A Beautiful Sunset

This is something that I think most people enjoy, at least at some point in their lives.  Watching a beautiful sunset, even if only for a minute, can go a long ways towards making it a good day.


Some of my fondest memories from high school are sitting on a park bench overlooking the Salt Lake Valley and watching the sunset with my girlfriend.  It didn’t need to be anything other than that to be a great evening.While I lived in San Diego, I spent many an evening riding my motorcycle along the coast, or pulling off the road to sit on the beach and watch the sunset.  It is just such a peaceful time to relax and rejuvenate.  
Now that I get to fly regularly I get to see some of the most beautiful sunsets ever, from the air.  Being in the front of the plane provides for some incredible views in many  of the different places I have visited.

I think one of the best things about sunsets is that everyone gets to enjoy them.  It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, what country you live in, if you are healthy or sick.  The beauty of a sunset is something that can literally be enjoyed by anyone, if they only care enough to look.I will forever enjoy the peace that can come at the end of a long day, which is why I am grateful for beautiful sunsets.
What are you grateful for?

Climbing Mt Fuji

I know I have already expressed gratitude for this majestic mountain of Japan, but it is a whole different type of gratitude to have summitted her.  As one might imagine, this is no small feat and was the reason I was so exhausted yesterday.

The Japanese say that a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, and only a foolish man does it twice.

I guess that makes me a foolish man.

I was able to climb Mt. Fuji last year but was unfortunate enough to have terrible weather at the top and really was not able to enjoy the experience.  I was still proud of myself for accomplishing the feat, but it left me with a desire to do it again.  So when the opportunity arose to go with some friends, I had to take it.
It was not looking promising in the days leading up to our climb with a typhoon coming through and rain forecast for the entire week.  With the way schedules aligned, yesterday was the only chance we had so we decided to just go for it.

When climbing Mt. Fuji almost everyone starts at the fifth station, which is around 7,000 feet in elevation.  As we started up the mountain we were essentially at the same level as the clouds, but they were also climbing the mountain.  

It is actually a pretty cool sight to see as the wind pushes the clouds up the mountain and you go from blue sky to overcast in a manner of minutes.
Fortunately, as we proceeded up the mountain, we were able to outpace the clouds and broke out into blue skies for most of the way up the mountain.  It was actually fascinating watching the clouds climb up after us wondering if we would make it to the top before they did.  Which we did.

The climb itself is only about 4.1 miles to the summit, but as it is also about 5,000 feet of vertical elevation, it is not a quick jaunt up the hill.  It took me just over six hours to reach the summit but I am glad we took a little bit of a slower pace because we got to enjoy the beauty of the mountain more, and we were not dying when we got to the top.

Beauty is an interesting word to describe the terrain you climb through because it is mostly volcanic rock everywhere with no vegetation or life of any kind once you get above about 8,000 feet.  And yet, it is truly beautiful.  

The sheer magnitude of its size, the dramatic pitch of the climb to the summit, and the feeling of comeplete remoteness of the mountain provide an incredibly peaceful feeling as you climb.
It is no wonder that this incredible mountain has such spiritual and religious meaning to the Japanese people.  

As I summitted the mountain for the second time, I was able to really take in the magnitude of the sight I have admired these last two years from down below.  With bluebird skies overhead, and only a light breeze.  I was able to walk to the edge and admire the crater of what is still an active volcano.

It is another one of those things that you truly must witness for yourself to fully appreciate it.  I was with great people witnessing a great sight, and there is not much else I could have done to better enjoy the day.

The one thing that would have made the day truly perfect would have been having my Queenie there with me.  She wasn’t able to climb the mountain while she was here due to a bum knee and then leaving before climbing season started, and it just breaks my heart because I know she would have loved it as much as I did.

As I sit here on the eve of my Japanniversary I can’t help but be grateful for the experiences this amazing country has given me.  I have met people that have changed my outlook on life, I have been to some of the most historically significant sites in the world, and I have witnessed some of the most beautiful and majestic sites one could ask for.

After climbing the mountain last year I was certainly left wanting, and having now witnessed her, in all of her glory, I better understand what I was missing.  Having now been witness to it, I feel fulfilled and enriched.

Life is full of incredible opportunities that change us in ways we don’t fully appreciate until later, and after waiting a full year to get the complete Fuji experience, I can honestly say with all my heart that I am grateful for climbing Mt. Fuji.

