Posts in Adventures
Visiting the BEAUTIFUL Lyon Arboretum in Oahu, Hawaii (A Photographic Adventure)

As many of you know from my Instagram and my wife’s Instagram, we spent our honeymoon in the beautiful state of Hawaii on Oahu island. We saw a lot of really amazing stuff, but in this post I wanted to focus on our journey through the Lyon Arboretum. It was hands down my favorite arboretum I’ve been to and we were lucky enough to visit them on their 100th anniversary.

(To view any picture up close, tap/click on it and it will expand. All photos are raw shots/unedited.)

We first arrived not really knowing what to expect. Most arboretums that we’ve visited are very structured with clear, graveled walkways. Lyon was in a realm of its own as it presented us with a dirt trail that became more and more treacherous and jungle-like. I suppose this is what one should expect on a tropical island.

The off-path feeling actually made everything a lot more enjoyable. In fact, it was even a bit dangerous as some trails had signs that basically translated to, “You may get hurt or die. If you think you might do one of these things, it’s best not to do them. If you think you might not die, however, go for it!

I realize now you may be reading this and thinking I’m roasting the park or that I’m speaking ill of it in some way, but I’m not! I just found it humorous and a bit more dangerous than your average arboretum. Like I said at the beginning of this, it was hands down my favorite arboretum I’ve been to. I thought the entire place was unbelievable. I even took a picture in the bathroom while peeing… of the window and view, of course.

When we first arrived, Tiff had spilled coffee on her shirt so we decided to visit the gift shop before hiking in and taking pictures. The greeter inside was extremely helpful, nice, and knowledgeable, (about the park - not stained shirts). We went to the restroom, (as previously stated - no clue why I had to mention our bladder powers again) and we were off down the trail.

The path opened up to a peaceful and scenic view, though as a sucker for close up photography, I started taking pictures of flowers immediately. The diversity of plant life here is amazing. It’s even more spectacular when compared to the Texas/mainland flowers we’ve grown up with all of our lives.

As we rounded the start of the trail, it opened to a large, sprawling field with strange trees and mountains hiding at the back of the landscape. The trees had their roots as their base and were exposed. Some hadn’t reached the ground yet and looked somewhat phallic. I, of course, had to showcase this in a photograph below.

Birds were heard overhead, though most were hiding from sight. We traversed a small bridge and came upon trees with the strangest root systems. They rose from the ground like a city’s walls. The way they ebbed and flowed as you followed their tops with your eyes were mesmerizing.

Along the path laid a variety of mushrooms, flowers, and other variants of nature.

As we walked through this area, I realized how obsessed I’ve always been with the forest’s floor. Looking up and through is always wonderful, but there’s something about looking down at the debris that covers the ground that holds an oddly satisfying feeling. Life thrives and dies down there.

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Most of the notable insects we came upon were invisible and only made themselves known by the red welts they left on my wife’s leg, (mosquitoes, we assume). Though besides a large, flying bug that blocked our path, (which I wasn’t able to get a good picture of) we encountered the cricket’looking creature from hell that can be seen below.

We did however see a few normal-appearing bugs as well. Some are harder to see in the photos than others.

Further down the jungle-y, Hawaiian rabbit’s hole we went. The pathway led us by mossy rocks & coconuts, strange-to-us plants & flowers, and more tropical greenery than we were used to. I snapped more photos.

It was a lot to take in and I didn’t come close to capturing it all through my camera. The moment seemed a little more important than the future’s remembrance of it.

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I could get lost in this for days with Tiff and be completely content, (besides all of the bug bites and humidity).

The hike went higher and higher up. The walkways became more dense. Our route elevated and provided us passing root systems that become convenient stairs. The entire climb up we could hear rushing water, but we couldn’t view its source. A directional sign popped up as the only man made object and directed us toward a small waterfall.

We followed the arrow past the sign and its metal sister that warned against falling rocks. After another 5-10 minutes had passed, we were standing before the ‘Aihualama Falls. It stood as a large rock wall with a peaceful stream flowing from it. The entire area was enchanting and belonged to just Tiff and I for a brief, fleeting moment.

We hung out for a bit and began our trek back down. We took a small detour down a part of the path we hadn’t yet traveled.

The rest of the photos are from our trip back down. I can’t recommend Lyon Arboretum enough. If you find yourself in Hawaii on Oahu island, add this to your trip itinerary! You can visit their website by going to: https://manoa.hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum/

Enjoy the rest of the photos below!

