What I have been up to

September 6, 2023-

I have returned. I write this as I lay in bed in Huntington Beach. I have been home for 7 days since returning from 31 days of backpacking. I completed the John Muir Trail, which marked one of the great things I did in my 20s. If you want stories, ask me in person I will gladly share. In this post I wish to talk about some things regarding my experience. First, I have been saying that this was the hardest thing I have never done. I came to this conclusion after hiking for 12 days. With fatigue and frustration, I completed that day of hiking and thought to myself, “this is the hardest I have ever worked”. To me, that continuous sentiment gives me the ability to make my claim. I am astounded by the human body. I worked my body the hardest I ever have, with the worst nutrition given my performance. Despite this, my legs turned into dissel machines and my drive to hike 20 miles in a day came out of it.

Next, I wanted to talk about something I am calling “trail mentality”. I was not aware of it before I started. It is the mental space were you flip a switch and become fully dedicated and committed to the daily routine of hiking all day. This mentality allows ultra hikers to move! You learn to silence aching knees, hiker hunger, and poor weather to simply bang out miles. Before I gained the mindset, I felt internal resistance. I desired a cooked meal, new social interactions, this bed I’m currently in, ect. My mind had not made the switch, and It was hard. I feel like the individuals who are not able to complete the trail never made this switch. There are endless reasons to give up and make an unplanned exit. I will comment on how this mindset can be dangerous. I was consumed by it, and as a result I would bypass conventional wisdom and break the “rules of the trail”. Again, if you are curious about this, ask me. This mindset also felt like falling into a work routine. There are patterns and habits that each day contains. You feel a sense of reward when the day is over, and when the next day arises, you repeat without much thought. This is also helpful because hiking 242 miles in the Sierra Nevadas is intimidating when you look on a map. The trail is often rough, covered in snow and presents endless challenges. The mindset keeps you going, powers you from within.

Next, to talk about power, I need to acknowledge the power of God. I got to experience some of the most beautiful and serene regions in the world. The Sierra Nevadas proclaimed the works of God’s hand. I was moved to tears in certain areas. Much like when a groom takes his first look at this bride when she comes down the aisle. That was the best comparison I could make. I experienced a sense of overwhelm when I submitted Mt. Whitney to find the sun rising, and that we were the first ones up there that morning. God’s power was on full display when I saw the discharge of massive waterfalls. I felt truly unsafe when lightning touched down a few hundred yards away, and the sound of the thunder and the smell of the ozone filled me. I had not interacted with nature this this extreme capacity, and it brought me to a new sense of reverence for God. I had new insight the bible verse that says “the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom”.

Each day a chapter in proverbs was read and discussed. This brought about direction and allowed the word of God to enter my mind. This book in the bible instructs us with the wisdom of God. It is practical, simple and I felt that I have returned form this trip with a new found wisdom. For this, I am grateful.

Next, there are elements to the human mind that confuse me. I do not have much explaintion to some of the things I felt or experienced, but I am able to talk about it. Within a given day, I would experience great joy, then hours later could have a sadness or longing come over me. If you have read this website of mine, you would know my skill is balance. I describe how this applies to my mental attitudes and how I am usually able to maintain a steady mindset and demeanor. I still believe this is a strength of mine, however while hiking the JMT I was bombarded with “highs, lows, or indifference” in my mind within a day. This period of my life was such a gift, filled with great memories, the best kind of stories, and yet these feelings seemed human/natural. I did not fight it, this felt like they needed to happen. After summiting Whitney and being elated, once I got back to the tent, that elation turned into emptiness for a period. This still puzzles me.

Fishing served as a tool to recenter me on long days. It has the ability to cure a tired mind, and inject joy into my being. One day, we hiked 16 miles and that day felt like clocking into work and grinding out the day. I nearly fainted when setting up my tent since I hadn’t eaten dinner yet and inflating an air pad at 11,000ft can send you over the edge. After some food, I walked out to the water and fished. Within the first few casts, I remembered why I love this trip. I get to be out in the backcountry and experience the holy grail of alpine fishing. I went to bed what night with a big smile on my face. I was able to catch the “trifecta” of the sierras, catching the wild Golden, Rainbow, and Brook trout. This was big for me. 2 out of the 3 were caught on a fly I *almost* did not pack. The elk hair caddis will always make it on trips from now on.

I got the best scar to date while on the trail. My ice axe sliced my upper thigh while performing a seated glissade. It hurt. But now I have a long scar that I like. It serves as a reminder that God’s protection covered me, and I wish to be reminded of that when I am back home, removed from the slopes of Kearsarge pass. Thank the Lord that our protection and safety is in the hands of God. This comforts me, I hope it does for you too.

