A Healthier Mike - Week 5

A Healthier Mike - Week 5.jpg

INTRODUCTION

Some of my main reasons for wanting to drop the weight and get healthier: (I'm going to try to share new ones weekly)

  • I don't want to lose the progress I've made (keeping this one, very relevant this week)
  • I feel better already
  • I want to be able to use my laptop on an airplane
  • Actually, I want to be able to feel comfortable on an airplane
  • I want to feel like I've earned treats - I mean, most food is good but treats are REALLY good and I think they should be earned.  (Beers after a run or hiking, occasional ice cream, special birthday things, etc)

WEEK 5 - AUGUST 6-12

The week was pretty normal until Thursday... Thursday I went out for a friend's birthday dinner at one of our favorite BBQ places in Fort Worth.  I had the smoked turkey, so good, with a little sauce (not very low-carb, but whatever) and then I had a side of their super delicious potato salad.  I shouldn't have had the whole side, I should have had coleslaw, and I should have just said no to the sorbet afterwards, but I didn't.  These choices were all made with intent, keeping the calories low, but not low enough, and with the mindset that I'll reset and go back to normal the next day.  This was different than the slip up on our way home with fast food from week four, this was intentional and I was in control.  The truth, though, I have no regrets and zero guilt about anything.  The only way I'd feel guilty about it, is if I lied to myself and this blog about what I did - so I'm not going to do that.

I will say, eating the sorbet on Thursday really did make me feel weird.  It was delicious and fresh, but the "hangover" from the sugar is killer.  Friday morning I felt hungover, strung out, and kind of jittery.  On Friday when I felt kind of off it really hit me that excessive sugar really had me feeling that way all the time.  I have a pint of ice cream in the freezer for a special treat in December, when I turn 34, but I'm already reconsidering giving it away to a friend instead.  I won't jump to any conclusions just yet, so I've included a note on the carton to remind me it's a treat for a goal.

I was over on calories a few days this week which is weird, but I was within my macros so I'm not as upset.  I need to work on my bored eating and my "giving in" to doing whatever I want.  I survived, still felt mostly good, so I'll take the notes and apply it to next week. 

  • I'm intermittent fasting - I eat between roughly 11a-7p only
  • I sometimes have bulletproof coffee on my commute in to work (coffee + butter + MCT oil)
  • I'm low carb, usually around 20g net carbs/day
  • I'm low calorie, around 1750-1800
  • I'm no sugar, ain't got time for sugar
  • I avoid artificial sweeteners, mostly - but I've become kind of lazy on this
  • I still enjoy food (EVERY DAMN DAY--see weekly favorites below)
  • I drink a lot of water
  • I am doing Couch 2 5K (C25K app)

CHARTS & INFO

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WEEKLY FAVORITES

  • Jalapeno poppers
  • Making chicken in the instant pot, shredding it, using it for everything
  • Avocados
  • Peanuts
  • Salads with a few blueberries for a change of pace
  • Bulletproof coffee is killin' it
  • Salsa and salsa verde
  • Stuffed peppers
  • MIO drink enhancer - orange/tangerine

NON-SCALE VICTORIES

  • Did Couch 2 5K Week 3, it's sucking less but still a challenge
  • Not being hungry
  • Avoiding office sweets and people's persuasive techniques
  • I managed to eat some food off-plan and didn't spiral out of control
  • I learned a valuable lesson about that off-plan food and how it works with me

GOING FORWARD

  • Going to adjust my calories again, as I've started to creep up from bored eating
  • Working on exercising MORE (like, maybe voluntarily off the training schedule)
  • New recipes, more inventive cooking

Week 6 will be spent in a hotel then in Utah.  Week 7 will be in a hotel.  Week 8 will be in a hotel.  Week 9 & 10 will be home, Week 11 & 12 will be in a hotel.  I have a lot to overcome in the next few weeks - eating on the go, eating out, and maintaining my exercising.  It's going to be a true challenge, but other than writing blog posts and working all day what else do I have to do?  I have a hotel gym down the hall, a grocery store down the road, and no one to hang out with so I'm hoping that's a recipe for success.

CURRENT FACE PHOTO, 8/6/2018


#MondayMotivation - Looking Forward (to it)

I've talked before about how having something to look forward to really helps motivate me to push through and this week is no different.  As I sit here, I have less than 5 days until I board a plane and meet my BFF in Salt Lake City for a weekend of adventure.  Last year, when I was going to book a trip alone, I invited her and since we had such a good time we decided to make it an annual thing.  I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks, if not months, and now that it's finally here I'm so excited and in such an extra good mood as a result.

In a little less than three weeks I'll be boarding a plane to Michigan for an extended Labor Day weekend.  I get to hike, see my family, and hopefully take a quick dip in the lake.  All of these things to look forward to are privileges and I'm aware of how lucky I am to have them.  I don't always have the time or money to adventure so here are the main things I look forward to that keep me going:

  • A day off from work
  • That moment you get home from work and walk through the door unloading your crap, taking your shoes off, and then changing into comfy clothes
  • Dinner (especially if my other half makes it)
  • A funny TV show or anything on Food Network as a mindless escape
  • A walk to the mailbox with the dog
  • Maybe, maybe, exercising... this may be a stretch, or maybe I'm glad when it's over?
  • A hike at a local trail
  • A scheduled friend phone call
  • Rocking out to my jams in the car
  • Listening to NPR in the morning
  • Smelling the coffee brewing as I am getting out of bed
  • Meatloaf the cat bugging me for food in the morning
  • Reading through articles about nature and outdoorsy stuff

Find the little things that keep you going.  Find happiness in the simple things.  Find happiness in complex things... just find something that makes you happy and add it to your day as something to look forward to.  Recently, I started a free online course to improve my skills and now I look forward to learning again.  Really, the possibilities are endless.

Life isn't always fun, fair, or balanced but if we try we can find things to look forward to and enjoy along the way.

#ForestFriday - Santa Fe National Forest (special repeat)

I recently did a tribute to the Santa Fe National Forest for Forest Friday, but here's another because it's fresh off the brain from our recent trip.  Here are a few views from our campsite, from the evening.  Enjoy and I hope you can find the forest this weekend!