Robber's Cave State Park: History, Hiking, and Alien Encounters

Most people tend to think about Oklahoma as a flat, boring state. Well, for the majority of the landscape you'd be right, but not the Robber's Cave State Park Area. Robber’s Cave has some really cool winding trails through giant rock cliffs and an amazing view from the top if you go in the fall, (like Tiff and I did). It’s located in the scenic, hilly woodlands of the Sans Bois Mountains of southeast Oklahoma and just might be among my favorite camping grounds within 4 hours of Dallas, Texas.

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A Brief History

The area surrounding the present-day park has been a hunting ground for hundreds of years. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest people were related to the builders of the Spiro Mounds. By the 1600s, the Osage and Caddo tribes dominated the area. French hunters and explorers also visited, leaving their mark by naming some of the prominent geographic features, which are still used.

After the Civil War, this area became legendary for sheltering fugitives from the law. Some of these included Jesse James and Belle Starr. Other fugitives included the Dalton Gang, the Youngers and the Rufus Buck Gang.
— Wikipedia
 “Dalton Gang” - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

“Dalton Gang” - Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

My First “Alien” Encounter

When I was a wee lass about 10 or 11, I went on a camping trip to Robber's Cave State Park in Oklahoma. Something happened there that separated itself from other childhood trips: I saw an alien. Well, okay, I REMEMBER seeing an alien or a ghost or something. All I know was I woke up from a dead sleep, looked out of the window that was positioned at the foot of the bunk bed I was sleeping on, and BAM. In front of me stood, (or floated) this incredibly bright, green figure that eerily stared at me unflinchingly.

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In the years that have followed, I’ve tried to scour the internet for sightings similar to my own around that same location. The only similar story even remotely like it is that of “The Spooklight” or “Hollis Light”. A mysterious event that can be seen from the Oklahoma/Missouri state line from a small town in Hornet, MO.

The only issue with this commonly reported sighting compared to my own is that the two events take place a little over three hours from each other. In The Spooklight sightings, most describe it as an orb, whereas I remember a large figure that felt imposing and yet calm somehow. I had always hoped I could return to Robber’s Cave to see if I could experience the same phenomenon. In November of 2017, I got my chance.

My Trip As An Adult

My girlfriend at the time, (now wife) and I decided to go on a quick trip some place close, but out of North Texas. I told her about my encounter and my wish to return to this place that forced me into such wonderment as an adult. It had a lot of hiking and things to climb so she agreed and off we went. Below are some of the photos we took. (Click to Enlarge Them.)

Final Thoughts

As much as I’d love to say I saw the green thing again, I didn’t. Instead, the trip ended up being really great. We explored the area, climbed the rocks, cooked food over an open flame, drank wine, pet farm animals, stargazed, and more. The locals were extremely accommodating at the cabins we stayed at, the nearby gift shop, and the people in the nearest town where we ate dinner the first night.

I often think, maybe it saw me and I was completely oblivious or maybe and more probable, it was all a brain failure at a young age. Either way, I highly recommend visiting RObber’s Cave State Park for yourself. Who knows, maybe the glowing thing is waiting there to meet YOU.

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Photo Essay One: A Creative Space
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Growing up in the 1990’s was a fascinating mix between analog and digital; between technology and a lack thereof (compared to today). I thank the universe that I grew up in a time period where the prospect of adventuring in a forest was more important to me than sitting in front of a screen.

Sticks and dead leaves crunching beneath my feet created a feeling more fulfilling than watching TV. Climbing a tree made me happier than reading, so naturally I did one more than the other (though I still love books). The forest was and always has been my favorite place to spend my time.

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I would never advocate littering, but growing up next to a forest in a suburb of Dallas, trash and random items were a normal thing to come across. I would often use them and combine them with the surrounding nature to create forts, paintball courses, and more. In a city, I see it all as being apart of the landscape. If the trash and random human-manufactured items outnumbered the trees and plants, well, then it would all be a very different place. Luckily, that wasn’t the case.

The photos included in this essay were taken recently. This place now stands in the aftermath of its former self. Metal posts are still tied to the trees I placed them on. Paths, though worn and partly covered, still show themselves like an old man showing you the “good ole days”. A screw and nail still remain where an old childhood friend embedded them.

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Most importantly this area of the forest is where as a child and teenager my creativity, in part, blossomed. I consider the forest my first love and this is where we fell for each other. I never left this place sad or emotionally hurt, but rather I ran to it when I was scared or heart broken, just as a healthy relationship functions.

