Fun in the....Snow?

I grew up in Indiana.  Before my sophomore year of high school my parents and I moved to Florida.  At that point I said good-bye to cold winters and grey skies.  I finished high school and got my undergrad in Florida.  I tried graduate school in Ohio, but remembered why I didn't live that far north and moved back south after the first semester.  All this to say, I really enjoy summer and warm weather.  Unfortunately, the winters, even in the south, have been unusually cold the past couple years.  This winter break I'm back up in North Carolina to work.  On my way to my final destination I've stopped in western Carolina to visit a friend.  Not sure why I decided driving my Florida bought truck down a snowed over driveway was a good idea, but thankfully I did manage to get it back up the hill this afternoon.  

There was plenty of snow on the ground from the past couple days of weather.  Today had lighter winds and a bright sunny day.  My friend and I both got new golf discs for Christmas and wanted to try them out, so we headed to the nearest disc golf course to play a few holes in the frigid 30 degrees.  It was a mix of wanting to throw the new discs and just saying we played in the snow.  

One of the most important lessons today is that you should probably leave your white driver in the car if you are playing in the snow.

Night of 1,000 Spiders

During the fall of 2010 my cohort class had a caving/climbing trip.  The caving trip was at Pigeon Mountain in north Georgia.  We spent two days there and went through Petty John's cave twice.  After that part of the trip was over we headed to Sandrock, Alabama to go climbing.  One the second evening of the trip I was scheduled to give a lesson on webbing harnesses.  The day went rather long and I ended up giving my lesson after dark.  I apparently also was giving my lesson during a highly active time for every daddy longleg in northern Alabama.  It started with a couple people having to flick one off every so often and ended with people continually flicking off spiders.  Just standing still I had about a spider a second climbing up my pant legs!  The rest of my class was having the same issues.  It felt like being in the middle of a Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock episode.  After my lesson our professor had a lesson to give and the entire time he had spiders crawling over him.

Anyone else ever have this happen to them?

Follow the Flying Cars

This past week my cohort and I finished our final trip of the semester.  We went coastal kayaking at Little Tybee Island, GA.  The first day was enjoyable.  I had a hard time being "present" because of all the stuff happening these last two weeks of the semester.  Unfortunately, this trip became just another thing on the to-do list.  The weather on the first day was fine, mid 70s, light wind.  That night we knew a cold front was coming and none of us were that thrilled about practicing rescues when the air temperature was in the mid 50s.  The benefit was that the water temperature felt much warmer.  Due to unforeseen events we had to cut our trip by a day.  We ended up doing our last bit of rescue practice right at the beach ramp.  The 20 knot west winds that day made things quite interesting.  When you flipped your kayak to start the rescue there was no time to waste.  You had to start the drill in the middle of the river so that you could get back in your kayak before the winds blew you into the beach, or worse, a boat dock covered in oysters.

On our way home that day we came across a train track with a stationary train.  We went down a couple streets but it looked as if we were going to have to wait it out.  What better thing to do when you are waiting for a train to move then have a dance party?  A bunch of us got out and started dancing beside the van and trailer.  At one point someone looked north up the tracks and exclaimed, "Look! There are flying cars!!" It was dark out so all we saw were headlights. Wouldn't you know, there was an overpass.  We all jumped back into the van and tracked it down.  While it would have been nice to find the overpass sooner, the dance party was still fun.  And yet again, we came back with no pictures from our trip.

Advent Conspiracy Promo Video

How I Got to Georgia College (pt2)

I had just drove back from Fort Lauderdale after sleeping in and being too late to the class to attend.  I went on to to look for possible work that fall and found something I wasn't expecting.  You see, it took me 7 years to finish my first master's degree.  I paid as I went and then took over a year off before working on my thesis.  The nice part about that is not owning any money once I got my diploma and hood.  The last thing on my mind was going back to school.  I did a job search for the southeast because I enjoy warmer weather and on the list of jobs is a graduate assistantship.  I clicked on the link and read about the graduate assistantships offered at Georgia College in their M.Ed. in Outdoor Education Administration.  What?  Could it be that I could get a degree that's directly applicable to my career?  (side note:  I believe both my BA in Humanities and my MLS are directly applicable to life overall).  But I had just finished a master's degree, did I really want to start back to school again?  The possibility for a tuition waiver and a stipend was too good to pass up, so within a week I had signed up for the GRE and sent in all my application paperwork.  When I headed for Maine the only things missing from my application file were letters of reference and my GRE scores.

