Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pilot Mtn

Some friends and I went rock climbing at Pilot Mountain. I've been wanting to climb outside but I haven't been to the climbing gym as much as I'd like so I was concerned about how well I'd do. It was my second time climbing outside and my first time climbing at Pilot. The weather held and we were able to get a full day of climbing in. The climbs were pretty hard, for me anyways. The ratings were 5.7-5.8. It was strange how some people who were able to climb one route were not able to climb others.
Here I am assessing the situation. The girls seemed to climb all the routes better. I think it's because they use technique over muscle strength. Most of them could climb all 3 routes.

One of the routes was named chicken bone, and I choked on it and could not get to the top, I was able to climb the route Vegomatic to the left. Here I am going up threw a combination of a crack and chimney.
After just four climbs, all I wanted to do was take a nap. The climbs were 2-3 times longer than the ones in the gym. It was still a fun day.
Routes at Parking Lot section:

Vegomatic 5.8, Climb a chimney to a large ledge at 40 feet. There is a set of
anchors just below the ledge. Continue up the face to the top. 60m rope
necessary if using the upper set of anchors. Bolted anchors.

Chicken Bone 5.7 , Start 10 feet right of the chimney at a small roof. Climb
the face to a ledge, and then continue to the top. The anchors are located 2
feet from the top of the cliff below a tree. 60m rope necessary. Bolted anchors.

Unnamed 5.7 , Start 20 feet right of the chimney behind a large tree. Climb
past a low right facing flake, then up the face to a ledge, pull the overhang and
continue to the top. There are two sets of anchors for this climb. One set is
located on the top of the cliff. The second set is located about 12 feet down
above a small ledge with a tree. 60m rope necessary. Bolted anchors.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Getting older

I have finally come to terms that I can't do things I used to be able too. It all started when I went to the doctor a few months ago and was recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. It wasn't off the scale but it was still high enough to cause the doctor to be concerned. The reading was 147/90 and the doctor felt that was way to high for my age. I knew I had gained some weight and hadn't been eating the greatest meals but I still felt I was in decent shape. The next blow to my ego came when he said I could stand to lose 15-20lbs... I have never thought of myself as overweight. I knew I was starting to get fat when I'd joke about being fat and starting to get over weight and I didn't hear the comments like, what are you talking about you're skinny..... I realized I was one of those people you hear about, who looks totally healthy then one day dies mowing their lawn. Something had to change. The doc said I need to either change my ways or go on blood pressure medication. I've never been one to like pills of any kind. I also love challenges so I took this as a kick in the pants to get back in shape and start a new lifestyle. The doctor suggested trying the southbeach diet.

I found a website that had a southbeach diet plan and for the first 2 weeks you are limited to only a number of foods. After the first 2 weeks your food options increase and gradually you work different foods into your diet until you can maintain your weight and kinda eat what foods you like within the diet specifications. Within the first week I was cheating already and straying from the diet. I figured I can work this diet out to something I like. I was losing weight but not dramatically. The reason I think I was losing weight is the things I was eating had no density. You eat a lot of eggs, cheese and salad. I felt better but I was starving for bread and things like cheeseburgers and pizza. I new I wasn't going to hang long with that diet. I started to just try to eat better and watch my sodium intake. I also started to exercise. I ran at first then looked for other activities, I found a group that played sand volleyball that I joined up with. I kept with watching what I ate and exercising and checked my blood pressure about 3 times a week, it slowly started to drop.

After about a month it hit a plateau. It stayed in the mid 130's and the bottom number rose, to the 80's. I figured at least the top number wasn't going higher and didn't worry about the bottom number, I was still losing weight from the volleyball and now I was looking into playing tennis. I figured it was just a matter of time before my blood pressure was normal. I went to the doctor a few weeks later, good news my blood work came back fine. The bad news... my blood pressure was still high. I had done everything the doctor asked, ate better, lost weight, he couldn't ask me to do more. He suggested going on medication and keeping on track. I got the prescription but never filled it, I just put it by my computer and now obsessed myself with exercise and getting my BP down. I played volleyball at least twice a week for 2hrs and started to incorporate tennis off and on with this I would go to the rock climbing gym for about an hour and a half. I started to really see a change in my body and now the readings were around 135/85, still not the greatest but not growing. My diet went a little backwards but I wasn't eating junk. I would go to walmart or CVS from time to time to check my BP, it was still higher than I'd anticipate. Then I'd go home and be on the computer look down and stare at the prescription note. I was really debating what I should do, I guess I kinda felt that having to get the medicine was a failure in me somehow. I didn't want to accept that I might just be genetically disposed to high blood pressure.