What are you thankful for?

Rain

There ha e certainly been times in my life where I was not grateful for the rain.  Backpacking through the mountains in the rain are the experiences that most readily come to mind.

However, on this day I am safe and dry in my house so I have only good things to say about the rain.  Not only is it vitally important for restoring water back to the earth, it provides a great place to play with your kids.  

The thing I am most grateful for about rain tonight, is the soothing sounds that it makes as it falls.  While the rain did torment me many times while backpacking, it also provided the soundtrack for some of the best sleeps I have ever had.

Such is my pleasure tonight as the rain refuses to let up into the night.  I hope that those who must travel in it are safe and that there is no flooding, but as I get into bed with the steady rhythm of sound, I am grateful for rain.

What are you grateful for?

Grass

It is amazing how many simple things in my life I take for granted.  While many of these simple things are not Earth shattering things they are the things that help to keep our life in balance.

Oftentimes I think I get so caught up in the complicated and exciting things that I want that I forget how awesome it can be to live a simple life.  

Tonight I had the opportunity to sit outside behind my parent’s house on the grass and just chat.  After leaving in Japan where the humidity is insane and the grass is not in anyway soft it was something I had forgotten how much I love.  I just sat and laid in the grass loving every minute of it.

I think it helps to take me back to my childhood and how much time I spent in the grass.  Playing sports, working in the yard, or just laying around talking with family or friends, it really didn’t matter but many of my favorite memories involve grass.

Im not sure why so many of us choose to complicate our lives with stuff and things, but for just one night it was wonderful to just keep it simple.  That’s why today I am grateful for grass.

What are you grateful for?

Aloe

This is a pretty simple one with no real deep thought involved.  I have had an amazing time the last two days out on the lake with my Queenie’s family, and I have the red arms and thighs to prove it.

Just to be clear, I don’t wear a Speedo or anything, we just had jet skis and going fast makes your shorts fly a little higher.  I am just glad I wore a shirt or this post might be about pain meds, but I am digressing quickly.

I love aloe when I have a sunburn.  It is just such an amazing, instant aid to the pain and suffering that a sunburn can cause.  Even better is when you get the stuff with a little lidocaine.  Man that crap works wonders.

I know it will never change the world, but it is easing my pain, and that is why I am grateful for aloe.

What are you grateful for?

Pristine Nature

Having lived near Tokyo for the last two years it can be easy to forget what it is like to enter a truly pristine outdoor area.  Don’t get me wrong, there are beautiful nature areas in Japan, but most of them are a stone’s throw from densely populated areas that you often can see if you look.

But today as I drove up through Northern Idaho to McCall, I was left literally speechless at how clean and beautiful it was.  I have been to numerous true wilderness areas and they are all magnificent.  It was just super awesome to be back in another truly beautiful place.

I don’t mind visiting a city like Tokyo or New York for a little vacation.  It is a unique opportunity to see how other people live and experience a totally different world.  However, my heart will always be in the mountains.

The clean air, beautiful lakes and rivers, and abundant wildlife just make for the most peaceful of settings.  Places like this are where I feel most at peace no matter how stressed or busy I am.

Life gets so stressful and busy sometimes that my heart really needed this break, and that is why I am grateful for my visit to pristine nature.

Coming Home

I have lived a lot of different places in my life all over the world.  Every one of those places has a special place in my heart and I have loved them all for different reasons.

I spent most of my growing up years in Utah so that is where many of my earliest memories are from.  It is where I learned to love the mountains which is why as I drove back into the Salt Lake Valley I couldn’t help but smile.

Seeing the Wasatch mountains grow in front of us as we drove in from the west was simply awe inspiring.  The snow still sitting on top of the highest peaks shows just how much snow the West got this year.

As amazing as the mountains are, they are not what makes Utah home.  After all the places I have gone and all the trips I have taken, family is what defines coming home.

Driving into the Salt Lake Valley with my Queenie and kids, including my newest son who only became a US citizen and few days ago, it really dawned on me how important it is for me to come home and visit family.

They are the ones that have always been there for me when I needed them.  They have celebrated my triumphs and cried with me when I hurt.  

I know that not everything has been perfect over the years, but that is part of being a family: you love each other no matter what.

So while I am excited to be back in the mountains and enjoy the wonderful outdoors, I am even more excited to see my family, and grateful to come home.