Going out with REI

Screen Shot 2017-11-25 at 10.47.24 PM.pngMy #OptOutside excursion was a hit this year. Salamonie State Forest in northeast Indiana is one of three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir projects completed in the 1960s to reduce flooding on the Wabash River. Dams were placed on the Roush, Salamonie, and Mississinewa Rivers. The area surrounding Salamonie Reservoir is a testament to the area’s glaciated history, where creeks tributary to the Salamonie River cut steep draws into the hillsides, sending water sluicing over exposed limestone waterfalls up and down the river valley.


My hike consisted of a series of poorly marked loops along horse trails and fire roads, but I hiked the forest extensively as a Scout in my teens. It had been thirty-five years since I’d hiked it with any granularity, and it felt like coming home. What makes the hiking easy even without navigational aid, is that you’ll run into one of two features to put you back on course, either the sheer 80-degree grade down to the Salamonie River to your north, and the county roads to your south, one of which is the main state forest road.

IMG_3120The sky was nearly cloudless and the temperature reached the upper 40s, which is perfect for going out in a t-shirt and merino sweater. I munched on Cracker Jack when I got hungry and drank just under half a gallon of water. Gaia GPS says that I hiked 8.4 miles, and that seems accurate. I carried a full pack as I usually do to keep my training realistic, with a total weight just over 20 pounds. My biggest problem was the muddy areas where hooves have decimated the trail. Being compliant with Leave No Trace philosophy did in my Under Armor trail runners, which were on their deathbed to begin with, but they went out in style; if you believe mud is stylish.

IMG_3148My biggest thrill was the amount and diversity of the wildlife I encountered. Top of the list was the many white-tailed deer. I also ran into a couple of ladies on horseback who were out enjoying the weather. Other than the muddy low areas on the horse trails, the path was in good condition. Hiking through the open grassy area south of the main forest road near the entrance brought back memories of hiking with old friends as a Scout. Over the years I had forgotten which state park or forest the area belonged to, but being out in it again purchased instant recall.

I realize that REI’s #OptOutside is a marketing gimmick, but it is a damn good one. That they shutter their stores on Black Friday and encourage their employees to spend the day in nature aligns well with my worldview. I am always more than happy to oblige, and if you scroll through their hashtag on Twitter, you’ll see a couple of pictures from my hike (also available here).



Who you are

Work is who you think you should be.

Leisure is who you are.

— Anonymous

Holding down the booth


Blatantly lifted from indianapolisboatsportandtravelshow.com

Today, I’m volunteering at the Indiana Trails Community (ITC) vendor booth at the Ford Indianapolis Boat Sport and Travel Show at the Indiana State Fairground. Stop by and say high if you’re at the show or in the area, we’ll be in the “quiet sports” section.

There are a lot of great local organizations focused on getting into The Great Outdoors (TM) at the travel show, like Indiana Trails, the Indianapolis Hiking Club, the Central Indiana Wilderness Club. Yes, there is a lot of buying and selling going on, but the crowds allow us one of the biggest annual opportunities to put the word out about the great work we do. Advocating for and building multi-use, non-motorized trails in the state.

Good night, Mr. Sun

To celebrate…

amcWould you like to try for the chance for an movie outing with a friend to help celebrate my new book?

If you missed the launch of “Human Scale Happiness,” you can grab a free preview from my Amazon author’s page.

Click on over to the giveaway page for your chance to win! One of the things I talk about in my book is focusing on people and experiences over things, so I thought that an outing with a friend to go see a movie would be a great way to celebrate.

Brain dump – part one

Do you want to take a few minutes to go over a simple process that will empty your head of worrisome details, increase your peace, and give you more time? It is a productivity hack usually designed to benefit your boss, but you are going to use it to buy back time for you.

Robert Allen talks about thjournese “open loops” that you mind keeps circling back around to because it senses that something hasn’t been completed. Most people tamp these back down with a promise of getting around to it sooner or later.

The way to close those open loops and keep them from pestering you is to complete the task. Completing it, or having a completion plan, will allow your mind to relax, and a relaxed mind is free to focus on more important things. But enough with the why, let’s move on to the how.

How do you get this stuff out of your head and into a system that will collect everything into a single, searchable, available everywhere bucket?

Evernote. Just sign up and sign in. That’s your bucket. So how do you get everything out of your head and into the bucket? A lovely little app called vJournal in the Apple Store and Ever Journal in the Google store.

I know what you’re thinking. “Jim, I thought that the happiness you talk about is based on human scale and pace.” And you are absolutely right; it is. But it is also firmly tied to human nature and human needs. And we need to keep our minds clear. The modern world doesn’t play well in that arena, but technology can assist us as long as the ball and chain is shackled to technology, and not to us. Some get by with a notepad and a stubby pencil, and it works great up to a point. But when it comes to putting the dumpings into the bucket, electronic filing and retrieval in unparalleled in how it rocks. ever

The journal is what will drive the data dump. Every single time your brain taps you on the shoulder and pesters you with an open loop, you’re going to grab your technology, tap the Journal app, touch the microphone button, and blab away. The microphone button is right there at the bottom, beneath the X key. Then you’ll touch the upload button, and it goes directly to your Evernote inbox so you can deal with it at the appropriate time.

So the next time your brain does that shoulder tap, you can elbow it away and get on with what you’re doing. At first, people are going to look at you like you’re weird because you’re going to be talking at your technology. At least until all of those open loops are closed.

Later you’ll deal with the information in your bucket, but getting it out of your head and into the bucket is “first base.” I talk more about that in my book, “Human Scale Happiness.”  But now that you know how to get there, what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Evernote, vJournal, or Ever Journal in any way besides as a customer. I don’t get kickbacks if you make a purchase, and I don’t share any information with them about you. If you want to give me money, buy my books. Thanks!

Lost and found

The weekend before last, I hiked the combined Low Gap and Three Lakes trails, and somewhere along the northern section of Three Lakes, I dropped a glove. My poor glove. I couldn’t sleep, thinking about it laying out there all alone in the dark, with the coyotes yipping and the owls hooting.

Not really, but I did drop some big bills on them, so this week I decided to backtrack the trail section after work until I found my poor orphan. Enjoy the vid.