Monday, December 3, 2012

Bizarre Foods

Welcome to Bizarre Foods with Kyle Marcellus.  On tonight's episode we will be exploring the mysterious world of odd meats.  I certainly hope you will stick around.  

That sounded pretty good right?  I feel like if I could ever host a show, it would certainly be Bizarre Foods.  If you've never seen the show the basic premise revolves around the host, Andrew Zimmern, traveling around the world seeking out culturally unique food dishes.  He honestly eats some of the most horrifying things, but I would still do it.  My friend Scott and I have the same opinion of the show.  We always seem to end up hungry!  Because of this fact we have been kicking around the idea of having our own bizarre foods night.

Getting excited yet?

Saturday night it finally happened.  We both spent some time browsing around the local grocery stores seeking out the perfect items to "gross" each other out.  The unfortunate thing is, most of the stores around here don't carry anything too terrifying.  I was looking for something to elicit the response one usually has when they learn the details of Haggis.  There was no haggis to be found in Ocean Springs, so I went for a few things that sound odd, but I actually enjoy; gizzards and turkey necks.  Later on that day I started receiving picture messages from Scott.  Enjoy!

Neck bones anyone?

I had no idea that such a thing was actually
sold in stores.

The coup de grace

This picture just isn't right!

Scott working the grill.  

Crab boiled chicken gizzards and turkey necks.

So, what is the verdict?  The crab boiled chicken gizzards and turkey necks were fantastic, in my opinion.  I guess it depends on if you are actually into that kind of thing.  Scott also boiled the pork neck bones in his own concoction of marinade.  They were also delicious!  I could have chewed on those bones all night like a dog.  The beef cheek meat was surprisingly good.  Don't let the odd name fool you!  Although, it was exceptionally chewy.  The majority of it was actually just chewed and then thrown into the woods.

Now lets talk about beef tongue.  I feel like the tongue was on a different playing field than the rest of the items we tasted.  The look of it, the thought of it, and just truly knowing what it is can play mind games on you, but I am basically willing to try anything.  Scott split in and let it soak in some Worcestershire sauce.  Cooked it had the appearance of venison.  It was extremely lean and dense.  Admittedly it smelled delicious.  Scott and I both tasted a piece and found ourselves with nearly identical expressions on our faces.  It was the expression one gets when they are in a deep state of thought.  Neither of us could put our fingers on exactly what is was that we had just tasted.  It wasn't awful enough to bring forth immediate removal, but it also wasn't savory enough to begin devouring the rest of the tongue.  It was just interesting enough to give it a second shot.  Interesting truly was a good word for describing it.  It was quite gamey and didn't have the most appealing after taste.  No, I won't be finding myself becoming a connoisseur of tongue, but I did try it.  What more could anyone want from me?

Don't fear the odd!  Life is all about the experiences; even the disgusting ones!

Until Next Time (eating normally),

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Back From Hiatus

Hello all.  I know it has been a while since we have spoken, but I promise that i'm alive and well. I've had a surprising amount of traffic through this site while I was gone.  Maybe it's something about the awesome way I tag my posts, or maybe not! Haha.  What's the good news, you ask?  It is December the 1st and i'm back!  I feel like it's a good day to return.  I just needed a little bit of a break, so I took it.  I haven't been doing much, so you really haven't missed out.  I've been getting a lot of reading done and I feel like I have seen quite a few concerts in my time away, so let's talk music.

I was involved in quite the night out on the town last night.  I'm typically a two bar a night kind of guy, but the fact that I found myself in three last night should start painting a little bit of a picture.  I had been looking forward to this night for a little while.  There was a jazz singer, Linnzi Zaorski, playing down at the Grocery that one of the bartenders had talked up to me.  I tell people, regularly, that I feel like I was born in the wrong era.  I am a HUGE fan of classic film/books.  I often wish I could find myself in one of those classic old bars where all the women are in classy dresses while the men are wearing those white dinner jackets.  The places are always cloudy from the smoke of hand rolled cigarettes.  No one drinks beer in these places either, it's always brandy, martinis, and other drinks of the sort.  The kind of place like Rick's Cafe from Casablanca.  

