What's In Your Blackpack?
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Until recently I thought I had taken adequate steps to ensure my protection from the sun. About five years ago I started getting annual skin checks from my dermatologist and committed to wearing long sleeves, pants, hat, and buff while on the water. I thought if I took these precautions that all would be well and I would have nothing to worry about, but I was wrong.
On my latest visit with my dermatologist she took a small biopsy from a very non threatening, very ordinary looking mole. I had expressed a mild concern for the mole to my doctor, I felt that maybe it had grown a little but it didn't seem to have the classic signs and symptoms of melanoma. It wasn't raised, dark colored, rough in texture, or asymmetrical. I just had a weird gut feeling that it had changed and my doctor took a biopsy to be on the safe side.
I've had about 20 suspect moles biopsied in the past 5 years and so far every time I would receive a call from a nurse explaining that my mole was normal and no further action was required. After my latest biopsy however I knew it was good when my doctor herself called to deliver the results. She told me that the biopsy came back as melanoma and that we would need to schedule a time soon to get it cut out. I realize that melanoma can be common among outdoor enthusiast and that it's a risk we take for our passions, but this diagnosis was a little more personal to me.
By the grace of God my melanoma was caught very early and able to be treated by excision only without anything further. My procedure is now over, my stitches are out, and my wound is healing nicely. I am more vigilant than ever about protecting myself and I am more conscious about my exposure time and how much of my skin is exposed. My friends, no one is immune to harmful UV rays and annual skin checks can very well save your life.
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
This decision has been finalized for two weeks now but writing this post has been a hard pill to swallow. After 4 years of serving on the Wilderness Systems Pro Staff I have decided to resign from the team. I leave with nothing but respect for the products, the company, and the fine ladies and gents that make up the staff. I won't drone on with reasonings and my thoughts on leaving the team, but I will say that there was nothing negative that led to my decision. I am grateful for the four years that I spent with the team and the doors and opportunities that have opened because of it. Priorities and responsibilities in my life have changed, and I have had to respond accordingly. Again, I wish everyone at Confluence Outdoors nothing but the best and continued prosperity.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
When our work in the capital city was completed it was time to relax and have some fun. Island style!!! We woke up around 5 am and packed out bags and headed back towards the coast of Belize City. When we arrived we headed straight towards the ferry station and bought tickets destined for Caye Caulker. Once aboard the ferry it was a 45 minute ride to Caulker. The ride was noisy, and bumpy, but it was great and the anticipation of getting to the island was overwhelming.
Upon arriving on the beach it felt like we just crashed landed on paradise. The island is very small and probably the most authentic place I've ever been. There isn't a single paved road or concrete sidewalk on the entire island, just sand and more sand. Before we all split up as a group we decided to eat a bach side lunch together. I ate the fresh shrimp and conch ceviche, and it was absolutely delicious. We all had ideas in mind of what we wanted to do on the island, some wanted to swim, others wanted to shop, but I just wanted to fish.
I walked around the island for about three hours searching for a place to rent a rod and reel. I went to shop after shop but, much to my disappointment no one would rent me one with agreeing to a charter deal first. Finally at the last shop in Caulker I walked out defeated and I hear a voice from my left that hollered to me, "Hey mon, you cant have dat sad face in dis beautiful place." A little stunned, I looked at him and apologized and told him what I'd been searching for. He looked at me with a lemon pucker face and told me, "You don't need no rod an reel, just some line, a hook, and a bait." Huh!!?? I had never considered just hand lining it before. I went to the local market and purchased a spool of line, a few hooks, and a few weights. I found a cool place to buy fresh sardines for bait and even had the opportunity to swim with some very large tarpons. I found a empty pier and quickly got my new gear all tied up and hooks baited. I let out some free line and hurled my into the ocean. It wasn't but just 10 seconds into waiting I felt a hard pull and I instinctually set the hook. The fight of my first Caribbean fish on a hand line was one of the most adrenaline filled moments of my life. I remember just thinking, please don't spit the hook, as I pulled this mystery monster in. As I finally got him up to the dock I quickly realized that he wasn't a monster but he fought like one and I added another species to my bucket list, a Barracuda.
That was my only Cuda of the day but several small "pretty" fish followed and my island adventure goal was complete. After fishing I went and got cleaned up and met up with the rest of my team for dinner. We continued to bond and discuss the awesome work that we had done during the past week and how amazing God is.
