The Long Way

Do to a flat tire, the universe gave me an opportunity to walk to work this week. I have not walked to work since before we left for the AT as I have discovered that riding my bike is faster. Imagine that! Soooo… I begrudging left for work just as the sun was topping the mountains. I have to be honest and say I was not to terribly excited to walk as the early mornings have become quite cold. When I left I could see my breath in the early morning light and the cold tingled my face.

As I found my way around the pot holes in our parking lot I was taken in by the stillness of the early morning and decided on the long way to work. Maybe I had needed this chance to walk after all feeling an immediate sense of calm. As I walked down the sidewalk heading east, I took  in my rather excellent views of the mountains. Although I had promised myself I wouldn’t, I had allowed them to become part the background of my life, not paying them much attention. I let my mind wonder as I continued on. Flowing from memories of the trail and wishes for the future I found myself recalling another walk to work I had taken back in Indiana.

During that walk a few years before the birth of “Snuggles,” I had been fighting  to understand a deep longing. I had stared to feel a deep connection to every tree. That each was reaching to embrace me and every piece of grass had a story to tell me. Every bird, squirrel and fox was a wild friend that had become trapped in by the city that developed around it. I had was also feeling trapped. The emotions I felt back then had ultimately set me on a path that would completely change my life.

I came to the intersection where I would be leaving  the quite neighborhood of trees and bird calls and moved towards a street lined with buildings and filled with the noises of early morning traffic. I looked back towards the treelined street I was leaving and took in one last breath of  the brief tranquility I found there. I then turned towards the numbing duties of the work day.

It’s hard going from fresh air to boxed and stale; from sitting on a boulder to a chair.

A hill to climb is now only stairs, a view to watch now a screen to stare.

These creature comforts I can no longer bare.

Give me the wild, my heart longs to be there.

(Above italicized writing is an excerpt from a journal entry dated August 2014)


Thank You National Parks!

Thanksgiving is in just few days so I thought I would get in the holiday spirit with this post. Although the history of Thanksgiving is a bit controversial, I shall focus on a few positives. One being that the idea of “Thanksgiving”the holiday was thought up and supported by a woman by the name of  Sarah Hale. Woohoo! Woman Power! Sarah fought for the holiday for thirty something years until Mr. Abe Lincoln himself finally made it an official holiday in 1863. This would be my second positive of the holiday. In my head full of puppy dogs, rainbows, and popcorn, Abraham Lincoln is the same bad ass described in Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. To envision this bad ass president deeming a day of thanks and reflection is just plain sweet (If you didn’t catch on yet I usually live in a fantasy world).

Moving on from my fun and somewhat fantastical facts, I do feel that it is always a good idea to focus on our present state of person. Although it seems to always be easier to focus on everything bad in our lives and the world around us, I shall take a moment and focus on one thing that effects both our country as a people and me personally, National Parks. These areas of protected land each have their own characteristics that make them unique, beautiful and amazingly wild. It is wonderful that the people who came before me were smart enough to recognize the importance of protecting these sections of land and the creatures that live within them. Are there snafoos within this  system? Yes. Are there still areas that should be protected? Yes, but again focusing on the positive, I am thankful for what has been protected. I can go see these wild places at any time and get a glimpse of a world before humans really fucked it up.

Darwin and I have made some decisions for our future that greatly involve National Parks and Monuments along with other protected lands. Thanks to a law that was passed in 1872 that officially protected land known as Yellowstone, a ripple effect has followed that today will allow us the opportunity to visit 61 National Parks (technically that is number three fun fact). As I look back on the last few years I can not help but notice the effect National Parks have had on my life. This Thanksgiving I am very thankful for the experiences I have had at the National Parks and Monuments I visited and looking forward to future adventures they take me on. Thank you peoples of years past for recognizing the need to experience truly wild places!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Trying To Look Old School At A Photo Booth In Yellowstone National Park’s Visitor Center

You, Me, Bowie and the Trees

After a failed attempt at a camping trip last weekend (thanks to a turn of bad weather producing a rather intense hail storm) Darwin and I gave it another go for an overnighter that promised a supermoon. As with most of our adventures we had a few snafoos.

