Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reduce Waist Part II

The first picture I posted was great, and shows a remarkable improvement in my body's changes, but I found one that is even more drastic than the last.  These two pictures are of me with pack belts around my gut, so it tends to push my gut out a bit.  But check out the bulge on my picture shown on the right versus the picture taken just yesterday!


Both those pack belts are riding in the same locations on my body in each picture.  But the picture from 2010 tells a very chilling story about just how far I let myself go.  The picture on the right is about where I was the heaviest.  315+ lbs in that photograph compared to 272 lbs on the left!  46" waist on the right; 40" on the left!

The irony is now that I've lost just shy of 50 lbs, I actually want to see pictures of myself when I was fat.  It tells me where I've been, and it tells me where I'm going.  What I hope to see in the next few months is a dramatic change in how I look and feel compared to where I am now.  I still have love handles and a spare tire around my waist.  Luckily for me, that spare tire is now the small donut that auto manufacturers stuff into the trunks of compact cars - not the full size truck tire I was lugging around just months ago.

Here's to the next 50 lbs!

-James

Reduce Waist

While getting ready to go out to some hardware stores this morning, I was getting my pants on.  Last week, I was at Old Navy and bought some cargo pants with a 40" waist.  It's been many years since I've been able to get into pants this small.  In fact, I have a pair of Carhartt jeans that I bought back in 2006 and they have a 42" waist.  So, it has been at least 6 years since I've been this small.  All of these numbers are fine and good, but the results speak for themselves.  To that, I give you this picture.

Left: Me in August of 2009; over 310 lbs. Right: Me at the end of December of 2011; about 275 lbs.
The picture of me on the left is as the caption states.  It's me from August of 2009.  This isn't the heaviest I've been; I was probably around 310 lbs in that photo.  The picture of me on the right is from just a month ago, only two months into my program, about 35 lbs lighter than the picture on the left; I was about 275-280-ish there.  Right now, I'm at 272 and still falling.  The only reason I'm using these two pictures is because the angle I'm standing, and poses are similar.  I have others more recent, and some from when I was my fattest, but they don't illustrate the change as well.  These pictures show a dramatic change in my body from then and now.  It is amazing!

This is just the sort of thing I need to see to help me stay motivated this time of year!

-James

Pt Defiance Spine Trail

My family needed to get out of the house today.  We were all feeling the effects of cabin fever.  The weather has been cold and wet.  Since there was only a slight chance of rain this afternoon, we packed up and headed out.  I couldn't get too far away since I'm on call 24/7 this week.  The kids are small as well and have a difficult time on longer hikes.  Plus, we took our dog, Kobun out for his first ever hike off pavement.  It was a fun hike, though short.  The spine trail distance is 1.3 miles, though our total distance hiked was 1.5.  Elevation gain is neither here nor there, as we walked up and down gently sloped, well maintained trails.  Hopefully, we can get a little further away next Sunday since I won't be tied down to the work pager.

Kobun (15 week old American Akita) and me.

My 3 year old son, Michael and me.

My wife Lindsay and our 2 year old daughter Rory.

We made it!  This somewhat stylized picture is the best I could get since the guy holding the camera didn't have skillz!  Gig Harbor viewpoint behind us.

Kobun waiting patiently to get back into the warm vehicle.  Good dog!
  -James

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Week 14

My daughter and me
Last week began with a bit of insanity that picked up the pace and didn't stop until late in the weekend.  This week was fairly normal.  The difference is that I wasn't.

It seems that every year, I fall into this mode where I am just completely and utterly unmotivated to do anything productive.  When it comes to work, I would rather go home early instead of get paid for overtime.  When it comes to projects around the house, they go unfinished as I make good use of the television and my DVD collection.  When it comes to working out... well I still went and did that, but I dreaded every moment of it.

