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Cautionary Tails

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Cautionary Tails

On my evening run through the Arizona desert last night I had a number of wildlife encounters. Expected during the summer season and remarkably common during my runs on my local trail route. I would encounter two Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes this evening which gives me almost as many sightings as all of last year (a record year for me). It is still June with about four months of watching where I step and hearing the occasional rattle, jingling while I sort out how close I am to the snake.

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Of the many assorted and interesting critters I experience while I take in the desert environment, the most often seen, in this order are deer, rabbits and you guessed it, rattlesnakes. Twenty one at last count for the Spring and Early Summer season. Getting rather close to the number that welcomed me on my runs last year.

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I love wildlife encounters and, well, snake encounters are a not quite a love affair but I do take on a trail runner crazy enough to run through the desert in the summer time, will trek through snake territory and will have a few meet and greet sessions with other inhabitants toting a rattle. It is their home and I do respect that simple fact.

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Do rattlesnake's give my heart a jolt? No, but there is a bump in the heart rate when I take a quick dodge to the left or right to avoid a snake.  They can blend in very well to the desert floor but I have had to become great with those scaly senses.

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Very, very thankful that of all the creatures on the planet, the rattlesnake rates high on the list of animals that let you know of its presence. A beautiful fact and one of the reasons I have an admiration for the scaly and sometimes noisy, scary creatures of horror films and jolting newspaper articles. Oh, those stories of people who get bitten after decapitating a rattlesnake are primal fear unleashed. 

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I have adjusted my trail runs, slightly, due to encounters at the start of my trail. There are one of two 'friendly' slithery reptiles along the start of my trail time. Roughly eight or nine meet & greets within the first minute of the trail. I had to wonder about the fact that there was a r snake 20 feet up the trail. The photo below is another run-in that is at the exact start of the trail. Sheeesh! I now walk this lively section.

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Clock is ticking toward my next run. Almost all of the wildlife I see on my runs is during the suppertime excursion. I will have my eyes dialed in for any and all wildlife, capture what I can with my camera and enjoy getting out in nature and continue to improve my health and diabetes care. And watch my step.

If you find yourself trekking through rattlesnake territory, do be ultra careful. I have read about some horrendous encounters with some devastating results after interactions with Mr. Rattlesnake.

 

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Plan to share another angle on my wild wildlife experiences. Could include Gila Monsters, Tarantulas (yes, I pick them up!), Desert Tortoises, Bobcats, Javelina's (no, don't pick those up), Giant Desert Centipedes, and who knows what else might appear in my blog.

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Black Rattlesnake

Black Rattlesnake

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Kayaking on the Gila River

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Kayaking on the Gila River

The Gila River was flowing at a yearly high rate (357 cubic feet per second-C.F.S.) and I received a phone call from Billy Joe, an adventurer who also has type 1 diabetes. Google unveils a record flow at Winkelman (our entrance point) of 55,000 C.F.S.! A slight difference from our day on the river but it would be enough flowing H2O to make things interesting.

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Initially, I was to join Billy and a friend to support his journey down the Gila River from Winkelman to Kearny, Arizona. The Gila River is not a large flow of water but for the arid desert Southwest it is a vital piece of the life puzzle for the area. It is not a deep river, although I can share that in many points it was over my head. We will get to my means for analyzing this fact, later.

Billy Joe on the L. Photo by Billy Joe's friend.

Billy Joe on the L. Photo by Billy Joe's friend.

I would receive a phone from Billy the night before the trip and he had secured a 2nd kayak so that I would be able to join him on the river instead of along the river. While I have a decent background of sea kayaking this would be my first time to river kayak. No spray skirt nor bear spray. With a bright and early start I scrambled to pack items for the trip. My nature is to start packing well before an outing and meticulously go over the details. I am a planner and know that I need/want diabetes supplies, safety and camera gear, food, etc. I headed out the door a little short on the full list of items. While I am not aquaphobic, I dabble in some level of -ic that is right below aquaphobic (water panic).

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The journey would start well and gave the indication that it would be a simple float. River was moving us along at a good clip and thick, lush vegetation crowded along the vital water source streamed by. Soon the river narrowed under a railroad bridge and the nestle of branches and trees encroached upon our water highway and revealed a drop off. Grabbing nearby foliage, we analyzed our situation and decision to 'ride' the drop or negotiate around it. Negotiation appeared to offer minimal opportunities so we rowed forward. No problem and we continued on our way to Hayden then Kearny.

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At some maze of roots and branches and a narrow point with a funnel of faster flowing water I ran into a low hanging branch. When this happens the outcome is somewhat settled. You can do your best to push off, duck, or skirt the 'object' but if the current is flowing in its direction and/or you pick a less than adequate line, you will be stopped. While you may be furiously tackling the water with your oars the liquid freight train continues forward and the laws of physics begin to evolve. I was flipped.

Billy Joe taking it easy. The only good landing area we saw until near the extraction point.

Billy Joe taking it easy. The only good landing area we saw until near the extraction point.

Into the river I went and I was now submersed, pawing upward to break the surface. At the same time, you, the kayak and your oar are riding the current, thankfully at the same speed. At this point it is a crushing reality that I need to keep that kayak in my grasp and capture the oar. Pure misery if any of those vital pieces got caught up in the thickets and I was still moving downriver. Really difficult to land on the steep slopes and go back upstream to retrieve anything.

Billy Joe's Video on our kayak adventure.

