Nov 12, 2015

MIG Welding

I enjoy a weekend of getting your hands dirty and learning about something you've always wanted to know about.

Enter the National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis.

The Metal Museum has a rich history that's not without it's fair share of scandal and ghosts.

Opening it's doors officially to the public on February 5, 1979, the Metal Museum has offered artists a place of learning and growth all the while providing the community with a place to see masters in their art as well as learn and participate in the metal working community.

The buildings that are on the property were originally a US Marine Hospital during the Civil War and were used to treat soldiers as well as do research to search for a cure for yellow fever. 

The hospital officially closed in 1965 and after some land dividing and renovations the museum was opened to the public. To learn more about the museum and it's grand history check out their website:

Nowadays you can drop in and see the art that is on display, bring in something for repairs, have a wedding on the grounds, take a class, or join them for an iron pour. It is an amazing place that is an inordinately large resource to many an aspiring blacksmith.

I was most recently down there taking a MIG Welding class. I've learned to weld before, but this was my first real class.

The classes are small - about 8 people - and there are two instructors. We went through the basic science of how MIG welding works, the types of welders on the market and what the difference is between each type of welder available. I could try and explain the science to you, but let's just go with electrical current, metal on metal, and some sort of conductor. SCIENCE.

Anyways you learn about the different machines and then you get to test them out. Like they just hand them over and you get to play with them. HOW COOL IS THAT!?

After you've played with each machine for a little while they send you out to the scrap pile to test your new skills and you get to make whatever you want and then take them home.

These are the things I made.

If you ever get a chance to go visit the Metal Museum I highly recommend it. Tell them I sent you. Also definitely take a class. You'll learn something new and get to play with awesome machinery, get a little dirty and create one of a kind art.

Nov 10, 2015

New beginnings

Today marks the one year anniversary of my month long stint in Guatemala.

That trip was the start of a lot of new chapters for me. Some of them good, some of them sad, and some of them unsteady. No matter the content of the chapters that trip stands as one of the best things that I have ever done.

Guatemala signaled a clean slate, a complete starting over of sorts. It may not have been exactly the way I had pictured it, but that's the way the proverbial cookie crumbled for me.

In this year I have learned a few things about myself.

1. I can travel to a foreign country and know no one and come home with some amazing memories and friends that I will never soon forget.

2. Traveling solo is something I thoroughly enjoy and am constantly looking for ways to continue.

3. Starting over is really scary.

4. It's okay to cry and be upset.

5. It's doubly okay to still not be okay.

6. Only you can decide when you are ready. Some days I am still not ready and am unsure that I may ever be ready.

7. Getting a puppy can fill a lot of emptiness.

8. Not knowing your direction or course in life is scary but you're not the only one.

9. Spending money you don't have to see friends you never see is absolutely worth it and I will never regret the time I got to spend with them.

10. I live my life by jumping first and looking later, wearing my heart on my sleeve, being a bit shy, and constantly chasing the sunrise on the dreams of wanderlust. Those things make me and there is nothing wrong with that.

11. It will all work out. It always does. Take a few steps back and breathe. Trust the journey but most of all trust yourself. Your heart always knows what you head refuses to see.

My year has been full of ups and downs with these new beginnings. It hasn't been easy and some days are awful, but each day I am a little bit stronger. I still don't know where I am going but I know the type of person that I want to be. Each day is a constant reminder to be that person.

Oct 12, 2015


There are certain times when you are out and about with a cocktail in hand, and your best friend calls and asks if you will come visit for her 30th birthday.


You met said best friend in Nicaragua a solid two years prior and have yet to see her since. She hated you at first glance and then you wormed your way into her heart and there you have stayed.

Naturally you agree and then get all giddy and happy and jumpy and smiley and continue to drink some more cocktails and you wake up with a flight confirmation for 4th of July weekend to party with your best friend.

I waited on baited breath to finally see my fellow dirtbag world traveler and smother her for an entire weekend.

FINALLY the weekend arrived. And the 6am flight was boarded. #worthit

The journey from JFK to Long Beach was a bit stressful. And by that I mean NY has got some serious traffic congestion issues. Especially when your cab gets in a wreck on the way to the birthday party. That was like the most fun situation I have ever been in. Especially when he tried to make me pay the whole bill. Yea. No...

Hugs and tears and some more hugs later we were finally reunited for a weekend of beaching and general debauchery.

One of my favorite moments was seeing two of our friends from Nicaragua that Kristen didn't believe were actually coming.


A day filled with surfing and drinking and fireworks watching. It was a weekend that I will never forget. My soul smiled bigger than my face the whole weekend.

When the birthday girl is born the day before the 4th of July everything is themed around USA paraphrenalia.

Spending the weekend bouncing from the beach, to house parties, and bars was incredibly fun. Many more memories were made.

What? You don't go in a bar and make pretend phone calls to very important people? You clearly are doing life wrong.

It was also an amazing experience to meet so many humble and inviting people. Listen to their stories. See a town that Hurricane Sandy tried to wipe away and view the people who put in the sweat, tears, and love to rebuild their little piece of New York. If you ever get a chance to see Long Beach, I highly recommend it. The people, the places, the faces, the everything will seep into your veins and make you feel home.

