Rafting North Umpqua

July 1st, 2016

Back in Virginia, I used to organize an annual canoeing and camping trips for me and friends. It was a long standing tradition (eight times in nine years) that served a good way for a bunch of us to get away from everything for a weekend, drink beer, and eat things that weren’t good for us… oh, and canoe. That tradition died when I moved to Seattle, but I was eager to start it anew.

After a few years of settling into our new city, and feeling the need to set up a new tradition before we had a kid, I decided to set up a rafting trip. Not only is canoeing uncommon in the icy mountain rivers of the Pacific NW, rafting opportunities abound. A bunch of emails later, there were four of us headed down the southern Oregon for two days on the North Umpqua River.

Day one was cold and rainy, but a fantastic representation of spring adventures into nature for this part of the country. The sun did break a few times to warm us up, despite the 50° water temp. Sunday was much warmer; warm enough that two of us tried out an inflatable kayak and I took a (short) swim in the river. Two days of quality, moderate white water and an evening of dry camping… including a wicked sweet turnaround of our campfire situation… made for a pretty good Father’s Day weekend that will be my last as a non-dad.

Here are some photos – a video or two will be posted next.

X-Men: Apocalypse

May 21st, 2016

12744745_10153259705476744_5778491274330635830_nIf we’re friends on Facebook, you may have seen a handful of posts about the tragedy that is the upcoming X-Men movie. I know nerdy types like to complain about movies that represent their childhood and, for the most part, I’ve managed to avoid doing so. This one, however, contains a character that is my all-time favorite and one I’ve been waiting to come to the movies since… well… I was a boy and my friends and I thought it would be amazing to have a cartoon X-Men movie… because we didn’t believe live action was possible. This one’s a bummer because the Marvel Universe of movies has done some pretty great things and some not so great things, but the dread I felt about them putting Apocalypse in a movie could not have come more true.

So why does a 38 year old man, who has better things to do, care so much? To me, Apocalypse is the epitome of my childhood. I’m gonna get a bit deep on you to tell you why. Back then, I was an overweight kid… who wasn’t coping with his parents’ divorce that well… and who spent gym class trying, unsuccessfully, to avoid getting his ass kicked. I hated the world. Then, along came a character who knew so much about humankind’s real nature that he wanted to end it all. Apocalypse wasn’t evil, he was knowledgeable.  For better or worse, I identified with him and became subsequently fascinated by the idea that what he knew could be so massive as to warrant destruction. I outgrew that part of my life, but not before some version of his name became my online presence. Back before Facebook, I was most often known on web forums, etc. as Apocalypse or Apoc. To this day, my Xbox Live gamertag is Apoc24 and people call me Apoc in-game. Yeah, nerd stuff.

In the physical world, I have a small bust of the character but never anything remarkable. I’ve never really looked, but always wanted something. Imagine my delight when I saw a 1/6 scale statue of him in Prague a few months ago. I debated that purchase for 45 minutes, but would have no way to get it back on a plane and the shop tenders didn’t understand me when I asked if they could ship it. I was bummed, but it was what had to be. One decent Ebay deal to the rescue! This thing is currently in storage, but one day it will get displayed. In the meantime, I’ll have to hope the movie can hold me off. The truth is I’ve avoided really thinking about the upcoming movie. When I realized how far off his physical appearance was, I knew I needed to not form an opinion and go in totally open minded. I’m not greedy – all I ask is that it be decent and not corny.

Training for STP 2016

March 6th, 2016

20160306_143137-1I’m thinking of changing my name to Duncan, because my exercise habits and weight have been all yo-yo the last few years. I was having a really good go of crossfit, but random aggravations of my back over the years have prevented me doing it consistently. I’d lost 20 pounds crossfitting a few years ago, then gained 10 pounds back in 2014 after injury. I participated in a weight loss competition at work in early 2015; losing most of those 10 pounds by April. At the time I was still going to crossfit, but doing a specialty program to protect my back and build endurance for my first 5k. I ran that in April 2015, a week after reinjuring my back again, and thought I’d found something to do while rehabing. I did another 5k two months later, but stopped running when I realized the shock wasn’t allowing my back to heal effectively. I spent the fall trying to get into swimming, but I stopped that because I couldn’t get over being the youngest person by ~30 years. I stopped exercising while doing 3-4 months of intense PT and gained those 10+ pounds back this winter. I’ve definitely been losing muscle all the while, so I’m sure it’s more than those 10 pounds in fat making my clothes uncomfortably tight. That was a ton of information – still with me?

My back is a lot better lately (not perfect by any means), so I’m getting back on the horse by training for the STP in four months. STP stands for “Seattle to Portland,” and is a ~200 mile ride… you guessed it… from Seattle to Portland. It’s a very popular ride in an area where there are a lot of rides and I’ve wanted to do it since learning about it a few years ago. A friend of mine, who rides like it’s his job, did it a few years ago and wasn’t crazy about it. I think partly because he decided to do it in one day 1.5 weeks before the event, but also because it’s really damn far. I know someone else, similarly trained as me, who did it for the first time last year and will be doing it again. Weighing those items, I’m choosing to believe it’ll suck and I’ll be glad I did it. I have a habit of signing up for things that force me to motivate; this is one of those times. The good news is I’ve already proven this works when I did 50 miles nearly three years ago. The bad news is I think that’s the last time I was on my bike.

It’s still the rainy season in Seattle – how you gonna train? Technology! My momma got me a brandy new smart trainer for my birthday, which is a cool piece of kit that attaches to your bike and controls the resistance to simulate elevation. Pair that with a training/simulation program like Zwift and you’ve got the closest thing you’re going to come to riding outside on a budget. I really, really do want to go back to crossfit at some point this year, but I’m going to use this over the next few months to turn the weight tides in my favor. I can toughen up my coccyx, get used to clipping in again, and do it at any time schedule permits. It’s gonna be a hectic summer, so I like having access to exercise in my basement. Only 130 days to train!

Pro tip: You can, in fact, fall over while clipped into a trainer.