We both slept in a good deal on Sunday morning and seemed to find any excuse ever to stay in our pajamas. By the time Darwin (yes I’m blaming him) decided to start packing a few things, I had been ready to go for at least two hours. We still had to run errands including one that would surely lead to the downfall of humanity if not completed…we needed coffee. After another trip back to the apartment for a forgotten cast iron skillet, were finally off to our unplanned destination by early afternoon, the pup in tow.

We drove about 45 minutes outside of Albuquerque and then another 20 minutes in the wrong direction. At this time it was around 3:30pm and we only had a few hours to spare before sundown. The idea of setting up the tent was slowly fading along with the daylight. Darwin put the pedal to the metal and hauled ass this time in the correct direction, when we finally saw a sign for the “Fourth of July Trail” our decided camping location. The Black Stallion took us up and around a twisty dirt road until we saw the familiar fuzzy face of Smokey the Bear marking our would be campsite. The three of us tumbled out of the van with a sigh of relief and took in our surroundings.

We had found a spot closed in by private land on one side and a stream and rock face on the other. Not our top pick usually but we were able to park the van by a fire pit and picnic table oh, there were also lots of trees around did I mention that? I started to unpack and Darwin started converting the van. Bowie exempt from chores, took off to explore as soon as her pack was strapped on.

I gathered firewood and finally all the chores were finished.We set back in our chairs and watched the trees around us flutter their leaves as the sun turned them gold on its way down. Darwin started a fire just as the night chill arrived. Once the fire was going I was instantly ready for food. Chili dogs were on the menu and after delaying their arrival in my belly a week, I was more than ready to consume a disgusting amount. No sooner was the chili bubbling in the can, my first dog was done. With a few words of conversation in between and feeling so at home in the woods, it was no time before we had eaten the whole pack of dogs and the can of chili was empty.

The three of us lounged by the fire for a few more hours feeling as comfortable as if we were in our own living room. We giggled as Bowie tried to suck up anything that resembled a chili bean and made comments about the Supermoon but mostly watched the fire and breathed in the cool night air. We all needed a little time with the trees that weekend. That stiff suffocating feeling living in society leaves you with had started to take us over.  As the moon rose higher we watched silently as it cast shadows making wild shapeshifters out of the trees and rocks around us.

We finally decided to bundle up in the van when we burned through the wood I had gathered. Although it was still early our bellies were full and our minds were a bit clearer. As I took my place as one side of a Bowie sandwich in the van I felt calm and at ease. My troubles were far from me and all that was left was was the warmth of my family and the moon watching us from above.

I must be a simpleton that all my woes are easily solved by chili dogs, a campfire, and the wilderness.




Hoka One One TOR Summit Mid WP Review

Full Review

Reviewed By: Darwin

The Tor Summit was stiff right out of the box and takes a little bit of time to break in. Once the boot is broken in, it has a nice snug fit in the heal & plenty of room in to toe box for extra socks and/or swelling. The e-vent Sock liner has a nice seamless feel to it, yet does not breathe as well as other waterproof boots that I have tested.

Stability of the Tor Summit feels great with Hoka’s famous “Bucket Seat” fit, which hugs your heel snuggly and gives great ankle support when dealing with technical terrain. The Vibram wraped EVA sole has great traction on slippery surfaces, yet feels too squishy on harder surfaces.

The Suede Leather Upper is very well constructed and held up to multiple types of terrain. The stitched and glued seams stayed together through out testing and still look like they did the day they were new. Flat laces and metal lace hooks kept the laces tied tight during a long day hike, never coming undone.

The high toe bumper and stiff, rugged heel counter make the overall protection of the Tor Summit great when smacking into rocks and roots on the trail. A bellowed tongue keeps trail debris out and the tongue in place.