This is not the first time I have been introduced to a body of water while kayaking. During an ocean kayak venture, I unvoluntarily exited the kayak and found myself in Sitka Sound (Alaska). Thankfully, it was close to shore and I had a spray skirt. Bobbing in the Gila River, I now had an open kayak that was now full of water. I knew how heavy 90 ounces of water was to run with. Imagine the weight of a boat full of water. Billy Joe had been just ahead of me but he was out of sight and screams to know that I had been hung up. I secured the oar, righted the kayak and found a spot to 'park' the kayak while I did some bailing to lighten the kayak and pulled it up the steep slope to turn over and drain the aqua pura.

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This would happen a number of times and I began to get more comfortable with an equation that would have overwhelmed me in the past. Do not ask me to go out on a raging river and practice kayak exits, but I was taking some steps (strokes) in the right direction by the end of the day to getting more comfortable in a watery environment.

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Me and my gear (I had tethered the living daylights out of my gear bag) did survive and I am happy that I had this opportunity. It was a learning experience and I realized that many things could have gone wrong. Yes, oh yes, the insulin pump brilliantly kept on ticking. Thankfully, we did not encounter these landmines and did have a memorable, but good  ish time on the Gila River.

I am working on a video of this. Take a deep breath!

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2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

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2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

2 Peaks Adventure in Alaska

Following the Canadian Death Race in July of 2011, I was open to another adventure, one a little closer to my home in Sitka, Alaska.  Out my window, opposite the Pacific Ocean breaking under my home, I could see 2 prominent peaks near downtown (Mt. Verstovia & Gavan Hill).  Gavan Hill is known for the ever popular and long suffering Alpine Adventure Race.  Mt. Verstovia is known for its wickedly steep, rugged trail that climbs 2550 feet in about 2.5 miles.  

Gavan Hill trail is no less brutal, with about 2400 feet gained in 1.6 miles.  This would be my own custom created event.  A signature event without the aid stations.

Video of the 2 Peaks adventure

I elected to run/walk from a parking lot (Sitka National Historical Park) between the 2 peaks, run to Verstovia, grunt up to picnic rock, zoom down, run to Gavan Hill and of course, up, up, up to a point that I felt was a high point.  Trail does continue from there but I wound be content with about 5,000 feet of gain for the elevation deposit for the day.

This is trail running/walking in SE Alaska.  One of the nastier sections.

The effort would take place in September, about a month after my 23+ mile, 6,500 foot (elevation gain) ordeal at the Canadian Death Race.  This was a momentous occasion as I signed on to run with the I Challenge Diabetes team.  I had recently had knee surgery and  was hoping for one of the easier legs.  That easier leg transformed into the toughest leg as others on the team withdrew or pleaded a little louder than I.  

The timing should have been perfect for the 2 peaks effort, but I managed only 1 hill training run before September rolled in.  Also rolling in was weather.......SE Alaska rainforest weather at its gnarliest. The teeth would bite later in the day.

1st view point on Mt. Verstovia (800? foot elevation)

I set off with a well stocked Osprey running pack.  The blood sugars were good and the day appeared to be in a stable hold.  It might be a decent day, weather wise in the rain forest.  Could it be?

Despite a lack of specific training, meaning, actually running up hills, I made my way up Verstovia.  Slow but sure, a mix of walking and running.  I passed 1 person (if memory serves me correctly), my only link to humanity on either trail.

I had brought along a camera that was lacking in quality and performance but was waterproof.  I shot footage at various stages, knowing that I would eventually piece together a somewhat rough film (see link above).  It would take 21 clips to create the short film that would be my introduction into the world of filmmaking.  I have been working on my first 'real', quality film as I work through the footage of a No Limits Sea Kayak Expedition,  tentatively, named 'Alaskan Waters'.  

Near the first summit of Verstovia

I would reach picnic rock, which is the first summit of Verstovia in good shape.  The Arrowhead is the true top of Mt. Verstovia was jutting just above me.  A more technical approach, which I was not willing to attempt without a partner. 

Goal #2, Gavan Hill

The weather was turning as I made my way down the mountain.  As evidence by my array of photos, running SE Alaska trails is a challenge and requires a major dose of concentration.  I had a lot of trail time and was somewhat skilled at the ballet on rocks.  Having diabetes increased my need for good planning and focus.  I had dealt with higher blood sugars for the first half of the run but would eventually level out.  

Gavan Hill

I hit the trail head of Verstovia and made a right turn.  On to Gavan Hill.

1st viewpoint on Gavan Hill, approximately 1,000+ feet up

A bit more tired, Gavan would require more walking and an onslaught of nature as the wind, rain and a thick,  layer of wetness became the next chapter in my 2 Peaks experience.

Gavan Hill near the first summit

I would glance at my watch and realize that darkness would begin to envelope the mountain terrain soon and the dismal day would usher in darkness quicker.  

Near the top of the first Gavan Hill summit

Reaching the trail head, I shot a final memory of the 2 Peaks experience.  Darkness casting its shadow across the Last Frontier. Deep in the woods the evening came at an alarming rate as I ran toward my vehicle.  There was an encouraging glow of light and life as I escaped the veil of forest behind me.  

7 hours after my first steps toward Verstovia, I slowed my run to a walk and unlocked my car door.  Done.  A tired, but happy thumbs up for another adventure check off the list.

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

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A Wild(life) Year in Video! 2015

A Wild(life) Year in Video! 

I shared in my previous blog

A Wild(life) Year in Photography

Another 'wild' year for me and my encounters with wildlife.  The wildness factor dipped into my photography and in video.  If I am taking photos I am usually just a button touch away from capturing wildlife in video.  It is always my goal to walk away with photos and video if I happen to encounter a Sasquatch, Aliens, javelina, or whatever crosses my path or chases me in the rugged landscape of desert terrain in which I call home. 

