Thanks Mom & Dad, for Making us Play Outside #RediscoverNature

Last week I came across this video Nature Valley (the granola bar company) put together called “Nature Valley 3 Generations.” The question What did you like to do for fun as a kid? was asked to three generations. The grandparents and parents that responded gave fairly similar answers. It had something to do with the outdoors and the kids responses had something to do with technology: playing video games, watching videos, text, email, etc.Sisters Holding Hands at Lake Pickett Florida

Back in the day when I was still in school and had summer vacataion, I would remember asking my mom what I should do today. Immediately she’d rattle off a list of things to do, outside: shoot hoops, ride my bike, skateboard, inline skate, play roller hockey, throw the baseball, play wallball. And these were just a few of her endless suggestions. Even when she would get on my brother and me to get our summer reading done, she’d suggest us go outside and sit underneath a tree or by the pool or pond to read.

As we got older my brother and I started getting into video games. My parents were first enamored at the quality of the video game graphics (this is back in 2003, I can only imagine what they’d think of if they saw a video game today) and then they’d tell us to get our butts outside. We were pretty upset when they’d tell us to give the video game a rest and get some fresh air, but now I’m glad they did. They’d even tell us to get outside and play in the rain when it rained all day…

can you believe that!

Looking back on my “childhood” all my favorite memories come from being outside. Practicing my pitching with my dad in the driveway, playing street hockey and skating with my brother, the endless days of surfing, camping trips with my mom (my dad still hates camping to this day), winning a fishing tournament with my dad in high school, snorkeling in the Keys on family vacations. The list can go on…Not once though have I built a favorite memory on something that’s happened in a video game or talking about a video or tv show.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly believe there’s some merit to technology (have I mentioned how happy I am that you’re here and reading this? ;)).

We’re born with this innate need of exploration. The will to want to find what’s out there, what’s outside our understanding. Staying inside and missing out on what’s out there in this beautiful world would just be robbing anyone of what they need in life.

Tribute to Sand Castles

It was later in the morning on Saturday, but still the morning nonetheless when my brother and our friend made our way down to the beach. The waves sucked and the tide was up high so we decided to go a little further north to Smyrna Dunes Park. You can’t drive on that part of the beach, instead you have to park in a parking lot and walk on a boardwalk with the blazing hot sun beating down on you before you can take a boardwalk through the mangroves that’ll drop you off on the beach right along the Intercostal Waterway.Sand Castles at Smyrna Dunes Park

We skirted the waterline until we found a slice of sand away from other people that we could call ours for a little bit. Everything got plopped down and we headed for the water to cool off. We smacked a little ball back and forth with these handmits for a little while to pass the time. That got boring and I tossed my handmit to my brother and I took over building this drizzle castle he started.

Drizzle castles are another form of sand castles, if you didn’t know. They don’t require buckets, shovels, or special tools to make them look pretty. All you need are your hands filled with wet sand from the beach and some patience to let sand dropplets plop onto the ground. When you get done building the walls, towers, and whatever else you want, you can even give it some flare with sticks and shells and other things you find on the beach. Maybe even dig a moat around it or dig a tunnel from outside the walls to the center of the muddy fortress.

Building sand castles has taken a lot of shapes and forms over the years. Different beaches host sand castle building contests throughout the year where participants spend hours making sure every speck of sand ends up in the right spot as they create elaborate life size masterpieces made of sand. Toy makers have found a way to make a buck or two out of sand castles, and even drizzle castles. Walk down the toy aisle at a big box retailer in the summer and you’ll find sand castle making supplies.

When I was younger my parents bought my brother and I some of the sand castle making supplies. They helped us become some pretty darn good general contractors when it came to making sand castles. They weren’t pro status by any means, but they helped us get our creativity flowing while having fun at the beach. We would even try to time and position it so when the tide would came up the water would only fill the moat. It took a lot of tries, but we eventually made it happen…once.

No matter how old we get or how many sand castles we build, I think (or at least I hope) we’ll always have fun building a sand castle. There’s always something new to build and a new way to build it.

…And building sand castles are one of the few forms of construction where you don’t need special permission from the city or county through the form of a building permit.

Why You Should Regularly Swing and Jump Off Things

It was late on Friday when my brother, Adam, and I got home from the Neon Trees show. I was a little giddy because my Glidecam 4,000 had just come in and I tore into that box and immediately started setting it up with my DSLR. Plans for Saturday were racing through my head, wondering where I would go to start shooting video and getting used to using this thing. Adam suggested we check out this rope swing later in the afternoon and happy thoughts of launching off a river bank into a murky Florida river rushed into my head.Florida Rope Swing

Photo: Adam Fricke Photography

After a slight detour we were hiking through the woods on our way to a rope swing we’d plummet off into a refreshing Florida river on a hot and sticky Florida summer day. We came to a clearing and there was a tiny little rope swing. Immediately I wanted to swing off that thing into the river, after a little gator check.