I don't know what causes me to fall into this rut year after year.  The last week of every January, all the way through February, I just feel like I have a black cloud over my head.  I don't know why.  Call it brain chemistry, this crappy part of winter, or just human nature; each year it is this way.  The irony is that there really isn't anything pressing.  We pay cash for all Christmas presents, so we don't have any larger than normal bills coming.  The house payment is up to date.  Both vehicles are still running.  My kids are healthy.  Whatever.  It is what it is and I'm pretty sure it will be like this as long as I live.

To add to all of this, I'm on call this weekend, so ever since last Wednesday, I've had the emergency pager (for work) clipped to my belt.  It hasn't gone off yet, but it normally does early every Sunday morning.  Half the time, it's either not a real emergency or it is our answering service misdirecting a customer who has a problem with something else, like a tractor or an RV - not a stationary genset.  There are times when it is something real and then you just gotta drop everything and go.  Either way, it's like walking on eggshells at times.

I did manage to squeeze in a short hike today.  The family seemed stir crazy, so we all piled into my Ramcharger and headed over to Pt Defiance Park, which is only 6 miles from my house.  It definitely helped because both children, the dog, myself, and even my wife seemed a lot better after working off some pent up energy.

As for weight loss, I didn't do anything amazing this week.  I lost 1 lb, which is better than nothing.  Part of the reason is because I took it pretty easy this week.  I gave my back a bit of a twinge at work, so I didn't want to exert too much, lest I really hurt it.  Overall, I have just been feeling run down quite a bit.  My final weight for this week is 272 lbs.  I'm still dropping weight, despite feeling less than motivated.  44 lbs total lost.

The good news is that despite my down-in-the-dumps feeling, Lindsay and I have some plans in the works regarding our house.  It's time for a fenced backyard and new floors inside.  Apparently, Kobun likes carpet a little too much; he's ripped out some sections in the middle of the room.  Our carpet is junk anyway, so we are going to replace it with a cherry laminate that will last longer and look nicer.  I know none of this really has anything to do with weight loss, but it should help to get me out of my slump.  Besides, tearing out old carpet and laying down new floors is great exercise.

So here's something cool that will help me to stay motivated once I get it back.  On my birthday, the Warrior Dash is coming to town!  It is a 3 mile obstacle course that includes a flat out run for a mile and then various things to overcome, like a vertical rock wall, jumping over junked cars, crawling through mud under barbed wire, leaping over fire, hurdling over barricades and negotiating a tight rope.  Of course, I will need to be in better shape to handle this, so it will give me something to look forward to.  The best part is that it is on my birthday, and it promises to be one wild party.  I talked to Jeff and he's on board.  I'm going to contact a few other friends of mine and see if they want to sign up too.  It's gonna be awesome!

This week's video update is below.  Check it out.  I've got some snippets of our dog Kobun; he's getting big.  Also have some shots of my family.  Enjoy!



-James

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Demystifying the Mystery of the Diet

When I started this program back in late October of 2011, I would have never imagined I could come this far so fast.  The results have been both amazing and satisfying.  I'm certain that my health today is far better than it was in the fall of last year.  My gut used to stick way out and there was no hiding it.  Now, I can suck it in and make my belly look almost flat.  Truly amazing!

You don't get results like this from exercise alone.  It is true that exercise in an integral part of the program, and in order to become physically fit, you have to exercise and push your body.  There are people I know, who are slim and trim, but get winded a lot faster than I do because even though I'm still overweight, exercise and fitness give me stamina and strength that someone living an active lifestyle will naturally have when compared to someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle.  However, in the interest of good health, you need to include healthy eating habits with your active lifestyle.

It really does you no amount of good to exercise for an hour and then get your dinner from McDonald's.  The amount of calories you burn working out are cancelled out by the nutritionally deficient food you get from fast food or many boxed dinners.  In order to really see results, you need to change your eating habits for the better.  I'm not a dietitian, so I really can't speak to what specific foods you should eat more of or abstain from, but I can give you an anecdotal point of view based on my experiences.  I do recommend that if you are concerned about your specific diet, or have food allergies that you consult with a registered dietitian.

