Looking Back, Looking Forward

Where exactly did the last year go?  The year 2010 was an amazingly productive year for me personally and professionally and I thought it important to reflect upon last year’s goals before I move forward with my 2011 resolutions.  So in no particular order let’s see how I did in 2010 and see what I can do better in 2011.

Take a trip on a train

We made two voyages via Amtrak in 2010. The first was a day trip from Saint Louis to Jefferson City via the Missouri River Runner.  It was a relaxing, enriching trip that was the perfect distance to sample train travel and gave us a day to explore the Missouri capitol with dining in two yummy local restaurants, a tour of the capitol building and wrapped up the day with a yummy treat from the local dairy.  We even squeezed in some geocaching.

The second trip was just a few weeks ago from Newton it Saint Louis.  We left from Newton on the Southwest Chief (at 3 am), connected with the Missouri River Runner in Kansas city and arrived (exhausted) in just outside of Saint Louis in Kirkwood Missouri.  In short, we did it and enjoyed the experience, but we learned that this mode of transportation may not always be the most efficient way to travel.

If we do another train trip in 2011 I would like to either try another route or see what the Southwest Chief has to offer going west.

Obtain a passport (and plan a trip to see my sister-in-law when they move to Aruba)

Well we got the forms but have not followed through.  This will most certainly be in the 2011 list.

Complete the KDWP Geocaching Contest for a 3rd year

Another resolution falls short.  We actually started the contest and ran out of steam within a few weeks.  Maybe it was this record setting heat or perhaps this was not as important to us as I first thought it would be.  I also wonder if this stifled our goal to “enjoy ‘the great outdoors’ whenever possible”. I believe that the contest made outdoor enjoyment  a chore which cut down on shorter, more frequent outdoor experiences.  This year I will likely forego the contest, but make geocaching a more complimentary activity to the rest of my outdoors adventures.

Achieve my target weight of 175 pounds (currently 191, down from 226 in June 2009)

Oh. So. Close.  I made it 179 pounds. While those who have not seen me in a couple years compliment me on my new look, I still feel out of shape.  That said, the weight loss HAS cured a chronic sleep disorder and made my back injury much more manageable.   This year I will focus on complete wellness, including establishing better nutrition and exercise habits.

Enjoy “the great outdoors” whenever possible

I am sure that I could have done better on this as well, but I am going to give myself a score of “meets expectations”.  I have gotten much better at making simple things like walks by the river or visiting a local park part of my daily routine and out of town travel.

Actively participate in Young Professionals of Wichita and join one of the action teams

I am proud to say that I am a member of the “ambassadors” action team.  I have been working with that group for almost a year and it has been an enriching experience.  I am really looking forward to continuing to help carry out the mission of this great organization.

Do more professional development, attending one webinar a month and two seminars in the year

All in all, I am satisfied with my performance on this goal.  I actually attended four seminars/conference over the year including, AgencySide, Free State Social, OpenCa.mp, and 140 Characters. Each conference provided a unique view into the world that I live and work. This year I will strive to keep looking for a mix of enrichment opportunities and jump on opportunities that are presented to me.

Don’t be afraid to “take ownership” (or at least a share) of a situation where I can add value to the end result

Honestly, I am not sure where I was headed with this one when I wrote it.  I just felt like I passed too often on opportunities to do good things, letting them be someone else’s problem.

There have been good and bad results from my new bullish view on “taking ownership”.  On the positive side I feel like I am contributing more effectively at work and being a better community citizen. On the negative side I am finding myself needing to re-learn what problems are better left to others.  This year I will strive to continue to be an active participant where I can make a difference while finding balance and not committing my self.

State Park Geocaching – Year 3, Week 1, Day 1 @kdwp

It’s time for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) geocaching contest.  Once again, the KDWP has strategically placed ammunition boxes with paper slips in each of 31  KDWP properties across the state, including state parks, wildlife areas and the KDWP administrative offices.  The coordinates to the first stage of each two stage cache can be found at the KDWP Geocaching website. A full explanation of the contest can be found in the video below.

