Life Verse:

"...I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." -- JESUS in John 10:10

Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflection on 2010 and Thoughts on 2011

While not a distinctly Christian world view, the thoughts from Steve Casimiro of Adventure Life here are worth noting. As we each reflect over last year and the things that really motivate us and that we measure the value of life by, lets turn our hearts and minds to HIM who is LIFE. "11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" {Jer 29:11-13 (NKJV)}

I pray that 2010 has been a pivotal year for you and that 2011 will see you drawing closer to knowing (personally) what the TRUE meaning of Life is all about!

All my love to each of you. May you have a blessed and joyous year!


Hello, Future: "

Post image for Hello, Future

This is a time for reflection, reinforcement, and renewal. It’s the end of one chapter and beginning of another, and most of us leading even a semi-conscious life are thinking about the successes and failures of the past year and looking forward to a fresh start in the new one. For me, this season has been particularly introspective, and I find myself remembering an exercise I conducted 15 or so years ago, where you write down what you would do if you knew you had a year to live, then six months, then a month.

I wrote down all manner of adventures I wanted to pack in before I packed out. Sky diving. Visit Antarctica. Feel the wind sweeping across Patagonia. There were nods to time with family, especially in the “one month” version, but mostly it was a life list of self-gratifying outdoor pursuits. Ski deep powder, ride misty singletrack.

A decade and a half later, that exercise would produce far different results. I’ve ticked off many of my goals, and funny enough, the list of what I’d like to do before I die has grown longer, but what I actually would do has changed fundamentally. Yes, I’d want one more top to bottom blowerfest of sweet and deep, but all I’d really want is to be with my family and friends, doing what they love and, if possible, taking them to the places and pursuits I love with the hopes of sharing my passion and hunger for all things outdoors.

Fifteen years down the road, I realize that this isn’t just an idle intellectual gymnastics session.

2010 HAS NOT BEEN THE BEST OF YEARS FOR YOURS TRULY. My employer, National Geographic Adventure, went out of business a little over a year ago. A nagging knee injury severely diminished my ability to run and ride. A house remodel has dragged on for an eternity, a challenge when both of us work from home, we’ve slept on the floor for much of the time, and been without heat for months.

Worst of all by far, however, was that someone very close to me was diagnosed last spring with an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer. If you’ve been through this, you know how draining, bewildering, and emotional it is. The roller coaster of hope and despair, the frustration of impotence, the inability to wish it, pray it, or take it away.

Throughout all of this, I have spent much of the year thinking about Aron Ralston, a man who was trapped in his own struggle over life and death, due to my work on the production of 127 Hours, the movie about Aron’s experience in Blue John Canyon, Utah, and I have asked or considered the question “If your arm was pinned by a boulder and your only hope of survival was to cut it off, could you do it?” many times. It’s an essential, existential question, but I realize, too, that thinking about it isn’t just an idle intellectual gymnastics session, either. Even if not immediately visible, we all have points in our lives where we decide to suffer or to give up, and being clear headed about it makes the path more manageable even if not particularly palatable.

Chemotherapy…it is, as you likely know, a scorched earth attack on cancer, and it leaves you sick and exhausted, your beautiful hair gone and your spirit pummeled. I watched as she cut away parts of herself with the hopes of survival, and only now, as I look back at year’s end, do I see the parallels with Aron trapped in a canyon and only one way out. I say the answer to the question almost universally is “yes” — or maybe “YES!” — yes, I would cut my arm off to live. Yes, you would cut your arm off to live. The spirit to survive, to continue on, is the most powerful force we have. There is nothing more precious than life, and threats to it bring out unimagined strengths. A person will endure almost anything. I know this because I’ve seen it.

THE QUESTION, OF COURSE, IS WHAT YOU DO WITH THE TIME YOU’RE GIVEN. That’s what the year to live exercise is all about and that’s what’s so potentially motivating about the turning of a calendar page. And so as I look forward, I also look back for perspective. 2010 was a tough, tough year, but even within the challenges and uncertainty and sadness, there was joy and laughter and adventure. My kids, who are beach rats, got to swim in mountain lakes, scramble on the flanks of Mt. Rainier, and play in summer snow. We surfed. We slept outside, made smores, and counted shooting stars.