I have posted some memorable moments below with links to video(s) taken.  I have not posted all of the videos under each photo.   It was a good year for the videography, whether it was filming a tarantula crawling up my arm, a rattlesnake a few feet away or something away from the animal/insect kingdom.

Other videos on my channel can be found at:  

Dave Nevins YouTube Channel

Thanks for your visit and I look forward to more unique and exciting opportunities to use my camera in the future.

Rattlesnakes interacting

 - on one of my runs

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A Wild(life) Year in Photography!

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A Wild(life) Year in Photography!

A Wild(life) Year in Photography!

Me and the Roaming Bison in Colorado.  

Photo by Eric Peffer.

It has been been a wild year for me, in many aspects.  One of those areas that continues to make my head swirl, is the amazing desert I live in and the wildlife I have had the opportunity to spend some quality time with.  

Most of the photos are from my home base in Catalina, Arizona, although photo adventures to Colorado and New Mexico have added some new animals and geography to my photo line up.

Part of the large herd of elk in Colorado (approximately 150)

I have a number of things in my favor:

1.  An eye for things that are 'wild'

2.  a 70-300 lens

3.  Many of my photo adventures are with a wildlife biologist.

4.  I run in an a desert area where I see maybe 1 person a month.  More of a true desert setting. 

5.  Just plain luck

Family of 4 Bobcats in the neighborhood

Many of my photos are taken during my daily runs through the desert.  I typically run near sunset, which I feel is a better time to see animals plus it puts me on the highest road in our area to capture stunning sunsets.  The runs limit my camera options but I have had good success with a decent point and shoot camera (Samsung WB350F).  The Samsung is sporting a 42x zoom.  Oh yeah!

One of the four bobcats (family) in the neighborhood

My goal, when possible, is to take film along with photos.  I may put together a film blog for this year.  

I think back to last year and I did not get much in the way of wildlife photos while this year has been phenomenal.  Looking toward 2016. 

Wild horses near Fort Garland, CO

Enjoy the photos! 

When I grab my camera, I aim to get photos and video.  Check out the videos on my latest blog:  

A Wild(life) Year in Video!

Wild horse near Fort Garland, CO

Bighorn Sheep - Taos, NM

Redtail Hawk - Klondyke, AZ

Not totally 'wild' but a wild setting - near La Veta, Colorado

Rattlesnake on one of my runs - Catalina, AZ

Roadrunner near the house - Catalina, AZ

At the house

A Javelina visit during a run - Catalina, AZ

Horned Lizard during a run - Catalina, AZ

Young Desert Tortoise - Catalina, AZ

Walking Stick, almost stepped on and bypassed - Catalina, AZ

Tarantula visit on a run - Catalina, AZ

Tarantula on one of my runs

Gila Monster at the house - Catalina, AZ

Family of 4 Bobcats in the neighborhood - Catalina, AZ

Bobcat photo published in a local paper

Young Desert Tortoise on a desert run - Catalina, AZ

A brief stop during the Race Across America as wild horses cross the road in Utah

During the Race Across America - Pagosa Springs, CO

Praying Mantis, Lori & Eric in Klondyke, AZ

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The Klondyke Cold Rush

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The Klondyke Cold Rush

Off the heavily traveled Interstate 10, Klondyke Road weaves through gently rolling prairie, skirting the towering Mount Graham, at 10,720 feet, the tallest peak in the Pinaleno Mountains and the majestic Santa Teresa Mountains.

It was a lengthy four-hour drive to reach the little hamlet of Klondyke, where the aged sign boasts a population of five.  About 35 miles were dirt, although road conditions were much better than anticipated.  The road ends at the eastern entry of spectacular Aravaipa Canyon, within the supremely rugged Galiuro Mountains, a rough and remote place that was the home of Arizona's last wild wolves before the reintroduction program of the late 1990's. 

Our goal was for Eric, Lori and I to pitch tents at the start of the trek and spend the next two days exploring the spectacular setting that Aravaipa Canyon Wilderness offers.  Little does one realize the crazy circumstances that are involved in this ten mile hike (mainly in the creek).  While the west entrance is only 50 miles from my home, the east entrance is 200 mile drive.  These miles and the 4 hour drive will become more significant, later in the story.

Video of the last section of road to Aravaipa Canyon East.  

Road to Aravaipa Canyon East (last section)

Entertaining a visitor at the old Klondyke School
 

The sun had slid behind the towering cliffs of the dramatic canyon. We exited from the Peffer family taxi (Eric's folks), grabbed the seriously overweight backpacks (did someone throw rocks in my pack?), clamped on our headlights and began our search for a campsite. None being found, with looming darkness and threatening skies, we strolled back to the parking lot.  Flat, close to a toilet and no time for a crisis, parking lot camping was perfect, for the moment.  

The rain began to fall and buckets of the liquid sunshine were pounding us as we scurried to set up shelter.  I had 'planned' to practice setting up a tent that I had not used in many years. This did not happen. Those years had destroyed the elasticity of the bungee cords in my tent poles.  Lovely.  Any idea how dismal it is putting up a tent in a driving rain, in the dark, with largely worthless poles?  

The tent would eventually, somehow, find shape, as the skies continued to unleash their madness.

The weather forecast, being a serious matter when spending most of your hiking hours within the creek, in a very distant location, and carting a lot of expensive camera gear, was for about .07 inches of rain.

Those .07 inches of rain fell in about the first 12 minutes of bombardment, and would continue through the night with an occasional boom of thunder thrown in for grand measure.  

Santa Teresa Mountains
 

The morning saw the three adventurers tired, needing coffee and questioning the wisdom of entering the rising creek.  

A single truck would splash its way past our parking lot accommodations.  Odd, to have traffic roll past us, since this was basically the end of the general road system.

