"For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it." ~ Jean-Paul Sartre

Friday, August 26, 2011

Exceed Possibility

My hat feels tight today.
First I am prominently featured on the AAFA StL website (did you see the size of that font?), and now I am on Tom Evans' blog Exceed Possibility! Tom was kind enough to send me some questions to answer regarding adventure and the 100+Project.  It was a great honor that he would post my poor writing on his blog, I hope he doesn't lose too many followers.
You should go and read the post and the rest of his blog as well.  Let's make a deal click the button to the right that says "Join this site" then go read Tom's blog and do the same..


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I told you they were excited!





I noticed someone from the Red Cross visited my blog, and then noticed they came from AAFA StL.  This all feels very real!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Skate 100+ Test Ride

This was from a a few days ago.

Skate 100+ the When and the Where!

After a lot of hard work, staring at maps and drawing routes, driving around looking at road surfaces and what-not I have found a route that will be safe and limit my exposure to cars.  I have also chosen a date on which to start this project.  That being said I would like to officially announce that Skate 100+ the first of many projects under the 100+Project umbrella will officially take place on Sept 3rd.  I will ride my Longboard from  Edwardsville near the Market Basket and end approximately 18.5hours later at the Pere Marquette State Park visitors center.

I haven't left much time to raise money but I have to get this done before I run out of daylight.  Minimizing my time traveling in the dark is key to my safety.  I am taking every precaution, reflective vest, lights on front and back, helmet, etc. I want this to be a triumph not a tragedy.  I have thought this route through and found it to be the safest route given the limited amount of daylight.

Check out my fundraising page at Crowdrise.com to donate to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St Louis chapter.  If you have any questions on the donation process check out the "How to Donate" tab at the top of the page.  I appreciate any support you can give!

If anyone wants to follow along you are more than welcome to join me, you can run, ride, or meet me somewhere and give me a high-five as I roll by.  If that sounds like something that interests you let me know and I will let you know where I plan on being and when, or if you wanted to surprise me you can contact Beth since she will know where I will be at all times.  If you aren't interested in hanging out with me you can follow my progress on twitter @trail_and_error I will be sending out live tweets as long as I have a signal.  Sadly the signal at Pere Marquette is spotty at best so there might not be a celebratory tweet from the finish, bummer.

Click on the images below to view the route I will take.

The first short loop


I will complete this loop twice


No more loops time to head North!




Why AAFA?

