family-picture-on-whiteside-mountain 2

Hi, my name is Joe.  I was born in Miami Beach, FL.  I grew up in Dade County, and lived for a number of years in Miami and the Greater Miami area.  I am an avid sports fan and having grown up in South Fl, naturally I am a fan of the Miami Dolphins, the University of Miami Hurricanes, and of the Miami Heat (Go Heat!!!).  My favorite sport is football.  When I was a teenager, I always had a football in hand and was always looking for anyone willing to play a pickup game or at least to play catch with me.  If I couldn’t find anyone, I would throw the football as high and as far as I could down the street and then I’d run and attempt to catch my own pass.  I actually got pretty good at this and could catch my own passes as much as about 35 yards away.  My neighbors would watch me from their second floor windows and from their front porches.

I got married in 1994.  I like to joke that I’ve been married for five wonderful years (twenty years in all, five of them wonderful).  Hey, a wonderful week here and a wonderful week there really adds up after awhile.  All kidding aside, I am blessed to be married to a beautiful and godly woman.  I met my wife in May of 1992, when she and her sister came into the jewelry store that I worked at.  I thought that she was attractive and that she had a good sense of humor and a pleasant and friendly personality.  At the time that I met her, she was only in the states for her brother’s wedding and would be leaving soon.  She was born in Trinidad and was still living there.  We spent the next one and a half years writing each other letters and talking for hours on end on the telephone.  Our phone bills were huge.  Back then there were not so many options for communicating as we have nowadays. Eventually, she moved to the states.  I proposed to her on a moonlit and starry night.  We were on a lifeguard stand on the beach late in the evening (long after the lifeguards had gone for the day) watching the sky and listening to the surf.  The setting and the atmosphere made it the perfect time to ask her to marry me.  I wanted to marry her because she is my best friend and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her.  Fortunately she said yes and all of these years later, I have no regrets and would do it all over again.

We honeymooned for a couple of days in the Florida Keys and did some snorkeling in John Pennekamp State Park while we were there.  The coral reef was spectacular and the Christ of the Abyss statue that is submerged there was quite an impressive sight.  We dined at a restaurant that had an awesome view of  the sunset over Florida Bay.  We have a picture of my wife and I standing together with the sun setting behind us.  The beauty of the sky looks almost too good to be true.

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About two weeks later, when I was able to take more time off from work, we took a longer honeymoon in the mountains of North Carolina.  We had rented a 100 year old cabin and we spent the week that we were there horseback riding and whitewater rafting twice.

After a year of marriage, we purchased a small home in Broward County Fl and in February of 1999, my wife gave birth to our daughter.  She is beautiful like her mother and is so smart and talented.  Oh, we also have two boys now – enough said!  Just kidding, our boys are wonderful too.  They are both very handsome and very smart as well.

Even though I was born in South Fl, I never really wanted to live there.  South Fl is basically one huge metropolitan area.  It’s flat, overpopulated, and has entirely too much traffic.  For me, South Fl is also miserably hot and humid for eight or nine months of the year.  Some people may like the big city lifestyle and that kind of weather, but I longed for a change.  Life is short and I did not want to live my entire life in just one place.  My wife and I also desired for our kids to have more of a small town upbringing, so we finally made the decision to move.  Moving is not easy though.  We left behind a lot of family and the graceful little home that we had loved so much. We’ve been living for the last three years and two months in a small town in the Upstate area of South Carolina.  The area is also referred to as the Golden Corner.  We’ve made some good friends here.  The weather and the lifestyle are much more to my liking.  There is not much traffic to mention (there are times that I have the roads all to myself). There is not even a stoplight on the nine mile drive between our home and my youngest son’s school, just four stop signs.  My view on most of my drives consists of open fields of cattle with a backdrop of blue hued mountains.

We love the outdoors and there are so many more opportunities for hiking, backpacking, and kayaking now.  My wife and I have tried to instill a love for the outdoors in our children.  We’ve done a lot of family camping (including when we lived in Florida) and have taken our kids on a number of hikes, starting when they were all much smaller and younger. Hiking and backpacking has grown into a passion for me.  The primary appeal for me is of course the natural beauty of forests, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and of mountain vistas that seem to go on endlessly, but I also love the exercise that I get from hiking.  Most of the hikes around here require a fair amount of climbing.  My cardiovascular endurance and muscular endurance have improved somewhat as a result and together with my workouts I manage to stay reasonably toned and fit.  I also like to challenge myself and to test my limits.  I’ve done a decent amount of hiking so far this year and I have ambitions to do much more before the year is over.  Lord willing, I’ll be able to achieve my goals.

I’ve created this blog in order to share the images and some of the stories from my hiking, and backpacking trips.  Hopefully, people will enjoy the posts and will be inspired to get out there and have some adventures of their own.

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