While in Maine I had a phone interview with Jude Hirsch, the chair of the Department of Outdoor Education at Georgia College.  She explained the program and it sounded perfect.  The next step was to wait and see if I got awarded a graduate assistantship and then find housing.

I believe I found out later in June that I had been accepted into the program and that I got a GA.  Now was time to find a house.  I had been told about the "farm" from another person entering the program.  When I came to visit the school in July I was given a tour of the famous "farm" by one of the second year grad students.  After looking at one of the trailers to possible share with a first year student, I opted to take the third bedroom at the pyramid trailer where my tour guide lived with another 2nd year grad student.  The other trailer was just two small for two people, but had an amazing front porch which is where my kayak currently resides.

The trailer I currently live in is called the pyramid due to the obvious fact that it's painted to look like a pyramid.  Why you ask?  Well, this trailer, along with another one on the farm, used to belong to the Nuwaubians.  After their compound was raided the trailers went up for auction and the owner of the farm purchased two of them.  The other one has been painted white, but ours is still the original pyramid block design.  It's a nice place to live.  It's on the outside of town and I can't see any of my neighbors.  There's another trailer on the farm that apparently belonged to Janis Joplin.

My room isn't tiny, but it's too small to fit my queen size bed in and still have a desk and my gear fit, so I've been sleeping on a twin blow-up mattress all semester.  At first I was going to buy a bed, but then I figured I already owned a bed and wasn't going to shell out the money for a temporary one.  Perhaps next school year I'll live in a place that will fit my queen size bed.  One of the "fun" quirks of the trailer is the shower.  Due to a broken knob you have to use pliers to turn on the cold water.  

That's the story of how I came to Georgia College.  Now I can start writing on all the trips I gotten to take this fall with class and for fun, including going to Las Vegas for an experiential educator conference.

Christmas: Hope for All People

Have we forgotten?  In the bustle of activity leading up to Christmas, have we forgotten to prepare for Christ?  In the hurry to celebrate the New Year and take down the decorations, have we forgotten to celebrate our Savior? 

Imagine for a moment the events of Jesus birth: the smell of animals and hay, the sounds of excitement around the birth and the feeling of anticipation from a new mother.  Mary and Joseph were witness to the first moments of our Savior’s life.  To see the first breath taken by the God who breathed the universe into existence.  Before his birth humanity lived under the darkness of the Fall and now the Light had come into the world.  And this Light has become the hope for all nations. 

The Advent and Christmas seasons offer believers time to reflect on the immense importance of the Incarnation, the act of God becoming human.  God humbled himself and became like us in order to save us from our sin.  Not only was he the light of the world, he gave us that light in our baptism and confirmation to spread that hope to the rest of humanity.  In our celebration of Christmas let us remember our call to spread the hope we have found in Christ to the world, a world that has people still living in darkness, which can only be broken with the light of Christ’s love.

C.S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations… There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.

You see, each encounter we have with another person is a sharing of the hope we have in Christ.  We, by virtue of the light given to us by Christ, have a choice to share that light or hide it from others.  That choice has eternal consequences.  The Incarnation was a powerful event in the history of the world.  Christ broke through the eternal into the temporal.  He came to dwell among us.  Now we are given the chance to share that light with others so that Christ may dwell among them too. 

This Christmas do not forget to celebrate that hope in our your lives, and share that hope with the people you encounter every day. 

**This article was written for the winter 2010 issue of Today's Disciple (a magazine published by my parent's church in Orlando, FL). 

Dealing with Disney

Due to the immense fun I had dealing with Disney, I thought I'd share some of that joy with everyone.  This wasn't the first time I had dealt with Disney lawyers.  When I initially went to get my USCG Captain's license I had to deal with them.  We went back and forth several times on the wording of the letter to the USCG so that Disney was sure I wouldn't come sue them for back wages and the USCG understood exactly what kind of boat I drove and for how many days.  I still had this letter in my file and thought, surely this will make things go faster.  Oh how naive I am at times, or perhaps how dense the Disney lawyers are all the time.  It still took all summer going back and forth with my managers and the paralegal trying to write my letter to get it right.  Fortunately for me the USCG representative on my file was very helpful and worked with me to get all of it figured out.  It took about three months from start to finish, but I finally got my license renewed.  Of course, I still don't have that sailing endorsement yet!