When I would visit a friend’s house, they would show me their newest toy. When they visited me, I showed them my tiny, personal safe haven filled with barbed wire, recently dug holes, and other broken pieces of mother nature’s anatomy. I’ve visited many wooded areas throughout my life in Texas and in other states, but none compare to my first love: my very own creative space among the trees.

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I felt like lying down by the side of the trail and remembering it all. The woods do that to you, they always look familiar, long lost, like the face of a long-dead relative, like an old dream, like a piece of forgotten song drifting across the water, most of all like golden eternities of past childhood or past manhood and all the living and the dying and the heartbreak that went on a million years ago and the clouds as they pass overhead seem to testify (by their own lonesome familiarity) to this feeling.
— Jack Kerouac
Visiting the Westerfeld House and Its Haunted Past.

When I mention the Westerfeld house to people they generally have never heard of it here in Dallas. This is probably because the house is located on the corner of Fulton Street and Scott Street in San Francisco, California. Even I hadn't heard of it until a random purchase I made a couple years back at a Goodwill in Dallas. So, how did a house halfway around the United States peek my interest and a ton of others online and eventually cause me to travel to it? Here's the story.

My Discovery of the Westerfeld House

As I've mentioned in other posts, I love thrifting. I'm sure that either makes me a 90 year old grandma or a hipster from Austin, Tx, (but what's wrong with that?) Regardless, a thrifting trip I had with my friend James mid-skateboarding sesh, ended with me and a picture of a strange, spooky-looking house.

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I'm not sure why, but when I saw this buried among a pile of random picture frames and old, reprinted landscape photos at Goodwill, it seized my attention and wouldn't let go. I purchased it for somewhere around $3.99 and immediately googled the address and the artist's name. Sadly, I've never been able to make out the artist's name, but I did find the Westerfeld on those cross streets. The Victorian house was filled with a rich history that filled every bone in my body with a sense of wonder and curiosity. I was entranced and I had to learn more.  

The Westerfeld's Wild and Haunted Past

 Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The Westerfeld house was built in the late 1800's by builder Henry Geilfuss on behalf of the home's owner, William Westerfeld. William died in 1895 and the structure was sold to a contractor by the name of Jonathan J. Mahoney who loved to entertain celebrities as guests, (who wouldn't?). The list includes radio pioneer, Guglielmo Marconi, who reportedly used one of the top rooms to transmit the very first radio signals on the west coast. The lineup also included the famous escape artist, Harry Houdini, who experimented in the same room by attempting to send telepathic messages to his wife across the Bay. 

Fast forward to 1928, when the house was bought by Czarist Russians who turned the place into a nightclub called "Dark Eyes" while making the upper floors into meeting rooms. It was then that it was renamed the "Russian Embassy".

In 1948, the night club had shut down and the house became a 14-unit apartment building that was rented to African-American Jazz Musicians, including John Handy

By the 1960's, the house had all sorts of residents inhabiting its many rooms. One of the most interesting occupants (IMO) was occult filmmaker, Kenneth Anger. Because of Kenneth's dark body of work, his visitors lended themselves toward a more sinister nature. This included the famed criminal/cult leader, Charles Manson, as well as Bobby Beausoleil who later joined Manson's cult and was involved in the first Helter Skelter murders.

Kenneth would often film his projects in the Westerfeld house where he had carved a giant pentagram into the wood of the top floor. Anger and his friends would also hold satanic rituals in the ballroom. This attracted another famous visitor, Anton Zandor LaVey, who founded the Church of Satan and wrote The Satanic Bible. At one point, they had removed the ceiling in order to create a medium for their dark energies, as well as to view passing UFOs. In fact, many unidentified spacecrafts were claimed to have been seen from the top of the westerfeld, but I'm guessing the amount of drug use probably assisted these sightings.

Here are two of Anger's films. (Be warned: there's nudity, so probably not a great film for your kids to watch.)

Many more notable characters passed through the hallways of this house while it served as apartments. This included: Mick Jagger, Jerry Garcia, Chet Helms, James Gurley, Janis Joplin, Fayette Hauser, Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Lovelace, Heidi McGurrin, Art Lewis, and Ken Kesey. You can see the full list HERE.

In 1969, two men purchased the home for $45,000 and began remodeling random sections of the house. Many odd additions and replacements were made until it was purchased again in 1986 by someone more equipped to remodel an historic landmark like the Westerfeld.

