#WayBackWednesday - Backpacking

I keep saying that Friday I’m embarking on my first backpacking trip… that’s not ENTIRELY true. Back in 2010, my best bud Kevin and I did a “backpacking” trip (click here to see that post) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It wasn’t too far in, about a mile, and we took only regular sized gear as well as beer. It was a nice change of pace from state park camping, and afforded us a quick hike to the beach. All in all, I’d say it was a great intro to overnighting with a backpack. Each time we go to Kevin’s family cabin in Northern Minnesota, we also sort of “backpack” in. We are miles from phone service or actual utilities and we have to take everything by canoe/boat or sled, then on our backs, to the cabin. I was letting the anxiety related to the idea of backpacking get to me, mostly underestimating my own ability to persevere through situations. I am no quitter, I do push through, and once started, I don’t give up. I can’t wait to get to it and hike a few miles (4-5) to a campsite and explore the wilderness in Arizona this weekend.

Enjoy a few photos of previous “backpacking” trips, and know I’m going to call this upcoming weekend my first time because it will be with new people and more than a mile from the car or boat dock.

#MondayMotivation - the joy of sleeping til 6!

I had all sorts of anxiety about work this week. It’s my second week at a new job, and it was an information overload during week one. I wasn’t totally freaking out or anything, but I wasn’t jumping out of bed with excitement to go in to the office. I heard some of the guys come in around 7am so I thought I’d shoot for 730 to test the water so to speak. Simply waking up at 6 has me less anxious, despite the uncertainty about the new job. I slept better, even after getting to bed late. While I lose the half day Friday I once had, I often just drank the afternoon away and ended up feeling gross. I’m looking forward to more sleep, a steady routine, and still having fun. Yeah, I won’t be able to fly out at 1pm anymore, but I will likely be more well rested to maximize the hours I do have.

I'm still going to spend my weekends the same way, I’ll just have to fly/drive through the night on Fridays again to make it happen. The beauty is, I can fly in Monday mornings and just come in later if necessary as work allows. Here’s to flexibility and maybe getting enough sleep!

What would you do with an extra hour of sleep? Are you a weekend warrior? If so, what are your tricks?


#MondayMotivation - Go forward and get ready!

Thanks for unintentionally motivating me

Inspiration can come from many places and this time it was a simple message from someone in the online outdoor community who I admire so much and want to camp/hike with eventually. I don’t think the message was intended to be motivational, but here I am writing a little blurb about how it lit a fire under my ass.

Keep going, work harder

I really want to be able to start somewhere at dawn, hike all day, gain thousands in elevation, camp, and hike back out. I think the pros call it “backpacking” or something, but yeah, that’s what I want to seriously get in to and I’ve been saying it for a while. This fall the plan is to hike to Guadalupe Peak in Guadalupe Mountains National Park as well as do several practice backpacking runs in local state parks with “primitive” hike-in sites. I’ve never been more motivated to do these things because next year, I want to head to the real mountains (you know, the ones with snow on top and stuff out west) with people and feel completely limitless.

Other things that are motivational this Monday…

  • Cooler weather, though it’s still really damn humid

  • Fall hiking and camping ahead

  • Family camping weekend

  • Potential trips to Minnesota and Washington in October

  • People that just keep livin’ and making the best of life

In other news…

I’ve been on a quest to get healthier and I’m at week 10 with a little bit of a stall, but that’s being revamped too. I’m not exercising enough and I’m not even close to hiking enough. It’s been hot and miserable and I’ve been relying on it as my go-to excuse. I’m sure there’s a pattern of this behavior, if I looked back, because this is how I operate. I get lazy, bored, blah blah blah.

It’s not about the pounds for me and I need to convince myself of that. I just want to be healthier and able to go up that mountain or live past 40. I’m not an all or nothing guy and I shouldn’t treat adjustments to eating and exercise that way either. Everything in moderation, avoid excessive crap, at least walk an hour a day, and continue training for the 5K.

I’m not sure if this is motivation for you, but know that I’m rooting for you in whatever you’re doing and I’m here to say GET IT! Work hard, forgive yourself, and keep going!

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!

Special #ThrowbackThursday - Alaskan Adventure

A year ago my other half and I were probably napping after our flight back from Alaska.  We spent about 10 days visiting with his family, exploring the land, and loving life.  I can't wait to get back up there, so I'm sharing a few photos to relive the moments until then.  Enjoy!

