Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

Utah, How I’ll Miss You!

March 29th, 2010

Well, it was a very tough decision, but I have decided to leave Utah and Backcountry.com. I’ve been out in Utah for two years on the nose… each day has been a blast. Living in Park City was a real treat. From an outdoorsy perspective, it blew away all of my expectations. I’ll miss the many canyons, peaks, ski slopes, and trails that Utah has given me.

To keep a long story short, I am relocating back to Atlanta to be involved with a start up project with two college buddies. We’re very excited to kick this thing into the next gear. More to come on this idea soon!

I had a great time working at Backcountry.com. I made a lot of great connections and will miss the folks and atmosphere. It was a real treat working there for the last 24 months.

Having said that, does anyone need a Tempur-Pedic bed, big screen TV, or Blue La-Z-Boy? They gotta go quick.

I am due back in Atlanta around the weekend of April 17th… looking forward to getting back in touch!

Where’s Karl: After-thoughts

September 20th, 2008

AT sign - Newfound Gap

During the last week, I have been thinking a lot about the AT a whole lot; reading people’s thru-hike stories, looking at pictures, and formulating a new way to backpack even lighter and more efficient than before all in preparation for a proposed future thru-hike in the next few years. Karl and his AT hike have completely opened my eyes and have taken my “sense of adventure” to a new level.

I’ve “known” Karl since about 2005. I considered myself an ultra-runner long before a hiker and in the world of ultra-running, everyone knows the name Karl Meltzer. He’s the 100 miler champ, reigning from the Wasatch Mountains in Utah. I remember reading a trail-runner magazine article featuring the “people of Hardrock”, featuring articles of folks who competed in the toughest (in my opinion) 100 miler in the US. Karl, having won this race numerous times, had a page featuring him. I remember reading it like it was yesterday, even though it was years ago, thinking to myself “here is a guy that has it all figured out”. I was impressed with his feats, with his lifestyle, and his approach.

When I saw a job opening for Backcountry.com in UT in January of this year that matched my expertise, I was excited, but I didn’t know many folks from the area. I had been following Karl’s blog and decided to e-mail him some questions about the area, thinking to myself “he’s too cool to respond to my e-mail”. I got a well-thought out response in a few hours, 5 paragraphs long. I was very happy to say the least.

Fast forward 7 months, and I was sitting in the RV multi-tasking; taking care of the whereskarl.com blog to the best of my ability, crewing for Karl, navigating where to go next, making sure we had supplies, etc. It was a great opportunity that I wouldn’t miss for anything. I love ultra-running and follow ultra-running like any SEC frat-guy follows college football, but unknown to a lot of my peers, I’ve had an AT thru-hike in the back of my mind since the first few years of high school. Flying to the east coast, I wasn’t sure what to expect. A little nervous, but definitely excited.

Right off the bat, I saw what I was getting into, and loved every second of it. I met a myriad of people associated with the AT. The first day in PA, I met Billy (aka Woodstock), TrailAngelMary, folks at the Doyle in Duncannon, several thru-hikers (Stilts was one of them), John DeWalt (one hell of an inspiration if I’ve ever seen), folks that came out to cheer Karl on (particularly Karl from Carlisle and his family), Karl’s parents, and of course Karl. This was all in the first day, and it was quite the whirlwind.

When Karl was running, he was all business, but at the end of that day, he was the most down-to-earth guy I had ever met. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. Karl is one heck of a nice, sincere, fellow. Any time someone came out to visit him and say hello, he would always take time to converse, discuss, and learn about the AT from the locals. The first night in the RV, a family from Carlisle PA has come out to see Karl – two kids wanted to talk to Karl and get a picture with him. Despite it being “past bedtime”, Karl was sincerely excited to have folks from the area come by. I was thrilled to see this side of Karl, and how genuine it was.