It was like going back in time to being a kid. One of those moments where it didn’t matter how high I went, how long I held on, or how many times I could spin before splashing into the river. It was just about being a 25 year old kid.

In the movie Grown Ups, five best friends reunite one summer after growing apart because of life. The five guys were renting a cabin on a lake they stayed at with their parents when they were younger and while they were showing their city raised kids around, they stumbled across a rope swing. The guys lost it and their kids had no clue why they were freaking out. Kevin James’ character couldn’t believe their kids didn’t know what to do when they saw a rope swing dangling by a big body of water.

 –

Being a big kid’s fun, you get to be carefree, live life without a worry, and escape from the big scary world for a little bit. I think one way to do that’s by swinging or jumping off stuff, or into stuff. Little kids think it’s awesome to jump off a curb, the couch, the edge of a pool, out of the car, etc. It’s not like they’re catching huge air, they don’t need to in order to feel weightless if only for a couple tenths of a second.Rope Swing in Central Florida

We don’t need to catch huge air either, do backflips, or huge tricks to have fun. We just need to jump or swing off something without a care in the world. All for the sake of having fun.

Although it does look like a lot of fun to do backflips and stuff in the air.

How to Spot the Hardcore Climbers in the Climbing Gym

It’s summer time and that means it’s hot. Sweltering hot in some places. So hot that you leave an extra shirt in your car to change into later because you know you’re going to sweat through the one you’re wearing within 30 minutes of being outside. Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, hot.climbing in a climbing gym

Climbers have got it rough this time of year. While surfers, kayakers, SUPers, canoers, and other activities centered around the water allow enthusiasts to jump in and cool off, climbers are crap outta luck. Unless you have a sponsor to hook you up with an endless supply of chalk and shoes, then you can deep water solo. Typically that’s not the case and climbers are confined to pulling plastic inside hot climbing gyms where the A/C just can’t cool off the hot air.

Step into a climbing gym for the first time and you’re choosing to submit yourself to a place filled with testosterone where the guys outnumber the girls 4:1. You’ll take a look around and find the pack of locals with comfortable looking harnesses, carrying around buckets of white powder, and jamming their feet into too small rubber shoes. Some are shirtless with sweat glistening atop their muscles bulging out of other muscles on their body. Certainly they’re the most hardcore of the climbing gym putting their fingers through sheer pain and agony.

Except that’s not the case.

The shirtless muscular climber that puts his/her hands and fingers through pain and misery will likely let out a loud TSSSSAAAAAAAAAT! that attracts attention throughout the climbing gym. Their war cry either helps them make a tough move they’ve been working for a while or they fall. And if they fall, they’ll let you know as they curse everything around them and in their life. At first glance he/she may appear to be the most hardcore of the climbers in the climbing gym, but he/she is not.

The hardcore climbers in the climbing gym are the locals that keep their shirts on during the sweltering summer months. Rather than shucking their shirt and showing off their muscles on muscles on muscles, they choose to sweat through their shirt. These hardcore climbers will tell you the sweat soaked shirt they keep on helps keep them cool. Or they’ll tell you the added sweat weight is great for weight training.

Whatever the reason they give you, just know they’re the most hardcore among the climbing gym. They choose to embrace the heat and keep their nasty shirt on, rather than being a little more comfortable and shucking their shirt. Oh and the climbers that wear a t shirt and jeans during the summer months? Well they’re just crazy.

What’s Up With the Sharks this Summer

It’s that time of the year again, everyone flocks to the beach and the news crews hone in on the shark bites. It’s been happening since I was a little kid. I remember going to the beach and hearing the news broadcast trippin’ out over the latest shark bite. I’d run into the water later in the day with my boogie board and the minute some seaweed brushed against my leg I’d be walking on water, sprinting towards dry land to get away from what I thought was a man eating shark.Sharks ar New Smyrna Beach, FL

Photo: Surftweeters

Usually the sharks that call Florida’s east coast home are little juveniles. The massive attacks the news talks about are usually over embellished little nibbles on the foot from a shark making the mistake that someone’s feet are just some tasty little fish. Things are starting to change. The shark bites that have been making national news have been on a bigger scale. They’re further up the east coast in North Carolina and one shark claimed an 18 year old’s arm. Sharks are moving in from deeper waters and they’re becoming more aggressive.