Off trail, The Hoka Tor Summit tends to be a bit squishy due to its EVA sole, making them fall short when crossing skree fields and rock hopping. However the boots over all stiffness lends well when edging up steep accents.

Altogether, I found the Hoka One One Tor Summit Mid WP to be a well constructed, comfortable fitting, full featured Mid hiking boot that is good for light weight day hiking in cool weather but seems to fall short as a breathable summer hiking boot.


Product Specifications

Price: Usually around $135 – $180

Weight: 2lbs 5oz for the pair

Check Them Out Here: Hoka One One Tor Summit Mid WP

How I tested them

These boots were tested over a series of long day hikes & lightweight overnight backpacking trips in the Sandia & Manzano Mountains of New Mexico. They were tested on a variety of trail conditions including muddy, rocky, sandy, and hard pack trails.


My Little Headlamp

It has been a week since Darwin has returned from the AZT and we have been adjusting, or at least I have. Unbeknown to me I had come into a kind of routine while he was away and having him back has totally ruined it. I have found help from an old friend, my headlamp.

While the bearded one is still sleeping I have to pull myself out of bed (usually around 4:30am or 5am) in order to start preparing for a morning run or opening shift at work.  As I am to lazy to prepare anything the night before, I am litterly left in the dark when trying to grab my running clothes, uniform, shoes, etc. Turning on the bedroom light is totally out of the question and my cellular phone doesn’t give enough light to guide the way; here enters my headlamp. It may look ridiculous but I get around the bedroom pretty darn good with my red light on never disturbing the slumbering beard.

I had drug my feet last year in Hot Springs, NC when Darwin insisted that I needed a new headlamp. The one I started the AT with was a bulky one he used at a job and it was never meant for trail use. After a few days with the new guy, I was sold. I was never so excited to have a red light when I needed to climb outta a shelter in the middle of the night to pee and I never realized how awesome a night hike was when you could actually see the trail! Sadly since completing the trail, my head lamp spent most of the time laying forgotten in my pack. My life is illuminated by a simple flip of a wall switch.

I have in the very recent time, started training for a half marathon. My runs have started to become longer and since I am all noodle legs after work, I find running in the mornings best. Because of this, I usually start off before the sun comes up. My savior and literal guiding light for a pre sun-up run? You guessed it, my headlamp! It has felt really good to strap that little guy back on. I have so many good memories with the little guy and now have a new (although paved) adventure at hand!

Within in the last week I have established a new routine that requires using my headlamp on a daily basis. Between my runs and just getting ready for an early shift at work, my head lamp is my trusty companion to light the way. So whats the point of this diary? To express my love and thanks for an old in animate friend. Not only has this guy helped me through my hike on the AT (and countless other adventures) he is now helping me along my more domestic life. It’s nice to see an old human friend and reconnect with them and this is how I feel about my headlamp. Oh the stories he could tell!

As I look at my headlamp lying on a mountain not of rock but of toilet paper rolls, I smile. I can’t explain how good it makes me feel just to see that loyal piece of gear again. He reminds me even when my feet are only hitting asphalt I am still capable of doing great things, I am still that same person who hiked over 2,000 miles, that the wilderness is always calling and more adventures are waiting right around the corner.  My little head lamp is always waiting to light my way.




Feb 2015 – National Parks Tour

It all starts here….

In January of 2015 we ( Snuggles and I ) would leave our jobs, house, family, friends, and Hometown behind. Piling into a converted mini-van (The Black Stallion) to venture out into the world looking for Adventure, Culture, and the true meaning of happiness.We were on a mission to meet new people, try new food/drink, and discover all that we could about this amazingly beautiful country.

With plans of starting a Thru-Hike in early March, we had some time to kill and other business to attend to before hiking the East Coast for up to six months. We grabbed Bowie (our black lab), loaded up the “Black Stallion” with various camping gear and headed West to see as many National Parks as we could in a Month.