An old windmill structure and wind sock behind the Klondyke School. The school now serves as a search and rescue location and helicopter pad.
 

The truck would ramble back through our disaster zone and Lori, in a heads up move, would emerge from the tent and flag down the vehicle.  It was a rancher checking on a horse on her property.  The news on creek conditions was not stellar.    "Can we get a ride back to Klondyke"?

Redtail Hawk
 

We scooped up our wet belongings and joined 2 drenched dogs, in a crowded truck, for the journey back to Klondyke.  It would have been a long slog, on foot, back along the road that Billy the Kid had once traveled.  Our home for the day would be the old Klondyke School.  It is now being used as a search and rescue base, for community meetings and a helicopter base.  

Klondyke Road and the Pelocillo Mountains
 

The call was made and it would be another eight hour drive for our gracious and now overworked drivers to pick us up.  

Adorning the now sparse, marginally used school, were posters advertising the film 'Powers War' and an old poster on a historic gun fight in the Galiuro Mountains called 'Shootout at Dawn'.  I read Shootout maybe 15 years ago and was intrigued by the story and history of Klondyke, the Galiuro's and the Power family.  The story chronicles the Power family and a conflict and eventual gun fight over draft dodging during WWI.  There are a number of books on the subject, with some siding with the Power family and others which back law enforcement.  The actual facts elude those seeking the full story, so the details and guilt will never be fully known.  Four men would die in the most deadly gunfight in Arizona.  The world premiere of the film was shown in Klondyke.

The film is an excellent documentary:

The Power's War film

With a lengthy wait, I explored our surroundings, equipped with a camera and thoughts of a future Aravaipa trek.

We were quite the sight, with wet gear spread out over a lengthy section of stone fence in front of the school.  Checking on the status of the new members of Klondyke community was 'the Grader Man'.  He had grown up in the region and his role was to keep the roads in working order during adverse conditions.  I missed his visit but heard of some of his exploits and of his nearly famous dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, who travels on the roof of the truck and of his courting the females of the isolated area, with special escape visits to a girlfriend eight miles from his home.  

Storm clouds over Willcox, AZ
 

Plans for another Aravaipa journey are in the works.  The area is too amazing to not come back. The wet gear and clothes should be dry by then.  

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 4) - An almost cross country cycling adventure

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'Let's Do It!' (Part 4) - An almost cross country cycling adventure

'Let's Do It!' (Part 4) - An almost Cross Country Cycling Adventure

Pouring cats and dogs and some unidentified critters as we rode the final 16 miles to Lordsburg, NM.  An exhaustive search yields no reasonable housing options, so we opt for camping in the thickets behind a city park.

The Holiday Inn of Pecan Orchard Camping

Roger's 'Breakfast Machine' greets me in the am and flat tires greet me later in the day.  It occurs to me that I am the lucky recipient of about 100% of the bicycle problems.  Amazingly, tire terror would puncture Rog's life, and out of mine, the last half of the country.  

Hatch, NM, capital of all things chile, was next on the ever expanding pedal universe.  Timing being perfect in our little chile world, we entered Hatch during their Chile Festival.  We would attach 3 chiles to the back of our velocipedes to share our allegiance to chiles. Journal notes fail to supply the question of how long those lasted.

A little further along New Mexico roads, Rog would ride over a deceased coyote.  In the slashing darkness, my laughter echoed across a rather empty landscape.  

Near Nutt, NM and an approaching storm

Feeling good, but a touch of grogginess in the head, we spin triumphantly into the metro kingdom of Albuquerque.  Blood sugars have been ok, but there are moments.  Those moments are consuming when you are exhausted, pedaling into the wind (a true story teller will share that it was always a headwind!), dodging diapers in your path and dealing with agonizing blood sugars.  The challenges of each day are easily forgotten as the day yields special blessings sprinkled through the miles. 

Albuquerque, NM

As the big city looms, we jet into civilization behind our first tailwind.  We are one day ahead of schedule and this is Rog's previous hometown, so we stay four nights.  We set up camp in Grandma Burke's backyard.  A novel setting for our tour that has yielded many different settings for our 'home' each evening.

I turn 26, with little fanfare and the fact almost escaped me.  September 9 - Albuquerque to Santa Fe.  A cold has developed and will effect the next few days of pedaling.  My educated guess was the chilly night and horrible camping conditions upon the cement ground between a pecan and chile orchard in Garfield.

Amazingly, my back feels great and we are adapting to the long hours on the bike.  It is a miracle, and I am truly thankful that I hopped on the bike, a little over one week ago, despite a back that was screaming no way Jose!  There are still additional adaptions needed to a still uncomfortable seating arrangement.  

We spin through the rugged beauty of the Pecos Mountains as we head into Las Vegas.  No, the other Las Vegas (NM). The glory of this journey is embedding a mark upon my soul.  Rog and I have taken on a trek that was hastily thrown together, with a serious lack of funds, between two people that did not really know each other and it is developing into the trip of a lifetime.

Rog, shirtless in Santa Fe

Within the scribbled notes of my journal;  "A lot happens in 112 miles".  This post was on a long day (September 11) from Las Vegas to Tucumcari.  Those 100+ mile days,  fully loaded packs, do make for a lot of possible journal entries, but a soul and body that is too tired to write more than a few scribbles.

The days are slowly blending together and the bicycle and the road are becoming our lives.

  I no longer wonder, 'why are we doing this?' It is too amazing and enriching not to.

First extended rain hits us as we wheel into another state and an ever changing landscape.  We say hello to Adrian.  That is Adrian, TX.

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Thanks to those who create, read, dream and support!

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Thanks to those who create, read, dream and support!

