Sunday, December 31, 2017


At the end of 2015, some of you remember I wrote a post about my year in review. (you can read it here.) Well, I guess when my year turned over I wasn't really interested in blogging. Or setting goals of any kind, because I didn't update anything. This year, I'm getting around to it. 

2017 has been challenging to say the least. I won't go into detail here, but I'll just say it's been real, and I'm not sad to see the year go. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't been all bad. Caleb and I have had a lot of fun this year, but I just feel like most of the year was stress. I don't know how I have hair left, to be honest. Here are some things I learned. (These are lessons I learned, but the examples do not reflect my own experiences this year. 

1) Don't settle. 
2) Don't go into debt.
3) Being generous is great. Just make sure you aren't screwing yourself over when you decide to be.
4) Adventure. Adventure. Adventure!

1) Don't settle. Not for your job. Not for the car you drive. Not for anything. And when I say don't settle for your job, I don't mean don't settle for a starting position when you think you could be a manager. If you find a starting position at the company you want to work at, take it. But don't settle for staying in that starting position. There is always room for improvement. Also, when I say not to settle for the car you drive, I don't mean go buy a Porsche you're going to default on within a month because you've always wanted a Porsche. I mean do what is going to be best for you in the long term. Which leads right into number 2..

2) Don't go into debt. If you're very good at managing your money and creating a budget, you could probably get away with this one. I did for a long time. You can put your car insurance or your utility bill on your credit card and just pay it off every month. It boosts your credit score, you can get a lot of miles on it, and it can benefit you a lot. BUT, if you let it get out of control - not just credit cards - it can eat you alive. You'll wind up like one of the millions of Americans living paycheck to paycheck just trying to stay afloat with $.37 left to their name after they've paid their bills. Just because there's $200 leftover in your budget every month doesn't mean it needs to be going towards a payment on something. Save it. Pay off debt. Get out of debt. Have 75% of your paycheck available to save and spend on whatever it is you want to buy. 

3) Being generous is great. Just make sure you aren't screwing yourself over when you decide to be. If you have some extra crap laying around you don't need and won't use, you can sell it. If it's not worth selling, or would take too much effort, you can give it to goodwill or a church. But when your friend calls and says they need $100. Make damn sure you aren't just giving them $100 because they decided to blow their grocery money on a new pair of shoes. Let them learn their lesson. Also, if you're going to buy or sell something from a friend or family member on payments - write up a contract and get it notarized. It seems petty, especially for family, but it can wind up saving you a lot of headache and resentment. Besides, if they aren't willing to sign a contract, it's either because they were planning to screw you over, or because they were planning to screw you over. Either way, they probably don't really need what you're selling, and you can probably sell it to someone else who is willing to sign for it. Don't let saving someone's feelings come back to bite you in the butt.

4) Adventure. Adventure. Adventure! This one might just be me and some of you like me. Adventure is what keeps me sane. I need a little bit of adventure in my life. I need to go camping, or go on a road trip that's just for fun. I need some "me" time. "Me" time at home taking a bath with no one talking to me is pretty great. But "me" time on a kayak in a river several hours from home is even better - even if I'm with someone. Hike a 14er. Go camping. Go on a road trip to see friends in the next state for the weekend. Get a cheap plane ticket to Las Vegas for the weekend. Take a break from work and go somewhere.

I don't usually do the whole New Years Resolution New Year New Me thing. Instead, I have a list of outlandish tasks to accomplish. In 2015 one of my goals was to fist fight a shark. It was a joke, but it just so happened that I went swimming with nurse sharks in Belize. I tapped one with my fist and claimed it as a win. Kick a pigeon was also on my list. I made contact with one in Venice, Italy. Score. Get launched from a trebuchet was also on my list for the year. Thankfully, I didn't manage that one. But those were two of my most proud moments for the year. I'm pathetic, I know. 

As exciting as it was for me to kick a pigeon and kinda punch a shark, I think I'll set some goals that are a little more realistic this year.