Quartz Creek Campground - Kenai Lake

A quiet morning on Kenai Lake - Quartz Creek Campground

A foggy view just south of Seward

Sea kayaks with a view - Seward, AK

A view of Exit Glacier on the way up to get a closer look - Kenai Fjords National Park

Byron Glacier

2017 Subaru Outback 6 Month Update

I have the 2.5i Limited in black with warm ivory interior named Oliver the Outback and it's been my favorite car to own to date.  I've had a lot of hand me down cars, unreliable used cars, and a couple of newer cars more recently that have just not stood up to the miles I put on with commuting and adventures.  This car is comfortable to ride in, offers good visibility, has almost 9 inches of ground clearance, and the sunroof I require for all of my cars.  This is the year of adventures and Oliver the Outback will be front and center.

Things I love:

  • EyeSight Technology - The driver assist technology is something I was skeptical about in the beginning because I didn't know if the control freak in me would like it, but I've grown to love it.  I don't use the lane keep assist tech very much, but I do use adaptive cruise control a lot and have really learned to appreciate it when flowing with traffic.  The pre-collision braking has saved us from at least one wreck and it was heart stopping in the best way.  I wasn't distracted, I just didn't judge for the proper stopping distance and that's when the car took over and we came to a dead stop just in time.  The technology has really helped me be more aware of my surroundings and pay closer attention to my driving.
  • Cargo Space - I have a Ruffwear canvas seat cover for Chewy on the back seats which leaves room in the cargo area for all of the camping or road trip gear necessary.  Fold the seats down, and the Outback can haul entire shelving units or other equally large items.  Since Chewy will always be along for the road trip, I don't see us using it for sleeping, but I've heard it can be done.  I hope to camp more, now that it's cooler outside, so we'll be testing the cargo capacity even more in the coming months.
  • Ride Quality - I didn't know how to take AWD, but it has been a zero adjustment technology.  When it comes to actual cruising quality, this car is mostly smooth and comfortable.  Road noise is normal, nothing like a super hushed luxury car, but definitely a lot better than my previous car.
  • Keyless Entry & Push Button Start - As silly as it sounds, it's one of my favorite things about this car.  I can take or leave the power liftgate, but "touching the door handle" to open the car is genius.  When I approach the car, exterior lights in the mirrors illuminate the door handle which is also nice.  I have been prevented, at least ten times now, from locking my keys in the car and for that feature alone I'm the most grateful.

Things I don't love as much:

  • Starlink Infotainment Unit - The FM radio works fine, so I shouldn't complain, but the Bluetooth connectivity can be touch and go, the interface and available apps is laughable, and the design is nothing to write home about.  I don't use the navigation system too much, though I do like some aspects, it's often just easier to use Google Maps.  Some days, I have to reconnect my phone or my phone just doesn't stay connected without a reset on both ends.  Frustrating, but not deal breaking things here.  Starlink is still better than whatever my Jeep Patriot had in 2014.
  • Rattle - I had a rattle in my passenger side dash develop recently. It's intermittent, but I'll have them check it out at my next service.

The climate control, display, and everything else is just fine.  The leather is holding up, even with a dog constantly drooling on the seat in front of him, the rubber floor mats are a big bonus, and the sunshade really helps here in Texas.  The Outback is utilitarian in design, but comfortable and nice to look at.  I love that the mirrors have turn signal indicators in them and I love that the taillights are LED with YELLOW turn signal lights.  I think all turn signal lights should be yellow, in all cars, but that's just me.

At just over six months of ownership, with 13,300 miles, I'm already looking forward to the next 10 years.  I truly love this car enough to want to keep it until it doesn't want to go anymore.  Looking ahead, I hope to get a cargo rack or box for the roof, possibly upgrade the fog lights to match the headlights, and get a set of better tires when these stock tires wear down.

New Year, New Look.

I've created a website, if you haven't noticed, and it's pretty fun so far.  I loved having blogs on WordPress, but for the money I was going to spend to increase my storage there, I thought why not spend a few bucks more and get an entire website that could host both blogs, various other content, and have my own domain name.  So, here we are all fresh and new.  Forgive me as continue to learn how to do this and as I continue to make it as easy as possible to navigate.

I thought about just using this website to share my hiking journey with anyone who wants to follow along, but figured adding other topics would be more fun for me.  As with my WordPress blogs, I am doing this for me.  I don't hate the attention (let's be real), but this is for my own documentation and record keeping more than anything else.  I wanted an organized way to look back at the things I do so I can reflect, plan ahead, and just plain remember things that slip my brain.