How I Got to Georgia College (pt1)

Before I left for Maine I had graduated (finally) from Rollins with my MLS (Master's of Liberal Studies).  I was also on a quest last spring to get my USCG Captain's License renewed and get my sailing endorsement added on to it.  I need my sailing endorsement to be a Watch Officer (lead instructor) for the Sea Program at Outward Bound.

You see, this little issue had been plaguing me all spring.  I was told in January that I needed the sailing endorsement, so I diligently looked for a class in the area to take.  Trying to get to a USCG testing center would seem like the easier answer because I would just have to study and take a test, but as with most government things, they don't try to make it easy and the closest one in Florida is Miami.  Taking a class in Tampa or Orlando would take the place of going to the testing center and reduce my driving.  The only problem was finding a time that would fit into my spring schedule which by now was full with finishing my thesis, working at Disney or being in Key Largo working for Outward Bound.

The first course I signed up for was in Tampa.  I drove almost two hours (I was just about to get off at the exit) and I got a phone call saying my instructor had gotten into a car accident and the class was cancelled.  I turned my truck around and headed home a bit aggravated at the gas money spent, but also understanding to the situation.  I then went online and signed up for another class.  This time it was in south Florida, but it worked with my schedule.  A few days before that course I got an email stating the class was cancelled because the had no place to hold it.  Apparently the room/building they normally used had been booked.  Great, this was the second time my class was canceled and now it was May.  My USCG license was expiring the end of July and I needed to get working on renewing that quickly.

I had two choices for renewing my license.  One was to go to a class and take the tests again.  The second was attempting to get Disney to write a letter confirming my sea time over the past 5 years.  Dealing with Disney lawyers is like untangling Christmas lights.  If you take on the challenge be prepared for lights to be out and several trips to the store.  I choose the class option.  I changed my reservation with Sea School (the company I'd been working with to take the sailing course) to take a renewal class for my license.  It was in Fort Lauderdale.  All I needed to do was make sure I was up on time to drive two hours south.

As you can probably guess, that didn't happen.  I woke up about 45 minutes late, jumped in my car and headed south.  When I was an hour away I called the gentleman teaching the course to let him know I would be late.  He kindly told me that if I was more than 30 minutes late (which I would have been) that the USCG would not accept my attendance in the class.  Annoyed at wasting more gas and frustrated at over sleeping, I drove back to Orlando.  At this point my mind was jumping between preparing to deal with Disney lawyers and determined to find work for the fall.  When I got home I went straight to and found something I wasn't expecting.

My Summer...Vacation?

After all my training was completed in Maine I flew to Atlanta to start my next adventure for the summer.  This was my second summer working for Alive In You.  It's a Catholic service camp where youth groups come to a city and give a week of their summer to help others.  They may be working in a food bank, community center, painting homes, painting schools, or helping at local churches.  The first year my biggest job was going to worksites and taking video of the students working.  The video is compiled at the end of the week for participants to purchase as a memory from the trip.

This year I was in charge of multi-media.  DJ Skilz, our resident light/sound man, had gone back to graduate school and was not able to work this past summer.  I moved into his spot for camp in addition to still filming at worksites.  We had four camps this past summer.  Between June 10 and July 18 we traveled to Chattanooga, TN; Belle Glade, FL; St. Louis, MO; and Gramercy, LA.  The schedule for the summer was two weeks of camp, a week off, and then the last two weeks of camp.

While some of the staff went to the beach for the week of rest, two of us packed up and headed to Black Mountain, NC to help at FCA Girls Black Mountain camp.  Ok, I was going up to work the camp as the lacrosse clinician.  The other staffer with me was just giving me a ride.  She ended up being the softball clinician because of a last minute cancellation from the original person.

AiY had some interesting moments.  In the first two weeks of camp we had a total of three car wrecks.  I was slammed into at a stop light by this lady in a Camaro.  Another staffer backed into a car while he was driving the Budget rental truck.  And the third was a staffer who backed into a car at a stop light.  The one thing we all had in common?  All three of the other drivers had no insurance!