Last month, my son and I went with friends aboard their boat and spent a few days and nights scuba diving, kayaking, and fishing. On the return, we passed through a huge pod of dolphins, hundreds of them surfing in our wake and leaping from the ocean with what looked to us like curiosity and happiness. I wanted to get in the water with them, but if we stopped the boat the dolphins disappeared, diving into the depths or passing us by out of sight. So I had an idea: I scrambled into my wetsuit, put on mask and snorkel, jumped into the Pacific, and had the boat pull me with its tow rope. Sure enough, those beautiful swimmers came back. They porpoised in the wake just a few yards away, and a half dozen swam just a few feet below me, rolling from side to side to look up and check me out. It was so cool.

It was cool, but it wasn’t what I remember best, nor was it what was most important about the experience. Rather, it was the unselfconsciously overjoyed shouts of my 13-year-old son as he watched them surround us and the warmth of his shoulder as we pressed against each other at the bow for a better look. It was seeing the light in his eyes and the awe on his face and then later hearing him gush to tell the story to his mother and sister.

It is our nature to think we’ll live forever — our “endless numbered days” as Iron & Wine puts it. That indomitable hope is one of our great strengths, and I don’t spend my time in maudlin despair that I won’t actually live forever, nor am I trying to be a buzz kill for you. But an eye to the end is a strong motivator for the present, and that’s not such a bad thing. For most of my life, my priorities have revolved around fresh air, motion, and chasing snowflakes, singletrack, waves, and finding lines up rock. It’s no exaggeration to say that adventure saved me, and I have faith that the next year will be filled with unexpected delights in the outdoors. But as I think about how I’ll be spending my time, as I think about the will to survive and the things we give up to move forward, as I think about what they’ll say after I’m gone and what’s on my list, I’m driven by the knowledge that it isn’t what you pass through in life that matters, it’s what you pass on.

Peace, best wishes, and happy new year,



Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ever seen the Casio GzOne?

A friend of mine at work has one of these... had never seen one before but it looks great.  Rugged, water resistant to 1 meter, and with Casio GzOne features like Digital Compass, Pedometer, Astral Calendar, Star Map, Tide Calculator, etc... it would be "right up my alley".  Nelson said he was in the pool for over an hour last summer before he realized he still had his phone clipped to his side.  After sitting it aside to let all the water dry off the speaker and mic the phone was still fully functional. 

As Will Smith said, "I got to get me one of these!"

I may have to keep the 0619 number active and replace the old Motorola W385 with this one... ;-o

Just Had to Go Through the Mud Puddle!

I just had to share this picture from The Daily Bike... Looks like the young girl did not want to get her white shoes dirty even though she just "had to go through" the mud puddle! Reminds me of someone I know... Enjoy!

The Daily Bike, December 29, 2010: "

Post image for The Daily Bike, December 29, 2010


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Swayback Bridge Trail - 12/28/2010

Hike: Swayback Bridge (Red Trail), Wetumpka, AL, Tue., 12/28/2010, 09:45-12:45
Distance: 7 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Clear.  Perfect sunshine.  Mid 40s to low 50s.  Wind calm to light.  Trails a little wet but not muddy.  Ground "busted up" by ice in some portions but no problems with footing.  Swamp at trail head had a great deal of thin ice still on top.

 Last opportunity to hike over the Christmas holidays.  The trails were peaceful, though I had more company today.  First time in my experience that hikers out-numbered mountain bikers on this trail.  Only saw 2 bikers but there were about 7 other hikers. 

