Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Adventure

I went on a little adventure on Saturday to visit a few waterfalls and try to catch a glimpse of some Fall leaf color before it goes away. The higher elevations are already looking pretty bleak and winter-like but for the most part it looked to be peaking at the places I was. The weather was fantastic and the skies were crisp and clear so I was able to snap some good pics.

Waterfall on Highway 215

Courthouse Falls

Action shot!

Cool cloud formation attacking Mt. Pisgah

Some Fall color

Quite a few other pics from the day are on my Flickr page here. Overall it was a very nice adventure.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I’m feeling somewhat directionless right now. I get this way often; any kind of constant routine tends to do it to me sooner or later. I fall into this circle of going to work at the same time every morning, coming home at the same time in the afternoon, doing the domestic chores the same day as last week, etc. While some people find a routine like that comforting and an inevitable part of life, doing the same things the same way all the time makes me feel a little rundown. Like I’m spinning around in a big circular rut, and even though it feels like I’m constantly moving in different directions, the only thing that really happens is being dizzy and knowing that I’ll fall over if I stop. But usually all it takes is some small deviation in the pattern to break up the monotony and make me feel better. Things like spending a weekend day exploring back roads I’ve never been on before, having lunch at a new place, or buying a new geek toy. Nothing major, just a little distraction for a bit to refresh me, and then it’s back to the routine until the next distraction is needed.

Lately though nothing has seemed to help. It’s been this way since I had to come off the Trail, but the feeling is intensifying. I have a couple of job interviews for office-type positions this week, and I know that’s what’s making it worse. Don’t get me wrong, it’s taken months to get this close to working again in this economy and I’m happy to finally have some interviews lined up. I need a job in a bad way right now. But the thought of stepping into a new office-job and starting to spin around in a new circle is horrifying for me.

I’ve changed jobs and moved to new places before (and enjoyed doing it), so it’s not the idea of starting over somewhere that’s the problem. Things are different now. The time I spent on the Trail and what it awakened (and continues to awaken) in me has changed something fundamental inside. “Hike your own hike” is as good a motto for life as it is for AT hopefuls and I’m trying to listen to my inner guide and follow my own path. I don’t want to spin in place this time; that way of living is not for me anymore. I want to keep walking forward and experience new things every day.

But I’m scared that I’m going to wake up a year from now and realize that I’ve fallen into the trap yet again. Whenever I think of the jobs I’m interviewing for this week I start feeling dizzy and the sense of directionless sends me reeling again. I don’t know what to do or which direction to go. I really miss the Trail.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

12 of 12

Guess it's time to bring this ol' blog back to life, and what better way to do it than with a 12 of 12. Chad created this cool idea...on the 12th of the month you take 12 pics to show how you spent your day.

I started the day intending to head to the NC Mountain State Fair, but decided not to go due to the legions of people lined up for miles outside the parking lot with the same idea. Instead I decided to hit downtown Asheville for lunch due to a gift certificate to Doc Chey's.

Morning Glory vines on the front porch.

Leaving the house, good thing it's protected by Brinks...and Gracie.

Gas is still on the cheap side. Yay!

Doc Chey's Noodle House. Good food, great atmosphere.

Walking off the lunch calories downtown.

Art inside a shop downtown.

Love this sign for the Thirsty Monk. Still need to stop in the place and see what it's like.

Cool gate outside the Trinity Episcopal Church; on the way back to the car.

Nap Time.

Yeah it's bad for me, but it's so damn tasty. Besides, I went out on a random drive (where I just start driving and go whichever direction I haven't been before) and ended up near the place. It was fate, I had to eat there.

Train going by on the way home.

Yeah, odds are it's wasted money. Fun though.

Monday, March 23, 2009

AT Link

Below is the link to my online trail journal that I'll be updating as I'm on the Appalachian Trail. I thought about just using this blog as my journal, but the site below is used by a large majority of the long-distance hiking community and by having a presence there it'll make it easier for other hikers to find me, if they need to for some reason. Plus it does cool things like automatically tracking my miles.

