Skiing

Man, it has been way to long since I updated my blog.  My apologies for any of you who are still tuning in!  There has been a lot of life lived in the last few months since my last post in August.  Kids have started another school year.  Job drama out the yin yang.  I had two screen printing side jobs that I quit by replacing them with money earned from an online Amazon store.  My wife and I quit our job and made a temporary home in another state.  We took a couple of relaxing vacations, and spent A LOT of time with family.

That brings me to my thought for today.

Snow skiing has been an integral part of my formation in who I am as a person.  I grew up in the flatlands of Kansas where there WAS NO skiing, but I was fortunate to be in a family that loved the mountains.  My parents would drive us out to Colorado for long weekends in the Rockies, skiing in Summit County at places like Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin.  As my sister and I got older, we began joining other families and friends and would travel further south down to Wolf Creek which is in Southwestern Colorado.  We began to really enjoy this southernly trip as the scenery was amazingly beautiful and the snow was unbelievably incredible.

The Wolf Creek Ski Resort sits atop Wolf Creek pass on a highway between South Fork and Pagosa Springs, Colorado.  Nestled at the top of the Continental Divide, this little gem is situated in such a way that when the storms blow in, they get trapped overhead and just dump snow for days on end.  It is normal for this amazing skiers paradise to get 400+ inches annually of deep white powder!  With over 50% of the mountain devoted to Advanced and Expert level terrain, it is a technicalphile’s wet dream.

It just so happened that my wife grew up skiing at Wolf Creek as well.  When we began having children we decided that we wanted them to learn to ski at Wolf Creek.  A few years ago, we took them for their first time and after the initial apprehension they took to it like all little children do.  This year was our third time to take them.  We stayed in Pagosa Springs for our week in Colorado and with there being so much to do, we opted to only ski for one day.  Just enough to keep the appetite alive, and not enough to get worn out.

The week before we arrived in Pagosa, Wolf Creek received 6.5 FEET OF SNOW.  Yes, you read that right 78″ OF SNOW.  This video is a similar snowfall in 2014.  Ridiculous right?

The boys spent the morning taking a refresher course with the ski school while I got a few relaxing runs in.  But, the afternoon…  This is why we wanted to start our children early…  The joy I had of skiing with my children was wonderful!  Watching the joy in their faces as they navigated the mountain.  The frustration that they felt as they fell.  The triumph they felt when they made it to the bottom.  Such a wonderful thing.

Skiing has always been more than a sport or hobby for me.  It is almost akin to a spiritual experience.  Gliding thru deep powder, navigating thru trees, becoming familiar with the mountain.  The rich, bright blue of the sky, the white tops of the mountain set against it, the thick green of the tree tops jutting out against the white snow, the rocky outcroppings pinned up against the side of steep drop offs.  The experience of being able to effortlessly glide thru the majesty of the mountains and use all five senses while doing so is like nothing else in this world.

I am happy that my own children have begun to get bit by the bug.  They are starting to sense the wonder of it all.  That makes me happy.

Life has a way of defining itself at 11,000 feet above sea level.  I suggest you go and let the mountain push some definition into your life.

Life Together

We had to make up our fun in the little bitty, rural town of York, NE in 1997. By measure of entertainment, there wasn’t much pre-packaged fluff. The town had a movie theater, but having grown up in a much larger city, calling York’s establishment a theater was only claiming that you could similarly see movies there. In other words, it wasn’t much to gawk at…seats breaking down, projectors were old, musty smell…

There were a couple of places that you could rent movies, a bowling alley, a handful of eating establishments, and several nice parks. For a college town, pretty sleepy in deed.

For more exciting entertainment options, locals usually shot down the freeway to Lincoln (a real college town – home of Univ. of Nebraska) where they could find the usual suburbia flare being served up by the block. Additionally, Lincoln provided a new flare that many of us children of the 80’s-90’s were unfamiliar with – a retro “grunge-ish” scene. “Hippie” was coming back in to style and with it, all of the shops that supported the lifestyle.

Back to Corn-ville… Like I said before, York was the kind of place where you made up your own fun. Back before “couch surfing” was a real coined term (people who have no home and end up on buddies couches night after night), we would drive around town and find old couches that people had discarded to the side of the road – throw them in the back of the truck and have super soaker wars from the back of the trucks while driving the streets of town!

A couple of times we bought cans of biscuits from the grocery store when they were running a good sale on them. There were some train tracks that ran over the highway thru the middle of town and the road dipped down for proper clearance. We would go and sit on the bridge and take chunk of the dough and chunk the little dough balls at the windshields of the vehicles as they passed under. When the driver would try to use their windshield wipers to clear the mess, it would spread out the dough across the windshield making an even bigger mess. Of course, we were just selfish kids who cared about nobody but ourselves, and didn’t see the bigger picture of “do unto others.” We were just trying to have fun – we were bored – and we were doing it at other’s expense. This was all fun and games until the night we hit the truck full of “Townies.”

tucker-dale-image-1

Now, let me explain what I mean by “Townies.” Every town has their crazy local young men. The guys who cruise up the main drag on a Friday night just looking for a fight… Well, that night, we hit their truck and they found their fight.

We had hit the windshield of their truck with a couple of good sized dough balls and hadn’t thought much about the consequences of this action. We were busy looking for our next victim. UNTIL we heard the screeching of tires and a voice yell out with a few obscenities and promises that he intended to keep…

The five of us took flight in five different directions! We all had bikes parked by the old depot and one way or another ended up over there attempting to grab our bikes and ride away to safety.

Three in our group managed to get there before the truck pulled up and rode off with their bikes – not to far though as they wanted to see the show!

