North Manitou Island Backpacking, Bushwhacking, Tim Allen & Sunburns in the Great State of Michigan

Hike from our cars – the start of a journey…

I now consider myself a backpacker – I love it, I love nature, I love the challenge…it is simply awesome. I recently went on a trip to North Manitou Island and I think I just may be hooked and committed to becoming a backpacking enthusiast as a lifelong hobby. It was a wonderful trip which actually got delayed because we had to take the “big boat” instead of the little one because Lake Michigan had 5-8 feet swells and the small boat wouldn’t be able to dock. One thing I noticed was the size of some people’s backpack – holy cow some of them were monstrous and must have weighed at least 60 pounds. I thought I packed to many t-shirts (I did), but wow my backpack was dwarfed by some of the monsters people packed.

Getting on the boat.

When we got off the boat after a sea sick inducing ride on the boat we had backpacker orientation, which accounted for, in a nutshell, you have to camp 300 feet from any water, 300 feet from other campsites, no campfires, and your latrine needs to be at least 6 inches deep. After that we were on the trail. The first hour or so on the trail was exhausting getting use to wearing a 30 pound pack on my back, but after my muscles were warmed up we all found our rhythm backpacking across the island to the northwest side of the island. What we didn’t realize was that we missed the unkempt trail we needed to take to the dunes where we wanted to camp, so we took a risk and bushwhacked it at about a 50 degree incline 900 feet up. At the end of that day we hiked around 6-7 miles which was definitely a good start.

Bushwhacking at it’s best!

The campsite we found!

The next day we enjoyed our awesome campsite, but yikes getting water going down an uber-steep hill of leg cramping sand which was a good workout to say the least. Also, when we got water we had to go at least knee depth in Lake Michigan and filter our water into the water bottles. I don’t think I have ever valued water so much in my life. It’s amazing how you find out how important something is when you don’t have it by just turning on the tap.

Filtering water in the coldness of Lake Michigan.

Later that day we went on a day hike on the beach and that’s where we all forgot to apply sunscreen early enough. The beaches on North Manitou Island were a thing of beauty. If I didn’t know where I was at I would have thought we were on a tropical island. When I was on the island I thought about those “Pure Michigan” commercials with Tim Allen as the commentator. What was really crazy was when we were waiting for the boat at a coffee shop I thought I recognized someone, but couldn’t place his face and then I realized it was Mr. Michigan Tim Allen. I said “Mr. Allen? Mr. Allen? Tim Allen!?” and he replied “Yes” stunned by my discovery I could only muster the response of “I love your work” and Tim Allen said back “Thanks” and proceeded to get his coffee.

One of Tim Allen commercials for “Pure Michigan.”

Our last day on the island was spent it trying to find a dry way across the middle of the island. We thought we found a nice meadow to go across, but we got a little more then a quarter of a way there and our feet started to get wet and poof we discovered we were in a swamp! In my head I irrationally started to imagine we were endanger of getting eating by an alligator. So we turned around and went back the way we came to try to find some higher and dryer ground to make our way to the main trail.

After some navigating we went to higher ground and crossed and found a dry spot to make our way to the main trail. The only other issue was all three of us on the trip got sunburns in places you don’t normally get them. I got sunburned on the tops of my feet, my girlfriend Ela got sunburned pretty bad on her legs and behind her knees and so did Ryan our friend. So this made the backpacking across the island harder then normal. We did find our way to a nice campsite on the east side of the island and found some time to play the card game Uno in our tent.

Tent party on our last night on the island!!

All in all our backpack trip I think has inspired a lifelong love affair with backpacking and the wilderness for myself. It was so nice to get away from things like cell phones, computers, text message and all the creature comforts one has when they’re not in the wilderness because it helps me appreciate those things when I come back (Although, I did bring my Flip Mino HD and took all of the awesome video you see posted). It was also nice to just live in the present and do things like go for a walk on the beach, eat wild strawberries and see nature in action.

I think we hiked over 20 miles with our time on North Manitou Island. We also went on a winery tour before we left for the island.

Yay for nature!