Thanks to those who create, read, dream, scan and support!

A photo I took of the Catalina Mountains, Catalina, Arizona

I enjoy sharing my photos and adventures with the internet world.  Many of those who

read

this blog,

are part of the Type 1 community.  They have Type 1 diabetes and know the real ups and downs and additional challenges that this disease has on each of us who deal with this 24/7.  It is my true hope that through photos and my adventures that I can help inspire others.  Maybe to

dream

of their own their own adventures or next challenge.  Diabetes is not going to stop them! 

I am honored and especially touched when those who

create

, use my photos or stories as a small step to use their talent as they share and inspire others with their creations.  

Below are creations by Dana Belore and Joseph Lansing.  Thank you Dana and Joseph for such a Blessing and encouragement!

Painting by Dana Belore (a talented 13 years old, who happens to have diabetes) of the photo above.

Photo I took during a run in Charouleau Gap, Catalina, Arizona

Painting of the photo above, by talented artist, Joseph Lansing (also a member of the diabetes community)

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Hotshot!



Hotshot!

My junior year in high school I occupied a small section of the bench during our high school basketball season.  I occupied that spot all season.  Yes, this was the jv team and not the highly regarded and competitive senior team.  I enjoyed basketball, or at least some aspects of it but I was not highly refined in a sport where I was way too short and generally lacking in overall ability.  The coaches did have some gleaming hopes for my bball future, though.  I clung to some of those same hopes knowing that in the ideal world I could be a superstar or at least maybe escape the clutch of the bench and play enough to break a sweat or score more than 2 points in a game.  

in Los Angeles for a Hotshot competition

Basketball had been a wake-up call for me and those involved in my little world.  During a year of junior high basketball I had a coach from hell, or some appalling community close to hell.  He had a knack for working us to the puke zone and beyond.  While holding back tears and feeling the vomit gurgling in my stomach, I occupied the bench all season.  While we all suffered through workouts that were beyond anything a junior higher should endure, I seemed to be having an extra measure of struggle on the court.  In a small world of perfect storms, my pancreas had just thrown in the towel.  Thank goodness for parents that knew that weight loss, off of a thin boy, and a thirst that only type 1 newbie’s would truly comprehend and understand, earmarked me for a hospital check up.  My blood sugar was in the neighborhood of 550? and my life, and those close to me would be forever changed.  


Those gleaming hopes of the coaches, maybe a few members of the team, my father and me were hinged on the fact that I had an extreme ability to shoot the basketball.  While I saw almost zero playing time I was one of the best shooters on the planet.  I would compete in the Pepsi Hotshot Basketball Contest and placed in the top 8 in the United States (in my age group) one year and top 24 the year before while traveling around the country competing during half time of NBA games.  Talk about pressure! That pressure does wonders for blood sugars.  The Hotshot program treated its athletes well and also bestowed travel vouchers, so that my parents could cringe and gasp, while their son competed on a national level,  with crowds in the range of 10,000 people.  I was able to use my talent in a manner much different than expected.  Sometimes life is not what it seems or should be but venturing onto the road less traveled or maybe a path that has never been traveled can be the best experience.









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Batkid Saves City


  Batkid Saves City
View image on Twitter


November is Diabetes month and a couple days ago the planet acknowledged World Diabetes Day on November 14th.  I will touch base on diabetes a little later, but first we have a super hero in our midst and he is Batkid, otherwise known as Miles Scott.  While I spent the day behind my desk pushing papers and computer keys,  the pint sized 5 year old rescued a damsel in distress, saved "Gotham" (San Francisco) from the Penguin and the Riddler and rescued the San Francisco Giants mascot.  Also on his batkid itinerary was a stop for a hamburger and some cruising around in a sweet lamborghini (aka the Batmobile).
For anyone who may not already know him, this is Batkid also known as Miles. (Courtesy: Make-a-Wish)


Nearly 12,000 volunteers and adoring fans holding signs crowded streets for the full-on transformation of the city so Miles, who has been battling lymphoblastic leukemia since he was 20 months old, could spend the day with Batman at his side.  This was coordinated by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  Miles' cancer is in remission.

Batkid's adventures captured the hearts of residents and transfixed the nation on social media.  He has also captured the hearts of many who are dealing with a wide variety of different medical conditions.  Sometimes we need our hearts stirred.  Sometimes we need encouragement and sometimes we need the right mindset, the right attitude.  While she is not donning a comic book hero custom (that I am aware of), Anne Marie Hospod recently shared, "I did not choose diabetes.  But I can choose life". She shares that life changing attitude in her blog. Well worth the read!




 

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20 Second Therapy Session

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20 Second Therapy Session

20 Second Therapy Session

I lifted my left leg and swung it over the roughly 4 foot high railing that seperates the spectators from those with a death wish, or those with a wish to live life to the fullest.  It was an odd feeling as my dangling leg stretched to find purchase on the wood platform that had been inserted just a few minutes ago.  I lowered myself down to the platform, now assuming a truly unique and somewhat freaky view off the harrowing edge of 486 foot high Perrine Bridge in Twin Fall, Idaho. 

Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho

With the railing at my back, I was one step to free-fall and the river.  To prolong my 20 second therapy session, I requested an additional photo.  Not just a regular snapshot of Dave doing his first base jump but I wanted something a bit out of the ordinary (as if leaping off a bridge is ordinary).

No Longer a spectator

Ok, so while I was attached to my trusted friend, a 1 inch piece of webbing that secured my harness to the bridge, I inched toward the end of the jumping platform.  Man, what a sick view! 