Jim Siegel purchased the home and has since retrofitted the foundation, removed the dropped ceilings, re-wired, re-roofed, and re-plumbed, and restored the interior and exterior woodwork and the historic, ground-floor ballroom, and decorated the 25-foot ceiling with period wallpaper crafted by Bradbury & Bradbury.
— Wikipedia

The Westerfeld is still owned by Jimmy Siegal to this day and is maintained exquisitely as you can see below. Every detail is as wonderful as the last and compliments the home incredibly well. (Photo collection from Photographer Patricia Chang via sf.curbed.com.)

My Visit to the Westerfeld House

Almost two years after I found the drawing in a Dallas Goodwill, My girlfriend (now fiancee) and I traveled to Sequoia National Forest and then to San Fran, where after a lot of walking up and down the insane, but beautiful hills that make up the Castro neighborhood, we came upon the house I'd been dreaming of seeing for some time. The Westerfeld looked like it belonged on r/evilbuildings and yet, it was astonishingly beautiful.

As I stood in the park across the street, I felt this wonderful sensation of the house's presence. It was dark, brooding and fantastic all at the same time. One could feel the history emanating from the property. With the famous painted ladies on one side of the park, the Westerfeld stood out as a Victorian structure from another time and vision.

 Me standing at Fulton and Scott - Taken by Tiff

Me standing at Fulton and Scott - Taken by Tiff

I'm not sure a house (other than the one I grew up in) has ever left such an impression on me like the Westerfeld has. I love this house. The architecture; the city it sits in; the history; it all blends to create one of my favorite places and I've never even been inside. One day I'd love to walk through this historic home, but until then, my visit to the exterior will have to suffice.

Below are some other angles I captured when I visited. 

If this post was of any interest to you, you may check out the film currently being made about the Westerfeld House called House of Legends. You can find more information and even donate to the project HERE. Thanks for reading!

How I Proposed to My Girlfriend in Sequoia National Park
In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.
— J.M.

Today's post is probably the most important one I've written so far, and certainly the most meaningful. That's because this particular article is about how I proposed to my (now) fiancee. I've gotten the question numerous times in the past week, "How did you propose?" Since I generally write articles on our trips anyway, now I can cover two things in one fell swoop.

My girlfriend and I decided a few months ago to save up and go on a trip to San Fran after I offered her three different destinations to travel to for her birthday. That was in March, but this would be for June as a celebration of the school year being over, (she's a teacher and this would act as a future gift). 

 March 8th, 2018 on Tiff's birthday

March 8th, 2018 on Tiff's birthday

A little backstory on how we met, before I get to the proposal.

Tiff and I originally met through the app Bumble in 2016, but we lost touch. Although we hit it off immediately via in-app messaging, we both had a lot to deal with in our personal lives at the time. We didn't talk again until late April of 2017.

On April 27th, Tiff and I met at a local, Dallas dive bar called Milo Butterfingers for our first date. Milo's was a popular hang out for me and my co-workers and has excellent bartenders. It sat in between my work and her apartment, (GPS-wise). Little did we know, that night would change our lives forever. We talked for hours.

We've been inseparable ever since.

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All of our interests from the past, present, and future, seem to align. Our relationship seems too good to be true and yet, here we are. Our embarrassing love for Nu Metal; our late night talks involving science and psychology; politics; our love for toys, Poke'mon, and cartoons;  our similar collecting preferences; our common love languages...I could go on forever. She's perfect.

Over the next year, we traveled to Roswell and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Robber's Cave in Oklahoma, Austin and Laredo in Texas, Denver and the Rockies, and more recently: Sequoia National Park and San Francisco in California. That brings me to the point of this article:

How I Proposed in Sequoia National Park

Tiff and I woke up around 5am and met my parents outside of our apartment. We were then dropped off at the airport and flew 3+ hours to San Fran on Alaskan Air. (I LOVE Alaskan Air.)

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We road the tram to the rent-a-car area, threw our stuff in, and drove 4 hours to Three Rivers, California. We were moving along non-stop. I was determined to propose that day in Sequoia.

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We arrived at our motel around 3pm-ish, California time. The motel was super cool and made me feel like I was at someone's grandma's house. There was some random nature-y art, a tiny library setup, and an amazing view as you can see in the photo above. Our room however was very strange, but you can't tell from the photo below. It was a mix between being rustic and a jail cell. We dug it.

