Monthly Archives: March 2012

Passion of RC

We were created from dirt, and when we die we will return to it…in the mean time I will use it to play in, create in, and grow in…..

So among many things- I love RC cars and trucks–

We got started in RC cars a few years ago. On a whim Abby and I were watching a race and decided as a daddy/daughter projec we would give it a shot. So within a few hours we were new owners of 10th scale rigs by Traxxas, a Slash and a Stampede.

Fast forward through other rigs we have purchased, road racers, rally cars, and other various types….if it drives in the big world we have owned, built, driven, traded, and sold it in the scale world.

My passion has been in the 1/16 scale cars for the past year. I like the ability to pack them with me when I travel for work. They easily fit in a small backpack along with the controler, spare batteries, tool kit, and a grab bag of parts. The only draw back is no one else in my area drives them. I have been able to race when I travel, in Idaho its all about the 10 scale short course trucks.

So I built my own track. This is designed to attract friends, neighbors, daughter’s school mates, whomever wants to get together for an evening under the flood lights, burn some burgers, and drive our cars. It is a combination of RC track, English garden, and Xeroscaping. I wanted a fun track that didn’t look good enough to entertain non-rc friends in, yet be adventurous for the driver.

Rally on the starting ramp

My 16 scale “garage” currently consist of 3 mini-slashes, 3 min-revos (MERV), and a Rally, and recently a Summit….all made by Traxxas. All of which at some point have journeyed with me either on business or pleasure travel. I enjoy evenings behind a hotel or walking to a local park after a long day and playing with one of my cars. Last summer when Melissa wanted to do a photo shoot of beach creatures on the Oregon Coast, I occupied my time on the beach with my Mini-Revo

What does this have to do with adventure? Everything. We took on a task as a family, we communicate and work together on the project, we even have a fire pit. We are OUTSIDE and OFF THE COUCH. For me, it gives me time to play. Yes play, just like a kid would do.
here are some videos of the track

Btw…. There is an open invitation to come and drive….almost anytime. This is how it looks if you were driving at night

You can get into rc cars for under $200, or what some people pay for cable tv over the course of a couple of months. As with any hobby, you can invest as much as you want. I discourage department store rigs simply because when (not if) a part breaks, it is not replacable. Several of our cars were built from parts we had laying around from other projects.

I highly recommend one of our sponsors….Team Dewey Toys and Hobbies in Nampa, Idaho. These guys know their hobby very well.

Give it a try and again….if in the area give us a shout and we’ll let you drive our track!

Soothing the Baby Soul

Neil Peart of Rush in his book “Ghost Rider” described the need to sooth his baby soul after the tragic loss of his wife and daughter. If you listen to the words and watch the video to “Far Cry” you will find this theme throughout the performance.

I have had not similiar losses, but loss of great magnitude none the less. I have also been under a great deal stress with work projects, family issues (the good kind- Melissa prepping for her vet tech state board), and just life in general. I have been surrounded by negativity in the past year, which in turn, has made me a negative person. I also know there is a much larger story I have stopped living.

After a very unrestful night, I took off for the mountains this morning with nothing particuliar in mind. I am so surrounded for opportunities that at times I don’t make a choice because I am overwelmed by the abundance of choices.

I decided to head up Highway 55 from Boise towards….well towards wherever I went. I decided to not shoot any video, think about the blog, or track my progress on GPS for later download. I wanted to return to that guy who just lives for the moment. I wanted to do what any good parent would do with a restless infant….place them in a car and go for a drive. Even if momentary, I knew I could quiet my own baby soul.

The road is good therapy. Roads have so many metephores. There is the highroad, the open road, the road to recovery, and the narrow road. I was looking for any road that would sooth my soul.

As I was entering the town of Horseshoe Bend I found such a road. Harris Creek Road that would take me up and over Placer Summit, and after slogging my way through mud, rain, sleet, and snow, would eventually deliver me in the town of Placerville.

I mention snow, but had not counted on a full scale white assault to take place. As I climbed higher, the driving rain became a near complete white out. As my rear wheels slipped out of alignment with my front tires, I shifted into four-wheel drive and continued my quest towards Placeville.