Why indeed?  If you have read some of the other entries I have posted recently then you are already privy to the Reader's Digest version of my story.  Prepare yourself for the story in detail.
The year was 1997 and my family was living in North Carolina near Fort Bragg where I was stationed in the army.  My current enlistment was coming to an end and I decided that I would not re-enlist.  We decided that Beth and the girls would move back home so she could look for work.  We didn't have enough money to maintain the apartment in NC as well as a place for the family to stay back home so we arranged for me to rent a room from John a guy I met during training.  It was a sweet deal and I couldn't believe my luck.
We got everything packed up and Beth and the girls moved back home and I moved in with John and his family.  However, in the time between making arrangements to move in with them, and actually moving in there was an addition to the family.  They now had a cat!  I knew that I was allergic, but never thought to mention it when we made the arrangement.  I thought it was not an ideal situation that would make my stay less comfortable but decided to roll with it.  My allergy symptoms were only sneezing, dry eyes, runny nose, a nuisance but not something that couldn't be managed, right?  Wrong!  This time things were different.  The nuisance symptoms seemed to be less of a nuisance as I found myself struggling to breathe.  I had never really thought much about asthma and thought it was a condition that children suffered from.  My ignorance left me wondering why I was having such a hard time.  I was sure it had something to do with the cat and my allergy.  Growing up I took care of stray cats and eventually had an inside cat as a pet with no allergic reaction so after developing the allergy in the first place the idea that it could evolve into some other form made sense to me, even if I didn't know the exact nature of what I was going through.
I decided that since it was an allergy and the military "sick call" system basically assumes you are faking your illness/injury I would treat this myself.  Keep in mind that in the late 90's the internet wasn't as awesome as it is now.  If I had the resources then that I do now I would have went right to the doctor.  I was popping antihistamines like they were skittles.  I tried inhaling steam, both in the shower and with my head over a pot of boiling water.  Nothing worked.  Those of you that know anything at all about asthma are probably thinking "WOW, this guy really had no idea!".  The only bright part of my day was going to work (sad I know).  When I left the house I would start to feel better so that by the end of the day when it was time to go back I almost felt normal.  Almost.  It really sucked but after all it was only a temporary living arrangement, all I had to do was suffer through it until the end and everything would be better.
Eventually the cumulative effect took its toll on me and leaving the house for work did not bring much relief.  It was at this point I stopped sleeping.  Not because I wanted to, I couldn't sleep.  I would lay down and try but it was taking such a conscious effort to breathe that when I would fall asleep I would stop breathing and (thankfully) wake up.  John had a couch outside on the back porch (classy) so I ran an extension cord for my alarm clock and started sleeping outside.  I couldn't breathe or sleep, I was trying to sleep outside on a couch, and none of my home treatments were helping, maybe it was time to get some help (Duh!).
I went to sick call when I got to work in the morning, fully expecting them to send me back to work for being a faker like they did pretty much every time in the past.  This time they believed me, maybe they were convinced by my constant wheezing.  They administered a breathing treatment that I felt wasn't helping at all, probably because I withheld from them that I was suffering from prolonged exposure to a cat.  After all I was going through I still needed a place to stay and had few options.  Despite the fact that the breathing treatment wasn't helping I was glad to finally be getting some help.  They gave me a prescription for an inhaler and sent me on my way.  Now I could treat myself with prescription medication this was going to be awesome.  I could use the inhaler to get me through the night, and through the day.  There was only one problem a rescue inhaler doesn't really do its job when you continually place yourself in danger.  Back to sick call I went.  They gave me another breathing treatment and made an appointment for me to see the pulmonologist.  But first I had to get a pulmonary function test.  This was the hardest medical thing I have ever done.  The technician put nose clips on my nose and I had to blow out into a machine that measured the output.  Over and over.  I almost passed out.  When it was time for my appointment I decided it was time to come clean about everything, and that's when the pulmonologist looked at me like I had brain damage, and said "You know you can die from this don't you?"  Say what?  I could die, from being stupid?  I absolutely no idea the danger I was putting myself into.  Job one was getting away from the cat.
I spoke to John and his wife and they agreed to find a home for the cat.  To be honest I think they were glad to get rid of it.  Things got better and once all of the dander from the cat was taken care of with a good cleaning I started to feel normal again.  Things were going great I was fully recovered, and had a place to stay that didn't cost much.  A couple of months passed.  I came home from work on a Friday evening and spotted a litter box in the corner.  John saw me notice it and said "Sorry man I didn't know she was going to do it."  That night I stayed in my room with a towel against the gap at the bottom of the door.  There was no way I was going through this again.  I was so pissed, that John's wife would do that.  Everyone was aware of what I went through.  I woke up early the next day packed up my things and was gone before anyone woke up.  I was away from the cat but now I was homeless.  Eventually I found a place to stay but not after some strange living arrangements like hiding out in the barracks sleeping on a couch, and crashing with different people for a couple days at a time.
Since then I have avoided cats when I can, but it hasn't always been easy.  I had a job as a kennel manager, which required me to work in the cattery occasionally.  I was upfront with the owner and said that occasionally was about as often as I was willing to do that, and it wasn't a problem.  There were a few times that my asthma flared up while at the kennel but as often as we cleaned and with all the hard surfaces that didn't hold onto the dander I was okay most of the time.  After I left the kennel (for non-cat related reasons) I landed a job doing maintenance at a local apartment complex.  Once again I was upfront and told them that I was allergic to cats and that it could conceivably interfere with my work.  I encountered more than a few cats during the time I worked there and for most jobs I could be in and out before I was affected.  Although I learned that some cats affected me more than others.  I installed a deadbolt on one woman's door so I was there for a while but I was only inside long enough to plug in my extension cord, the rest of the time I spent standing in the doorway, and I couldn't finish soon enough and get away because I could feel my airways cinching shut.  Another time I had to replace a water heater in an apartment with cats and they hardly even bothered me.  It would be interesting to find out more about this phenomenon just not from first hand experience.
Now I work at a hospital so no cats for me.  I avoid going to people's houses if I know they have a cat and if I am already there and notice a cat I try to find a way to leave without seeming impolite.  My oldest daughter who lives in Kentucky has two cats.  So I don't visit.  It was easier when she first got them because she thought I was the devil and I thought she was the spawn of satan, now we get along much better, as we have both grown a little wiser, but even so the cats remain.
Cats are my kryptonite, their mere existence could cause my death.  That is weird to think about, but at the same time it's true, and as bad as it is I am lucky.  According to the AAFA St Louis Chapter's website asthma and allergies strike one out of four Americans.  Many of these people suffer severe reactions from things that are not as easy to spot or avoid as cats are for me.
When I was looking for a charity to support with my 100+Project I knew it would have to be something to which I had a connection.  Without a connection I worried that I would lose momentum.  I also knew I wanted it to be at least somewhat local so that maybe I could also connect with the people I was trying to help.  When I found the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St Louis Chapter I knew that I had found the organization.  They have programs that help children, and educate the community as well as healthcare providers.  Asthma is serious business, and not something to be taken lightly.  I didn't show any symptoms until I was 27 years old.  So even if you have never been affected by it you could be at any time.  I especially like that the AAFA StL helps children, it was hard enough for me to go through as an adult, I can't imagine how frightening it would be for a child, or the parent of a child powerless to help.
The AAFA StL is a great organization and I hope that you are inspired to donate whatever you can to help them continue to do the great work that they do.
If you are inspired to donate it really is very simple you can click on the "CrowdRise" button on the top right of this page to go to my fundraising page on CrowdRise.com and follow the directions or you can clickon the "How to Donate to the 100+Project" tab at the top of the page.  If you don't plan to donate or are not moved by my story or enjoy when people take on crazy challenges for charity, I get it, but what you could do is tell people spread the word and maybe the people you tell will donate.  I would like to thank everyone in advance for their donation, and help spreading the word.