My Trail Journal:

I may pop in occasionally to put some updates here, but the plan right now is to keep the journal site as my active blog for the time that I'm in the woods.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Since it was such a beautiful afternoon a couple of co-workers and I decided to eat lunch outside today. We stopped at Jersey Mike's Subs and grabbed some food then headed to Beaver Lake in north Asheville. The area around the southern part of the lake is a Bird Sanctuary and has a trail with a boardwalk and benches set up for bird watching. So we got to have a nice peaceful lunch watching the lake and listening to the birds. I forgot to bring my camera but I was able to snap a few pics on the phone that didn't turn out too bad.

Beaver Lake

A pair of ducks swam up to our lookout spot and started quacking up a storm, begging for food.

Beaver Lake Ducks

We didn't fee them of course (I shouldn't even be eating bacon, no way it can be good for a duck), but they were persistent little things and followed us around the water's edge. They were paddling pretty quickly too. For ducks.

Beaver Lake Ducks

They reached the shore and waddle waddled right up to us, quacking and looking cute the entire way.

Beaver Lake Ducks

They stood there for a few minutes after we walked off looking confused and disappointed as to why they didn't get any food. I'm guessing the cute chase-you-down routine generally works for them and convinces people to feed them.

Friday, March 13, 2009


I've decided to attempt the Appalachian Trail this year instead of putting off til 2011 like I previously said. I was ok with waiting a couple more years to do it when I made that decision, but things kept pointing me in the Trail's direction this year and once I started seriously considering it, everything just sort of fell into place. So 2009 it is.

I have the majority of my gear together and only have a few small odds 'n ends to pick up then I'll be all set to start. I'm planning on beginning the adventure on the 26th of March, so two weeks from today I should be in the woods.

Check out this Wikipedia page to get some good, basic info on it and what it is.

I seem to be getting a lot of the same questions from everyone when I tell them about it, so here are a few of my responses:

Yeah, I'm planning on walking the entire thing...from Georgia to Maine (roughly 2,175 miles, or about 5 million footsteps)

Should take 4-6 months to do it.

I'll be eating mostly dried, just-add-water kind of foods (oatmeal, pasta, etc).

It passes through, or close to, enough towns that I'll only need to carry 3-5 days worth of food at a time. I'll restock food, do laundry, check my mail-drops (friends are mailing me some supplies via post offices) when I get to those towns.

Yup, that means 3-5 days or more between showers too.

There are about 200 shelters that were made for hikers to stay in, but I'll be taking my own setup (hammock, tarp, warm cozy sleeping bag) so I can avoid them for the most part.

When it rains, I'll just get wet. I'm carrying rain-gear, but there's not much that will keep you dry when you're walking in the rain for 4-6 hours at a time.

Nope, not afraid of getting lost at all. There are around 165,000 trail markers (called blazes) along the way to keep you on track. Plus it's extremely well-traveled so the trail is easy to follow.

Apart from a pocket knife and a spork I will not be carrying a weapon. The majority of the AT is on National Park land, where guns aren't allowed anyway.

I actually want to see a bear (hopefully lots of them), and I'm not really too concerned about it. Keep your head and stay calm and everything will be ok.

Same goes for snakes, moose, and other wildlife (including the serial killers and "crazy people just waiting to attack you" that my mother seems to think inhabit the woods).

Yup, had to quit my job. Moving out of the apartment too.

And yeah, it's the craziest thing I've ever done. The scariest too. But that just makes the adventure that much more exciting!

I'll be keeping a journal online so people can keep up with what's going on. I can email my entries using the new toy (the Blackberry) and keep everything updated. There will be places where I won't have a cell signal but overall I'll be able to post pretty regularly. I'll be putting up a link here to the journal and a few other cool things once I get started on the hike.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

12 of 12

I decided to skip 12 of 12 this month. I've just got too many other things going on right now getting ready for my adventure. I'm hoping I can do it from the Trail next month, but there's no way to know now if I'll have access then. We'll see.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I went out camping with a friend last night to test out our new hammocks. It's slightly different than a normal hammock setup in that it's made for camping (lightweight, attachs to tree trunks, is insulated, etc.) You tie the hammock between two trees and then hang a tarp over it to protect it from the weather and help keep the wind off of it also, which helps keep the setup warm.

It was rainy and the temps dipped into the 30s, but I was nice and dry inside my hammock. My feet got a bit chilled, but other than that I was decently warm all night long. And it was an extremely comfortable sleep too. Just a gentle swaying in the breeze; almost like being rocked to sleep.