#WayBackWednesday - Part 1 of 4: The Four Trips that Started it All

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QUICK FACTS

What: MMK XC Tour (The Original)
When: March 2, 2007 through March 11, 2007
Where: Across 21 states
Who: Mike (me), Kevin (my friend & roommate), and Matt (friend)
Vehicle: 2007 Chevy Impala - white with a sunroof

FIRSTS

  • Car Rental
  • Mountains
  • Cross country road trip
  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Palm Trees
  • Crossing the Mississippi River

STATES

  1. Michigan
  2. Indiana
  3. Illinois
  4. Iowa
  5. Nebraska
  6. Colorado
  7. Utah
  8. Arizona
  9. New Mexico
  10. Texas
  11. Arkansas
  12. Louisiana
  13. Mississippi
  14. Alabama
  15. Florida
  16. Georgia
  17. South Carolina
  18. North Carolina
  19. Virginia
  20. West Virginia
  21. Ohio
 
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INTRODUCTION

The original.  Number One.  The one trip that can be replicated, but only in a physical sense. The MMK XC Tour of 2007.  I can’t even put into words how excited this trip made us feel at the time, or as it happened, but I’m going to try.  We were young, ready for adventure, and seemingly unstoppable.

This trip started with very few details, but had some main points of interest: We had a concert to attend in Chicago; plans to watch the newly released movie Wild Hogs along the way; plans to meet up with my friend in Grand Junction, Colorado; and then plans visit my grandparents in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  The path between those points was uncharted, for the most part, and would be left open to whichever way the wind blew that day.  We had Microsoft Streets & Trips with a GPS plug in and a laptop to track our route, a paper atlas for our main navigation, and plenty of music on discs we burned days before.

With little experience traveling beyond the bubble of the Great Lakes,  the sense of adventure was running high from mile one.  We had been as far as Chicago, but had no idea what to expect beyond that.  We had no idea it was going to be so flat and boring from Chicago to Denver and we had no idea how big the Rocky Mountains were going to be until we were driving through them.  The red rocks of western Colorado and Utah were strange to us, and the desert of New Mexico was like a different planet.

GRAND RAPIDS (home) to CHICAGO

We left Allendale, MI (technically where we lived, just west of Grand Rapids) on Friday, March 2 for Chicago.  We were going to see Nickelback at Allstate Arena while they were on their “All The Right Reasons” tour.  Yes, Nickelback.  No, I will not take any crap for that.  Performing with Nickelback was Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin.  It was a good show, that much I do recall, and very loud.  We pregamed the concert at a Chili’s nearby, drinking our Coors Light and still not realizing we were on the road trip of a lifetime.

On March 3 we met our friend that lived in DeKalb, IL for lunch at Fatty's Pub.  I noted that the Cajun potato salad was the best, so if you’re in DeKalb check it out and let me know - this was 11 years ago so I can’t promise anything.  There are pictures of us doing shots, probably one with an offensive name that has Baileys, Jameson, and Guinness and pictures of the Fatty's sign because it was an the style of a shamrock.  Kevin was playing the arcade Big Buck Hunter and it became a “thing” whenever it was spotted somewhere along the way.  We said goodbye and continued west.

CHICAGO TO GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO

We started west as the sun was setting.  Illinois became Iowa, and it was the first time for us to drive over the Mississippi.  It was kind of a big deal for a minute, and it was worth a few photos.  I-88 turned into I-80 and we were in one of the flattest places we’d seen.  On March 1st, a blizzard had moved through Nebraska and Iowa causing accidents along the freeway that were still there when we passed through days later.

After a long day of driving we stopped in Des Moines for dinner and a movie.  Wild Hogs was just released in the US and we were dying to see it.  The idea behind the movie may have inspired this road trip, but those details are fuzzy.  In Wild Hogs four longtime friends finally set aside the time and take a cross country road trip on their motorcycles.  We are only three guys, all we have is a Chevy Impala, but we’re headed across the country.  I remember enjoying the movie and being the one to drive that night.  We talked about the movie and one thing led to another and it was decided that we’d find the town from the movie when we got down to New Mexico.  We had to see if Madrid, NM was anything like the movie version, and it fit our overall theme for this trip to take the detour.

We drove across Iowa, then Nebraska, all in the darkness of night.  It was pretty straightforward, follow I-80 then head southwest on I-76.  We crossed into Colorado early in the morning, hitting Denver after sunrise.  The Coors Brewery, in Golden,  was still closed, so we kept pushing west and that’s when it hit us - the mountains.  We’d been seeing them as we crept around the north side of Denver, but there they were right on the road in front of us.  We had the perfect weather for seeing mountains for the first time - sunny with blue skies and mild temps.

After going through our first mountain tunnel, our first big stop in the Rockies was Georgetown, Co.  We went to the Gateway Visitor Center and took a few minutes to let all of the scenery sink in.  As we carried on, the mountains were getting bigger and we went through the long more impressive Eisenhower Tunnel, which was so exciting I took a video.  Think about it, you’re driving THROUGH a mountain, how cool is that?

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I can still remember our rest stop just west of Silverthorne, CO looking at the mountains and at each other with amazement in our eyes.  It was a surreal experience: the breeze blowing, sun shining, and the Rockies all around us.  Seeing the snow capped mountains, and standing in snow ourselves, was amazing but it just got better and better as we kept going.  Winding west, we passed Vail and Glenwood Springs and began the transition into the Western Slope where the mountains were a little smaller and the rocks a little more red.  We ended this leg of the trip at the Motel 6 in Grand Junction in the afternoon.  We met up with my friend, who had recently relocated from Michigan, and went bowling in the evening.  All in all, a good ending to one long and scenic drive.

GRAND JUNCTION, COLORADO TO TERRELL, TEXAS

It was nice to see a familiar face along the cross country journey, but it was time for us to move on.  We hopped back on I-70 and pointed that Impala west.  We were soon entering Utah, and found one of my favorite rest stops to this day.  It had vault toilets and a nice path to a scenic view, what more could you want?  We had fun here, took a minute, and just enjoyed the sunshine.
Moving along, we wanted to go south towards New Mexico, so we exited I-70 and found ourselves on US-191 driving right past Arches, Canyonlands, and various other scenic gems.  This trip had no real plan and the more I research what our motives were, the less I find any at all.  We were less aware of where we were going and what we could have seen, and more focused on just being out and driving as far as we could without trouble.  One place we knew we wanted to see was the famous Four Corners.  We wanted to stand at the point where four states met and see how that felt.  Unfortunately, we arrived thirty minutes after the place closed.  This trip was during a  time before smartphones helped us know everything at all times; we were bummed but carried on.