I can’t wait to go on our next trip whether it is a day trip of a trek across the wilderness. Yay for backpacking!!

New Place, Life and Niche in the World

The illustration is from Hugh MacLeod who's brilliant! -

Well, well, well here we are everyone. I think I’m starting to really find my niche in the Greater Chicago area, otherwise known for me as Berwyn and Dominican University for me. It’s been a big change of having to worry about things like papers and midterms, it’s like going to work, but you get to pay them. I enjoy it though, it’s nice to feel like you’re really building toward something significant. I think with my business skills, having an MBA and a future MSW I can really do some good. I can speak “business talk” and now I’m learning about social services/social work – could make for a dangerous pairing. In my first class a professor talked about, I’m paraphrasing – everything we do is political as a social worker. My reaction was “that doesn’t make any sense.”

The more I thought about that phrase the more it resonated with me. I had a marketing professor, in my MBA program, tell me “everything is a test in life, how we act, how we respond, it’s all a test.” I tend to agree with him. The more I learned about social work and it’s roots, Professor Oporto is completely right. I did a report on Eunice Kennedy Shriver and she is simply an AMAZING person who took people with intellectual disabilities out of the institutions and let them live life more like people without the disability.

For myself I went down to Springfield for NASW‘s Advocacy Day, it was an experience in itself. I wasn’t sure exactly what I’d be lobbying for, but I had a variety of options.

What I really observed was that there were very few normal-every-day-citizens there talking with representative, but rather guys in very expensive suites (who were professional lobbyist) waiting in line to talk to their representative/senator…I was immediately maddened by the process. Thinking to myself “I need to starting getting involved and not passively stand on the sideline letting the guys in suites decide how we live our lives.” I kinda like the term “t-shirt and jeans lobbyist,” but I’ll probably get stuck in a suite myself. I know getting political is easier said then done, but as a social worker (and as a citizen) we have the ability to change the playing ground in which we operate.

I think the first thing for me is to do is educate myself and learn how to play the game of politics. In a previous job/life when I wanted to talk to a representative a good way to get a meeting quickly was to have a business leader in the community recommend me or come along with me to the meeting.

Side note: one lobbyist when he walked in literally said “Boy everyone **cking hates our company, but they sure love our products” I was shocked how he spoke with such frankness- he represented a large chemical company I didn’t find out which one…shocking indeed.

The NASW they may not have the funding large companies have, however there is power in numbers and actually voting. It’s a government of the people, by the people, for the people right Mr. Lincoln? Did you vote in the last election? Did you really educate yourself about the issues? I did my best to, but I’m going to really make an effort to get much more involved on both a micro and macro level. I’m very happy to be on the path of having the ability to help people on both a personal level through counseling and also being an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.

I interviewed at an Adult Day Center this week, for an internship this fall, and the director was speaking to me about hard it is to get funding for the elderly. The people at this center were there for a variety of reasons, dementia, strokes, Alzheimer’s and other reasons. I thought to myself  – “they can’t speak for themselves and what is happening to those who aren’t in a facility like this one?” They can’t go and talk to their representative/senator and say they need help because they can’t afford medication or care. The people in the center were the lucky ones; I can’t imagine the situation for those who cannot get help. I think I’m going to make it my mission to try to get them better care.

This life change for me wouldn’t be possible without the help of my family, sister’s fiance and friends, so thanks everyone. I may be an hour and half away, but you’re always in my thoughts and heart.

I’m just about half way through my first semester, but I’m motivated…watch out.

PS. Another person who helped me get into the MSW Program at Dominican University is Ike Pigott, he’s my digital mentor of sorts, read his brilliant and witty blog at (if you go to Ike’s website please don’t steal his content or at least give him credit ::cough:: ::couch::).

And I’d like to end this post with a song…been listening to a lot of Wilco lately and I’m in an optimistic mood. Enough said.

Social Media Marketing Guy – Do you need one at your company or organization?