1) Renew my passport. - Honestly, I've been meaning to do this since Caleb and I got married. I just haven't done it yet. It's only $100, but since we don't have any international trips coming up, there hasn't been a reason to do it. I want to renew my passport so I'm one step closer to crossing a border.

2) Get. Out. Of. Debt. - I feel like this one is self-explanatory.

3) Find a profitable side hustle. - We all want some extra money. I'd like to find a side hustle good enough that I can turn it into a job after Caleb and I have kids. I don't want to be stuck doing shift work the rest of my life. I want to home school my kids, make my own schedule, and take vacations when I want. How glorious would that be?

4) Go on more adventures. - Caleb and I went camping and we did some road trips for no apparent reason other than why not. But not nearly enough for my tastes. I want to fill our summer up with random adventures and road trips. 

5) Buy a house. - I've never wanted so badly to own a house as when I'm sitting at work, scrolling through pinterest, saying, "Oh, that would be great to do in our backyard!" only to remember I don't have a backyard. Once we get some debt taken care of, I'm sure we'll be finding a house to buy.

That's about all I have for now. I wish everyone luck in achieving their own goals or new years resolutions this year. I'll be posting more throughout the year to let everyone know what goals I've met!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Cargo Trailer to Toy Hauler Conversion

Hello Everyone,

It's been a minute (Ok, more like a year) since I last posted. Life has been moving along pretty quickly for us. Especially the last few months. Long story short, I was medically discharged from basic training and Caleb got out of the Army the following week. We weren't really planning on that, so my husband's idea for what to do while I was at basic wasn't going to work with both of us. So plans changed. We moved to Arkansas! We are living with my parents since we had to move on short notice, and Caleb is probably going to go to a school for several months. I'd rather live at my parent's house while he's gone and save money than live alone waiting on him to get home.

Most people would be pretty bummed about moving back in with their parents, but honestly, my folks are cool, y'all. We might as well have the whole back of the house to ourselves. We try to keep everything pretty neat though. And our furniture wasn't all going to fit into the already furnished house without some major moving around. So we bought a cargo trailer for our move. We'd been wanting to get one anyway, so why not?

Originally, we were going to get a small cargo trailer so we could just put our crap in it and use it for the dirt bikes later. Well, we had a lot of crap. So we got a bigger trailer. A car hauler trailer. It's 20'X8'. Right now we only have one dirt bike (I'm sure that will change before long), and honestly, as much as I love my husband and I love watching him race, I do not love sitting outside in a folding chair between races while the wind is blowing and the dust is flying in my face all day. So we decided to convert our cargo trailer into a kind of toy hauler. Here's how we did it.

The before picture
This is what we started with. It's a 2018 Interstate 20'X8' trailer. It weighs 3,000 pounds dry, is dual axle, and the GVWR is 7,000lbs. There were already some stains on the floor because, well, we used it. But we really didn't care. After all, this is a toy hauler, and that's the garage area.

We started by ripping out the cheap "borders" that were covering the seams of the plywood. It was coming off the wall in places after only having the trailer a few weeks. And it looked like trash - so that's where we put it. In the trash. Then we replaced it with 1"x4" boards. This way the seams would be covered, it wouldn't look like trash, and if we needed something besides plywood to mount things to, we had it.

The walls have been stained. The floor is next!

Next, we stained the walls. We were pretty lazy about this stain. We used Thompson's oil-based Walnut stain. It has a sealant in the stain, so it should keep the wood from soaking in any water. Not sure why we would get water all over the interior walls, but we do some weird stuff sometimes, so better safe than sorry. We also chose this stain because we could be really lazy about putting it on. We didn't have to put on a bunch of coats. Or sand between coats. Or paint it on then wipe it off. Or put it on with a clean rag. We straight up just used old paint brushes to put on a single thin layer and let it dry. The lighting on the picture isn't very good, but I think it turned out pretty good! We didn't put any polyurethane on the walls or anything. Because, again, we're lazy.