This week I was feeling fitter than ever, I was kind of happy about life, my wife is healthy and pregnant, I'm feeling great and I felt it was time to get the BP checked again. I went to the gym by work and had it taken. I was really expecting it to be close to normal. I talked to the guy and explained where the readings have been. He took the reading and I could tell by the look on his face I wasn't going to be happy. Still it was 130/90. That bottom number is not moving, it really pissed me off, and I left a little depressed. I just told myself, I'm gonna go get the medicine after work. I went to walmart and checked my blood pressure one more time before filling the subscription, it came by 137/85.... My heart sank and I just gave the pharmacist my note. I started to think about things in a different way, I wanted to be healthy at least for my new baby. It wasn't worth being pride full and dying 10yrs from now with a heart attack or some freak stroke.

So now I'm wondering how I'm going to feel after taking this, tired, sick, normal? Will I faint if I workout to hard, will I get any side effects? Will I have to take this for the rest of my life? No one knows except god I guess. At least I'm doing something about the problem and not letting it linger. I started to think about things and just accepted that the cause isn't not trying hard enough it's just getting older, I've been playing volleyball for about 6weeks now, I still can't spike. I used to be able to no problem when I was in high school. Now it's a chore just to jump. The sand swallows me up. Tennis I'm still ok at, but I'm no where near able to do the things I used to do. I used to sprint to a ball hit it over the net and be ready for anything that comes next. Now I sprint, hit the ball back, pant, look for my water and want to take a nap. I literally took a nap after hiking this weekend. It was a decent hike 5.5 miles but still I couldn't believe how tired I was afterwards. The last thing is rock climbing, I've been going to the rock climbing gym and it's pretty fun but I'm not improving. Granted I don't go enough to really be hard on myself but I can't make up for lack of technique with athleticism like I used to do. I climb about three EASY routes and I'm pretty much done for the night. My arms are pumped and I just flail on harder routes. Ok, I'm done whining, time to move on.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Kind Gesture

Some people are just great people. There's not really any specific reason for it, they just seem to be made that way. I've been fortunate enough to have a friend like that. His name is Preston. Recently I lost a rod, and it wasn't that big of a deal, the worst part was the timing. This is the middle of summer, not really the best time to trout fish, but it is a great time to hunt for bass or gar. I have really wanted to catch a gar. I have the flies and I had the rod but alass the rod was lost on the New River excursion over the 4th of July weekend.

This weekend I was going fishing with Preston and he said he had a extra 8wt rod I can use. We were going to check out some new bass ponds near where I lived I hadn't fished before. Before we started fishing he showed me a new TFO rod he just bought that was pretty sweet. Then he pulls out a aluminum case that looked like it was holding some top secret rod. This case was literally a steel or aluminum tube that could double as a weapon if needed. The rod inside was worthy of being in a tube that nice, it was a Orvis 8wt. I put the rod together and gave the stick a few swings, it was a great rod.

I went to hand it back and Preston says, "that's yours." I was like, oh this is the one you brought for me to use? He said "No, I have another one for that, you can have this one, I have a reel for it too" I was flabbergasted and immediately tried to hand the rod back, I felt that is too nice of a rod just to give to someone. It was nicer than any rod I had currently or have ever had. Preston was insistent that I keep it, he told me he never used the rod and it just sits in his closet, he'd rather have someone use it then have it collect dust.

I was adimant about giving him money or something for the rod even if was just tying materials. After bothering him about it, he finally gave in and said he would take a nice case of beer as payment.

In a way I looked at this as the fishing gods replacing the rod that was lost in the river. I had been thinking about how I was going to get another 8wt. I thought about buying a cheap cabela's one to replace the one I lost. With a new baby on the way my wife and I have been pinching pennies. This was a real blessing. I might be able to catch a gar after all.

