Archive for February, 2008

Aha!

February 29, 2008

Finally found something to write about, knew it wouldn’t take long. Had to leave the house a little early this morning to beat traffic; 8:00 meeting. Knowing that there would be free breakfast at the meeting, I passed on the Publix-brand Raisin Bran Crunch. Arrived to find the meeting cancelled. The “breakfast” consisted of a bagel/donut tray. I guess the people who arrange these things in the dietary section of the hospital either don’t know or don’t care. The presence of the onion bagel in the tray completely ruins the taste of everything else,  similar to putting a banana in an elementary school lunch box. Overwhelming.

To add insult to injury, Josh calls while I’m ingesting onion-flavored cardboard and tells me it’s a free chicken biscuit morning at Chick-fil-a.

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Not much

February 29, 2008

Don’t really have anything to say this morning. Went to the Josh Turner concert last night with Jen, but I’ve asked her to comment on our strawberry festival experience. We’ll hopefully have that later today. Not much in the news either, at least what I’d call newsworthy. Kinda sorry I even started this post, such a waste of time.

Traveler

February 28, 2008

I mentioned my friend Jack Dickens who’s currently through-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Wanted to put his mug shot up so that his story becomes more “real.” Hope you’re mildly interested. I won’t judge interest in # of comments or else I’d stop blogging altogether. It is the custom of hikers to take on a trail name and to sign the log books along the way with your assumed name. Jack has taken the moniker “Traveler.” His lovely wife Elaine meets him at various points along the way and sends out his journal entries via e-mails for those interested. I debated for a while about posting these, but am going to. If you’re not interested, so be it. They won’t all be this long because I’m getting us all caught up; this comprises the first 4 e-mails. For the sake of space, I edited out some material (sorry Jack), but tried to keep as much intact as possible. I didn’t change any words however, I wanted that to be his. The pictures are from our trip back in September.

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February 6, 2008 – Springer Mountain to Hightower Gap = 8.9 miles
High winds, rain, and tornado warnings this morning delayed my leaving. Elaine dropped me off at Springer after 12:30pm. Hard rain, wind and fog at Springer. I touched the plaque (Southern Terminus of AT) Tried to find the book to sign, but could not find it. So I began my thru-hike. Weather improved later and sun came out. Saw HUGE (200ft) hemlock in a virgin forest area near Stover Creek. Beautiful. No other hikers seen.

Jack
P.S. Have decided to use “Traveler” as my trail name. It feels right.

February 7, 2008 – Hightower Gap to Woody Gap (11.8 miles)
The weather was cold (28 degrees) and windy. I was comfortable with 3 layers on my torso and 2 layers on my arms and legs as long as I kept moving! Gloves/mittens and a cap with ear muffs helped a lot. Today’s hike was longer but a little slower thanks to advice from Bearfoot, a former thru hiker.

This part of the A.T. is basically a hardwood forest. With no leaves on the trees, the view from mountain summits is much better than at any other time of the year. The bad news is that you can usually see the next mountain you have to climb and that can be intimidating. I saw no other hikers. I did see a Dept. of Natural Resources man who was repairing a sign someone had sawed off!! Go figure.

February 8, 2008 – Woody Gap to Neel’s Gap (10.6 Miles)
Temperature was 34 degrees F, but warmed up during the day. Saw about a dozen day hikers near Blood Mountain.

Hiked past Slaughter Creek Campsite where I camped out alone on Halloween night 2006 on the back side of Blood Mountain. Sounds spooky, but it was a quiet night with a beautiful full moon.

I met my first trail character today at the old ranger cabin on Blood Mountain. His name was David (Trail name Privy Monster) and he is studying philosophy and theology in Boston. Says he started at Amicololla Falls visitor Center on 1/26/2008. This means he’s done 36 miles in 14 days and is certainly “hiking his own hike”.

February 9, 2008 – Neel’s Gap to Hog Pen Gap (6.4 miles)
Saw Privy Monster again at Neel’s Gap and got his picture. Lots of day hikers. Temperature was 35 degrees early, but warmed to 55 degrees. Some of the day hikers were in shorts and T-shirts. Winter mountain views were great. Clear blue sky everywhere.

Stopped for a late lunch of Snicker Bar and string cheese at Testatee Gap, then over Wildcat Mountain to my truck.