"What's your secret?"  That's the number one question I get regarding food.  What diet am I on, and how has "eliminating carbs" from my diet helped?  I'll tell you the truth.  It's very simple. 

First off, I'm not on some sort of fad diet.  I'm not doing the Atkins diet or staying away from breads/pastas, or juicing, or any of that crap.  I'm not on some sort of LA diet that is all the rage with the movie stars at this moment.  I don't eat exotic foods or stay with only organic stuff.  I don't over supplement my body with excessive amounts of vitamins because I'm starving myself or any of that crap.

I'm not on any diet at all.  I changed my eating habits for the better and for the long term.  The problem I have with fad diets is that they ultimately set you up to fail.  For instance, you want to lose weight, so your doctor said to stay away from carbs (which is a bad idea if you plan on exercising).  So you ditch the carbs, which is a sucky way to live, and you lose about 15 lbs.  Okay, now that you've accomplished your weight loss goal, you go back to eating carbs because you are not trying to lose anything else.  The trouble is that unless you limit your intake elsewhere, you are going to gain that 15 lbs back quickly.  You may have stopped eating a particular thing for awhile, but you didn't make an overall lifestyle change for the better.

These are the things I've done to change my lifestyle and develop good long term eating habits that will help me keep the weight off once I'm done losing it.

1. Soda is out!  I know, it was hard for me to give up soda too, but soda is loaded with so much sugar and crap you don't need.  Even diet soda is out.  For one, I hate diet anything, and for two, it doesn't train me to abstain from it.  Getting that effervescent taste of carbonation on your tongue is a constant reminder.  Plus, if you drink diet soda along with other stuff like milk and light juices, you are being inconsistent.  When it comes to what you drink, you need to be consistent.  Consistency is the key to success.  Besides, after you spend a few months without soda in your life, you don't miss it anymore.  When that happens, you come to realize that ditching soda wasn't a sacrifice at all.

2. No more fast food.  I define fast food as the nutritionally deficient crap you get at McDonald's, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wendy's, Arby's, etc.  Remember that places like Shari's and Denny's are no different than going to the Golden Arches.  Aside from this food not having any real value, nutritionally speaking, it is loaded with empty calories and tons of fat!  When you eat healthy for just a few months, any deep fried will make your stomach turn inside out for the rest of the evening and even into the next day.  You may also want to avoid the salads at places like McDonald's as well because they really aren't that great to begin with and importantly, anytime you enter a drive-thru or go into an establishment like that, you are being inconsistent.  The only places you should consider eating out is Subway or some other sandwich shop, simply because the foods they use are similar to what you get at the supermarket.  Be careful though.  Just because the Chicken Carbonara sandwich is served at Quizno's doesn't mean it is for you.  With 1200 calories, it is half your daily intake in one shot!  Not good.  So, even though you can go to Subway, don't order a foot long and make sure your choices are conducive to a low calorie meal.

3. Read labels!  You'd be surprised at how small, and sometimes how large a serving size really is.  Know how many calories you are eating.  Know how much fat and how many carbs you are stuffing your face with.  Diligently record all calorie intake with each meal for a few weeks and you will soon know about how many calories are in what meals.  Importantly, size your portions according to what is on the labels.  If 1 cup of such and such is work 240 calories, don't put two cups in your bowl because that is effectively 480 calories!

4. A little less meat, a lot more fruits and veggies.  I know some of my friends will hate this, but you gotta eat all meats sparingly.  You can eat all the vegetables you want, and many fruits will satisfy sweet tooth cravings you may get.  As my brother told me, eat the rainbow.  That means to add color to your diet.  The more colorful your plate, the healthier it is.