This is how it was for the next week with Karl. I met so many folks from PA, to MD, to WV, all the way to Daleville, VA. Every individual who I talked to touched me in their own unique way. I consider myself “AT knowledgeable”; I have section hiked quite a bit of it. I’ve done pretty much all of NJ and GA, all of the Smokies, all of Mt. Rodgers in SW VA, and I consider Front Royal down to James River my stomping ground (I’ve been hiking those parts since I was 7 years old). I knew the “where” of the trail, but didn’t get the “who”, “what”, and “why” of the trail until Karl and Billy gave me the opportunity.

The AT has an incredible culture. The trail is special not just because it’s remote for detachment, narrow for chosen company, winding for leisure, and lonely for contemplation, but because of the people that reach out and are willing to help folks who are on the trail. Terms like “trail angels” and “trail magic” are now happily in my vocabulary. As Billy reiterated, “it’s great to see folks who are willing to bend over backwards for strangers in this day and age”. I couldn’t agree more. I was only on the trail there for a week with Karl, but I am sure what I saw was the tip of the iceberg.

And as I try to write one more paragraph, sitting in my recliner drinking a beer after a long day of running on some trails here in UT, and fiddling around with my new “Tarp Tent Contrail” that I received in the mail this morning (I love it… thanks for the recommendation Billy!) I can’t think of what to say, but I believe Billy summed it up the best, so I’ll go ahead and copy and paste what he wrote:

I’m getting to see some things up close that have humbled me. Karl Speedgoat Meltzer is a great person filled with admiration for this trail and the highest respect for the record Andrew put down. I have seen a man walk out of here some mornings that almost brought tears to my eyes. It has not all been pretty to say the least. What he is doing is so far off most of our radar it’s impossible for me to communicate. He is the toughest human I have ever been around, period, end of story. If anybody wants to argue that, they can talk to me. This has been and continues to be a great challenge, an inspiration to my spirit, and a huge opportunity to be a part of a beautiful thing. I’m in love with this trail and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to help a good man and a good friend live out his dream. Go Speedgoat, you can do it man.”

Karl – savor the finish and enjoy Springer! I’m with you all the way… what you are doing is special and I am humbled to be a part of it.

– Greg

Where’s Karl now? Check out WheresKarl.com!

August 29th, 2008

Well, I can’t tell you, but I will be able to in a few days. Straight from Where’s Karl headquarters!

AT Trail SignI am flying out of Salt Lake City this afternoon to meet up with Karl Meltzer on the AT.  Starting next Wednesday and lasting for a week, I’ll be his mobile aid station volunteer; feeding him, doing his laundry, taking care of the RV, and just general crewing for him will be my day to day tasks.

If you’ve haven’t been following this, let me fill you in very quickly. Karl Meltzer, reigning from Sandy, Utah, is a very experienced ultra-runner who is being sponsored by my company, Backcountry.com, to try and break the Appalachian Trail speed record. He set off from Baxter State Park in Maine on August 5th, and has been at it ever since.  He had a few days off after a bad case of tendonitis caused by a change in stride from a case of trench foot due to the torrential rain he had to face, but he has been making some good progress in the last week, logging in 50+ miles each day the last two days.

About 7-8 folks from Backcountry.com will be helping him in week segments, and its my turn to fly out there, and give him what he needs to make it to Springer Mountain, the southern terminus of the AT. I’ve crewed some folks in the past on 100 mile footraces, and paced a good friend of mine at Umstead 100 in April, so I think I’ll do a good job in keeping Karl’s mood up. I’ll be travelling with Karl in PA, and MD most likely, but it’s always hard to predict where exactly he’ll be, hence the site www.WheresKarl.com, dedicated to you following his progress.

I’ll be constantly updating the Where’s Karl blog while I am out with him on the road and trail, so check in there to see what I am up to, and more importantly how he is doing. All very exciting! See you on the AT!

Where’s Karl?