Upon reaching the summit, I discovered I could only see about 10 to 20 feet in fron of the vehicle. Only a few miles short of town, I decided to turn back, the safer alternative. I felt this was the right choice since I had not seen another vehicle the entire day, my wife “sorta knew” where I was, and my GPS/flight weather program had a full screen of blue and green headed my way.

Once below the snow line, I picked a few rabbit trails to follow. Most of these meander along small creeks to old mines. The tracks are barely wide enough for the Jeep. They offer a sence of solitair for my pup and me, and chances to get out and explore.

After getting back to Horseshoe Bend, we took Highway 52 towards Montour and then Emmett. Montour is very special to me since that was where Scout and I would hunt. (Read older blogs if you don’t know the story of Scout).

This is a great birding area for both the hunter and bird watcher. I love exploring this area. I have stayed away since losing my pal, but felt it was time to go back. Early spring is one of my favorite times to go since most of it is closed off from February to July. At this time it serves as a bird sanctuary (supported and funded by bird hunters) and if you are careful and watchful you can spot some of the rarest of foul.

The baby soul was stirring again, not ready for healing, but needing to be soothed by the road once again. We headed towards Emmett and then home.

The Gem County-Boise County border area is one of my favorite places I have yet to fully explore. I love this area at this time of year. There are fresh water springs that pop up, plenty of pull-off spots to stop and start a small camp fire, grill up lunch, warm your wet bones, and open medows where a guy and his dog can get muddy as they wrestle and play.

Today, The Jeep is muddy, the pup is asleep, the baby soul was temporarily soothed.

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Portait of a Deadman

"Portrait of a Dead Man"
When I took this, I honestly thought it would be one of the last pictures of me alive. Then I changed acceptance to commitment

In the fall of 2003 I decided to do a overland trip by mountain bike in the back country of Big Bend National Park. Don’t let those four letters, (P, A, R, K) fool you. There are areas in most of our national parks that are rugged and desolate. Big Bend has many of these. People die here, and I was almost one of those statistics.

I’ve never really shared this story in whole with anybody, and as I blog, I still may not….we will see.

Throughout 2003 my soul was undergoing some radical changes. I was beginning to live from my heart. I was regaining that masculine love of the outdoors that had become vacant and dormant for a season. I was becoming more of a leader in my home and fighting for the hearts of those I loved. I attribute a great deal of this to the work of John Eldridge in “Wild at Heart”, a book I bought on a whim and actually altered my entire life.

My plan was to bicycle from Rio Grand Village on the east end of Big Bend to Castolon, on thewest side of the park using the old River Road. This trip would take me down rugged back country roads through the old Mariscal Mining district, the Dominguez Trail, continuing on the River Road’s west side, and eventually to Castalon, where I would rest and then make the trip back the same way I came.

Rio Grande to Fresno (Mariscal Mines)

As an avid biker I was physically well prepared for the trip. At the time I was riding up to 200 miles of trails each week. I was riding a 2003 Specialized Stump Jumper with a Yakima trailer. I headed out with tent, food, and water. I knew I would have to resupply so I had supplies dropped for me at Castalon and knew which watering points were known to be active. I planned to have two days water with me at all times.

Fresno (Mariscal Mines) to Castolon

The trip began questionably from the beginning. For starters, after arriving at the park and camping in Rio Grande Village, I failed to get any sleep at all. There was a “star party” going on. I stayed up until sunrise with several astronomy students learning various stars and constellations.

The second moment of failure was when I found I could not park as close to the trailhead as I expected. I had to add additional miles to my already long trip. I had planned to do the entire route in 5-7 days, so I saw the setback as a minor inconvenience.

A larger inconvenience though came at the hands of nature. I knew there had been a flood in the area a week prior to my trip, and in fact was counting on that to fill the springs and arroyos that I would need for water.

