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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunday morning I went for a little hike. There are two pictures that show the below and above photos. The top picture is from the Fire Academy, with Mailbox Hill in the background. The picture below it is from the top of Mailbox Hill looking down at the Academy. That was an amazing hike. From the trialhead it is 7.8 miles down and up. That doesn't sound like much but the incline was probably a steady 45%-50% until you got out of the trees. That is when the trail really starts to get steep. I couldn't believe how steep the trail got.
It was well worth the trip. It was amazing to be able to look over the valley and see Mt. Rainier in the far off distance. Mt. Rainier was one of the things I wanted to hike when I got here. Needless to say I didn't do enough research to be able to achieve that one this time. Snow capped the summit and quite a ways below it. One of the locals here told me you could a guide to take you up but not sure how long or how much that would take. I'm sure it's not cheap though. It had been quite some time since I have gotten that dirty and sweaty. It felt awesome!! A trip like that gets all of the bad juju out of the system and sure makes you feel more pure and clear your head. It was beautiful!!

Well today was the last time I will wake up to the Sun shining on the mountains in Washington. I have had a great time up here being able to get out and experience the outdoors, all things considered. The mountains are always such a memorable experience. The mountains are like an old Harley. An old Harley will always get you were you want to go, but it may not get you back. The mountains hold a very near and dear place in my heart.

We all have those experiences in our lives that we will never forget. Maybe not every single detail, but how we perceived it. I remember the very first time I had the opportunity to experience the mountains. I was 14 and my uncle Gene took me on a camping trip to The Powder Horns in Colorado. I fell in Love from the very beginning. We camped in the back country for three or four days and then got a cabin in Gunnison. There are so many things that I loved from that trip and I think that maybe where I was at that point in my life is why that experience stuck with me so strongly.

Like I have said in the past, this year has been so wonderful for me. There has been so much personal growth, thanks to family, friends and people that have helped along the way. There are so many factors occurring in my life concurrently that make this such wonderful period in time.

I have been blessed with such great wonders to cross my path and am grateful for each and every one of them. The dynamic that fills my soul everyday is something I can not fully describe. Just waking up and being able to step outside and hear the birds sing and watch the Sun hitting the mountain side is so peaceful. Surrounded by pretty much nothing but nature is so serene.

I am looking forward to getting home, although it won't be for another two weeks. Whether I am in the mountains or the comfort of my own home, I have been blessed with many things. In another couple of weeks life will get to be quite hectic for me. There may come a time when I will have to go back and reread my posts from this summer and let the thoughts and memories fill my mind to be able to maintain my equilibrium. Whatever the future holds for me, I am ready and willing to accept. I am excited to see what the upcoming months bring. I have a feeling things will work out very nicely. I am at a point in my life that I am ready to face my future head on and enjoy every moment of it. I have really learned to embrace my 30's. It has been a topsy-turvy ride so far, but so worth it. I can only imagine what my 40's will have in store, but for right now, I'm really dig'n life and want to experience so much.

I hope everyone is having a great summer and enjoying everything you can. If any of you are traveling, enjoy the trip, the destination is not as important as the journey.

Life is Grand!!

(Notice in the first photo that the only two uses for the trail was hiking and Llamas. Wish I would have remembered to pack my llama for this trip.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thanks to Tracy and Emily I knew of a few places to go experience while in the Seattle area. We started off the day with Pike Market. That was really cool. We got there while some of the produce stands were still getting there booths ready and the seafood vendors were icing down the fresh catch. Coming from a landlocked state this is not something you get to witness very often. It smelled amazing in the market. There were floral vendors that had many different varieties of flowers. It was beautiful to see all of the different colors in the market. From flower vendors to produce, the variety of color was astonishing. None of these pictures do justice to the diversity of color.

