Monday, August 12, 2013

I will show you the Pirate Coast

"But the love of adventure was in father's blood"
-Buffalo Bill

It would be an exercise in futility  to try and describe the expressions on some of our friends and families faces when we first hatched the idea of beach camping with our 4 month old son, and while I was not surprised by their reaction, it should come as no surprise that we would carry out what we had said all along.
The baby would be an extension of our lifestyle, not a detractor.
To say that I didn't have a measure of anxiety as we slowly cruised across Core Sound would be shortsighted, I was well aware of the unique challenges that come with beach camping on Portsmouth Island and I was about to introduce my infant son to an environment that can go from pristine to violent in the time it takes for the wind to change direction.
As things go, mother nature appeared to mock my decision making and thick rain clouds began to stack up in the distance  while we set up camp for the first night.

While I love adventure, I try not to be fool hearty about placing my family in compromising situations, should the need arise,  our "back-up" plan would be to retreat to the Tacoma if things got too sketchy for the tent.

Our first 2 nights on the island would test my resolve with seemingly endless bands of thunderstorms that rumbled in from the sound then drifted down the beach only to regroup off shore.

Emotions collide with reason in these situations, and there was a degree of unspoken tension as Ash and I sat on the tailgate of the truck sipping beer  watching magnificent lighting strikes out over the sea wondering if we had made the right decision.
To say that these situations are surreal would be an understatement, think what you like, but camping on an uninhabited island is not Disney Land and there are certain risk that have to be taken into consideration.
That being said, the feeling of sitting there with Ash in that moment is still with me, which is the entire point of going.
So the babies' first camping trip went off without a hitch, there were no boogie men lying in wait, the mosquitoes did not carry him off, wild animals did stalk our site (that we are aware of), and not a single shark breached the depths of the ocean to try and rob us of our newborn son, and while a few thunderstorms did create a short lived pucker factor, the trip and the memories it created illustrate that life doesn't end with the introduction of a child, it begins... again...  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy Birthday Mr.Cash

"You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.

 ~Johnny Cash (Taken from Rogue American Apparel)



Saturday, February 23, 2013


I'm nearing the end of a book called "To the Last Breathe" where the Author, Francis Slakey who is a physics professor at Georgetown University chronicles his adventures around the globe of climbing and surfing the world's oceans. The book is as much about self discovery as it is about going to physical extremes and I identify with Slakey's observations about odds and  improbability, and the realization of how so many things are entwined.

A few months ago I had made a decision to "get back" to the place I was maybe 3 years ago, where I was riding more, running more, and generally doing more. That's not to say that I had become stagnant, in fact I was probably healthier & stronger than I had been in recent memory due to a home work out routine that was all about "functional fitness" and I was committed (and still am) to the core, working out as many as 6 days a week.
This next part might be a bit confusing, but a while back I seized an opportunity that would allow me to increase my riding potential 10 fold with most if not all of my riding occurring at night in an "urban setting".
This opened up an entirely new chapter for me, and fanned the flames of adventure that had subsided over time.
Such is life that no sooner did I decide to document these rides, we went out on maternity leave, so the night dweller that I had become was instantly replaced with the adventure of being a  new dad.
Fast forward to this week and seizing upon my decision to "get back".  Sensing an impending head cold I loaded up the truck (in broad daylight) and headed to James River Park. I hadn't ridden there in quite a while and the combination of me being "out of the saddle" and having recently changed the gearing on the single speed made for quite a bit of "hike a bike" sections during the ride.
I rode the park north to south ending up at the "skills park" on Belle Island, which I have as of yet not ridden. There was a family checking it out as well, and it was cool to see kids swirling around the course.
The strangeness of Belle Island never gets old, as there was a production company filming some type of Jeep commercial on the rocks, an assortment of derelicts, and fitness minded folks all taking advantage of the fair weather.
After cruising around the top of the island I headed back to 2nd Street and as I pedaled up to my truck I noticed another vehicle with a bike rack parallel parked in front of me.
"A kindred person" I thought to myself as I got closer.
Then the familiarization hit me, inside the other vehicle was my wife and new son.
She had left much earlier in the day, and we had no intention of crossing one another's paths, yet there she was smiling at me.
"I figured you would be done around now" she said, "want to go to Hardywood and grab a beer"?
I was floored by this.
Even on a small scale Improbability, opportunity, and kinship are amazing things to stumble upon.             

