What I’ve Been Up to Lately

Happy Groundhog Day! If you haven’t watched this classic Bill Murray / Andie McDowell rom-com, it’s a great way to experience the time loop when you cross the international dateline!

Recently, I launched a new website, Thriving Vets, to help veterans to live a fulfilling life. Our men and women make a lot of personal sacrifices in serving our country, so this site is dedicated to serving them.

Meanwhile, I spoke with Heather Morrow of Aspen Tango about the immigration crisis that started when President Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from certain countries from entering this country. One unexpected repercussion was rejecting people with valid green cards. Here’s the replay for more –

On Sunday I will be chatting with Clay Nelson of Portland Tango about why dancers return to Portland year after year like some migratory birds –

Also, I’ve started to do a vlog of sorts to talk about the realities of freelancing and working my way into the digital nomad lifestyle –

Meanwhile, I’ve posted some food recipe videos and plan to write more about this.

Recently, I started to read Eddie Huang’s biography Fresh Off the Boat. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s nothing like the television story, which was watered down quite a bit for mass audiences, of course.eddie-huang-fresh-off-the-boat

Some of you probably know that I’m a big fan of audio books, especially when the author is the narrator. This is no exception, as Huang tells his own story in a way that no one else can.

Even though I grew up much further north, I can definitely to the harassment and bullying that Huang faced, as well as the identity crisis. Sometimes I felt too Chinese; other times, too American. We first generation immigrants often found ourselves trying to straddle both cultural worlds.

Here’s a videos series of Eddie Huang revisiting Taiwan. You can also check out his book through the links to the Amazon page. Enjoy!

Well, this post is a bit all over the place but thought it was the best way to share some of these! How about you? What are you working on these days?

How Time is Fluid

Just as we settled into the hypnotic rocking of the gulf waters, the rod snapped to life. As the line whirred out, it was all-hands on deck. The Mexican crew yelled excitedly.

Although I had no idea what we had just snagged, my first thought was to offer my younger brother the chance to reel it in. This fishing trip to Baja was his graduation present from Dad and me for finishing medical school.

I remembered watching him busting his ass studying these past four years, and he had more long, intense hours to come for his residency. Still, my brother waved me off.

Shrugging, I settled into my seat at the rear of the boat. Calling it a “yacht” seems misleading. Seaworthy as it is, comparing this charter to something Trump wouldn’t be caught dead in is like comparing apples to Faberge eggs.

“Easy,” coaxed the deck hand. Alternately, encouragements like “mas” and “keep going” came at me in Spanish and Mandarin.

There! For a second or so the marlin jumped. “Oh, my god,” said dad with a mix of awe and excitement.

Eventually, reeling became easier and easier. Somehow I could tell that the fish was giving up. Slowly, we could finally see the magnificent creature – its brilliant blue and violet sheen breaking the dark gulf waters.

Finally, the 135 pound beast lay on the platform off the boat’s stern. Within minutes the light flashed out of its eyes. My elation at landing such a creature turned to sadness. I felt less like a victor than a murderer of something beautiful.

All in all, what took maybe twenty minutes felt like hours.

Later, we would catch a few blue bronze El Dorado, or what some call Mahi Mahi on their dinner plates. These had quite a bit of fight as well, but we would catch nothing else like that marlin. I was disappointed for my brother because he and my dad were much more fishermen than me.

I had gone on a few trips with them over the years, and only once or twice otherwise. Meanwhile, I know that they had gone on several other trips together and with other friends.

But one other trip we went on together was memorable for very different reasons.

This was a charter off the coast of our home state of New Jersey. Now the Atlantic Ocean is known to have rough seas. But this was summertime. So, usually that’s just a good time to catch bluefish because of weather and water conditions.

The initial chop caused the bow to go up and down like a roller coaster – as it went over its first hump over and over again. What started off as exhilaration soon turned to uneasiness and finally dread for my dad and brother.

At first the two turned quiet and still. Then, they both just turned a sickly pale, as if life had left them.

For some unknown reason the rocking motion had no effect on me. So, I proceeded to catch bluefish. My brother came up to see my first one, and promptly hit the side rail which only caused him to projectile vomit breakfast like something out of the Exorcist.

Later, we joked that he was chumming – the ritual spreading of bits of bait to attract the hungry fish.

This time hours of sea-sickness seemed to last forever.

 

Time can be elastic. Einstein talks, of course, about relativity in the world of physics. Jung discussed how we both perceive and create perceptions of what is. If God created us in His image, as the Bible says, then this is nowhere else this is more true.