Rick's Cafe - Casablanca (1942)

Linnzi Zaorski would fit right into a bar like this.  Her smooth sound was fantastic.  Her voice projected so well that it filled the room up.  This isn't just a matter of amplification because I have seen plenty of bands in that room that couldn't fill it up with the sound like she could.  It was a nice a laid back sound that truly transported me right back into the 40's, or at least how I like to imagine them.  I even wore a jacket.  No, it wasn't a classy white dinner jacket because I would have been way out of place, but it did make me feel just a little bit more classy.  

Linnzi Zaorski and her band.

We stayed at the Grocery until the band shut down and then figured out plans for moving on.  We ended up only taking a few steps to the bar next door. (The bonus bar of the night)  I happened to run into my cousin, who's birthday it was, in there.  I stayed there and had some birthday drinks with him until they were ready to move on down to Mezo's.

Mezo's is always the "it" spot on the weekends.  It was, as per usual, elbow to elbow in there, BUT Captain Midnight was playing.  I've spoken about The Captain Midnight Band before in my He's Got the Moves Like Jagger: Part 2 post, but i'll go ahead and say a few words about them again.  What a great band to be finishing off the night with.  They are an unquestionably fun band.  I danced and grooved to their sounds until I got the signal that it was time to call it a night.  I don't remember what time it was when we finally left, but it was late (or early depending on how you look at that).  

I know this picture is a little wonky and sideways, but
I was also a little bit wonky and sideways at this point.

Tonight the music and madness continues.  The night is actually starting with a bizarre foods cookout.  I'm looking forward to posting about that in the near future.  Hopefully the post doesn't require a strong stomach! Following bizarre foods we are headed over to the coliseum to see Joe Bonamassa play.  Then most likely headed back downtown for another dose of Captain Midnight before they head back up to Nashville.  

It's good to be back

Until Next Time,

Friday, September 21, 2012

On The Road Again

I wasn't home for very long before hitting the road again. I appear to be spending more time on the road than I am at home anymore. I go home to work and support my vagabond lifestyle. This life suits me well.

My buddy Jason and myself set out at 4 am on Thursday morning to do a little pre-fall Natchez Trace trip. Our time off finally matched up to where we could hit the open road. This is the perfect trip for seeing a lot of territory and not spending a ton of money.

We spent most of the day, yesterday, hiking sections of the original trace and checking out some historic sights. I finally got to see the Windsor ruins! I get extremely amped up about things like this. All that remains of the civil war era mansion are a number of massive columns.

Following the ruins we headed a little further into Port Gibson to visit Grand Gulf Battlefield. It was the sight of one of the Civil Wars naval battles.

The trace is fairly unused this time of year. We were the only campers at the large Rocky Springs campground last night. Today we saw very little traffic on our way up to Jeff Busby park. I think we saw more deer than cars.

The weather has been nice and cool at night. We laid out on the benches of the picnic table last night and watched the satellites pass overhead. Tonight, after dinner, we are heading up Little (tiny) Mountain to watch the sun set over this wonderful state and then do a night hike, by headlamps, back down to the campground.

I'll update as I have time to do so.

Until Next Time,

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Expedition Colorado: Blue Lakes Pass

The first time I remember looking at the clock, after falling asleep that first night, was 10:36 pm.  I thought to myself, "are you kidding me!?"  "Is it really only 10:30!?"  I felt like I had been asleep for hours, but unfortunately it appears that I had only taken a nap.  I did some research on sleeping after a big night of drinking some time back.  I noticed that I only slept for a very short time on those nights.  What I learned was that, following consumption of excess alcohol, the body falls immediately into deep sleep.  All of the much needed REM sleep is completely bypassed and that's why one wakes up early and feeling quite fatigued.  I imagine it was much the same reason that I had only been asleep for a few hours.  Following that hike in, I was so tired that I passed out into immediate deep sleep.