The coolest thing is I don't think Preston gave me the rod because he is rich and has a surplus of killer rods to dispose of, or felt I'd like him more and think he was a cool guy. I really do beleive he gave it to me because he gunuinely knew I would appreciate it and use the rod. I hope some day I can make the same gesture and make someone just as happy.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Fishin' In VA

Kristin and I went to My father-in-laws house in VA for the 4th of July. I hate driving there. It's almost a 4hr drive from Raleigh. The place is called Pearisburg and it is beautiful. The New River runs near it as well as a branch of the new river called Walkers Creek. The weather forecast called for thunderstorms and they chased us off the water a few times. Even with the rain this was one of the best weekends I have had in awhile. My brother and sister-in-law came up as well with their kids. My nephew is four now and just getting to where he can cast and fish on his own. It wasn't long before his dad broke out the Zebco rod and we had a casting session on the front lawn. My father-in-law had a friend that had some land along Walkers Creek and we decided to go down there to try our luck. The section was beautiful with water that looked untouched. It's the kind of creek you dream about when thinking of a perfect place to take a kid for his first time fishing.

We scoped out the water for movement, there wasn't much surface activity but you could see fish moving underwater. It wasn't long before I caught a sunfish on a popper. Carter and his grandfather hit a spot under a tree.
Carter could cast pretty well and I think he knew the concept of fishing, but I wasn't sure he was going to be able to actually catch a fish by himself. It didn't take him long to prove me wrong. First off, this kid can cast. He can do a 20ft cast no problem, with decent accuracy. So he swings back and lets the rubber crayfish fly.

It was a great cast and immediately he had a few hits. He wasn't able to snag a fish on that cast. On his second cast he threw cross the pool of fish, slowly worked the crayfish over them and FISH ON!!! He yelled at us "I GOT ONE!" The fight ensued.....To every ones surprise he brought the fish in quickly. It was a nice little rock bass. After showing his grandpa this fish I showed him how to lip the fish and he was able to pose with his trophy.He was able to catch a couple more after that. Tom decided to throw a line in and show us all how it is done.After the killing Tom and Carter were making on their fishing hole I had to step in to catch a few, and was nicknamed "fish thief". The water was really beautiful and clear with different colored rocks littering the bottom. There was postcard views where ever you looked. Russel was able to find a nice little spot where he could fish with his son and enjoy the views. We couldn't have asked for a better day. The weather cooperated enough to rain just lightly to cool us off without getting us really wet. The fish gods smiled on us, no one was skunked and everyone had a great time. These are the days that make you happy to be a fisherman. The view walking up stream was spectacular and made me really appreciate the moment.
The New River

The next day we decided to take a paddle down the new river. You won't see many pictures from this trip because I didn't take my camera. This was my smartest move to date this year because this river had some tricks up its sleeve for us. At the take out the anticipation of going down the river was overwhelming, it had been raining off and on the last few days. Finally it seemed like we were getting a break. The water seemed to be at a decent level and was very clear. Russel has some experience canoeing so I figured we were in good hands. I offered to have Carter ride with us in the tandem kayak but Amy and Russ felt that might not be the best idea. That was very good judgement.
The excitement continued to build as we got our ready, little did I know that this would be the last time I'd use this fly rod. Everyone headed to the middle of the river and we were on our way. While we were in the calm water we decided to try some fishing, I'll admit, fishing in a kayak SUCKS! Especially in a tandem. If you're going to fish in a tandem make sure the person who's in the front of the kayak likes to fish as well. If they don't they will not care which way the boat is facing how you're drifting, or even bother to tell you, "you might want to reel your line in, we're coming to some rapids." This was a re-occurring theme. My wife hates when I fish, she always complains about me saying just give me five min. According to her I live in some parallel universe where 5min is actually 20min or it's a measured amount of time that exists until I feel like stopping. It wasn't long before we heard the whistle blow of a train and heard the sound of something huge thundering up behind us. A train came by and was pretty close. I have always had a fondness for trains and paddling next to one is really fun. You can feel the vibration of the train even though you're in the water. I can't explain it but it's a eerie and neat feeling. At that time I wished I had a video camera, it was a unique experience to see the river carving between huge cliffs with green trees lining the banks and a train going by.

I've always heard tandems called divorce boats which I thought was a funny label but if you really want to test a relationship, get into a stressful situation in one.