Quite a few passarines flitting about today.  They were probably looking for food.  All of them seemed plump and well-fed - a necessity for survival in cold weather.  It is amazing to think how all of the wild animals endure such frigid temperatures as we experienced last night.  GOD provides for them.  They depend on HIM

My mind was working overtime today.  Lots to consider and "mull over".  I also spent most of the time in prayer & praise - so much so that one of the mountain bikers was on me before I knew he was behind me.  Good thing he called out or I might have been "run over".  Thought a lot about the Outdoor Ministry at Church.  My GOD, YOU know how hard this is.  It feels like my heart is being slowly torn out.  One verse (of several that went through my mind) really stuck with me this morning.  "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." (1 John 4:18).  I am leaning on YOU, LORD.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Cold December Morning Hike - Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail

Hike: North & South Loop, Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail, Kowliga, AL, Mon. 12/27/2010, 11:00-13:30
Distance: 4.0 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Beautiful sunshine - clear winter day.  Temps in upper 30's, wind ~ 11mph made for a chilly hike.  Trails in good condition with a few blow-downs to navigate over.  Lots of hardwood leaves still on the ground means take care with footing in downhill areas.

Wonderful hike.  It was a gorgeous, sunshine-filled day.  The cold temps (made a little colder by a moderate wind) were not too bad -- I had dressed appropriately.  The forest was a very quiet and serene place today.  Just me, GOD, and one armadillo.  (Guess GOD gave the armadillo armor rather than good eyesight and hearing.  I was within 2 feet of the little fellow before he heard me.  After I spoke to him, he grunted loudly, jumped up, and ran off!) 

A little snow still under the pines.  It was a special treat to see the white powder sprinkled over the pine straw of the upper ridge portions.  Some long icicles were hanging from the "cave". 

First opportunity I have had to hike since early in the month.  Thank YOU, LORD, for YOUR love and care; for this beautiful treasure of YOUR creation; and for the assurance of a future.  Thank YOU that YOU think about me!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nature Photo of the Week: Pinnacles Desert Rainbow

To me this is a surreal photograph... a rainbow against a dark sky contrasted with the barren wasteland of desert below. Beautiful picture that I wanted to share with you.

Nature Photo of the Week: Pinnacles Desert Rainbow: "

Apparently, you have to capture a double rainbow to get 15 minutes of fame these days. But this is still one gorgeous shot taken by Flickr user Kyle Hammons at Pinnacles Desert in Western Australia’s Nambung National Park. Thanks for sharing it through The Nature Conservancy’s Flickr Group!

Total Lunar Eclipse - Dec. 21, 2010

I try to keep you informed of important celestial events as part of our Outdoor Ministry.  Psalms 19:1 tells us that "The heavens declare the glory of GOD".  In the very early morning hours of December 21 there will be such a display. 

Starting at 12:33am CST 12/21/2010 (that is a little after midnight the night of 12/20/2010) the last total lunar eclipse visible this far north for centuries will begin.  Total eclipse should start at 1:41am CST and will end at 2:53am CST.  There will not be another total lunar eclipse this far north in the sky dome until December 21, 2485!  This eclipse also occurs almost simultaneously with the Winter Solstice. 

I know it will be difficult for many of you to view because of the time of night/early morning.  But for those that make the extra effort and brave the chilly air they will be witnesses to the "heavens declaring the glory of GOD"!  I hope you get to see it.

For additional information see:

Monday, December 13, 2010

Leaf-cutter ants switch jobs when they get worn out

The biologist in me thinks this is a fascinating article. GOD designed these ants for a specific purpose. Now we find that they "switch careers" when their razor-sharp mandibles get dull. We serve an awesome GOD!


Leaf-cutter ants switch jobs when they get worn out: "

When leaf-cutter ants wear out their cutting mandibles, they switch jobs, according to a new study published in December 2010. Researchers from the University of Oregon found that as leaf-cutter ants get older, their razor-like mandibles – those little appendages near the ant’s mouth – get dull, they cut through leaves half as fast and spend twice the energy doing it. Eventually, they transition from cutting leaves to the job of carrying leaves.

As you would expect, cutting leaves is a big part of a leaf-cutter ant’s life. Found mostly in Central and South America, leaf-cutter ants harvest fresh leaves and carry them in pieces back to their nests, where they grow an edible fungus on the leaves. The fungus is the main source of food for the colony. If you’ve ever stumbled across a leafy stream of these ants headed from a leaf back to their colony, you’ve probably marveled at the tireless determination of these creatures – especially if you know that the leaves they’re carrying can be up to several times their body weight.