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We got ready for our hike and then proceeded up the road to see the Giant Forest on top of the mountain. The drive was about an hour with winding roads and breathtaking views.

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 I'm up there somewhere...

I'm up there somewhere...

After a few sight-seeing stops, we made it through the entrance to the Giant Forest. It was absolutely stunning. It's difficult to explain how large Sequoias are without experiencing them in person. The one below was one of the smaller ones we saw when we first drove in.

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Once we found parking, I could feel my hands getting sweaty. It's a weird thing: I knew I loved this person (Tiff) with all of my heart and I was pretty sure she would say yes, but I was still incredibly nervous.

We began walking down the trail. 

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My original goal was to propose in front of the General Sherman tree; the largest tree in the world. When we got to it though, there was a hoard of tourists. We continued down the trail to a more secluded area with other giant Sequoias.

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Suddenly, there it was - the perfect spot.

It had a fallen tree trunk for me to set my camera and small tripod on. It was also secluded from the crowds, featuring our very own Sequoia monster as the background. I hid behind the tree for a moment, grabbing the ring box to hide in my jacket. Tiff gave me a strange look, but didn't say anything about my odd behaviour.

My first attempt failed as a family walked around the corner of the trail. I wanted the moment to be just her and me, (then later we could share with everyone else, once we were ready. In my opinion, proposing in public in front of crowds seem manipulative and wrong. Back to the story: I told her the angle was off and we needed to try again.

I reset the camera onto video mode once again and we moved back into position. This time, no one was around except her and me. My heart was beating so fast. As she placed her hand onto my chest, she knew something was up. It was now or never.

I blurted out that I was "scared", when really I meant to say I'm "nervous". This seemed more appropriate a word since I've never been more sure of something in my life. The words I spoke after are between her and I of course.

I bent down on one knee and through teary eyes, I asked her. 

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She said, "yes", which is great because if she hadn't this article would be pretty awkward right about now.

 My beautiful fiancee shortly after

My beautiful fiancee shortly after

The rest of the trip was so much fun. It felt amazing to know that the girl by my side was going to be there forever. The moment turned out perfect. Luckily, we were able to hug and talk for awhile without anyone ever coming down the trail and into the PROPOSAL ZONE. (I said that in my mind like a wrestler.)

After the proposal, we continued walking down the trail. Below, you'll find some of my favorite photos from the rest of the day and the following day, where we visited Moro Rock within Sequoia National Park. Thanks for reading and I hope I didn't get too sappy, but I had to share the best moment of my life with everyone!

4 Day Colorado Skating Road Trip

Back in August of 2015, I went on one of the funnest road trips of all time. It included me and 3 other dudes packed inside of a Kia Soul driving from Dallas to Denver overnight. The next four days were spent visiting different skate parks around Colorado and camping in the mountains. We were a part of a rollerblading skate trip that has been held for years and years. The only thing that made it a bit odd was the fact that I was the only skateboarder there. This is my account of that trip.

Day One

For some reason, I don't have many photos from loading up and driving. This is probably because we drove over night and while Ryan, Jio, and I slept, Richard (driving) was wide awake. I think he sacrificed a goat before hand to acquire the power of no sleep. We did however get this middle of the night hat squad picture.

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We arrived in Colorado early in the morning.

 Richard when we first arrived in Colorado. This photo needed no editing.

Richard when we first arrived in Colorado. This photo needed no editing.

 Richard took this photo from his tripod. It's said that my awkward pose could be seen from Wyoming.

Richard took this photo from his tripod. It's said that my awkward pose could be seen from Wyoming.

We decided to move on to Denver and skate the park in downtown. Denver Skate Park is such an interesting park. I like to brag on it because of how the city just seems to flow nicely into the park; one minute you're skating a sidewalk in downtown and the next you're in the park.

The first day we didn't really have any destination other than our campground up in the mountains, so we stayed for about an hour, got food, and headed to a few other skateparks not on the list where someone spit and it landed on a car. Whoops. We also met a spider-friend then continued down the highway.

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Our route took us through the Rocky Mountains. Cliffs, wildlife, and mountains surrounded us in all directions. 

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Along the way we stopped in this beautiful little town called Georgetown. It boasted a lake and mountains with the town placed right in between (when viewed from the highway). The lake's water was incredibly cold, but the weather was just right.

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 Had to bust out the 'Jimmy Roughcountry' wig.

Had to bust out the 'Jimmy Roughcountry' wig.