What I failed to realize is the damage flash floods can do to the roads and trails I would be pulling a 60 pound trailer on. I struggled miserably with the load and at times had to push my bike through river gravel that would vary between 3 to 8 inches in depth. It took nearly a full day to get to my “planned” lunch stop at the fork between Glen Spring and Mariscal. At this point I was exhausted and dehydrated. I spent the evening trying to rehydrate and take in some energy.

Dragging water and other supplies. Only thing missing in the pic is my water bladder that also worked as a head rest...for a time.

My body immediately rejected the Top Ramen noodles I had prepared. I set up a tent and tried to rest my aching muscles. The only thing I could keep in me was dehydrated ice cream my wife gave me as a joke.

The next morning I felt better, even though I didn’t rest well. I was able to eat some oatmeal, and my urine was returning to clear, signaling that I was rehydrating. I loaded up the tent and returned to the trail. At the fork between Fresno and Solis, the road became a bit better. I no longer had to deal with as much gravel and was able to pick up speed.

I had over-estimated my water needs so I was doing okay in spite of not hitting my next refill point. The trail still required more effort than I had expected and I pulled into Fresno around 3 pm. I decided to stay there even though it put me a day behind schedule. Again as I tried to eat I couldn’t keep anything down.

I set up my tent and decided that I would rest and then re-evaluate the trip when my head was not pounding. It was when I was pulling my tent out of the trailer I discovered in horror that at some point my water bladder had busted. With exception of a tiny bit in my bike mounted water bottles, nearly all my water had either escaped the trailer, or was captured in my tent, clothing, etc. I immediately started consuming as much water from the soaked items I could. I knew at that moment my world was going to be different and if I was going to make it out, I would need to be thinking clearly. I knew this was now a life and death situation.

Looking at the map I had two options. Continue west towards an intermittent spring about a day (on the map) and take my chances on water being there, or head back two-days to where I knew water would be. From what water I could not drink, I was able to fill two bike bottles with water and a partially filled Camelback. Technically it was a lot less than I had been consuming per day. (I had been consuming 1-2 qts per hour…. I now only had water for a few hours, not days.)

At 3 am as the sky was dark and temperatures dropped below freezing, I began my trek back towards civilization. I walked bike and trailer along the path on a moonless night with only a small headlamp I brought along for reading and other camp duties. At the time I was an avid night rider and spent most of my time on the trails after dark when the trails were vacant. I had purposely left all four of my trail lights at home to save weight and remove the temptation of traveling at night, where I felt I was more prone to injury.

As the sun rose in the east, I began to ride for a bit before the temperatures began to climb. The desert is odd in that even-though we had sub freezing temps at night, it would quickly climb to a blistering and mind altering oven in just a few hours of daylight. When I began to feel the increase of the suns rays on my body, I stopped and created a shelter using the bike, tent, and trailer. The wind was picking up and I was concerned that the combination of heat and wind would steal away any moisture my body was trying to conserve. I laid myself under the lean-to, tried to conserve energy, and when not sleeping, kept myself busy studying the map and writing in my journal.

Around 10 pm I began my trek again. I had a bit of rest and in spite of having less than a water bottle left, I felt ready to go. The temps had only dropped into the 80s at this point, but I wanted to get moving. At this point I was pushing through the thick gravel again. I know I wasn’t as aware of my location and surrounding as I should have been but I remember that I resolved to keep to the right side of the road. This way, if I went down the wrong fork, I would wind up at the river. If I stayed my course, even in the confusion, I would be headed back to Rio Grand Village. Somewhere around midnight I drank my last drop of water.

At 645 the next morning I knew I was going to live. I was out of water, severely dehydrated, and barely moving on the bike. It was in a gulch that as I passed through I was gifted with thousands (and thousands) of Monarch Butterflies migrating along my path. I can’t explain it, and maybe it was a private moment for me, but I knew I was going to make it.

Pressing on through the heat I finally made it back to Rio Grande Village, although I have no idea what time it was but knew it was late afternoon. I walked into the store near the camp ground and drank a Gatoraid before paying for it. I think the clerk could tell what was up and never even questioned me. I spent the rest of the day and evening recuperating and the next morning I headed home.