My Cross Country Trip Report

May 4th, 2008

Granted that my trip across country was a week ago, I will try to remember as many details as possible, starting with the drive on Monday from Houston to Caprock Canyon State Park in Texas:

Day 2: Houston, TX to Caprock Canyon State Park, TX

The trip got off to a late start, maybe 11:00am or so as we waited for traffic around the Houston area to die down. We hit the road, drove through Houston, hit up a Whataburger (which was actually pretty good!) and finally made it to Dallas/Ft. Worth. It wasn’t before long until we got off the interstate, and hit up state road 287 which rolls through Wichita Falls and Childress.

As small as 287 is, in order to get to Caprock Canyon State Park, we had to get off onto another road for about 20 miles. By this time, the sun was setting low, and the temperature was getting a little cooler (maybe in the low 60s). It did seem like the Texas sun kept getting closer and closer to the horizon, but wouldn’t set. While driving from the town of Estelline to Turkey, TX, I witnessed the “biggest sky” I have ever seen in my life. The 15 miles from 287 to the small town of Turkey, TX was simply beautiful. That’s really the only way to describe it. Just land, fields, farms, the sunset, and again, the biggest sky I have ever seen.

As the sun was setting even further, we came upon the oasis that is Turkey, TX. By oasis, I mean I find it unbelievable that there are towns in the United States that are surrounded by miles and miles of uninhabited land. The “Welcome to Turkey” greeting sign showed a population of 494, and that Turkey was the home of Bob Wills (who is apparently a Western Swing musician). The town was a few antique stores, a few hole in the wall restaurants, maybe a gas station if you were lucky, and about 100 homes.

In the next few days, we passed through many of these towns because we wouldn’t be on interstates for the rest of the trip for the most part. With that being said, the speed limit on all these back roads were still 65 mph which still allowed for relatively quick travel from one destination to the next. Many of these roads were either one or two lanes, but because they were surrounded by land that would seem like you were in “No Country for Old Men”, the speed limit was still high because the roads were so desolate. When you got a mile away from a town, you would read signs that said “reduce speed ahead”. You would have to slow down to maybe 30 mph in these towns with populations of 500 or less, but the town would only be maybe a ½ mile stretch in every 15 miles or so. It made sightseeing interesting, and it really tickled my fancy.

Finally, we drove through a town called Quitaque, home of the entrance of Caprock Canyons State Park. As we approached the park, the sun had just dipped below the horizon. On the way to the tent campsites about 5 miles into the park, the road was literally littered with burrowing owls ; baby owls were all over the road. At one point I saw about 5 of them just walking around. The best part is that they did not move out of the way of the car. Be very careful – don’t run them over!

As we settled on a campsite, we realized that were wasn’t a soul around for at least 3 miles. It’s tough to find solitude now a days but if you ever would like to “get away from it all”, go to a western Texas state park on a weeknight. Once the tent was set up, knocked out a few Coronas and hit the hay. This was probably the first time I had slept in my huge 8 person tent without the rainfly, and it really was perfect timing, as the stars were so bright, you could see your shadow. I kid you not. Our heads hit the pillow around 9:00pm, with the intention to rise early in the morning to hit the road by 7:00am.

In the middle of the night, maybe around midnight, I was awoken by bright headlights shining on the tent door. A little scary as I was pretty sure that there wouldn’t be a soul to be seen all night. I got up to hopefully get a better look, when I realized that the “headlights” was a full moon rising over the canyon wall. Once the moon got high enough, you talk about moonshadows. The moon seemed as bright as the sun. If we had been hiking or running on the trails surrounding the tent, you could leave your headlamp at home. Just incredible!

After starring straight up at the sky for another 15 minutes, I turned over, not to wake up until 5:30am the next day.

