INSANE HIKING TRIP

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A couple weeks ago, I was feeling extra tired of the routine that comes with working a 9-5 job. I called my buddy Sam and asked him if he wanted to go on a weekend hiking trip. He was actually down for it, and we started making plans immediately. I had to get away as soon as possible. We left early Friday morning to get an early start on the trails. I have a favorite loop I love to make up on Cheaha Mountain. It’s about 20 miles with some fairly difficult elements, but I love the feeling of camping off the side of the trail at night after a long day of hiking. I can usually complete it in about 2.5 days.

It was an incredible weekend. On Friday we hiked about 8.5 miles. The air was crisp with a bright and sunny sky. We ate lunch by one of my favorite waterfalls before continuing on to where we had planned to camp for the night.

While sitting by the camp fire, Sam told me about he hired a friend to help him with some recent issues he was having at home. It was a good time to catch up on the major events that have happened in our lives. we spent some time sitting in silence just listening to the rustling of the trees and the crackling fire. I couldn’t have asked for a better first day of the trip.

The following day we hit the trails early for another full day of hiking. The second day is the most strenuous with it being mostly up hill, but it feels good to be out in nature, focused on the beauty in the world.

The last day we made great timing, and finished the loop by late afternoon. I didn’t want to leave but I knew I had to get back to my other duties. Sometimes a spontaneous weekend trip is the absolute best. A break from the routine is a must on occasion. I’m thankful I got to spend some time with a buddy I haven’t seen a while, as friendships become harder to hold on to the older we get.

This was a great trip! I can’t wait to do it again!

Must Have Road Trip Items

 

Road trips are a fun way to explore the country. America is best seen by road as there are endlessly expansive highways and rich scenery throughout the country. To have the best time on any excursion you need to be prepared. When it’s hot in Alabama, get ac repair Birmingham to keep cool, and keep your cool on the road by being prepared.  Here are several must have items that you need for your next adventure.

 

Healthy Snacks – You’re going to get hungry between destinations, and you’re going to want to feel satisfied and energized. Eat healthy snacks such as fruit, vegetables, nuts, and energy bars to feel full and avoid wasting time on fast food. Pre-peel, cut, and prepare fruits and vegetables if needed too, avoiding messy and sticky accidents while driving. It’s also smart to try homemade oat cookies, or home blended trail mixes. This gives you something to look forward to for long drives but is still relatively healthy.

 

Flashlight  – A flashlight is always handy. It’s also one of those things that you realize you need when you don’t have it. Avoid learning it the hard way and keep a flashlight with a strong beam and full battery. A rechargeable battery that charges via USB is best.

 

Sunscreen – Even if it’s cloudy outside, you still need sunscreen to keep safe from powerful UV rays. In fact, sometimes cloudy days can cause even worse sunburn because the light fills in shadows more than direct sunlight. Prevent skin cancer and painful sunburn, make sure to wear sunscreen.

 

Extra water – It’s surprisingly easy to become dehydrated, if you’re thirsty you are already dehydrated. WHen you are dehydrated you can become irritable and cranky quickly, be good to your body and carmates, drink plenty of water.

 

Phone battery charger – It’s a worthwhile investment to spend 10 bucks to keep a portable usb phone charger in your car. Your phone can of course look up directions and call for help, but it’s useless if it’s dead. So keep a cheap usb charger in your glove compartment to be safe.

 

Paper maps – Cell phone service doesn’t penetrate every inch of the earth, yet. So be prepared for a lack of service and make sure to have some physical paper maps with you as well. Getting lost is never fun, so keep a couple folded maps in your car just in case.

 

Candles – If you ever find yourself stuck, candles make a great way to provide some extra light and warmth without taking up a lot of space. It will make your car cozy while you wait for a tow, or could even make an impromptu date more special.

 

By no means is this comprehensive, but a good starting point for any road trip packing list!

 

Build Out a Van! – Day Trip/ Weekend Mobile!