The First Rapid

The first rapid should have been an indication of how the day was going to pan out. It didn't look like all that much, a decent amount of water running threw it, no huge drop offs, logs or rocks sticking up. Russ and Amy cruised threw it no problem, my optimism was crushed when our kayak got stuck in between two rocks right as we were breaching a rapid. The water was shallow enough for us to get out and move the kayak. Kristin was kind of scared but not too bad. The next rapid I asked her where rocks are and she couldn't tell me. I have to give you an idea of a tandem kayak. If you're in the back and a person is sitting in the front, you can't see ANYTHING. So you have to depend on the person in front to give you some sort of directions, like big rock here turn left or nice water to the right head that way. Nothing is worse than saying "what looks good?" And getting the response "I don't know....." Also it doesn't give you a warm fuzzy feeling when you near a rapid and you hear the water getting louder you can see it turning white and turbulent, but you don't know what's right ahead of you, you ask "do you see any big rocks?" The response is uhhh uhhh uhhhh, YEAH!!! Then within 2 seconds WHAM!! Your boat slams against a rock and jars the kayak sending it either in another direction or almost ejecting you or the person sitting in front of you into the river. My wife is pregnant and the last thing I wanted to see was her getting thrown into the river. The section where we were paddling was probably Class II, that is low for rivers. Even with that, there is a element of danger, there are big rocks under the water and you would not want to run into them at any speed.

Needless to say the lack of direction and the jarring of rocks and breaching was getting to me. The trip started to change from a pleasant jaunt down the river into a argument over what's in front of us and do we go left and right. This resulted in yelling and the gnashing of teeth. We had the fun time of breaching a couple more times and even going down a rapid backwards, that was great. Nothing like going down a rapid backwards without seeing where you're going in a river you've never been on before. Kristin and I were both getting drained from the stress of not knowing what's coming next. What topped it off was on the biggest rapid I lost my fly rod. We breached on a rock, I got out to get us off and when I got back in the kayak I nudged the rod into the water. I reached back to get it but it was too far away, I looked forward and saw another set of rapids coming quickly, I decided our safety was more important that the fly rod. We came to a calm section just short of the rapids and I looked hoping to see the rod some how float by. It never came.

The Last Turn

Russ would be a crappy psychic because every time he said the take out was around this next bend, we would see nothing but river and more trees. After about the second time of the predictions I stopped listening to him or asking. I was in the worst of moods, Kristin and I had argued so much we weren't really talking, I had already made the claim we were selling this damn kayak when we get home. It was getting hot and there were things floating in the water that smelled and looked exactly like horse poop. We didn't want to disappoint ourselves so when we rounded a bend we just expected to see another rapid, and usually weren't disappointed. Everyone was starting to show signs, that they wanted this to end. The only person who was still in somewhat of a cheery mood was Carter. He really didn't get to fish much at all the whole trip. I think because of the crampness of the canoe and he is still a little crazy with the casting. I started to bring up the fact that I lost my fishing pole. Russ of course being the nice guy he is, wanted to go back and get it, but the thought of going down rapids again or paddling anymore for that matter were enough to make me turn that down. Then Carter said "It's OK Kevin, I'll share my pole with you." How could I be mad after that? It kind of turned my whole attitude around, here all this kid wanted to do was fish and yet he was willing to give his fishing pole to me to use. I thought that was really generous of a 4yr old. We finally did turn a corner and were able to see the take out. We were all happy and it still seemed like it took half a day to get to it. The trip over all was great. I would do it again even with the rapid episodes. As you probably guessed we decided to keep the kayak and I apologized to Kristin for my behavior on the rapids. When we got back to Tom's place we looked at a map and wanted to see how far we went. I was sure we had paddled close to the NC state line. To my surprise we had only gone 6miles!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Why my wife and I get along

I thought about a scenario that happened last night, and I couldn't help but think it summed up why my wife and I have been together so long.

Last night my wife made some chicken strips, just plain chicken strips,

then said
"there's a medly of potatoes in the fridge."

I was pissed, because I was like, who makes plain chicken strips? Put some sauce on it or some kind of seasoning.

so I said
"A medley of potato's? So do they sing a medley about how gross this plain chicken is with no sauce or anything?"

Then I thought to myself and mumbled, who eats a medley of potatos? Buy some normal stuff, shit!

And she said
"they sing a medley of how you're a ugly fat bastard!."

And here's why we always get along....

I said "Is it in that order? Ugly..... fat.... then bastard?"

She's all "No! The bastard is first!"

So I said "So I'm a bastard... fat ugly?"

She couldn't help but laugh and that broke the tension. Sense of humor comes in real handy when you're married.