Besides they have lifeguard stands. Who doesn't love giant lifeguard stands?

The plane ride home was uneventful and sad because I didn't want to leave. It wasn't goodbye but a see you later.

Bay, your birthday was amazing and I am so glad to have met you and am eternally grateful for you to be a part of my life. Even if your drink is terrible.

Oct 9, 2015

Foster Falls

About two months (maybe almost 4 now...) ago my best friend asked me to go to Foster Falls outside of Chattanooga to hike and camp.

I hesitantly said yes because I have no camping gear and lack a desire to sleep on the ground. I mustered some enthusiasm and let her start the planning.

I had been at my new job just about a month, so I had no time to take off and told her that I would only be able to come Saturday and Sunday. Which turned into meeting in Chattanooga Friday night.

The plan was to get up early and hike Saturday, camp, and then hike out Sunday to drive back to our respective homes.

Linds recruited her friend Matt (our resident pack horse...) and off we set. Matt brought his dog Riley and I brought the puppy Paddler. I was nervous as to how he would do but figured at worst I could stick him my backpack and carry him.

Friday night we grabbed some beers and bar food (Linds and I's fav) and then she and I laughed and stayed up too late until one of us passed out mid conversation.

Saturday morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and watched horrified as some kids ask their dad if a bagel was a doughnut before we hightailed it out of there.

Since we were planning on doing a hike through we dropped two cars at the end and drove one car to the start.

We started at the waterfall which was spectacular. Riley taught Paddler how to swim, I broke my Ray-Bans, and we set off on our journey to the campsite.

we're like really pretty.
 The never ending journey is what this hike turned into. We realized that about 3 miles into the hike and I cautiously (secretly fingers and toes crossed) that maybe we walk the whole way through and grab a hotel room and order pizza....HEAR ME OUT....

We were on this journey and the campsite was a bazillion miles away (it wasn' was about 6) but we realized that we would get there about 1 in the afternoon and then what in the heck were we supposed to do? And then it may have started to thunder and I have this slight fear of being struck by lightening. I love thunderstorms but not being in the middle of the woods for it.

That led to us just powering through and walking to the end. We stopped for pictures, for the dogs to flop around in mud and puddles, to see some waterfalls, and to refill water bottles. It was a long day for sure.

I was surprised at how well Paddler held up. He walked the whole way and then promptly passed out when we got to the car. I had to pull out about 90000000 burs off his fur, but he had a blast.

It was such a fun weekend. Linds and I have talked about doing it again, but maybe ending at the falls instead of starting there and just taking the essentials, not a lot extra weight. Because we carried so much....THANKS SHERPA MATT!

Oct 8, 2015

a nice day for a white wedding.

Or one that started with a hell of a storm.

But let's reverse that party train right on back and talk about this wedding weekend.

My cousin was getting married and so kindly invited us to attend her beach wedding.

You had me at beach.

I knew this weekend would be very bittersweet for me, but I tried to put on a brave face and not be terribly grump the whole time. (I may not have been successful and for that I apologize).

Setting: Fort Morgan, Alabama

Background: I have been to FM a couple of times and they were all magical. But they all hold a special place in my heart and not a place I was ready to open my heart back up to just yet. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it (and drink all the beer).

People: A crapton of family and a baby that has never seen the ocean. I was all too excited to get that baby to touch the sand and the ocean and understand it's magical powers.

How I Coped: Beer, Running, Reflecting, Tears by the ocean, and did I mention beer?

That last part is neither here nor there. We were there to party and celebrate an amazing person and her journey to becoming a married woman.

Fort Morgan is a quaint little strip of beach. And I mean quaint. You are 20 miles from town and there are I think 3 restaurants on that strip of beachway? It's my idea of heaven.

There are two ways to get to FM. You can come from the west and take a ferry from Dauphin Island or you can go around FM and cut back down and drive the one road into FM. Either way, once you are there you realize just how remote of a spot you are in.

The beaches are clean (for the most part) but there is no beach service; you just head out to the beach and set up shop. It is a self service beach. But it is a beach. And there are waves and shells and an ocean. All the things I really need. The one drawback is the oil rigs you can see in the distance.

Back to this wedding. We had been recruited to help set up for the wedding. Luckily the wedding house was about a ten minute walk from our house. With tables set, centerpieces built, coolers filled, and a tent pitched we made our way back home to have a few refreshments and take showers.

That's about the time that trouble hit. The wind shifted, the sky turned black, and the rain came. About an hour before the wedding. And then the biggest problem: the power went out.

Luckily the bride was very chill about the whole thing, but all that work we had done? Ruined. The tent crew had to come back out and re-setup and the centerpieces had to be redone.

the bride.
 By the miracle of all miracles the power came back on and the storm passed through all about 30 minutes before the wedding was set to start.

The wedding was beautiful and the sunset was to die for. A successful weekend by and large. Definitely a bittersweet one, but it was nice to make some new memories in a place that holds a special meaning for me.