To get to Four Corners we decided to go down through Arizona, to also add to our state count, and then back up towards Colorado.  We turned sound and went into New Mexico and decided it would be a good idea to find the town from Wild Hogs.  Madrid, NM was just south of Santa Fe and we pointed the car in that direction.  We ended up taking some less than smooth back roads, driving the rental car through a pothole the size of the car, and trying our best to follow the guidance of our atlas and Microsoft Streets & Trips.  I can’t be certain of the roads, as too much time has passed and the original file tracking our trip has gone missing, but I can assure you we found Madrid and it was very dark.  Our judgment was: it looks nothing like the town from the movie.  Looking back, it was dark and we had no idea what we were talking about because the movie was, in fact, shot right there in that town.  Either way, we passed through and headed back to the freeway into Albuquerque.  We connected with I-25, then I-40, and headed east to Amarillo, Texas.  (Amarillo by morning plays as we drive)

We stop at IHOP in Amarillo.  Shout out to IHOP and Denny’s for always being open which is great for three idiots on road trips at all hours of the night.  We left IHOP full and happy, heading south as the sun was rising.  We drove through Lubbock and ended up down on I-20 heading east.  We hit Fort Worth and Dallas traffic that afternoon and crawled through the big cities that, unknown to me at the time, would be my home four years in the future.  After sitting impatiently through Dallas traffic, we ended up Terrell at a Motel 6 because we needed some brews and some beds.  This is one of the nights from this trip that never leaves my memory.

The front desk called more than once, Matt and Kevin may have jumped the fence to swim in the neighboring hotel’s pool, and too much beer may have been consumed.  Terrell, Texas was just a preview of what was to come for the next two nights.

TERRELL, TEXAS TO GULF SHORES, ALABAMA

Our trek to Gulf Shores was easy and went by without any issues. We stopped in Louisiana to get photos at a rest stop, drove through New Orleans, through the tunnel in Mobile and then to Gulf Shores.  New Orleans was recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and those sights were still quite astounding.  When we got to the RV park where my grandparents were, they informed us they booked us a room at the Holiday Inn on the beach!  What a nice surprise it was, because we were going to find some dumpy, cheap hotel and be just fine.  Our room had an angled view of the ocean and there was a pool right on on the edge of the beach, it was the most “beach paradise” place I had experienced to date.  We walked down the road to FloraBama, a bar on the state line nearby, and explored the beach from there.

This was the first time I had seen the ocean, ever, and it was more gorgeous than I could have imagined.  The water was such a magnificent shade of blue or maybe turquoise, it changed with the light.  The beach was a brilliant white and the water was cool, but not too cold.  Being from the Great Lakes, we were used to cooler waters.  As a group, we spent more time in the pool and hot tub than anything, and really soaked up the sun.  When it got dark, the stars filled the sky above the ocean and it was one of those moments you can't’ forget.  We ate like kings in Gulf Shores, as my grandparents were there and treated us to a meal cooked at the RV and a meal out at a very colorful, local place called Papa Rocco’s.  I remember waiting forever to get in to Papa Rocco's and it being alive with music and laughter, I wonder if it's still that popular?  After three days and two nights on the beach, we had to set off for our drive back to Michigan.  I’m forever thankful for the experience my grandparents gave us with a beachfront hotel - really made the trip even more fun.

GULF SHORES, ALABAMA TO HOME

WIth only one real stop in Tallahassee at Florida State, we just spent the last miles driving up the east coast.  At Florida State, we visited a friend who had moved from Michigan and then toured the campus.  Matt really wanted to see the stadium, and so we did.  It was a nice campus, much different than our own college, which is always fun to see.

We made our way up through Georgia, the Carolinas, the Virginias, Ohio, and then to Detroit.  We saw a few funny, to us, signs and stopped at a few visitor centers, but nothing too exciting happened along this route.  The route did allow for some mountain cruising and at least one tunnel, which was fun, though we did not really explore any of the natural beauty.

By the time we hit Ohio, we were ready to be back home.  I can remember passing through as the sun was setting on the snowy farmland and it was bright and golden and it really felt like we were back in the Midwest.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THIS TRIP

  • A little bit of planning could be a good thing.  We missed beautiful places like National Parks and fun tourist attractions because we were winging it.  Going forward, researching a few things ahead of time would welcomed.
  • A road journal is necessary.  Quotes, points of interest, interesting observations, and a record of the trip are fun ways to look back and enjoy the memories even more.  Also, a road journal would have seriously helped in writing this blog post.
  • Rental cars are the best because they’re not yours and you don’t have to worry about breakdowns, mileage, wear and tear, etc.
  • Photography through the windshield isn't always great.  Stop, take it in, photograph it, and then move on.  We just kept going and going and didn't really stop to take photos or take in a moment.  Future trips had better photos, I promise!

The trip opened our eyes to the country and left us wanting more.  By completing the tour around the USA, we felt empowered to do this again and to see more.  It was something to talk about, something to brag about, and something to cherish forever.  To this day, I still talk about this first trip around the country as the “big break” for me getting into adventuring and road trips.  WIthout this experience, I wouldn’t have the next three spring break road trips and I wouldn’t have seen all of the places I have.  I’d have no idea what was out there in the same way, by previewing it with my own eyes.  The experience of driving, sleeping in the car, staying in motels, and tolerating passengers for 10 days is a life experience I would recommend to anyone wanting to do something different for their vacation.

Come back here next week and I’ll share Part Two of Four - the 2008 road trip.

A Healthier Mike - Week 4

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INTRODUCTION

Some of my main reasons for wanting to drop the weight and get healthier: (I'm going to try to share new ones weekly)

  • I'm not stopping because I don't want to lose the progress I've made
  • I want to hike harder
  • That desire to buy a bike is there - even just for paved paths for now and bikes have weight limits. I'm getting close to being at or below that limit.
  • This is definitely a repeat, but I want to be able to buy pants or shorts from a store, in person and not just online, when I need a replacement
  • I want to be an inspiration for people like me - who've tried and succeeded and failed and keep trying.

