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Accomplished/Done List vs. Bucket List

The bucket list is a seemingly common practice or thing people do to help them layout all of the things that they want to do before they die or “kick or the bucket”, with the goal of crossing off all or majority of things.

A bucket lists can be a cool thing to do for it helps you track and plan your goals and build your desire for adventure and to experience all that life has to throw at you. When it comes to adventuring, it can help you keep a list of all the places you want to go to, helping you to plan out your travels.

I used to pay quite a bit of attention to bucket lists, carefully sculpting it and adding things to it and I convinced myself that it was helping me grab a fuller understanding of life. However, as the years passed I began to realize that a bucket list is kind of overrated and wasn’t giving me the satisfaction I was looking for.

As I kept adding things to it and the list grew I became overwhelmed of all of the things I hadn’t done and even though I was relatively young, I felt a pressure of time.  I became saddened, if you will to view all of the things that I haven’t done. Then one night, when I was walking around a city with a friend and we were discussing bucket lists, I realized that instead of making a bucket list, I would do something a little different.

fI decided that a bucket list was overrated and that to gain the perspective I was looking for I would ditch the bucket list and start a “What I Have Done” list. A list that would include all of the moments, small or big, that made me feel alive in a special way such as stood on a mountain above the clouds, experienced a first kiss, write a song, went to Ireland, spent a night exploring a city with friends, and played my ukulele on a beach under the Northern Lights.

 

With this list over a bucket list, I would focus on all of things I have done versus paying more attention to what I haven’t done, decreases regret and increasing a peace.  This list also helped me to be more spontaneous with my adventures. Instead of trying to plan for certain ones, I was able to plan more freely, because I wasn’t focused on the all of the places I would like to go in the future. I was more focused and the journey’s that presented me with an opportunity to take.

I think that the coolest effect on me that this list had, was it helped me to really take in each and every moment and notice everything magic about each moment. I never knew when a moment would pop up that I would want to record so I found myself beginning to truly feel every moment more and more and appreciate each moment for what it was.  The simplest moments became more special, and Life became more beautiful to me.

I was focused less on racing to accomplish everything in a bucket list and focused more on just being in the moment. It pushed me to journal more, learn more, Love more, and travel more.

Now I am not saying, don’t make a bucket list, because they are fun and help you to dream and make awesome goals. I guess what I am trying to say is instead of paying attention to all of things you haven’t done in life so far, all of the places you haven’t visited, focus on what you have done and where you have been.  Feel every moment, draw closer, explore more, realize the miracle of a sunrise, cherish the moments that make you smile, notice everything, live like you are dreaming. It is kind of nice to look back on a journal of the things you have done or experienced and the people that have had an impact on your life.

A Winter Weekend in Canada

Last weekend, I headed up to Canada with a couple of friends (Bobby and Landon – Asharu) for our annual winter trip that would consist of a weekend of exploring the Canadian wilderness, catching an OHL (Ontario Hockey League) hockey game, and going skiing.  Here is how this winter trip all went down.

Day 1 – Thursday, January 16th

After we got out of work the three of us began our journey from Saginaw, MI all the way up to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada a little after 6:00 pm.  The first chunk of the drive up to the Mackinac Bridge went smooth and we stopped in Mackinaw City to view the bridge as it stood like a tall beacon, lit up with lights in the frozen waters and cold winter night.  It was a truly wondrous sight.  I had crossed the bridge before at night a few times before, but this was the first time I had seen it lit up the way it was with lights going down from the towers and along the main cables.  The dark sky, snow covered ground, and semi-ice covered water only added to the magic.

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After we crossed the bridge the next section of the drive through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to Canada came with sections of snow covered roads and on and off snow flurries, none of which hindered our driving a whole lot.  Pretty soon though we were crossing the border and entering Canada, a place Bobby and Landon had never been to before.  We could view the Soo Locks as we crossed the Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge that carried us over the St. Marys River and into a new country.

We finally made it to our hotel, where we would be staying the next three nights, at about 10:30 pm and it happened to be right across the street from the hockey arena (GFL Memorial Gardens) that we would be catching the OHL game at on Friday.  After taking a quick night drive around the city, we headed in for the night to try and catch some sleep.