What’s causing this to happen? We’re the problem. Offshore waters are becoming over fished and the sharks gotta eat, just like you and me. They follow their food in closer to the coast and have been coming in contact with humans more often. People splashing in knee deep water look like an injured fish and end up getting bit. The water’s really murky with the waves washing up in shallow water and it’s easy for a shark to make that mistake.

The summer months bring more people to the beach. With more people at the beach, the more likely someone’s going to get bit. Good news for you though, with more people in the water, the chances of you getting bit actually decrease.

Local fishing also attracts more sharks. When fishermen cast their lines into the ocean from the beach, pier, or a boat near shore, their bait’s attracting sharks. With less fish in deeper waters and more blood soaked bait, more and more sharks are being drawn closer to shore to hunt for food.

How do you prevent getting bit by a shark? The only fool proof way to not get bit by a shark is to not go in the ocean. You can’t get bit if you’re not in the water, unless Sharknado happens and sharks become some sort of amphibious creatures. I don’t think you have to worry about that though.

Last year I gave you four ways to prevent shark bites. There’s one more I need to add to the list and it’s to stay away from fishing lines. When you see someone fishing near you, just know that the blood dripping off their bait’s attracting a bunch of sharks. They can’t see well in the murky water and can easily mistake your foot or leg for that scrumptious looking piece of bait.

I’m not a marine biologist, just someone with a salt water heart that loves the ocean. I think it’s our duty to protect our oceans and I’m one of those hippies that believes when our oceans die, we die. You’re not going to find any facts here to back up my claims that big fisheries are over fishing, but this short documentary from Patagonia will provide some evidence.

International Surfing Day 2015

Saturday was International Surfing Day 2015. Like the title suggests, it’s a day that surfers set aside to go surfing, enjoy it, and maybe introduce some people to the lifestyle for the first time. Surprisingly I almost chose NOT to go surfing. Crazy right?

All the excuses rolled off my tongue while my family and I were packing up for the beach.

The waves suck

I’m tired

I don’t feel well (partly true – stupid allergies!)

I really don’t feel like dealing with the typical jerks

There’s not enough time

The sun’s beating down real hard and the UV rays are going to wreck my brand new tattoo

And so on and so forth. When my brother finally pulled the–You’re not surfing on International Surfing Day?–card, I had to give in.Surfing on International Surfing Day 2015

The sun beat down on us and within 10 seconds I was ready to get in the water. The paddle was what I was used to. Run out, take a couple strokes and I’m out past the knee high break. Unlike the last time I was surfing, in Mexico, with that dreaded 500 meter paddle out. Wave to some friends, look out on the horizon and see a clean one to two foot four wave set rolling up. I don’t even paddle battle anyone for the  smaller, first couple waves, of the set. As the rest of the set rolls through I get into position for my wave. It creeps up on me and I take a couple strokes, the wave has me in the pocket and I pop up. Instinct took over and my cross stepping feet carried me to the nose of my board and they let me hang there for a few endless seconds before the wave started to close out. They took me back to the tail just in time to kick out before the wave collapsed on me.

I paddled back out and repeated that same process over and over and over again. Occasionally sharing a wave with my brother and trying to ride tandem until he kicked the board away from me right as I was about to step on.

It’s funny how we make excuses not to do the thing we love and when we finally give in, we remember why we do what we love. We surf because it brings us peace. Climb because it helps us to operate in the moment. Read comics and books to escape reality and live in a different world for a little while. Ride bikes to feel the wind whip past us. Cook to bring joy to us, and others. The list can go on, but I think there’s times when we need to go back to the basics of things we love.

Put everything aside and just love what we do because we wouldn’t rather be doing anything else.

Here’s a List of Things to do at the Beach When the Surf’s Flat

The summer doldrums suck for surfers. Onshore winds make the water choppy. Little storm activity over the oceans in the northern hemisphere kill surfer’ hope of a little swell forming. At least it’s warm, the sun’s shining, and the onshore winds do help cool off the warm temperatures to make the beach a nice place to be Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend.Small Surfing in New Smyrna Beach, FL

Here’s a List of Things to do at the Beach When the Surf’s Flat:

1: Feed the birds

2: Sit in a chair and read a book

3: Play a fun beach game away from people who are sitting in a chair enjoying their book