February 10, 2008 – Hog Pen Gap to Unicoi Gap (13.6 miles)
Temperature 34 degrees with high winds. Some gusts must have been 40-50 MPH at mountain tops. Went thru Chattahoochee Gap where there is a spring which is the source of the Chattahoochee River which supplies water to Atlanta and much of Georgia. Covered lots of rocky ground particularly near Unicoi Gap. Only a few day hikers were out.

February 11, 2008 – Unicoi Gap to Dick’s Creek Gap (16.1 miles)
The morning weather was frigid!!! The temperature was 25 degrees with HIGH winds (30 to 40 MPH). Today was my longest hike and had more mountains to climb than I have previously encountered. It is fair to say I am exhausted tonight and will definitely take a rest day tomorrow. Fortunately the 2 highest mountains were in the early morning hours when my legs were fresh.

I met another hiker today. “Mike” is in his mid-20’s and was struggling with a huge (at least 50 lbs) pack. He said he was just going from 1 shelter to the next (about 7 miles). He had more problems than I could help him within a brief encounter so I wished him well and said “I’ll see you down the trail”.

I’m dong better with climbing now thanks to advice from my hiking friend, Neil Harris. I’m setting an uphill pace (SLOW) which I can maintain without stopping. It seems efficient and I’m happy with it. Thanks, Neil. Elaine is worried that I’m so tired tonight. Keep both of us in your prayers.

February 13, 2008 — Wayah Bald to Winding Stair Gap (10.1 miles)
Morning Temperature 35 degrees with fog and some light rain. Stayed in fog all morning. No views possible. Wore my rain suit to avoid being cold and wet. Met one thru-hiker heading north. His trail name was Dozer. He was young, bearded, and walking fast with a small pack. I think he’ll probably make it.

I saw two white-tail deer through the fog. Tomorrow will complete what I can do between here and Dick’s Creek Gap without staying out overnight. I checked with the Ranger station. The roads I need to access south of here are closed until mid-March. I’m planning to do that section with a 3 or 4 day hike before I enter the Smokies. This section (Rock Gap to Dicks Creek Gap) is the same one I hiked in October of last year with Andy Wells and friends. I’m feeling better now. It’s amazing what a little rest can do for tied legs.

February 14, 2008 – Winding Stair Gap to Rock Gap (3.7 miles)
It was a short day today because the road beyond Rock Gap is closed until mid-March. The temperature was in the high 30’s with a clear sunny sky. No other hikers were seen today.

February 16, 2008 – Wayah Bald to Nantahala River (17.2 miles)
The temperature was 45 degrees in the early morning, but warmed to about 60 degrees during the day. It was partly sunny and a beautiful day for hiking. I met a “trail angel” whose trail name was Apple at Burningtown Gap. He had set up a large tent (heated) to extend hospitality to hikers. He offered cokes, hot dogs, etc. free of charge. He was very interested in my plan to thru-hike.

I reached Tellico Gap by noon and hiked on up to Wesser Bald where I had lunch at an old fire tower. Views were wonderful. Passed Wesser Bald Shelter which is an old log structure and took a photo. The descent to the Nantahala River was very steep in places.

February 18, 2008 – Stecoah Gap to Nantahala River (13.6 miles)
The temperature was 44 degrees this morning with heavy fog. Got cold as I hiked up toward Cheoah Bald. There was a cold north wind blowing, and no view at the top because of the fog. There were lots of new blowdowns (trees) due to last night’s storm. Some looked twisted off about 10-15 feet from the ground (?Twister?).

Stopped for lunch after 1pm. The sun came out and I got some good photos of Nantahala Gorge from there. I was delayed for about 20-30 minutes this afternoon when multiple blowdowns obscured the trail. I finally found it and came on down to the cabin without further delay.

February 20, 2008 – Stecoah Gap to Fontana Dam (15.2 miles)
Hiking north from Stecoah Gap, I found the first 2 miles to be the steepest ascents I’ve had so far. With the temperature 37degrees and a 25-30 MPH wind, it was a tough way to start the day. I encountered 4-5 blowdowns in that stretch of trail and had to bushwhack around them. Getting around these areas on a steep mountain slope was exciting to say the least!!!

