Posts in Personal
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!

Photo Essay Three: Hers, Forever.
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Falling in love with her has been one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. I felt a tap on my shoulder, turned around, and fell. Our love surrendered to gravity.

She makes me feel as if I’ve known her my entire life.

Life is a train and we travel it wildly into the future. We’re both passengers. There was a time when we had never met. Then a day came when we did...and the train still flies down the tracks and we don’t know when it stops... but at least now we have each other. Her head forever sits on my shoulder as we both look out at the changing scenery. Both of her hands are in one of mine. There are no second guesses on if I should be with her... I should be.

Similar to a famous Carl Sagan quote: from my vantage point, she’s all I’ve ever known and ever will in my lifetime. She’s a ball of energy clearing the darkness that wishes to envelop us both. She represents our ancestors: the stars, better than anyone I’ve ever known. The only difference is, is that she burns brighter.

She’s a forest; now my forest. Beings before me have attempted to cut down her trees and stomp on her plants, but she continues to bloom. My goal is to preserve her and help her grow. As with natures most beautiful creations, we often think we’re saving them, when really with just one glance or just one experience, they’re saving us.

I consider tonight the vastness of space and time, and it leads me to my most important life understanding so far: somehow I got lucky enough to not only cross paths with Tiff, but out of every possible and impossible outcome that could have been, I get the opportunity to be hers, forever.

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 Two: Hemisphere
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How many nights have I spent here? If I had to guess I’d probably say five hundred or more.

Sometimes for skating.

Sometimes to explore the underground tunnels.

Sometimes to just get away from everything.

We called it Hemisphere because of the furniture store it was on the side of, but we mostly know it from the large, blank white wall the covers the west. The cracks and indentions in the cement. The low ledge that sits discolored from years of applied wax.

I visit less often now. The stores have changed in the building and the people are worst.

The spot itself really hasn’t changed much. The ledge continues to collect layers of wax from passing skaters.

The past is forever etched into its very existence.

A drive by reveals a thousand memories, (or at least five hundred).

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
5 Movies That Changed Me.

It's been a REALLY long time since I made a list article or "listicle".  Movies seem like a good topic and I thought it was about time (no pun intended from my first film choice) that I put an article like this one out.  It seems to me that some movies just present themselves at times in life when you need them most. Other times, they show up and enter your psyche in a way you hadn't planned and at times, weren't mentally prepared for.  

Today, I'd like to talk about five movies that I've watched as an adult that changed me. These particular cinematic trips affected me in a way that no other stories on screen have at very particular times in my life. I'm excluding documentaries from this list because I want to focus on fiction. Let's dive in.   

1. About Time

 Photo courtesy of  Sami Naik

Photo courtesy of Sami Naik

I saw About Time for free through a company that hypes upcoming movies and allows you to see them earlier than most, though the seating is never ideal. It's a beautiful film about love and loss, but not in a way that most romantic comedies tread. If you haven't seen the film, you may want to skip to my second movie pick, as I'm about to talk about one of the plot reveals.

About Time is about a family where all the men can secretly travel in time and how a young man deals with the knowledge of this and how he uses that gift. It may sound cheesy, but the film is done in a fantastic way. Because this revolves around his father telling him about this "power", the father-son relationship unfolds before us in a really wonderful way. I instantly connected to the characters as I love my own father very much and we're close as well.

Later in the film, the protagonist finds that his father has terminal cancer. Rules around the movie's time travel are explained in a way that makes it so neither of them can change this grim outcome. This movie forced me to confront my own father's mortality and how I might deal with it when that frightful day arrives. I'm not ashamed to admit that I found myself crying a few times in this film. It all just felt so real.

I found myself connecting to it in other ways too, like the way the main character's relationship evolves throughout the film. Besides the prospect of having children, everything else is very much like my current relationship. One of my favorite quotes from the film is a saying I lived by when I was single and it certainly applied to Tiff, my fiancee, when I met her and our relationship matured. 

I’d only give one piece of advice to anyone marrying. We’re all quite similar in the end. We all get old and tell the same tales too many times. But try and marry someone kind [...]
— Bill Nighy character

I actually wrote about About Time (I apologize for the word-play redundancy) a while back, which is why I put this movie first on the list. I could reiterate and expand its meaning to me and move forward. You can read that HERE if you're interested.

2. Albatross

 Photo courtesy of the  New York Times

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

If you google "Albatross film" you'll probably get a documentary about birds, however the movie I'm referring to is a British coming-of-age tale from 2011. Here's a brief synopsis of the film from Wikipedia:

The rebellious teenage dropout, Emelia Conan Doyle, believes herself to be a descendant of Arthur Conan Doyle. She takes on a job as a cleaner in a seaside hotel owned by Jonathan Fischer. Jonathan is a writer from Germany who has struggled with writer’s block since his successful first novel, The Cliff House, was published 21 years before. He lives in the hotel with his wife Joa and two daughters, Beth, 17, and Posy, 6. Jonathan is constantly sequestered in the attic working on his writing, leaving the hotel to be run by Joa. Their marriage is stormy as Joa is unhappy about Jonathan’s lack of success in his profession and his disconnected parenting. Meanwhile, Emelia has lived with her grandparents since her mother committed suicide.
— Wikipedia

The film's main character, Emelia, finds herself seduced by Jonathon and an affair occurs. The affair isn't what I connected to however, but rather the act of Emelia being young and not knowing where she fit in, like me. At the time, I watched this film on a laptop sitting on my bare legs atop a mattress surrounded by boxes. A week or less from then, I was to move out for the first time and was filled with depression and excitement.