How do ants walk upside down?

The scientists had suspected that very small organisms, like leaf-cutter ants, experience a lot of wear on their “tools” because they are cutting on such a small surface area. The team created an instrument that could measure the force required to slice a leaf with a mandible, and observed the time it took the ants to cut the leaves. The time varied depending on how worn down their mandibles were. In their paper, the scientists wrote that if all of the ants’ mandibles were in pristine condition, it would have taken them half as much time to cut up their leaves. They also observed for the first time that wear on mandibles affects the division of tasks – which ants carry leaves versus cutting leaves.

The researchers are not sure exactly how ants decide to switch careers, but it makes their miniature society more efficient. The title of the paper, in case you are wondering, is wonderfully self-explanatory: “Leaf-cutter ants with worn mandibles cut half as fast, spend twice the energy, and tend to carry instead of cut.”

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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Gear Box: Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife By Gerber

Okay... guess I'm a little surprised that someone has not made a Bear Grylls or Les Stroud knife before, but seems Gerber now has one just in time for Christmas! Gerber does make a good knife. This one sounds like it would be no different. This entry comes from "The Adventure Blog"...

--Begin Quote--

Gear Box: Bear Grylls Folding Sheath Knife By Gerber: "
If you've been reading my blog for awhile, and especially my gear reviews, then you probably already know that I'm a fan of Gerber Tools and Knives. I've reviewed several of their multitools and found them all to be excellent pieces of kit that are worthy of being in your pack, and I've even given a couple of their great products away. So, you know that I was eager to get my hands on one of their new knives in their Survival Series, endorsed by none other than Bear Grylls himself.

The fine folks at Gerber passed along one of their Folding Sheath Knives, which falls under the Survival Series banner. The knife bares the distinctive 'BG' logo of the British television personality and adventurer and has his name scrawled across the blade, but the rest of it is all Gerber. From the moment I took it out of the package I as very impressed with not only how light it was, but also how comfortable to hold and sturdy it felt. The ergonomically designed rubber grip-handle feels perfect in the hand, and makes it easy to cut through just about anything.

This knife comes with a 3.6' high carbon stainless steel blade that is serrated on the lower half. When locked into place it feels secure and tight, but is easy to open when necessary. When the blade is closed, it slides nicely into the included sheath, and at a combined weight of just 5.3 oz, you barely know you're carrying the thing when you put it on your belt. (The knife alone weighs in at just 4.3 oz in case you're wondering.) A small, paper foldout 'Priorities of Survival' pocket guide rounds out package.

In my tests of the Folding Sheath Knife, I found that it easily cut through just about anything I threw at it, including rope, plastic, and cloth. After repeated use, the blade remained quite sharp, doing a nice job of holding an edge.

With the new Bear Grylls Survival Series, Gerber has another line of great products on their hands. I predicted that these knives are going to be very popular amongst the outdoor crowd. With Christmas just a few weeks off at this point, this knife would make a great stocking stuffer for outdoor enthusiast on your list. Big thumbs up on this product. (MSRP: $42.50)
--End Quote--

South African Kayaker Presumed Dead After Crocodile Attack

I love to explore remote, wild, and natural areas on a kayak; to commune with GOD and drink in the serenity of HIS Creation. This report from Central Africa reminds us though that we are not the "masters" of Creation. Always be ready - one never knows when our soul may be required of us. Prayers and thoughts to the family of this adventurer. - South African Kayaker Presumed Dead After Crocodile Attack

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail - Hike with Glenn

Hike: Cherokee Ridge Alpine Trail (North-South Loop), Sat. 12/4/2010, 09:00-12:00
Distance: 4.0 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Conditions: Mostly to partly cloudy.  Moderate breeze through the pine tops becoming a little blustery at times.  Moderate waves on the lake, but no whitecaps.  Temps in upper 50's.  Comfortable while hiking, but would be cool if you were not moving.  No one else on trails.  Trails in good condition.  Lots of leaves down and had to watch your step on descents.