As I lay there on my back, in that tent, I started thinking.  I was mostly thinking about going back to sleep and my inability to achieve that goal.  I stepped out of the tent to walk around a bit.  Places like that are where stars are really seen.  There is no ambient light to drown them out.  I looked up in amazement at the arms of the Milky Way above my head.  I watched as satellites traversed the cosmos above me.  Seeing the stars like this conjured up the images of the few times  I have had such clear viewing as this.  The two times that came to mind were only a few months apart.  The first time was in March of 2005 while I was camping out in Del Rio, Texas at Devil's River State Park.  The fact that the park is so far from anything coupled with the clear desert sky, makes for some amazing star gazing.  The second time was in August of 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.  It is the only time I have seen the stars like that at home.  Without any power, there was nothing to drown them out.

I eventually fell back asleep off and on until the sun was finally shining in through the thin walls of the tent.  When I crawled out of the tent I could truly feel, for the first time, the extent of my leg soreness.  Apparently walking up a mountain is tough on the legs!  (please take heed to my sarcasm here)  I brewed a little bit of coffee and ate a bit of breakfast to try and motivate myself to get going that morning.  The plan, on this day, was to climb the three miles up toward the blue lakes pass and upper lakes then decide what we want to do from there.  

The trail to the Blue Lakes Pass turns immediately uphill soon after leaving the lower lake.  My legs were so tight that I didn't have much motivation, at this point, to do much of anything.  We stopped for a few minutes to stretch and I began to feel a little bit better.  

The views heading up the trail increased with the altitude.  The pure blue of the lower lake was intensely amplified from above.  I looked down and picked our tent out of the the trees near the shore of the lake.  

Apparently I decided to try and camouflage myself with the color of the lake!

The views only get better with the elevation.  It gave us a decent excuse to stop and catch our breath.  We would say, "we are just taking in the views!"  It was better than decent, it was a great excuse.  Looking across that mountain range was astonishing.  Where does something this huge even come from?  

We got our pace down to a science winding in and out of the trees headed up to the middle lake.  When I would start to get winded I would tell myself, "just slow down."  It's as easy as that.  When winded, just slow down.  When we broke the tree line we started guessing when we would encounter the next lake.  

The view back across the middle lake.

After another step up and a little more time on the trail we finally reached the upper lake.  The upper lake is situated at 11,720 ft.  Every step on the trail I find myself reaching the highest altitude my lungs have ever encountered.  

Myself sitting at the upper lake.  The blue lakes pass switches up the grassy 
patch beyond the lake.

As we looked up the pass we already had a bit of doubt.  It was high, steep, and intimidating, but we were willing to give it a shot.  We could see fellow climbers high up on the pass.  We did it like anything else, one switch at a time.  Higher and higher we climbed.  Eventually we got above the grass and that's where it got a little bit sketchy.  The switches stretched out with the increased steepness.  Without anymore vegetation the trail got loose.  Then what was once a level trail began to angle off down the mountain.  With tired legs I found myself unsure of my footing, but we pressed on.  At the top of one of the switches we took a break sitting on a big rock waiting for some of the descending climbers to pass.  Brandon looked over and said, "I'm not going to make it."  With the weight he was carrying and the fatigue in his legs, he wasn't willing to risk a fall.  He told me to press on and he would meet me back down at the lake.  About this time a group from Tennessee, that we had been passing back and forth all day, passed us again and let us know how much worse the trail is from here.  They turned back at the next switch.  I'm smarter than attempting a climb alone and headed back down the mountain with Brandon.  

Looking back across the two upper lakes from the pass.

Myself high up on the pass

Looking back up the pass.  If you enlarge this pic and look closely you can pick Brandon
out high on the pass.  Near the center of the photograph, above and to the left of where the 
grass ends, the little black dot is Brandon.  He had to head back up to find his sunglasses.

On the way back down to the campsite we started formulating new plans.  We didn't want to head back up the pass again the next day because we wanted to see new areas.  We decided that we were going to pack back out the next morning and head around to the other side of Mt. Sneffels Wilderness.  We would hike in from that side to see the land from a different angle, but this day wasn't over yet.