Remember when ‘staycations’ where popular? Me neither. There was a brief fad in the mid 2010’s and then they were rightfully forgotten. Staying home to take care of yourself is a great thing to do occasionally, but vacation days are valuable! These days everyone wants to share photographs from cool locations on social media. But you don’t need to use those hard earned vacations day to see great stuff. With a campervan you can get the most from your weekend and explore the world in short trips. Here are three reasons why a campervan makes for the perfect weekend mobile to get the most from your days off.

 

  1. No vacancy? No problem. With a campervan you can sleep with the comforts of home like a bed, lights, and even running water, but anywhere you want. There lots of interesting hikes, attractions, and special events worth traveling to, but they don’t always have lodging accommodations near by. And if they do, they can be pricey depending on the area. With a van fit for your needs you open yourself up to new opportunities. What would be a busy and long day trip can turn into a slow paced and relaxing two day get-away.
  2. You’ll also be saving time and money with the van too. When going to national parks or other camping destinations, you’ll have no tent to pitch or other annoying camping chores either, giving you more time to spend at your destination. Most campervans can easily accommodate a simple propane stove as well, allowing you to cook homemade meals while on the road, avoiding costly and unhealthy fast-food.
  3. Make friends while on the road. With a campervan you can easily park and camp on a variety of locations, however, it’s very common for certain locations to become popular, like public land or state parks. When other campervans are sharing a space, it can become easy to mingle and meet others. If privacy is what you want, that’s definitely available too. But if you want to make friends with other people with similar interests, then the community of campervans may be appealing to you.

 

That doesn’t mean campervans are perfect, it does take some getting used to being in such a small space. That’s why it’s ideal for weekend trips; it’s enough time to see some new sights, make memories, and have new experiences but then want to be home again. So look into either buying or building your own campervan to explore your area and squeeze the most fun from your weekends.

Our Trip to the Lake

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This past weekend, we decided to take a day trip to a lake about an hour away from our home.  Yes, I realize that it was January…but when you live in the South, the temperatures are in the mid 70’s even during the winter.  So it was a beautiful day and we decided we should spend all of our time outdoors.

Our adventure began early that morning.  We hopped in the car, turned the radio up as loud as it would go, rolled the windows down, and started driving down the highway.  We arrived at the family cabin on the lake and unloaded all of our stuff.  My son and I decided we weren’t going to waste any time and grabbed our fishing poles and jumped in the boat.  Luckily for us, it was full of gas and ready to go because my brother had used it the week before.  We took off to our favorite fishing spot in a cove about 2 miles away from the cabin.

We baited our hooks and settled in for some nice relaxing fishing time.  Not five minutes after my son put his line in the water, he got a bite.  You could tell it was a big fish because his rod bowed and he almost lost his grip on it.  I jumped up to help him and we spent about 10 minutes fighting with that dang fish.  It finally gave up the struggle and we reeled in what had to have been a 50 pound catfish.  I’ve never seen one so big in person.  He was jumping around the boat yelling about how this was the best day ever.  We took some pictures and then let the fish go.  I told him that a fish that big had lived for a long time and deserved to go back to his home.

The rest of our fishing was pretty uneventful, but we didn’t care because he had caught that huge fish.  We decided to get things together and head back to the cabin to see what the rest of our family was up to.  I cranked the motor and all we heard was some sputtering.  I knew we weren’t out of gas because I checked before we left so I checked some things out and tried again.  Nothing.  I know how to drive a boat but I don’t know a whole lot about how to fix a boat.  I looked for my phone to call my wife to see if one of the neighbors was around with a boat who could come help and as I was grabbing it, it somehow slipped out of my hands and fell to the bottom of the lake.  It was like a scene from a movie, slow motion and everything.  So now what?  I looked under the seats for a paddle because I realized I was going to have to get us back somehow.  No luck.  I tried to stay calm while I figured out what we should do, but my son could tell I was worried.  He spoke up and said “Dad, we are going to have to swim back if we ever want to see everyone again.”