Another way this comes out is how Marc Levy talks about the relative value of time..

“If you want to know the value of one year, just ask a student who failed a course.

If you want to know the value of one month, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.

If you want to know the value of one hour, ask the lovers waiting to meet.

If you want to know the value of one minute, ask the person who just missed the bus.

If you want to know the value of one second, ask the person who just escaped death in a car accident.

 

When have you had moments that you wished would last forever? or other times that you couldn’t wait to end?

Yellow Bucket of Rust

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Sunrise at Pala Near Temecula (Photo credit: pdpolena via Source / CC BY)

Whirrr-eell..WHIRRR-EELLL – WHIRRR-Eeelll.. The variometer squealed in rising & descending tones, alternating between barely audible and a screech as terrifying as crumpling styrofoam.

You might be wondering why I was strapped into a canary yellow rust bucket. Baking under that Southern California sun, as my flight instructor and I waited for our tow plane, I was was wondering the same thing.

Yet, once we were airborne at three thousand feet, where that cool, rarefied air streamed all around our fuselage, it all comes back – I remember what it feels like to almost be a creature of the sky. Not something struggling to get up in the air, but something that really “slipped those surly bonds” and soared.

hawks-soaring

Photo credit: birdsaspoetry via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

“Look over there,” my instructor pointed out. A small circle of red hawks had gathered over a small hilltop. Lift – that sweet warm, rising air which extends our flight time.

Of course, I was still paying for every minute of my instructor. But at the same time, each minute we logged up in the air got me closer to my solo qualification, and the longer we stayed up, the less I needed to spend on another tow fee.

Soaring in a glider also finally forced me to get the feel of flying – something I never had developed in powered aircraft.

yellow-glider

Photo credit: The Library of Congress via Foter.com / No known copyright restrictions

No, Schweizer 2-33’s aren’t much to look at – they don’t have the sexiness of the Grob, which is what movies typically used. But they do allow student pilots to cheaply fill up flight logs and get their glider certification, aka “ticket” – to take that dream date.

Over time I realized that something was missing – maybe I had numbed myself with one too many roller coaster rides back in college. In any case I didn’t get sea-sick or air-sick like my other buddies, because my inner ear just didn’t work as well.

Seasoned flight instructors tried unsuccessfully to get me sick.

On the one hand it was great to have this tolerance, or whatever it’s called. On the other maybe it made me less sensitive to the bumps and feel of flight that good pilots have.

Years later, I finally developed some sense of “feel” on the mat in aikido and on the dance floor in tango.

Here’s the thing. How we do one thing is how we do everything. And the sad part is that while we would rather not feel sadness, or those emotions we consider “negative,” people like Jenny Lawson, who deal with severe bouts of depression, pay a high price by becoming numb to other feelings like joy and happiness.

As much as I hate to admit it, that old yellow bucket of rust was more than a few cheap thrills. She taught me a thing or two about flying, but most of all, that I still had a lot to learn!

Soaring at Warner Springs

Crunches mix with the sweet juices released with each bite of fresh white corn. This reminds me of the fresh ears I would buy after a day of soaring in Warner Springs. Picking out a few at a crossroad farmstand, I’d get a bag with the avocados just picked off the nearby trees that were also a steal .

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Corn – Photo credit: zqf503 via Pixabay

 

Friends make fun of the way that I eat corn. I like to plow through the kernels row by row like a typewriter. No one ever made fun of how Ernest Hemingway ate his corn, I’m sure. Okay, maybe there’s a huge difference between the prolific writer who embodied manliness, and me. But, hey, give a guy a break!

On the drive up, I had noticed the makeshift shack for selling local crops about halfway to the airport. I snapped out of my daydream.

Things had gotten complicated in my life between work and family. I was glad to leave it all behind, if only for a bit.

Driving between hills covered by remnants of some giants’ boulder wars, I got lost on the rural two-lane that snaked between hordes of avocado trees descending on the surrounding valleys.

Breathing deeper and taking in the warm Southern California sun put me into a zen state of mind. Only the thought of dinner plans broke this trance.

The engine whirl of a climbing white and goldenrod Cessna made it clear that I was getting close to the airfield, where I’d meet my instructor.

When I wanted to forget about budget reports and Powerpoint presentations, these weekend mini-escapes were just the cure. No obsessing about bills or child support payments – just finding lift among the red hawks.

sky-hills

Photo Credit Unsplash via Pixabay

It’s amazing – the things that humans are able to do. Put together an aluminum can with wings, tow it with a rope.. and FLY!

