Places That Are Better to Be Alone Than Alone at a Party

Have you ever gone to a party or a bar with a friend because that friend talked you into it? It’ll be fun, they said. You need to get out more, they say. The guy/girl of your dreams could be there tonight and you’ll never know it if you don’t get out there, they said.Pine Trees at Golden Hour

These are all logical points and it seems like a good idea until you show up and realize you know nobody. Yikes! If you think walking into a room full of muggles you don’t know is one of the scariest situations, then you and I are a lot alike. Walking into that congested room with my friend, I look at my friend and think to myself you better not drink or you had better have remarkable control over your bladder because you are not leaving me, not even to use the bathroom. Like clockwork the worst thing happens, my friend has to go to the bathroom and I’m left alone amongst a sea of faces I don’t know and I don’t know what to do to not draw attention to myself. Maybe you’ve felt the same way. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I start thinking of places I’d rather be, alone. Sound familiar?

Next time you’re in the same situation, just think to yourself, what I would give to be alone and enjoying my time here…

Watching the sunrise

Isn’t it great to watch a new beginning appear right before your eyes? I think so and it’s always perfection whether it’s at the beach, in the mountains, or even on the way to work. Seeing the sky painted with pastel colors is always worth the early morning wake up call.

Taking pictures at Golden Hour

Before getting into photography and videography, I thought the best times to get landscape pictures was high noon. When the sun’s at its highest and it’s bright out, assuming there aren’t clouds in the area, and you don’t even have to worry about shadows. Golden Hour’s a beauty of its own with the rays of light beaming into your lens and streaming through clouds, trees, tall grass, and all around you.

Drinking a homemade cocktail at sunset

Sitting back and reflecting on the day, week, month, life itself with a drink in your hand. That’s the time when you can really do some deep thinking and soul searching alone.

Hiking a trail

Go for a hike alone and you get to see all the wildlife you want to see. Never do you have to worry about the person with you making too much ruckus to scare off that deer 10 feet away from you. The shutter from your camera will do that though.

Camping

Whether you’re car camping or on an overnight backpacking trip, you just have to watch out for yourself. Only you have to ration water and food for your needs and you’ll never have to punch someone for reaching for your Swedish Fish when no one’s around you. Unless a bear’s going for your Swedish Fish, you should just let the bear have your Swedish Fish.

Surfing at your secret spot

The surf lineup’s getting more and more crowded these days and if you find a secret spot, you better hold that information close. Don’t let anyone know and you could be surfing pristine waves alone and by yourself for years, maybe even decades, to come.

Riding your bike

The wind whipping past your face as you get lost counting your pedals to figure out your rpm’s. Or maybe it’s just for a ride around the city so you can bomb that badass hill that you love so much. It’s a lot of fun going alone, not having to worry about getting separated from someone or your friend getting mad at you for making them eat your dust.

I feel a tap on my shoulder and the nightmare’s over. My friend has come back to rescue me from these faces that are just going to be forgotten the minute I look away. Sound familiar? But maybe my friend that drags me out and your friend that drags you out to a social gathering to be social have got a point.

Having alone time is phenomenal. Sometimes alone time’s essential for anyone’s well being, but come to think of it, it might be nice to share a sunrise, sunset, take someone special’s picture at golden hour. Carry a little extra weight in the pack so their load’s a little lighter, race down that badass hill on bikes together, and setting up camp after a long day on the trail’s a lot easier when one person’s setting up the tent and the other’s starting dinner. And you know they like you as a person when they offer to share their Swedish Fish with you and you know that offering to share your Swedish Fish is one of the kindest gestures.

Maybe holding a blue security blanket like Linus Van Pelt is holding us back from getting out there and having fun. I guess we’ll never know until we leave it at home and get out there.