Next, we wanted a partition so we could have the "chilling" area and the garage separate. We were going to put a doorway between them, but ultimately decided it would take up too much space. Even just having a hole in the wall there would be kind of a pain because it would mean we couldn't put a tool box or riding gear there, and we couldn't put anything on the wall. The box looking thing you see in the trailer is the beginning of our partition. Caleb simply cut some 2"x4"s to size and screwed them to the 1"x4"s that were screwed into the steel supports in the trailer so it would be sturdy. We had thought of just using a couple sheets of plywood and screwing them directly into the 1"x4"s, but we wanted it to be sturdy enough to lean on, and heavy duty enough to hang stuff on the wall. So there are a couple 2"x4"s in the middle there as well so we have some studs to screw things to.

The floor in the living area
 Next came the floors. We decided to make the front living area look super fancy and stain the floor. Yes, that wall there is gray instead of stained. For no other reason than because we thought we would like it and we didn't. But, it'll be covered up by the couch, so it doesn't matter. The inside of the door is also that color. The floor turned out pretty nicely. The color isn't evenly colored because for some reason that bit of wood just wouldn't soak the stain in very well, but again, it's a toy hauler. It'll be fine if everything isn't perfect.

We decided to paint the floor in the garage area with a gray colored garage floor paint. We used it because it is supposed to seal the floor and not allow oil and other spills to soak into the wood. It's meant for use on concrete, but it painted the wood just fine. It needed more than one coat, but it didn't take long to dry.
The floor in the garage after the first coat of paint

We were going to put a few coats of polyurethane on the floor in the living area, but it kept raining so we couldn't leave the trailer open to let the stain dry. And Christmas (and therefore family) was coming to the house, so we needed to get our project cleaned up and out of the way. So for now, there is only one coat of poly on the step that leads into the trailer. It looks good, but to get the shine I really wanted we were going to have to put on at least 3 coats. We will get around to that later - after family has gone home and my fingers don't freeze when I walk outside.

You get a little better view of the frame for the partition Caleb put in. The bottom board was just screwed into the floor of the trailer and the side boards were screwed into the wall as described earlier. The board along the ceiling doesn't go quite all the way to the ceiling. We didn't want it completely closed off because that's a lot of work for literally no reason. We used a couple of L joints to secure the ceiling board to the boards on the side and we used L joints again to secure the "studs" to the top and bottom boards.

The step before the poly
The step after the poly
For the rest of the partition, all that was necessary was to cut the plywood to fit, and screw it to the frame and studs already built in the trailer. We threw some stain on it real quick, and Caleb did not wait on it to dry before he put his posters and race numbers on the wall. I'm sure the backs of those things have some stain on them, but aside from that, there were no adverse side effects. Caleb screwed the wheel chalk into the trailer and didn't even let me take a picture before he put his bike in there (to be fair, I didn't ask. It was cold.) There's enough room to put at least three bikes in the garage part of the trailer, but since we only have one right now, we won't bother with additional wheel chalks or tie downs until later. We also didn't paint the ramp yet because this photo was taken during the only 30 minutes of sunshine we've had in a week. We put grip tape down on the ramp so there's no chance of slipping while loading the bike (honestly, Caleb would probably never slip. But I would. I would probably slip at least twice any time I tried to load the bike. Or anything else, for that matter. And yes, we put a strip of grip tape on the step into the front part of the trailer too).
The finished (mostly) product