I checked the anchor on the boat to make sure it was secure, locked my wallet and watch in the safe, grabbed some lifejackets, and prepared to jump in the water.  At least it was warm outside.  We jumped in the water and were hit by the shock of the freezing cold.  It was January, so even though it was warm outside, the water was not.  I knew we had to get moving if we wanted to warm up so we started swimming.  Two miles might not sound like a lot, but if you’re having to swim in cold water, it’s a lot.

I kept hoping my wife would realize we had been gone for too long and send out a search party, but that never happened.  We finally made it back to land and found the rest of the family hanging out in the hammock.  By the look on my wife’s face, you would think we were swamp monsters.  After we dried off and changed clothes and rested for a bit, I knew I had to get the boat back to land.  Thankfully one of the neighbors was out and he drove me back and helped me get the boat started.  Apparently, I had forgotten to flip one of the switches on the boat and that’s why it wouldn’t start.

So our not-so-fun adventure at the lake could have been avoided if I knew more about boats.  I’m still glad we went fishing and my son caught that 50 pound catfish.  My family is still making fun of me a week later…and I’m sure I’ll never hear the end of it.

-Daniel

Not Your Typical Adventure

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I’m sure you keep coming back and reading my blog because you want to hear about a new exciting adventure in a strange, exotic location.  Well, this particular post is not about the type of adventure you’re probably thinking of.  I was speaking with an old friend the other day and, as we were catching up on each other’s lives,  he informed me that he had decided to make a career change.  He had quit his job as an accountant in a large firm, went back to school, and decided he wanted to be the best HVAC contractor Birmingham has to offer.  Apparently, he was sick and tired of sitting at a desk in a cubicle all day and liked to get his hands dirty.  He knew a little bit about his air conditioner and was able to do minor service jobs on it, but everything else about heating ventilation and cooling was all new to him.

So it got me thinking about how he decided to just give up his stable and steady job, throw caution to the wind, and jump headfirst into something he knew very little about.  Talk about adventure.  Just like the time I took an underwater passage off an island in the Pacific, the results of my actions could have been catastrophic, but actually turned out amazing when I ended up in this ridiculously beautiful underwater cave.  With any adventure, the unknown is part of the attraction, and getting to the end result is the best part.  So my friend is still looking for a job at this point in time, but I’m sure he will land a position with a great company in the very near future.  If not, I’m sure he will embark on another adventure.

While making a major life change is one adventure, the journey to self discovery is another.  Learning about how you handle the stress of not having a job to support yourself or your family, seeing how you respond to a complete change in your daily activity, and letting yourself learn a completely new thing…what a great adventure!  Have you ever considered doing something extremely drastic, like changing careers after 20+ years, or selling all of your possessions so you can go hike across the country?

So while this post wasn’t about the typical adventure, hopefully it inspires you to find the adventures in everything you do, even boring stuff like brushing your teeth or going to work.

Daniel

The Adventures of Parenting

I was talking with my friend the other day who has a newborn baby when I realized that becoming a parent is a great adventure.  Although our kids are almost teenagers at this point, it is still an adventure every day because you never know what is going to happen, what they are going to say, or how much they will surprise you with their thoughts and actions.

I started thinking about how nervous and excited I was when my wife and I first found out she was pregnant with our first child.  There were so many unknowns and fears that popped up in our conversations, but there were also all of the thoughts about what our child would grow up to accomplish, what kind of person they would become, and plenty of other things like that.  Just like a trip through the jungle, you never know what is going to be around the next turn.

Children learn and grow every minute of the day.  It is really very captivating to observe.  Their little minds are constantly examining things, asking questions, making them use all of their senses to learn every aspect of everything they touch.  I remember coming home from a week long trip for work to my wife cooking in the kitchen and my daughter nowhere to be found.  I think she was about 4 at the time and liked to do everything on her own.  According to my wife, she was reading a book in her room so my wife felt it was safe to go in the kitchen and cook dinner.  Apparently, during those 5 minutes my wife had taken her eyes off her, our daughter had figured out how to open up her finger paints (which were on the top of a bookshelf) and smear them on every surface in her room.  Carpets, clothes, bedding, her hair, stuffed animals…anything you can imagine was covered in paint.  We couldn’t believe she was able to cause that much of a mess in such a short time.  Little did we know that was nothing compared to what she and our son ended up doing over the years.  It’s funny how when I think back to that time in our lives, all I can remember is the smile on her face and the pride she felt in her “masterpiece”, not the anger and frustration both my wife and I felt at the time.

