Friday, December 2, 2011

World AIDS Day

Yesterday, December 1st was World AIDS Day. Fan Free put on an event called RVA Remembers to commenorate the lives lost, infected, and impacted by HIV/AIDS over the last 30 years. Below are some pictures I took at the event, and a video made by Fan Free.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thanksgiving weekend

Had a great Thanksgiving weekend and hope you all did too. I went for a hunt early on Thanksgiving with Ben and his dad. I saw 5 nice does, but no bucks. Still had a great time in the woods- experiencing the woods waking up to a beautiful morning. I then drove over to Pony Pasture for the Sweet Potato 5k, picking up John and Peyton on the way. My mom, both sisters, niece, nephew, and brother-in-law joined us, along with Nate and Lexi. VMI was representing strong at the 5k, bringing in the top three runners, with Dawson not far behind. Not a bad showing the the keydets on a beautiful Thanksgiving morning. We then grabbed some coffee back at the apartment with Nate and Lexi and departed soon after for my folks' place. Had a great day with family, and our friends Phil and Amy who joined us for a yum Thanksgiving meal. So grateful for great friends and family to spend a laid back day with. Felt very fortunate as I know there are many who may not have food, family, or shelter on Thanksgiving.

Peyton and I went over to Tuckahoe Thursday evening where we had dessert and hung out with her family for the evening. We spent the night there and then had a fun day Friday relaxing around the farm.
On Saturday morning, my nephew Micah ran the 8k course from the race he had missed because of being sick a few weeks back. Here are a few pictures from the run.

Saturday afternoon we did some cider pressing out at Tuckahoe- always a fun time. Had a small bonfire after pressin cider to end a nice fall afternoon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I don't quite know the exact purpose of this video, but I thought it was pretty cool. Just a really awesome picture of reconciliation



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cold Mountain

  A few weeks back, Peyton and I hiked Cold Mountain, a loop hike connected with Mt. Pleasant. It was a beautiful day, a little on the cold side, but beautiful skies. I hope to go back there soon to do the 16 mile figure-eight loop to include Mt. Pleasant. I forgot I had these pictures on my camera.
I hope everyone is having a great week and looking forward to Thanksgiving. I am excited to spend time with family and friends, hunting, eating, running, biking, and maybe an overnight hike with Daniel on Sunday.
More updates to come. Am planning to do a Thanksgiving post of things I am most thankful for.

Enjoy the pictures:

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guitar lesson

First off- want to apologize- I've been slacking on the blog lately, especially the pictures. Life has been every bit of wonderful, but busy lately. I assure you more pictures will come- I just have gotten out of the habit of having my camera by my side the last few weeks.

Yesterday, I got a chance to give my mom her first guitar lesson. Many of you know my mom, or have heard me talk about her at some point. She's my hero. Plain and simple. In some way or another, I almost always mention her in any essay I have composed since high school- to include college essays, personal statements, etc. She has been a huge inspiration for much of what I do in my life. I guess it has to do with the hurdles she has and continues to overcome in her life. My mom came down with spinal meningitis when she was less than two years old. The treatment she was given worsened her condition and caused her to lose her hearing in both ears.
As a kid growing up, I didn't understand the depth of her hearing loss until I went with her to an audiology appointment. It was here that I developed an even greater respect and understanding of the hardships and hurdles my mom is faced with still, as a 61 year old woman. She was put into a sound-proof box and asked to press a button when she could hear something. As they raised the volume, it felt like minutes, although probably only a few seconds until she pressed the button. I asked the doctor what an equivalent sound would be to what my mom had heard. She turned to look at me and said, "It was the sound of a Boeing 747 Jet engine at full blast next to your mother's ear". This changed my perspective, just a bit.

 Growing up, my mom's parents never taught her sign language- not wanting her to be limited by the resources available to the deaf community. She learned to read lips and relies on this as her sole means of communication today. As a child, she saw a speech therapist every week, many times more than a couple of times a week, until she was 18. She applied to 18 nursing schools and was rejected at every one. She went on to become an Occupational Therapist and has been licensed and practicing in the field for over 30 years.
My mother is tough to say the least- a quality I admire in her. She won't take no for an answer and is always up for a new challenge, despite what the odds may be. I joke around saying that one day I want to write a book to tell her story. Growing up, my mother always told me that I could do whatever I put my mind to. She provided a constant source of encouragement and inspiration in my life. Her life has not been easy and every day she continues to face discrimination and hardship because of her hearing loss. But this hasn't stopped her from reaching out to those in need.
Much of my desire to serve the under-served and the most vulnerable in our society comes from my mom's commitment to caring for the needy.
The summer I turned 12, my mom made me ride my bike five days a week to volunteer at a place called the Virginia Home. It was here that my passion for the "least of these" began. The Virginia Home is a home in Richmond for mentally and physically challenged adults. Many of the adults living at the home have CP, MS, spinal cord or brain injuries, along with other challenges that create barriers for them to live on their own.
I am forever grateful for the many lessons I learned the first and subsequent summers I would volunteer here. I still occasionally go back to visit some of the residents I first met over thirteen years ago.