Day 2 – Friday, January 17th

This day we would explore the wilderness of Canada, making sure to fill up on continental breakfast before heading out.  We would be traveling north along King’s Highway 17 and the primary route of the Trans-Canada Highway, stopping at various trails and lookouts along the way, as we enjoyed the scenery of the drive.  The scenery along was worth taking the drive as it was filled with snow covered forests and mountainous hills and cliffs that decorated the landscape with color and movie-like views.

The first place we stopped at was called Chippewa Falls, which is part of the Chippewa River.  We followed the snow-covered trail to the main view point of the falls and rive, which were partially ice covered, with frozen rocks and trees in and around the river and falls.  We continued along the river following game and natural trails in the forest coming to one last viewing point, which can be viewed in the second picture in the small slideshow below.  It was one of the views that was so simple, but yet dreamlike and peaceful.  During this hike my eyelashes also began to freeze, which was interesting.

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After this, we continued to drive north along coast stopping at various viewing points that overlooked Lake Superior and the giant hills and cliffs in the region.  The drive alone though was almost enough just because of the scenery and the snow covered lands.  We made it about 35 km (approx. 21 miles) outside of Wawa, Ontario, Canada, before deciding to begin the journey back to Sault Ste. Marie to ensure we would have enough time to grab some dinner and make it to the hockey game on time.

We grabbed dinner at this place called Muio’s, which was a small restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie and definitely somewhere I would recommend going if you find yourself in this city one day.  Their pizza was excellent.  After dinner was the hockey game and I

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was super pumped for this because our hometown OHL team the Saginaw Spirit was in town to play the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and our seats were right behind the Spirit bench.  The stadium was packed and the energy was high as these two division rivals faced off and the game stayed close until the Spirit pulled away in the final minutes defeating the Greyhounds 5-2.  Spirit forward Ryan Suzuki also got a hat trick that game, which is three goals.  It was a great first full day of our trip and we went to bed looking forward to skiing in Canada the next day.

Day 3 – Saturday, January 18th

Before we would head off to the slopes, we decided to play some pond hockey at a local outdoor rink and due to the snowfall and cold winds, we were the only ones crazy enough to play through the weather.  We quickly shoveled off a small section of the rink, just big enough that we could work with and then played through the cold and the snowfall.  It was surreal to be able to play pond hockey in Canada.  We played for about an hour, before heading back to the hotel to get geared up for skiing.

As we headed out into the snowstorm once again to make it to Searchmont (Ski Resort), we grabbed a bite to eat at this place called the Pita Pit, which was really good, and then began our venture to the ski hill that was about 45 minutes away to the north.  The snow was coming down pretty hard and consistently.  This made the drive somewhat treacherous, but at the same time beautiful as the road took us through more forests lands decorated with large hills and towering cliffs.  We were also in a Jeep that had four-wheel drive, which was beneficial.

Although the path the road took looked pretty sketchy at times, Landon drove like a champ and we made it to Searchmont in about an hour and we were so pumped, because the three of us had desired to go skiing here for over a year.  Let’s just say that it lived up to its hype.  It was an impressive ski hill that was a step up from the places I had been to in Michigan.  The main chair lift alone led to around four to six different runs to take with jumps, trails through the woods, a cliff-like section, and other awesome features, so one could ride that chair life all day and not get bored.

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The only issue that came was that it kept snowing, which made drifts pile up on different sections of the runs making skiing a bit more difficult, but we didn’t let it stop us as we skied until it got dark out and then kept going.  We didn’t leave the hill until about after 8:00 pm and thanks to Canada’s superb snowplowing work, the journey back to Sault Ste. Marie was a breeze.  We grabbed a late night meal when we got back at a place called The Burger Don.  While the food was good and atmosphere of the restaurant was nice, what stood out to me was the story our waiter told us about how he ended up in Sault Ste. Marie.

He was originally from the Philippines and while working on a cruise ship he met a girl from Sault Ste. Marie, who would eventually become his wife, as he moved from the tropics of the Philippines to Sault Ste. Marie to be with her.  Don’t be afraid to talk the locals and fellow travelers when you go places, you never know the incredible and poetic stories they have to tell of their adventure through Life itself.

This night marked the end of our trip to Canada, for the next morning we would say goodbye to Canada and head back to Saginaw and reality.