Day 3: Quitaque, TX to Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

We were awoken rather early around 5:30am by the sound of the wind against the tent, and the howling of coyotes in the distance (maybe a little less than a mile away if I had to guess). The sun hadn’t risen yet, and it was still about an hour away before the official sunrise, but you could tell where it would break the horizon as the light was getting brighter and brighter as the minutes rolled by. I got up with my cameras to grab some pictures worth a thousand works, and a few videos (maybe worth more than a thousand words?):

We hit the road pretty quickly (maybe 6:30am?) to head towards our next destination, the Great Sand Dunes NP. I don’t know what this place consists of at this point, but it’s a national park and it sounds pretty cool (all national parks are IMHO). We drove on more single lane roads with 70 mph speed limits right off the bat. Just like the movies, there were tumbleweeds constantly blowing across the road. While I don’t have any pictures, I guarantee they do exist!

It was an awesome morning I assure you, and the sight of a Sonic’s after 60 miles of empty road was a blessing. After a refuel of a breakfast burrito and a tank of gas, we headed north towards Amarillo. After maybe a 45 minute drive on I-27, Amarillo came and went. Talking about a boring town (no offense!) – I was expecting cowboys and stuff. All I got was a 15 story building and a few gas stations. Hey, no complaints – at least there was no traffic. In 10 minutes, we entered the town and left. Heading north towards a small town called Dumas, we passed some gigantic windmills. As we approached them, they just kept getting bigger and bigger. They really weren’t moving, but man they were something else.

It was funny going through Dumas. It was a small town, maybe population 10,000 (I guess a large town in comparison). The funny part was the GPS, as we were driving through town, said “turn left in 400 feet.” Finally when we approached the turn, which was at a tiny stoplight in the town (keep in mind we are not on any major interstate, but some backroads again) we turned left onto another road. As we turned left, the GPS says “good, now that you turned left onto this seemingly unimportant road, travel 129 miles on it. I guess this sums up why people call travelling across country “boring”. Just long stretches of road, not a whole lot of changing scenery:

Soon we hit New Mexico – the Land of Enchantment. While we were only in NM for a few hours, at least I can say “yeah, I’ve been there”. We drove through Kiowa National Grasslands, past Clayton Lake State Park, mailed a package to my Uncle from Des Moines, drove past Capulo Volcano National Monument, and finally hit I-25, headed north into Colorado.

Right before we hit I-25, driving down state road 87 in NM, we could see in the distance the Rocky Mountains. After driving through so many miles of plains, I’ll have you know that the mountains look scary and intimidating. Still snowcapped, rising above everything else, staring you in the face. As we hit I-25 heading north into CO, we were in them, driving on some steep grades and sharp curves. Generally, a treacherous stretch of highway.

It wasn’t very long before we hit Walsenburg, where we would again turn onto some “non-interstate roads” once again. At this point, we were surrounded by 3 or 4 peaks that were higher than 14K feet however it didn’t look so high because we were probably 8K feet in elevation ourselves. After a few miles on state road 160, we approach the Great Sand Dunes NP – great timing! It’s only 2:30pm (granted we did move into MST, giving us an extra hour.

If you’ve never been to Great Sand Dunes NP, I’ll tell you it’s quite an interesting place. I didn’t get a great explanation of why there is just a billion sand dunes everywhere, but it was one heck of a sight. These dunes were no joke, some of them getting close to a thousand feet high. On top of that, they are surrounded by two 14K peaks (Crestone Peak at 14,294 feet and Blanca Peak at 14,345 feet). After learning that you can in fact go wherever you want in the dunes as if it was a free-for-all playground, and realizing that it was a great time to in fact climb up the highest dune in the park which was only about a 4 mile hike round trip, you better believe we had to give it a try.

As if I was going on a 15 mile long run, I suited up, bringing 40 oz. of water, a camera, flip video camera, long pants (in case it got too windy for protection against all the sand) and a few Clif Bars. The dunes were wild; it seemed just like what I would imagine the Sahara to look like (minus the mountain range around the border of the dunes). After constantly changing routes to get up to the top as it was very hard to keep up a god pace just going in a straight line as the sand, we finally made it. The top of the dune was something else, only because you could see the entire national park and all the dunes that were there. Only videos and pictures can describe the top of Great Sand Dunes NP:

After poking around the park for a while, and realizing the $17 camping fee, we decided to push on down the road to knock out some of the miles while it was still light. We drove though Alamosa, where we stopped at a hotel and after smelling how bad the room was, we got a refund and kept driving. Probably in another hour or so, just as the sun was setting, there was a campground in South Fork, CO that was “right on the Rio Grande” (which it was). For $10, we set up camp for the night, and went to bed probably immediately as the cold air was beginning to come in. It was 60 degrees at that point, but a low of 28 degrees was forecasted.