Bookmark me if you'd like, and if not, that's okay too.  I'll share all hiking and writing updates via my social media pages, so they'll always be floating around out there somewhere.  I have a year to see how this works, and if it doesn't feel enjoyable or feasible anymore, it'll end as it should in a fireball of destruction.  Kidding, I'll just lose the domain and life will carry on.

I'm working on migrating some more important writings and travel posts, so they'll appear but I will not share them on Twitter as they've been shared before.  Look for them in the next week or so, if you want to look back.  Most things have been migrated over, and are already on here.

If you enjoy this site, don't hesitate to let me know.  If you think it needs work, keep it to yourself - just kidding, I don't mind constructive criticism.  I'm not looking to use this platform to make money (yet) or become famous on Twitter, I'm just documenting my journey and sharing things I find entertaining, useful, and inspiring.

If you want to hike with me, find me on Twitter or use the Contact Me form I created.  I'd love to connect with people interested in the outdoors or people that may know great spots here in Texas to take a hike.  I'm working on a tentative schedule for 2018, though spontaneity is usually more my style.  I'll share some ideas once I've done a little more research, so stay tuned!

If you've read this, I wish you well and invite you to check back soon!

Seeing can mean believing.

**Seeing can mean believing... more of my opinions on inclusiveness in the parks.**

I know some people who have gone to National Parks.  They have seen the majestic beauty, right along side me, and have proclaimed how beautiful it was aloud.  These same friends, they don't really go to National Parks that often or at all anymore which is okay.  These people saw the beauty, believe in the beauty, and will remember the beauty of these wonderful places forever.  THIS IS IMPORTANT.

A National Park may not be their family vacation destination every time, but they may return someday.  These people understand the importance, value, and impact these places have on the general population.  They get it - because they've been there.  Because these people have been there, they get why it's important to protect and fund these places.  These people then connect National Parks and the preservation ideals to other natural areas that need preservation.  It can build.

Visiting a National Park, once or twice, has left an impression on these people.  Will they return? Maybe.  Will they remember the good times there and what those parks stand for? Definitely.  It just takes one time, even if nature isn't their thing, for someone to fall in love with the idea of National Parks, Monuments, Forests, etc.

Plant the seed and see what grows.  We need to continue to get people of all areas of life/status/etc to these place to see for themselves - maybe only once.  Maybe it isn't their thing, but maybe it is.  Even if it isn't their thing, they'll remember the trip and could see how important these places are for our country.



Vivid Memories


It's amazing to me that I can remember so much from such a brief visit to a National Park.  I was thinking back to my first trip to Death Valley National Park today and I can remember it all like we drove through yesterday.  I remember the Devil's Golf Course, Badwater Basin, and Stovepipe Wells.  I remember hugging my first redwood just days prior up in Redwood National Park.  A year later, I was camping in Arches National Park after an edge-of-your-seat drive through a blizzard in the Rockies on the way there.  I remember the trails we hiked to go see the various arches and landscape views as well as the campsite and the view from the tent.  I remember it being something like 11 degrees and very windy with some icy spots on the trails - and a funny sign warning of falling on ice.  I remember the BLM land on the Loneliest Road in America - US 50 - and the campsite there with snow.  We pitched the tent, dug a trench to divert any melting snow, and made a fire.  That night, the sky was so clear and full of stars.  You could see US 50 for miles, and in that one night I only remember seeing two cars in the distance.

I remember something from each visit to Redwood National Park and I remember our brief drive through Olympic National Park.  I remember the moss growing on the old wood - making everything pop with green.  I can't recall a more worthwhile hike than the one Delicate Arch, despite not really knowing much about where we were going.  I can still picture Bryce Canyon, covered in snow, from Inspiration Point.  The hoodoos poking through massive snow drifts below is a sight forever burned into my brain.  Snow melting, muddy trails, and the spray of waterfalls in Zion in the early spring only make me want to return.

I could go on, and on, about things I remember without even a picture to trigger it.  I have so many memories from trips to National Parks.  I've experienced visits as brief as a drive through with stops at scenic lookouts to camping overnight.  The experience doesn't matter, as long as it happens.  If we get people that may not be able to or people that don't really know too much about the parks to the parks, they may have these little memories to hold on to and may be more inclined to help preserve them.  If people can develop memories or find meaning in these places, they may be more willing to join the fight to fund, protect, and expand them.  We must continue to fight to get EVERYONE out to the parks.  We must continue to fight the current administration and their desire to shrink, drill in, and/or eliminate these places.  Together, through collective thoughts and actions we can make these parks accessible to all people and create new ones for the future while securing proper funding.  I believe it is possible, do you?