Friday, February 22, 2013


"FMLA", those 4 federal letters that have given me the last 20 or so days off for the birth of my son.  Federally mandated time, mine for the taking...It has also been one of the more frequent topics of discussion between friends, family, and co-workers. The conversations almost always play out like this;

Questioner:  "How much time are you taking"?
Me: "All of it"

Questioner: "Really"?  That's ALOT of time off".
Me:  " I have 100's maybe even thousands of hours I can burn, and my wife and I wanted to do it together".
Questioner: "What will you do? You will be at each other's throats in no time".
Me: "I suppose we will spend time with the new baby, and my wife and I actually enjoy each other's company".
I understand the typical argument, I sincerely do. It's not like my wife and I are impervious to getting on one another's nerves, and I will admit that the last few weeks were similar to "Groundhog Day" where they somehow managed to pull of making a movie about Bill Murray reliving the same day over & over.
But there has been a by-product of FMLA that I wasn't prepared for, and to be quite honest I am still having trouble wrapping my mind around.
The "insinuation" that a man who takes the full ride off to be with his newly formed family, is somehow "less manly".
I can assure you that it is not my overactive imagination either, as demonstrated by the fact that a co-worker surmised that I was a "derogatory slang word for a feline" when he found out that I was taking 3 months off.    
To say that my job doesn't harbor folks that are a bit "rough around the edges" would be putting it  mildly, and our humor typically starts at crude then devolves to downright inappropriate.  
But it's 2013, and to even suggest a man is anything otherwise for wanting to be with his newborn son is simply ridiculous.
I'm pretty sure if I handed my resume to a total stranger they would read it and have thoughts of Chuck Norris & Surviorman, with a dash of Wyatt Earp.
Read that again if you know me, as I said given to a "total stranger".
My friends would say that I am more suited to one of the "Village People".
But I digress. 
After 25 years on the job the trick is to get out with your family in tack, and I cherish this time with my boy & wife.
I would shout this from the highest peak,and I don't believe I have anything to prove.  
Less of a man?
Look in a mirror...   
FMLA...It's fun to sing about it

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Pork, We Salute You

So the  McRib sandwich was  "re-introduced" to McDonald's menu this past December to help bolster their  end of year/holiday sales.

That's right, the "McRib" is actually a hot selling sandwich for the fast food juggernaut.
The McRib is a product of "restructured meat technology" that is then "molded " into the shape of a rack of ribs...
Restructured meat technology.
Technology is awesome when you're talking about a smart phone, or even an unmanned military drone, but do you really want it associated with your food?
The "McRib" doesn't even have bones, but it is molded to LOOK like it does.
Sounds delicious...   
The gravel driveway meandered towards a traditional farmhouse nestled amongst ornamental pines and pasture land. Within minutes we saw the first sow grazing in a field.
The owners of the farm greeted us warmly at their front door, and after a brief introduction we were walking around the grounds meeting the pigs and getting a crash course in "porkology".  
Pink House pigs are "free range" pasture grazing fun loving swine that are void of growth hormones or antibiotics.

Once we had finished with our tour, we were escorted into the families' kitchen, the owner disappeared into a back room only to return with a sampler of all of the pork products that the farm has to offer.
We decided on a rack of ribs, some chops, bacon, chorizo sausage, and a bonus buy chicken that they also raise on location. 
We cut the family a check, and we were on our way.
Needless to say we fired up the grill, and Ash made a chorizo and cheese appetizer followed by the main course and star of the pork show, grilled chops over grits and parmesan crusted kale with a splash of lemon.

This pork is fantastic, and YES you can taste the difference in every single bite.  it even cooks differently.
Fresh local food, from a local farmer who has the integrity to do things the right way, which is almost never the easy way, but there is NO comparison, and I won't even ramble on about the immeasurable health benefits of eating grass fed pork & beef.
So this is where we want to be, my wife and "soon to be son" are no different than anyone else, were average folks, we don't come from privilege, and to answer your question, Yes, at times eating this way can be more expensive, which is a risky proposition in this economy, and while I understand that concern, the goal is to live on our terms as healthy and active as possible.
Adventure is where you find it, even in food.
Eat fresh, Eat local.