The lady that hit me exited the car screaming/crying please don't call the police.  Really?  I'm in a rental car that she just beat up the bumper on, "sure, I won't call the police."  Note:  That did not happen.  The police were called and a report was file.  My boss will be spending the next couple of months dealing with Alamo over the payment of damages.  It's upsetting that this lady had no insurance and the most she may had to pay is the ticket.

The lady that the Budget truck hit didn't want the police called either.  This led to a bizarre text message stating she was taking our staffer to "small claims."  Since the police weren't called for that accident, I don't think she realized she had no proof of blame.  And the last vehicle took off before information could be exchanged.  

There were some shining moments as well.  Every Friday was called Mexican Friday.  A couple of the older staffers would enjoy the flavors of a local Mexican restaurant on the last day of working.  Fine, so in Belle Glade this ended up being a trip to Tijuana Flats, but come on, it's so good.  The best was a restaurant we found in St. Louis.  It was a great way to end the three day madness of driving all around the respective city taking photos and video of the students.

At the end of the summer I flew back up to Maine to instruct a sailing course up there.  It was another VETs course.  The water had warmed up from May.  It was a balmy 61 degrees for dips.  On land it was rather hot.  Out on the water it was much cooler.  I spent a lot of time in my fleece.  This trip I took the Concord Express to and from Rockland from Portland.  It was better than the airplane.  They give you a decent size bag of pretzels and free wi-fi.

When I got to the airport to fly back to Orlando I was greeted with this, "You are flying to Orlando via Newark?  Come over here, we need to talk."  Apparently some large storm systems through the New York area had delayed a bunch of flights.  They already knew I was going to miss my connecting flight in Newark.  My choices were to spend the night in Portland and get the first available flight the next day, or fly to Newark and get the first flight from there to Orlando.  I opted to fly in Newark.  At least that way I was a bit closer to my destination.

I spent the night at the Newark airport.  I first tried the chairs, but they were not that comfortable.  I ended up sleeping on the floor.  When I went to sleep the place was empty.  When I woke up at 5:15am my gate was packed with people.  The first flight out was at 6:15am and I was on it.

I arrived in Orlando that morning.  It was a short trip in town.  Just enough time to work at Disney and make some gas money and pack my truck up for school.  Next stop:  Fripp Island, SC for a vacation.  I spent the next six days hanging out at the beach.  I played a couple rounds of golf, hung out at the pool and beach, went kayaking, and played pool.  It was a much needed slowing down from the summer.

New Sea 2010 - Days 10-12

Day 10
  Wake. Run. Dip.  The morning of Monhegan was not the best for our crew.  It was one of those "brains not fully operational" times.  It began with Rip Hudner ending up on a rock because the tide went out farther than we had adjusted for on the anchor lines.  Totally avoidable.  Then we didn't put out enough scope to hold two boats on one anchor and our anchor began to drag, almost running Rip Hudner along some large rocks.  And finally, when Rip Hudner cast off and set sails they didn't fall behind Ritt and almost sailed back into her.

  Our route had us circumnavigating the island so we could get a better view of the cliffs.  While sailing we got a glimpse of a finback whale.  The day before we had a minke get within a few hundred yards of the boat.  And during the whole training we saw lots of seals popping their heads out to say hello.

  Our next destination was Burnt Island.  This was another short sailing day, but it was an anticipated destination.  Today we were going to have an overnight solo.  We were out at our solo sights by around 5pm.  I quickly put up my tarp, did the little bit of homework they gave us, and went to bed.  I believe I got about 12 hours of sleep that night.  I went to bed before it was dark and was back up after sunrise.
Day 11
  Once we were all back together in the morning we dipped down by the pier.  A lobster fishing family was at the pier that day getting ready for a bbq.  They found great amusement in watching us all run into the cold water.  Oddly enough none of them took us up on the offer to join in on our fun.  After dip we made breakfast and debriefed our solo experiences.  Then we were put on a scavenger hunt of the island.  Burnt Island is the current solo and rock climbing site for OB.  The scavenger hunt took us all around the island and ended with us being placed on Final Expedition.