While not everything that has happened during our children’s lives has been fun and exciting, we have still been on the adventure of our lives.

TRIP TO PARADISE

One of the advantages to being in the Air Force is you have access to a lot of military aircraft.  It’s really true if you’re at a MAC base.  That’s Military Airlift Command, where they fly the big cargo planes.  Where they’re not as glamorous as the fighter jets, there’s room for passengers.

One Saturday, I had gotten a call from a good friend who was stationed at Hickam Air Force Base near Honolulu.  He invited me to come visit while his wife was stateside visiting family.  Upon securing leave, I was packed and at the MAC Terminal waiting for a Space-A flight out.

It took nine days flying “Hops” to get there.  I was traveling from the east coast.  But when I stuck my head out of that C-5 cargo plane, the first thing I saw was Diamond Head.Image result for diamondhead hawaii  It looked like a postcard.  My friend, Russ, was waiting at the terminal and we headed-out to see the sights.  The first place we went to was a huge flea market.  I never saw one that big.  The weather was perfect with warm sun, cool breezes and temperatures in the mid-80’s.  I hardly broke a sweat.   

The next day found us at Waikiki beach.  We brought snorkel gear and the view to the bottom was amazing!  There were beautiful tropical fish swimming right in front of me in crystal clear water.  The waves were choppy, which hindered the fun.  That evening I experienced my first tropical sunburn!  Later, we snorkeled at another beach where the water was calm that time of year and we could snorkel at a much more leisurely pace.

Leisure is the name of the game in Hawaii.  Everything is relaxed and I learned about “Hawaiian Time.”  That means fifteen to thirty minutes after you’re supposed to be there is okay.  After all, you’re in paradise!  Everyone is relaxed and friendly.

I didn’t risk it, however, when the cute Hawaiian girl smiled at me on the beach.  He demeanor was inviting, but she was surrounded by guys who were apparently Samoans.  I’d heard of those guys and was told to steer clear of them.  One skinny Howly against five huge natives who loved to fight wouldn’t have been good odds.

We toured the island in Russ’s Honda Civic and on his motorcycle.  The air was chilly in the higher mountain regions.  There were great restaurants, but the prices were high.  It’s a good thing I brought a lot of cash!

Russ lived in Pearl City on a mountainside overlooking Pearl Harbor.  Not every day was spent exploring.  I was content to just hang out at the house while the cool breeze blew through the open windows.  There’s no need for air conditioning.  Calm is in the air there. It’s a great place to unwind and just take it easy.

I got lucky on the way back.  It only took three day and three flights and I was back to home base.  If I ever get the chance to get back to paradise, I’m staying!

OUR FIRST BALLOON ADVENTURE!

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So I was driving just outside of Birmingham, AL when I realized that I was kind of lost.  I never really mind getting lost because that’s when I sometimes find the coolest things.  In my quest for adventure, I forgot about what I was trying to find and began a search for something more interesting.

Then I spotted it: A hot air balloon.  It was in the distance behind some trees and seemed to be grounded.  Nearing the spot, more balloons came into view, then the sign.  It boasted of hot air balloon rides!  Talk about adventure!  Pulling to a stop, I got out and walked into a small, white building.  It’s a little company that takes people up and floats them over their homeland for a fee.  Image result for hot air balloons imagesThe walls were lined with balloon photos and happy smiling faces.  “Those are some of our customers,” came a voice to the right.  Gliding silently through an outside door came a graceful young woman with a radiant smile.  I knew right then, I wanted my picture on that wall.