4: Go for a run

5: Go for a bike ride

6: Go for a walk

7: Collect some pretty seashells that aren’t home to sea screatures

8: Strip the wax off your surfboard

9: Rewax your surfboard

10: Strip the wax off your surfboard and then go surfing

11: Go surfing with an obscure fin set up

12: Take all the fins off your surfboard and go surfing

13: Fall asleep on the beach underneath some shade and/or after lathering on some sunscreen

14: Work on your tan

15: Listen to some music

16: Take a swim

17: Paddle around on a paddleboard

18: Learn how to surf

19: Teach someone how to surf

20: Convince your friends you’re going for a swim or going in the ocean to cool off when that’s actually code for “I’m going to go take a wizz in the ocean”

21: Shoot off some fireworks at night

Only if it’s legal in your area and if you promise you’ll pick up all your trash

22: Introduce yourself to some cute girls/guys and try to strike up a conversation with said cute girls/guys

23: Get shot down by some cute girls/guys you tried to strike up a conversation with

24: Blast some annoying music really loud, annoy everyone, and piss off everyone at the beach and wonder why no one wants to go to the beach with you

25: Go on a sea turtle watching expedition at night with the local authorities and maybe get the chance to see some little hatchlings make the treacherous and long journey from their nest in the deep sand dunes to the ocean

26: Sign up to help the local authorities release some previously injured baby turtles back into the wild

27: Paddle through the mangroves on a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard and admire all the birds, fishies, and dolphins

28: Cast a fishing line with a sharp hook and bait on it right next to the pack of desperate surfers. They’re already bummed out by the terrible waves and what they really want is for your stinky bait to attract some shark or better yet, get hooked in the foot by your rusty fishing hook.

29: Build a sandcastle, the same kind of sandcastle you used to build when you were a kid

30: Skim down the beach on a skimboard

31: Dig a couple really deep holes, bury your legs up to your knees, then have someone shorter than you in real life stand next to you and have someone take your picture

32: Come up with your next great idea, road trip, journey, or plan to take over the world while you’re sitting on the beach and then forget it all when the incoming tide rushes up and into your lap unexpectedly

33: Catch a sunrise

34: Watch the sunset

35: See the sun rise and set all in the same day

Hiking the Mt. Mitchell Trail

1,000 feet of elevation gain where every step was up and there were few places to take a breather, the last mile of the Mt. Mitchell Trail was brutal. My saving grace was that the trail was completely shaded at this point, but that didn’t keep the throbbing out of my head. The throbbing with every heartbeat I came to know all too well from hiking Mt. Bierstadt.View from Hiking the Mt. Mitchell Trail

One hour to the top is what the sign said. I knew I had to be getting close to the top of Mt. Mitchell when I started coming across more and more people in shorts and tennis shoes bouncing down the trail. They were all smiles and I was laughing at the thought that they had no clue what they were up against on their trek back up this stretch of trail. Right after I passed an elderly couple going down this steep section of the Mt. Mitchell Trail, the trees opened up and I was on a paved path to the top.Top of the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, Mt. Mitchell

My mom drove up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and met me at the lookout after dropping me at the base of the Mt. Mitchell Trail four hours earlier. I wanted her to join me on the entire trail, but it probably wouldn’t have been too much fun for her after going through two knee replacements in the past six month. As we were hanging out at the top, taking in the views from the highest peak east of the Mississippi River (6,684′), more and more people started showing up for the views. You could tell that almost everyone that joined us at the top drove up to the parking lot and ran the final 200 yards. They were huffing and puffing, commenting on how steep that “hike” was. They even started taking the dreaded selfies and my mood went sour as I started picturing their captions on social media to accompany their selfie with the Blue Ridge Mountains as their backdrop.

Hiked to the top of Mt. Mitchell and caught some great views.

I made it to the highest point east of the Mississippi River!

Those were my views and I was the only one allowed to enjoy them because I hiked the entire trail to the top of Mt. Mitchell. I started resenting everyone that could’ve potentially done the entire hike like I did, but chose to take the easy route and drive up and only walk 200 yards to the top. They didn’t earn it like I did, therefore they shouldn’t get to enjoy these views and make the claim that they hiked to the highest point east of the Mississippi. I’m sure it’s the same at the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado, people feeling like their on top of the world and getting a donut at the concession stand while weary hikers make their way to the top.

As we were driving away, I looked out the window and kept on thinking about the people that drove up to the top of Mt. Mitchell and the herds of people that’d be visiting there this summer. Everyone enjoying the views I got to see without the work. Then again who am I to judge how others get to be moved by nature.

