A Look Back On 2017 and A Look Ahead On 2018

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What a year it has been! Full of all kinds of surprises, adventures, obstacles, changes, and excitement. I can honestly say that I have grown and wised up a bit over the past year. A lot of things happened that I am deeply thankful for.

Since my second daughter was born just before Halloween, 2016, she has had quite a few firsts this past year. I have been lucky enough to watch her begin to develop and grow. This alone has been quite the adventure. I was there to hear her first word, Dada (proud father moment), as I stick out my chest, raise my chin, and display an ear-to-ear grin. I was able to take her on her first hike through the woods (pushing her in her stroller). I haven’t had a chance yet to have her walk her own hike, but since she just started walking over the past month, I know that it won’t be far down the road. And as I discuss that, I was able to see her take her first steps.

We took on some major renovations in our home, and still have yet to finish our master bedroom upstairs, while we continue to be basement dwellers in the meanwhile. I wouldn’t consider it exactly a great trade off, but it’ll do for the time being. However, once the renovation is complete, we will be living very comfortably in our new digs back in our brand new top floor penthouse suite of our castle. If anyone would like to lend a hand, I will gladly welcome the assistance.

Okay. Now on to the fun stuff. This past year marks the beginning of a brand new adventure for me. In August, I started The Outdoor Soul blog. It has given me a new perspective on life, and has opened up a world of opportunities, not only for myself, but for my family. It has provided me with a new perspective on life, and a way to share more time with my family and my children. I have always been a lover of nature and the outdoors, but this allows me to take it to another level. I have been able to connect with new like-minded individuals, providing feedback, suggestions, and opportunities to do more outdoors.

I was able to get out on more hikes than I have in one year, and I give credit to the blog for this feat. This is going to be a continuing trend. I can feel it. I’m turning over a new leaf, and going to make it a New Year resolution to get outside and hike more with my wife and kids.

I was able to experience some amazing adventures. I became a hero, saving a stranded couple whose canoe dumped and floated downriver, leaving them lost in the middle of a National Forest. I experienced an aerial treetops adventure park for the first time. I have found quite the number of hidden trails and nature preserves right around my own hometown in Michigan, like the West Bloomfield Woods trails, the Haven Hill trails, the Carpenter Lake Nature Preserve, the Douglas Evans Nature Preserve, the Stage Nature Center where I took my youngest daughter on her first hike, and Bishop Lake where I did some real soul searching. I had driven by these hidden gems day after day for years, and never knew they were right here. I have had many experiences getting up close and personal to more deer than I have any year before, having them basically eat right out of my hand. Such beautiful creatures. I had the experience of feeling like a kid again, being pulled by a boat in a tube. I haven’t done that since I was a kid.

I am proud to say that I am now a supporting member of the North Country Trail Association, and plan on taking on the NCT Hike 100 Challenge in 2018, to hike 100 miles of the NCT within the year, to try and get my patch. I have connected with a multitude of outdoor experts, gear companies, outfitters, campground owners, trail guides, and more. I am hoping to continue this trend and provide you all with even more stories and adventures in the near future.

Looking back on all of these experiences has also allowed me to look ahead to the future, and truly think about and appreciate what the future holds. I have come to some realizations about changes I need and want to make for myself. I want to make a few lifestyle changes that will allow me to do more physically and mentally. I want to make some changes for my health, my physical strength, and for improving on my own family relationships.

I have to say that 2017 was a great year, even with all of its ups and downs, the roller coaster it was has taught me many things. 2018 is going to be even better. I can sense it.

I have some ideas of things I want to do this coming year. I want to take my daughter horseback riding for the first time. I want to take her snowshoeing, as she has not experienced yet. I would like to take my wife on her first overnight backpacking trip. We have hiked together and camped before, each on separate occasions, but she hasn’t had the experience of a true overnight backpacking trip. I want to complete the NCT Hike 100 challenge. I want to visit Hocking Hills in Ohio with my wife and hike the loop that is part of the Buckeye Trail or the North Country Trail. I want to take my youngest daughter on her first actual hike, where she isn’t in a stroller, as soon as she gets to know her feet a little better. I want to go snowshoeing, which I have not done since I was very young.

I am really looking forward to many great adventures in the future as well as many new experiences and making new friends along the trail that lies before me. Always remember, take your soul outdoors. It’ll thank you.

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