While we were hiking above the campsite we could see a smooth white patch in the rock slide beside the lake.  Brandon was convinced that it was "sand."  I wasn't so convinced.  I believed, or at least wanted to believe, that it was snow that was still hanging around from the prior year.  When we finally reached the campsite, we dropped our gear and started heading that way.  We picked through all the loose rocks, around the lake, and carefully made our way in the direction we thought the mysterious white patch was.  I'll just let the pictures explain who was right and who was wrong!

The mysterious white patch as see from above. (to the left)

What's the verdict Brandon?

That looks like snow to me!

Of course the guy from Mississippi would make snow angels!

It was a great way to end that day.  We stayed there and literally played in that snow for probably half an hour.  We looked like a couple of kids out there.  This is the closest I have been to anything resembling snow in a LONG time. We headed back to the campsite once we had our fill and called it a day early again.  

This day was over, but not the trip.

To be continued.

Until Next Time,

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Expedition Colorado: The Hike In

The trip actually started a day before we did any hiking.  I was up by four, the morning prior, to begin my trip out west.  I had an early flight out of Gulfport with a connection in Atlanta before finally meeting up with Brandon in El Paso.  We pointed the car north and began our road trip up to Colorado.  There is really not much to say about this trip.  One can imagine what goes on for ten hours of driving.  There was some general catching up and scanning through the radio until our late arrival at the trailhead around 12:30.

Brandon was up long before me that first morning.  He was stirring before daylight.  I didn't have that problem.  I've slept in my truck numerous times on road/camping trips, so I was quite content with catching up on a little rest before our hike in.  

I finally got up around 7:30 and started thinking about breakfast.  When I finally got out of the car I was, for the first time, able to take in my surroundings.  It was dark during our journey in, so the shadows were the only thing hinting to what was around us.  Looking up at the mountain range, we were about to hike into, was awe inspiring.  To a boy from the gulf coast of Mississippi, this is a huge change of scenery.  I've never seen mountains like this first hand.  The anticipation of what was about to come was at its peak at this moment.

The view from the car.

I signed my name into the registry at 8:30 that morning before beginning the hike up to the lowest of the lakes.  I did my fair share of training to prepare for this hike.  The only problem is, there is not any way to account for the altitude change that one will experience when coming from sea level.  That was the most intimidating factor for me when starting out.

3.3 miles to the lower blue lake.  That can't be too bad right?  Right???

Almost immediately, beyond the trailhead, the trail takes the turn up.  There are very few level or downhill sections on the way to the lower blue lake.  We kept mentioning the fact that when we are headed back out it will be all down hill.  About 15 minutes into the hike we both had to shed our jackets because we were quickly becoming sweaty.  We pressed on and continued going up and up.

The short hand of our climb:  We had to break at nearly every switchback to catch our breath.  I noticed that my respiratory and heart rates would elevate quickly, but at rest would also come down very quickly.  I started coughing somewhere around halfway up and then noticed an occasional wheeze when I was near 3/4 of the way to the lake.  It took us over four hours to climb the 3.3 miles to the spot where we planned to camp.  I know that is a crawling pace, but trying to adjust to the altitude was murder.

I didn't initially feel bad while we were setting up camp.  I was just hanging out eating a little lunch when the headache started to set in.  Before too long my head was throbbing, I was feeling a little nauseated, and I was overwhelmingly exhausted.  I did a bit of research on altitude sickness before I left, because I knew that this would be a real potential for me.  The best advice was to get rest, drink plenty of water, and pop a few Tylenol.  I did just that and sacked out for a few hours.  

I woke up feeling like a new man.  I was seeing the area through a whole new set of eyes.  The beauty was outstanding.  Just looking up at the mammoth mountains surrounding us was quite exciting.  This was the first time my eyes have gazed upon something this amazing.  I've seen plenty of pictures of the area around the lower blue lake, but like everything else the pictures don't do justice to seeing the area with one's own eyes.  The lake was ultimately clear and blue.  The blue was so vivid that it drew my attention away from everything else.  I didn't want to leave the banks of that lake, so I sat down and took it in for a while. 