WEEK 4 - JULY 30-AUGUST 5

Avocados made their triumphant return to my diet for this week and I couldn't have felt more full all day.  An avocado at lunch really held me over through dinner, requiring me to eat less.  Overall, the week went by rather quickly and my meals were all pretty tame.  Sunday, August 5 was a bad day for my macros, though, as I caved and ate some Carl's Jr. on our way home from a quick camping trip in New Mexico.  I don't know what I was thinking, but I did keep my total daily calories around my limit so I don't feel too bad.  The biggest thing is to get over it and get back to it, which I did.

On Friday night, my other half and I started a 9.5 hour drive to the mountains in New Mexico to camp and hike.  My eating schedule was a little off over the weekend, but has returned to normal.  Anyone doing a low-carb life knows that fruits are often off-limits, but I did eat some blueberries and blackberries this weekend as well as some red wine.  For Week 5, all eating plans are back to normal.

  • I'm intermittent fasting - I eat between roughly 11a-7p only
  • I sometimes have bulletproof coffee on my commute in to work (coffee + butter + MCT oil)
  • I'm low carb, usually around 20g net carbs/day
  • I'm low calorie, around 1750-1800
  • I'm no sugar, ain't got time for sugar
  • I avoid artificial sweeteners, mostly - but I've become kind of lazy on this
  • I still enjoy food (EVERY DAMN DAY--see weekly favorites below)
  • I drink a lot of water
  • I am doing Couch 2 5K (C25K app)

CHARTS & INFO

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Below, is the past month.  I like this graph, but it doesn't rule me...just motivates me.

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WEEKLY FAVORITES

  • Ham + garden veggie cream cheese rolloups
  • Making chicken in the instant pot, shredding it, using it for everything
  • Avocados
  • Broccoli & zucchini
  • Hazelnuts (dry roasted from Trader Joe's)
  • Bulletproof coffee!
  • Not really eating a traditional dinner - kind of a bunch of little things
  • Chameleon Cold Brew - Pecan Coffee

NON-SCALE VICTORIES

  • I made it through C25K week 2!  Getting easier to go, at least...
  • I've been less hungry overall, especially in the evenings
  • I hiked at 8200ft and didn't die, though it was hard to breathe!
  • I managed to eat crap food, but didn't spiral out of control because of it
  • I had red wine without regret

GOING FORWARD

Looking ahead to Week 5 and it means the third week of Couch 2 5K (C25K) and continuing the path of eating less, eating smart, and staying low carb for me.  I go to Utah in less than two weeks and I'm ready to hike some red rocks and keep trying to find the balance when I'm there.  Learning from this weekend's "off-plan" eating, I know I can limit myself to appropriate amounts of calories if carbs end up being higher.  This whole project/lifestyle change/whatever is about learning new habits and it's certainly a work in progress.

Sunday's slip from the diet wasn't a derailment and did not cause a spiral.  My other half really helped with that, calling me out on my bullshit of how I used to turn a slip into a spiral.  The fact is, I ate that shitty fast food and I loved the taste but was legitimately not hungry for the rest of the day.  I felt uncomfortably full eating the majority of a day's calories in one meal, and thus didn't need much more.  I listened to what my body was telling me and I slowed down to understand that.  It is easy to see how I used to eat as much in one sitting or one day as I did without thinking.  It is scary to think that part of me still wants to eat that way and that is precisely why I need to keep going - retrain the brain.

Sunday was a learning experience and it came at a good time as I'll be off to Utah in less than two weeks and I'll have to face the off-plan food again.  I'm ready for the challenge.

CURRENT FACE PHOTO, 8/6/2018


#MondayMotivation - Journal Time!

In trying to write my big four part series of the road trips that started it all, I've been finding more and more little journals all over the place.  I have some devoted to travel, one for thoughts, a few with scribbles that aren't important, and a few more that are just empty.  Reading through has been helpful, insightful, and of course reflective.

Travel

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I have three travel journals, I think there's one more somewhere though, because I tend to forget them when I actually travel.  The original, started in 2008, documents the second, third, and fourth spring break trips, a trip to Minnesota and Michigan, and a few nights I was in West Texas for work.  A second journal, bought in Alaska, has details from my 2017 trip to Alaska, a camping trip to New Mexico, the drive home from Portland, and my 2017 BFF trip last year to Utah.  I have a THIRD journal is specific to my recent trip to the Olympic Peninsula earlier this year, and only has one or two pages of writing.  I'm debating how to go forward with these journals.  Obviously, step one, is to be more mindful about bringing a journal along and restricting myself from buying a new one.  Step two is to remember to record things that pop into my head - either as a voice note or in the designated journal.  Step three, probably the most important, is to slow down and take everything in.  You can be efficient while enjoying everything and remembering it.

The original travel journal has a lot of funny quotes, phrases I can't quite understand, and writing from everyone on the trip.  It is a special piece of the past and I honestly think I didn't really continue writing in it because trips like those didn't happen anymore.  Making peace with the way things used to be and moving forward is what I'm doing and I'll continue to fill it in for years to come.

Thoughts

My thoughts journal is my most personal.  It contains those thoughts you can't say aloud or to anyone else, but need to put them somewhere other than your head.  This particular thought journal started in 2015 and has a few gaps in there, but has something from every year.  When something is just too big, good or bad, I write it down.  By writing it down, I'm breaking it apart and finding whatever it wholly is, it's just pieces put together.

The Motivation Part (or whatever)

I don't know how inspirational or motivating this post is, but it's just a way for me to highlight that writing or recording thoughts can be a helpful exercise in maintaining some clarity.  If I didn't have the website, these journals, or my phone (for recording thoughts while driving), I'd probably be even more anxious and scatterbrained.  I encourage anyone to scribble for a bit and see what it does for you.  Maybe writing it all out will help organize your thoughts, or maybe it will do nothing for you.  Either way, it's worth a shot.

#WayBackWednesday - The Four Trips that Started it All (A Preview)

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Maybe it was due to the release of the movie "Wild Hogs" or maybe it was due to the fact that none of us had really been west of the Mississippi River, either way, one winter day it was decided that the three of us had to hit the road and see the country.