Reflection

I have been to Canada many times before, but the experiences that this gave us were pretty special, rivaling the time I got to touch the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto and watch fireworks over Niagara Falls with my family many years ago.  This journey, for me, was another reminder on how awesome and beautiful a place Canada is.  The hospitality and kindness of the Canadians matches the wonder of this country’s landscapes and their efforts to protect the planet are refreshing.

It was also a great time taking two of my friends to a country and area of the world that had never been to before, that I have been in the past.  From the excitement of the drive up, to the hiking, hockey game, and skiing, this trip was filled with great moments that I’m sure the three of us will be talking about many years from now.

This trip was a reminder on how even though travelling can sometimes be nerve-wracking or a little scary it can help you learn more about yourself and help you come to peace with things in life.  Exploring the planet with awesome travel companions, even a short road trip from home, can teach you things about life, one another, and yourself, and while it may be hard to sometimes grasp, teach you to simply have faith and get ready for whatever adventure you set your eyes on.  Till next time…

Happy Exploring

– Dustin

Reasons to Explore: Moments like Magic

Adventuring is something that my parents introduced me to when I was younger through family trips. Today, I have found that I have gained a better appreciation for going on adventures. There are many reasons why traveling and exploring the planet have become a passion and a hobby of mine over the years. As I continue to build my exploring resume and visit new places I begin to realize and discover what it is about exploring that captures me and gives me a desire to go to distant lands and into the wilderness.  

The Best Kind of Experiences

One night my friend Bobby from Asharu and me were sitting down at a restaurant after a hockey game and were chatting about some of our past trips.  Of course trips are not always cheap and we were talking about how some of the trips that both of us have gone on (Mexico, Ireland, Hawai’i, etc.) have cost us a pretty penny. 

However, we came to the conclusion that the cost was all worth it because those trips provided us with some of the best experiences of our lives.  Experiences and moments that we will have forever and will still be talking about them many years from now.  As cliché as it is to say, that is truly priceless.

Not only do the good moments of trips present you with the best kind of experiences, but so do the unforeseen obstacles that can come about.  At first, obstacles seem like a frustration and a down point of a trip, but often they simply add to the story of your journey.

For example, when I took a trip that took me across Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland in 2017 with a study abroad group we had some plane trouble on the way back.  As we waited in the Newark airport in New Jersey our flight kept getting delayed an hour and then finally at 10:00pm it got cancelled. So, there we were, 25 of us stuck in an airport with no knowing of when we would leave. 

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The Ireland crew in the foodcourt and me giving a thumbs up in the back

After spending the night in a food court, early the next morning we were finally able to get flights out, even though we would have to split up and half of the group be sent from Newark to Grand Rapids in Michigan, and the other group sent to Chicago and then Freeland MBS in Michigan.  I was on the Chicago to Freeland flight and after almost 24 hours in the Newark airport we were finally on our way to Chicago and that flight went to smooth.

However, as we took off from Chicago the plane had to turn around because of a malfunction and we had to go back to Chicago and wait for a new plane, which, came quite quickly, and we finally made it home safely.

Despite the stress, frustration, and anxiety the situation hit us with, it added to the trips story and is often the first thing I talk about when people ask me about my trip to Ireland.

Aside from obstacles that come up in trips, adventures will often provide you with great moments of magic, some small like a campfire on a beach under the stars, and some big, like watching a solar eclipse or a sunset from 14,000 feet in the air.  Moments that make you feel truly alive and infinite, moments where you would be okay if the Earth stopped spinning for a bit and time froze.

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Sunset from 14,000 feet in Hawai’i

There was camping trip I took up to the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan and a big storm was coming in so me and my companions simply walked to the rocky beach our campsite was on and watched the lighting dance in the distance.  Though it was something as simple and everyday as watching a storm roll in, it was still a moment that stuck out to me for I felt that we were all on top of the world in the short time.  That is until, my friend Allie found a tick on her.

Feel Every Moment

Your experiences when you travel give you stories to tell for the ages, help you learn and gain new perspectives, grow, connect, and feel the wonder the of life and the universe.  Not only is it the things you do in trips and the trip itself, but it is also who you travel and share each moment with.  It is who you are with that makes the moments truly unique and allows you to connect with those people in a deep and amazing way.