At the same time it’s funny how we have to take lessons, get certified and signed off on what birds do naturally with hardly a thought.

Funnier still was that my instructor was really a kid. Younger than me, he was also much more laid back than the hardcore instructor pilots back in navy flight school. But we still briefed and did our pre-flight checks in much the same routine as the military.

But, unlike the lunchtime patterns of showers in Pensacola, Florida by which you could set your watch, Warner Springs really had only two shades of summer – hot and hotter. So, the trick was to drink more water than what escaped your pores. If you didn’t crumple into a dust heap by the end of the day, then somehow you succeeded!

On the way home I had to stop off for a slice of pie at Julian. In spite of the heat the warm smell from inside the shop still made my mouth water. Fresh out of the oven, the crusty delight of berry goodness easily melted the frosty scoop of vanilla ice cream.

julian-pie-company

Julian Pie Company via Yelp

Racing the sun that was quickly disappearing behind the surrounding hills, I stopped off for my dinner ingredients. At the time I had no idea that what I was really doing was making summer memories of my time in San Diego.

It’s funny how moments like these seem so ordinary at the time, and it’s only later that we polish them off for the gold within.

What summer memories are you making right now?

How Fear Can Deceive Us

false-fear-illusion

With our fears logs can become alligators (picture by Thomas_G via Pixabay)

Wow, it’s been weeks since I’ve written a post here. If you haven’t been following me on Medium, I recently started writing there more regularly as part of Jeff Goins’ 500 Word Challenge. So far, so good on what was Day 20.

Today my friend Bill Belew wrote on his forum about having an up and down week. My response is that it happens and that besides this being a sign that we’re still alive, it’s also how we’re hard-wired.

For a while the motivational / self-help myth told us that if you place a frog in boiling water it’ll simply jump out. However, if you place it in water that’s room temperature and slowly turn up the heat, the frog won’t notice until it’s too late. There’s plenty written to dispel this, and others trying to prove it..

But the lesson is still valid, I think.

Human beings do tend to worry about things that are more in our face. It’s what sells newspapers, and why the “silent killers” like heart disease and diabetes remain the leading causes of death.

Recently, we lost several celebrities – David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, and Animal. Okay, maybe not the last one..

I have to admit that I can’t remember the last time that I listened to Bowie or Frey.. sometimes life happens, sometimes things surface to the top of our attention and then drift back down.

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be a sermon about how “life is short.. let’s make each moment count..” However, it’s true that if we’re not careful, neglect is easy but the price we pay down the road can be much more expensive.

Losing my car was painful. For a while there was a $200 or so repair that a local garage suggested. I was always too busy or couldn’t be bothered. Who knows? Maybe it was inevitable that the transmission would fail; maybe not.

Being without a car in southern California is much more painful than, say, the San Francisco Bay Area or other cities like New York. Yes, I do think that it’s also a blessing and curse thing. In the classic cost benefit analysis let’s not forget to look at the price paid in the long run, not just the immediate future.

That’s why sometimes we undervalue the benefit of saving 5 minutes a day and forget how it can lead to creating hours or days of opportunity. It’s easier for us to focus on what in our face and miss the hidden costs / opportunities.

 

Where’s My Little Pony?

I’ve written before about my Navy experiences during the Reagan era.

One of the favorite jokes of Uncle Ronny, aka the Great Communicator, was a joke concerning twin boys. It went something like this..

pony-kid

Photo: erA_Blackout via Pixabay

Worried that the boys had developed extreme personalities – one was a total pessimist, the other, a total optimist – their parents took them to a psychiatrist.”

“First the psychiatrist treated the pessimist. Trying to brighten his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with brand-new toys. But instead of yelping with delight, the little boy burst into tears. ‘What’s the matter?’ the psychiatrist asked, baffled. ‘Don’t you want to play with any of the toys?’ ‘Yes,’ the little boy bawled, ‘but if I did I’d only break them.’”

“Next the psychiatrist treated the optimist. Trying to dampen his outlook, the psychiatrist took him to a room piled to the ceiling with horse manure. But instead of wrinkling his nose in disgust, the optimist emitted just the yelp of delight the psychiatrist had been hoping to hear from his brother, the pessimist. Then he clambered to the top of the pile, dropped to his knees, and began gleefully digging out scoop after scoop with his bare hands. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ the psychiatrist asked, just as baffled by the optimist as he had been by the pessimist. ‘With all this manure,’ the little boy replied, beaming, ‘there must be a pony in here somewhere!’”

excerpt from How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life by Peter Robinson (source: Got to Be a Pony There Somewhere)

Going without a car in Southern California sucks – there’s no getting around it. This isn’t New York where you can jump on the subway or grab a cab. It’s not Chicago where you can take a bus for anywhere not covered by the Loop. And it’s certainly not San Francisco where you can juggle between BART and Muni to get to just about anywhere you need.