Next I will be announcing the date and the route for Skate 100+!

Until then stay safe and breathe easy.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why 100+?

Funny you should ask.
I have always dreamed of leaving the shackles of the working world behind to become an adventurer of sorts.  The problem was I never knew how, and always thought that I would never be able to do something so grand as the people I had read about.  The reason why I love the longer events is that I don't want the adventure to end because it is the adventure that makes me feel whole.  I remember a few years ago when Chuck and Robin needed a replacement teammate for the Goomna adventure race.  Robin had sent out an email to the Metro Tri Club members saying that the first to respond was in.  Luckily I happened to check my email at the right moment and thought "sweet!" because I had been wanting to try adventure racing for a while and figured this would be a great way in.  I didn't respond right away though.  I had doubts, I barely knew robin at the time, and I had never met Chuck.  I didn't know how fast they were, I didn't want to hold them back, and so on.  Finally I decided that if I didn't get on board I was a fool.  I emailed Robin and I was in.  It turned out to be a really great decision, one that would ultimately lead me down the path that I currently on.  Together we have had some great adventures and the future will bring even more.
Chuck and I had planned on racing the MR340 this year but it was cancelled.  We spent a lot of time paddling, and somehow in my Internet searching for paddling I came across Dave Cornthwaite, who I have mentioned before.  I read his on his website and could relate to it really well.  Too well.  Dave made a change, he would skateboard across Australia.  First though to warm up he skateboarded the length of the UK.  He wasn't just going to do it though he was doing it for charity.  As he said "skateboarding with a purpose".  Since he completed the two skateboarding journeys Dave has created Expedition 1000 where he will raise money for his charities while completing journeys of 1000miles or more each using a different mode of non-motorized transport (sound familiar).  So far he has kayaked the Murray river in Australia, and is currently paddling the length of the Mississippi on a stand up paddle board.  That is how we met.  I was pretty excited about an Adventurer coming through the area.  I tracked his progress and when he got close I sent an email asking if he would mind if I joined him for a day.  He said he wouldn't mind at all.  It turned out to be a rough day of paddling with strong headwinds and a high temp of 103degrees.  All the while I was trying to figure out how I could do what Dave does.  While he has done some remarkable things he is just a person who puts his shoes on toes first just like me.  I finally figured out that I don't have to do what he does or what anyone else does.  Meaning I don't have to quit my job and become a full time adventurer (although I would still like to) in order to be happy.  I can create meaning in all of the things I do by trying to raise awareness and money for a cause that has affected my life.  And thus the 100+Project was born.