When I say the three of us I am referring to myself and my roommates Kevin and Matt.  Kevin and I were roommates for nearly 10 years and Matt lived with us for a few of them.  Kevin and I would road trip in the middle of the night for no reason, drive around Lake Michigan just to see how long it would take, and plow through a blizzard to IHOP 40 miles away at midnight just for coffee and breakfast.  Before moving to college, Matt who is a friend from way back, would swing by my house at 10pm and we’d ride around rocking out to our jams and discussing life while winding down all of the back roads in two counties.  It’s safe to say, these two were on board for adventures into the unknown.

Once it was decided that we’d take a road trip over spring break, the three of us decided to do a dry run for a few days around Lake Michigan in early January of 2007.  Unlike my journey with Kevin, which was 15 hours, this would be relaxed and include hotels and sightseeing to mock a real road trip.  We left one afternoon, drove up along the Lake Michigan coast and over eight hours later found ourselves at a cheap motel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  We met a friend, got real local at a bar, and went to bed.  From there we meandered down through Wisconsin and decided to drive all day and into the night until we made it home.  The trip was a good idea overall by helping us understand our limits as far as driving, annoyances,  and hotel quality.

From January to February it was all planning, booking, and just plain getting excited.  The feeling you have when you know a road trip is on the horizon can’t be replicated; it’s almost overwhelming in the best way.  We booked the car, found all of the Motel 6 locations, and discovered Microsoft Streets and Trips.  Streets and Trips was a genius program, before Google Maps and such, that allowed you to create detailed road trips on a digital map with stops, length of day choices (a few hours or all night), average speed limit you’d be driving, gallons of gas your car held, and it had road construction updates.  Streets and Trips was so cool, it had a USB GPS attachment that you could suction to the back window and track the route via a laptop - HOW COOL IS THAT?  Google Maps is great, for saving locations, traffic, and discovering new places, but terrible for route planning in comparison to Streets and Trips.  Rest in peace, old program, you’re still gold to me.

With everything booked and ready to go, we set off on our Spring Break Road Trip of 2007.  We fondly named it the MMK Cross Country Tour and it could have easily been sponsored by Motel 6, Coors Light, and any number of gas stations with funny names.  This road trip, the first big trip beyond the Great Lakes, was monumental in creating desire to adventure further and left us wanting more when we returned home.  Over the next four weeks, I’ll highlight THE annual road trip from 2007-2010, introduce a few new people, and share endless stories and photos from the trips that shaped my adventurous spirit.

A Healthier Mike - Week 3

A Healthier Mike - Week 3.jpg

INTRODUCTION

Some of my main reasons for wanting to drop the weight and get healthier: (I'm going to try to share new ones weekly)

  • I want to trail run
  • I want to continue this path of feeling good
  • I want to get to a point where I don't need the junk
  • I want to be able to go on a group adventure without all of this anxiety that I'm not good enough and this process is part of the bigger process of reducing my anxiety
  • I want to feel confident in my physical abilities
  • I want to take the stairs, without getting so winded

WEEK 3 - JULY 23-29

I'm slowing down on my cheese intake - because I can shovel it in like no other.  I was missing avocado last week, so the ones I bought finally ripened enough for this week.  I've reduced my intake of cashews, almonds, and other mixed nuts because I was a little too heavy into them on a daily basis.  More greens, more broccoli, and more tomato!  I'm toying with the idea of reintroducing bullet proof coffee into my mornings, but we'll see... I've ready you can do it without really interfering with intermittent fasting, but it doesn't feel logical.  Maybe intermittent fasting needs to go, so long as I set an end time for eating to continue to prevent endless night snacking.

  • I'm intermittent fasting - I eat between 11a-7p only (but thinking this will change as I need a little more of an energy boost in the AM)
  • I'm low carb, usually around 20g net carbs/day
  • I'm low calorie, around 1750-1800
  • I'm no sugar, ain't got time for sugar
  • I avoid artificial sweeteners, mostly - I've had the occasional piece of gum or diet coke
  • I still enjoy food (EVERY DAMN DAY--see weekly favorites below)
  • I drink a lot of water

CHARTS & INFO

A Healthier Mike - Cals Week 3.jpg

WEEKLY FAVORITES

  • SALADS - When you make a good salad, it's so satisfying
  • Making chicken in the instant pot, shredding it, using it for everything
  • Avocados - I missed you last week
  • Grapefruit and Lime Bubbly brand sparkling water
  • Salami roll-ups
  • Bringing 40 oz of coffee to work every day in my HydroFlask
  • Extremely dark chocolate in moderation, usually best with some hazelnuts or pecans
  • Avocados + Salsa + Sour Cream whipped together w/ lime juice (over chicken or with greens too)

NON-SCALE VICTORIES

  • I was out in the field for work this week and I successfully avoided eating everything I brought along in the truck for lunch before lunch.  I didn't sit and eat the nuts and trail mix all in one shot like I have in the past.  Victory was mine.
  • I finished Couch 2 5K week one - hell yes.  As someone who was getting winded at long walks because I let myself go so long, I am impressed with myself for not giving up.  It wasn't AS difficult as I had imagined, but it was NOT easy.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll run regularly.
  • Going with the flow at a restaurant that really wasn't designed for my current program - I wasn't too worried and found something that worked without much internal panic.  It was a Mexican restaurant and I didn't eat a single chip, that's self control, because old Mike would have had a whole bowl to himself.

GOING FORWARD

Follow along, or don't, but don't give me shit.  The format for the blog is in development, but I'm working on it.  If you have tricks or tips that worked for you, feel free to share them - I'm open to trying most ideas.

I've lived my life eating and drinking whatever (and however much) I wanted without thinking of the consequences.  I would eat too many helpings, I would drink too many empty calories, I'd eat the wrong foods too often, and I didn't even think about it.  I gained weight and lost physical ability and peace of mind.  I am not sitting here beating myself up for these choices, I'm just working to change the mindset I have towards the choices going forward. I'm essentially working towards finding the balance.  As simple as it may be to see, when I'm in the moment I often can't see the balance of what I need to do.  By working on the mindset around being healthy, being very real with myself, and completely changing what it is I want out of life I am working to find the balance between being super healthy and practical.  These two things can be the same thing, I see it all over.  Here's to balance.

