Categories
Blogging Career Military Travel Weather

Phoenix Arizona

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Yesterday was the 30TH anniversary of Hurricane Andrew’s destruction of Homestead Florida – my home of almost 5 years at the time. After 19 months of living in Maryland, Virginia, and Central Florida (Melbourne and Tampa) – I returned to Homestead in March 1994, and I’ve been here since. That’s almost 35 years (minus 19 months). When I first arrived here in Homestead – I was 20½-years-young. Now I’m 55.

I don’t think I’ve told anyone this before – other than my coworkers at the time in Gloucestershire England – but in July 1987 I actually received vague military orders for my next assignment / duty station to Phoenix Arizona. (Those orders were inexplicably replaced 3 months later with orders to Homestead Florida.)

I’ve never been to Phoenix – “The Valley Of The Sun”. Someday I’ll probably visit. I wonder how much different my life and career would’ve turned out had I gone to Phoenix instead of Miami / Homestead. There would’ve been no hurricane to drastically change my life 7 years into my military career. Maybe I would’ve stayed 20+ years on Active Duty. Maybe I would’ve fallen in love with Arizona – much like I’ve fallen in love with Florida. Maybe I would’ve never gone on a Caribbean cruise.

I know that I would’ve thoroughly explored much of what there is to see and do in Phoenix and beyond. I’ve only stepped foot on a small part of Arizona – the northern part from Hoover Dam to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. That was part of a family excursion out of Las Vegas in January 2002.

I grew up with hot and humid summers up in the Washington D.C. area, so South Florida’s weather wasn’t such a shock when I first arrived here. It just lasts much longer here than there. British weather was similar to Maryland and Virginia weather in the wintertime. Of course winter weather lasted much longer in the U.K. I generally don’t do good with dry desert weather – whether it’s sizzling hot in the summertime or freezing cold in the wintertime. I guess if I made that move to Arizona I would’ve gotten used to it after a short little while.

As a creature of humidity – even North Texas (where much of my family lives) – is too dry for me. My nose and skin don’t like arid-extra-dry. South Florida air always feels refreshing after returning home from a week or two in Texas.

Next #TravelThursday let’s visit Luxembourg. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
1970s Blogging Nature Travel Weather

Appalachian Trail

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about my visit exactly 30 years ago to Newfound Gap and Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The 2,194-mile Appalachian Trail (#AT) straddles the Tennessee / North Carolina state line for over 200 miles through the park. It reaches its highest point just below the summit of Clingmans Dome at 6,625 feet. (The summit is 18 feet higher.) The summit is the highest point I’ve set foot on land in my lifetime. From south to north the #AT runs from northwestern Georgia to central Maine.

Flashback to the late-1970s when I lived in Lanham Maryland (a suburb of Washington D.C.). I was a Cub Scout, a Webelos Scout, and a Boy Scout. I think I was 10½-years-old when I moved from the Webelos to the Boy Scouts late in 1977. I remember we had Troop meetings every week at the local VFW. I enjoyed it a lot. We had classroom-like training. We made things. We played games. We planned weekend trips up in the nearby Appalachian Mountains of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. This was fellowship before I ever knew what fellowship was. I was with the Boy Scouts for about 3 years until my family moved away late in 1980.

Most of our weekend trips were in the wintertime (weather-permitting) up in the Appalachians. Our leaders mapped-out a portion of the #AT with camping sites along the way, and we commenced our adventure. I think we hiked up to 10 miles per day wearing heavy backpacks, so we’d cover 20 to 30 miles during an average 2 to 3 day hike. I remember that we’d all start each new morning together (as a Troop), but then with all of our different paces of hiking we’d all start to scatter on the #AT almost immediately in groups of no less than 2. We weren’t allowed to hike solo. I had a good buddy at the time. His name was Eddie. He and I were the shy ones of the Troop. Nobody ever suspected us of doing bad things. So we got away with doing bad things. He and I were friends outside of Scouting. 45 years later I often wonder whatever happened to him. He was probably my best childhood friend ever.

The camping sites after a long day of hiking were wonderful. We erected our own tents. We setup our own fires – usually one big one (for warmth) and a whole bunch of little ones (for cooking). As a Troop we talked about our day on the #AT – people we met along the way, wild animals we saw, things we found, etc. It was a time of talking and laughing and even telling scary stories by the campfire.

Fun Fact: One time me and my buddy Eddie accidently burned our tent down !

Wearing heavy backpacks was quite the experience. We always tried to pack lightly, but you surely didn’t want to forget something (like heavy clothing) for those cold days and colder nights up on the #AT. Some of those nights were bitter cold and windy in the single digits and teens.

And then there’s the hiking shoes. No matter how perfect those shoes fit. No matter how “high-quality” those insulated socks were. You always got blisters on your ankles. They were reminders of the 20 to 30 miles of weekend hiking for the next week (or more) to come.