5. Don't mindlessly snack on stuff.  If you open a bag of baked potato chips, read the label and see how much one serving is.  If it is 15 chips, then put 15 chips in a bowl and put the bag away.  Whatever you do, don't take the bag with you to the couch because before you know it, you've eaten the whole bag.  This used to happen to me when I was a fat boy.  And when your bowl is empty, put it in the sink and save the rest of the chips for another day.  Snack time is over. 

6. Prepare your own meals.  Aside from knowing what is going into your food, you learn how many calories go into a plate of chicken, mashed potatoes, corn and gravy.  Don't fill your plate.  Only put a serving size of each item onto it.  If you think that a less than full plate sucks, then get a smaller plate or eat on a blue plate.  Studies have shown that a blue plate makes you less hungry.  I don't know why.  Another benefit to home preparation is that you will save a lot of money on food costs because even though a rump roast will cost $10 up front, it feeds the entire family instead of each family member spending upwards of $9 a person on a meal at The Greasy Spoon.

7. Candy is out.  With the exception of a few occasions, candy, cakes, sweets, and other junk foods have to go.  It is okay to eat a normal serving of dessert once a week, but don't make it a daily occurrence.  You will also save a ton of money here as well because candy bars cost upwards of a dollar anymore.  I haven't had a Milky Way since November.  I used to buy a Milky Way everyday.  Take that dollar a day and multiply is by 75 days.  That's $75 saved right there.  That's your gym membership dues for two months!

8. Find low calorie, low fat, low sugar alternatives, and give them a chance.  At first, low calorie Gatorade G2 tastes awful, but that's because you are used to ultra-sweetened stuff.  Drink it and give it a chance.  The same goes for things like Crystal Lite.  I've been drinking Crystal lite in place of soda ever since I started my program.  Not only is it cheaper than soda, but it gets sweeter and sweeter tasting to me as time goes on.  Not bad for something with only 5 calories a serving and no sugar!  When reaching for a bag of potato chips, reach for the baked variety.  More than half the fat in those bags and you can eat more chips than the deep fried version because there are inherently less calories.  Example: on Rory's birthday, we had a bag of Doritos and a bag of baked salt and pepper chips.  The Doritos were 240 calories and like 8 grams of fat in only 11 chips.  The S&P chips were about 185 calories and only 3 grams of fat in 18 chips!  And yes, baked chips start to taste better as you get used to them.  Remember that potato chips are not a daily food snack.  Only for special occasions.

That's about it.  No magic, no fad diets, no points, and nothing exotic.  Just watching how much I eat and keeping the crap out of my system.  If I can do it, then you can too.

-James

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week 13

Makin' it Happen
Here we go again.  This is another eleventh hour weekly update brought on by my lack of time management skills as of late.

This week was INSANE!  It started off mundane enough.  Monday came and went; got my workout in.  Tuesday came and went; got a workout in.  Then Wednesday came and when I woke up, there was 7 inches of snow on the ground.  This new powder was over the previous 3 inches of snow and ice that hit us the day before.  I still got out and drove my 4x4 to the gym to get a good workout in.  I must have been there for over 2 hours.  For some reason, I felt motivated to give it hell.  Maybe it was the cabin fever I had all day from staying home from work.  Maybe it was the fact that the gym was a ghost town and I had all the cardio equipment and weights to myself.  Maybe it was just the fact that I had a funny feeling I wouldn't see the gym for a couple of days.

On Thursday, I decided to brave the snow and ice, and hit the streets in my work van.  Boy was that ever a mistake!  The condition of the roads was just atrocious!  I found myself driving from Tacoma to Bothell that morning, which is about a 54 mile drive.  It takes just over an hour in normal conditions, but on Thursday it took me almost 3 hours to get there.  After driving on roads that saw nary a snow plow, I was hoping to drive home and snuggle up to a good Chuck Norris movie and a cup of hot cocoa.  This was not to be.  While in Kirkland, I got dispatched to Issaquah, which was completely out of power.  Did I mention I was in the middle of the worst ice storm in recent history for Washington?