Day 12
   Since we had to be back at Wheeler Bay by 6am, we woke up in Tennet's Harbor around 4:30 and began our three mile journey to base.  We were greeted with chocolate chip pancakes and eggs.  After removing some of our gear we were given our last water challenge.  The tri-fecta of capsizes; it was time to tip over a Sharpie!  Redwing was gracious enough to let us tip her over.  Since capsizing a Sharpie requires jumping on the masts to get them to turtle, we just laid her on her side and righted her again.  With 11 people on a boat meant for 8, it was fairly easy to tip.  Staying trimmed while bailing was a bit harder to do.

  After finishing our last water challenge we divided and conquered cleaning the boats and gear.  Training officially ended by lunch time and we all went back to the staff house for much needed showers.

New Sea 2010 - Days 6-9

Day 6
 Wake. Run. Dip.  The only difference this morning was that the two new members of our crew had to do their swim assessment along with morning dip.  We had a lovely breakfast of eggs and bagels.  A couple of the folks had found fresh herbs on the island the day before and we added them to our eggs.  Then we took a walk up to the ICP (ice cold pond) and our trainers were gracious enough to explain the group initiative that takes place there, but not have us actually do it.  Oh, and we also learned how to make a coonskin hat as demonstrated by one of the crew.

  We loaded back onto the Mighty 12 and headed off to Dix Island.  The next day we were arriving back to Wheeler Bay in order to take a few tests and switch over to the Sharpies for the rest of training.  On the way we were greeted by a motor boat with a fellow OB instructor, the man who maintains Dix island, and some stranger who, in the span of five minutes, managed to convey all known "cool/hip/rad/surfer" hand signals to our boat.

Day 7
 Wake. Dip.  Time to sail back to base for a fun filled day of testing.  We arrived at Wheeler Bay around 12:30 and ate lunch on the mooring.  Once we were docked, we began the process of changing into swim clothes for the our swim test.  The swim test included jumping off an 18 foot pier with our PFD on, taking it off and placing it onto the dock, then swimming out about 70 feet to rescue a victim and bring them back to the dock.  After that you swam about 10 yards underwater.  The final element was diving down 10 feet and grabbing dirt from the bottom.  We all successfully completed the swim test!

  On a side note:  Don't try to fix your own coffee after swimming in 48 degree water.  I mistakenly put lemonade powder in mine instead of powdered milk.  It was rather disappointing and I had to make another coffee.

  The rest of the day we spent reviewing and taking the Maine Wilderness Guide test and our Safe Boating test for Outward Bound.  Mixed into the day was a great talk by Bob Rowe about OB history.  I would have enjoyed the talk more had I not gotten sunscreen in my eye and it was causing me distracting pain the whole time.  That night we slept in one of the student tents and dreamt about our second capsize drill to be done in the morning.

Day 8 
  No run and dip today.  Nope, today our mission was to capsize the Mighty 12 underway with a gybe.  In addition to that we were all wearing our foul weather gear.  In a highly scientific experiment I wore my SmartWool under my foulies to see if it would keep me any warmer.  I'm not sure how well it did while I was in the water, but I believe it kept me warmer once I was back on the boat.  We successfully gybed and capsized the boat.  It was really awesome watching her rise back out of the sea.  It reminded me of the scene in Pirates where they flip the boat and leave Davy Jones' Locker.

  Once we sailed the boat back to the pier the majority of the crew started cleaning her up, while five of us went to go get our pre-employment drug tests done.  When we returned the whole crew split into two as Sharpies only hold six students each.  The two boat crews, Ritt and Rip Hudner, spent the next couple hours packing food and gear onto the boats.  We left Wheeler Bay early in the afternoon and headed a short ways to Long Cove for the evening anchorage.

Day 9 
 Wake. Dip.  Off to Monhegan Island.  This was a  pretty straight shot so we took the opportunity to due more MOBs (man overboard drills).  Tommy, our energetic crew member who resembled a round fender attached to a cooking pot (please don't make fun of him), offered to keep jumping off our boats.  He also performed this altruistic task when we were sailing on the Pulling Boat.  Almost 15 times he jumped overboard to help us hone our MOB skills.  As an added bonus our trainer took away our rudder and we had to save Tommy steering only by our sails.  Amazingly enough he never got hypothermia.

  When we arrived in Monhegan we were given an island welcome as people flung themselves off the local pier when we rowed into the bay.  We were happy to find out when we asked them how the water was, that it was wet.  We anchorage ashore and set off for an hour to explore.  One of the crew and I found a fun path that lead us to the white cliffs on the other side of the island.  In order not to be late back to the boats we had to do a bit of running, but it was nice to get the legs moving after sitting on a boat.

