life and experience the most out of it. I spent a lot of time really searching for my passion, where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to do; really, what would make me happy (more to come on happiness).

“It’s when life doesn’t go as you planned that you truly find who you are.”

I started to focus on personal goals, and how I could incorporate some of my outlandish dreams while continuing to bettering myself. While I’ve always wanted to study for a semester internationally, I thought this was an opportunity missed while looking at graduate schools for cost alone. After talking to a former coworker about his experience abroad, I was led on to an international masters program. It seemed to incorporate all I ever wanted; both affordable and a truly international program. I applied. What was there to stop me from my dreams besides me?

I was accepted to the school and program, I then set my finances in order, and in two weeks my life will be turned upside down. While I never thought I would quit my job/put my career on hold for more schooling, I have. In two weeks I will be to moving Wilmington, NC for a semester of school, and after one semester in Wilmington I will finish my following two semesters in Valencia, Spain.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates

I have never truly been to the Southeast, and getting the opportunity to live there for four months will be a great experience within itself; let alone on the beach in the sunshine of Wilmington, NC. More excitingly, I will have the opportunity to spend close to a year in Spain which has always been a dream (also on the beach and in the sunshine)!

Even without schooling the experience alone of this opportunity to live in the Southeast and Internationally in Spain will be worth it. However, I will graduate with both a Masters in Business Administration from University of North Carolina Wilmington and a Masters in International Business – International Marketing from Universitat de Valencia. I also plan on taking more Spanish courses to become affluent in Spanish by the end of my stay in Spain.

It is amazing to think how life changes and you change with it. The key is to keep your goals in mind, and never stop trying to find and better yourself. The life experiences I’m about to gain are going to be irreplaceable. Stay tuned updates when the real adventure begins!

“Life is a roller coaster, and sometimes all you can do is just hold on tight.”

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fear not failure.

“It is impossible to live without failure unless you have lived so cautiously that you might have not lived at all. In that case, you fail by default.”  – J.K. Rowling

One of the biggest fears I have held in my life is a fear of failure. Stemming from my perception that I will be judged when my plan cannot be followed, when my dream does not come true, and as simple as answering a question wrong. It has kept me grounded, kept me “safe” from judgment , and kept me living a life following a systematic idea of success; a life lacking creativity, and an attempt to follow step by step process of what it takes to “make it” in this world.

Now more than ever, I realize this is a failed process.

If you are not wrong, you will never learn what is right. If you do not fail you will never know what success is. Set goals, and never stop pursuing you, who you are, and who you want to become. Goals enable you to move forward, to experience opportunities that may otherwise be missed. Do not fear failure, live to learn, and learn to live. The importance to take a risk in life, in pursuit of happiness, is one that will never be regretted; for it is only when we learn to take a risk that we find happiness, adventure, and LIFE!

“Life is not a journey to the grave with intentions of arriving safely in a pretty well-preserved box, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming…  WOW!  What a ride!”

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desert.

On the surface it looks desolate and a bore, however, underneath lies a unique beauty with many hidden gems.

Sunset - Squaw Flat

Sunset – Squaw Flat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have been on a couple backpacking trips to the desert this year, and can I just say WOW. In March I went to Coyote Gulch located in Escalante, UT. If you want to see one astonishing trip click on the link and check out field notes from my friend Bess at Alpine Dust.

My most recent adventure was down to The Needles District in Canyonlands National Park, June 5-8, 2014. I went with my father, Tom, brother-in-law, John, and friend, Stirlynn.

Three Musketeers

Three Musketeers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we planned to spend all four days inside the park we ended up changing the route on day two. I still saw everything I set out to see, but faster and we added more! Win, Win! Packing out early, we added a day in Arches National Park and Moab with the last night along the Colorado River.

Thursday afternoon we headed on our way to make it to Canyonlands by sunset. As we were nearing the park boundary we made a quick stop at Newspaper Rock. Newspaper Rock is large rock wall with many old petroglyphs. It was not the point of the trip, but a cool 5 minute stop to stand up and appreciate. I often think of all those who marked the rock, and how it was to live. Astonishing!

Newspaper Rock

We arrived in Canyonlands, and stayed at Squaw Flat campground. There Stirlynn cooked up some mean fajitas, and we prepped for our trek in from Elephant Hill Trailhead the next morning.

Packs heavy with three days water, we started the trek into The Needles District from Elephant Hill at about 8:30 am. Immediately, I was taken away by the wilderness and beauty.

Canyonlands – Elephant Hill Trail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.5 miles in we arrived at our first camp, EC3. We arrived early, as the group before us were clearing out, so we took a quick break and decided to head to Druid Arch. About a mile later Stirlynn was having pain in his foot. We decided it was best to turn back to camp so Stirlynn could get squared away. After a minor surgery Stirlynn was good to go, but we decided to eat lunch. At this time it was warming up, and a little nap sounded great. Without much shade all of us huddled against the rock wall, and set to a rest while avoiding the afternoon heat.

Something about the quite air of the desert allowed me to shut off my thoughts, and meditate in peace. While being at peace is great, it lasted long enough. I was getting antsy so John and I went on a little scramble up the rocks above camp. Exploring is always a great time, and I even I snagged this surprise glamour shot…

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John (Brother-in-law)

At about 4:00 pm we sent out to Druid Arch again, but this time we will make it. We walked through a dried riverbed just over 2 miles soaking in the sun on the way. It was a warming 90 degrees, little hot in such a dry area, but not unbearable.