I was kind of hoping to wake up to snow on the ground this morning but it looks like the storm waited til this afternoon to start sputtering. Couple inches on the ground now and it's still falling steadily. Fun fun.

The hammocks set up and ready for sleeping.

A view of the hammock from inside the tarp.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Toy!

My new toy arrived today, a Blackberry 8330! I was kind of surprised it came today since I just ordered it yesterday, but that's one thing Verizon's good at. Guess they want you to get their gadgets fast so you can hurry up and get addicted to them and buy more.

I never really had much of a desire to own a Blackberry though. I was actually looking for something that could send & receive email from deep in the woods when someone suggested a smartphone might be the best answer. So I logged into Verizon (they have the best coverage in this area) just to see what options were available. Lo and behold, I was able to upgrade my current phone to the Blackberry at no charge, beyond a small monthly increase in my calling plan of course. I know that's how they sucker you in, but it's cheaper than the other options I was considering. A few mouse clicks and a FedEx package later, I have a new toy to play with.

And my inner geek is beside himself with many buttons...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Rainy Day

It was raining when I got home from work tonight. It was a typical mountain storm, one that affects everyone but depending on where you are it can be a drastically different experience. It wasn't doing anything at work beyond being a bit windier than normal. But by the time I arrived home, a mere ten miles distant, the rain was falling in almost sideways sheets of water. And within seconds of parking the car the rain suddenly slowed to barely a light shower.

I love rainy days so I was having fun watching the sudden changes. And that's when I noticed the neighbor's car window was rolled down (technically it was the downstairs neighbor's boyfriend's car, but that's not really important). The important fact here is that I suddenly found myself faced with a dilemma.

Do I tell them the car window is down and their car's innards are getting wet?


Since it appears the rain is stopping, do I go inside and just forget about it?

My first instinct was to tell them, but almost immediately my Super Hermit Reflexes kicked in and told me not to do anything. After all I've never formally met the downstairs neighbor, even though she's lived there for several months now. Our schedules are completely out of sync so we've never had the awkward "Hi, I live upstairs/downstairs/next door...How about that weather" conversation you have when you run into someone while you're taking out the trash. Better to let it go and not get involved. The rain had almost stopped; maybe it wouldn't be so bad. So I unlocked my door, went inside, and found myself immediately racked with guilt.

How would I feel if it were me and I went out in the morning to find not only frost on the windshield, but a nice layer of ice on the seats too? I've sat on frozen seats back when I had the motorcycle in college. Plopping your junk down on a seat covered in a sheet of ice and driving somewhere is not a fun experience. So I went downstairs and knocked on the door to tell them the situation.

No one answered. They were obviously home since her car and her boyfriend's soggy-seated car were both in the parking lot...they must not have heard me knocking, or perhaps they're "preoccupied" doing something sticky that I'd rather not know about. As I was debating whether to knock again or walk away, I heard the faint metallic sound of the door being slowly locked from the inside. Then I saw the not-as-subtle-as-you-think-from-the-inside bending of the blinds that happens when you try to peek out and see who's there. A few muffled voice sounds from inside after that and then nothing, still no answer.

I was being shunned while trying to do a good deed. My first reaction was anger. Here I was trying to help them out and they were trying to play it off like I wasn't even there.

That's when I flashed back to 12 years ago and saw a similar situation unfold in my mind, only this time I was on the inside. I was the one locking the door and "peeking" through the blinds when there was a knock on the door. It was the deepest, darkest point of my own personal Great Depression and I avoided friends, family, and strangers equally. I lost quite a few relationships permanently during that time of my life. Not that the neighbors were going through anything similar; our situations and reasons were obviously very different but I understood their reasoning. Better to hide and hope whoever it is goes away than open the door and deal with it. After all, that had still been my first reaction today too...don't get involved and let their car get soaked inside.

So instead of knocking again and pushing the point, I went back to my place and wrote "Your car window is rolled down" on a post-it note and stuck it on the door. That way I could satisfy my feeling of doing what's right and letting them know about it and I could also respect the privacy they obviously wanted, for whatever reasons they wanted it. I then went upstairs and started my usual nightly routine.

