Rob and I present a retrospective on our 2017 adventure of filling the Florida State Parks passport book. Sorry for the wind noise!
Last Wednesday, my friend Vic and I took off toward Charlotte for a couple opportunities at checking out the suburbs on the way to and back from Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I’m half-considering the move to Charlotte for a change of scenery and closer proximity to the mountains, but I also just wanted to get away for a bit and breathe some crisp, fresh, cold mountain air. Some thoughts and highlights from the trip!
- We unintentionally ended up at the same Arby’s on the way up and the way back. We got embarrassingly bad service both times, but nothing stopped those Chicken Bacon & Swiss from being delicious.
- The southern and eastern areas around the 485 (Charlotte’s beltway) are pretty nice! I could definitely see myself staying there if the opportunity was right.
- The typical places described as desirable north of the city (Davidson, Mooresville, Huntersville, etc.) are very crowded and the traffic / construction on I-77 was horrible by 2:30pm on a Thursday. I don’t think I could deal with that, but the parks and amenities on Lake Norman felt like they could be frequent visits.
- Our room at the Hemlock Inn in Blowing Rock was upgraded to…the same room Rob and I stayed in last October. Not complaining!
- Restaurants that remain stellar: Local Lion, Bella’s, Our Daily Bread. Those that weren’t so great this time: Capone’s, Blowing Rock Brewery. New find that is pretty solid: The New Public House’s breakfast.
- The weather and forecast only gave us a couple mornings’ worth of sunshine so we crammed a lot of hiking into those windows. Friday morning we hiked a trio of trails (Beacon Heights, Flat Rock, and Linville Falls Plunge Basin) and braved a starting temp of 25* Sunday for the Green Knob loop. On our dreary, wet Saturday, we stuck to the flat lake loops (Trout Lake and Bass Lake).
- I joined my team’s Daily Standup from the top of Beacon Heights.
- It snowed Saturday night and I was a nervous wreck, having never driven in snow. But uh, it was mostly just in the air, and literally everyone I asked rolled their eyes at me. It made for a really pretty Sunday morning hike atmosphere!
- Vic started a new Pokemon Go account on Wednesday and was level 21 by the end of the trip. Oh look a Wailmer!
All in all, a pretty great trip! It’s a nice holdover until Rob and I likely return for another early-October week in the mountains. For now, back to work finishing out the Spring semester and looking forward to an early-May trip out to the Bay Area!
We hiked a lot this year in the mountains! I figured I’d throw together a quick list of the hikes with some links to the trail maps and reviews. I’d recommend all of them, but details can be found in the previous blog post thingy.
- Day 1:
- Day 2:
- Day 3:
- Trout Lake Loop (1.2mi loop, 85ft)
- Day 4:
- Day 5:
- Day 6:
- Day 7
- Green Knob (2.2mi loop, 613ft)
- Day 8
- Rough Ridge (0.8mi out/back, 268ft)
Back at the beginning of October (which feels like forever ago), Rob and I took our now-annual week-long trip to the Blue Ridge to get some cooler weather, changing leaves, a bunch of hikes, and a ton of good food. I’m sick today so I figured I’d brush the dust off of these notes and post a little journal-style entry of the highlights. Enjoy, and feel free to reach out if you need any recommendations or want to hear about anything else!
We started out the trip with a rather fortuitous stop: the Amazon Treasure Truck was in tourist-town Orlando with SNES Classics. Despite putting us a little behind schedule, it was such a relief to snag one of those on launch day. And it turned out to be a huge boon for the trip! Over the week, we played through Star Fox, Mega Man X, and Super Mario World (all 96 exits!). Rob made it through most of Link to the Past, but we couldn’t quite clear that one entirely. It was an awesome dynamic; outdoor activities in the daylight and classic gaming at night.
An exceedingly spooky end to a hike in the Blue Ridge. “Welcome to the family, son,” as Rob has said literally every time he’s seen it.
Blogging is hard, guys. Focus is on the decline these days, and boy is it frustrating. I started writing an article about various updates in early February and got pulled away to other things, so instead, here’s one for April!
I laid out a number of goals for myself in a blog post earlier this year. Here are some updates! Exciting! Exclamation!
Budget Update: Budgets have been updated! Rob and I worked on establishing an updated set of goals for our money for 2017, and as we’ve rolled into the year, I’ve put that into action. Roughly 30% of my take-home pay is going to bills and shared spending, while another 40% is going into savings (both shared and individual). That leaves me with about 30% to budget towards food, gas, health, travel, and general spending, and I’m pretty happy placing that tension on my day-to-day budget while direct-depositing the rest. The money’s still available if I need it; now I have to justify needing it, rather than blindly spending it. It’s worked pretty well so far this year, even with the frequent travel.
Vacations: Vacations have been planned (and many taken by this point)! Trips this year: all Florida state parks (many trips in the bag already!), Jekyll Island (was awesome), a Appalachian-flavored road trip (fantastic and fattening), a tour of the Florida Panhandle (just got back), an extended weekend through SW Florida (May), a classic High Springs swimming trip (Sept), the annual week in the Blue Ridge (Oct), a few days in the Keys (Nov), and (probably) Chicago to round the year out. There are a couple potential slots left to explore (early June and July 4th weekend), but I’m pretty happy with being able to have so much of the year plotted. I’ve found that having something to look forward to helps get me through my down periods, and it also helps me be content with not always doing so much in my free time in-between.
Work: Some mild success to report! I had lunch with my department’s director (over Jimmy Hula’s, of all things) to discuss my situation. He agreed that a hybrid role between project management and development would be a great fit for me for the next year or so. As of the end of March, both the leaders of our PMO and Development teams have been informed of my wishes and should be reaching out to me soon. I just scheduled a lunch with the Development head, so after this week I should have a better idea of where things are going. Here’s hoping!
Blogging: I tried the article-a-week approach (50 sessions of light writing a year didn’t sound like too much), but it ended up being really difficult to fit into my life. It’s been pretty disappointing; I underestimated how much focus is needed to really sit down, block out all the distractions, and write, especially when that time is usually after a full day’s work. Instead, I’ll be writing when inspiration, time, focus, or opportunity presents itself, while working on ways to improve my focus when needed. If anyone wants to read anything specific from me, please let me know!
Alexander Springs, 1961 on Flickr. Given to me by my grandma.
Juniper Springs: A quick, dangerous trip in the middle of the day and Summer to show a northern friend a big spring.