It was a fun 3 years with the Boy Scouts. I probably would’ve stayed with them well into my teen years had we never moved away.

Some day in the future I hope to return to the Appalachian Trail somewhere in Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia. I want to hike a few miles up there on a nice sunny summertime day – sans backpack and hiking shoes. Maybe start at Harpers Ferry West Virginia – the start of many of our hikes from those fun Boy Scout trips.

From the mountains to the sea – next #TravelThursday. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Christian Driving Food God Photography Travel

Ocean City Maryland

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Exactly 7 years ago this morning on Tuesday July 28TH 2015 me, my mom, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my 2 nieces drove westbound across the 4.3-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge (U.S. 50 / U.S. 301) after spending 3 fun days and nights on Ocean City Maryland.

It was me and my brother’s idea to return to Ocean City. It was our first visit since we were kids in the early-1980s. As a family – me, my dad, my mom, and my brother visited Ocean City for up to a week at a time about every 2 or 3 summers from the mid-1970s through the early-1980s. We usually stayed at a neighbor friend’s condo bayside. I think they still own it today !

For my mom it was one final opportunity to visit Ocean City, relatives, and friends. For my sister-in-law and my 2 nieces it was just another beach. But for me and my brother it was remembering and reliving our childhoods.

While “the girls” were sunbathing on the beach – me and my brother got to hang out for a little while together doing what we would have done together some 30 years earlier – eating the best french fries on the planet, and visiting tourist attractions along the 2.25-mile boardwalk. I also got some “me” time alone doing what I tend to do today when I’m out on vacation – capturing photographic memories.

YES – Those beautiful sand sculptures were actually on the beach. I was completely awestruck. God bless Mr. Randy Hofman for creating them and proclaiming God’s Good News surfside.

Me and my brother vowed to not wait 30+ years to visit Ocean City again. So far it’s been 7 years. What are we waiting for Danny ?

Next #TravelThursday we’ll visit a new location. I’m not sure where yet. Usually I know what I plan to write about for next Thursday, but this time I’m not so sure. Shall I remain stateside, or shall I go abroad – either to a place I’ve been, or to a place I want to visit ? I’ll figure it out before then. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
1970s Blogging Church Driving History Home Life Photography Scripture Travel

Lanham Maryland

#TravelThursday continues, and in this edition we visit the unincorporated Washington D.C. suburb of Lanham Maryland – my childhood home from 1975 to 1980. It was my favorite childhood home. The biggest mistake that was made by my Dad back then was when we moved away to Northern Virginia in November 1980. It changed my life forever. I lost all of my friends. My run with Scouting ended. My education suffered in that I entered a much tougher school system than the one I grew up with. I probably would not have joined the military 4 years later if we had stayed put. I probably would have gone to college (likely my Dad’s alma mater – the University Of Maryland). I may have embarked in a career in Meteorology or Radio Broadcasting. But we moved away in 1980, and my life took a different turn.

Via Redfin I recently viewed 35 photos of the house that me and my family lived in 41 to 46 years ago. (I love modern technology.) It was quite eerie yet fascinating to look inside and outside of that house – all modernized all of these years later. It looked gorgeous. It looked like it went through a massive HGTV makeover. When I saw my old bedroom I reminisced about all of the memories in that room (good and bad) as a 7 to 13-year-old. (I’m 54 now.) The backyard still has the original railroad ties landscaping done on it by my Dad back then. We bought the home brand new just after construction was done on it early-on in 1975. I think we paid about $59,000 for it. (It sold for $450,000 a year ago. Its current Redfin estimate is $534,153.)

Our house was located in a neighborhood right behind our previous apartment complex neighborhood of 1969 to 1972 (about a half-mile away). My Grandmom and Granddad lived exactly a mile away. My Aunt, Uncle, and many Cousins lived a mile-and-a-half away. My elementary school (Kindergarten and 3RD through 6TH grades) was imbedded within my neighborhood. I could literally walk up my street, cut-through a yard, climb the fence, and be on school grounds within a few minutes.

6 summers ago me and my family returned to Lanham Maryland as part of a vacation to drive-through our old neighborhoods. Here’s our family Catholic church from the early-to-mid-1970s. It’s where I attended 1ST and 2ND grades from 1973 to 1975. It’s where I observed my First Communion on February 15TH 1975.

Join me next #TravelThursday as we visit another location on the face of this earth.

They keep you safe on your way, and your feet will not stumble. You can go to bed without fear. You will lie down and sleep soundly. You need not be afraid of sudden disaster or the destruction that comes upon the wicked, for the LORD is your security. He will keep your foot from being caught in a trap. (Proverbs 3:23-26 NLT)

All rights reserved (c) 2021 Christopher M. Day, CountUp Ministries