I was in a very strange head space at the time. This movie added to that sensitivity, but also made me feel like maybe I could make it as a writer after all. Or maybe I merely could make it in life. I'm not sure what I meant by "making it" then and I probably still don't. Either way, the movie caused me to embrace some inner stuff I'm not sure I was ready to confront. It's quite hard to describe, but I'll never forget Albatross and the scene/feelings I attach to it in my memories of the film.

3. The Fountain

 Photo courtesy of The Fountain's trailer on YouTube

Photo courtesy of The Fountain's trailer on YouTube

The Fountain was my introduction to the films director, Darren Aronofski, or at least it was the first movie that led me to his work in a focused way. The Fountain is quite honestly an exhausting film, emotionally and physically. For this reason I've only seen it twice, which is mournful since this movie probably deserves 5+ watch-throughs to really wrap my head around the entire plot and its intricacies.

The film focuses around two main characters played by Rachel Weisz and Hugh Jackman, in three different timelines. (Before you ask, yes, the movie is long, but worth it.) 

Three stories - one each from the past, present, and future - about men in pursuit of eternity with their love. A conquistador in Mayan country searches for the tree of life to free his captive queen; a medical researcher, working with various trees, looks for a cure that will save his dying wife; a space traveler, traveling with an aged tree encapsulated within a bubble, moves toward a dying star that’s wrapped in a nebula; he seeks eternity with his love. The stories intersect and parallel; the quests fail and succeed.
— IMDB

The Fountain was recommended to me by an old co-worker as, "a movie you watch and then go sit outside and stare into the sky, not knowing what to say or think." I think that perfectly encapsulates the film for me and my feeling toward it. This was another film I watched shortly before I moved out of my parents house and a film that made me confront love and loss, not toward my father, this time but in a future love interest.

It's long been my fear that I would meet someone and fall madly in love only to find myself or my significant other entangled in a terminal disease at a younger-than-old age. As you may know from previous posts, I now have that "significant other", so I'm not sure I ever want to revisit The Fountain any time soon, in the attempt to dodge my own worries and anxiety.

This movie isn't all doom and gloom in my memories though. I think about this movie from time to time and appreciate the health, however temporary that may be, my fiancee and I share. It's sad to come to the realization that someone close to you will pass one day, but hopefully her and I won't have to experience that anytime soon. Plus, I somewhat lived it out literary-wise a few months ago in a novella I wrote and am currently attempting to publish. Though the characters are completely fictitious in my book, they bear a resemblance to how I feel about Tiff, my significant other.

All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time.
— Hugh Jackman

4. HER

 Photo courtesy of  Roger Ebert

Photo courtesy of Roger Ebert

Even in the best state of mind, this movie can really make you feel peculiar. I watched it during one of my most depressing junctures in life which proved to be a poor decision. I had seen it years before this and remembered bits and pieces, but it wasn't until my second viewing that everything hit home. Mid-movie I walked outside, fell flat on the grass in the middle of a park, and lost touch with reality for a small amount of time, (no drugs or alcohol needed).

This movie is set in a not-so-distant future, but deals with city landscapes and technology we don't yet have. This film is great at making you feel isolated with the character even though he has friends and lives in a large, active city. He's a poet of sorts and besides the extreme introverted-ness, him and I had a lot in common (a couple years ago). I found a connection.

A sensitive and soulful man earns a living by writing personal letters for other people. Left heartbroken after his marriage ends, Theodore (Joaquin Phoenix) becomes fascinated with a new operating system which reportedly develops into an intuitive and unique entity in its own right. He starts the program and meets “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), whose bright voice reveals a sensitive, playful personality. Though “friends” initially, the relationship soon deepens into love.
— Google

Joaquin Phoenix plays this main character and I really can't imagine anyone better for it. The melancholy and sadness he brings to this role are perfect; almost too perfect. It should be obvious to note that I don't relate to him because I, too, fell in love with an operating system, but because of his situation in life and how life just seems to drag along for a bit while you allow depression to live within you.

The ending, which I won't spoil, is incredibly beautiful cinematography. I can imagine it as I write this like I'm watching it on a screen in 4K. Maybe, at the time, I did need this movie in my life?

You know what, I can over think everything and find a million ways to doubt myself. And since Charles left I’ve been really thinking about that part of myself and, I’ve just come to realize that, we’re only here briefly. And while I’m here, I wanna allow myself joy. So fuck it.
— Amy Adams

5. Perks of Being a Wallflower

 Photo courtesy of  Sky

Photo courtesy of Sky

I watched this film during my depression as well which makes so much sense as to why I connected to it. I think there's something romantic about being a wallflower in real life. The act of being misunderstood and then being found out by someone is a beautiful thing. It's carrying a secret that only a select group of people or less get to see; the secret being: who you really are.

It doesn't feel beautiful or wonderful being an outcast, but those small moments when you can escape the anxiety and be the real you in front of others - those moments are worth it all. The main character in this film is discovered as being this creative human being and through that exposure, other repressed secrets reveal themselves, good and bad.

To me, it was a movie that teaches you that no matter how bad life gets, it'll get better. Then worse. Then better. Then worse. Then better again. Life ebbs and flows to a random beat we can't control, so I learned to let go. My approach to difficult situations has now changed from the nagging sting of anxiety to, "I'll figure it out. Life will always go on." It also taught me to appreciate the hell out of each moment in life. I now take time when I'm on an adventure or when I'm just really happy and I just soak it in; these are blips in time that I'll never get back again. One day when I'm old, I believe these moments will be all that ever really mattered on my journey through life.

 Photo courtesy of  We Heart It

Photo courtesy of We Heart It

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.

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.)