The final step for the garage area was to tie down Caleb's toolbox. There were some smaller D-rings that came already installed in the trailer and we just took them out and moved them so we could strap the tool box down. Also, the "legs" you see on the toolbox are just wood. So Caleb used a "toe-in" method to screw the feet to the floor as well. It shouldn't be going anywhere. There's that extra strap you may see over the drawers and that's because we really don't want them to come open and spill while we're driving anywhere. You may also notice there is a LED light bar on top of the partition wall. We got that off of about a year ago for $30 (they're usually a few hundred dollars and this one works great!). It was on my jeep (RIP, Janet). And it's just been sitting in the garage being worthless ever since my jeep got totaled. Caleb is going to get it hooked up to the lights that are already in the trailer sometime in the next week (that will actually happen. Because he's a man and this is his garage and lights are important in  a garage. Everything else will wait). He should have PLENTY of light in there if he ever loses a tool or a bolt.
The living area!
And finally, we have the living area. Again, we didn't finish staining that wall because we are lazy. I'll do it later. After the temperature rises above 30 degrees. You'll see the couch mostly covers up the gray wall mistake, and our area rug (which I stole from my little sister's horse trailer. Thanks, Jessica!) covers up the fact that I haven't finished doing poly on the floor yet. I will note, we did have to put the couch in before putting the wall up. It's just a little too big to fit through the man door. No big deal though. We don't really plan on taking it out (until I get the motivation to do the poly on the floor.. So maybe never, but definitely not until it gets warmer). And honestly, it wouldn't be all that hard to. Just a few screws and that plywood would come down and we could haul it out of there.

The living area is obviously not finished. We plan to put a small TV where our old license plates are at so we can watch TV and maybe play xbox when we are staying at the track overnight. We're going to be putting in some rope lights along the top of the living area and the garage here in a couple weeks when we get the chance. Eventually we will add a window and a real latch to the man door since right now it can only be opened and closed from the outside. We'll also put in a fan that goes into the roof, and maybe some shelves. But again. That's a project for 30+ weather.
We'll put in a shelf and a TV here.
The beauty of a leather couch is it can get dirty!


We also thought about putting polished aluminum on the bottom half of the walls, but it was $60 for a 3'x3' square. Not only are we lazy, we're also cheap. So we skipped that part. Although it would have looked pretty awesome. We may add it later, but I highly doubt we will stop being cheap anytime soon.

So there you have it. That's how we turned our cargo trailer into a (kind of) toy hauler in under a week; and for less than $300! We had a lot of fun doing this and it was definitely a good exercise in both communication and patience for both of us. I'm not exactly skilled with construction, but Caleb was a Seabee, so I learned a lot! We would honestly love to do this again, so if someone wants to buy this one, we are willing to sell it so we can start over!

Until I remember I have this blog again, Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Starving For Oxygen

Somewhere on the way up Bierstadt.
I  know it's been a hot minute since I posted last. Update: I'm still alive. I've stopped playing Pokemon Go. I believe I've regained my true identity. 

I'm allowed to mountain bike again. While I can't do any gnarly jumps or downhill tracks until next summer, Caleb and I have been out to Oil Well Flats to ride. I actually traded my mountain bike for a rifle. Not because I'm never going to ride again. That's preposterous. But I'd actually been trying to sell my old Gary Fisher for a while and, well, it's old and none of the real enthusiasts out here wanted that old hunk. But one of Caleb's friends rode it and wanted it, so he gave me a rifle. I don't even know what kind it is. 7mm WSM? We have another mountain bike I've been riding. It's a hard tail, but since I'm only allowed to ride easy trails right now, it's perfect for me. Over the winter Caleb is going to build me a new bike from the ground up so I'll have a sick new ride come next summer when I can rip again. I know he'll make sure to build a super capable bike, so my only request is that it looks cool.

In the mean time, we've taken up the cliche' hobby of climbing 14ers.
At the top of Mt. Sherman.
I'm not 100% sure why we got into this. I think it has to do with me not being able to do anything particularly fun. I couldn't ride, run, climb, or swim, so I took up hiking while Caleb was mountain biking. Then my doctor said I should start carrying a light pack around a few times a week to deal with the sensitivity over my collarbone where I had my surgery. So of course the only logical solution is to climb one of the fifty something mountains over 14,000 ft in the state of Colorado. I think those pain meds the doc gave me must have done permanent damage, cause I actually went through with this. Caleb and I loaded up and took the dogs to Mt. Sherman one weekend.
At the top of Bierstadt, starving for oxygen.
We summitted and I was happy to never do one again. But then Caleb did another one on his own. And I volunteered to do another with him the next weekend. I don't know why. I hated ever minute of going up. Except when we stopped and I got to eat watermelon candies we brought.. Then at the top, for some reason, I thought I was having fun. I think it had to do with the lack of oxygen. For someone who is used to having a healthy supply of oxygen in their lungs, it can make you a little loopy.. And sick. And delusional enough to think you're having fun. But the view is nice, so there's that. The best part though is always getting back to the truck. The dogs get in and pass out and we roll down all the windows, and, hoping they'll have enough energy to bite anyone who tries to steal our stuff, we leave them there. And go get margaritas and beer and the biggest cheat meal we can fit in out stomachs. Because we earned it.