The remaining two ran up just as the truck was pulling up. These two guys took off again this time together and ran toward the neighborhood that is down the hill from the college. The townies chased them but couldn’t find them. I do believe that the two that ran on foot hid under a porch until the coast was clear. Their bikes didn’t fare so well however, as they were driven over by the Townies truck.

There were a bunch of us who all had large trucks with lifts. We enjoyed going and plowing thru corn fields, rivers, mud bogs, really anything that would make a mess.

We had a local “lake” that was more like a glorified pond, called Lake Recharge. It affectionately earned the nickname Lake Discharge as there were a lot of couples who parked out there…to get to know each other a little better…

Going to the local Walmart was one of the few “entertainment” options available. Have you ever seen those lists that get passed around email and Facebook like “20 Fun Things to Do in a Walmart”? We were the kids that made up those kind of lists… Who knew there were so many ways to get kicked out of the store? I kid, but truly, that place was entertainment in itself… Just sitting there people watching was funny enough!

There were so many fun things that we did that year, and so many memories made, I could write a book. The key point is that we made lasting friendships during that year. Friendships that are still cherished. Sometimes, we get back together and form new bonds. We’re not stuck in the past on what we had; we take time to enjoy life together now.

Just recently, a group of us got together in Kansas City for a weekend to reminisce and have fun. We all stayed at Greg’s place while there. He is one of the guys that was in our group. He’s done well for himself; owns a tree care business there, OP Tree Care I think, that specializes in tree disease. The point of me saying that is we’ve all grown up, move on, live life… But, we still have ties that bind. We still take time to get together and renew our friendships.

Folks, as I keep walking down this road of rediscovery and learning from my life, I am reminded that it is not one thing that defines us, but the many. These cherished memories I have shared are but a half of a percent of what I can remember from just that one year of college. The friendships that I gained that year continue to define parts of who I am.

Make sure you aren’t defining your life alone, but defining life together.

York College

A significant amount of context is revealed when I talk about the measure of impression that this school has had in my life.  What is goofy is that I only attended there one year…

When I was in 7th Grade, the Youth Minister at my church decided to take a crazy, out of control middle schooler with him and a bunch of other kiddos to a little town in York, Nebraska for what was promised to be an amazing week of spiritual learning, fun, fellowship and friendship.

We drove the 4 hours up the road and I had the MOST AMAZING WEEK OF MY YOUNG LIFE.  That week hooked me for years to come.  I realized that week that I was in a special place.  In my adulthood, I came to recognize that the feeling I felt – this strange, spiritual connection was what the ancient Celts called a “thin space.”  A physical location where the distance between the eternal and our physical world was thinner than others.

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Futbol, not football.

Although I am a fan of American football (fave team – GO CHIEFS), I never played it much growing up.  You know what I did play?  Soccer.

Yup, that other sport where people run up and down a grass field trying to score with a ball.

People say it’s lame, but trust me, it takes being extremely physically fit to play well.  To play professionally, you have to be the offspring of a Greek god or goddess.

I played for a club team in my home town and played some indoor soccer as well; imagine hockey, but you’re on firm ground and you are using the ball as you would outside (CAN BE BRUTAL).  I played soccer in college for one year in defensive positions.  Left that school on political scruples as I was an idealistic Freshman and very green behind the ears!

Anyhow, a couple of weeks ago, some buddies of mine and I flew in to Kansas City to check out our team Sporting KC whoop tail on the Colorado Rapids.  BTW, shout out to the amazing limo rental company that took us from the hotel to Sporting Park and then took us back to the hotel – overlandparklimoservice.com.  Very nice driver.  Yet again, I digress…

So, it got me to thinking though about how I feel like soccer has been such a defining thing in my life.  I haven’t played it in years.  I don’t even follow the professional world all that closely anymore.  I don’t know…it’s weird.

Continue reading Futbol, not football.

The Moving Picture

So, I’m not really quite sure when movies became such a big deal to me.  I can remember as a young child our Friday night ritual of ordering a Bigfoot Pizza from Little Caesar’s, a couple of 2 Liters of liquid sugar, and going to the local video rental store to scour the new releases for a funny film or two to watch.

The first film I have vague memories of going to see in the theaters was E.T.  My parents say that the very first movie I ever saw in a theater was Fox and the Hound.  Going to the movies as a kid was a big deal though.  I certainly remember how excited I would get.  I can remember going with a lot of little friends to see Honey, I Shrunk The Kids.  I can also remember that having a bag of Reese’s Pieces was very important.

Honey, I Shrunk The Kids
    Honey, I Shrunk The Kids

I won’t forget the summer going in to my 7th grade year of school, a wise thinking businessman built a “Dollar Theater” called The Palace, a couple of blocks from my house.  I must have seen three dozen movies that summer, and run a well worn path from door to door!

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What Defines You?

I sat in the audience amongst 1,000 other listeners as the inspirational speaker asked this important question, “What defines YOU?”

That one took me for a ride.  I had never really thought about it you know(?).  I’m a 50 year old Midwestern man, hard working, with strong family values.  I operate a business that pays me very well and I enjoy, I have three amazing kids, a devoted wife, a mortgage free home, an RV…  Does that define me though?

I was raised in a nuclear family.  I don’t mean “nuclear” as in they were exploding and blowing up all of the time.  Nuclear as in an “intact” family…like a Sociologist would use the word.  My parents loved my sister and I…no divorce or separation exists in my family or my wife’s family.  Does that define me?

My parents were both believers in Jesus Christ.  Meaning, they believed that He was who He says He was, and they believe that He did what He said He did.  They taught me about faith, and that He sacrificed Himself so that I could have eternal life.  I carried those beliefs until my teenage years when I began a more focused faith journey.  I devoted many years to working in Churches and teaching others about my faith as a profession…and still do privately.  Does that define me?

Continue reading What Defines You?

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Behind the Definition…