These moments are one of the big factors that drive me to explore the planet and I hope that they do the same for you.  Be sure that when you venture out in the great big world that we have, as in life in general, you notice everything and truly feel each and every moment.  If you do, you will soon realize that life is full of moments like the movies.

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Porcupine Mountains Overlook (From left: Allie, Bobby, Megan)

Whether it be chilling in a hammock, watching the sunset on a beach, or huddling in a tent with your friends during a rainfall of Biblical proportions, take it all in and look at each moment for what it is.  Let yourself draw closer to those you are with and Life itself.

Song for thought: “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” by U2

Got any special adventure moments? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Travel with Love

– Dustin

Kayaking to a Hidden Gem

This post had been a long time coming, but about three months ago back in August me and the other two from Asharu (Bobby & Landon) ventured to the city of Port Austin, Michigan to experience kayaking Turnip Rock, one of Michigan’s hidden gems and most interesting destinations.

We got to Port Austin late on a Friday night at Sunset and set up camp at a nearby campground. Our site was right on the water, which sounds pretty picturesque right? Well normally it would be, except it was very windy that night and our tent had no cover from the wind and being right on the water our sight was taking the full brunt of the wind.  With gusts up to roughly 30 mph, we worried that our large eight person tent wouldn’t make. However, the trusty Coleman tent stayed strong and withstood the windy night, the only damage was a slight bend in one of the sections of one tent pole.

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Side note here: that tent had been through a lot. It survived two nights of non-stop storms in the Porcupine Mountains, which was later called a storm of the century and the aggressive wind we faced during this trip. If you are looking for a good and reliable, and affordable/reasonably priced big tent, I would recommend the Coleman MontanaTM 8-Person Tent.

Moving on, that night we headed to a dark sky preserve as the skies darkened and became lit up with stars. We were able to fully make out the spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy that stretches across the sky and can only be seen in skies with little to no light pollution. We were also able to view the Andromeda galaxy, some 2.5 million light years away, with the naked eye and see some faint and distant Northern Lights.

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Morning at the campsite

In the morning we quickly packed up, grabbed some breakfast to fuel up for the days adventure, and then headed to the kayak launch site, which was operated by Port Austin Kayak. To Turnip rock and back would be a seven mile trip through the waters of Lake Huron.

The weather that day was pretty ideal for kayaking. It was warm, sunny, with little wind, unlike the night before, making for calmer waters. We made pretty good timing and we journeyed through the lake staying somewhat near the shoreline and before we knew it Thumbnail Point came into view, and right behind Thumbnail Point is Turnip Rock.

For years I had viewed pictures and heard about this strange geological formation, but to finally paddle up to it was really awesome and you instantly wonder what the first person who came across this sculpture of nature might have thought about it. Close to the shore, Turnip Rock is a towering funnel shaped structure, and because of wave action, its top half is much wider than its bottom half, resulting in its funnel or turnip shape.  On top of the rock is conifer trees and other various types of vegetation, despite is primary stone composition, adding to its uniqueness.

Turnip Rock is located on complete private property, which is why we had to access it completely by water, and it being privately owned seems to be a good thing for it helps to keep it protected. To add, a concrete collar has also been put around the bottom of the rock at the waterline to prevent further erosion.

We quickly parked our kayaks onto the small sandy section that formed a cave into the cliff-side and took in the wonder of the art that nature put on display for us, carefully taking thousands of years to gently sculpt this geologic formation.

 

After swimming around it for a bit and snapping some pictures we decided to make the journey back to the dock. On our way back we stopped at a small sea cave and while we were in the cave we ran into a snake, which was unexpected.

After taking our time, we made the short journey back to the dock and then headed home.  Kayaking to Turnip Rock may not have been the longest journey or the most difficult, but it still made for quite the adventure. If you are ever looking for a quick activity to do in Michigan I would definitely recommend making the trip to Turnip rock so you can view this bizarre creation of nature for yourself. There is also a really cool restaurant called Pak’s Backyard, which is nice. Plus, you also get to kayak in one of the Great Lakes. Till next time…

–  Dustin from the Asharu Team

Trail Review: Hogback Mountain – Marquette, MI

Nestled in the wilderness of Marquette, Michigan, lies an ancient and relatively giant rocky peak called Hogback and it offers those who make it to the top an unparalleled view of the surrounding area. It is often viewed as the older cousin to the more popular Sugarloaf Mountain. You may ask yourself, why is Sugarloaf more popular? Well, mainly because Sugarloaf is more hiker friendly with staircases and a wide, clearly marked trail. Also with Sugarloaf, getting to the summit is much more manageable.