Druid Arch from below where you had to climb a set ladder to continue on the trail.

Druid Arch from below where you had to climb a set ladder to continue on the trail.

Tom coming up the ladder.

Tom coming up the ladder.

On the way you don’t see too much of the arch, as you approach it from the side, but up the ladder and a short scramble later you see it Druid Arch for what it is. Beautiful.

Druid Arch

Druid Arch

Flowering Cactus

Flowering Cactus

From the Arch, looking north toward camp, you get a sense of the beauty you’re immersed in. A beauty that a picture truly cannot capture.

View from Druid Arch

View from Druid Arch

Desert Flower

Desert Flower

After taking short break to escape the sun, we hiked back to camp. Settled in for the night and had one great Curry Rice dinner. One of my favorite backpacking dinners so far.

Taking a break below Druid Arch

Taking a break below Druid Arch

Initially, the next morning we were going to hike a mile west to Chelser Park, set up camp, and hike a loop through Joint Trail. Limited on water, and John not seeing much of the area, we decided it was best to hike out and try to check out some of Arches National Park. However, still needing to see Joint Trail we set up to smash through the trail early, and pack out of Canyonlands before it was too hot.

At 5:30 Saturday morning we grabbed our day bags and headed west toward Joint trail, about a  2.5 miles trek from our camp at EC3. What an amazing morning?! We caught sunrise coming up over the needles at about 6:00 and watched it unfold into the desert meadow as we wondered. Not to mention the aroma of all the desert flowers and vegetation was wonderful.

Looking back after short climb toward Chelster Park/Joint Trail from Elephant Hill

Chelser Park sunrise on way to Joint Trail

Across the meadow you head down down a hill to stumble across a slot canyon, Joint Trail. There is a set of rock stairs that drops you in the top of the slot, and then you walk through the canyon. This was for sure a highlight of the trip.

Joint Trail

Joint Trail

Stirlynn's approved bed in Joint Trail

Stirlynn’s approved bed in Joint Trail

At About 9:00 am we returned to camp and finished packing to hike out. Making it back to the car a little before noon, when it was really starting to heat up, we watched the unfamiliar attempt to begin a hike into the desert…they aren’t going to make it far. ha.

We drove into Moab hot and needing to refuel… what better place than Moab Brewery! A hefe and lemon never tasted so good! After lunch we drove up the canyon and found a campground along the Colorado we could stay at for then night. Then decided to head into Arches National Park. Gorgeous. Gorgeous.

Arches - Balance Rock

Arches – Balance Rock

Arches - Double Arch

Arches – Double Arch

After a few hours in Arches we drove back into Moab. We found a little coffee shop for some coffee and custard, and then headed back to camp to enjoy the last night. A night on the edge of the Colorado River, with a fire, and in good company.

 

The desert can be a place of misery, but if you open up your eyes there is more beauty than you can imagine.

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Heart of the Desert

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Love …Never Felt So Good

Believe in love, for love is one of the most underutilized tools. In all aspects of life, society, and business there is a need and place for love. Everyone is faced with difficult times, less than ideal circumstances, and situations with so much bad, evil. However, no matter how lost, how hidden, there is way to find love.  It is what brings peace and happiness to the world; it fuels the soul for good, for greatness.

 

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

See the joy that is brought by love. Feel the happiness. Love Never Felt So Good.

Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake – Love Never Felt So Good

 

This message can be spread in many directions; one of forgiveness, compassion, respect, patience, communication, faith, trust, devotion, understanding, but it’s simple. Stand for love, give love, love all the surrounds you, and more importantly…

LOVE YOURSELF!

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Two Peaks, Two Days

Over the past two days I set the goal to summit two peaks, and I did. The two on the list were Malan’s Peak in the Ogden Valley and Mt. Olympus located in the Salt Lake Valley. While they aren’t the tallest nor most difficult in their respective area, they were well worth the effort.

First on the list was Malan’s Peak.

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On Friday, after a half day at work, my friends Bess, Juan, and I took to the trail. The trail to Malan’s peak is not too strenuous. In just less than two and a half miles you ascend 2100 ft to the summit that sits just below 7000 ft. As I haven’t hiked much I would say this was a nice warm up for the season, not to mention the beauty along the way.

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Just less than a mile up you run into a little fall, and with spring flowers all along the way it just gets better.

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As I reached the peak a little before Bess and Juan. I found a nice spot to sit and gave in to serenity.

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Day Two: Mt. Olympus.

I knew what I was facing prior to Malan’s, this was not so much the case for Mt. Olympus. I did the research and new the trail was about three and a half miles up to a peak sitting just above 9000ft, but i truly didn’t compute what gaining 4000ft in three miles would feel like….especially for my brother-in-law who hasn’t hiked in quite some time!

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At 9:00 am Bess, John, and I started up the trail. Disregard the agony of the never ending steep of “blister hill” we made to the saddle, which Bess said was close two miles too soon, and all was forgotten. Pictures cannot capture the beauty.

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With Peak after peak toward the east and a distant view of Kennecott Copper Mine to the East, our goal was right above us. The last half mile was a 750ft class 3 scramble. I must admit, as i’m not always the most balanced, this pushed my comfort zone.

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However, atop the peak life settle into peace.

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Overall, this is one of my favorite hikes thus far, and give a big thanks to this random guy making my picture more dynamic!

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Peak – Couplet

Above the chaos in the earth below,

My world is at peace, full, hallow.

 

 

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