Monthly Archives: April 2016

Take Me to the River, Drop Me in the Water.

What constitutes a perfect day? In Hawaii, I had what I would consider a “perfect day” all time. The whole “he la nani keia la” attitude. The Kama’āina aren’t really obsessed with money, material possessions, or the whole rat race, and that combined with the laid-back, Hawaiian Style way of life and Aloha spirit made most days perfect. Here, not so much. In fact, in the past several years, I’ve only had a handful of good or great days. But yesterday was pretty friggin’ close to perfect.

Friday, I finally made it Rock/Creek for the new boat, and it’s great. Far more stable than my other boat, bigger, with lots of storage, which is a big deal to me, since I carry everything but the kitchen sink when I trek. Considerably more expensive than my other boat, but well worth it. Saturday morning, I put it in the water. I expected the water would be quite cold, but it really wasn’t – no shock to the system when I waded in at the Market Street launch.

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First stop, a quick paddle up to Maclellan Island. This is one of my favorite places – generally deserted (although I made a new friend; a woman, her daughter and their dog who had camped there overnight). The island isn’t very big; the hike around the perimeter is only about a mile-and-a-half. But it’s a nice little hike, and very few people have ventured out there. Sometime this summer, I’m going to camp on it – maybe just a hammock and a fire. There’s a cabin you can use, but it’s a little Blair-Witchy for me – I’d rather be under the stars.

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Following the hike, upriver. I made it all the way up to South Chick Creek, and up the creek to the new pedestrian bridge on the recently-opened Riverwalk extension. It was really interesting to see the Riverwalk from that perspective; as often as I’ve walked and cycled it, seeing it from out in the river in the context of other landmarks and buildings was very compelling. It was a tough paddle at first; some wind, some chop, but the new boat behaves very well. No issues with wake from the power boats, and in some cases, the bow broke under the waves; something I wouldn’t have been comfortable with in my other boat. The other boat is completely safe, it’s just not designed for a more hard-core paddler, which I guess I’ve become.

Anyway, the paddle back was nice and relaxing. Heading back downriver, the current handles most of the heavy lifting, so it was a leisurely maka’ika’i, just taking in the scenery and enjoying the sun. Twelve miles round trip – not a personal best, but very close. And really, just about as perfect a day as I can expect. Just me and the ‘aina. The visits to the tanning place have paid off as intended, as well – no sunburn!

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Next trek: Harrison Bay, to explore the ruins of the town that still exist on the islands formed by the flooding that was created when the dam was constructed back in the 1930s. I’ve heard that it’s very interesting, and on the still water of the lake, it should be a great paddle.

As for today, the boys have told me they want to get out, so I think we’ll take a quick walk downtown. In fact, they are both sitting here, staring at me in eager anticipation. OK, pups, I’m working on it.

“That Rock-n-Roll Guy”.

I’ve been doing something new this week: going to the gym later. Instead of getting up at 2:00 AM (yeah, there’s a 2:00 AM, kids), I’ve been getting up at 3:30, so I get to the gym between 4:15 and 4:30. This is so by the time I do my 2.5 hours, the tanning place will be open, and I can stop there on the way home. It’s different – there are a lot more people at the gym that time of morning, and evidently, they’ve given me a nickname. I’m not sure if it’s my YT playlist, the hair, or the leopard-print spandex, but I’m cool with it.

Pictured: Executive.

Pictured: Executive.

I mean, I’ve always been stereotyped. I suppose most people are. But as Louis CK says, “Just talk to me for 5 minutes.” The point being, while I (and others) may have a certain “look”, looks can be deceiving. It was the same for me in DC – a lot of people had a preconceived notion, because of the hair, the motorbike, the guitars, whatever. It wasn’t obvious that I was actually a fairly high-level executive with mad skills. Just give me 5 minutes. A drummer friend of mine once told me that I should just walk around with my W-2 pinned to my shirt. Nah, 5 minutes. That’s all I need. Because at this point in my life, I’m not changing. I like who I am. I like being different, unique, weird maybe. I’ve never been cookie-cutter, and I’m not interested in living a buttoned-down life. Not now, not ever. Don’t like it? Jog on.

So, yeah, the gym is a different place later in the morning. It’s the Running of the Bros, that’s for sure. Lots of Axe Body Spray. It is satisfying to me to see people come in, do their thing for 20 minutes, and leave, while I’m still slogging away. My newfound motivation continues, with lots of weight, lots of HIIT, lots of everything. I kicked up my running speed from 6.5 MPH to 7.5 MPH – that makes me nervous; at that speed, if my wonky leg decides to play a trick on me, I’ll go down, and be launched through the plate glass window into the middle of Cherokee Boulevard (which, admittedly, would be pretty awesome to see), but so far, everything seems to be holding together. Better, stronger, faster, indeed. Cue music.