We've only done two mountains so far, but weather
Handies Peak, Colorado. AKA, the baby Fitz Roy.
and mechanic issues on our new jeep permitting, we're going to do another this weekend. Probably Handies. Cause it looks beautiful. And it reminds me of a really tiny version of Mt. Fitz Roy in Patagonia. And while I don't necessarily want to climb Mt. Fitz Roy, I'm going to see it first hand one day. If I ever find myself in South America, I'm going to detour to go see it. I don't care if I'm in French Ghana and I have to hitch hike and figure out a way to make money the whole way. It's gonna happen, y'all.
Mt. Fitz Roy, Chile-Argentina border, Patagonia.

 Anyway. That's all I really have for now. I'll post again next time I pick up a new hobby, break a bone, or win the lottery.

Friday, July 15, 2016

I Must Survive.

28 May 2016
Caleb and I have recently been told about a Demo Day at Angel Fire Bike Park in Angel Fire, New Mexico. We feed our dogs, pack up our mountain bikes and gear, and point the truck south. We've never been to Angel Fire before, nor have we ever been to a bike park like this. We misjudge how long it will take us to get to Angel Fire, it takes a little longer than we would've liked to find the bike park, and find where we buy lift tickets. Since it's already past noon and the lifts will stop mid afternoon, we only buy a two ride pass for each of us. I ride my Gary Fisher with barely enough travel on the front end to avoid breaking it under my own weight. Most of my day is spent on the easiest trail there.. It's basically a fire road with small jumps that are easily avoidable for those who aren't so brave. I am incredibly brave. I net a grand total of twenty-one and three-quarters of an inch of air the whole day. We're invited to stay at the hotel in town with a friend who will be there for the weekend. We have dogs at home who already hate us. We head home.

29 May 2016
We are determined to arrive earlier, get full day passes, and rip up the mountain the entire day. We get an early start, and because we now knew the appropriate locations for parking, signing in, bike rentals, and everything else, we are on the mountain fairly quickly. This time, I'm riding a rental bike. A GT Fury. Caleb is riding an Intense M9 borrowed from a friend. After the lift is stalled due to weather, we finally make it to the top. It's snowing. We look pretty bad ass. We take photos of each other. 

 We quickly descend the mountain. It's cold. It's so cold my fingers have lost all feeling and I can't tell if I'm squeezing the brakes or the handles. It's a sick ride. In this descent alone I  net several feet of air for I am brave.

At the bottom of the mountain I return my rental GT and discover there are no available bikes my size. Caleb decides to ride his GT Sanction Pro while I take the Intense M9 for a rip. We ride a sweet, smooth trail together for a while. Eventually we wind up on a trail called Lower Boogie. Caleb passes me and adjusts to his own pace, leaving me in the dust. I am fine with this.
I am not afraid to ride alone. I catch very little air as most of the trail as been swooping turns. I finally spot a gnarly looking jump. Finally! It was time to get more than one foot of air in a single jump! I hit the jump and immediately regret my decision to hit this jump as fast as I can. I haven't reset the rear suspension for my 130 pound frame. Caleb is 215 pounds and the suspension is still set up for him. I find the rear wheel to be above me, the bike doing a front flip with me at it's center. "Ride it out," I tell myself. The next thing I know, I'm on my back sliding down the back side of the table top and I've allowed my body to go limp. I lie still for a moment. "I shouldn't have hit that jump so fast.." I stand up and walk over to the large, green bike, thinking I will ride a little more slowly down the remainder of the trail. I pick up the big green giant and realize I cannot lift my right arm. I sit on the side of the trail a moment longer and eventually come to the conclusion that I must walk to the base of the mountain. I grab the bike with my left hand and begin to trudge down the mountain. I arrive at the clearing beneath the lift and sit. I begin to search for my cell phone to text Caleb. A bike patrolman arrives to assist me with my injuries. "Are you ok?" he asks. "Yeah. I broke my collarbone." "Do you know your name? What time it is? The date?" I resist the urge to tell him I don't keep track of those things and tell him what he wants to know. He determines I do not have a head injury and removes two triangular bandages from his bag to form a sling for my right arm. A side by side arrives to take me down the mountain. I've made it easy for them since I am on the poor excuse for a road. Before now I hadn't noticed the pain, but every bump on the ride down to the medic's lodge makes me more and more aware of how much I hurt.

