Monday, May 21, 2012

Our Rainbow Connection

Last year, on May 17th, 2011, my uncle Jack lost his battle to Stage IV lung cancer.  And ever since his passing, my family has seen many, many rainbows, including a beautiful double rainbow just two days after his death. I'm still anxiously awaiting a nature rainbow.  But maybe he's waiting until my Appalachian Trail adventure.

It is said that the Incas believed that rainbows were a gift from the Sun God, but the Callenders/Cloptons/Brasseurs/AndOurPeople believe that they are a gift from someone else--Jack King Callender, Jr., a beloved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, coach, mentor, and so on and so forth.

Our rainbow connection has helped my family through this first year without him, but no amount of rainbows or mint-chocolate chip milkshakes will ever fill that void.

If you would like to learn more about my uncle Jack, please read the article below:
Beloved family man, Coach Jack Callender, loses his battle to lung cancer

Rest in Peace, dude.  I love you and miss your mint-chocolate chip milkshakes as as well your wisdom.  After all, it was you who suggested that Brad and me hike the Appalachian Trail ME-GA, so we're always going downhill. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just call me "Nirvelli." It's Tudas for "Water Child."

You can never step into the same river, for new waters are always flowing onto you...or onto your pants...




From Saturday, April 30th to Sunday, May 1st, Brad and I ventured off with Rex on our first backpacking trip--14.7 miles in the south district of Shenandoah National Park.  Here are 10 things we learned (in no particular order):

1. Rex does not like headlamps.
2. Rex does not like tents, but he likes them more than he likes headlamps.
3. Rex really does not like to be tied to a tree.
4. The earlier we start, the better.  It was getting dark by the time we made camp.  No bueno.
5. Brad's outdoor culinary abilities are way above par.  Best out-of-the-bag mashed potatoes I've ever had! 
6. Brad cannot throw a bear bag as well as he can throw, say, a baseball or a football.
7. Rex likes Ramen.
8. I like Ramen.
9. You can eat oatmeal out of the it open, pour in some hot water, mush it around.
10. Severe thunderstorms are best experienced in the middle of nowhere late at night.

#10 may sound sarcastic, but it's not.  Scout's honor.  That thunderstorm was probably one of the coolest things I have ever experienced in the great outdoors, in part because it sounded just like a nature CD.  Epic, right?  Picture it: Brad and I fall asleep talking about thunderstorms, our favorite.  A couple of hours later a loud noise awakens us and soon after a burst of lightning briefly illuminates our tent.  Falling down in torrents, rain starts pelting the rain-fly, but the three of us (Brad, Rex, and me) stay perfectly dry (and warm) despite the weather's severity and the chilly temperatures.  Every minute or so, we hear cracks of lightning interspersed by rolls of thunder, the noise seeming to resonate even more than usual because of our position deep down in the holler.  All the while the biggest run in Shenandoah National Park flows just 20 yards away from our campsite.  Think babbling brook on steroids.

This will probably surprise many, but I didn't even have to pee in the middle of the night.  I purposefully cut off my water supply at 7:00PM-ish.  I have no idea what time it really was because I may or may not have lost the watch at some point during the day's journey.  Whoops.