Beautiful, yet deadly
The picture on the right was taken by my wife in our backyard during the ice storm.  It looks beautiful, but all that ice on every tree branch, limb, bow, street sign, power line, roads, and buildings caused all kinds of havoc that this area hasn't seen in decades!

Anyway, to make a long story short, I spent all afternoon and into the evening dealing with broken generators and emergency call outs that required me to drive through some of the worst shit I can recall... in a 2wd van of all things.  Needless to say, I was so spun out by the time I got home that all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and veg out completely.  By the time I got done talking to my boss about the day's events, I was completely wiped.  On a lighter note, I did make it on the 6 o'clock news.  I'm just glad I've lost 42 lbs because the camera adds 20.

Friday brought with it additional madness.  Instead of slick, icy main arterials to worry about, I had to contend with icy driveways and back roads that never saw the likes of a snow plow.  Good to know my taxpayer dollars don't do much for extreme weather contingencies.  Spent all day out in the now rain, freezing my butt off as the temperature once again dropped below freezing by mid-afternoon.

My mirror 10 min after scraping it.
That evening, I was frazzled and ready to unwind.  My wife stayed home with the kids all day and she was desperate to get out of the house.  After coming home and checking the property for damages, and making mental notes of things I need to address after this crap melts away completely, we headed out for dinner.  We haven't eaten out in a long while, so it was nice to get out as a family and let someone cater to us, for a change.

Unfortunately, my food choices didn't agree with me.  The Red Robin bacon cheeseburger is my favorite thing to eat at that fine establishment, and I decided to go for it... with a little pink inside.  Months of staying away from a good burger made this meal fantastic.  Unfortunately, the steak fries that came with it were equally delicious.  The really bad part came about 20 minutes after I ate.  It felt like someone grabbed my stomach and was wringing it out like a wet sponge!  Good lord!  Was I ever paying for my naughtiness that evening.  My stomach didn't settle for the rest of the night.  I don't think I like deep fried food anymore. It tastes delicious, but my stomach vehemently disagrees with food choices like that.

Of course, my disgruntled gut didn't stop Friday night.  All Saturday, I felt like crap.  Call it this bad weather, the meal I had the night before, the stressful driving conditions all week, but I really wasn't feeling very good at all.  Lindsay could definitely tell because she commented on how grumpy I seemed.  I wanted to go to Longmire and check out another trail I found, but no one wanted to hang with me.  Damn!

Today, we all just needed to get out as a family.  Kobun had an appointment with the vet to get his booster shots, so we piled into the truck and headed out.  Noticing that my family and I just needed to get away for a bit, we drove down to Cabelas to look at the dead animals and the fish in the aquarium.  Michael loves the fish.  That being said, I didn't get a hike in this week, but not to worry.  There is still the rest of this week before Friday to squeeze something in, even if it is just a nature walk with my daughter.

My total weight loss for this week was 1 lb.  It doesn't seem like much, but it I'm still going in the right direction.  If you recall, last week I lost 6 lbs, which was amazing.  On a good note, I was able to get into some pants with a 40" waist.  I haven't been able to squeeze into anything that small in over 5 years!  I also had to drill another hole in my belt so my (now too big) size 42's don't fall down around my ever shrinking ass.  I'm happy about that.

All in all, I sort of fell flat this week, but I intend to get back on the horse and continue to go forward.  I just hope next week isn't as insane as this week was.

Check out the video below.



-James

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Layout Changes

Since today is a snow day, I'm off work.  In a flicker of inspiration, I've decided to alter the format of the page "We Made It" to be a little more user friendly and streamlined.  In the top tab, there is a link to We Made It.  It used to be a page that would open up, and show all the hiking pictures in the order they were completed, but it started with the oldest hikes first.  In order to locate the most recent, you would have had to scroll to the bottom.  Good idea - bad execution.