I've made it three and a half rides into the summer and my new sport of downhill before I've ruined the remainder of my summer.

Caleb meets me at the medic's lodge where the PA takes a floor scan and tells me with utmost certainty that I will need surgery. They put me in a sling and give me some narcotics as well as muscle relaxers and blanket. I don't think it's cold out, but I can't stop shivering. Caleb and I stop for dinner on our way out of town and I almost ask for his assistance with removing my own pants in the bathroom. God did not make me ambidextrous.

10 June 2016
My surgery is scheduled for today. I've never had a surgery before. I've never even broken a bone before. The surgeon tells me I will wake up in much more pain than I've been in since the break. I'm not looking forward to it. When I wake up I do not notice any pain, I simply know the bracelet on my wrist says I am a fall risk. Someone shows me a photo of an x-ray that I assume is mine. I insist on getting into the truck on my own power. I must prove I am not a fall risk.

12 June 2016
I've worn my hospital gown for two days. I can feel my plate and the screws drilled into my bone. They are ever present in my mind. I hate them, though they allow me to move better. Caleb has been waiting on me hand and foot. Were I a lesser person, I would easily become addicted to these narcotic pain killers. It's like being drunk, only better. But I can't stand being a drooler for so long. I quit taking them within a few days.

20 June 2016
Caleb has returned to work and I don't know what to do with myself. I'm not due back at my job for another week. I practice eating left-handed, but still wind up with food on my shirt at least once a day. I've been playing video games. I don't know who I am anymore.

15 July 2016
I've been back at work for a while now. I'm not longer wearing my sling. I even went running several times last week. My doctor has scolded me for this activity and I must desist. I still need to keep my arm below 90 degrees and cannot lift more than 5 lbs. Come the 22nd my range of motion should return to normal and I may run and ride my bike on fire roads again. The date nears and it excites me, yet the inability to participate in my usual activities drives me to insanity. I download Pokemon Go. My former identity slips further away. I will be fully recovered the first week of September. I debate trying to go into cryosleep until then. Research tells me this is not a feasible solution. I must survive. I can only hope there is enough left of me to recover come September.

I will post again. 

