Jul 29, 2011

Our Anniversary

Fifteen years & eight months ago today I was in Wasilla for the first time. I had driven through it headed from Fairbanks to Little Beaver Camp in Big Lake a few times. But this time I was here for a three day visit to decide if I was going to move here.

On that Wednesday night I attended my first service at Wasilla Assembly of God. Afterwards a bunch of us went to the Kashim Restaurant, which is now called Tailgaters. Among the group was Christy Lucus, who was to become my first wife. And yes, she's my only wife. I just like the reaction I get when I refer to her as the first wife...

A couple of months later, on January 12th, 1996 I made the move. I was attending a school of ministry at the church and very involved in the youth group as a leader. That August, we did a missions trip to Barrow. Christy & I were assigned to work together on VBS for kids. Up to this point we had just been friends. But while working together on that trip I begin to realize what an incredible, beautiful person she is.

I went directly from the Barrow trip to a summer camp in Kodiak. While there I realized how much I missed being with her. A couple of weeks after the Kodiak trip, I went back to Afognak Island to work in the timber industry for a few months. I was pretty broke and needed to earn some money.

I had made arrangements with Christy to check my mail while I was gone, which gave me a perfect excuse to call her often. On September 29th, 1996; 14 years and 10 months ago we decided this was more than just a friendship and we began dating.

Two years later, on September 29th, 1998 at Point Warzoff as the sun was setting behind a snow covered Mt. Susitna I proposed. To my great joy, she said yes.

Ten months later on July 31st, surrounded by friends & family we were married. This weekend we are celebrating 12 wonderful years of marriage.

Christy, I love you. Thanks for all the great times. There are many more ahead of us!

Jul 23, 2011

The Journey: The Best Day

As I look back over this Journey that is now 16 months along, my best day was just a few months ago. Christy and I were spending two days on Oahu, staying in Honolulu.  We'd flown in the evening before, picked up the rental car and made our way to the hotel. When staying at a new place, you are never sure what you are going to get. But the place we stayed at was great. It was just a few blocks from Waikiki beach.

After we checked in we walked down to a restaurant for dinner and then we got to bed early.  We wanted plenty of sleep for the big day we had planned. And it was this next day that has been the best day of the Journey.

We got up and out the door early. We were headed to Diamond Head to hike up to the old WWII observation post on the crater rim. (You can read the details here... Oh, and there's puking involved...). It was a strenuous hike, but I made it. After wards we drove over the north side of the island.

For lunch we stopped at a Subway and used a gift card that my Aunt Jackie & Uncle Roger had given me for my birthday. Granted, Subway isn't as healthy as Jared would like you to believe, but it's better than fries & a burger.

We spent the rest of the day driving through paradise, with a stop at a beach to enjoy the water. That evening we took a walk through bustling Waikiki and watched the sunset over the beach.

I was at my lowest weight at this time... I had been hitting the gym almost daily for two months. I was in a beautiful location with my favorite wife. It was perfect.
And that's my motivation for the Journey... I want to have more perfect days like that. But it's not going to happen being overweight, clothes barely fitting, sitting on the couch eatin' chips and drinkin' soda. So as much as I dread going to the gym, it has to happen. Period.

Jul 19, 2011

The Journey: The Levi Jacket

I spent my 8th, 9th, & 10th grade year living in a logging camp seven miles outside of Hoonah, Alaska. Hoonah was a small fishing village of about 800 people. At the time I would've told you living there was the worst torture ever devised by a parent, but looking back through the lens of time I can see that it wasn't so bad. I was able to experience the wonder that is Southeast Alaska.

There was a handful of us kids that ran around together. It wasn't so much that we liked each other; but we were all we had. With such a small population you didn't have a lot of options in friends. Looking back though, those were some of the best friendships I ever had. (Am I the only one hearing Richard Dreyfuss's narration from "Stand By Me" in their head?)

The outerwear of choice for us was a Levi jean jacket. I always wore mine with the sleeves rolled up 2 1/2 times. For the weather of Southeast, it wasn't a great choice. When it got wet, it absorbed the water and tripled in weight. And since we lived in a temperate rain forest, it got wet a lot.

But all the pockets were great. You had a spot for your wallet, Walkman, a soda & and a candy bar. Oh, for those of you under 30; you'll want to click here and see how we used to kick it old school...

These jackets had a little red Levi tag on the left breast pocket. The tag was folded over and you could tease the fold and open up a little loop. We would take a .22 bullet and slip it into the loop. It took some patience & and a little pressure to get it in there because it was a tight fit. This may sound a little silly, but for us it was high redneck fashion. And since we were 1,500 miles from a decent mall, it worked.

And it couldn't be just any .22 bullet. It had to be a hollow point, preferably Remington brand. I'm not sure why we did that... I seem to remember some discussion about it being a bullet of last resort. But It's not like you were going to take out a bear with a .22. And even if you happen to have a .22 rifle in your hands and a bear was charging you, there was no way in the world you were going to be able pull that bullet back out of that loop. It was wedged in there way too tight.

What does this little trip down memory lane have to do with the Journey? A few years back, in a fit of nostalgia I bought myself a Levi jean jacket. I got the biggest size they had and it fit at the time. But as a I got fatter and finally hit 371 pounds, it was a long way from fitting. I could get it on, but there was no way I was getting it buttoned up. Or moving my arms.

So a couple of weeks ago a friend called me up and asked if I wanted to go out shooting. As I was gathering up bullets & guns, I reached into the closet for a coat & grabbed the jean jacket. When I put it on, I was shocked. The thing was huge on me!! I almost didn't wear it because it fit so loose.

Yes, I've stalled on the Journey since returning from Hawaii in early May. And yes, I still have at least 100 pounds still to lose. But putting on that jacket reminded me that I had lost 50 pounds. I've come a long way. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. Oh, and for the record, my current jacket doesn't have a bullet in its little tag. But that's only because this particular style of jacket doesn't have the tag.

Jul 10, 2011

The Journey: I climbed the Butte...

A couple of months ago I mentioned I'd like to climb the Butte this summer.  With the Journey going nowhere, I wasn't sure if it was going to happen.

For those of you who do not live in the Valley, the Butte is a land formation east of Palmer. It rises about 900 feet and the West Trail is 1 1/2 miles from the parking area to the top. It sits in the middle of Matanuska River plain and can be seen from most points in the Valley.

It's a favorite hike for many people in the Valley. I've been here 15 1/2 years and almost everyone I know has climbed it. I've wanted to hike it ever since I moved here, but I never got around to it. And as I gained weight, it became less and less likely that it would ever be possible.

But now that I've lost some weight, I had it on the to-do list. This morning the sister-in-law called and said they were going to climb the Butte this morning. I knew that it would be a challenge. Hiking Diamond Head in Hawaii was hard enough and I was in better shape then.

The trail starts out tame enough and I started off at a good clip. And then the trail started to climb up. And up. And up. And then it got steep... And then we got to the stairs. I think there was at least 100 steps, Christy's guess is there was only 50. Eitehr way; it was plenty. And after the staris it got really steep.

But I made it. I hauled my 320 pound hind-end up there. And the view was totally worth it.

Jul 3, 2011

The Journey: Happy Independence Weekend

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shows, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

John Adams' famous letter of July 3, 1776, in which he wrote to his wife Abigail what his thoughts were about celebrating the Fourth of July