I lived because I had a bit of training and most of all I decided I was going to live. The difference between survivors and non-survivors is having the ability to crawl with-in your self and decide to live. The last stage of dying is acceptance. The last stage of surviving is commitment.

Reality Bytes

Great day today in the back country. Cold, wet, rainy. I don’t care. I needed time to rest and just get thoughts together. Slogged my way in over battered roads filled with the aftermath of rock slides and a very wet winter. Its like driving on a washboard….It takes two and a half hours to go 30 miles. Time well spent.

Time with my pups, time to think. I have had a good nap, coffee over a campfire, grilled some brats on an open flame. Wind gently rocks the trees and my hammock. Somewhere between naps I record a couple of long over due podcast, something I like much more than the videos we do. (making good video is really difficult- we suck at it.) Chilled by the wind blowing across my back I decided to ponder the cold, walk back to the fire, and now you are stuck with my thoughts below…

Sobering thoughts occur. Not nostalgic, not morbid, not even melancholy. I am becoming more and more aware of various realities which for me is good. I often wonder if I live alone in some kind of self-created world. Its good every now and then to take a moment and wonder what is real and what is Memorex. (I understand that some of you will not get this tag line at all….that’s okay.)

I admit that I have wondered out loud at who reads my blogs, subscribes to my podcast, and who watches the videos. It blows me away when I see that on one video I get 50,000 views. At the same time, I quietly wonder why some videos only have three views…..two of which are probably my own. When I pour out my heart in one media and only 5 people have read it, yet my dog Trigger who has a blog has at times 10x to 20x the fans, comments, and inquiries about t-shirts and mugs….well I have to ask myself what is going on. (I secretly wonder if Trigger has hired a PR manager)

We live in a world bombarded by messages. Our news, our social life, our education, our updates are channeled through a network and often measured in bandwidth. I find it a blinding glimpse of the obvious when I get more views about a backpack or survival knife than a bantering between my wife and I about a project for the most part people just don’t understand. I don’t blame them. I mean here I am touting the the life of loving the outdoors, try something new, be adventurous in life….and at the same time I often just want to curl up in an easy chair with a bag of chips and the newest concoction of cheese sauce. People have choices….and in Uzbekistan I seem to be one of them. I really don’t understand that one.

People are tired and want to live through the lives of people they see in Amazing Race, they don’t want to be part of an amazing race. I often think that televised sports is so popular (and I love my football and hockey) is because there is no risk. You can sit in your man cave (or the female equivalent) and comment on the “shoulda” or “coulda” without having to be in the situation. You don’t have to face the violent hits, or the frustration of contract negotiations. I admit, I hate reality TV. I think we are teaching the next generation the only way to resolve conflict is through more conflict. Take any of the shows you see, Axe Men, Deadliest Catch, Next Top Model, etc and put these into your current work environment….its like an HR nightmare. There is very little reality in Reality TV.

I like the risk. I love the adventure. I only want a venue to show others that a lifestyle of adventure brings families, teams, friends closer together and helps to prepare them for the major adventures in life. I cherish moments like today when I can get outside and the greatest challenge is to remove a pile of bowling ball rocks dangerously blocking the road and the hardest decision was where to filter water from. I love this life.

50,000 or 5 views…. I would love to say I don’t care…. I do. It sounds egotistical. It sounds like I’m insecure….yep I admit it. But in a world where people get so much….maybe too much access to information we have to be more cognoscente of what we put out there. I make a promise to myself to balance the sharing of my goals, dreams, and nonsense with updates on the latest technology in cutlery. Deep down, like everyone, I want to be heard.

This is my life and I know it is working well. Its not a fantasy. I have a wife and kiddo that love to try new things, to adventure, to live free. My job is to guide them.

The beautiful thing…it has to be more than just adventure for the sake of adveture. More than just about kayaks and snowshoes. We have to adventure for the purpose of something greater than ourselves. That is the next adventure. The real adventure. And if only a handful of people take notice, I have to be okay with that.