I chose the 100+ because face it 100 is an impressive number and on some "vehicles" I have in mind 100miles will be pushing me beyond my limits.  The "+" is the other side of the coin, because some of the vehicles 100miles would be relatively simple.  So 100+ leaves me with many options to work with since there is really only one guiding principle, that I travel a distance of more than 100miles.
Whenever possible I would like to complete these events with one continuous effort but there will be times when this is just not possible.  For instance I plan to paddle the length of the Illinois river by canoe sometime next year, and because of the distance involved it will take a few days.  Along the same lines I will be competing in the Missouri River 340 next year as well using my kayak.  For those of you that may be wondering, yes I plan to run a 100mile race as part of the project although I can't say when.  
There is no way, at least at this point to know how many of these I will be able to complete each year.  Currently I am limited by how much time I can be away from work.  Also the different types of training I will have to do will be a big factor.  Running 100miles takes a huge amount of time effort and focus in order to run it slowly, while the two previously mentioned paddling adventures are similar enough that they could be trained for concurrently.

I chose skateboarding for my first project as an homage to Dave since he is the one that was the catalyst that started the wheels turning in my head.  I was a skateboarder for many years until I gave it up about 6years ago so I knew it would be a good vehicle to start with since I wouldn't have a steep learning curve to deal with.

I have many adventures ahead of me and I am really looking forward to each one, especially the ones I haven't even thought of yet.

Next up I will explain why I chose to raise money for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St Louis Chapter.

In the meantime,
Stay safe and breathe easy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

100+ Skate Build!




Click the tab at the top for more information about the project.

On the first journey of this project I will be riding a skateboard 100+ miles on a route that has yet to be determined.
Soon I will post the reasons behind the significance of "100", and why I chose a skateboard for the first event.

Stay safe and Breathe easy!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.


Something has to change.

Photo Friday?

Technically it is Saturday morning, sue me.

Can't wait to see how it turns out.  Wait I already know, can't wait to see what happened along the way!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Gear?

It has been a long time since I have bought something other than running shoes.  It feels good.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Part Time Adventurer Meets a Full Time Adventurer