Brandon and myself next to the lake

Brandon taking in the clear blue water.

Following my nap, I was finally game for getting out and checking out the area a little bit.

Home for the next few nights.

The stream where we filtered our water from.

I took it easy for the rest of the day after that nap.  I walked around the area for a little bit and did all the level area exploring I could.  I refilled my water bottles and cooked dinner.  That water was ice cold and so tasty, but i've never been one to risk drinking it untreated or unfiltered.  Following dinner I headed back down to the shore to chill out and write for a little bit before calling it a day, but I didn't last very long.  The exhaustion was just too much and I was out before dark.

to be continued...

Until Next Time,

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Expedition Colorado

The day has finally come.  I fly out first thing in the morning headed towards El Paso to meet up with Brandon and begin our adventure.  

My mess from last night....

....has officially become my finely tuned expedition machine!

I doubt i'll be doing any mobile blogging from the field this time, but if you want to keep up with any updates I may post you can follow me on Facebook or Twitter.  

A full update will be up when I return!  

Until Next Time,

Saturday, September 1, 2012

He's Got the Moves Like Jagger: Part 2!

My original Moves Like Jagger post was one of the most popular in the history of this little blog.  I have always hoped for an encore performance and until last night it hadn't happened.  Yes, you heard that right; until last night!  

I was extremely happy to be granted a bonus night off, last night, after our ordeal camping out at the hospital for Hurricane Isaac.  A couple of friends and myself decided to head down to our favorite local spot, Mezo's, for a night of entertainment and shenanigans.  The Captain Midnight Band was playing, so the good news was that we were at least going to listen to some great music if nothing else.  

I noticed something pretty early on in the night.  I recognized on of the karaoke "sensations"  from my original post.  I knew that I recognized the guy that was with her, but I still just couldn't put my finger on it.  It was only when I heard him talk that my suspicions were confirmed.  It was Jagger himself.  This was a pretty rough looking guy the first time I met him.  I'm not stepping out on any limbs by saying that last night he looked like generalized dog shit.  Whatever combination of pharmaceutical products and booze that Jagger is using is not working out for his benefit.  It's almost guaranteed that i'm going to run into this guy at some point coming into my unit at the hospital.

We didn't have any karaoke for Jagger to show off his moves this time, but when Captain Midnight started throwing out the funkiest of jams he had no more excuse to stay still.   He was instantly the most famous person in the room.  I saw phones going up and non-stop flashes for the first few minutes of his performance.  He was tossing his arms around as he was spinning about in senseless circles.  He was right up in the faces of all the band members attempting to sing along.  I was basically just waiting for him to get tossed.  Eventually he did knock over the lead singers mic stand and was pulled away from the band and shown a line of the floor that he was, now, no longer allowed to cross.  

He danced like a crazy person for a few more songs before I ended up losing track of him.  He was overly entertaining, but eventually the crowd showed up and he was washed back into non-existence.  I'm glad I got to experience this again.  It's always nice to see old friends!  

I got a present for all of you this time too!  Instead of taking pictures, I decided to just go ahead and take a video.  I knew he wouldn't care.  Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

On a side note:  It's less than a week before my trip out to Colorado!

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Orleans

There are certain places in the world that by the shear mention of their names can bring either and smile or a cringe to ones face.  New Orleans is certainly one of those places.  Everyone has heard stories or has some of their own.  The funny thing is, sometimes those stories are only meant for the nights that they happen on.  The phrase used out west is, "What happens in Vegas, stays in  Vegas."  New Orleans is much like that.  So, no this isn't a story about a wild night down in NOLA.  This is about the feeling of the morning after!