I am so very thankful for Mr. Waller and the CSMA organization for allowing me to come along for this awesome and inspiring week of serving others and enjoying an exotic place. I very much look forward to jumping on the opportunity to come back to Belize.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Going into this trip I knew that we were going to be teaching CPR, first aid, concussion training, and injury evaluation, but what I didn't know was how needed our skills were. I realized that as athletic trainers and sports medicine professionals working in the United States we take for granted the luxuries that we have. Most high schools in my area of DFW have at least two athletic trainers, multiple AED's, and countless mandatory training opportunities. The group of educators and coaches that we were responsible for training over the next four days were incredibly grateful and engaged in everything we covered.
We would have a daily team meeting in the dining area of our hotel over breakfast every morning to eat and discuss the days plans. I have to say that our team, led by Paul Waller, worked incredibly well together and stayed on mission for the entire trip. After breakfast we would load up and head over to the National Soccer Headquarters for the Belize national soccer teams. This is where we met and taught every day. Day 1 consisted of CPR and AED training and one of the students whose name was Ryan said something to me that will stick with me forever. After a full day of teaching Ryan thanked us for everything we covered that day than he said to me "I would love to be able to help my students more but I cannot do what I do not know." That hit me hard because I realized then that our presence there was absolutely right and we were doing good work.
Our team would teach for about four hours then we would break for lunch. Our driver would pick us up from the Football HQ and take us to the market everyday. We ate at the same outdoor cafe and had the daily special everyday. The daily special was rice and beans, home made potato salad, a stewed meat of some kind, and a fried plantain. It was absolutely delicious! After our bellies were full we would head back to the HQ to teach for another 4 hours or so. After we were done for the day we would head back to the hotel and get the AC cranking in our rooms while we relaxed with a cold drink and a snack of fry jacks and refried beans.
We continued this routine for four days with a team dinner each night. We had the opportunity to meet the mayor of the capital city so he could personally thank us for the work we were doing. Each experience was more incredible than the other. On the last day we headed out early in the morning for the island of Caye Caulker for a final day of reward for the long week of hard work.
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
The last month has been a whirlwind of packing, planning, and preparations for not only my first international trip, but also my first mission trip. I was presented with an opportunity back in January to join a team from the Christian Sports Medicine Alliance (CSMA) to travel to Belize to share our skills as sports medicine professionals as well as share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I have never been religious or even put much thought into my relationship with God, even though I did consider myself a Christian. My family and I started attending a church again that we really felt comfortable at, and we began to grow as a family in our faith. I began a previously non existent prayer life, and I quickly realized that my prayers were not being answered in the way I imagined.
I have a degree in sports medicine and currently work as an athletic trainer in the Dallas area. An opportunity was presented to me to share my skills and knowledge in sports medicine through a ministry that utilizes sports medicine professionals to teach valuable skills to far reaching corners of the world where this information is not present but desperately needed. After several weeks of praying to God to use me somehow, I couldn't ignore this obvious call. I quickly reached out the the founder of CSMA, Paul Waller, and expressed my interest in serving in his ministry and to inquire about international mission opportunities.
Paul told me that Belize was an option for early June and that he had been there several times before. Belize is a small country in Central America with white sandy beaches, blue water, and a rich history is sports. Paul continued to explain to me that the next team to go into Belize would be meeting with the sports counsel in the capital city of Belmopan and putting on a 5 day sports medicine clinic. Topics would include CPR, first aid, AED training, concussions, and upper and lower extremity injury prevention and care techniques. Essentially what we had was a group of sports professionals that are responsible for various groups of athletes spanning all ages with no knowledge of what to do in emergency situations when an athletes life could potentially be in danger.
In an effort to keep this story manageable I am writing it in three pieces. Part two will be about my experiences in the capital city of Belmopan and the teaching and outreach work we did there, and part three will recount the last day of the trip that we spent on the island of Caye Caulker. Thank for reading.
Monday, May 15, 2017
After several weeks of absolute chaos and busy plans, I was finally able to get my rudder installed on my ATAK 120. I absolutely love this boat and have been paddling it for several months now without a rudder with great enjoyment, but now its about to get a whole lot better. Wilderness systems has changed the rudder kit up a bit from previous years. We no longer use the cable and clamps, we now have a new synthetic cable and new method of attachment to the rudder bracket. I have to say that I like the changes and I think its a much easier install than with the rigid metal cables. Since this was my first time installing this new style of rudder I found this install video from fellow Wildy Pro Staff, Chase Tanner, to be very helpful and detailed. Check out the video!