Day 4: South Fork, CO to Moab, UT

It was cold in the morning! But alas we arose at 6:15am, quickly packed, and hit the road once again. No point in sticking around – after getting out of the sleeping bag, its rush to pack and get into the heated car. After about 20 minutes, it was on the road again.

Straight off the bat, the drive consisted of driving through snowy peaks and some more steep grades and sharp curves. In an hour, we were at about 11K feet, driving through Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Then down, down, down through Pagosa Springs, past Chimney Rock (not the one on the Oregon Trail), and finally into Durango, elevation 6500 feet.

In the next few miles, we hit Mesa Verde NP – you know, the place with all the ancient cliff dwellings. Not discovered until maybe a little more than a hundred years ago, Mesa Verde consists of the largest cliff dwellings in North America. It was a pretty cool sight. A few pictures and a quick toward around the visitor center, we hit the road once again.

Fortunately, the day’s drive was a very short one (in comparison to the last two days) as we knocked out an extra 100 miles the night before. We drove through Cortez, a small town a little west of Cortez called Yellow Jacket, Colorado (cool, eh?), and Dove Springs. Finally, we hit the sign “Welcome to Utah”. The scenery changed in the next few hours from mountains to red rock country. After getting onto state road 191 in Monticello, we drove past the southern entrance to Canyonlands NP, and finally hit Moab, UT – just on the border of Arches NP. We checked into Big Horn Lodge (very nice!), crashed for a little bit, and then hit up Arches for the last half of the day (unfortunately with a camera with no batteries!)

After a takeout pizza, and a few Coronas, my head hit the pillow and didn’t wake until 9am the next day.

Day 5: Moab, UT to Park City, UT.

Today’s drive was exciting because it was a short drive, and also hit Park City, the ending point (finally!). We probably didn’t leave until 10:00am or so as the beds in the room were definitely comfortable (the first time I had slept on a real bed in the last week). The drive, while for the most part uneventful, was still definitely a joy. Driving through SE Utah on up into the mountains was a sight for sore eyes.

The drive, while only 4 hours long max, took us through some great red rock country, on up through the towns of Price, Provo, Orem, past BYU, all of which are just outside the Uinta National Forest. As soon as we passed Deer Creek State Park, the skies turned from overcast/partly cloudy to snow. A pretty good wake up call to say the least! Here is a storm coming over some of the mountains in the Uintas as we get closer to Park City:

The last few miles from Heber City to Park City were all in the snow, and the snow was coming down pretty hard! However, the drive was finally over.

The first sights of Park City were something else – you can see all the slopes from the three local resorts, and they were all snow-covered. The temperature was maybe 35 degrees – I unfortunately only had a tee-shirt on, as it was probably 35 degrees warmer in Moab when we left.

Update: It is about 10 days after the fact of arriving in Park City and after a few days of work, I feel like I am finally settled in. The movers dropped off all my stuff, my room is arranged, I am learning the ins and outs of the town, and meeting some very nice people. And oh yeah, the trails here are unbelievable. I ran about 8 miles yesterday on some great terrain about 7000 feet elevation, and saw a moose! Kind of scared the crap out of me, but I think I scared him more than he scared me. This post took a while to write, so I apologize for the delay! Anyways, thanks for reading.