Now that I am home (regaining the precious 7lbs of lost weight and still running with the lung capacity of a Kenyan), it marks the end of my transition from Santa Barbara to Huntington. This hike was exactly what I wanted it to be. It challenged and humbled me, it gave me conflict that I overcame, offered me thrill, joy, and victory. As I begin my new job tomorrow, I have new perspective on my life at the moment. I am ready to get to work and enjoy this next period of my life. If you ever have thoughts of doing the JMT, lets talk. Because of it, I feel more wise, fast, and strong.

March 13, 2023-

Well, well, well. Look who is back in bed sick… again. This time it’s the dirty VID. I tested positive on my birthday, which will make for a great story someday. I kept my positive test and wrote “happy 24th” on the back. I attach sentimental value to things much like my father. I have kept certain receipts, band’s paper set-lists, my 5 y.o. leg cast, pulled teeth, and many other special items that I store up in the rafters at home. These items are a part of my story. There is no way I will throw then out (besides, it all fits into 3 gallon size ziplock baggies. That that, mom!). My dad pulled this stunt at my sister’s wedding rehearsal dinner last week. He saved the pair of boxers that were lent to him the day my sister was born and had the fabric fashioned into 3 pocket squares and sewed into the lining of his suit jacket. To him it was meaningful and resembled new life for my sister. It was awesome. He said the idea came to him 10 years ago. I aspire to be like this. People appreciate thoughtfulness and personal touch. I once got the only A on a school presentation because I broke the mold of typical boring power point and spent the majority of the time formatting a “Jeopardy” style game presentation where I had the audience do more talking than myself. It was exactly what my bored out of his mind professor needed and I was rewarded greatly. Another time, during the dreaded college zoom experience I put on a true spectacle for “Shakespeare in the park” day where the class showed up wearing togas and cited Shakespeare. I went all out and created a throne setting, paired with two servants who fed me grapes. I bet that professor still tells that story to this day (ill attach the photo). People appreciate these things. One day, I want to make the women I end up with feel special and cared for by my actions. Like my father, I have the capacity to make the ordinary, meaningful. For example, my family visited the largest tree in the world, General Sherman. While we were there, I snuck past the do not go beyond sign and picked up a fallen branch, about the size of my two thumbs held together. I took that fallen branch let it dry, carved it into about 5 toothpicks, soaked them in cinnamon oil for a couple months, then bottled them up to be shared with someone special at some point in the future. I love cinnamon toothpicks, and I turned some fallen branch into a future experience that will be very meaningful someday. I like to do things like this. I love a good story behind something. I’ll end with this, a quote from an old pastor of mine, “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story”. I promise he taught the bible faithfully… and if he didn’t, he sure made it interesting!

January 30, 2023-

I am currently sick with the flu. I am what you call a “super spreader”. Sorry housemates… I wanted to take this time and write down some thoughts.

One, I have my sights set to move back home to Orange County later this summer. This excites me because I will be closer to family. I’m learning that I wish to spend more time around them as I get older. They encourage me in ways other cannot.

Two, my sister gets married in about one month. I am so excited for her. She is marrying a great man who will love her well. My dad texted me the other day and said the house is in high spirits as this wedding season approaches. Father of the bride vibes. Good stuff.

Three, and what is most on my mind as I lay in bed with snot in my lungs… THE JMT. I am aiming to hike the John Muir Trial. This is a 220 mile thru hike that begins in Yosemite valley and ends with the victorious summit of Mt. Whitney. This is a holy grail of thru hikes as you pass some of the most scenic regions on the West Coast. I am looking to hike it with two buddies I trust. This is important aspect to me. I dream of this adventure as being one of the great things I accomplish in my 20s. It is a combination of months of planning and gear prep (which I absolutely love) which will give way to relentless days on trail. All of this for mind-blowing views, and experiences that shape one’s resolve. Rain or shine, I plan on hiking for 23 sweaty days till the end. If only I can get the permit approved… we shall see.

Four, I just looked at my LinkedIn profile to see that I have been working as a carpenter for 1 year and 8 months. This time has added so much to my life. I am forever changed by this job. My boss, crew mates and daily challenges have set me on a path that I am proud of. A friend looking for a job asked about mine, and I told him what my boss tells every new guy applying. “Are you looking for a job, or just a paycheck?” I can’t explain exactly why this question makes sense, but it just does. My boss, Jim is like the Obi Wan Kenobi of carpentry. He knows how to teach young men the skills to be a great carpenter as well as a honest, hard working man of God. His generosity and graciousness mark him for all to see. He has learned from the greatest carpenter who has walked this earth. Cheesy, I know… It’s true though.