Shortly after driving a little more we found a rock to sit on and drove through Frisco, Colorado. This was one of the most amazing views I've ever witnessed. I stood off to the side of the highway on a trail and just soaked it in. I may have also been a bit high. We were in Colorado after all.

 Richard and shoeless Ryan. 

Richard and shoeless Ryan. 

 This picture doesn't do this view enough justice.

This picture doesn't do this view enough justice.

 "Pee Trail".

"Pee Trail".

 Richard peeing and me being a creep.

Richard peeing and me being a creep.

We eventually found our way to the campsite, but not before driving on what seemed like an endless dirt trail. Shout out to Kia Souls for being able to handle that trail. There's no way my car would have been able to make it up those crusty-ass roads.

When we arrived at the campground, we set up the tents, sparked up and walked around as the sun set. I'll never forget that night. Walking along the dark, half-paved road and heading toward a huge bonfire had me at a level of peacefulness unfathomable until that night.

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Day 2

The morning came quickly after a cold night filled with middle-of-the-night conversations between Richard and I and a lot of farts. We packed up our stuff and journeyed toward our first skatepark of the day in Cedaredge, Colorado.

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This park didn't have much for me as a skateboarder. I mostly skated the rails and two stair you can see off to the right in the above picture. There was also a really janky almost-quarter pipe behind where I took this photo.

After Cederedge Skatepark, we got food from the local grocer which proved to be a poor stomach decision and we moved on. Next stop was a skatepark in Montrose, Colorado at their Montrose Water Sports Park. 

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 Weird, pointless cement donut.

Weird, pointless cement donut.

After about an hour of skating, it started getting really packed so I decided to poop and explore the river area. The toilets were all metal (kill me).

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 From the top of the hill overlooking Montrose.

From the top of the hill overlooking Montrose.

 A Boi appeared.

A Boi appeared.

All of us were pretty drained so we headed into town and got drinks and food.

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An hour or so later we were at our campground for the night. I couldn't tell you where this was located if my life depended on it, but it was somewhere within 100 miles of Gunnison, Colorado. The roads we traveled before arriving at the camp site were eerily fantastic.

 I felt like I was in a Christopher Nolan movie.

I felt like I was in a Christopher Nolan movie.

 Some of the dudes went swimming which was beyond crazy. That water was so cold.

Some of the dudes went swimming which was beyond crazy. That water was so cold.

 Our make-shift canopy and fire for the night.

Our make-shift canopy and fire for the night.

Some people slept in their tents, but unless you wanted to get wet from the rain that was coming in, it was best to sleep in a vehicle. So that night I slept in the backseat of the Kia Soul with backpacks surrounding me and my jacket as a blanket. I remember writing a journal that night that I have somewhere. The uncomfortable became comfortable for some reason.

 

Day 3

On day 3, we packed everything and hit the road. Right out of the gate we were told to get the hell out of there or what I assume these animals were saying when they saw us driving out.

 Devil Bois.

Devil Bois.

Our first park to hit was in Gunnison and it was kind of magical. After about an hour of skating and no cloud coverage, Richard and I separated from the group and walked into town. There was a wooden sculpture park, people racing dogs at a track, a farmers market, and more.

Day 3 - Gunnison skatepark. #skateboarding #early #colorado @rollingrichard

A post shared by EricJKuhns (@ericjkuhns) on

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 This dude must have eaten what I did on Day 2.

This dude must have eaten what I did on Day 2.

 This beard won Beardiest Beard of 2015 (jealous?)

This beard won Beardiest Beard of 2015 (jealous?)

We met back up after a couple hours and got back on the road, however we had a problem. Our route was blocked by a rock slide and we had to take a detour that lasted over 2 hours. I don't think any of us minded though.

 Richard peed the entire time we were on this trip.

Richard peed the entire time we were on this trip.

 I've backflipped in over 6 states. Eat your heart out, Nastia Liukin.

I've backflipped in over 6 states. Eat your heart out, Nastia Liukin.

At some point, Ryan and I were fast asleep. Don't ask what my hand was doing while I slept...

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 This is how archetects sleep.

This is how archetects sleep.

Some unknown amount of miles later, we found a lift that we all took up to the top of Monarch Crest Scenic Tramway, 12,012ft. above sea level. The view was breathtaking (literally, I could barely inhale and exhale without feeling like a yeti was squeezing me.)

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 Ryan looking at hentai probably and Richard's disapproval (or approval?)