New Sea 2010 - Days 2-5

Day 2
  The first bit of business on day two was to capsize Pulling Boat 12.  The mighty 12 was going to be our vessel for the next six days of training.  We got up at 5:30am, put on our swim clothes (covered by warm layers) and met at the pier to strip out boat for the drill.  We were briefed on the process, went for a short run, and quickly boarded the boat.  After being towed to a mooring ball we all lined up on the port gunwhale and flipped our boat.  We successfully righted her and began bailing like crazy.  This was to end up being the first of three capsize drills during training.

  After swimming in from the boat it was time to get warm again.  All I remember is being intently focused on the ladder as I swam back to the pier.  The overcast, rainy, cold weather of the previous day had been replaced by a sunny, and slightly warmer air temperature which made warming up a ton easier.

  The next bit of business was packing the boat and setting sail.  We got left the dock in the early afternoon and headed off toward Penobscot Bay.  With favorable winds, we managed to extend the planned mileage by about 13.  It was a nice sail across the bay and we tucked in just north of Hurricane Sound on the southwest side of Vinal Haven.  It was also the first night of anchor watch.  Luckily none of our watches lasted more than 50 minutes a person.

Day 3
  We woke up at 5:30am with great anticipation of only dipping in the cold water.  Yes, at least for a couple days we were saved from staying in the water too long.  I have perfected the five second dip.  This was followed by an amazing breakfast of fried bagels and hot cocoa.

  Today's big adventure was setting foot on land.  We pulled into our afternoon anchorage and began a massive hike of 300 feet about sea level.  Ok, it wasn't that impressive, but the view from the top was awesome.  We played on the island for about an hour and then set out to Seal Trap for our evening anchorage.  Equipped with both local "facts" and "myth" we successfully began a running joke about Seal Trappe that lasted the rest of training.

Day 4
  Guess what time we woke up today?  That's right, bright and early at 5:30am.  It should be noted that sunrise was occurring around 5am, so the sky was bright when the wake up call was announced by the last person on anchor watch.  Again we practiced our quick dips in the cold water.

  Today's sail brought us to a lovely anchorage on the western side of Vinal Haven.  We were missing two trainees which we had to pick up at North Haven the next day.  One had been ill and the other was coming from school.

Day 5
  Wake up and dip.  This morning was a quick breakfast because had to beat the tide to make it up a very short bridge.  And by short I mean that we had to step the masts, switch to a steering oar, and I had to bend over slightly when we went under it.  The width of the bridge wasn't much bigger.  Our boat had about two feet of clearance on either side.  After we made it through each of us got a chance to try the steering oar.  We paddled until we made it to the Fox Island Thorofare where we set up our sails again and headed to the pier to get our last two comrades.

  When we arrived we tied the boat off to the dock and were given a short time to walk around town. My first experience in a small Maine fishing town left me feeling like I had walked around a backstage lot from a movie set.  It was Sunday, so the whole town was closed.  Time to get to Hurricane Island!

 Bit of history:  For over 40 years Outward Bound ran the Sea Program fully/or partially from Hurricane Island.  The last few years OB was not able to use the island.  Once again we have, if just in a smaller capacity, access to the island beginning this summer.

  Finally we faced our first natural navigation challenge.  The famous Maine fog decided to roll in during the afternoon.  Time to put on our navigational game faces, sharpen our dead reckoning skills, and have a blast with the newest challenge.  I got to take the tiller for a bit during the fog.  It was great seeing land, then the land disappearing, then tacking hoping to find the land again and rejoice when you ended up where you thought you would.

  Unfortunately, the fog receded and left us again with clear skies.  We also ended up rowing for a good part of the day as we approached Hurricane.  We docked the boat and went on a walk of the island.  Our trainers took us up to the "crack" for a group initiative.  I am a bit claustrophobic and standing in between two large rocks with only inches of space in front of me had me making a quick mental pro/con list for whether this was worse or better than dipping in 48 degree water.

  That night we anchored off of Hurricane with more fun to be had on the island the next morning.

New Sea 2010 - Day 1

One Long Decision.  This was the name we choose for our watch.  How true it was.  The joke goes, "How many Outward Bound instructors does it take to change a lightbulb?"  "One to change it, and 5 more to debrief it."  When you gather 11 trainees together on one boat you have a similar issue; simple things taking longer than normal.