Reached Yellow Creek road at about 11Am. Decided to hike on to Cable Gap Shelter where I stopped for lunch and made photos of the log shelter. The wind continued all day. Got some nice photos of the Fontana area from a high point north of Walker Gap. My primary memory of today will be walking up the shady slopes in a high cold wind and then crossing over the mountain into sunlight and still air. Heaven must have moments like that!!

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My boys

February 28, 2008

Long overdue, I have finally returned to our blog to insert a few of my shots of life as we know it now.  Today was a first – both boys fell asleep in the car on the way home from playing at my Aunt’s house this morning. The shot was just too cute to pass up.  Avery is adjusting well to Parker being in the house and even enjoys about 2 minutes of “play time” with him when Parker’s on the play mat.  I am loving both of my boys despite my extreme fatigue.  Parker turned a month old today – well, at least by weeks.  If we are to really say he’s a month, that’d mean the 30th of Feb, but guess what?  No Feb 30. So, he’s a month.there.i’m rambling.  Post the pictures and get a nap, jen…okay.

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This Pilgrim’s Progress

February 27, 2008

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I am currently reading through The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan, written in 1678 (Interestingly, it has never been out of print since then). It is definitely a much slower, meatier book than some of my previous choices, and definitely harder than Goodnight Moon. I have been progressing through it myself, but have been lately thinking of a friend who is making somewhat of a different pilgrimage. I met Jack Dickens last August in St. Thomas at a family wedding and had the priviledge of hiking 40 or so miles of the Appalachian Trail with him in September. He started thru-hiking the trail about 10 days into February and his wife sends out e-mails every-so-often updating us on his progress. An excellent vicarious escape for me. As of my last e-mail, he is about to enter the Smokies. The theme of a journey is very prominent right now as Jen and I are walking through the Essential 100. This is a 100-day read through the Bible that we are doing as a church. We started a few days late, but will double-time it to catch up. Should be a good disciplined reminder to stay in the word.

iTunes

February 26, 2008

Finally finished off my iTunes gift card today. Jen and I are going to a Josh Turner concert at the Florida Strawberry Concert on Thursday and I figured it’d be nice to actually know a few more of his songs prior to the show.

Back to work

February 26, 2008

I went back to work today after 26 days off. Haven’t had that much time off in over 2 and a half years and don’t know when I’ll ever get that much again. Not particularly restful time off, but needed (ask Jen). Watched the Oscars last night. Glad they gave the girl with the winning song a chance to do her thing. Why is it more important to hear the $2 jokes from the host than the actual thank-you speeches?

A border guard solution

February 26, 2008

Was watching a program on PBS the other afternoon about the lions in Africa, especially those that had been notorious for killing man. There was a story about the British exposition that built a bridge over the Tsavo river and lost nearly 140 men to 2 lions. This was dramatized in the 1996 movie The Ghost and the Darkness. Never saw it.

But to the real reason for the post, another story was told in the program. The nations of Mozambique and South Africa share a border and much of that is separated by a fence, parts of which are highly electrified. The parts that aren’t are frequently crossed by those seeking a better life, not an unknown story. Unfortunately for those refugees, this part of South Africa into which they’re crossing is Kruger National Park, an area ripe with wildlife, notably lions.  They can only estimate the scores of people who have lost their life to lions or other wild creatures. For those who are serious about protecting our borders, maybe we should open a wildlife refuge along the Mexican border, seems to work in South Africa.

My Birthday Card

February 25, 2008

Caroline sent me an awesome home-made birthday card, had to share. Caroline, if you read this, thank you.

Birthday Card 2008

Stressed spelled backwards = Desserts

February 25, 2008

We finally had a date! The Hulls were gracious to watch Avery for us and Parker agreed to be seen and not heard. We went out to Bailey’s restaurant for dessert. For those of you who haven’t been (and live in the Tampa metro area), it’s truly is a gem. Our choices:

Avery: Buttermilk Battered “Fried Twinkies” with homemade raspberry swirl ice cream- I had always wanted to try a fried twinkie just for the novelty, it was excellent and the ice cream was amazing. I don’t want to give the impression that this place only serves ‘gimmick’ foods, it was really gourmet.

Jennifer: Warm fresh blueberry cobbler with homemade Madagascar vanilla ice cream- This was truly incredible, better than mine.

We went on a stroll around Hyde Park afterwards, a lovely evening. I noticed that Pottery Barn Kids has Superman, Batman, and Spiderman sheets. Is it wrong of me to impose my nerdness on my boys?