Ryan looking at hentai probably and Richard's disapproval (or approval?)

 Jio probably talking to the Barbers Association of America and I think I just sharted.

Jio probably talking to the Barbers Association of America and I think I just sharted.

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 Group pic taken by Richard.

Group pic taken by Richard.

Once we found our way down the mountain and back on the road, we stopped at a skatepark in a town that looked like it didn't even know what trash was. It was one of the cleanest and nicest towns I've ever been in. It was called Buena Vista and it was wonderful, though the dirty looks on local faces clearly indicated they didn't want us there.

*Insert pic I didn't take of angry locals.*

 Picture from Misiano Skateparks since I didn't take any of the park itself (or lost the pics?)

Picture from Misiano Skateparks since I didn't take any of the park itself (or lost the pics?)

This park had the strangest transition; hell, all the parks in Colorado did. The skatepark got extremely packed, so some of us decided to wander off down by the river and surrounding area. I wish I could explain in words how wonderful this town was. I would love to retire here one day!

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After the park, everyone in our group took showers at the rec center, except me because I'm disgusting. The sun was setting and we made our way to the final campsite. We set our tents up, started a fire, and drank and smoked amidst the darkness of the night. Every night was an amazing experience I'll never forget. 

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The field was filled with a million bladers and me, the lone skateboarder. As the night went on, we traveled from campfire to campfire making conversation and stumbling to the next group. At one point, Jio and I had a rap battle and it was epic. All in all the last night was a great ending to the last campsite we would visit on the trip.

Day 4

We woke up bright and early the next day to head back to Dallas. This gave us time to stop and skate a park on the way located in Trinidad, Colorado. The design was incredibly wacky and the heat was intense with almost no shade.

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As we were leaving we found out that sometime after we left the campsite, a fight broke out. One dude grabbed a machete and tried to kill someone, so...I'm really happy we left when we did. 

The very last photo I took was this somewhere in the panhandle of Texas. 

 Where's the rebellion when you need them?

Where's the rebellion when you need them?

I would love to go on a trip like this again. Who knows, maybe I'll be invited along again in the future. Trips like these make you appreciate all of the small things in life. There's just something about being out in the middle of nowhere with a bunch of dudes just skating and enjoying nature that brings about a sense of joy unmatched by most experiences in life.

Shout out to Richard for inviting me!

Thanks for reading this long-ass account of my Colorado trip.

Marion Sansom Park Adventure

One of my goals for 2018 is to get outside and explore more. I want to find more skate spots, I want to adventure in places most people don't get to see (tunnels, abandoned buildings, etc.) and most of all, I want to discover new hiking trails.

This past weekend my girlfriend and I had planned to go to the Fort Worth Zoo, but quickly decided against it once we got there and saw a cluster of kids and the absence of parking spots. We decided to find custard, coffee, and eventually a hiking trail. Little did we know that this path would be one of the best trails we've walked in the DFW area. Let's talk about the Marion Sansom Park trail.

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On Google, I saw a small waterfall so I suppose that was the original draw to this particular trail? Either way, it turned out there was a lot more to see. The beginning of the trail head we chose looked like the remnants of a tiny, dilapidated castle wall. On the side of the trails, we were welcomed by cacti littered about.

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We continued down the rocky path. Tiff and I both wore thin soled shoes which in retrospect was probably a poor decision as we felt every stone and uneven piece of Earth below us. There was such a variety of nature to see, from lizards that jumped out to scare Tiff to mushrooms hugging fallen branches and total green tree coverage. It almost felt like we had traveled to a far off land.

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After almost complete tree coverage, the trail opened itself up to sunlight and a collection of wild succulents. The constant change in forest settings made this adventure more uique than a lot of other trails in the DFW area.

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Onward we went. After a few near misses with wasps, lizards, and mountain bikers, we came to a cliff and his tree friend. The scene was a rare site to see in North Texas. Tiff took this opportunity to take it all in via a very buddist-esque pose.

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We back tracked a bit and found a trail that led downward toward a waterfall we could hear in the distance. The path down was very rocky and slippery, but presented us with an opportunity to find some really interesting rocks and possible fossils.

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After proudly looking like children sifting through rocks, we made it to the bottom of the hill and found the waterfall! There were so many things to see. I loved how the waterfall fell into a quarry type area with another stream flowing into it from the other side of the body of water. We resolved to walking  

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We resolved to walking alongside the entering stream. The trail made us walk close to high plants and a still-ish part of the stream where I expected to find a Cottonmouth snake of some sort, but luckily we avoided any sightings. We half-circled to find a faster area of the water. It was really quite beautiful.