Now, I have an entire blog page dedicated to them with the newest hiking pictures at the top.  Additionally, you can now link an individual blog entry with the associated photo, should you decide to share it with your friends or just come back to it later.  When you click on the tab for We Made It, you will be taken to the blog.  To get back to 100 LBS to Rainier, simply click on the tab at the top that says "Back to 100 LBS to Rainier" and you will be returned to this blog.

Anyway, this change makes it easier for me to organize the photos and keep track of progress as well as making it easier for the end user (you, the reader) to navigate.  Win, win!

-James

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eagle Peak Trail

Long awaited and highly anticipated was the first snowshoe hike of the season with my brother Jeff and me.  For this trip, we drove to Mt. Rainier National Park's Longmire center.  From there, we walked over to the Eagle Peak trailhead.  A couple of adrenaline junkies happened to be going on the same trail, so we let them blaze for us.  Jeff and I were the second small group to head up, so the powder was still very fresh and made for some good snowshoe action.  We didn't see anyone other than the two guys until we were halfway down on the way home.

I'm not going to lie. this hike was pretty brutal for me.  I don't know if it was a combination of the altitude, the cold, the fact that I overdressed for the occasion, or what, but I had a pretty tough go on this hike.  What may seem like a moderate hike in the summertime was a completely different animal in the snow.  I did have a good time though.  When Jeff and I got back to the truck, I took off my outer layers and realized I was literally covered head to toe in sweat!  It wasn't water from snow.  I was wearing waterproof pants and a jacket.

Almost all the way up, I felt as though we had lost the trail.  With so much snow on the ground, it was impossible to see where the trail went.  We were good going up all 12 switchbacks, but as soon as we broke from the trees, we were following a path that basically went straight up the side of the mountain.  Without sufficient gear to safely ascend that portion, Jeff and I decided that over three miles in, and 5,000 feet of elevation were enough.  Total distanced hiked, including the trek to and from the trailhead to the truck: +7 miles.

We plan on revisiting this hike in the summer to see what the difference is without snow.

Ready to head out to the trailhead.  The air was about 15 degrees warmer than I expected, so we seemed to have overdressed for the occasion.

Eagle Peak Trailhead: 3.6 miles with 2955 feet of elevation gain.

Jeff getting his snowshoes on.

Snow on the trees.

This is what much of our trail looked like.

Beautiful scenery.

MSR Evo Ascent Snowshoes - the best bang for your buck!

A precarious stream crossing.

Sub alpine forest.

Not many people make it this high.  Fresh powder everywhere!

We made it!  This is the point where Jeff and I determined it was unsafe to go any further without mountaineering gear.

On the way back down. Note the GPS tracking our progress.

-James

Week 12

This week, I knocked it right out of the park.  I lost 6 lbs.  I'm down from 281 (last week) to 274 lbs, a total weight loss of 42 lbs so far!  I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

There really isn't a whole lot to report on as far as my progress goes.  I had a reprogram appointment at the gym on Wednesday.  A reprogram is where the personal trainer takes some measurements and so forth, speaks to me about my progress, and offers any help that may be needed to ensure I'm sticking to my plan.  All the measurements were down across the board.  I can't remember specific numbers, but my waist, gut, arms, legs, and chest are all down a couple inches.  Of course, I didn't need a PT to tell me that.  I just have to look at my selection of seemingly growing pants to see it for myself.

I have this belt that I've been wearing since I was my fattest.  I was out to about the second to last belt notch when I started this program.  I've since been using the notches further in, and have now begun drilling holes to make new ones.  I plan on wearing this belt until the end, as it will provide a good way to see just how many inches I'm losing off my waist.

My brother and I went snow-shoeing up at Mt Rainier today, and I will post an updated blog entry, as it is part of 52 in 52.  Stay tuned for the pictures!  They are beautiful!



-James

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Park Ranger Memorial Service for Margaret Anderson

As I was running on the elliptical machine, I watched the memorial service for Park Ranger Maggie Anderson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Mt Rainier, January 1st of this year.

