My wife got a wild bug up her butt and decided to start batting around this idea of going on an overseas trip. It’s not her first trip out of state (I think she’s up to four now), but it Is her first one out of country. For me, it’d be the fourth (?), but our first trip to Europe. All of my extra CONUS activity has been points south of here.
Then she actually booked a reservation at a hotel in Dublin, and now we’re locked in. We’re really going. This is not a drill. And while I have a year and change to prep, the prep work is going on Now.
Murphy’s Law of Combat: “No plan survives initial contact Intact.” Read more
About six months ago, I had a major life changing event. I got diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic. This pretty much came at me right out of left field. I wasn’t even aware of any family history of diabetes until I got diagnosed and then went hunting that information down. Turns out, yes, I have a family history. And then some. It seems my cousin has it, and at the time I’d gotten diagnosed, I found out he hadn’t taken care of himself and was about to lose his leg at the knee as a result. Yea, that was the alarm going off on my life.
Growing up, I never was one to worry much about it. I was active, healthy, I hiked, biked, and romped around the country side with wild abandon. Good times. As I got older, and lo, of all the life surprises, got Married, I settled at bit. And then my gut settled with me. And grew. Read more
The Silent War and the Invisible Wounds
The death of Robin Williams has made the current media du jour and again did a toe in the water on the topic of mental health and depression. The news seems to want to talk around the issue to death and more importantly as a disservice, to the weariness of the general public. I skimmed the headlines on the paper this morning saying how his friends saw the signs of depression in him. And on the inside, I want to scream. How many friends in Hollywood did Williams have? They’re still coming out of the woodwork. So the fifteen ton elephant in the room is: how did someone who meant so much to so many people manage to actually commit suicide? Answer: Easily.
The problem is, nobody wants to talk about that part. Nobody wants to admit anything of the sort could ever happen. Everything I’ve seen in the media and on Facebook for the past two days has said “Well, maybe we’ll get a discussion about depression now.” And to wit, I ask; “What’s kept you so far?”
So earlier this week, an acquaintance of mine wanted to call me up and ask me where to go in Yosemite. He’d already been there once or twice before, but he wanted my insiders information of where to go with his family. I had a problem with this, so I didn’t answer his calls. He’s not the sort that takes “No” for an answer very easily.
The problem that I have is that him and his family are tourists, trying to go someplace they have neither the gear nor the knowhow to go safely, so while what my acquaintance said was “Scott! I’m going to Yosemite, tell me where to go!” What I heard was “Tagg! I’m going to imperil myself and my family doing something incredibly dangerous and stupid! Please Help!” He knows I’m a back country guy. He wants to drag his family out there and do a nice day hike and be pleasant and enjoy it. Problem is, he doesn’t know what he’s asking. He’s a tourist. I’m a back country guy. I don’t do tourist, and he doesn’t have the gear, the training, or the ability do back country.
Not too long ago, I read that the US government is officially going to clear it’s first East/West cross continental trail. I didn’t read where it would start, nor where it would finish. But it got me thinking on a couple of other trails that America’s had in its history and I went to try and find them on current maps. Given that there are already a lot of historical trails in this state, you’d figure it’d be easy to find quite a few of them. Contrary to this, and contrary to the extensive map coverage that I have of the Sierra Nevada via National Geographic’s topographical map series, you’d figure I could find quite a few of them. Not so.
Previous Walk it Off entry: Armstrong Take Two
When I put my last blog post up on the Facebook page that my wife and I have for our adventures (and where we post all the video from those adventures), a friend commented that I must be a glutton for punishment for having and carrying a 35 pound day pack.
And yea, I laughed a bit at that.
So Waynard! This post is for YOU. 🙂
All right, let’s step into the waaaayback machine for a bit and hearken back to the days when I was a very young, very dumb grunt. As an assistant gunner for an M-60 team, I was carrying quite a bit of weight. Point of fact, my battalion commander decided once in his near infinite West Point Graduated Wisdom (note: beware the dripping sarcasm, it makes the floor wet and is a slip of the tongue hazard..) that everyone who was in His battalion would have to carry mortar rounds in addition to the spare barrel, 1200 rounds combat load, T&E equipment, tripod, and my own personal gear in there. Later in the wargames where this was happening, the referees decided to weigh in packs. Mine weighed 140 lbs.
Previous Walk it Off entry: Waypoint: Armstrong Redwood Grove
Or, why the plan never survives initial contact INTACT…
So, over the weekend, Tenaya and I and a friend of ours (and possibly our newest Stick), decided to get out of town and go out to Armstrong Redwoods reserve for a well deserved weekend of big trees, s’mores, some ocean time, possibly some Chicago Deep Dish and European Sipping Chocolate. It was well planned to avoid most of the known hang-ups with going out there. Alas, when man makes plans, Murphy is busy cackling about it.
We knew about the race day event at the Sonoma Raceway, so we bypassed it by going 80 west to 12 and cutting through Napa and Sonoma the north route. We detoured briefly to Glen Ellen to stop off at our usual chocolate spot to get some 78% chocolate and a few truffles. Mmmmm. NS (Newest Stick, until I can figure out a trail name for him…) got his first taste of life west of Sac and a lovely tour of the north bay and Napa and Sonoma. From Glen Ellen we got back on 12 heading toward Santa Rosa, passing by lovely wine country and the state parks along the way.
Previous Walk it Off entry: You will carry your own weight
If you come to the west coast, especially the central and northern portions, you will gain the great opportunity to visit trees that tower taller than city skyscrapers and are older than this country by a fair span. I don’t care where you come from, you haven’t seen trees until you’ve seen redwoods and sequoias. There is no better “leave-it-be-tree” time than going into a cathedral of old growth redwoods and letting them swallow the rest of the world away.
If you find yourself in the Central Valley like I do, the best place with the least amount of driving to visit a calm and old grove is to go out to Sonoma County about four miles north of a small town called Guerneville. There, nestled amidst the rolling coastal hills, is Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.
Previous Walk it Off entry: A Good Stick
Tagg’s Law: You will carry your own weight.
This one’s a bit of a play on words and has a few different meanings. If you read that as an admonishment, it’s not. It’s truth, pure and simple. The story that inspired it actually comes from my honeymoon.
You see, on the eve of my honeymoon, I was packing my back packs with clothes and gear. We were going to do the first half of the week in Monterey and have a few stops down in Big Sur. Second half of the week we were going down to Disneyland. But because we were going to rompy in some wild areas, I packed gear as normal for me. I packed MY own weight, and when my wife saw me stuffing my rope log into my pack she tsked at me and asked what I really thought I was going to need a rope log for. Admonished, I took it back out, explaining that it’s habit. We were going to a state park, I pack my normal gear. She told me I wouldn’t need it and I then left it out of my pack.
Previous Walk it Off entry: Your Mileage Will Vary
Tagg’s Rule #3: A good stick will serve you a thousand different ways.
I mean, come on, I named the Facebook page “The Sticks” for a reason. I’ve had a walking stick since I was a kid in one form or another. It’s traditional. It’s an icon of going out and seeing the world. It’s so ingrained in us that most of us don’t even know Why we need one, just that we Do. But once you have it, you have a great tool, and most don’t even know it. But what makes a good stick?
Well first off, you have to start with the right size and shape. More or less straight is a good start. It has to be strong enough to bear your weight should you try something as outrageous as amateur pole vaulting (I’ve done it, others have had less luck). It should come up to just about the height of your chin.
Now I see I may have gotten a little bit odd there, but let me explain with a picture.