As the son of a country preacher I grew up in rugged wild places like Idaho, Alaska, Wyoming and California. Yes you read that last one right, California has plenty of wild country in it! From the far north of the state where Mt. Shasta rises, through the rich eastern side's High Sierra peaks with the grand Owens Valley below them, then into the border region with the Anza-Borrego Desert there is a whole lot of country to this state once you can get past those big and bright city lights. Wide open spaces of desert, rocky alpine peaks, and dense forests are all to be found here. The highest of the high and the lowest of the low, Mt. Whitney and Death Valley are just a few hours' drive from each other.


After finishing high school in an Owens Valley town so small there wasn't even a stoplight, I held to family tradition and spent four and a half years serving the Red, White, and Blue as a medic wearing Army green. Uncle Sam sent me to an exotic place called the Deep South where four-wheel-drive trucks, chewin' tobacco, booze, and southern belle's were the norm. That first assignment included over 300 hours of official time logged as a crewman flying in the backseat of Vietnam-era Huey helicopters as part of a Medevac team. This is where I first saw death. A young child stepping off a school bus that was run over by a car doing 65mph. A middle-aged lady shot in the forehead between the eyes. Another child riding a bicycle to school who was hit by a van. All tough stuff for a wide-eyed 18 year old kid to handle. Eventually I was reassigned to work at a remote urgent care clinic, stuck on a small rock somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean while I sat out the games my buddies were playing in the sands of Kuwait. Once the Gulf War was over I'd had my fill, it was time to move on.


So began the era of my college life. After 7 years I finally graduated with a Bachelors degree in Management Information Systems earned at a small college nestled among the cliffs overlooking pristine Pacific Ocean beaches in San Diego. Somewhere in there I met a beautiful lady and ended up marrying her. I blame her for swaying me away from that nursing degree I originally planned on, but that's a different story for another time. It's now been 20 years of marriage through which Kymberly has put up with my mantras of "God, Guns, and Guts". We have two kids now, and we enjoy camping together as a family whether it's in the mountains or desert. Sharing with our children the beauty in God's creation whether we are fishing, hiking, or jeeping is an important part of our life. Our summers always include a trip to the family cabin in Colorado where we spend time exploring the Continental Divide and escaping the demands of city life.


These days I work for big companies. You have probably shopped at their stores or worked out at their gyms, maybe you're even reading this on one of the computers they made. I design and build their communication networks, manage their routers and switches, enable sales offices in London to communicate with engineers in Bangalore in under a quarter second round-trip. Everything in my life is internet connected whether it's the light switches and telephones in my home or it's my car with its remote start and GPS tracking. Heck, I even get an email when it's time to change its oil! Don't even try to pry that smartphone from my hand, but if you do there's probably a spare around here somewhere.


So there it is, that juxtaposition of a redneck country boy and the gadget man. God bless and keep your powder dry, maybe we'll meet on a dusty trail somewhere and you'll see me with a camera in hand trying to capture the beauty of wild open country. If I can get just the smallest piece of it to take with me, I'll be staring at it day after day on a computer monitor in a place called civilized.


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