Park Ranger remembered in emotional memorial service

-James

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week 11

Boy, was I ever busy this week!  2012 is starting off with a bang.  I lost 4 lbs this week.  I'm down to 281; that's a total of 35 lbs lost since the beginning.  I'm hoping to reach 40 lbs by the end of the month.

Wednesday was dog training night, so I missed the gym.  I just don't have enough hours in the day sometimes.  I worked a little late, so I was already running behind schedule.  As if I needed the gym anyway; I had to haul a bunch of 54 lbs boxes of coolant to the roof of this building up two sets of near vertical stairs that could have been mistaken for ladders if they didn't have hand rails.  Anyway, I was running up against the clock all night long.  Fortunately, we didn't miss doggy training.  Kobun was the star pupil.  He obeyed every command with very little effort.

I was able to make it to the gym every other day except for Friday.  Friday was another busy day.  After getting home at normal times, I had to assemble my pack and head out for an overnight campout with some church members.  We burned Christmas trees.  I had a lot of fun, and I'm sure all the running around and sleeping in cold weather helped burn some calories.  Either way, this is all part of my active lifestyle I used to have.  I'm resurrecting it.

I was disappointed when I went to the gym last night.  I got there about 2 minutes to close.  SUCK!  Why does the gym close so early on weekends?!  Well, there wasn't much I could do so I came home and took Kobun for a walk instead.

This morning, I went to Pt Defiance Park and hiked about 5.5 miles around there.  Check out my last entry for that update.

I put together a decent video.  It's a little on the long side, but I had a lot to say.  Plus, I included some footage from the Christmas tree burning we did Friday night.  All in all, a good end to a good week of weightloss and activities.



-James

Pt Defiance Square Loop Hike

For lack of a better name, I'm calling this hike the Pt Defiance Square Loop hike because the trail is marked throughout with blue squares and arrows that point in the direction you should travel.  I had quite a busy week, a full weekend, and no one to hang with me today.  Therefore, I chose a hike close to home with plenty of hospitals and people nearby, should I fall on the ground.  That was for my wife.

Actually, the hike around Pt Defiance was pretty cool.  It isn't strenuous and can easily be done by anybody, including dogs and kids.  Throughout the hike, I hit all the major landmarks and viewpoints, and it provided a much different perspective of the park than you'd get on the 5 mile drive.

Hiking distance is supposed to be 4.6 miles, but at a critical junction, the trail didn't have a much needed marker saying which way to go.  I had a map with me, but it turns out that it is out of date (printed from the park's own website) and had the wrong trails marked.  Instead of taking a right turn, I headed left and had to backtrack a bit in order to get my bearings.  I know the map is outdated because I came across some new maps at the road entrances to every trail and compared the signs to my map.  Yep, they are drawn differently.  There isn't much difference but there was enough to get me off course.  For an area with as much use as this park, you'd think the Parks department would be on top of that.  After all the detours I made and considering where I parked, I hiked almost 5.5 miles.

As this is a high use area, there was some trash in places.  I'm not sure if some people know what a garbage can is, but it gets old.  Please don't litter.  I don't want to see your garbage on the trails.  The trail also criss-crosses the roads quite a few times so watch for speedy cars and bicyclists.  I don't know which people are worse, but neither of them seemed interested in giving pedestrians the right of way.

All in all, it's not a bad place to hike if you need to get one in, or just want to take a nature walk.  If you don't mind all the people, the sound of the freeway, motor boats, and a little garbage on the trails here and there, then you might have some fun.  I enjoyed myself, but then again, I also hiked early on a Sunday morning.  I suggest the same for you.

Where I started. This access point is right across from the zoo parking lots.

Here's the trail markers.  Effective when they are placed right, but they are cheap.  C'mon Tacoma. You can do better!

This map is wrong.

After getting turned around and finally finding the trail, I found Fort Nisqually.