I'm done worrying about my upcoming trip to Utah in about three weeks.  I was getting very deep within my brain about making smart eating choices and worried about completely derailing any train I was on - but I'm done.  This week proved I can avoid snacks, make any restaurant work, and that I'll be okay.  Yeah, I'll probably indulge a bit, but we'll be hiking and the moment I get home I can get right back to regularly scheduled programming.

Week 4 includes the second week of Couch 2 5K training and I'm kind of looking forward to it.  I may not be saying that after I'm done, but we'll see.  The main thing is that it didn't get easier, but I never felt overwhelmed - it's the perfect training for someone not into training.

CURRENT FACE PHOTO, 7/30/2018


#ForestFriday - Hoh Rain Forest

Forest Friday - 7_27_18 (1).jpg

When I visited this area of Olympic National Park in March, I had sunny skies and mild temperatures.  With my limited time, I opted to walk the Hall of Mosses trail and a little of the Hoh River trail.  The drive in and out of the Hoh Rain Forest was a real treat, following the river with little openings exposing the mountains in the background.  Enjoy the mosses, ferns, and trees from my quick, but beautiful trip.


The forested mountains peak through each break in the trees along the road in and out.


The water is so clear, everyone was standing around in amazement.

#WayBackWednesday - GVSU Overexposed

Back in July of 2007, my friend Anne and I would stay up late and walk from her off-campus apartment to campus and wander around.  We were creatures of the night who didn't sleep, loved to observe the night happenings, and needed the exercise.  I had just purchased a new point and shoot camera, a Panasonic DMC-FX3 to be exact, and was taking hundreds of photos every week just because I could.  I had never had a digital camera before, and this was before smartphones, so it was an exciting new toy for me.  On one of our many walks to campus at night, I decided to use the "long exposure" setting on the camera and take some photos around campus.  The range of exposure varied between 15 and 90 seconds.  I edited them, only slightly, mainly to straighten them out as they were taken by being propped up on something because I didn't own a tripod.  I adjusted the brightness on some, but didn't do too much else to enhance them at all.

These photos really take me back to the campus and brings up some good memories from my time at Grand Valley State University.  The campus is situated along the Grand River, west of Grand Rapids in SW lower Michigan.  We had corn fields, forests, and ravines surrounding us and it was glorious in the summer when everyone went home.  Enjoy the photos from my trip down memory lane.

Kirkhof Center from across the pond (has since been remodeled and has additions)

The iconic Cook Carillon Clock Tower

A view towards the performing arts center

One of the gardens on campus - looking magical and alien in the overnight light

That same garden, from a different angle

An art piece on campus

Mighty Maple

An empty Little Mac Bridge which spans a large ravine through campus

Have they come to collect us?

2017 Subaru Outback - 1 Year Celebration!

July 7, 2018 marked the first year of life with Oliver the Outback.  It’s been a beautiful year, filled with commutes and adventures, and I am beyond happy that I chose Subaru.  At the one year mark, I had over 28,000 miles on the odometer and countless hours of rocking out to my jams.  (Check out my 6-month update here)

Features I (still) Love

  • Climate Control - The system has me cooled off before I leave the parking garage, it's fantastic and stays strong as the sun beats in on my hour long commute home.  Good cooling goes a long way during Texas summers.
  • Entertainment - My music has never sounded so good, and I've always had upgraded sound systems in my cars.  I love the steering wheel controls and the Bluetooth connects swiftly every time.
  • Visibility - Driving through traffic can be hazardous, but I have great lines of sight in the Outback that pair nicely with the safety features to ensure I get home in one piece.
  • Safety - EyeSight has saved me more than once, both in alert and automatic braking, as well has eased commutes with adaptive cruise control for the less congested areas.
  • Interior Design - Controls, handles, and storage are logically laid out and my RTIC tumbler fits perfectly in the cupholder
  • Gas Mileage - With a large tank, long range, and excellent highway mileage, the Outback is designed for road trips.  Added bonus, I only have to fill up once per week for commutes.  Total win.

The Places We Went

  • To Work - as boring as it may seem, I need to get there to make money to take adventures so I'm glad I don't have to worry about anything because Oliver the Outback is takin' care of business.
  • 52 Hikes With Mike - While I've had to fly and rent cars for a few hikes, I've taken Oliver to places both near and far to get a good hike in.  I love the custom rubber tray in the back because it contains the mess from my sweaty pack and dirty hiking boots.
  • Michigan - I'm from the mitten state, so in June of 2018 we drove on up to visit my family and it was a superb ride.  We only had to stop a few times for gas, which made me happy.  Oliver the Outback crossed the Mighty Mackinaw Bridge, got dusty on the Northern Michigan back roads, and took us safely 3145.1 miles.

Oh, the Places We Will Go!

Going forward, I have a few trips in the back of my mind that I want to take that Oliver the Outback will be perfect for.  Once the weather cools, we'll hit up the campgrounds out west in Texas, and visit Big Bend.  Until then, I plan to make an appearance in the Santa Fe National Forest and take a quick trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  Here's to another year of safe commutes and amazing adventures!

#MondayMotivation - Technology Overload

I'm addicted to my phone.  It's plain, simple, and very real.  I always have it with me, rarely make calls, occasionally text and hardly ever use it for emails.  I visit Instagram, Twitter, and occasionally Facebook to stare at things that often don't matter.  I use it to browse Reddit, check the news, take photos, and manage my finances.  I can be found using it for navigating through traffic, tracking my hikes, and logging my meals to stay on track.  It is the most use tech tool in my life.

I am on a Verizon Wireless unlimited plan, meaning I'm mostly unlimited in my data usage until about 22 GB when they often throttle my speeds during peak hours or when I'm in areas with too many users and not enough bandwidth.  By day 17 of each month, I'm hitting 22 GB of usage, meaning the remaining five days are spent using very slow speeds to look at the same thing over and over for no reason.  The problem is, when I need to actually do something productive, it's challenging because I've wasted so much data on the useless and I'm stuck.

I'm easily addicted to things that give me instant satisfaction - my phone, food (for taste and fullness), alcohol, attention, etc.  I'm working to control my relationship with food, so why not try and control my interaction with my devices.  I'm currently downloading an app (seems counterproductive, but hang on) to help train my brain to quit being so dependent on the tech and to help me focus more on life.  I've set alerts for my data usage, early on, so I'm aware and can be informed when I'm indulging too much.  For the sake of value, I want to utilize the full 22 GB, I just want to do it over 30 days instead of 15.  In reality, if I can reduce my usage and keep it consistent for a few months, I'd like to switch to a cheaper prepaid plan.