Met Glenn at DQ on AL-14 and he rode with me to the trail head.  Great day for hiking.  Nice and cool (with the wind) but not cold enough to need a jacket or heavy clothing.  First time I've hiked with my brother in several months - enjoyed it a great deal.

Many passarines (as usual) were busy in the forest.  Observed crow and turkey vulture.  Did not scare up any whitetail deer this time.  Most of the deciduous leaves are on the ground but there was a little color still left in the forest.  These stood out even more so amongst the green, brown, and gray of late Fall.  A few hardy yellow wildflowers were still in bloom and posed nicely for my camera.  The typical fluffy white or gray tufts of various grasses were also in abundance along the trails. 

While hiking along the lake shore, we were treated to a sailing regatta.  Seven or eight sailboats were playing about in the middle of the lake (including the one with the American flag sail).  I stopped for a while to watch and snap pictures.  I do so want to take sailing lessons one of these days.  I still have a dream of sailing around the world -- or at least getting lost sailing to unknown tropical islands.  Sounds crazy, I know, but it has been a dream of mine since childhood.  (Anyone ever seen the original "Mysterious Island" or read "Swiss Family Robinson"?)

During the quiet stretches of our hike I recalled some of the Hike Saturday's we have held up here.  They were so amazing.  I hope I can still have times such as that with my friends up here or any where for that matter.

“I think faith can never have a greater victory than when it will trust even in the midst of darkness and doubt and temptation.” -- George McDonald

Friday, December 03, 2010

Serene & Quiet - Hiking Mtn Creek

Hike: Trails at Mountain Creek, Fri., 12/3/2010, 09:15-11:30
Distance: 4.0 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Mostly sunny with a few high, wispy clouds.  Light breeze.  Temps from high 40s to low 60s.  Trails damp but in good shape.  No other people on the trails today.

Though there is ample beauty here, this park has no "great sweeping vistas", no tremendous waterfalls, no jaw-dropping valleys, nor any such sight.  Yet it beckons me like no other place I routinely hike.  It is so peaceful and serene to hike in this park.  It has become my "Retreat"; taking the place of my childhood "fort" and the forest trails I hiked in my teen years behind home.  Very good memories flood my spirit while I travel the trails here -- I am reminded of home and GOD's faithfulness. 

This is my favorite place to "meet with GOD".  Guess that is why I came here to hike today.  I knew it would be quiet and I could have time to talk to HIM about life and reconsider decisions.  HE never fails to comfort my spirit and speak to my heart. 

The forest was very quiet today, just the sound of my footsteps, wind rustling through the tree tops, and the movement of passarines and one startled turkey.  Did see a few squirrels busy storing up food for the winter.  Observed several "treasures" in the forest -- small wildflowers still in bloom, fluffy white seed pods, and a few colored leaves scattered about.  

A very good investment of my time this morning!

Quiet & Still - Hiking at Swayback

Hike: Red Trail, Trail of Legends - Swayback Bridge, Wetumpka, AL, Thu. 12/02/2010, 10:00-13:30
Distance: 7.0 miles  Rating: 5/5
Difficulty: Easy
Conditions: Beautiful sunshine.  Trails damp but little standing water or mud.  Only one other person encountered during the hike.  Temps in mid 50's.  Wind calm.  County has recently resurfaced road from US231 to trail head parking lot.

Wonderful hike at Swayback.  Kept thinking about Ps. 46:10, "Be still and know that I am GOD."  All of this was balm for my soul.  Had lots of time to pray and think, just to "soak up" the love and fellowship of The FATHER (and I needed it).  We all do.  I spent most of the time thinking about my Family of Faith and the future.

Forest was very still and quiet.  Little breeze to stir the treetops.  Most of the sound was my footsteps in the leaves of the forest floor along with the occasional passerine.  Beech trees were the stars of the show - some were still in their lime-green suits. Lots of pictures taken today.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Wonderful 7 mile hike @ Swayback. Full blog post to follow.

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