It takes almost an hour to get to Union Station in down LA by Metrolink. Then, if you need to get anywhere significant like Hollywood or Santa Monica.. well, expect significant delay..

Yet, it’s forced me to work on my online business of content marketing – to simply sit down & write.

Now when I go somewhere, there’s still a good deal of walking. So I’ve raided the public libraries for plenty of audio books and supplementing this was Audible.com. Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks (totally worth it!! check it out and let me know what you think!)

Gratitude is about learning to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the storm to pass. It’s easy to be thankful when things are going well, it’s harder to remember to be grateful.

Some of the greatest triumphs in history have come out of our darkest hours. Ryan Holiday shares many such stories in The Obstacle is the Way.

One Zen story he shares tells of a king who places a large boulder at the entrance to their city. He watched in disappointment as one citizen after another turn away. Others openly cursed their bad luck or halfheartedly tried to go around before easily giving up.

boulder-road

Photo: missyliner0 via Pixabay

Sure that his kingdom was doomed to be conquered by any invaders with such softness, the king finally saw a lowly peasant struggle. Something made this one subject persist until he finally made a lever out of a large branch.

Moving the boulder, the peasant found a bag of gold and a note from the king which read:

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, with every obstacle comes an opportunity to improve our condition.”

That Holiday in Berlin

When I finally got up late in the morning, it was still pretty dark with such a hint of daylight. Outside snow covered everything in the courtyard of a friend of a friend’s apartment where I stayed.

berlin-christmas-market

Christmas Market Berlin (photo: Asatira via Pixabay)

Having just arrived late that night, I was still a little jet lagged. So I closed my eyes for a bit. When I opened them again a few hours later, it was dark again! How long had I slept?!

I’d forgotten that Berlin was far enough north to get some of the daylight distortion that comes with the seasons. The bleakness of its winter made me imagine why these Teutonic tribes constantly sought sunnier shores to conquer.

Holiday Fun and Games

Yet it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Once I finally met up with my friends Thomas and Erin, we moved my stuff over to their cozy apartment. They were in the middle of assembling a hanging star decoration.

holiday-stars

Lovely Holiday Stars

Later we met up with his brother and a friend to visit the holiday market at Gendarmenmarkt near Friedrichstraße. If you ever go, you can’t miss it. It’s all the best of past Christmases wrapped in a bow.

It brought back memories of ice skating at Rockefeller Center, munching on churros off State Street in Chicago, seeing the Marshall Fields window displays.

The Germans know how to celebrate the holidays. There’s nothing like warm mug of spiced Glühwein to brace against the chill, or munch on some currywurst. But, of course, there’s hot chocolate – and the German people know their chocolate!

A Taste of German Food

Now I know that like the county fair back in the States, this isn’t “real” German food any more than funnel cakes and roasted corn is American fare. But there’s still something uniquely different about their spin on celebrating the holidays.

Eventually, we made it to the countryside where we spent the new year’s eve. I sampled one of the traditional German dishes sauerbraten. Unfortunately for my vegetarian friend, it was like that bit out of Big Fat Greek Wedding. They offered him some boiled vegetables.

So when I finally cooked for my friends who hosted me, I improvised a vegetarian chicken parmesan but substituting tofu in place of the breast meat. It didn’t turn out half bad. When I get a chance, I’ll need to make a video.

A Bit of Dancing Tango in Berlin

While dancing tango in Berlin wasn’t much different than other parts of the world, you still definitely know you’re dancing there. The people there have a certain energy that is unique to them. It’s a combination of warmth and austere calm that’s all at once quick with a restrained laugh and politeness for keeping you at arm’s length until they know you better.

That’s probably one of the main reasons why I love to dance tango. Once you connect with someone on an emotional level that’s tangible as touch, there’s no going back to pretenses. The stereotype of the serious, uptight German gives way to another human being sharing a moment of play and self-expression.

So each Christmas holiday no matter where I am and what I’m doing with family and friends, there’s always a special place in my heart for that one time in Berlin.

Post Note: Here are some other places to check out Christmas markets in Europe.