I know, many people are in disbelief of this whole situation of tech addiction and I understand that disbelief.  As someone that didn't get a smartphone until they were already popular, I didn't think I'd ever spend as much time or money on them as I have in my lifetime, but here I am.

I'm pledging, in black and white, right here...

  1. I will not buy a new phone until this one becomes unusable or 2021, whichever is first.
  2. I will not use more than 22 GB of data, unless I'm on work assignment and do not have access to internet. (as work does pay for part of the phone)
  3. I will limit my usage of social media apps to an appropriate level - may be adjusted as necessary.
  • Instagram - a time limit of 25 minutes per day
  • Facebook - remove the app (done 7/19/2018)
  • Twitter - a time limit of 25 minutes per day, unless a chat is happening

Going forward, when I want to check a social app, I'm going to open my Kindle App instead to get ahead on a chapter in my book - likely a better use of five minutes.  Nothing on social media is worth wasting so much time over.  If people want to connect, they can send me a message.  Fear of missing out is real, but what I'm missing is NOTHING and I need to wrap my head around that.

I'm currently looking for an app to help me train my brain, so any suggestions will be welcomed.  I need to work on my "bored clicking" in Chrome too, but that's another topic for another day.

What are some ways you use to limit the technology in your life?  Leave a comment if you'd like!

This is from our family cottage on Grand Lake - in Presque Isle, Michigan.  With less time spent on social apps, I hope to use that time to re-imagine old photos and write the stories of my past.

#ForestFriday - Santa Fe National Forest

A year ago this week, my other half and I visited the Santa Fe National forest in New Mexico.  The city of Santa Fe is a colorful desert town, but the National Forest is burst of green trees and mountains on a completely different level.  We stayed at the Holy Ghost Campground and explored around that area.  Here are some photos of the forest to enjoy!

#WayBackWednesday - Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Camping in Palo Duro Canyon State Park was a highlight from spring of 2017.  Looking back through my photos, I didn't even capture the immense beauty of the canyon but sure did get some great shots from our hikes and our campsite.  If you get the chance, it's one of the most beautiful places in Texas and is worth a visit!  This place was Hike #6 of my 2017 52 Hike Challenge and you can read more about the adventure and see more photos HERE.

A Healthier Mike - Week 2

INTRODUCTION

When you don't think about it, it's easy.  I stopped stressing about things, stopped worrying about a lot of things, and I'm rolling along alright.  I have my staple food items in stock, have plenty of ice water, and I'm going to attempt to get to bed earlier.  I'm less hungry overall, since cutting portions and eating on within a window of time.  For week 3, I'm starting to take the stairs again and I plan to incorporate some additional cardio which means braving the little gym at the apartment complex due to high heat advisories outside.

Some of my main reasons for wanting to drop the weight and get healthier: (I'm going to try to share new ones weekly)

  • I want to fit into my puffy Patagonia vest
  • I want my clothes to fit better, so I don't have to buy new ones
  • I want to be out of fat pants - I'm at the largest waist size I've ever been
  • I want to be able to fit into outdoor stuff
  • I want to feel confident joining group outdoor stuff
  • I want to try stand up paddle boarding
  • I want to climb mountains

WEEK 2 - July 9-22

Had a training on Wednesday, and ate out... I couldn't accurately calculate my breakfast but I'm hoping it was close enough.  I ate very little the rest of the day to keep it in check, just in case.  It seems that at some point, on each day, someone tried to get me to indulge in a habit I'm trying to change.  Without fail, every day, someone has tried to get me to eat or drink something I am trying to avoid in order to form new habits and it is taking all of my strength not to give in to their persuasion.  It's easy to say "to hell with it" and give in, but it is more fulfilling to stand my ground.  I may become less social, because most social situations involve food, but I am trying my best to pre-eat or wait to eat and order club soda vs. high calorie mixed drinks.

  • I'm intermittent fasting - I eat between 11a-7p only
  • I'm low carb, usually around 20g net carbs/day
  • I'm low calorie, around 1750-1800
  • I'm no sugar, ain't got time for sugar
  • I avoid artificial sweeteners, mostly - I've had the occasional piece of gum or diet coke
  • I still enjoy food (EVERY DAMN DAY--see weekly favorites below)
  • I drink a lot of water

CHARTS & INFO

July 9 to 22 Calories.JPG
July 9 to 22 Weight.JPG

 

WEEKLY FAVORITES

  • SALADS - When you make a good salad, it's so satisfying
  • Making chicken in the instant pot, shredding it, using it for everything
  • Using red wine/apple cider vinegar for my salad dressing (or lemon juice)
  • Hard cheese - aged, extra sharp cheddar to be exact
  • Tangerine La Croix
  • In & Out Protein Style Double-Double post hiking

Non-Scale Victories

I successfully avoided cake and sweets at work - ALL WEEK.  The struggle is always very real at work because of vendors coming in with treats.  Someday, maybe, I'll enjoy treats responsibly.  Confession time:  I used to go to the break room where the treats were, say cookies, and eat a cookie there, bring two back to my desk, and possibly go back for another.  Yeah, I did that.  Four cookies is a bit much for one sitting, eh?  This is part of my process, getting out of the mindset that to enjoy something I need it in excess, and is something I'm conscious of and working on going adjusting.

My abdomen is less bloated, so that's making me happy.  Bloating is such a big part of eating like crap and it's nice when you're not full of gas and puffy.  I feel less heavy, in terms of where I am mentally about this whole thing, and that is something to celebrate.

GOING FORWARD

Follow along, or don't, but don't give me shit.  The format for the blog is in development, but I'm working on it.  If you have tricks or tips that worked for you, feel free to share them - I'm open to trying most ideas.

I've been thinking about my upcoming trip to Utah in August and how I'll manage my eating.  When driving around, I tend to eat more out of boredom so it'll be a self-control game more than anything.  I do plan to break the "low carb" life because we will find a brewery and a new restaurant to try.  I'm not going to let people bring me down for a "cheat day" or allow myself to go overboard, it'll have to be a balance.  I'm going to mind my caloric goals, make sure I hike (exercise) enough to help, and just enjoy the weekend.  I have a few weeks before I go, so I'm just starting the mental prep now.