The Back to School Blues

The end of summer’s here and the back to school blue are near. Kids all around the country are gearing up to get back to school and some kids are even back in school. I know there are some people that absolutely love school, hands down. Two of which are my baby cousins. They’re going into Kindergarten and 1st Grade and 20 years ago I was in their shoes. Gearing up to go back to school with a new backpack, sweet lunchbox that my mom helped me pick out, and a fresh pair of kicks on my feet.First Day of School Blues

Whether or not my baby cousins will love school forever’s a little uncertain. They’re 5 and 6 for crying out loud! I’m pretty darn sure I was never jumping for joy like they are to go back to school, no matter how young I was and especially the older I got. In fact, the older I got the more and more I dreaded going back to school. K-8 I just didn’t want to do school work. I wanted to go to the beach and surf or hangout with my friends, I think that’s normal to some extent. High school was a little different though.

K-8 I went to a private school. I was comfortable there. The teachers were cool, the classes were small, and I knew virtually everyone there. I had some really close friends and some of us still keep in touch and hangout to this day. Going from knowing everyone to knowing no one and being just another face amongst a sea of blank stares and puzzled faces as I just smiled, hoping deep down that maybe I’d make a new friend, was absolutely terrifying. In short–high school sucked.

Classes weren’t that big of a deal. The school work was school work and I killed it in classes like English and History and struggled sometimes in Math. What sucked was all the drama that was part of high school. Everyone gave each other a label and I was labeled as the weird kid that was just there. Some would say that I put a target on myself from day one with long hair hanging past my ears oh and I had my ears pierced. Four piercings in each ear to be exact. I was different and I got picked, some might say bullied, for being different. There were the words hurled my way, the occasional punch, name calling, and some taunting here and there. I just took it.

Some people were nice. At least in most classes I had someone to talk with before and after class, someone to sit with at lunch, and a small group to hangout with before school started. But I never hung out with anyone outside of school hours or lacrosse practice. A couple teachers and my lacrosse coach tried to drill it home to us all that high school’s going to be the best time of our lives and we need to have the most fun now because once we get to college and into “the real world” it’s just going to be shit, but at least we’ll be able to look back on the good times we had in high school.

I remember sitting at home thinking of how wrong people were to say that. How wrong my peers were to believe that and some of them did! Some of my classmates kept saying they loved high school and they never wanted it to end. One day I spoke up and told some of my class mates sitting around me that we had to be out of our minds to believe that high school is going to be the best time of our lives. That we’re only going to enjoy four years of our lives and that once it’s over we’re going to be left wishing we can go back and relive those four years over and over and over and over again. If you guess I got some blank stares mixed with a look of disgust, you’d be right.

Now here’s the thing. After high school things didn’t get better right away. At first I started thinking that those teachers, coaches, and my peers may have been right. That I let the best years of my life slip away. Then I started making a concerted effort to be better. I’m not saying I knew what I wanted to do with my life, but I am saying I just wanted to be a better person and I think that worked because day by day I started to have fun with life and become happy.

 

Whether I’m at work on a Monday morning, climbing in the evening, sitting in rush hour traffic, going for a run, or doing some sort of exploring on the weekend, I am happy. It came with a lot of work on my end, I’m still different and “weird,” but it got better.

As long as we work hard for what we want, keep looking forward, and let the past sit in the past, I think we can all be jumping for joy everyday. Just like my baby cousins are jumping for joy on their first day of school in Kindergarten and 1st Grade.

“Something Beautiful is on the Horizon”

Is that Climbing Trip Worth the Drive?

Cooler temperatures will soon be upon us in the southeast and with the cooler temperatures comes outdoor climbing season! It’s been a scalding hot summer and my friends and I are stoked to take a couple climbing trips soon. The only problem is that living in Florida, we live far away from any notable crags. I’m talking a one way 9 hour drive far. Herein lies the problem for the typical weekend warrior. Guaging whether the time spent driving to go climbing is “worth it.”

Many climbers have to make this decision several times throughout the winter. Should I make the 9 or so hour drive to go to Rocktown in Georgia or LRC in Tennessee? On one hand I’ll get to spend a fun weekend with my friends with the potential of sending a project of mine and starting a new one. On the other hand I could stay at home, get some rest, and maybe take a hike or go mountain biking close to home. Or I could always go to the climbing gym.Croc Bloc on a Climbing Trip to Rocktown

Fortunately there are a couple answers to this age old weekend warrior question.