After getting the details for a few minutes, I remembered that I have my own lady who would love to experience our city and countryside from high-up.   Later that afternoon, I met with my sweetie, Lauryn,  for dinner.  “Have I got an adventure for you!” I exclaimed enthusiastically.     “I’m taking you on a hot air balloon ride!” Her expression changed. “You know, I’m afraid of heights, don’t you?”  Her tone suggested that I should know that, even though she never told me.  “This is different,” I argued, “It’s completely safe and it’s not like you’re standing on a ladder or something.  It would be fun and educational.  Our area will have a whole different perspective from the air.  And we’ll take pictures!”  That got her. Lauryn, an avid amature photograher, couldn’t resist a unique shutterbug opportunity.

So, the day came when we both arrived at that little office and signed the papers.  “Why do I have to sign waver like the thing is going to fall out of the sky?”  She’d already taken an instant dislike for the girl I’d met on my first trip.  I think she sensed how I had been talked into it.  More questions came and more reassuring.  Reluctantly, Lauryn and I climbed into the basket, digital SLR’s around our necks and with butterflies in our stomachs, the pilot pulled the cord.

Woosh! came the flame from the burner and slowly, we lifted off.  Airborne, there was a surreal sense of tranquility as we floated silently through the sky.  With telephoto and wide-angle lenses, Lauryn concentrated on clicking-off the best shots.  I snapped some, but I focused on the breathtaking views of the area.  I knew my baby would bring home the best wall-hangers.

Once on the ground, we felt a whole host of emotions: Calm, excitement, relief and anticipation to see some of those framed photos on the wall.  I was looking forward to going up again!

A CHALLENGING ADVENTURE?

So, you crave adventure, do you?  Forget about trips to Paradise, Caribbean cruises, flying lessons, the wild west and and white-water rafting.  A real adventure is a challenging one.  There’s no adventure like remodeling your home.  Before you undertake that kind of project on your own, you need to call Birmingham Home Remodeling Services.  Let the experts do your remodeling and save yourself the time, labor, guesswork and marriage counselling.  

I know from experience what it takes to remodel a home.  When I was eight, my parents got the wild idea to move to the country.  We found an old two-story home for sale on three acres.  It was a beautiful Autumn day.  The sun was warm, the breeze cool.  There was an apple tree on the property and we sat under the shade of a Willow tree on a wooden swing and ate fresh-picked apples and spoke of how this was the perfect setting to call home. There were two walnut trees and a place for a large garden.  They say people don’t make a buying decision based on facts or need, they buy based on emotion.  And what a beautiful setting!  Did I mention that?

My parents never considered the old farmhouse with its checkerboard linoleum kitchen, white wooden cupboards, wall-paper throughout and outdatedness!  They were excited. Let the remodeling begin!Image result for farmhouse on a hillFirst, they had kitchen cabinets installed.  But before that, they had to rip out the entire kitchen, install new flooring, updated windows, doors, lighting and the like.  My dad did most of it with Mom and I helping.  We mostly helped clean-up.  Once the cabinets were in, my mom proudly cleaned and shined them.  Afterward, Dad tackled the ceiling.  There had been an old flu in the corner  that had been stuffed with sixty year old plaster.  Once exposed, it came crashing down with dust filling the kitchen.  I still remember Mom’s tears leaving little trails down the dust covering her face.  Adventure.  That’s what you get when you do it yourself.  Then, came wood-grain paneling.  It was 1970 after all anImage result for old fashioned kitchen cabinetsd they wanted to be modern.  The whole house looked like That 70’s Show.

My dad figured it out as he went.  After about twenty years, guess what?  They remodeled again. I’m glad I was grown and gone.  This time though, Dad had contractors do most of it.  I guess he’d had enough adventure.

As the years went by, the apple tree died, Dad cut down the walnut trees, the swing under the weeping willow tree collapsed and we were too busy remodeling to enjoy the few nice days in the Autumns.  My parents often joked that the Realtor probably tied the apples to that old tree with string.  That house is filled with memories and most involve manual labor.

After I’d left for the Air Force, my parents and younger siblings went on real adventures: Niagara Falls, Washington D.C. Atlantic beaches and the like.  But me?  I learned enough about remodeling to let professionals do it.  Just call Birmingham Home Remodeling Services.  An adventure is best enjoyed away from home.