Today was filled of quite a few things I have never witnessed, experienced or have seen before. It was great. I could never live in 'The City', but the diversity is humbling to experience from time to time. We went on the Coast Guard Base in Seattle. This is the first weekend of Seafair, which is a big event in this area. We were told there will be some big Navy vessels in this next week, along with an air show. We didn't get to see any cruisers, carriers or destroyers yet, but we got a really cool tour of a cutter. The USCG Midgett is a 374 ft. cutter that does mostly law enforcement and drug trafficing missions. The ship was named after the Midgett family, which has a LONG lineage of Coast Guard history. There have been over 170 members of the Midgett family that have been enlisted in the USCG. In 1974 (the year the USCG Midgett was launched) the Midgett family had a family reunion aboard the USCG Midgett, and there is a framed picture hanging in one of the portages on the ship. One last thing I noticed in the port was the Alaskian Cruise ships, just calling my name. I have always wanted to go to Yellowstone and Alaska. After Tracy and Emily took there cruise, and they showed me the pictures they took, I have had an evergrowing yearing to get there and experience Alaska. In time I am sure I will make it.

I also got to witness glass blowing for the first time. That was extremely interesting to me. Any form of an artistic talent amazes me. The pieces in the gallery/shop were magnificant. What a talent!!!

I also made a new friend, Penny. I never have seen a penguin in person before. They always looked so much smaller on National Geographic. I was impressed. They sure are friendly little creatures. It was a little bit warmer today so I'm sure he was pretty hot with all of the fat that penguins have.

I'm sure that everyone has moments in their life that just sink deeper than most. Today after we left Pike's Market we were walking to the waterfront and a gentle man approached me. His fingertips were so dry there were cracked. He spoke very softly and looked me in the eyes. It's not just a look that anybody will give you. It wasn't a glare or a stare but this look that goes way beyond your eyes. Not a look of desperation but of comfort. It caught me off guard at first, but as soon as I felt the depth of his eyes, I knew why I stopped to talk to him. I try not to be rude to homeless people. In all honesty, I think some of them have life figured out. No financial responsibilities, not much stress, just the animalistic part of life. Where to find shelter, food, water and the social needs that every human has. I wouldn't say that I envy them, I feel envy is an emotion that usually does not harbor a positive attitude, but I can tell you that I can learn quite a bit from some of them. Whether it be street sense or just a simpler meaning of life, I believe that we can all learn from one another.

I have been a desolate soul before and am not afraid to admit to that. I think knowing where we were or came from can give so much light on where we want to go, what path in life we want to choose for ourselves. If we never examine the past how can we ever plan for the future?

My experiences today took me back to a class I took last fall. I may have talked about this before. Last semester was definitely a changing point in my life, in so many ways. Going back to college made me open my mind and really look more at the bigger picture. Global Environmental Issues was probably one of most favorite classes I have ever taken, for several reasons. For starters, the course material was most interesting to me. Instead of having to buy a $80 or $90 dollar textbook, Dr. Farley choose Collapse by Jared Diamond. A $17 textbook taught me more about life than a $100 dollar textbook. The book talks about several colonazations or tribes and how the outcome of their history was. They 'take home message' from the book was if we never examine our history or past, how can we ever make our future brighter with a more positive outcome. Now, mix the course material with the instructor, and you have nothing but a plater for success and cultivation of the mind. Dr. Farley is one of those instructors that will toss a thought out there and let you teach yourself, learn from those sitting around you, or if no one speaks up will put more things on the plater, and just let the class discussions go in whichever way they go. All within reason that is. It truly was an amazing class. It made me think more about life outside of the narrow halls that some peoples minds wander through.

Don't be afraid to look to new horizons, new thoughts, experiences...try diversifying your life. You never know what you may like or find interesting until you try. And if you don't, well so be it. To each there own, but at the very least, no one can ever say you didn't at least try. I beg each and every one of you, deeply from within my heart, if you have blinders on to take them off and look around you. Truly look around, even at the same things you have seen for a large part of your life. Change your perspective, you viewpoint, where you stand when you look at it, and think, just stop and think about it in a different light. You never know what you might see. Even if only to change you thought patterns for an instant, step out of your everyday box if you feel you are in a 'pattern' of life.