Have you heard about this guy Dave Cornthwaite?  He is a British Adventurer embarking on a series of twenty five 1000+ mile journeys each with a different form of non-motorized transport.  Dave has done many impressive feats such as skateboarding the length of Great Britain, and across Australia.  He also kayaked the length of Australia's Murray River.  This is just a sampling of Dave's adventures for a more complete and impressive list you should go check out his website at DaveCornthwaite.com, go ahead I'll wait... just don't forget to come back.
Dave taking break
Pretty cool right?
A couple months ago I stumbled across his website and thought WOW! This is the type of thing I would be doing if I could.  More on this later...
Evan watches the dredging operation
When I saw that he was getting ready to start another journey, this time on a stand-up-paddle-board, traveling the length of the Mississippi river I thought "Wait a tick, I live near the Mississippi, in fact I cross it twice every work day."  It was the equivalent of a major sporting event being played down the street from your house.  There was no way I was going to miss it!  Adventure was coming to me all I had to do was wait.  I followed Dave's progress down the river on twitter, facebook, and his website. 
one of the places we stopped
As he got closer I was starting to wonder how I was going to locate one person on such a great river.  I started emailing back and forth and before I new it there was a time and a place to meet, Hamburg, IL.  I asked if there was anything he might need, and he said they were running low on water.  I wasn't sure who else was with but it didn't matter.  I bought a 2.5gallon jug of water and Beth and I headed out to Hamburg.  Upon arrival there was no sign of Dave, and believe me there is no place to hide in Hamburg.  We drove back and forth, waited, and drove back and forth some more.  Eventually I saw a canoe out on the water and then there was Dave Cornthwaite on a SUP.  I turned around and headed back into town and started to unload my gear at the boat ramp.  They pulled off a little up river from where I was and we introduced ourselves and I met Evan who on a whim decided with no paddling experience to travel from the Headwaters in Lake Itasca to St Louis to raise money for the Susan G. Komen foundation (he lost his mother to breast cancer, something we have in common).  He definitely has the adventure spirit!  Dave apologized for being late, the headwinds were terrible and they weren't making much progress.  It was doubtful that we would make it to Grafton.  We talked for a bit and then we were off like a shot, a slow shot into the mighty headwinds.  Being low to the water in my kayak I was less affected by the headwinds, and it looked like Dave and Evan were really working hard.  I kept it easy and maintained whatever pace they wanted to set.  We stopped and rested a few times and discussed philosophical topics ranging from the subtle differences of candy in the UK vs US to speed dating at 60hours with no sleep.  It was a good day out on the river the brutal headwinds helped us cool off, the heat index was 118degrees.  Once it became clear that we were not going to make it to Grafton I was worried about where Beth was going to pick me up (I had just recently sent her driving all over the sketchy back roads of Okawville in an attempt to pick me up off the Kaskaskia river and I did not want a repeat of that experience).
Dave recording while Evan calls the Dam operator
We went through the lock at the Winfield dam which was an experience.  Evan said I was lucky because my first lock was as difficult as it gets, which was only slightly difficult and mostly uninteresting.  It's supposed to go like this: Paddle up to the location indicated by the signs, pull the chain, wait for the operator to open the lock, paddle in, wait for the water to lower, and paddle out the other side when it opens.  Really a very simple procedure.  In this case the chain was broken so Evan looked up the number and called them.  They asked when we would be there and he informed them that we were there already and their chain was broken to which they replied something to the effect of 'we keep forgetting to fix that'.  The rest of the trip through was uneventful.  After we made it through the lock we looked for a marina that appeared to exist only on Evan's map. 
Me, Dave, and Evan
We ended up taking a rest over on the shore.   Dave and Evan rested on their mats while I sat on a pointy rock.  Since you can only sit on a pointy rock for a limited amount of time I went down to the water and waded out a bit where I called Beth who had scouted some locations to pick me up.  We decided on the Double Ranch Marina because there was a store.  I had planned on buying Dave and Evan a beer when we got to Grafton so I thought this would be a good alternative.  Unfortunately we pulled in just after 5pm and the store had closed.  I felt horrible.  I gave them the rest of the water and food that I had with me and wished them well.  I hope they enjoyed the burritos I gave them.  They both seemed very excited to have them.  
Dave's SUP, Artemis.
As Beth and I drove away I felt a bit sad to not be going back out on the river.  Beth was all but certain that I was going to tell her that I was going back out with them.  While my time with Dave was short I found it to be very inspirational.  While I cant't travel all over the world completing grand adventures the way Dave does I can embark on my own adventures in the surrounding area.  I am very fortunate to live in the St Louis area, in that there are many opportunities on a wide variety of terrain all within a couple hours drive in any direction.  
I've got some ideas of a few things that want to do but I will keep them under wraps until I work out a few of the details.  Suffice it to say that my Adventure Spirit has been rekindled and I am looking forward to what the future holds.  Now if I could just find a way to quit my job...does anyone want to pay me to be a professional adventurer?
I wish Dave the best of luck on the rest of his journey down the river and on all the rest of his adventures.  If you haven't yet Check out his website and at least consider making a donation to one of his charities.  They are both really good causes.