A few minutes later the boyfriend rushed outside, keys in hand, and rolled up his car window.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Inner Peace

This little list has been around for a while, but I just came across it again recently and I felt the need to pass it along in this small way.

Be on the lookout for symptoms of inner peace. The hearts of a great many have already been exposed to inner peace and it is possible that people everywhere could come down with it in epidemic proportions, this could pose a serious threat to what has, up to now, been a fairly stable condition of conflict in the world.


* A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fears based on past experiences.

* An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

* A loss of interest in judging other people.

* A loss of interest in judging self.

* A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

* A loss of interest in conflict.

* A loss of the ability to worry. (This is a very serious symptom.)

* Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

* Contented feelings of connectedness with others and nature.

* Frequent attacks of smiling.

* An increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

* An increased susceptibility to the love extended by others as well as the uncontrollable urge to extend it.

If you have some or all of the above symptoms, please be advised that your condition of inner peace may be so far advanced as to not be curable. If you are exposed to anyone exhibiting any of these symptoms, remain exposed at your own risk.

© 1984 Saskia Davis

Thursday, February 12, 2009

12 of 12

I’ve apparently fallen to a once per month or so posting…that should be changing in the next few weeks and I’ll be posting a lot more. Maybe.

Time for February’s 12 of 12! Many thanks to Chad for creating this cool idea.

Since today also happens to be Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, I thought I’d share my 12 of 12 with him this month and show how he spent his day.

Abe gets in the car and heads to work.

Abe sends an important fax.

Abe is ready to help out in any way he can, just give him a ring.

Abe goes to lunch at Marco’s Italian Restaurant.

Abe finds his soul mate while some weird guy looks on in the background.

Abe slakes his thirst with some refreshing iced tea.

Abe looks forward to the cannoli he’s taking home.

Abe hangs out on some cool artwork at the restaurant.

Abe visits Ford, with much calmer results this time.

Abe takes a much needed break outside.

Abe visits some old friends.

Abe is anxious to walk out the door and get home.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 12, 2009

12 of 12

Time for 12 of 12 again. Big thanks to Chad for coming up with the cool concept. On the 12 of the month you take 12 pictures to show how you spent your day. This month's 12th fell on a Monday so most of my pics come from lunch again.

Frosty start to the morning at 26ºF

Cool oak trees at work; heading out to lunch.

Apartment building near work. It has a very cool courtyard that I keep meaning to snap a shot of, but never have. Maybe next month.

I have a thing for alleyways, I find them extremely interesting for some reason. This is one in downtown Asheville; afraid I didn't catch the street name.

Turned the corner of the street and saw this interesting dress standing outside. I love the bricks-for-feet action.

A few more steps and you can see the saucy window display in the store selling the dress. I love Asheville.

An empty "Beads and Beyond" cart. I'm sure it would have been loaded with beads if it hadn't been as chilly.

Lunch at the Early Girl Eatery on Wall Street in downtown Asheville. Great food but it was unusually busy this afternoon. I haven't had anything there that I didn't like.

The plant that was directly above our table (taken by my friend Lois). Love the angle on this one.

The "Iron" statue at the corner of Wall Street.

Dessert from Kilwin's Handmade Chocolates. Yeah, it's a chocolate covered Twinkie. I haven't eaten it yet but I'm sure it'll be nasty and delicious all at the same time.

Looking west on I-40 on the way home; almost at my exit. Ugly pavement and road construction, but gorgeous sunset off to the left this evening.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year 2009

It's finally here, 2009. I'm actually looking forward to this year. Apart from turning 40, I have lots planned and hopefully some big things will happen. I didn't really do much to celebrate last night. Stayed home by myself and had a few beers, then watched some crazy guy on TV jump his motorcycle 10 stories straight up (then free-fall on the bike back down).

I'm making a couple of the traditional New Year's "good luck" foods for supper tonight. I have a big pot of black eye peas cooking and plan on boiling some cabbage to go along with it. Collard greens are supposed to be better for luck, but I can't stand the stuff so cabbage will have to do in its place. I keep an eye on my pork intake and try to keep it pretty low so I'm skipping the ham this time, but I put a bit in the peas for seasoning so hopefully that'll work. Gonna need all the good luck and karma I can get my hands on.