It's Time For A Rant

There's a little something I need to get off my chest.
          People are retarded. We've all seen videos like this where a Hillary supporter is asked about whether they support her tax policies and when they keep saying "yes" the inquirer then lets them know those are actually Trump's policies. Now, I'm not going to say only Hillary supporters are that dumb. I mean, let's be honest, you could pull the exact same trick on Trump supporters. Also, how many random people off the street even know what the Alternative Minimum Tax is? Even if you do know what that is ( it's basically a way to keep people from going through a loop hole to pay fewer taxes. It's been amended over the years  to ensure that the rates keep up with inflation), to know whether or not you support it, you probably want to know if it's being replaced and what with; and even then you probably have to have more than a basic understanding of how the tax system for those people works.
          The point here is that people are stupid enough to say "I support Hillary because it's time for a woman to be in the White House." or "I support Trump because he isn't Hillary." ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No one should care whether our next president has a penis or a vagina, if they're black, white, or green, or how politically correct they are. (If you really want to vote for someone other than Hillary, Trump isn't your only option! There's this wonderful libertarian party with a candidate named Gary Johnson.) You can like those qualities, but they shouldn't be the main reason you vote for that candidate. The main concern that should be in everyone's mind is, "If elected, where will this candidate take us? Will we be better off in four years? What about in eight?" If you begin your answer to those questions with anything remotely close to their race or gender, you're a problem and I pray to God you don't go to the polls this November. Yes, you have the right to vote and you should exercise it. But exercising your right to vote doesn't mean going to the polls and putting an "X" by whoever is a female or isn't Hillary, it's a right our service men and women have fought and died for, so take it seriously, and do YOUR OWN research. And by "your own research" I don't mean watching only Fox News at dinner. No one ever made an informed decision by listening to only one side of an argument, or even an opposing view that you couldn't really hear because people were shouting over and at them . And believe me, Fox News and CNN might invite someone from the other side to be guests for their little discussions, but even if they chose a good representative of the other side, they're so outnumbered and the debate is so unsportsmanlike that you would never know if they had a good argument or not. Honestly, when is the last time you saw a Democrat on Fox News be allowed to engage in a calm debate where their views were respected enough that the other four Fox anchors weren't talking over them and degrading their point of view the whole time?

          "Your own research" means you go on the internet to multiple sources (preferably not big main stream media names) and read about the pros and cons of each candidate. Then when you see that Trump is proposing getting rid of the Alternative Minimum Tax, you look up what that is. Then you look up if and what it's being replaced with (according to his website, it's simply being eliminated and a flat tax rate will be imposed on everyone instead.) Maybe you look up the accusations that Hillary leaked classified documents by handling them improperly. Maybe you decide to read 13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff and decide whether you think (based on your even more extensive research of the Secretary of State's position and capabilities) Hillary could have made an effort to save the lives of those men. Or maybe you decided to ignore the evidence that suggests Benghazi was a coordinated attack rather than retaliation to the Innocence of Muslims trailer released on youtube.

          I have faith there are some intelligent, capable people out there who will do their own research on our presidential candidates and come to a logical conclusion on who to vote for - even if they come to a conclusion different than mine.

          ..... But then again, in 2012 I had someone ask me if Syria was in Benghazi and had someone else tell me they wanted Obama to win the election because they wanted free birth control and no gun control.. So my faith in 98% of the US voting population is shot. I'm relying on the other 2% to do their own research, provide logical arguments, and make informed decisions when heading to the polls this year.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

March 13th.

On 13 March 2015 some of you will recall I was on Belize's island of Caye Caulker with my friend Dave. It was my very first trip outside the United States, and it proved to be quite eventful. It was a Friday the 13th, the power and running water were out for the whole island. We went snorkeling where I swallowed my fear of open water (and a lot of ocean water). Then I drank a few too many beers to dilute the saltwater, and with the reassurance of Dave and Seb, a British fellow we met at The Split, dove into the ocean to swim the 100 meter split and back. While a storm rolled in. And I nearly drowned in the ocean.

Belize was probably the best trip of my life. I'd been wanting for as long as I could remember to just drop everything on a moment's notice and take a flight to anywhere outside the U.S. and go for an adventure. I may have had a twenty-four hour notice, but it satisfied my need just fine. Much better, in fact, than the month long solo tour in Europe. Because, while my plane ticket to Spain was a one-way ticket, I bought it six weeks in advance. It was like biting into a bitter piece of candy. I loved it, but it wasn't nearly as awesome as sitting on a dock in the Caribbean knowing that only twenty-four hours prior, I'd had no plans to leave the states. It was liberating and I wouldn't trade that experience for any other.

If, while I was sitting on that dock, someone had told me I would be getting married in a year, I wouldn't have believed them. If they showed me some sort of proof, I probably would have cried. At that point in my life nothing sounded better than being single for the rest of my life. The very thought of a relationship almost made me gag. Marriage, for me, has pretty much always sounded like a trap. It was as if, at the wedding ceremony, the priest who married you sucked all the fun out of your life and brain washed you. You began as this fun-loving, adventure having, spontaneous person and were magically transformed into just another suburbian with a white picket fence and HOA fees. You stopped traveling, skydiving, mountain biking, and basically anything else awesome and started mowing the yard on Saturdays and taking long Sunday naps.