Five, there is a girl (who will remain unnamed) who I wish was in my life. I understand that guys will sometimes overplay a women in their minds, but damnit, I think she checks off every box! I wish that things were a little different between us, I’m just admiring from afar and will remain hopeful until she clearly says no to me. I gotta try, right? Don’t Christians say, “Our God is a God of second chances”? A college professor once said, “you’ll never get a date if you don’t change the script”. To me, this means a willingness to step out of your comfort zone is what get rewarded in this “game of love”. While I believe no one has a complete understanding of this game, I think that old professor was right about. I’ll just improvise the rest. As one who holds his cards close to his chest, I digress, no more girl talk.

Six, I’ve been spending a lot of money on things recently. I like things. I won the house award for “most packages delivered with my name on it”. Retail therapy is a legitimate thing for me. I’m not sad and look to buy junk to feel happy again. However, I’d be a straight liar if I said that buying something doesn’t feel good. Last week alone I purchased a cool vest off eBay and then a used Festool planer from a retired carpenter. I currently have a kindle as well as a Montana patch in the mail (Should arrive soon!). There are perks to a well paying Job, and as I have eluded to above, I’m single. No gal to blow smoke on the old bank account. That is what a girlfriend is for, right? I’m kidding, I think…

I will close with this. Laying in bed all day is terrible. The only redeeming feature of this sickness is the amount of pages I am reading in book two of the Stromlight Archive, Words of Radiance. Great series. Two other housemates are reading it too. It’s like an informal book club where Monty is always ahead and Owen seems to never catch up. Time to close this laptop and let Andrew’s NyQuil “without the medicine part” do it’s thing. What does that even mean, Andrew?

August 3, 2022-

I write this update with a heavy heart. Two weeks ago my Grandfather passed away. He was 85. I knew him as Papa. Papa was a spectacular man who wanted to share his life with me from a very young age. He took me to car shows on Saturday at 8am. He showed up to my soccer games and took photos of me playing, with his long lens. He taught me how to appreciate good music. We spoke of little things. His life was marked by a fasciation with beauty, a drive for excellence, and unwavering dedication to his family. I was his first grandson. We got along well, and over the last 23 years, I have grown in his liking. Before his death, we spoke over the phone and he told me that he thought we were “Cut from the same cloth”. I agree. His life and legacy can be found in me. I desire to carry his love and drive with me. I am sad because I miss him, and wish we could have more time together. I wish Papa could see me on my wedding day (whenever that day comes), I wish I could share my successes with him, and hear his voice gently tease me about my hair length or my unruly beard. I am still learning how to deal with grief. I am thankful for the time with Papa, and know that I will see him in Heaven one day. We will have so much to share on that day. Until then, I think about him when I wash my vinyl records. Papa was a good man. I love him.

April 6, 2022-

Recently, fishing and backpacking has consumed by weekends and spare cash. spending time outdoors has been a call I keep on answering. I love it. This past weekend was spent up north in Sacramento fishing for Striped bass in the Delta. Backpacking has resurfaced in my hobbies. After upgrading my old high school gear, I have hit the trail again, and loved exploring my local backcountry. I look forward to my summer trips on the horizon.

January 30, 2022-

As of recent, I have stopped filming and have been fishing and working, and looking to spend weekends on the road. Some very enjoyable things in my life. I am currently making some picture frames to be displaced at local coffee shop in Goleta. I wish to continue to pick up filming later in the spring when things warm up.

Currently, in June 2021, I am working on a more long term video project. I have been filming segments of local birds and fish, with the hopes of making my own short film… More updates to come.

In March 2021, my dad bought the family a used screen printing set. I got so excited because I have always loved custom clothing. However, this was next level. We got a four color screen printer, some screens, a flash heater, and some ink colors. Immediately, I began experimenting and creating fun shirts. Eventually, I came up with a logo that I wanted to wear. I created “Charlies Paradise” because I liked the way it sounded. To date, I am working on more logos and wearing all that I make!

Beginning in December 2019, I began a skateboard company where I made a handmade product for those looking for something unique. I was inspired by Hamboards and Carver, aiming to make a surf-skate style board meant for carving. Turtle Boards became a project where I created, advertised and promoted my boards on Instagram. My goal to was target those looking to have a fun time, while not being intimidated by the scene of skating in California. With phrases like “Who needs skill?” and “All fun, no skill”, I aimed to create a culture that emphases fun over talent. With bold and interactive media, I was able to make profit until COVID-19, which caused me to place an extended pause on the project due to the lack of available hardware for the boards. You can check out more @turtle.board on IG!