And now back to the sounds of wild geese honking, the wind wiping across my campsite, time to pack up and head down a battered road to Monday. The road is a metaphor for the daily grind, and the Jeep with all of its rattles is the vehicle that carries me through it…back to another weekend of adventure.

Weekend of Wrenching

I used to shudder at the thought of working on my rig. If you follow this blog for any length of time you know I suck as a mechanic.

A few months ago though, a guy I barely knew stepped up to the plate to become teacher and friend. To show me the ropes and not only provide instruction, but to help me in building confidence.

Once (sometimes twice) I am shown something, I can usually repeat it. In the past few weeks I have learned how to instal CB radios, put in 12 volt sockets for accessories, put on a serpentine belt, and mount off road lights.

This week was total tune-up week. Spark plugs, wires, rotor, rotor cap, fuel filter, and all four heating/cooling hoses. In addition we replaced the leaky seal on the front differential. Not theneasy one….the rear one.

It has gone really smooth to this point. It took a little over two-hours to get everything done. As we were about to retire for steaks (me cooking) we detected another minor issue that could have been a major issue on the trail. The ground wire from the battery was intermintently failing. Fortunatly Carl found it right away. He kicks @$$ on stuff like that.

After hanging out and after consuming a couple of steaks and Carl’s home made potato salad, we were off to the parts store for a new cable. In addition, I found that my radiator only had two of thenrequired four screws in it. So new screws were on the list as well.

When I speak at seminars about survival, or I’m running a class, there is allot of focus on things like lighting fires, building shelter, or getting water. Yet everything I did today is essential survival knowledge. Not only how to do it in the middle of the desert- but how to do it before leaving for the back country.

If a few weeks we are sponsoring a workshop for guys who want to work on their own rigs, but for whatever reason have not had the opportunity to do so. We have some fantastic instructors lined up (Carl is one of them) and a good group of guys who will bring in their own cars and learn how to do basic automotive repairs.

Wrenching is good

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Repost- The Warrior is Back (2004)

Before I start I have to give a huge thumbs up to my iPad. I am on a steady path to making this my sole device. There are a few limitations to it…but for blogging, managing our social media, etc it is awesome. I still have to go into my laptop for podcasting and website updates, but I tend to carry it much less. I only wish I had this thing when I first started blogging. Now if I can teach my fingers to hit the space key instead of “b” and “n”.

We are such creatures of habit. Yesterday when I found my old blog, I realized I was drifting back into the trap I sprung us from several years ago. Maybe this is more of a reminder for me to continue to pursue the life our hearts so desperatly battled for.

In 2003 and through 2005, I was on a fast track. People where interested in my career. I was enrolled in a graduate program, given assignments at work to expand my horizons, placed with an image consultant who monitored every action I took, how I dressed, my hobbies, and what kind of vehicle I drove. I found myself either on the road each week or trapped in work for 12 to 18 hours a day. The only saving grace was that when I was home (rarely) I was allowed to work from an office in my house. Money was great….life was a drain.

During the project I took a highly controversial day off. Against the wishes of the project team, I took a personal day. Eight years later I’m sure nobody voluntarily recalls the event, the project went fine and within six months of execution they moved on to a different model anyway, and I have a great memory of a day with my daughter. You do the math….

The Warrior is Back (2004)
To be checked out. Seems like I have been taken out of the battle more lately than I ever hoped to be. Odd thing is–its been situations that don’t normally bother me.

The past few weeks I’ve been developing new management training courses for my company. Day and night–this is all I have been focused on. All the things that seem to matter most have taken a back seat. Important things like prayer, spending time with my family, spending time with myself, calling to check on my band of brothers, oh yea– and time for God. So I carved out time for two important events today.

The first was an all out mountain bike assault combined with a little “geocaching”. Geocaching–heard of it? It a new sport–very similar to an exercise we used to do in the military when GPS units became part of our map and compass training. It a sport where you use your GPS device and find hidden caches. In the caches is usually a log book and some kind of memorabilia. Today I signed my name to the log book and took a finger puppet as a prize for my effort. In return I left an old Susan B. Anthony dollar.