Friday night, following the B.B. King concert, Andrew and myself met up with Matt to head over for a night of fun down in the Big Easy.  (This is the part where we fast forward and omit the next couple of hours)  As I was sitting around the house nursing an evil hangover, the next day, I started flipping through pictures I had snapped throughout the night.  I felt like I was reliving that final scene in the original Hangover movie.  One picture just stood out to me and really made me laugh.  I feel like it's the perfect picture to describe the conclusion on a night in New Orleans.  

This truly is the perfect description of the conclusion of a nola trip.  After a night of wandering about the French Quarter we always end up sitting around the tiny tables in Cafe Du Monde recounting the adventures of the night before.  Wondering if we've all smelled this bad all night. Trying to figure out how long the sun has been up.  "Was it light when we walked in here?"  Stuffing that beignet into my mouth before realizing it's the same temperature as the sun. Then breaking into overwhelming laughter when I throw powder sugar all over my friend.  Oh, the shenanigans.  Those are the nights I always remember.  

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 25, 2012

B. B. King

Last night I got to check something else off of my bucket list.  I got to see the one and only B. B. King play live.  You have no idea how big of a thrill this was for me.  To be able to see a living legend do what he does best was truly a honor.  

I was excited to the point that I was telling everyone I knew that I was going to see this show.  The thing I couldn't believe, though, was the fact that so many people had so many negative things to say about going to a show like this.  They would say things to the effects of he's just an old guy sitting on the stage wishing he could be what he used to be.  After talking to several people I was under the impression that they would be wheeling him out on stage and basically just propping him up with his guitar and letting him talk a little.  I was surprised by the amount of people that were put off by the fact that he sits in a chair on stage.  I don't care who you are, if you are still on stage at 86 years old you deserve a chair.

Honestly, any number on scenarios was ok in my mind.  I was just thrilled to be in the same room as B. B. King.  But get this, it wasn't like that at all.  He was absolutely amazing!  From the moment he walked out on stage (yes, I said walked)  he had the entire audience in the palm of his hand.  He waved cooler than anything I do.  His stage presence and charisma at 86 years old were unmatched.  He absolutely captivated us all.  The man knew how to work an audience and I would have been totally satisfied to just sit there and listen to him tell jokes all night.  He was incredibly funny and retains a fine sense of comedic timing.  I got a kick out of him picking on a couple of young guys sitting in the front row.  He was making a game out of winking and waving at their girlfriends.  He really could make the women swoon.

I haven't even mentioned the music yet!  Someone told me a few weeks ago that he's really still got "it."  Trust me when I tell you this, he never lost it.  Lucille sounded just as sweet as she ever has as those notes traveled throughout the theater.  Sure, his fingers may not move as fast as they once did, but he still knows where to put them.  That blues voice of his still had an amazing strength that any blues singer would be glad to own.  When he first started singing I found myself with full body chills.  I've always ranked performances based on the chills i've gotten.  This show ranked right up with the best of them.

The other thing I was so impressed with was just how nice of a guy he was.  He loved interacting with audience.  After the show he basically had to be dragged offstage by his "handlers."  He was nonstop shaking hands, signing autographs, and talking to random concert goers until he finally made it offstage.  What a great experience.  I'm so glad that I was able to actually listen to B. B. King in the live setting.  He is also extremely proud to be from Mississippi!

#67: See B.B. King live.  CHECK

This is a great little clip taken back in January.  You can tell just how much he loves what he is doing.  

One of my all time favorite B.B. clips!

Until Next Time,

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Natchez Trace Pt. 4

I've been trying to finish these posts for a long time, but for some reason it has just never happened.  I'm finally going to close this chapter.  It's only five months late!  I've actually got another trace trip planned for the end of September, so I figure I should probably finish writing about this trip before going on another.  If you are new to my site here are the links to Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

I woke up with an optimistic spirit that third day.  I spent the previous evening thinking about where this trip would take me after leaving the trace.  I had some options with only 50 miles left to go.  I could head west back towards the Mississippi River and make my way home back through the delta.  On the other hand, I could head east and head up towards the Smokey Mountains for a little change of scenery.  As I left the campsite, that morning, I still hadn't made up my mind, but I had a little bit of time to figure that all out.  I just knew that I wanted to be off the trace by noon to allow myself plenty of time to make it to my next destination.  