It has always been my intention to give a cache by cache account of the contest.  Last year we went through the contest so fast that a written amount was not possible.  This year we are slowing down a bit, taking in more of the sites and documenting our adventures for the purpose of getting out the good word about the hidden gems that are our State Parks and Wildlife Areas.

Day 1 – Sand Hills (Hutchinson) and Cheney State Parks

With the coordinates fresh off the KDWP website, my brother, the dog and I headed up K-96 to begin our adventures.  First stop was Sand Hills State Park.  This is an equestrian (horse) trail park. It is an oddity amongst the state parks as an addition “trail pass” is required for access to the park.  Reluctantly, I paid said admission in the little envelope and proceeded to our destination.  About 2 minutes after arriving at the park, we found the first stage and a couple minutes after that we found the second.  Honestly, this is my 3rd visit to the park and I have yet to seen ANYTHING that would bring me back outside the contest.  The geocaches have always been withing a couple minutes of the parking lot, almost defeating the purpose of the hide in the first place.  I read that camp sites have recently been added, but I guess the park rangers at Sand Hills want to keep it to themselves.  So, we moved on the Cheney.

Cheney State Park is what I consider to be my “home” state park.  My summers as a child were spent in a house just across the street from the park. We spend many days swimming, biking, hiking, and camping.  It is a wonderful place that is well managed and a must visit for all lovers of the outdoors in the tri-county area. (Sedgwick, Kingman, Reno) As an adult, we will often do full weekends at this park and have placed a few geocaches there ourselves.

The Cheney geocache, too, proved to be not much of an effort to discover.  The first stage was actually located just a stone’s throw from one of my own hides. Neither were incredibly difficult to find and the large chain made each hard NOT to find.  PLUS, each were hidden more in plain sight than true hides.  I have had my geocache hidden at that park for 2 full seasons and have NEVER had one of them walk away.  The rangers at Cheney should reconsider their hiding strategy.

After the hunt was over, we checked out all my hides and then proceeded to walk the nature trails where we spotted many a white tail deer.  It was truly amazing! With that, we called it a day and headed back home.

It’s December in Kansas, 55 Degrees and I’m Going Geocaching

It was a day similar to today, almost five years ago, that I became a “geocacher”.  The perfect weather was too good to pass up.  Plus, I still needed to drop off the travel bug that I had picked up several months ago.   So, off to Sedgwick County Park I went with “Shy” the dog in tow.

We parked in the south lot off of 13th street.  I took a moment to get my bearings and plan our attack.  Shortly thereafter, we proceeded to find “Porcupine Alley”.  Located in a tree row just off the path, it was a fairly quick find.  It also provided a perfect new home for the “Boreas River (NY)” Red Jeep Travel Bug that I had been carrying around for the last few months. A quick resorting of the caches in the area sent Shy and I westward toward the creek that runs the western edge of the park and off we went.

A short .35 mile hike across the park brought us to the creek where there were many people in hip waders trolling the waters.  Thought about snapping a picture, but as daylight was burning, I kept moving as I still needed to cross the creek myself and I was not prepared to wade directly through it.  A little to the north, and a little out of the way, we came to a nice covered bridge and cross to a nice walking path that should take us directly to the “SC Park” geocache.  A few moments later, deja vu began to come over me.  I am fairly sure that I had found a cache in this location, but many years ago.  I double checked my gps to make sure that I had not already done it and “technically” I had not, but I am sure that was a re-posting.  Either way, I found it and I am counting it.

Last stop was just down the path and on my way back to the car, “Converted”. Tucked away along the path that exits Sedgwick County Park’s southwest corner, this geocache proved to be another relativity easy find.  Resorted the list one more time to see if we could find one more on the way back to the car, but the stars would not have it today.