I think I’ll start riding the motorbike to the gym on Monday. Might as well perpetuate the stereotype.

Clarity.

I didn’t realize that I was actually looking for it, but today I had clarity. Let me back up: for the past couple of weeks, I haven’t felt like I was maximizing my gym-time. I was working hard, sure, but my screwed up leg and general birthday-induced malaise had me pretty much going through the motions. Hard motions, to be sure, but not oh-my-God-I-think-I’m going-to-die motions. This morning, however, some unknown…something motivated me to kick it up a notch. No, about 4 or 5 notches. I added 20 or 30 pounds on all the weight machines, more reps, supersets, HIIT, you name it. And I even ran, which is not easy to do with a legful of torn parts (seriously, one slight misstep, and my ankle folds faster than Superman on laundry day). Elliptical. Reverse elliptical. Stair-stepping. You name it. Totals: just over 9 miles, 15000 steps, about 1400 calories burned. All before 6 AM.

Even when I was done, though, and the endorphins were still rushing, I wasn’t sure why I had the sudden motivation. I just did. Then, the clarity came.

It was annual checkup day for BJ & Tonka. Shots, blood work, the whole bit. The clinic I take them to is wonderful – I trust them implicitly, and their vet is nothing short of amazing. In the course of previous visits, the vet and I have chatted about hiking, fitness, Fitbit and so on. Normally, when the vet comes in the examining room, the pals get immediate and undivided attention. Today, however, the vet was speechless. She was without speech. She didn’t ever acknowledge the boys at first – instead, she gushed – literally gushed – as the transformation I have made to myself. I was stunned, embarrassed, proud – I, too, was speechless. And it occurred to me: This is why I do it. This is why I get up at 2 AM every day. This is why when I feel like I can’t do another rep, I do it anyway. This is why when people tell me I’m “insane”, I ignore it. This is why I skip the cheeseburgers. No, not to appeal to my vanity (well, OK, a little), but more to show that anyone can transform themselves. And that was the gist of the conversation – not that I’m suddenly Dreamy McDreampants, but that I’m dedicated to something better, and I’m willing to work for it. It is hugely gratifying to be acknowledged. And that’s really the takeaway here – if you’re on the same journey as I am, you can’t really expect your family and friends to gush every time they see you. They see you often, so the changes are gradual and not that obvious. But when you see someone only once a year, and their jaw hits the floor, then you know you’re doing it right. So, when your family or friends don’t laud your accomplishments, don’t sweat it. Go see someone you haven’t seen in a while; you’ll see what I’m talking about. And in the meantime, unless you puke, faint or die, don’t quit.

As for the pups, a clean bill of health. However, Mister Blackjack is now 117 pounds, and has been instructed to drop about 10. I guess he’ll be on the treadmill next to me.

The T-Wall.

Busy week. Busy at the gym, busy with work, busy cleaning up after the great tree massacre. Of course, it wouldn’t be me without a nice, significant injury. No, I didn’t set myself on fire (um, again) – I was moving a massive concrete birdbath back to where it belongs (I had moved it for the aforementioned tree massacre, so I was moving it back), and the top separated from the pedestal. The pedestal landed right on my ankle, because of course it did. My good ankle, naturally. Nothing broken, but it gashed me all the way to the bone. The downside to having no leg-fat is that the smallest injury causes a lot of blood, but a 100 lb chunk on concrete – well, let’s just say I’m squeamish, and that didn’t help.

Nonetheless, despite being double-gimpy, the long-awaited and highly anticipated T-Wall hike this morning – and it did not disappoint. Over 1000′ in elevation, straight up the side of the mountain. Massive boulders, waterfalls, real Aloha ‘aina. Grandeur. That’s the word I’m looking for. It wasn’t an especially long hike – about 5.5 miles – but it was aggressive, technical, and totally unexplored territory, which are my favorite hikes. A little dangerous, as well – slippery rocks near the waterfalls, steep drop-offs, and no cell service in many parts of the canyon. But it was spectacular. Because of the lack of connectivity, Endomondo dropped out, and never really recovered, but the Suunto performed like a champ (it’s not dependent on the iPhone like Endomondo is). So, yeah, I look like I should be hanging out in the basement of the science building with the Apple Watch on one arm, and the Suunto and Fitbit on the other, but hey, I’m a numbers guy. Or a nerd. Whichever.

click for larger

click for larger

So, another weekend is in the books (and that whole thing Friday is done for another year – no, I’m not talking about taxes, either), and it’s going to be another cray-cray week at work. This coming weekend, the new kayak. Normally, on That Day every year, I treat myself (y’know, because no one else is going to), but I just didn’t feel like doing anything Friday, so I didn’t make it to R/C. But this coming weekend, yes. So, look for some cool water pics on the Instagram feed (and there are photos from today) come Saturday or Sunday. Mother Nature permitting, natch.