Despite the nerves, it was a unique spot to be as I leaned forward and snapped some history with my Canon Rebel and  handed the camera back to Summer Eldridge, a bungee jumping friend, who had come out to watch me test gravity off of another really high stucture.   

On the Edge once again

In his book, Extreme Fear, Jeff Wise shares that while most of us try to avoid stress in the course of our daily lives, it's the stressful, emotionally intense memories that will live with us the longest. 

This bonus bucket of stress was compliments of Tandem Base, the only company in the world that offers tandem base jumps.  They had just opened up this heart in your throat opportunity just a handful of months before I would be traveling through the area.  I have had some special moments attached to a bungee cord at the Perrine.  I have swan dived off the bridge a couple of times,  been thrown off (pall bearer toss) and now a new chapter in my life, a base jump.   I had wanted to join the base jump crowd for many years.  True story, but the script had no plot, no storyline and no hope of reality until tandem base jumping arrived in Idaho.  Base jumping has a gravity cousin called Sky Diving.  In Base, instead of exiting a perfectly good airplane (or at least one that flies) you are bounding off of a

b

ridge,

a

ntenna,

s

pan or

e

arth.  No time to flail for a back up parachute, so get it right the first time.

Topsy Turvy feeling

Speeches were rather short while on the platform.  A quick clip to the amazingly tall, Mark Kissner,  and an unclipping from the webbing that was temporarily connecting me to the railing while I climbed over and took the "I was there" photos off the end of the platform.  After we sauntered to the edge, I was told to let gravity do its thing and gradually lean forward.  hmmm.  Guess I'll check that theory out. 

Theory worked, and we dropped with staggering speed.  The parachute was quickly deployed and a quick veering to the right and then the left, with the side of the canyon looming to our side brought us into the landing zone.  Therapy Session success. 

There are 3 common routes for exiting the canyon.  The climbing option in which you ascend straight up the canyon wall, the hiking option, in which you follow the river to a turn around point in the road, or the boating option which will drop you off at the park. 

Ribbons for those who had leaped off the Perrine without a parachute or bungee cord

The 50 foot climbing section is not terribly hard but can be a little intimidating for someone who doesn't climb much.  A short note from a base jumping page encourages those on the climbing route to be careful because there are spots on this rock where falling could certainly mean serious injury or death. Point taken. 

I spent a lot of quality time on the bridge taking pictures of the beauty that encompasses the canyon, the Snake River far below and the desert that engulfs the area.  It was an incredible sight to absorb but the real experience and the memories that will always be cherished were the more stressful, emotionally intense moments of hoisting myself up and over the railing, making my way to the edge of the platform, a lean and a flight. 

Climbing option out of the canyon

View looking toward the west side of the canyon

My leap on Youtube:

http://http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=V34n27VgHBM&feature=g-upl&context=G2d12ac3AUAAAAAAACAA

One of the views from the Perrine Bridge

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You Must Live in the Present...

"You Must Live in the Present"

picture that Trever gave me after the kayak trip

A large framed picture adorns my cluttered office space. It is the picture above, while three kayak warriors camped at beautiful DeGroff Bay, during our amazing 2010 No Limits Destination Alaska Sea Kayak Expedition. Those who know me, probably know that I plant inspirational and meaningful images in my living and work areas. This surprising gift was compliments of wisdom from Henry David Thoreau and the kind thoughtfulness and checkbook of fellow kayaker, bungee jumper, adventurer and card carrying diabetic, Trever Alters. Trev joined guide Scott Harris (Latitude Adventures) and myself on the kayak journey that took us into some secluded waters of Alaska.

Trev and I had crossed paths, amazingly, through bungee jumping when my casa resided in Boise, Idaho. He understands that people with diabetes can lead incredible and adventurous lives. And he lives and breathes it (scuba diving in Puerto Rico in two weeks is another confirmation!). He was a key component to No Limits and our many unique events. Bungee jump and sky diving fund raisers, an adventure racing team, rock climbing, ultramarathons, it was a grand time. Henry David Thoreau sought to rise above common thought and ideas. He would have smiled at our lifestyles.

While I was stoked to receive a lasting memory of our incredible 4 day kayak journey near Sitka, Alaska, it was the Henry David Thoreau quote that made the gift primo.

"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your element in each moment".

perfect. Thanks Trev.

Trever in Nakwasina Sound

A very non-scientific ratio that is in my notes from the trip and which I cannot prove or disprove, but I had noted that this year's weather was 234% better than the 09 trip of weather horror. Yes, we survived in 2009 and a bloody well yes, we had a good time but Miss Mother Nature was beasty at times.

This year the animals came out to play. Lots of them. This is Alaska! The critter log:

Grizzly Bears - 4

Eagles - vast quantity

Harbor Seal - at least 1

Mink - 1

Commorants - ok I am not a bird person so don't know the count

Porpoise- 1

Sea Lions - a few of the big guys

Jelly Fish - enough for any horror film

Jelly fish touch contest - many close encounters

Trever explores the Neoga near Hallack Point

I set up the video cam to allow each person an opportunity to share their thoughts on the trip, life, diabetes, current girl fiascos, etc. It was just the cam and their thoughts meeting on the shore as daylight slowly faded.

Much after the trip, life settled a bit and I made way to view the footage collected from an excursion awash with excellent company, stories and many kodak moments.

Before the trip, Trever had shared that he was excited about kayaking and that he had wanted to come visit me and to see the Last Frontier. I knew that he had just returned from a trip from Hawaii and in the back of my mind I was slightly jealous of a summer that included Hawaii and Alaska. Little did I know....