My photo albums for the cross country trip can be found here:

Album 1 – Atlanta, GA to Quitaque, TX

Album 2 – Quitaque, TX to Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Album 3 – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO to Park City, UT

3 day Itinerary

April 21st, 2008

Our itinerary for the rest of the trip has finally been settled. After looking at maps and figuring out where to stay each night so that we arrive to Park City Thursday, we’ve finally got the final route selection.

Monday, April 21st: League City, TX to Quitaque, TX

  • Total trip time: 9h17m
  • Passing through: Houston, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Wichita Falls
  • Ending point: Caprock Canyons State Park, Quitaque, TX
  • Sleep: Camping – partly cloudy, low of 52 degrees, sunset at 8:21pm

Day 1 - League City, TX to Quitaque, TX

 

Tuesday, April 22nd: Quitaque, TX to Mosca, CO

  • Total trip time: 8h3m
  • Passing through: Amarillo, TX, Trinidad, CO
  • Ending point: Great Sand Dunes NP, Mosca, CO
  • Sleep: Camping – mostly clear, low of 28 degrees, sunset at 7:46pm

Day 2 - Quitaque, TX to Mosca, CO

 

Wednesday, April 23rd: Mosca, CO to Moab, UT

  • Total trip time: 5h54m
  • Passing through: Durango, CO, Mesa Verde NP, Canyon of the Ancients NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP
  • Ending point: Arches NP, Utah
  • Sleep: Hotel – Moab Big Horn Lodge

Day 3 - Mosca, CO to Moab, UT

 

Thursday, April 24th: Moab, UT to Park City, UT

  • Total trip time: 4h27m
  • Passing through: Provo, UT, Park City, UT
  • Ending point: Park City, UT
  • Sleep: Hopefully my new apartment 🙂

 

Day 4 - Moab, UT to Park City, UT

So there is our itinerary. Once we get there on Thursday,we’ll be doing some quick apartment/room hunting, and get settled in most of the day Friday. Drop JR off at the airport Saturday morning and hopefully get my bed/recliner via the movers in those few days.

 

Time to pack up and head out!

Bob McDonald Goodyear in Vinings Destroyed My New Toyota Rav4

April 20th, 2008

Interesting turn of events, and it feels like I have told this story too many times already, but one more time is fine. So to start it off, I decided to take my Toyota Rav4 to Bob McDonald’s Goodyear in Vinings on Thursday, the day before I leave, in order to check the fluids, get them to look at the tires, and make sure the car was in good shape to drive across country.

An hour later, I return to pick up the car. They changed the oil, refilled fluids, and even got a small nail out of the back right tire. Perfect. He gives me the car key, says it is already to go! I drive the car straight back from the Goodyear to my apartment, which is about a mile away, to grab some dinner, pack up the last few boxes and computer, and catch some sleep before the long 12 hour drive out to Houston.

My alarm goes off at 6:45. In an hour’s time, I throw the remainder of my stuff into the car and hit the road. Before I get onto the interstate, I decide to stop at Chick-Fil-A right across the Bob McDonald Goodyear. Grab a sweet tea and some hashbrowns, good to last me for a few hours. Get back on the road and hit the interstate. About 2 miles of being on the interstate, the oil light goes on. Interesting… I just had the oil changed yesterday. I connected the dots and realized that they must have did something wrong and the Goodyear, and decide to look for the nearest exit. About 20 seconds later, the emergency lights on the dashboard go off like fireworks, including the check engine light. I lost a good amount of control of the car as the engine at this point is going nuts. I pull over onto the side of the road, about 3 miles from where I had gotten on the interstate. Car broken down in 3 miles on a 2,500 mile trip… great!

I call AAA to come pick me up (thanks for the AAA card, Mom!) and after an hour and fifteen minutes, they scoop me up off the road. Now keep in mind that this car is a 2007, only has 25K miles on it. Its a 4 cylinder engine – it isn’t exactly powerful, but its a Toyota engine… safe to assume it should be well crafted and should last more than a year.

