An Adventure in Racing

talladega racetrack

Most of my friends know that I am an adventure seeker.   So, when my friend gave me a NASCAR racing experience for my birthday, he knew it was right up my alley. 

I left Birmingham about 9am to get to Talladega for my 10:30am NASCAR experience.  I think my friend bought this whole package for about $130.00.  I was scheduled to be at Talladega for about 3 hours.

When I arrived, I had to watch a 30-minute video about the track, the cars, and safety guidelines.  After watching the video, I went to the supply area where I was given a jumpsuit, a helmet, and a headset.  While I was putting on all of this gear, I had a feeling of just how dangerous this sport can be, hence the need for all of the equipment.  Once I was ready, I felt good about the safety measures and I was ready to get onto the track.

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Electric Noodling

catfish

Several weeks ago, I was searching for the best electrician Birmingham AL has to offer because I was having some serious issues with my electrical outlets.  As I was looking all over the web for a highly reputable company, an ad popped up in the corner of my computer screen that really caught my eye.  It said “Looking for an adrenaline rush?  Love the outdoors?  Contact us to schedule a lesson in Noodling!”  Well you know I had to at least find out what the heck “noodling” is. 

After I went down a big wormhole on the internet, here is what I came up with:  Noodling, I discovered, is the sport of catching catfish with your bare hands.  Yes, I said bare hands!  The “fisherman” doesn’t use a fishing pole, a net, or any bait.  They simply put their hands in a well-known catfish hangout and wait for the catfish to clamp down on their bare skin (or glove-covered skin, at the very least).

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A Dark, But Exciting Adventure

caves

Spelunking is something I had never tried until last year, and it was such a crazy adventure.  In case anyone is unfamiliar with spelunking, it is known as the sport of cave exploring.  I have never tried spelunking before because I wasn’t really sure that it was something I was interested in trying.  I’m not extremely fond of tight spaces, darkness, or of bats.  However, when my best friend said he wanted someone to go on a spelunking expedition with him, I knew I had to go for him. 

The expedition was already arranged by my friend, and it was perfect timing.  We were there in mid-May and I learned that the bats that make their homes in the caves had vacated recently.  They stay in the caves during hibernation season and leave as the weather warms. 

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An Unusual Place to Stay

Jules' undersea lodge

When I was in college, I took a class in scuba diving.  It was a great class that ignited a lifetime hobby of mine.  I’ve been on several scuba diving expeditions over the years.  I’ve been to the Coral Reef off of Australia, Costa Rica, and Brazil.  On my last scuba trip, I explored the waters off of the Florida Keys.

On another trip that I took to the Florida Keys a few years ago, I explored the Christ of the Deep at John Pennekamp State Park.  This time I decided to explore the western shores of Florida because I discovered an amazing place to stay while I was there.

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Falling From the Sky

I cannot believe that I’m still alive to write about this adventure!  Of all the traveling I’ve done around our beautiful United States, I’ve never seen anything like the views of the Grand Canyon from high above in an airplane.  I really cannot believe that I actually jumped out of that plane! 

Skydiving over the Grand Canyon was such a thrill that my heart is pounding now as I write this all down, even though the trip was a few years ago.  Part of me still wonders what I was thinking to go on such an exhilarating adventure, but I’m so glad that I did! 

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Monkeys on the Mountain

I climbed it!  I climbed it!  One day, I decided to leave my job working as an  employee for a company that offers the best lawn care services Birmingham, AL has to offer and head to Africa to climb the famous Mount Kilimanjaro.  I could hardly believe my good fortune when my supervisor agreed to hold my job for me until I returned from my adventure.  Within a two-week timeframe, I was saddled with all of my hiking and camping gear and heading up the tallest peak in Africa.  I was going to have an exhilarating adventure!

I hired a guide to take my friends and me to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.  We scheduled a seven-day trip with our guide who turned out to be the funniest, most organized, and smartest guide we could have ever found.  Before we arrived to meet him, he provided us with the most detailed list of everything we would need to have an unforgettable, safe ascend to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro.  On the list were things such as; towels, sunscreen, toilet paper, maps, pertinent clothes, and a sleeping bag.  Since we had this information, packing was simple and I had more time to spend on tidying up and taking care of things before I left my home.

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Down Under the Sea

Butterfly fish, parrotfish, angelfish, and clownfish were just a few of the amazing fish species that I remember from my trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  I had a remarkable time throughout my stay in Australia; however, the scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef was the most memorable part of the trip. 

I was fortunate enough to go on a multi-day escapade that solely included diving, snorkeling, and lounging on a beautiful yacht in the crystal waters around the Great Barrier Reef.  The amenities of the yacht were abundant.  The staterooms were gracious in size and comfort.  The meals provided were scrumptious and creative.  Most importantly, the scuba and snorkel equipment was top grade and the expertise of the dive masters were beyond comparison.  All of these amenities combined provided me with an adventure that I will remember for my lifetime.

One particular afternoon, the weather was perfect.  The blue skies above us were perfectly cloudless and the temperature of the water was an inviting 82 degrees Fahrenheit.  I could hardly wait to dress in all of my scuba gear and finish up the safety check.  Once the scuba master delivered the final speech, I flipped into the water in search of new discoveries.  Little did I know that within minutes, I would brush up against a Great White shark!

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An Unexpected Guest

My first night on Appalachian Trail was unforgettable.   I was exhausted as I set up my tent on the slight slope under a canopy of tall pine trees.  The temperatures were falling quickly and the sky was becoming ominous as a storm approached.  I was quick to settle my tent; just in time before raindrops the size of my cracked thumb began to fall.  Exhaustedly, I collapsed on my sleeping bag. 

I must have fallen asleep, because the last thing I remember was the sound of the rain, the boom of thunder and lightning streaks that danced across the sky.  Now it was all quiet.  All I could hear were the drips of water as they fell from the tall branches above my safe haven. 

At least I thought I was safe.  The following noise sounded more ominous than the powerful storm from earlier.  It sounded like the heavy footsteps of a big animal.  Perhaps it was a bear or a wolf?  Branches and leaves crackled under the pressure of the animal’s feet with each step.  It sounded as if, whatever it was, was milling around just outside the flimsy walls of my tent.  My heart was racing as my mind was filled with thoughts that my first night on the Appalachian Trail was going to be my last. 

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Welcome!

 

Welcome to my new blog, “Slideshows and Screensavers of our Lives”

I’ve lived a very full and rich life in my 43 years on this Earth and have learned to appreciate every experience I’ve had.

I’ve put together this blog to capture some of my memories so I can look back on them when I’m older and have a sort of slideshow or screensaver of all of my experiences.

-JP