Enough about me. My mom has been asking me for some time to give her a guitar lesson. I left an old classical guitar at my folk's house that she has been playing around with for a couple of months. I am always amazed at the projects or goals she takes on. A couple summers back, we took an introductory Spanish class together, because she wanted to be able to better communicate with the folks she was visiting in a Peruvian community her and my dad would be visiting that next fall.

I only taught her three chords on the guitar, but she did great. I'm looking forward to teaching her more, and hopefully next time, if I remember, I'll get a picture of us playing together. We're learning "I'll fly Away"- one of my favorite songs to play.

Until next time folks.

Helping the poor

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Over due update

The last couple weeks seem to be a blur. Seems to me, it has been mostly passed by studying, working, and bike riding, with a few epic hunts mixed in. I'm sure I have some pictures somewhere, but I think for now- I'm just going to start fresh with what I can remember about the last weekend.

On Sunday, my dad and I headed south towards Chapel Hill for an open house at the school of public health.
Some of you may know, I am currently in a certificate program through UNC- taking some of the core public health masters classes..

The program, Health Behavior Health Education, was having an open house for interested applicants.
I had only been to Chapel Hill once with Peyton passing through on a trip down to Asheville. A good friend of mine, Andrew, went to law school in Chapel Hill and was able to give my dad and I some suggestions for places to check out on our trip. We had coffee at an awesome coffee house in the woods- literally, called Cafe Driade. We also checked out a local market called Weaver Street market, similar to Richmond's Elwood Thompson's. We finished the night with dinner at Carolina brewery on Franklin St. Unfortunately, the night ended with a Steeler loss to the Ravens,but all in all, it was a great evening exploring Chapel Hill.
The Open House started bright and early Monday morning. Without going into too much detail, I really enjoyed the school, the professors and students I got to talk to, the areas of research faculty are involved in, the international and domestic opportunities for the summer practicum, and the warm, welcoming feeling felt by everyone I came in contact with. The school definitely exceeded my expectations in many ways.

Before we left Chapel Hill, my dad and I walked over to the school of orthodontics, where my grandfather had studied over 50 years ago.He was actually a student in the 2nd class to graduate from UNC's program. My dad wanted to see if there was any yearbooks or manuscripts that might have mentioned his dad that we could take a look at. We were having some trouble finding the department because of some construction that was going on, but we found a door that mentioned orthodontics, so my dad knocked. He told the student who answered what we were interested in finding, and literally, within two minutes, my dad and I were handed my grandfather's bound thesis paper. We were both in shock, looking multiple times at the year and name to make sure it was correct. As my dad paged through his father's thesis, I saw tears of joy streaming down his face. This had already been a very special day with my dad, and this just made it that much better. I am thankful for times like these because I know that I am incredibly blessed to have such an amazing father who cares so much about me.
Yes, I might have been the only applicant who brought their parent with them to the open house, but I was proud to have him with me. I wouldn't be where I am today without the love, support, and model that he has given and been to me and I was glad we got to share the weekend together.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Family time

    It's been a great week so far. Monday was Peyton's shelf exam for internal medicine which she has been in now for about three months. I'm really happy for her to have it behind her- a big accomplishment for the year! Monday evening we had our parents and Peyton's brother Daniel over for her dad's birthday. Peyton made an awesome Tiger cake for her dad- go Princeton Tigers!

    After work on Tuesday, I picked up my niece, Laura, for some squirrel hunting. I have taken my nephew, Micah hunting a few times now, and she has been wanting to go, so we went.. We had a great time walking through the woods together- she even taught me a few games while we were sitting, waiting for a squirrel. We  saw three deer and two squirrels, one of which we got. She asked me to make her some jerky with it, so hopefully it'll turn out as good as the last batch. I am so lucky to have my family so close here in Richmond. I have really enjoyed getting to spend some time with my awesome niece and nephew the last couple of years. It has been cool getting to explore the outdoors with them and teach them some of the things I have learned about hunting, camping, fishing, and other fun activities that my uncle taught me when I was growing up.

 Hope you all are enjoying your week where ever you may be. Probably going to be a couple days till the next post- hitting the books hard the next couple of days.

Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.
Mother Teresa

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fall weekend

    This past weekend was great. It was one of those weekends that didn't go by too fast, but just at the right pace.
    I got off work a little early on Friday and got my first high water squirt in. For those of you who didn't know, I recently got into squirt boating- a type of kayaking that involves a very low volume, fiberglass boat. See previous blog posts for some pictures and videos of squirt boating. I met up with Ben for a run of the lower at just under 10'. We were both a little nervous, as the low volume boat can be slower to maneuver at times and sits pretty low in the water. I had taken it out at 8' before and did fine, but with another two feet, many features of the river change quite a bit. It was a blast. Can't wait for the water to come back up again!

