Sunday, November 24, 2013

Southern Dolphins are Friendlier

Lets talk about stereotypes.  Northerners and Southerners.  I've heard many Northerners I know who now live in the South tell me they love how all the Southerners are so friendly compared to back home (and yes, I get to hear all the other Southerner stereotypes too).  Now we both know this stereotype is not always true.  It is exactly that - just a stereotype.   But after the experience my family had recently, it got me thinking - are southern dolphin friendlier than northern dolphin?

We recently visited Charleston one weekend and I took the family out on a paddling adventure on the intracoastal side of Folly Beach.  About 15 minutes into our paddle, the first dolphin appeared.  Then others came.  And they stuck around.  For a long time.  They were curious and of course, friendly.  Which got me thinking, since we were in Charleston, about the Northerner/Southerner stereotype and wondering if dolphins up north do this.  After all, coastal dolphins like to stick around in shallower waters and don't have a big migration range.  So there are dolphin Northerners and dolphin Southerners (although perhaps the dolphin Northerners like to travel south in winter too?).

They were popping up on one side of our boards, then swimming under us to pop up on the other side.  The kids were a little alarmed at first, but then they started paddling towards the dolphin.  Given that hundreds of dolphin have unfortunately been ending up on the beaches up and down the east coast this year and dying from a measles like virus, it was good to see these guys.  There were a couple very young ones too.  So hopefully they are healthy and stay that way.  

What a great experience.  As I mentioned to others recently, this is why I go through the trouble of hauling 5 big SUP boards around - to create new memories for our family.  You never know what's around the corner when you go exploring.  The kids haven't stopped talking about it since.

If you're on a PC or Mac, double click on the first image to scroll through and view in large format.  At the end are some picture collages of the beautiful and historic Charleston architecture and scenery.  In my best Southern drawl (with grits) - I hope ya'll enjoy the pics now, you heeya?  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Boy's Own Everest

My son is in Boy Scouts so I've had the privilege to act as an adult volunteer on a few outings.  Not a bad volunteering gig to go camping with your son and others in his troop.  We signed up a month ahead of time for a mid-October backpacking/camping trip to Mt Rogers, VA along the Appalachian Trail.  Visions of a nice mild fall weather weekend with the leaves in peak bloom colors filled our heads.  Things don't always go as planned.  My son and I were soon going to begin creating new memories.

packed and ready to go

A few days out from our trip and we could see there was going to be the season's first cold snap.  In fact, we heard the mountains got a "dusting" of snow.  No problem.  It looks like it will be cold but at least it will be clear and sunny when we get there.  This Boy Scout troop is notorious for having rain on all their camping trips.

We arrived on a Friday night in the dark

We hiked in about 1 mile+ and set up camp in the dark

So about that dusting of snow that we thought would have melted by the time we got there.  Nope.  There were a couple inches of snow on the ground.  Hey, at least it wasn't raining.

Low temp was 19 degrees that first night and next morning.

We were reminded the hard way about putting on dry socks before getting into your sleeping bag at night to keep those feet warm.  Brrrr!  We didn't make the same mistake the second night.

hmmm...morning coffee and oatmeal.  Had to eat and drink it quick before it got cold.  Any water bottles left outside the tent were frozen that morning.

Up and ready to move out to Mt Rogers.

wild horses

It didn't rain on us!

Beautiful views

We set up camp for the 2nd night about a mile below Mt Rogers.  Then we summited late that afternoon without all our gear.  My son and I found a nice spot for our tent under some nice tree cover which made it warmer for us overnight and blocked us from the raging wind that blew all night.

The snow cover was thicker as we got closer to the top.

geological survey marker at the top of Mt Rogers

Taking shelter from the wind after we summited and cooked dinner.  We spent a long time in the tent that 2nd night and talked ourselves to sleep.

Mt Rogers in the background - the highest point in Virginia at over 5,700 ft elevation.

They say that what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger.  The boys that went on this trip gained very valuable experience in cold weather camping and backpacking that not many young boys get to do.  The cold, the wind, the snow, the hiking with packs in rough terrain, camp cooking, the gorgeous views - all made for great memories.  My son and I will look back on this trip and think of it as an awesome experience we got to share together.

Needless to say, we didn't camp near the Wise Shelter.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail

Hot shower anyone?