As darkness crept foward and the sea slowly lapping the shoreline of DeGroff Bay, Trev would share his angle on life as a person with diabetes, Alaska, etc. The footage rolled forward but Trev took a left turn from his usual fun, optimistic, humorous mood. He would bare his emotions as he dug deep to share the recent loss of his brother Nate. Nate had been hit by a car on March 18, 2010. Trever had planned on visiting him in Hawaii in May or June but that would never happen. He made the trip despite Nate's passing, as a memorial. He spent most of his time in Hawaii hanging out with Drew, Nate's closest friend. The Alaska trip was good timing for Trev as he had to deal with Nate's death amongst other circumstances that made the year a challenge. It is my guess that Trever did not want to share the tough details of what he was going through so that it would not hover or drag down our trip.

My heart fell.

Photo by Scott Harris

In the 35 miles of sea that we paddled through, we explored a shipwreck, went snorkeling, beachcombing, exploring, ate some incredible feasts created by Scott, our great cook/guide, compiled footage for a future film, saw animals galore, managed to get growled at by a bear, tree climbing and absorbing information on diabetes and the great outdoors, in a classroom called Alaska.

We did our best at living in the present....

launching ourselves on every wave.......

finding our element in each moment..... May it continue for a life time.

Scott and I are working on our the next expedition which will be July 16-19 (with a possible extension to July 21). If you are interested and have diabetes or are involved in diabetes care please consider joining us. Contact me at

runalaska@yahoo.com

.

L to R - me, Scott Harris, Trever Alters at DeGroff Bay ps- Trever is living in the present as he spent this last weekend in remembering Nate. He traveled to Boise, Idaho to unite with family and friends as it was the 1 year anniversary of the accident.

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Finding Adventure at Work?


Finding Adventure at Work?
What do you get when you mix adventure with work? As a rule of thumb, I usually escape work to get out of town to locate the needed realm of adventure. In my long list of occupations I have managed to track down one job where I was paid for adventure. After a long duration in Tucson, Arizona, I was seeking a change in routine and life for me and the family as I jumped online to find what opportunity had in store for us. I came across a job listing that caused me to laugh. Bicycle Messenger? No, not a listing for Chicago, New York, or some other huge cement jungle. Shaking my head, I found myself heading north to Boise, Idaho with the prospect of my new career(?) being the driving force. Ok, maybe a short lived career. Does someone in their mid 30’s, married with a child, with diabetes make a major move to be a Bicycle Messenger? Haha guess at least one of us does. The manager, Tealdo, even held the job till I could arrive.

I would find myself as the only bicycle messenger in town. I worked for Fleet Street Couriers, a courier company that made deliveries via the automobile with one lone dude on a bike. This was a September arrival so fall and winter were looming for this unprepared desert rat. I will note that it does help one’s transition into a new climate when you are in the elements most of the day. I can largely credit this occupation as being a key step toward my transition into becoming a spastic gear junkie. One confession out of the way. The transition had taken me from my desert attire to a world of microfleece, gore tex , synthetic layering, booties, lined gloves and a thermos to carry the necessary caffeine and a very large courier bag that I soon found could carry a granormous amount of "stuff".

I am looking over a small, tidy pile of notes I had taken during the courier season as I waited for urgent calls to to send me in 4 directions at the same time. Seems to be that most of notes them were taken during the memorable winter zone. Imagine that? As I scan a page of the courier lifestyle, it is 9:03am on an overcast day in January and snow is forecasted for the evening. Weather had been a real fascination of mine, especially since I had spent many years in the lightening zapped, monsoon skies of the Southwest. I soon adapted morning sessions with the weather radio predicting whether Dave would get seriously cold, frostbitten, drenched, hit by lightening, blown off the road by raging winds, or wilt in 100+ degree heat. Mother Nature...will you be my friend today? Further down the notes, I read that it is 1:30pm and the snow had unleashed, and my day had become way more interesting, and slippery, but I am so very glad to be out pushing the pedals and being removed from 4 walls, lousy lighting and emails messages screaming my name.

The jumbled notes and my memory bank would reveal a time in life that was new, unique and exciting. What a cool job? Dang that was awesome, but there were some really tough, weary and drag down demanding days.
The toughest days were the days that I was sick or feeling the dome of sickness crowding my little world. Rugged times for a sick and weak courier on 2 wheels. Especially when your work day on the bike would cover 25-50 miles. Much of the mileage was delivering "Rush" deliveries.
Point A to Point B as fast as I could pedal with there often being a pick-up and delivery to Points C,D,E,F already lined up. The other grinding days were when the blood sugars were difficult, or impossible. Glancing through my notes I had described an unusual day with strange weather. My next line referenced that my blood sugar was on a parallel line with the weather. Ugly, non-sympathetic and out of season. The challenges of diabetes.

I would see all of the glory of Boise’s four seasons as my days as a bicycle messenger ended one year after I had arrived on the scene for a job that would challenge me and reward a person with diabetes who wanted adventure, found it, got paid for it, and brought diabetes along for the ride.

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1 Stage, 3005 miles and a pillow waiting for me back in Sitka

1 Stage, 3005 Miles, and a Pillow waiting for me back in Sitka


The Race Across America (RAAM) is considered by many to be the most difficult bicycle race on the planet(If you are seeking adventure and tremendous suffering this may be the event for you). When the cyclists roll out of Oceanside, California the stopwatch will not stop until they cross the line in Annapolis, Maryland. Pedaling east, the 3,005 mile stage will include over 100,000 feet of climbing, temperatures that can range from freezing to 105+ degrees, physical exhaustion, illusions, wicked weather and yes, a major overdose of insomnia.