My Rav4 was towed back to the Bob McDonald Goodyear in Vinings. I jump out of the towtruck and march inside to explain what happened. As you can imagine, I was not happy at this point. I don’t want to point fingers, but I am pretty sure if I had not taken my car in for a “tune up”, I’d still be on the road.

After sitting in the waiting room for an hour or so, I get the news: “We put on an oil filter on your car that was improperly installed/the wrong model oil filter was put on your car. The oil filter blew off the car, and all oil was lost from the engine. At this point, the engine was still running (I was on the interstate) and because there was no oil to help with the friction, the engine seized up. We will more than likely need to replace the engine, which will cost $x,xxx and take 5 days.

I was an unhappy camper at this point. I love my car, and I also would like to stay on my trip itinerary. So much for both of those. I have committed to many people in Park City that I would be in town on the 24th to look at apartments for rent, and not only that, I need to get to Park City by the 24th to beat the moving truck there so they don’t put my few items in storage. What a headache. I have taken my car to various Goodyear’s around Atlanta, and have never really been satisfied and I am starting to question why I went back. I need to stick with Jiffy Lube.

Bob McDonald’s Goodyear, who admitted that it was their fault, and that they were sorry, wanted to put in an engine that had “equal wear and tear” to the engine in my car that had just died by way of them putting on the wrong oil filter. That would mean that they would replace the engine with n engine, more than likely not a Toyota engine, that already had 25K-30K miles on it. Yeah, right. I was not going to see that car leave there without a brand new Toyota manufactured engine.

So push comes to shove, many phone calls are made back and forth through insurance adjusters, different Toyota dealers, Bob McDonald Goodyear in Vinings, and at the end of a very long and frustrating day, I receive the following:

  • A brand new, Toyota manufactured engine
  • A rental car (Toyota Highlander) all paid for for the next 7 days
  • Delivery of my Rav4 out to Utah once it is fixed

Sounds like a good deal, and ultimate for the situation, it is. However, Friday was a giant pain in the ass, probably one of the longest days I have had in a while. I was on the phone pretty much the whole day trying to resolve the situation with the many people that were involved. I had to take MARTA down to the Atlanta Airport, sit in the Hertz line behind 10 other people, get the car I wanted, etc. I drove the car back to my fraternity house on Georgia Tech campus, where I finally got some food in me (the last time I had eaten was the hashbrowns in the morning). Feel asleep on a couch until 6:30am.

I am sitting in a friend’s house in Houston. I got here yesterday in just under 12 hours… two stops for gas and one stop for food. Great timing! The rental car is nice, but I miss my Rav4. I will hang here for the day, and hit the road again Monday morning.

Update: it took almost 3 months and $20K+ dollars to fix, but I finally got the car in Utah. They had to ship a brand new 2007 engine from the Toyota factory in Japan by boat to America, as none of the engine was salvageable. It was installed by a Toyota dealer (Bob McDonald, hands off!), and then the car was shipped to Utah on a semi. The whole time I was in 3 rental vehicles, all of which were pretty bad. It was determined that the fault was on Bob McDonald Goodyear. If they can’t get an oil change correct, I don’t know what else they could screw up. I could have gotten into a serious accident. Buyer beware!

To Houston and beyond!

April 17th, 2008

 

To Houston!

 

Making the drive to Houston tomorrow from Atlanta. I’ll miss Atlanta very much but you gotta do what you gotta do, right? 🙂 I opened up a bottle of wine (Calistoga Estates) tonight with good company to celebrate the embarkation:

“Blended with small amounts of Petite Sirah and Merlot, this wine has a dark inky color with depth, richness and purity of flavor. You’ll note layers of ultra-rupe plum and cherry fruit with touches of chocolate, herb and oak. It finishes well, with soft, velvety tannins.”

To say the least, it was probably one of the best wines I’ve had in a while.

My Toyota Rav4 is in great shape (nails removed from the tires and all) and I think we’re all set to head to Houston. I know it sounds cliche Atlanta, but it’s not you… its me!

