Off the grid

Where I live (Charlotte, North Carolina) it’s hard to get off the grid. Most places have wifi, and we have cell coverage almost everywhere. That’s great if you work on the go or if you like to do adventurous stuff alone.

This past weekend I took the family camping in the Pisgah national forest and it was deep enough into the wood that we had zero cell coverage, no internet, nothing. We were completely isolated.

One of the downsides was food and directions. I didn’t bring food or a grill to cook so we drove into town but not being able to research restaurants or find directions was a little jarring, but we were able to get cell service after about a 15-minute drive back out of the woods. So it wasn’t terrible.

There was no reason to scroll Twitter, check email, or anything online. I just sat there by the fire and enjoyed my family with nothing taking my mind away.

I know we can all do this at any time by turning on airplane mode, but it’s not the same. Being isolated with no chance of cheating is freeing. If you ever have the ability to give it a try. You might enjoy it too.

Fryingpan Lookout Tower

This past weekend we as a family decided to go camping up in the Pisgah National Forest and spend the day Saturday tubing down one of the rivers. We reserved a camping spot, threw the tent in the truck, and headed out as soon as school let out Friday. The drive up started out great but as soon as we reached the mountain the rain came. We decided to just power through and take our chances so we kept driving.

Luckily it hadn’t rained a lot at the campground, the ground was wet, but not soaked so the tent went up just fine. We went to bed hoping for a dry Saturday.

Unfortunately, when we woke up it was cool, overcast, and drizzling. Not the best weather to be stuck in a river for four hours. At this point, we pulled out the map to find something else to do and I remembered the Fryingpan Tower that I’ve been wanting to visit ever since I first heard about it.

Before we continue I think it’s worth pointing out that North Carolina is home to two different Fryingpan Towers. The most famous is the “Frying Pan Shoals Light Tower” which is in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The “Fryingpan Fire Tower” that we visited is in the mountains on the other side of the state and gets its name from Fryingpan Gap. One is spelled with one word, the other with two. Outside of this, I have no idea why they are named the same.

Out of all the fire tower’s in NC Fryingpan is probably the easiest to access. It is right off the Blue Ridge Parkway and only a mile hike up a gravel road. A perfect walk for kids and those that might not be in the best of shape.

As we started our walk it was overcast and I was hoping as we reached the tower the clouds would lift giving us some amazing views of the mountains. Instead, the weather went the other direction and the cloud cover rolled in even more. Visibility dropped to maybe 30 feet which made for a unique experience and some cool photos that you would be able to get otherwise.

Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
The balcony closed off
The balcony closed off
Fryingpan tower looking down
Looking down from the top
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower
Fryingpan Tower in the fog.

I went with the goal of looking out over the mountains and taking in beautiful views of the scenery, but instead, I think I had an even better experience because of the fog.

It just goes to show you that as long as you keep an open mind and are willing to embrace the moment even when it’s going wrong, you might just have an experience that will stay with you forever.

 

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The foggy gravel walk back to the car

 

Camping and Mountain Biking

For the past few years, I’ve been a part of a weekend guys trip where we camp, ride our mountain bikes and just have fun. This past weekend we did it again and I wanted to share some of the pictures from the weekend.

I know we all get tied up with work and home life but if you have the opportunity, take a weekend off and head to the wilderness with your friends.

Cameras

I just got back home from Laracon in NYC and this year I decided I should take my real camera pictured above. I carried it around taking photos for two days then the battery went dead and I forgot the charger. doh. From that point forward I only used my iPhone.

Now that I’m home I started reviewing all the photos and to be honest I think I like all the picture from my phone better than the ones I took with this dedicated camera. Granted I’m not a “real” photographer but for how easy carrying a phone is versus one this size I just don’t think it’s worth the effort to carry a dedicated camera anymore.

Seasons

Having a daily routine is important as it allows you to coast through the day knowing what comes next. For most people, daily routines include going to work, having dinner, picking up the kids, etc. and once it’s ingrained into your daily life it seems to just happen.

I’ve noticed for me my routine of creating stuff changes based on the seasons. In the winter when it’s cold and it gets dark at 5 PM, I tend to spend more time on the computer writing, drawing, or coding. Then when the time changes and the weather turns warm I want to be outside away from all this.

A good example of this is this blog. Check out the yearly posting schedule. From October – February I posted a ton, then the time changed and I’ve stopped writing.

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At the end of the day, there are only 24 hours and if you can’t keep up a daily habit because you’d rather do something else don’t let that bother you. To quote Olin Miller, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do!”. Just push it aside and pick it up again when you are ready to start back.

This is also why I’m a fan of TV shows having seasons, Podcast doing seasons, and even software development going through sprints. It allows you a dedicated time to do something then move on to something else. When the end is in sight you can push to it.

Note to self…

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Note to self… Do not tweet when I’m angry. Nothing good can from it and nine times out of ten it’ll end in more frustration and heartache.

“Thoughts On” journals

Derek Sivers has a blog post from back in January on the benefits of a daily diary and topic journals and this part is something I started trying:

There are certain subjects in your life you think about a lot. People, places, hobbies, health, plans, finances.

For each subject that you might have ongoing thoughts about, start a separate “Thoughts On” journal. Whenever you have some thoughts on this subject, open up that file, write today’s date, then start writing.

I’ve started doing this in my notes app and once I see something that makes me think I open it up and start writing.

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Derek describes his thoughts on like this:

I find it so useful to keep my thoughts on each subject together, because I can see my past thoughts and current thoughts in one place. I can see how my thoughts on this subject have evolved or keep repeating. Sometimes I think I have a new thought on a subject, so I open up the file and write it down, then afterwards I see I had that same thought a year ago and had forgotten about it. If you care about your thoughts, keep them.

For me, each has been more of a rant. I see something on the internet and that enrages me so I write down all my anger. Then I’m done with it and I don’t have to think about it again. Next time you want to argue on the internet write it down and move on with life. I promise you’ll be happier.