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

dscf4437Rolling in late to Cortez, CO we camped in the Black Stallion for the night waiting for Mesa Verde NP to open in the morning. Bowie decided she would drive…

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

dscf4394“The Palace” – Beautiful Cliff Dwellings at Mesa Verde NP

dscf4412Happiness Selfie.

dscf4413Exploring the Underground homes of an Ancient Civilization


Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), Arizona

dscf4474First view of the “Great Ditch”…

dscf4503Everyone needs a classic “Cheesy Tourist” shot.

dscf4505Desert View Watchtower

dscf4490Native art from various surrounding tribes dawns the walls and ceilings of the great tower.

dscf4478“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must fail.”  – John Wesley Powell


Joshua Tree National Park, California 

dscf4665Joshua Tree, CA (right outside the park)

dscf4715Our great friends Dan and Lil drove over from LA to camp with us for the night

dscf4700Huge beautiful boulder piles cover the desert landscape

img_1157Standing atop the massive rocks and looking out onto Joshua Tree, you feel as if your peering into an “Alien World”…

dscf4679Lil, perhaps jealous of Bowie’s fine fur coat.


Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

dscf4802A long forgotten forest turned to stone, strewed out through a now harsh desert.

dscf4799Petrified Wood Modeling.

dscf4809Broken Monsters from another time…

dscf4816The beautiful “Painted Desert”


We would soon travel back to Indiana to park our van, drop of Bowie, and head to Georgia to start our next Grand Adventure on the Appalachian Trail.


The Unexpected Return Of The Beard

My first full week without Darwin and I am still alive. This was highly questionable as I cannot cook, my main concern was not starving to death. While being powered mostly by salads, protein bars, and pre packaged sandwiches from Trader Joes, there were however two recipes from Darwin that I was determined to make. These two recipes we sometimes devour two times a week Chicken Pesto Quinoa and spaghetti. After unsuccessfully boiling eggs (what a disgusting outcome that was) I was a bit resistant to make an attempt at cooking. However more in effort to prove to Darwin that I can feed myself I gave both my all. I ended up making so much Quinoa I had enough for two dinners and a lunch. To my surprise it was somewhat easy to make. The spaghetti was a little more stressful. I was so worried that the turkey wasnt cooked all the way it ended up swimming in coconut oil and so well cooked it was crispy. Thanks to the sauce and other veggies included in this recipe this was a minor snafoo that was undetectable.

While Darwin has been observing Bison and taking in the beauty of the Grand Canyon my adventures have been less impressive. I have observed not peaceful herds of Bison but Bowie ripping apart a new toy in the most gruesome way. A long yellow stuffed dog with a teethy grin will stare eerily at me while Bowie rips his seams apart stitch by stitch revealing puffs of white cottoney innards. The innards are then thrown around our apartment while Bowie runs around shaking the non existent life out the yellow dog; His smile never-fading.  This process has taken place the last two mornings.  I am pretty sure Darwin will not see any thing this disturbing while out riding.

So the above writing what was only a piece of my original Snuggles Diary. I started the entry Sunday night and of course fell asleep on the couch not much later after stopping to talk to Darwin on the phone. He was having an extremely bad go of it on the AZT. After much discussion, he had decided to stick it out another week and if his knee was still painful he was going to call it quits.

Monday night close to the end of my shift at work, I got a text from him saying he was done and he couldn’t push it anymore. I called him asap and as soon as I heard the tone in his voice I knew it was decided. I got off work at 7pm grabbed a protein bar and Bowie and hit the road towards Flagstaff, AZ. Four and a half hours of singing out loud and booty dancing in my seat later, the bearded one was back in my arms.

 We talked a bit before silent exhaustion took over and I started to fall asleep. We arrived at home at 5am and all three of us fell into bed. Darwin was still asleep right before I had to leave for work at 11am. The beard was little disheveled, he had a few scrapes and bruises that weren’t there before, and he still smelled of the outdoors but it was him. HOME. 


(I had to take a picture of my Spaghetti for proof of my creation!)