Then I found the Narrows Bridge.

I always love seeing these kinds of trees.  I only see them around salt water.

The trail is well maintained.  Aside from a few boggy areas, this is what you can expect most of the way.

Gig Harbor Viewpoint.

Dalco Passage viewpoint.

This is how the fat people get to the viewpoints.  The road leads right up to each one.

However, this is how we get to the viewpoints.  Happy trails!

We made it!  Well, I made it.  No one to hang this time.  Luckily I found a guy to take my picture.  Vashon in the background.

These signs are located on more maintained areas of the trail.  Wish it was where I turned left when I should have turned right.

Ended up back at the Rhododendron Gardens.

It looks like it is going to be an early season for the Rhode's!  This one is blooming... in January!

Thank God.  I don't need to smell cigarette smoke when I'm hiking.

My trail's official end... back at the road.

Walking back to my truck, I snapped this picture.

Cook picture of the Vashon Island ferry boat.
-James

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Week 10

Kobun; 10 Weeks old
Before I get into the normal weekly update, I want to take a moment and pen some thoughts on the newest member of our family.  Meet Kobun.  He is an American Akita male, about 10 weeks old.  We found him through our babysitter.  Her friend breeds Akitas, and they had an unexpectedly large amount of puppies this time around.  We got him for practically a song.  We adopted him on Friday, and just got his first round of shots done today.  We start formal puppy training classes on Wednesday.  Right now, we are potty training.  For more info, check out my other entry, here.

Lindsay and I have been talking about getting a dog for quite some time now.  Not only do we want a good theft deterrent, we want a companion for our kids and us.  This dog will be quite the camp dog and trail dog.  He's a large breed, and will weigh in excess of 100 lbs by the time he is done growing.  As a primitive species, descending from the wolf, he is extremely territorial and will protect my children at all costs.  As my neighbor from across the street said, "He will be fiercely loyal to the family, but will eat everyone else."

Getting back on track, this is Week 10, and if there is one thing I'm thankful for, it's that the holidays are OVER!  Gosh!  All of the celebrations, junk food, crazy schedules, and overall insanity has played havoc with my workout schedule.  I am glad my normal routine returns tomorrow.  Tomorrow is my last day of vacation, so I'm hitting the gym early so I can maybe miss the hoard of people that will descend upon the facility in droves tomorrow evening.  The gym will be a zoo for the next few weeks.  I have no doubt about that.

I think I'm finally getting over the bug that got me.  The only thing that feels bad is my throat.  I still have phlegm in the morning, but I'm not having any difficulty breathing, and my strength is now at 100%.  I'm ready to continue taking on the gym full bore again.

In a bit of good news, my father has decided to lose weight.  Since he and I are similar in body types, I know what lies ahead of him.  I wish him luck, and advise him to talk to Jeff, and to follow his program to the letter.  If he does, he will see results.  Dad wants to lose 60 lbs in a year.  I think if he works hard, he can drop that before the year is up.

Yesterday marked the first of 52 hikes I plan to complete in 2012.  Yeah, I know I hiked it the day before New Year's Day, but it is still in the same weekend, and that counts as far as I'm concerned.  So don't hang me on a technicality.  There are 52 weekends in a year.  I won't be hiking on the weekend of the 21/22nd because I will be on call for work.  That's no problem though; on some weekend, I plan on completing multiple hikes.  This will make up for any lost on weekends that I cannot get out.

Next weekend, I have a tentative camping trip planned.  I don't think any hike will come out of it, but I plan on going on a hike that Saturday afternoon.  The campout is an overnighter from Friday evening to Saturday morning.  I will try to find a decent hike within a reasonable distance from the campground.  Sadly, Kobun the dog won't be coming with me this time; he's still too young.

That's pretty much all I need to say for this week.  My video is below for you to see.  Check out the dog in the beginning.  He is adorable.



Happy New Year!

-James