I wanted to hike the entire Mt. Mitchell Trail because: it’d be fun for me, I’d get to see some incredible views at the lookout, I love being close to nature, and I wanted to work for that little victory. Others may not feel the same way, but with there being such easy access to the views and feeling like you’re on top of the world, maybe that’ll make a difference in someone’s life. All I can do is hope it’ll bring people closer to the natural world and help everyone to make more environmentally conscious decisions.

Sharing a Dream and Living a Dream

I think we’ve all heard some version of the quote “If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to build theirs” and I think there’s some merit to that. Then again, I think it’s kind of cool being able to help someone build their dream, hired or not.Urbex at an abandoned rock quarry in Florida

Years before The Dawn Wall was Kevin Jorgeson’s dream to free climb it, it was Tommy Caldwell’s dream. It was only after seeing Tommy become so passionate about a project so massive, that he gave Tommy a call to see if he wanted a partner.

Kevin was a boulderer, and probably still is at heart, but I can’t confirm that because I haven’t asked him. He had hardly spent any time climbing multi pitch and virtually had no experience on El Capitan. Now after years of preparation and a few failed attempts, he was able to make the first free ascent of The Dawn Wall with Tommy after spending 19 days dangling from that giant piece of granite.

Tommy was able to share his dream with Kevin and it turned into their dream.

Great leaders are able to do that. They don’t just hire people to help them build their dream. They work with people who are as passionate about their dream as they are.

I was at a Shows I Go To staff meeting last week and my friend Mitch gave us the whole breakdown of how and why he started the site a few years ago. It’s an online music magazine where we write live reviews, giveaway concert tickets, share music news, and a few other things. I knew what we did, but I’ve only been writing and photographing for the publication for a couple months and I wasn’t quite sure how the whole thing started.

After a rather rowdy cheers all around, Mitch broke it down for all of us there. During a low point, shows and music started playing a huge part in my friend’s life. Music has a way of doing that to people, me included, being able to effect people’s mood, attitude, and outlook on life. My friend started writing about the shows he went to like he was sitting at a bar just having a good time over a beer. Maybe three or more. Shortly after he started Shows I Go To and the thing has turned into a BEAST.

 As we dove into the meeting, everyone was there. Not just physically, but mentally. Just by sharing a few stats and some history, Mitch was able to share his dream with all of us. Not just hire us to work for him, but put together a team that shares the same vision for this music magazine through our love of music.

Living your dream is one way to be happy, I think. Sometimes it’s not necessarily the right time to work on your dream and at times you may be a little confused or lost as to what your dream is at that moment. Those are some of the best moments in life, to help someone else with their dream, and maybe even their dream becomes shared with you.

I hope you like the new look of The Weekend Warrior. It’s still a work in progress and should be optimized in the next week or two.

Grab a Drink and Sit on a Porch

We pulled up to our villa in Mexico and noticed we had a front porch with lots of shade. It actually resembled a stoop, something like you’d see in a city. There’s a few steep steps leading up to the front door and our neighbor’s villa even had some chairs on theirs.Front porch Stoop in Mexico

It was an awesome stoop to sit on in the afternoon and watch the afternoon’s mushy waves roll on in. I liked sitting up there because the houses we have down in the south don’t come with a stoop. They generally have a front porch, sometimes even as big as the one on Forest Gump’s house.

One afternoon Adam and I just sat and drank on the stoop. It was neat because it’s something neither of us is used to doing. Aside from not having a stoop here in Florida, we rarely get to just sit and hangout. We live together, but our schedules are so opposite that when we hardly get to see each other and hangout.

I think stoops, front porches, and back porches are kind of cool like that. They offer a different place for friends and family to slow down. They also offer a place for everyone to congregate around.

Back porches are also a big deal in the south. Go to a backyard in the south and you’re likely to find a stainless steel grill (or smoker) sitting there along with some chairs and a table. Show up at the right time and you might even find a cooler filled with beer and wine coolers.

While I was in North Carolina with my mom last week, visiting family and hanging out, my cousin and cousin-in law invited us over for a cook out with my aunt, uncle, and other cousins. They had just finished a lot of big projects: swing, fire pit, and a back porch loaded with a three-burner grill and table and chairs.

Everyone gathered round, drink in hand and just hung out. We played some corn hole, swung on the swing, and my uncle even let me fly one of his drones.Drone Flying

Side note: Drone flying is addicting.

I think it’s about time we all get together on a porch or stoop, grab a drink and hangout. Because hanging out’s fun. Don’t worry if you don’t have a porch or stoop, find a friend that has a porch or stoop and hangout with them. Just remember to show up with beer.