God Bless to each and everyone of you, my fellow brother and sisters. Peace be with you!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I have been very blessed this week to be smack dab in the middle of beautiful majesty. I have always felt my soul belonged in the mountains. When I used to truck, I would always feel this sense of overwhelming comfort every time I went through mountains. It didn't matter whether it was the Appalachians, Rockies, Cascades or Sierra Nevadas. This calming deep feeling of fulfillment has filled my soul, almost as if Mother Nature is saying 'Welcome home my son, rest your soul.' The Northwest isn't much different than the Rockies but it does have a little bit different feel to it. Nothing bad, just different. There is about 5,ooo feet difference in elevation, but I'm not sure that I can attribute the change to that factor. Maybe it is because I haven't made it to Colorado for two years now and the experience isn't burnt deeply in my soul as it once was. It really isn't that relevant, whatever the case is.

The water is so prestine and clear, you can see to the bottom, no matter how deep it is. It is amazing. In some of the photos from earlier this week where we were jumping off of the bridge and swinging on the rope swing, that water was at least 15-18 feet deep. I tried to swim down and touch the bottom but didn't make it. That bridge is 2.5 miles from the Academy. Running down there right after class and jumping right in is more refreshing than I can describe. It is truly an amazing feeling, feeling each and every pour, almost get nourished with pure spring water. I'm guessing the water temperature is around 60-65 degrees. I would just jump in and sit there and tread water for 20-30 minutes, feeling the blood pump through my body. The cold water constricts your vessels, elevating your heart rate. You can almost literally feel the toxins leaving your system, leaving you feeling so nourished and refreshed.

Yesterday we went and did a little sight seeing in some nearby communities. The upper water fall is from Snowqualmie Falls. I need to do a little bit of reading on the history of the falls. There is a hydrogenerator by the falls, so I am assuming that the community of Snowqualmie may get a portion of the electricity from there. It was beautiful. If you notice in the photos, for scale, the spa in the upper left hand of one of the photos. I'm not exactly sure how tall the falls are but the look pretty tall.

The photos of the bottom water fall is Franklin Falls. The trailhead to the falls is just down the freeway from the exit to the Academy, within a 15 minute drive. It was another beautiful short hike up to the falls. There is an I-90 bridge that is just above the falls. We went down and climbed some rocks to get to some hidden spots. There were little falls all the way up the trial. I learned a little lesson today. Whenever hiking, wear your trunks. You never know where you can just kick off your shoes and dive right in. There were so many little 4-10 foot pools that would have been awesome to dive into right off of the rocks. The river has cut a pretty deep channel into the valley throughout the years so the walls are pretty steep.

There was one place that where the water had eroded the rocks away in such a manner that they resembled water slides. The rocks get slippery when wet and you can slide right down then into a pool.

Standing at the bottom of Franklin Falls today was a very humbling feeling. The falls don't look very tall but the force of the fall creates a mist that hits you in the face and just feels incredible. Just standing there, peaceful quite surrounding with the mist and wind blowing straight into you, cleansing your soul and enriching you.

I hope that all is well with everyone and summer is starting to calm down. I wish you all the best and don't be surprised if I don't come back home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Now I know what you all are thinking, looking at these pictures Jeff, you sure don't look like you're working very hard while you are on a military trip. Well, I will be honest, this year isn't that physically demanding. Everything we are doing is classroom stuff and we have the afternoons and weekend to go do what we would like. These classes do require studying and paying attention but I have to admit, they are not a class that you have to devote all of your free time to. So, what do I do when I have free time in the mountains? Play and soak up as much of nature as I can. This stream is just inside the gate when you pull off the main drive into the Fire Academy. I couldn't believe how clear this water is up here. You can see all the way to the bottom and it's at least 15-18 feet deep. It is absolutely beautiful!!! The other pictures are of the road that leads into the Fire Academy. This is my new road course for running. It's 2.5 miles from gate to gate. I ran down and back last night and then this afternoon after we got done jumping, swinging and swimming I ran back to the Academy. It is one of the most peaceful places I have ever ran, which I have to be honest, isn't that many. So easily you can get lost in your thoughts, just observing nature and soaking it up in every pore. All of you sensese are hightened to the extreme, not in a nervous way but in a way that hits your soul to the depths, makes you feel at one with everything around you and being grateful to God for every beautiful ounce of what you are experiencing. It truly is amazing. Almost undescribable....

Make you sure appreciate the wonders of the outdoors and every blessing in your life. I hope everything is going well with everyone back home. If I should not happen to come back in a month, would someone please forward my mail to North Bend, WA. I would appreciate it.