On May 18th I left the warmth of sunny Florida to fly up to the cooler weather of Maine.  This would be my first visit to the lovely state of Maniacs.  I arrived in the afternoon only to sit at the airport of a few hours waiting for my ride, a fellow OB trainee, to pick me up.  My ride arrived about 4:30 and we headed from Portland to Spruce Head.  I am now convinced after the drive that Maine has the most Dunkin Donuts per capita/square miles of any State.

The next day at 5pm started New Sea Training.  I was already fearing the daily dips in the 48 degree Maine waters.  I had been tracking the water temperatures on the internet for weeks.  I had done lots of research on the affects of cold water on the body and tried to convince myself to believe the comments about the benefits of cold water swimming.  In order to come to grips with my anxiety I walked down to the pier and stuck my hand in the water for about 30 seconds.  This action confirmed my disillusion with all the positive research I had read.  That water was cold!

We met as a group for the first time at 5pm that day.  Having gotten a short tour of the base earlier, I had my hopes dashed that I would get a day reprieve from jumping into the water by the program director.  His casual comment was confirmed during out first gathering when our trainers announced, "Go get your run and dip clothes on."  Those eight words resulted in a blood pressure rise of about 100 points.  The time had come to face my dread of cold water.  We went on a short one mile run and ended at the pier.  One by one we jumped in for our swim assessment which consisted of swimming 10 yards on our stomach and 10 yards on our back along the pier.  Well, I survived my first immersion in sub 50 degree waters.  After a short evening meeting, that concluded day one of training.

Adventure Race (pt 3)

After hiking for five hours, it is not wise to take a 10 minute nap.  Especially when the next segment of the race consists of riding a bike downhill for about three miles.  What happens when you take your short nap to rest is that your sweat begins to cool.  Combine cold sweat with a brisk breeze in 60 degree weather and you experience mild hypothermia.  Oh yes, it would have been smart to stop and put on my soft shell jacket to block the wind, but then I was trying to catch up with my team and stopping would not have helped.  Finally, after about thirty minutes my body caught up and my sweat was warm again from exercising.

This section of race consisted of paved roads, then a recap of our mountain biking area, and ending again with more paved road.  Oh, but what fun we had during the mountain biking section.  It was about 2 or 3 in the morning and our headlamps weren't bright enough to safely light our way.  Most of the trail was about 2-3 feet wide.  One side of the trail was the hill going up, and the other side had the hill going down. In an attempt to not break any bones with a tumble down the hill, we spent a good bit of this section walking our bikes.  While I avoided broken bones, my right calf suffered severe bruising.  It looked like I had been beaten with a baseball bat.  What happened was that the pedal on my bike kept hitting my calf.

Somewhere on the trail we decided to take another nap.  This was our longest break of the race.  Yep, a whole 30 minutes of glorious sleep in the middle of the trail.  What was most surprising was the lack of other teams coming through on the trail while we slept.  The only thing I remember was throwing a couple ticks off of me.  After getting up from this break I was smart enough to put on my jacket.  This idea was short lived, on pushing my bike up the next hill I was sweating again and had to take my jacket back off.

We finally rolled in to the finish line at about 8am.  Around 6am we had all run out of water.  We checked our team in, got the map for the optional orienteering section, and took the most amazing showers.  Not opting for the orienteering section, we turned it back in.  That's when we found out that our time didn't end until it was turned in.  With the shower time included, we finished in 19.5 hours!

The ride home was quite interesting.  We stopped to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel.  Honestly, I remember what I ordered, but I couldn't tell you what it tasted like.  I ate it too fast.  Then we all took turns driving back to Annapolis.  Shifts were traded off when the driver started to fall asleep at the wheel.  I remember turning on my blinker, then I was in the other lane.  This was indication it was my turn to stop driving.  At one point during the drive I remember pulling off at an exit.  One of my friends asked what was wrong.  All I knew was that my body needed protein, and it needed it right then.  I saw a sign for an Arby's, but it was a lie.  I ended up going to another fast food restaurant and getting a hamburger.

We got back to Annapolis safely.  Our day was completed by eating a lot of pizza and then going to bed.  We all slept about 16 hours that night.  I won't be doing that again.