The second item on today’s agenda was to take my 3-year old out to play. Putt-putt was scheduled but the sign that said “year round” didn’t include Mondays and Tuesdays as part of that year. So we sacrificed and found ourselves at the playground in the nearest McDonald’s. So after 40 minutes of stairs, slides, smiles, and sticky seats we headed back to the house. She worn out from the play- me worn out from the Happy meal I picked at in addition to my “Number 1- Super-sized”.

My realization is this. We work hard- but we also have to play hard. And in the end–getting a cool toy in the bottom of a burger bag or in a sealed bucket in the middle of the woods is an extra bonus. The real prize is the time we spend with those we love.

I have no regrets for taking the time off and I think its time to do that again. A few weeks ago I became very concerned in a meeting I was going to die. I was so focused on that one thought, I barely remember the meeting. I am currently on another demanding project that is robbing me of time with family. I need to reconnect with my crew at home. I do not want to leave this earth doing fantastic things….and yet never taking my daughter to the Boise Zoo. My mission next week is to do just that. We have to have missions in life that make a difference.

Abby and I are incredibly close. Part of that is the emphasis we place on time together. In addition to Daddy/Daughter dates, we have been doing weekend breakfast together since she was six-months old. Again….do the math. Figue out the 1×1 time we have had together.

Taking off next Monday to take my kiddo to the zoo….and Friday to do lunch with the wife. These are the things worth fighting for. The Warrior is back…….again.

Re-Post- Making the Commitment (2005)

Looking for some old documents I came across several postings from the original blog. This doesn’t go as far back to the original (posted on the website) but the first one on our old podcast site. Takes me back to a very different time in the work we were doing and our method of outreach at the time. Some of these old entries captured friends and family no longer part of us. For various reasons these people have departed and our crew and community look very different than it did then.

Though I won’t share all of the blogs, I will post a few here and there to add flavor to the journal. I might even be compelled to comment at the end of each…a little…

So here is the first one I submit…

“Making the Commitment”
Posted on January 5, 2005
OKAY—So I’m supposed to come back from vacation and have a whole new year planned out. Somewhere this week should be a letter about a commitment to growth —announcements about new adventures—- guest speakers– new equipment— sponsorships— new studies….

I came back from vacation wanting another one. The time went too quickly. Spending time camping with my wife in the snow—watching college bowls with my Dad—wrestling with my youngest daughter—campfire vigils with my friends…who could think about long range planning?

But there was a commitment renewed for us as a family. We will spend one weekend a month –together as a family—in the outdoors. A few months ago it was a bold move for the both of us and for the most part saw success..

Its not far off base– when Melissa and I were dating and newly married—we traveled all over in the outback. There was hardly a weekend we were not out somewhere together.

Houses, bills, jobs, and other “priorities” took us away from the single reason we married—time with each other. Rescuing the beauty means for me—a commitment to do the things we love—and share that when safe—with our children.

This is also a commitment we have made to each other to live a much simpler life. The focus is not on the yard, my job, etc—It is on my wife and children. I am a happier man for it.

The rugged outdoor guy who is into motorcycles, kayaks, SCUBA, mountain biking, rock climbing, and other extreme sports may soon find himself in a camping trailer. Yes I have to admit I’m looking at a pop up trailer for the family. I even stayed in a KOA cabin last week!

Yes 2005 will be a year of growth, many new adventures, cool equipment, and intense studies. But want I want it to be focused on is the family and friends that made 2004 so good. Everything else just helps to support those relationships.

Five months after the above blog was posted, we were in Idaho living the life we so desperatly needed. This is Abby playing at the Warm Springs airport during one of our overlanding trips. Mission Accomplished!

Interesting to look back on how at the time I was burried in a career path that was killing me and the breakout from that life that lead me out of it. Even the writing style was differnt then. It was like we were taking our first breath of fresh air after drowning in a torrent river.

We made a conscious effort to live a life where we would live fully alive. At times I wonder if we are still commited to that – and unfortunatly have to admit that we are not. I guess its time to sit the family down and re-commit to the life we preach. Yes- admitting I myself fall short of the things I feel so strongly about.