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Photo: Christmas Market in Zagreb via European Best Destinations

Not Your Usual Travel Advice

anthony bourdain

Quote by Anthony Bourdain from Kitchen Confidential

If you’re a fan of Anthony Bourdain like I am, you’ve got to respect someone who’s seen some miles, including some harrowing moments when suddenly he was trying to flee with his life.

Here’s the original article – http://www.esquire.com/lifestyle/news/a24932/anthony-bourdain-how-to-travel

..and you’ve got to figure that he knows what he’s talking about.

Having done the whole “it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure thing” with the Navy, I’ve had the blessing / curse of seeing the world both by choice and by circumstance.

So, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts and own experiences with Uncle Tony’s travel advice –

Right away, Mr. Bourdain starts with advice to dress for the role. Getting through airports security is key to starting off your trip on a good note. Believe me, you don’t want to struggle with what you’re wearing – having to turn over that prized wedding gift pocket knife or losing that iPod in the security shuffle.

Oh, and yes, comfortable shoes are a big part of this, because never mind the need to put them in the security bin with your other items, your feet will swell. The longer the flight, the more you will wish you had clown shoes!

No matter how much you luggage you check in – what you put in your carry-on is essential, both for access during the fight, and let’s face it.. the more you travel, the more likely the airlines will lose your luggage. If you’re lucky it’ll be for a day or so; if not so much.. well, what you have in your carry-on may be all you have until they return your luggage or you buy replacements.

As Mr. Bourdain mentions, my iPad stays with me – between the audiobooks, Kindle app, music and videos.. oh, and a few offline games (let’s face it – wifi is great but not still available everywhere) – Angry Birds anyone? And as he points out, you may not care for the in-flight selection.

I don’t necessarily read fiction set in the location I’m headed but it’s a cool idea I’m sure I’ll try. But I do like to catch up on that pile of magazines that has built up since my last trip.

While he talks about people struggling with the overhead, here’s where I’m one of those guys who will only check in luggage only when I absolutely have no other choice.

As for food in the airport, there’s only been a few exceptions over the years where I’ve seen some improvement of value and quality. Overall, I still prefer to eat local outside the airport whenever possible. Even a food court in a shopping mall is usually a better option. Mr. Bourdain says that he’ll get ramen in Tokyo and something from the airport’s hawker center in Singapore.

It’s interesting that this Travel Channel celebrity says that he won’t try to weasel upgrades with his status. You’ve got to admire that. I think a lot of folks wouldn’t hesitate in his position.

Generally speaking, I will sleep a lot on long flights, but I avoid drinking myself like Mr. Bourdain, preferring lots of club sodas with lime and an occasional ginger ale for that anti-nausea effect. No sleeping pill needed for me!

Well, as you can imagine, Mr. Bourdain looks on airplane food with disdain. Me personally? I’ve been lucky to find most stuff edible. Maybe I’m easy that way. Heck, sometimes I’ve asked for seconds and gotten it because they often have extra!

Now I have to laugh at Uncle Tony’s fascination with inflight plumbing. Maybe the memories of multi-thousand dollar wasted on air force toilets still linger in my mind, but to me as long it flushes what it’s supposed to, that’s good enough for me.

Over the years I’ve stayed on four or five-star hotels as well as the $10 backpacker hostels. So I’m not afraid to rough it but I’m no stranger to luxury nor uncomfortable to rub shoulders with the rich and not-so-famous. If anything, I tend to splurge if I’m with someone special.

Like Mr. Bourdain, I avoid the knick knacks that people love to buy and bring home. But I’ll write postcards to family and friends who love when I share my latest destination instead of souvenirs. Sometimes I’ll bring back some fun snacks that I can get through customs or a bottle of some local beverage.

Now the meat of his advice has to be how Mr. Bourdain finds the best places to eat. I’ve got some of my tricks which I’ve shared from time to time. Sure, some of it is common sense – avoid the tourist-trap places. Going to the central market is something he’s done again and again on his shows, but getting up early will be my windmill to tilt.

As I travel more, I hope to connect with more locals around the world. Mr. Bourdain offers a fun, controversial way to stir the pot and find out what they say is “the best.”

So.. how about you? What are some of your travel tips?

What’s Your Red Paper Clip?

For want of a nail, a shoe was lost.. for want of a shoe, a horse was lost.. for want of a horse, a battle was lost..

We’ve heard different versions of this story before – it’s human nature to focus on that missing tooth, or that scab from a recent scrape..