Thank God that's not true. I mean, it could be. We haven't had our wedding ceremony yet. The Chaplain very well might put a curse on us and turn us into normal-ass people. But so far, Caleb and I have done quite well to keep adventure a regular part of our lives. We rock climb, ride dirt bikes, go hiking and camping, and even have plans to drive the Pan American in our truck. With the dirt bikes, of course. I'm convinced there's nothing the Chaplain can say on 13 March 2016 that will change the person I was on 13 March 2015 except that I'll be married and I'll have a reliable partner in my adventures. Someone I know is as strong and capable as he is intelligent and adventurous. In two weeks I'll go from being a solo traveler who wakes up and says, "I think I'm going to fly to Ireland today" to someone who, over dinner, says, "Hey, wanna drive to Red Rocks in Vegas next weekend to climb?" or, "Let's go to Germany." And while we may have to limit our overseas travels while we're tied to the Army, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make so I can keep this guy around.

Moral of the story, marriage isn't a trap (probably). Having kids is a whole different story though. Having kids is definitely a trap. Use birth control.

Monday, February 22, 2016


Mothers. Mothers are pests. When you got your first tattoo, your mother was the first to FREAK OUT. When you got arrested for DUI and called her to bail you out, she stood on the other side of the glass and laughed, then walked away without bailing you out so you could learn your lesson a little more thoroughly. When you dated that person in high school who was never going to amount to anything, your mother was the one who told you you were wasting your time. When you didn't do your homework or failed a class your mother was there to ground you until your GPA came up.

There are a lot of important people in your life. Brothers and sisters. Spouses and best friends. Grandparents and cousins. But for those of us who have a good relationship with our mothers, literally nothing can replace that.

Aside from your parents, your siblings are usually the ones who have been around you the most. They've been your partners in crime, blamed you for peeling wallpaper off the bathroom wall, and bet you a Reeses Cup to touch a hot stove for five seconds. They know how to push your buttons. And when you got a DUI and were freaking out that your parents would kill you, you called your big brother to help you pay it off without them finding out. Siblings will be there for you as much as they can. Until you make them mad. Then they'll rat you out to mom and dad and you'll face the firing squad for getting caught with beer at nineteen.

Your siblings are awesome (sometimes). But they're not your mother. Your mother is the one who pulls a wooden spoon out of her back pocket when you and your brother get caught tying fireworks to the cat's tail. She's the one who knows by the look on your face you're not the wallpaper peeling culprit. She won't just bandage your hands when you held your hand on the hot stove for an extra second to make sure you got the Reeses Cup your brother bet you, she'll tell you how stupid you were for doing it. Your siblings may love you, but your mother has done more than love you. She has endured you.

Your mother knows you better than anyone. She may not know your overly complicated sorority girl coffee order like your best friend or significant other does, but she makes up for it in other ways. When you call your mother crying your eyes out about a mid-twenties crisis that's not really a crisis, you don't even have to get your first word out before she starts telling you exactly what you need to hear. That's because she's probably known exactly what you were going to freak out about for a while. And when you find yourself wandering aimlessly around a foreign country, your mother is the one who knows what to say to make sure you don't come home until you've accomplished what you went there to do. Even if you don't know what that something is. Your mother knows your personality so well you don't even need to consult a psychic or a palm reader. She knew when you were eighteen you would marry someone several years older than you. She also knew you weren't getting married until you were at least twenty-four. She knew when you were five you would enjoy jumping out of planes and backpacking solo through Europe as an adult. And when you're teetering on the edge of a big decision, she doesn't just tell you the right decision, she helps you through the decision making process so you can make the decision on your own and move forward with confidence.

Ultimately, your mother is the one who has been your disciplinarian, your shoulder to cry on (even if you don't really cry), and your best source of advice. She's the one who spent your entire life making sure you would grow up to be a capable and independent individual. And for as long as she's around, you won't find anyone to match her.