Packing and preparing

April 16th, 2008

What the title says… the movers came today to pick up my bed and lazy boy along with a few boxes so I am sitting here typing in an empty room minus myself, my makeshift bed, and my computer. My car is actually packing for the most part, I just need to add in a few other things and then I’ll be all set.

Putting a whole new playlist on my iPod for the trip out, which includes the new Yonder Mountain String Band “Mountain Tracks: Volume 5” which was just released yesterday. If you still haven’t heard any YMSB, get with the program! 🙂 My iPod is going to be packed with lots and lots of bluegrass, some country, and a few other genres here and there. Should be plenty to get from here to Utah.

Speaking of which, the final itinerary will be posted here as far as where we will be going, when we will arrive, etc. Definitely going through Houston to see a friend (which is out of the way, but worth the time). After that probably go through TX, OK, KS, CO, and finally UT. You better believe the flip video is going with me, as well as my digital camera. More details to follow, but I am pretty tired for now. Final update to come tomorrow, but for now, watch a YMSB video if you have no idea who they are.

YMSB

…to Utah!

April 13th, 2008

It’s a big move but it’s finally official. I am moving from Atlanta, Georgia to Park City, Utah. Many factors went into making this decision, but I am extremely excited to finally have everything set in stone. My last day of work is this week here in Atlanta and I begin making the trip out this Friday.

Once when I arrive, I will be working for a company called Backcountry.com, an online retailer of outdoor recreational equipment (skis, kayaks, camping gear, rock climbing equipment, etc). Not only will I be working for a company that I can be passionate about as I see myself as an avid outdoorsman, backpacker, trail-runner, and I am sure a to-be skier once again, I was hired onto the internet marketing team as a search engine marketing analyst, something I already have a great amount of experience with.

With a great job there and an awesome mountainous surrounding, it made the decision to move relocate a little easier. I will be leaving a great job and many great friends to take this opportunity, but it seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Stay tuned – much more to follow…

A day in the mountains

March 19th, 2008

Some nasty storms as you may know ripped through Atlanta this past weekend, tearing up the downtown area. Georgia State, Phillips Arena, and the CNN Center were all hit pretty good, followed by an aftermath storm the next day during the early afternoon.

From my point of view, however, it was a great weekend. By the time the skies of Atlanta were getting dark, I was on my way up to the North Georgia mountains with a buddy of mine and my fraternity’s dog, Shiner. We only got about 15 minutes of rain the entire drive up, and the night was cool and windy, with gusts easily up to 40 mph.

The night was spent trying to remain comfortable (I was sweating like a dog inside my 20 degree grade sleeping bag despite a cool 35 degrees outside). I woke up several times, once to see Shiner trying to keep warm so I gave him an extra blanket which seemed to do the trick.

The next day brought a cool morning, followed by a warm afternoon. The day consisted of throwing the ball for Shiner, exploring the local trails (this particular field was about 6 miles north of Springer Mountain on the AT, between Stover Creek and Hawk Mountain shelters), sitting in the hammock, picking (our guitar/banjo), etc. Ultimate relaxation:


We finally left around 4:00pm or so, stopped for gas and a DQ stop, and were back in Atlanta at 6:00pm. A great spot for a weekend getaway. In order to get there, you have to take 3 forest roads, probably 15 miles worth. An SUV or 4 wheel drive vehicle is preferred, but not incredibly necessary. All you have to do is take forest roads 77, 58, and finally 251 – the field is on your left right before you cross the AT. We found out about this place about 5 weekends back when we ran a 15 mile out and back from the Springer Mountain parking lot. Here is what a lot of the forest roads look like in case you were wondering 🙂 :

That’s about it from me – oh yeah, one more thing. After seeing Yonder Mountain String Band a month ago, I have dusted off my guitar and started playing a lot more, especially learning how to flatpick better. I am going to start a new tab section that will include solos and licks from YMSB, along with accompanied videos for your pleasure. I’ve tabbed out a few solos, might as well share, right?