Well I’m looking for some freelance work if possible. I have formal experience when I worked for the American Red Cross in Washington DC at national Headquarters during hurricane season. I was also on the “Advanced Public Affairs Team” or “APAT” as it was called when I was a Red Crosser. So I’ve seen it when things get really intense and dealt with large media outlets and also the very local ones. Public Relations and Social Media go hand-in-hand and should always work together.

If you want to establish an identity for your company through social media, have a plan and guide for you to go off of to empower your organization then I might be able to help you out. I also have an MBA from Rockford College and right now I’m a graduate student in the “Graduate School of Social Work” at Dominican University.

So, what that translate to for you – a person with a relatively open schedule that can work on a project for you with the skills and training to really add some real value to your company or organization through social media.

You can look at my resume for more information about my skillz (I like to use a “z” for emphasis).

Hope to hear from you soon,


PS. I’m now located in Berwyn, IL so I can easier serve the Greater Chicago area. I actually moved for school, but it’s easier for me now to work with people in Chicago – so that’s an added bonus. I have also worked with people in San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix and other areas across the country.

A New Chapter in my Life – Master’s in Social Work at Dominican University

Well, I’m here now in living in Chicagoland and going to school again. It’s been a big change, but a welcome one. I’m starting off part time at Dominican University with a couple of classes but will be going full time in the Fall. Everyone I’ve met in the program is so nice! The professors have a wealth of knowledge and now I’m working on getting an internship for the Fall. I’ll be specializing in Gerontology. I’m also going to be starting a new social work blog where I’ll be posting helpful information I’ve learned along the way and some of the writing I’ve been doing in the program.

That’s all for now. I did this week go down to Springfield and take part in NASW‘s “Advocacy Day” and I spoke with my representatives about some issues involving social work. The process was an eye opener. For some it was very frustrating to see how hard it was to reach people and get them your message for me, it was a motivator to make me want to get more involved in the political process. I can feel my brain cells growing already, look out world an MBA and future MSW is coming your way!!

RIP Andrew Koenig

I’ve been a fan of “Growing Pains” and the podcast “Never Not Funny” since they started airing. I was sad to find out that Andrew Koenig (a video producer on “Never Not Funny” and he played “Boner” on “Growing Pains”) took his own life.

From USA Today: (Andrews father Walter Koenig) – “Our son took his own life,” Koenig said, struggling to maintain his composure. “He was obviously in a lot of pain.”

If you learn anything from this,” Koenig said, directing his comments to those who also suffer from depression, “there are people out there who care.”

Here’s a link to the full story.

Rest in peace Andrew, suicide is never the answer people!

Tribute to Andrew Koenig on his Father’s website :

Moving to Berwyn, Illinois on MLK Day – Fingers Crossed!

Someone picked me!

So someone did pick me for a roommate after all and I’ll be moving to the township of Berwyn, Illinois. Which is in the Chicago land area and also about 15 minutes depending on traffic to Dominican University where I’ll be going to getting my Master’s Degree in Social Work. I can’t wait to move and start my new life. Thanks to everyone that helped me find a place and I can’t wait to meet a bunch of twitter folks in the non-digital world. I have a feeling I’ll be posting a lot more about my adventures in the big city.

So stay tuned!!

Things I love: Leo Leporte – Mini Documentary

Okay so Leo Leporte is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE human beings! Below is a short documentary about his TWiT Network. Hope you enjoy! This was originally posted on

Zen Parable

I’ve seen a variety of connotations of the story below, but every time I think of it I feel comforted. It helps me stay in the present moment where we are most productive. Check it out below:

There was once a man who was being chased by a ferocious tiger across a field. At the edge of the field there was a cliff. In order to escape the jaws of the tiger, the man caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw, to his dismay, there were more tigers on the ground below him. And, furthermore, two little mice were gnawing on the vine to which he clung. He knew that at any moment he would fall to certain death. That’s when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth.

He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.

So when I’m thinking about “what if” or “what could have been” I try to think of that strawberry and it usually helps. I hope it helps you too.

My site is back!!!

Thanks to some jerky hacker my site got hacked for a little while. Sorry for the inconvenience. I didn’t know I was so hack worthy, but apparently I am. What a truly awful experience being hacked by someone, but onward and upward my friends.