This past summer was my third RAAM as a crew member. It is a very novel way to spend a vacation. So much for a normal holiday time on the beach. Our RAAM train will zip through 14 states, take lots of cool pictures, assist heroes on bikes, make new friends, promote a cause and stash some wonderful memories en route. The crews are a vital link for the riders survival. We take care of the details so that they can crank the pedals 24 hours a day.

Team Type 2 consisted of eight riders with Type 2 diabetes. Eight dedicated, determined men cycling with a mission & a purpose. There would also be a Team Type 1 with cyclists who had Type 1 diabetes. I am hard wired to the cause of both teams as I have Type 1 diabetes and run events through my diabetes adventure group – No Limits.

This year was the largest field ever. 30 solo riders and 210 racers on 39 teams. 19 countries were represented. Solo riders found some of the worst weather in RAAM history as storms seemed to follow them across the country. On the other hand, teams, which left 2 days after the solos, were blessed with excellent weather.

For the solo crusaders, if you choose to sleep then you are losing time to the competition. Grinding the pedals for 22 hours a day is not unusual for the soloists. The teams are able to alternate riders and snatch a little bit of zzzzzz’s, but as the RAAM t shirt so aptly states, “This Ain’t No Tour”. 24/7 for the crew and the cyclists who a putting their sweat and heart on the pavement of backroads America while dealing with a rather challenging disease.
Our crew, assembled from all parts of the country, gathered in Oceanside, CA for a crash course in RAAM 101. Not stated, but soon to be evident, it would not be unlikely to piece together only about 20 hours of sleep during the week that we are bouncing down the roads. It is a challenging task, but it is an opportunity that I cherish and I will catch up on some sleep………later.

19 crew members, all volunteering their time, seems like a small army but we are all on the game board as the pieces move along the route. We all have important tasks to do that need to happen. In the 5 vehicle procession there are drivers, navigators, a massage therapist, 3 nutritionists, a crew chief and many assorted, vital tasks to be done by all to make the race as doable for the troopers of Team Type 2.
Team Type 1 would win the 8 man category for the fourth time in 5 years with a time of 5 days 10 hours and 48 minutes. Team Type 2 would span the country in 7 days 14 hours and 53 minutes. Just behind the time posted in 2009, but just ahead of the dog chase that was created by the 8 man team Friar’s Club who were nipping at our heels and tires. 3005 miles and it was decided by 2 minutes. This definitely ain’t no tour. Not a chance.

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Hey, I Don't Have to Swim if I am the Race Director

Hey, I Don't Have to Swim if I am the Race Director


(Lake Tahoe)


Last November I stood on the banks of beautiful Lake Tahoe.  I was taken by the setting and was thankful for this quick escape from the business world and meetings that were awaiting me back in Reno.  Some deep breaths, a few snaps of the camera, site seeing, some monstrous pine cones thrown in my bag and we scrambled back on the bus to roll back to Reno.  I was unsettled.  My own scrambled mind filled with goals, dreams and plans of Dan Baier and myself to run around the Lake Tahoe the previous August.  
This dream settled atop my dream bank a few years ago and this past summer, reality and some suffering were due to take us 165 miles around the lake in 8 days.  The run was to have started in King's Beach, California, where I had stood just a few minutes ago and the view of a dream that had dissolved.
As the Tahoe Run loomed, an injury to my left knee had called my name.  Loud and Clear.  I can be a stubborn, determined person who has learned that diabetes can be demanding.  To achieve some of my goals I have to possess a mind-set that goes well beyond demanding.
As the injury screamed at me and began to curse at me, I developed an agonizing limp and I realized that that strong determination was not going to sail me through 25 mile, rugged and difficult days in the Sierra's.  The white surrender flag went up and the dream was shelved.
A trot around Lake Tahoe for diabetes, has been re-assigned to my "bucket list" but for the time being that bucket appears to have a hole in it.  My story will transcend from the trails in the Sierra's to the 54 degree water in Sitka Sound via an ultra swimmer by the name of Claudia Rose.  I would learn about Claudia and her proposed swim across Sitka Sound from John Dunlap, who would provide boat support, Ralph, would follow her in kayak support, Al would be her moral support, Claudia would provide 4.5 hours of swim strokes and I would provide some pictures and an open canvas to continue to etch new experiences.


 (Claudia Rose on her swim across Sitka Sound) 

Those 5 months of knee assault, averaging 2 miles of running a month, were probably the most difficult time in my life.  I would move on (with a limp) and unbeknownst to me, this swim across Sitka Sound would open some doors and present some opportunities that were very different for this adventure seeker.  Whether I was able to run or not.  Living outside the box and outside the brain.

Ok, watching someone swim for 4.5 hours is not super exciting.  Inside Dave's mind though I am thinking "this is amazing!".   Endurance-based, 54 degree water, numerous jelly fish stings, no wet suit, 8.5 miles of  cold conditions, shifting current .  How awesome and impressive is this!  I am forever an endurance junkie but for those who might ask, "Hey, I don't have to swim if I am the race director".  And I could not.  I don't swim.  Period.  

This swim lane has opened up and I am excited to offer a new event for the world swim community.  This is a new experience for me.  I seek crazy, unique, ridiculously long, challenging, out-there events to get involved with.  This swim covers all the bases and is for a great cause, diabetes.  No Limits will put the swim on while the American Diabetes Association will host the race and be the beneficiary.
Claudia has helped immensely with details and I have hooked up with the only other open water swim in Alaska (that I am aware of), the Pennock Island Challenge in Ketchikan.  Race Director, Willie Schulz has been very helpful in assisting this new race director.
The Sitka Sound Adventure Swim is 6.2 miles and will be held on August 8, 2010.  I am thinking now of actually acting outside the box, outside the brain and donning a pair of goggles.  Information on the swim are at www.sitkaadventureracing.org.

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