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 Random people in my shot trying to find a way to get across the stream.

Random people in my shot trying to find a way to get across the stream.

 I'd like to believe this is a collection of pee that refuses to leave a part of itself behind in the water's current.

I'd like to believe this is a collection of pee that refuses to leave a part of itself behind in the water's current.

We ventured away from the water for a short time and found a large opening where water used to pool. The emptiness of it and exposed tree roots set kind of a cool scene. May come back to this area to film a short skit or horror. I didn't take a picture of this area for some reason. I guess I was stuck taking it all in. 

We decided it was getting dark and that we needed to head back to the car. The path back was a lot faster of a trip, but was all incline. Before heading up, I snapped one last stream picture.

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All in all this was one of the funnest and most beautiful trails I've been on in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It was a good workout and worth every minute of exploration. I highly recommend this trail to anyone who wants to feel like they've left the city without actually having to.

For more info on Marion Sansom Park near Fort Worth, Texas, visit the FWMBA website.

 Another adventure complete with this lovely lady.

Another adventure complete with this lovely lady.

Evergreen, Colorado Hiking Trip

Now that this website can accommodate Shred Social and this Koonagi's World blog (plus other stuff), I can finally start posting again. 

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Today's post is focused on a fraction of Tiff and my trip to Colorado. We stayed in Denver and explored the city plus surrounding areas including Red Rocks Amphitheater. This will highlight one day; the day we traveled west of Denver to Evergreen, Colorado. 

Allergies owned my head space for the majority of the trip so as we elevated from Denver to Evergreen, ear pressure became my constant and unwanted friend. Despite what felt like an earwax monster wreaking havoc within my head, once we arrived in the downtown area, parked and got out, the pressure alleviated slightly. 

As we walked through this beautiful mountain town, our first stop was Little Bear. This turned out to be more of a dive bar than a place to grab lunch. The inside reminded me of the bar Walter White sat in on the show Breaking Bad in one of the last two episodes of the series. I attempted a picture but it was dark and my settings on my DSLR were off. We exited and came upon a more suitable lunch spot.

The Muddy Buck was exactly what we were looking for. They had great food, interesting bathrooms, and some of the best coffee I'd ever had. This is also where we discovered Wailmers spawned a lot. (We're really into Pokemon Go still.)

After eating some amazing sandwiches, we took a short walk down the main street in downtown Evergreen. We came upon a stream that may or may not have had gold in it, some small shops, a closed geode store that we really wanted to visit, and a green friend similar to the ones we met in Roswell, NM.

We decided to head back to the car to begin our short ascension up the mountain to hike the Maxwell Falls Upper Trailhead. It was a winding mountain road that led there, filled with small and large houses on the side. It made us want to move there! (The abundance of Wailmer helped too.) We arrived about 20 minutes later at the trailhead and snapped a picture from atop the rental car.

The hike was really wonderful even though we never found the so-called "Maxwell Falls". We started the hike by walking on frozen streams and after a quick pee break, we made our way down the snow-filled trails. 

It was probably the perfect time of year to walk it as the weather was perfect and the surrounding nature was a mix of winter giving way to spring. Oddly, we didn't see one animal or bug the entire hike (except a couple human animals that said "Hi" as Tiff and I waved and walked quickly away.)

Below is a photo set of the hike.

Afterwards we were pretty tired, but we still wanted to explore a little more and of course play more Pokemon Go so we headed to the frozen lake in town.

Feeling pretty tired at this point and ready to find dinner, we got back into the car and headed back to Denver. Tiff and I were pretty bummed we hadn't seen any animals. As luck would have it, we came upon a family of animals in the extremely rich neighborhood Google Maps navigated us through. Our last picture/moment in Evergreen was that of shedding Elk. 

One of three Elk Bois

We can't wait to return!

Forest Adventures of the Fourth Kind

Last weekend, my friend James, Cole, and I went on an impromptu forest adventure after skating Irving Skatepark. Every time we get together as our group the "Alley Katz", some sort of video or collection of pictures come about. This time, we got both.

Besides the video above, I took a few stills as well. I'm new to the photography world, so I set out with my Canon T6 and its kit lens and attempted to capture photos the best that I could. As fate would have it, mid-exploration, a train came by which made for some interesting photo opportunities. (All photos are raw/unedited.)