Mushroom Rock to Edwards Point.

Suunto Map - click for larger

Suunto Map – click for larger

Well, the much-anticipated T-Wall hike was moved, due to – wait for it – a turkey hunt. Welcome to the south, kids. So, instead, the hat trick of Signal Mountain hikes. I’ve done Signal Point to Edwards Point (twice), and I’ve done Mushroom Rock to Suck Creek, but I had not done Mushroom Rock to Edwards Point, the middle segment of the trifecta. Of course, Mother Nature reared her ugly head – was supposed to be 67 degrees and partly sunny; instead, it was in the low 50s, cloudy, with a little drizzle. Still, an amazing, technical hike. Crossing several creeks, lots of mud, climbing over downed trees and boulders – but it was exactly what I needed to be doing. 7 hours in the woods, about 11 miles round-trip, over 4000 calories burned, and amazing views. This was definitely one of the more challenging hikes I’ve taken, and I’m completely exhausted. There’s nothing like spending the entire day in the woods, especially after the week I had. Now, spring just needs to get here so I can get the boat in the water – or buy the new boat (maybe this week!) and get it in the water. Something. Nonetheless, this is how you live. Life is not a spectator sport.

I’m so worn out, I think I’m actually going to skip the gym tomorrow, after something like 45 consecutive days. I need a rest day. Badly. Even this morning, it was two hours in the gym before the hike, and after lugging 100 – 200 lb logs yesterday (and the gym, natch), my body is revolting (insert comment here – you know you want to).

The good news is, I can see the ligaments in my lower leg moving once more. Finally, after 2 months. I may actually be on the mend – my fingers are tightly crossed.

I’m a Lumberjack, and I’m OK.

Here’s what I learned this week. Whenever possible – and really, I mean whenever possible – try not to set yourself on fire. You’re welcome.

Oh, you want the rest of that story? Sadly, Michael Bay wasn’t involved – I was just burning brush, and a flaming branch decided to leap out of the pyre and attack me. No worries – I won. I always win.

The aforementioned brush-burning is a result of clearing trees to make a bigger area for the boys. More importantly, I had actual, professional tree-guys (who probably rarely set themselves on fire) come out and take down some big ones. Like, really big ones. Four massive oak trees, plus significant pruning on two even more massive oak trees. I’ll certainly sleep better knowing that one of these trees won’t kill me in my sleep during a high wind like a drunken ent or plus-sized Groot. Oh, and I’m obviously in the wrong business, but I’m not sure I could climb to the very top of a 75′ tall tree, no matter how big the sack of money I was being given. Now, the cleanup begins. It was going to be along the lines of an extra $2000 just to get rid of the debris (because really, it’s a hell of a lot of debris), but for 2 large, I’ll do it myself – it’s going to be an awesome workout. My trusty chain saw has already seen a great deal of action, I’ll just have to try not to cut my leg off. Or set myself on fire.

And work. Always work. And new guitars. They say you shouldn’t burn your candle at both ends – I take a flame-thrower to my candle. Actually, that’s probably not a good analogy.

Really, how awesome is this? Get your djent on!

Really, how awesome is this? Get your djent on!

But tomorrow, I’m taking the day off. As much as I ever do, anyway. Of course, I’ll go to the gym, but then I’m going hiking to the T-Wall. I’m pretty excited about it – it’s one of the hikes I’ve always wanted to do. As long as I don’t fall off the bluffs, it should be cool. Or, y’know, set myself on fire.

And I’m still waiting to get my new boat. Every weekend, I think, “OK, I’m gonna go do it!”, and then Mother Nature decides to screw with me by making it 40 degrees outside. Sure, 40 degrees isn’t that bad (yes, I wore shorts to the gym this morning), but wading in 40 degree water is…unpleasant. So, maybe next weekend. I’ve got my eye on you, Mother Nature – we don’t know each other well enough for you to be such a bitch.

littleOh, and post-gym, I stopped to get my cases of water, and I was thinking of treating myself to a tasty treat. Nothing major, just something delish. Treat yo’ self, right? Anyway, I spied with my little eye my former lover and best friend, Debbie. Little Debbie. Oatmeal cream pies? Great merciful crap, they’re yummy. And a single-serve, not a box. Just one. A booty call. A drunken, late-night mistake with an ex. A hook-up. Luckily, I checked the label. 79 carbs. Seventy-nine. 3 times what I allot myself for the entire day, in one little round package of goodness and shame. Sorry, Debbie – I’ve moved on. Sure, I’ll always have fond memories, but we’re done.