        Friday evening my nephew, Micah came over to spend the night with us. We went on a walk around the fan when my sister dropped him off. We then went out to Bass Pro to look for some camo for him to wear on our hunt in the morning. We finished off the evening having dinner with Peyton and then taking a quick walk over to Strawberry St. market for some push pops. We rose early Saturday morning to hunt turkeys out at Tuckahoe. Peyton fixed us an awesome breakfast before we went-in the midst of studying for one of her biggest test of the year-she was up at 5:45 fixing us breakfast-she's incredible. Saturday was youth turkey day, a day set aside for youth to hunt before the regular season starts later in the month. We got in the woods around 6:30am and had a great hunt seeing four bucks, a few does, a bunch of squirrels, and a few signs of turkeys.Even though we didn't get ourselves a turkey, we had an awesome time together, in the woods on a beautiful fall morning. In following tradition, we got breakfast at McDonalds after the hunt. Yum. Here are a few pictures of our time together.

The rest of the afternoon on Saturday I studied with Peyton at the library. Saturday evening, we headed over to the folk festival to meet up with Peyton's folks and some friends of ours. We heard some African dance music, Reggae, and some Tibetian drone music. Here are a few pictures from the festival: (Photo credit: Lexi)

Sunday: Caught up with Dr. Crossman for breakfast- great. Church was bitter sweet. Our friends, the Salvants, who run NHHM are moving to Haiti tomorrow and this was their last week at church. As Peyton and I have gotten to know Scott and April over the last couple of months, we have been really humbled by their faith in God during this whole transition in their lives. Just recently, April's mom had some fairly major surgery here in Richmond. Last week both of their grandparents went into the hospital, and most recently, Scott's grandfather passed away on Saturday. I have been in awe of their calm nature and strength through all of the trials they have faced just in the last six months- and they haven't even gotten to Haiti! It is amazing how God has been preparing their way all along. I am really going to miss them and their family, but am excited to partner with New Hope and am excited to see where the new role will take us.

We are heading back to Haiti in December with Peyton's folks, along with Nate, Lexi, and Ian. Really getting excited for the trip. If any of you all are interested in joining us, I would love to share more about what projects we will be doing and about the amazing experience it will be. Sunday afternoon brought an epi study session with Peyton-fun times for sure..Compline service-was great as usual ( I laid on the floor for the first time- it was great until I got kicked in the face by a guy who didn't see me..I guess I can't blame him- I was under the pew, laid out on the floor..)

Until next time- "Take a little time for sunshine, take a whole lot of time for love, take time to praise and thank the heavens up above."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mountain weekend

Friday night, Peyton and I headed off to Smith Mountain Lake for her sister, Scottie's premier of Lake Effects. Since most of the film was shot at the lake, the premier was at a local theater there in town. We both really liked the movie and are hoping to figure out a way to have a viewing of it here in Richmond- possibly at the Byrd. We stayed the night with Scottie and Peyton's folks and had a great breakfast, fixed by her dad on Saturday morning.

   Soon after breakfast, I hit the road headed for West Virginia- round two. With a brand new clutch and a 2012 inspection sticker, I was ready to try again. It took me about 3 hours to get to the New where I was going to meet up with local squirt legend, Steve O'Keefe. Sure enough, I got there a little after noon and parked roadside to the New, just downstream from Halls of Karma.
This epic squirt spot was found by Jim Snyder, one of the founders of the sport. It is located just below the Keeneys which is a set of three class III drops that are siphoned into a channel that forms the Halls. I had only talked to Steve on the phone, but he was just as friendly in person as he was on the phone. Steve has retired to a cabin he helped build himself between the Gauley and New River gorges. Steve climbs and squirt boats close to 300 days a year, and you can definitely tell.
He gave me some great pointers, along with two other squirt boaters at the spot, whom I would later learn were Stephen and Clay Wright, two world-class play boaters who work for Jackson kayak. Clay Wright apparently invented the loop move. That is one of the many things I love about kayaking is having the opportunity to paddle along side some of the best in the sport and not even know it.
I didn't get to take as many pictures of squirt boating, but here are a few:

   After a beautiful afternoon of squirt boating, I drove into Summersville to Ray's where I would camp for the night. I set up my tent and hammock and ended up falling asleep in my hammock for about an hour. I got some dinner in Summersville and then settled in camp for the night.
When I woke on Sunday morning, I knew I had at least a two hour drive to meet Ben and Kyle at the Big Sandy, so I put on the road as soon as I could. We met in Bruceton Mills around 10 and then had a short, but bumpy drive to the takeout of the Big Sandy. I had run this river once before with a few friends from Richmond, but it had been at higher water, so I wasn't quite sure about a lot of the lines. We had an amazing weather for the whole run and a great time lapping Wonder Falls, a 15-20' waterfall, five times.  Here are a few pictures of the run

Here is a short video of me running Wonder Falls