But what about our successes? What about the good in people?
You know, those “Pay It Forward” moments that were made famous by the Haley Joel Osment? (Recently I learned more about the book and author that inspired this movie.)

Now Kyle Macdonald had a crazy idea. He asked “What if I played a real life game of “Bigger and Better”?

Like many creative folks when they started their entrepreneurs journey, Kyle realized that it wasn’t his dream job to deliver used appliances. So, when he came up with a bunch of crazy ideas, Kyle found himself torn between choosing work for the money and actually trying some of them.

A friend reminded him of a game they played in high school where Kyle and his friends would continually trade up items to see what they could get. So Kyle thought maybe he could do this just starting out with one red paper clip.

Well, he did – you can follow his red paper clip journey here.

Ultimately, Kyle ended up with a house, being a mayor for a day and along with his girlfriend citizens for life!

People on Quora ask me all the time about how to get started in business..? What does it take to start your own company? On and on..

Just start with your red paper clip.. be curious.. look for ways to help others.. Like the shepherd boy in the Alchemist see where the journey takes you.

Years ago, I had an idea to start my own business. I made plenty of mistakes but kept asking questions and learning. This led to adventures in real estate and helping folks to buy / sell businesses before leading to commercial field inspections and ultimately teaching others how to start their own home businesses..

So who you were got you here to this point, who you’re becoming will get you where you want to be!

Camping Along the Oregon Coast Pt 2

mountain-stream

photo: Unsplash

This is Part 2 of my Oregon camping trip. You can read Part 1 here.

“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” – Steven Wright

I was definitely treading the.. heck, let’s face it. I was running up & down that divide!

Luckily, a neighbor was generous enough to offer part of his catch – a salmon filet from the season.

By now Molly and I had gotten down some routines.. “best practices,” if you will –

Simplify by Being Organized

When you’re running around amuck in the woods, it’s important to be organized.. There’s enough stuff to try and figure each day. A lot of stuff you take for granted – like going to the bathroom becomes a chore.

So, it helps to color code stuff, if you can. Stuff like having bags for specific uses – dry goods in one / utensils in another – comes in handy, so you can find stuff & not spend time looking for that bottle opener when you’d rather be enjoying that riesling while it’s still crisp and nicely chilled.

When we talk about a “sanitized cockpit” in aviation, we’re not talking about keeping hand sanitizer in your flight bag. Just like having clipboards for air charts and pockets for gear, you will appreciate how simpler life is when you compartmentalize.

Keeping perishables in the cooler not only keeps them fresh and handy, but you can quickly know if you’re running low on any items. Separating this from the dry goods makes sure that ingredients are the way you need them when you do.

Keeping a Smooth Camping Environment

In a lot of ways campsites become small towns in themselves. Trust is key – at some point you leave stuff out. So, hopefully you feel safe about doing so with your neighbors.

What helps to build connections with others is sharing information. Sometimes you’re the “expert” but sooner or later you need others. This applies to all kinds of resources, but information is the most handy social currency.

Within your own “village” it’s important to have self-sufficiency, yet you need to work together. Camping creates an environment that’s intense. The last time I spent this much time in such close quarters was my time in the military on a ship in the middle of the West Pacific Ocean. You learn the need to balance between keeping to yourself and connecting with others.

Part of self-sufficiency is re-use – Those paper bags for groceries then become kindling for fires. Having a “waste not / want not” mentality translates to how that plastic container may become a much needed water jug. Even though there’s more recycling and minimizing waste today, we forget some of these ideas in our “civilized” world.

What You Learn to Appreciate

Boy, do we forget some of the things we take for granted!

Things like:

Bathrooms less than 150’ away

Running water that didn’t require pump

Showers – HOT showers!

Why did we pay for such inconvenience? To be honest this was an affordable way to be with Molly. There was no way that I could have afforded hotels for the time we spent with our limited budget. Plus, we got to know each other in ways that nothing else.

It does take a self-sufficient, capable gal – camping is definitely not for your typical girly girl. At the same time there’s a lot of guys who’d probably have a hard time keeping up with someone like that. I think I did okay. Well, at least average – if not a little above-average? (hopefully, this isn’t the same way we all think we’re above-average drivers..)

I’m still amazed that we did it – not just in the sense of surviving.. unfortunately, Molly got a sprained ankle, but that’s not too bad considering we spent so much time “out in the wild.” Hey, we didn’t get food poisoning, or any number of typical nasty camping ills like poison ivy, ticks, or snake bites.

Our relationship deepened.. something that nothing else can really take its place.