A Left Coast kind of Christmas

At the moment I am writing to you all from Studio City in Los Angeles. Spending the holiday on the West Coast is a nice change of pace, warm weather and palm trees – not a typical Christmas for me but still enjoyable. I am staying with my Dad, enjoying a nice visit.

After tying up some lose ends in Nederland, I drove down to Denver to catch an afternoon flight out of the Mile High City. I don’t typically fly any airline other then Southwest, and for good reason. While everyone I interacted with at United was friendly, they charge $25 and $35 respectively for your first and second checked bags. You ONLY get free sodas on your flight, no solid food (unless you want to spend $8 for some ritz crackers).

I spent a productive hour at my gate talking with a lovely woman from Kansas who works in the outdoor recreation industry among many other interesting art-focused jobs (including helping design the monument for the fallen fire fighters from the South Canyon Fire!). After talking with her about my current situation and plans she offered some wonderful career/life advice. ‘Picture where you want to be in five years,’ she said, ‘and then start taking the steps to make that dream happen.’ The advice seems simple enough, but I find myself asking, ‘what is my dream?’. I have some direction but my end goal is not totally clear yet. I suspect that is the goal of the travel and adventures that I am in the process of organizing for the next year. More on that later.

After an extremely bumpy climb out of the Front Range, our flight was pleasant. It’s funny celebrating a holiday that you associate with snow in a place where the temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s during the ‘winter’. I’m not complaining about wearing shorts, sandals, and a tank top, it’s just a little strange this time of year.

And speaking of this holiday, I find myself caring less and less about the materialistic focus that seems to exist in our country. Sure it’s fun to exchange gifts, but the excess that typically exists is such a turn-off. If you are a fan of The Office, Michael Scott has a great quote regarding the exchange of gifts:

“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is this tangible thing you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth’.”

And while this is obviously made to poke fun at the state of affairs, its scary how accurately this seems to depict where this holiday has gone. While I don’t have any religious beliefs, I still appreciate Christmas and for me, it’s about spending time with family, being kind and thoughtful to others, and these two foci don’t necessarily have to be demonstrated through the giving of things.

Now after all that discussion about the excesses of materialism during this holiday you might laugh at me when I mention the one gift I received – a GoPro camera. Yes, this was a big gift. It was given very thoughtfully though and you all should be thankful (joking, kind of) because now I have a means to photograph and capture photo of the journey I am about to embark on. Hopefully I will produce some enjoyable media, I’ll let you all be the judge.

Enough of my rambling about my personal beliefs. This visit has really been wonderful and I am thrilled to be able to spend time with some of my family during the holiday season. My happiness at the moment though is focused on another opportunity that has just been preposed – a trip with an old climbing partner to attempt an ascent of Mt.Rainier in May. While I would love to attempt this climb, some logistical concerns are raised. My thru-hike attempt of the PCT this year will have a start date between April and May meaning I would have to leave the trail, get to Washington, attempt this climb, and make it back to the trail, loosing roughly a week (that’s a guess) of trail time. I am not too concerned with loosing trail time, I will likely have a month or more of ‘zero days’ during the duration of my hike. The issue comes with missing a SOLID week of trail time, and right at the beginning of the hike, in the desert, a place where you don’t want to waist time when the weather starts getting warm. We will have to see how the opportunity develops but all I can say for now is that I am thrilled at the possibility and I will attempt to make it happen if at all possible.
Until next time, be well friends and family, I look forward to writing my next update.

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