After packing up my campsite I headed back to the grave site of Meriwether Lewis to pay my final respects.  That place really spoke to me and ended up holding some significance for me in the end.  I was just so amazed at all that one 35 year life could accomplish.

The final section of trace is rich with waterfalls, abandoned mines, and other caves.  Basically, full of things we don't have back home on the coast.  There are many worthy stops along those final fifty miles.  

View above a former phosphate mine.

Fall Hollow

Tobacco Farm

Section of Old Trace

Duck River Falls

Turkeys on the side of the trace.

After crossing this bridge into Franklin only a couple of miles of trace remain ahead.  I had a decision to make; East or West?  When I finally got off the trace, I stopped for gas and lunch and made my decision.  I was heading east towards the mountains.  I stopped at a visitor's center after passing through Nashville.  I was looking for info into campsites in the Chattanooga area.  I could make it there by dark and make some plans on continuing.  I pressed on into Chattanooga and picked out a campground, but this is when my plans all changed.

After spending the last few days on the trace, the traffic and population of Chattanooga was ultimately overwhelming.  It was hard to believe how crowded this place way.  I couldn't take it.  I just couldn't stand the idea of staying somewhere like that at the moment.  Hwy 59 runs right into Chattanooga, so I took the exit there and headed south.  I was back without plans.  My only plan was south.  I had decided that I would just start heading that way and if anything peaked my interest I would stop.  

Shortly after my turn south I knew the plan.  The only thing that was going to stop me was the Gulf of Mexico.  I was heading home.  From where I was it was going to be around a seven hour trip.  The traffic on Hwy 59 was nothing like what I had just seen, so it was a bit of relief to have long stretches of highway to myself.  I set my iPod to play and pressed on until I finally hit my driveway.  I unlocked my front door, walked in, closed the door behind me, and the trip was over.

Until Next Time,

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strengthen Your Back

If you've seen a sign like this before, you already know what you're in for.  Backpacking can be a bone jarring, abusive, hell of an experience if you're not prepared.  I will be the first to try and advise you against getting in over your head too early in your backpacking career.  

The first advice that most individuals will give you, in preparing for a trip, is to reduce pack weight.  Yes, this is an important aspect of backpacking; I can't deny that.  A lighter pack will always make for an easier hike.  For me, strengthening your back is equally as important as obsessing over pack weight.  If your back isn't properly conditioned and prepared for the rigors of the trail, you will find yourself subjected to bad hiking form and quicker fatigue.  

Q: What is bad hiking form?

A:  Leaning forward.  You may not notice it at first, but as the pack begins feeling heavier you will find yourself leaning forward in an attempt to alleviate strain and shift pack weight.  From personal experience, this does nothing but abuse your knees and wear you down at an even more rapid pace.  Your miles will be cut short and sleeping on the ground won't help with the soreness one bit.  

Q:  How do I go about building up the strength in my back?

A:  Have I got an answer for you!  In just a minute i'm going to give you a link to a pro tips page through Backpacker Magazine's website.  This page directs you through 3 basic exercises:  kneeling halfmoons, loaded step-ups, and low back complex.  I can tell you from experience that these work.  Not only do they work, they work fast!  You can feel the localized muscles used after your first session.  These workouts won't consume your whole day, but you have to be committed to actually doing them.  Follow the link to learn more.  Pro Tips!

A little bit of pre-training will make your backpacking experience significantly better for everyone involved.  Prepare so you don't wreck yourself and maybe i'll see you out there!  

On a side note:  I'm less than a month away from my Colorado trip!  I'm in the process of checking all my gear out and deciding on what's going and what is staying at the house.  I'm down to exactly 12 work days before the trip.  Fingers crossed for an amazing experience!  