V Points Per Hour

This is specific to boulderers. You should send an equal, but preferably greater, amount of V Points for every hour traveled. So let’s say we spend 9 hours in the car up to Rocktown. It’s safe to say it’ll take us another 9 hours to get back home, so we’re looking at an 18 hours round trip. In order to justify the trip each person would have to claim 18 or more V Points.

We could knock that out by climbing 18 V1’s, but that’d be a little cheap. You can make it so only climbing grades that are near your max count. Or you can just say that everything you climb counts as a V Point. Hell if you’re really strong you could knock out those 18 V Points with only two V9’s.

Pitch Quota

 Much like the V Point Per Hour method, the amount of pitches you need to climb (whether sport, trad, or free solo) to make your climbing trip “worth it” directly correlates with the amount of time you spent traveling. We’ll stick with the 18 hours round trip figure again. This means you’d need to climb 18 pitches to make your trip “worth it.”

To a lot of weekend warriors that’s a daunting task. I know I get pooped or find myself getting a case of the Elvis Leg by the 4th pitch. Something like this usually requires a few more days than a weekend.

To Hell With It Mentality

 Sometimes you feel like you just need to say to hell with it all! You just want to get away for a weekend, maybe even a day. It doesn’t matter how many sends you get. You may not even bag any sends at all that day. Just the fact that you’re a little out of cell reception in nature with some friends is good enough. But a send or two wouldn’t hurt.

What do you do to convince yourself that climbing trip’s worth it?

The Power of a Thumbs Up

The wind bit at my bare face as I kept pedaling towards the the open road lit by the little light on my handlebars. It’s Florida and it shouldn’t be in the 30’s…ever. Not even early in the morning before work and there I was in February riding uphill with a slight headwind. With the windchill it had to have been in the 20’s and I had no clue how to dress for cold weather bike riding because…FLORIDA.The power of giving someone a thumbs up

I was training for a big cross Florida bike ride at the time. Since it was already dark when I got home from work, I had decided my weekday rides were going to take place in the morning when there were less cars on the roads. I’d grown accustomed to this routine for a few weeks and almost every morning in the winter without fail I rode my bike in the biting cold cursing and wishing I was a thousand other places.

This morning was no different. It was cold, my toes and fingers were numb, and I was in pain. More of an emotional pain than physical. Knowing I could be in my warm bed sleeping for another hour, I chose to wake up before the sun and put in a few laps around this suburban neighborhood near my house.

As I pedaled my bike to the top of the hill that was giving me hell I looked up and saw a little old man bundled in his winter coat with a hat and gloves on. He looked warm and he must have just walked out of his house for his morning walk. I was on my second lap and hadn’t seen him on my first lap. My plan was to acknowledge the road in front of me, but as I got closer I saw that he stopped walking on the sidewalk, looked at me, and gave me a huge smile with a thumbs up. I gave him a wave without letting go of my handlebars. The cyclist wave.

That old man made my morning just by a simple hand gesture.

One of my favorite ways to communicate is through nonverbal communication. I’m kind of a boss at it, if I do say so myself. There’s times where I can form complete sentences just by using hand gestures, loud concerts being one of those places.

My parents taught my brother and I how to communicate using hand gestures from an early age. They’re both scuba divers and a lot of our family trips when my brother and I were younger were snorkeling trips in The Keys. They taught us how to ask if our buddy’s OK, tell someone that we need to surface, where marine life is, and a bunch of other kind of useful things, like watch me do this awesome flip underwater.

There’s a time and place for everything and sometimes we need to use hand gestures to communicate. Coming home from work in traffic a lot of people like to use their middle finger. I think a thumbs up should be used more often though. Someone thanks you with a wave for letting them on the freeway, thumbs up. You’re given a thumbs up by a stranger for wearing a cool fedora, shoot them a thumbs up right back. Someone does a sick turn on a wave and you’re front row to see it as you’re paddling back out to the lineup, thumbs up. Your buddy jumps a huge gap on his/her mountain bike, that deserves two thumbs up.

Next time you want to thank someone or tell them how stoked you are at one of their accomplishments and just aren’t in a situation where you can open your mouth to speak, give a thumbs up. Unless you’re in an eastern country like Russia or Germany. If you’re in one of those countries and you want to tell someone to shove it, give them a thumbs up.

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.

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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.