The trail to Hogback is more of a back country trail that has narrow sections, trails that twist through the forests and intersect other back country trails, rocky and swampy areas, and an almost vertical rock face section that requires you to use hands and feet to scale. The last half-mile is definitely the section of the trail that tests hikers the most and is the most strenuous, but the view is so rewarding.

The Hike

Distance: 2.8 miles (entirety)
Elevation Gain: ~ 540 feet
Route Type: Out & Back
Scenery: Forest
Difficulty: Moderate
Payoff: One heck of a view


To get to the trail head for Hogback head about five miles north of Marquette on County Road 550. First you will notice the clearly marked parking area for Sugarloaf on the right side of the road, then about a half mile later there will be a small dirt parking area on the left side of the road. Once you pass Sugarloaf pay close attention to the left side of the road for the parking area is easy to miss.

After parking and getting all squared away for the trek, head to the left of the parking area and follow the path that leads to the start of the trail or take a peek at the sign of all of the back country trails in the area in the parking space to find your way. Once you begin it is very important that you follow the blue markings on trees to ensure you are on the right path. As I mentioned earlier, other trails intersect this one and it is pretty easy to make a wrong turn if you are not paying attention.

While it may be only a little over a mile one way, this trail takes you through all sorts of terrain and scenery. You will walk on rocky patches, uphill sections, near vertical sections, swampier terrain, through sections of conifers and past large rocks and cliff faces. This hike really does give you a little bit of everything, which is one of the aspects that makes it unique and adventurous.

The last section of the hike, and you will know it when you get there for things will start to go uphill, is definitely the toughest part. Aside from a relatively large and steep uphill section of dirt trails with patches laced with tree roots, you will reach a section that is nearly vertical. Luckily this section has a very rough natural stair like pattern to it so you won’t be scaling a wall, but there is a very good chance you will have to use all fours while you make your way up this section. Hang in there though, because a view full of beauty is right around the corner. As you climb your way up the slope of Hogback you will catch glimpses of the view to come, eventually you will reach one final steep section that is a somewhat smooth rock face to find you way up. Make sure your footing is good and you use your hands and feet. You got this!

The Reward

When you make it through the steep climb you will reach the top of the rock outcrop and have a 360 degree view of the surrounding area, from which you can see for miles. In the south you will notice the city of Marquette and the famous Superior Dome as well as the shoreline of Lake Superior. During a clear day to the east it is possible to sometimes view Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore some 40 miles away. In the west you have miles of tranquil forest and the beginning of the Huron Mountains. Finally in the north and east, an unrivaled view of the wonder of Lake Superior, along with the multiple islands near the shoreline such as Little Presque Isle. You can also notice the smaller and more popular Sugarloaf peak, but when you notice it you will be glad you went with Hogback. Don’t’ be afraid to climb both though, for Sugarloaf puts you closer to Lake Superior.

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Take your time at the top, snap pictures, take in the wonder, and enjoy the feeling of being on top of the world. It is one of those views that can make you feel invincible for a little bit. This is a very rewarding hike and I find it to be poetic in the sense that you have to work to experience the view, you have to earn the view, connecting you more with nature. The view is like a treasure that requires a little bit of extra work to get to, and a treasure that needs to be protected.

When to hike this bad boy

The best time to hike Hogback is definitely in the fall right when the leaves begin to change colors, creating a view of pure magic as an array of colors are put on display for you. Almost like nature is the artist and the trees are its canvas. You will also have cooler weather as well during this time, which beats hiking in the heat of the summer.

That being said, this hike is also great in the summer months as well, primarily August and September when the bugs aren’t as bad. I would recommend avoiding this hike in the spring and winter months for the melting snow in the spring and snow and ice in the winter would make the last section of this hike (covered earlier) pretty difficult and dangerous. Happy exploring!

– Dustin from The Asharu Team