Until Next Time,

Trying out a new template, so bear with me.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I'm always pretty cautious when driving at night, but last night I saw a first.  I was coming home from my friends house on the other side of the coast.  I had the radio loud and was enjoying my drive along the beach.  It was around 1:30 am when I was approaching casino row in Biloxi.  I saw a set of headlights up ahead of me.  I initially didn't think much of it.  I honestly assumed it was a car in a turning lane.  Then I realized that car was NOT in the turning lane at all and was coming down the wrong side of the highway directly at me!

My mind went into overdrive as I looked into those bright lights.  I quickly considered what to do.  Before I had the chance to make up my mind the idiot car in the wrong lane made the decision for me when they turned their car hard to the left.  Interesting thing was that there was nothing to the left; only a curb and then the beach.  They ended up stopped perpendicular to the oncoming traffic.  They put the car in reverse and I was sure they were about to back right out in front of me, but they actually stopped for the line on cars to pass them before they tried anymore shenanigans.  

A barrage on expletives freed itself from my mouth as my heart worked on coming back down to a normal rate.  I've heard of things like this happening, but it's never happened to me.  Often I see stories to individuals that are killed by drunk drivers in this fashion, so all the scenarios of what could have happened were running through my head.  Thankfully nothing happened.  It reminded me of what my dad told my sister multiple times.  He had said that if you're driving late at night, like that, to stay in the far right lane.  He said that drunk drivers will often get into the right hand wrong lane of a split highway and think nothing of it.  I guess he was right. 

Keep your eyes peeled.

Until Next Time,

Friday, August 10, 2012

Alabama Shakes

I don't do music "reviews."  I'm not a critic.  I'm a fan.  Just to set that straight!  When I write about a particular band it's because they've really knocked my socks off.  The latest band that has really blown me away has been Alabama Shakes!  Yes, i'm jumping right into the hype!  I've been hearing about the Shakes for a few months now through Twitter, Facebook, and all other social media outlets.  I tend to shy away from anything with that amount of hype.  I guess I just hate following the crowd.

My first exposure to Alabama Shakes was a couple nights ago at work.  Their video for Hold On came on while I was working in one of the rooms.  I didn't know who it was at first.  I just started hearing the song and before long I wasn't doing anything but staring at the TV.  I was enthralled by this band I was seeing and couldn't wait to see who it was.  When Alabama Shakes came up on the screen I instantly knew what all the hype was about.  I feel like I got to see them with a completely unbiased outlook by not knowing who it was at first.  Lucky me!

When I got home I quickly got on YouTube and looked that video back up.  I was just so blown away that I watched it over and over until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore.  I downloaded their album soon after and was thoroughly impressed.  The album sounds like something straight out of the fifties.  It has an amazing motown, bluesy, soul, rock feel that I just adore.  They also have perfected the "quality crap" recording style.  What does that mean?  It's got plenty of fuzz and crackling to give it the feel of being recorded in a garage 40 years ago and being played back on a janky 8 track player.  Don't take my word for it though, have a listen for yourself!  The hype is worth it!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Is it a little pretentious using the name of an entire state for a post on my lowly blog?  I don't know, but i'm doing it anyway!  I've been asked daily, since I have returned, about my trip to Arkansas.  I have just been so tired after work and sleeping too late into the day before going back in that I haven't been able to post about it.  The truth is, I don't have a big deep emotional heart felt post.  I can fit this entire trip into one paragraph.

My week in Arkansas was quiet.  The nights up there were a degree of quiet that we don't have here on the coast.  I was far from home and able to really relax for a few days.  We swam daily.  It was HOT!  I took a few hikes and battled the ticks and poison ivy afterwards.  I found a benchmark! (of course I would be excited about something as silly as that)  I took a little road trip to visit my Aunt Sharon, that I haven't seen in years.  It was really just nice to be away from the normality of everyday life and clear my head for a little bit.  Simple enough?  Good!

I will be doing a full post on Blanchard Caverns because that place was just awesome!  Also, when I finally get my full album uploaded to Facebook I will be placing a link on here.  Now, here are a few select pictures from the trip.

Until Next Time,