CURRENT FACE PHOTO, 7/23/2018

A Healthier Mike - Week 1

Introduction

I'm going to start documenting my progress and thoughts surrounding my current personal battle to get healthier because I need public accountability to push me along.  I'm currently adjusting my life to be healthier, happier, and ultimately more forward looking.  I'm eating less, eating fresh, drinking less alcohol to achieve these goals, and changing my mindset about how I consume food.  I'm going to begin training for a 5K, which isn't much for some, but will be a major deal for me if I can run even half of it; I've got 60 days to train.

Some of my main reasons for wanting to drop the weight and get healthier:

  • I want to kayak, and most kayaks have a weight limit of 275-300lbs
  • I want to buy a bike and ride the paths and trails here
  • I want to feel better when outdoors when I'm hiking or adventuring
  • I want to feel better about the way I look - not talking hard body, just less soft
  • I want to run a 5K and possibly get into trail running
  • I want to sit in my car and not feel like I'm ruining my seat

Week 1

I've survived a solid week of eating less and I don't feel deprived of the good stuff.  Once I started tracking my food intake, I realized I was eating enough for a couple of people.  This isn't uncommon for me, and it's been a realization I've had before, but it's always shocking.  So, for the past week I've kept it around 1800 calories with no exercise.  I plan to incorporate the exercise very soon, once I figure out the apartment gym situation.

I have a history of overeating, eating when I'm bored, eating when I'm depressed, eating when I'm excited, and just plain eating when I'm not even hungry for the sake of eating something.  It's safe to say I have an unhealthy relationship with food and this is my honest attempt at rectifying that relationship.  I am working to move to the mindset that food is fuel, but can be enjoyed as such, but isn't necessary to be healthy.

Currently, I'm living the low-carb life and it's fine, but I don't know if it will be sustainable or necessary as I increase exercise, continue a leveled intake of calories, and work to change my mindset to food as fuel.  I sound like a contradiction saying food as fuel and doesn't require enjoyment but I don't want to give up good beer or the occasional dessert, but it's where my head is right now.  As it stand, I haven't earned that good beer or dessert and thus I want to work to a lifestyle of earning it instead of just taking it.  This mentality is sprinkled throughout my life - just doing what I want without thinking if I've earned it.  Travel... have I really saved enough for this experience?  I could go on, but the point has been made.

  • I'm intermittent fasting - I eat between 11-7 (ish) only
  • I'm low carb
  • I'm low calorie
  • I'm no sugar
  • I avoid artificial sweeteners, mostly
  • I still enjoy food
  • I drink a lot of water

Charts & Info

 Caloric Intake for the last 7 days... I did add that I burned calories on Saturday for hiking and swimming.  I'm target for calorie goals, once you subtract the exercise.  Saturday was a struggle because we were out on the lake, but that is something to work on for future outings.

Caloric Intake for the last 7 days... I did add that I burned calories on Saturday for hiking and swimming.  I'm target for calorie goals, once you subtract the exercise.  Saturday was a struggle because we were out on the lake, but that is something to work on for future outings.

 In reality, the bloated week before I was closer to 349... after de-bloating and eating less and cutting most of the sugar out, I'm down to 328.8 today!  I'm not obsessing about my weight, but I'm weighing daily because it motivates me to keep going, even if I stay the same, I'm better than I was before.

In reality, the bloated week before I was closer to 349... after de-bloating and eating less and cutting most of the sugar out, I'm down to 328.8 today!  I'm not obsessing about my weight, but I'm weighing daily because it motivates me to keep going, even if I stay the same, I'm better than I was before.

Weekly Favorites

  • Broccoli
  • Making chicken in the instant pot, shredding it
  • Using red wine/apple cider vinegar for my salad dressing
  • Eggs of any kind
  • Tangerine La Croix

Going Forward

Follow along, or don't, but don't give me shit.  The format for the blog is in development, but I'm working on it.  If you have tricks or tips that worked for you, feel free to share them - I'm open to trying most ideas.  My biggest thing will be to just keep going and to break my lazy cycle of doing nothing but eat and watch TV when I get home from work.

Current Face Photo, 7/17/2018

 Serious, in color

Serious, in color

 Smiling, in B&W

Smiling, in B&W

#WayBackWednesday - Big Bend

I've been thinking of Big Bend often and I can't wait to schedule a trip back out there.  The park entrance is about 7.5 hours from my house, with another hour or so of driving within the park to get to the Chisos Basin Campground.  Big Bend is HUGE and it can easily take all day to drive through if you're stopping for little hikes and viewpoints - as we did.  I'd really enjoy going back to spend time exploring one area or backpacking a specific trail. Being honest with myself, I'll go back in any way I can and with anyone willing to enjoy the experience.  Here are some photos from a trip in January of 2014 with my other half and one of our best friends. 

Classic entrance sign photo

A view while driving down into Big Bend

Morning views from the campsite in Chisos Basin Campground

More driving views

Rio Grande!

Sotol Vista Overlook views

Santa Elena Canyon views

Santa Elena Canyon Trail friendship selfie. <3

#MondayMotivation - Internet friends?

Today's motivation is coming from seeing all of the people from the online outdoor community doing the activities they love and working to protect the places they cherish.

We may come from different socioeconomic levels, different backgrounds, etc... but we all want to do things that make life more meaningful and more fun.  The online outdoor communities have helped me connect with people who love the outdoors and who have valuable information on activities and locations I may be interested in exploring.  It's a powerful feeling to connect with a group of people who want to keep the outdoor spaces we love clean and protected for generations to come - I highly recommend it.

Find your people, in person or online, and dive in to that community.  Learn, grow, and find your passions.

Thank you to everyone out there for your intentional or unintentional inspiration to get out, love the land, and fight for the future....what a wild ride!

 

As always, if you're ever in Dallas/Fort Worth, contact me (or through social media) and we'll go for a hike at one of my local spots and/or grab a drink to catch up.

Views from Olympic National Park... I saw so much in 2.5 days up there with a lot of help from my guidebook and tweets/messages/etc from people that live and love the park!  Thanks!