ECXC is the East Coast Xterra Challenge. It's my big Xterra trip of the year and I've taken Marc for the past 4 years.

This year we arrived Thursday night to a much nicer campground then we usually stay at. It had a nice creek flowing beside it with a rope swing, a bath house, and a well stocked camp store.

Friday morning we woke up and hit the trails. The place we go is set up kind of like a low budget ski resort. They have miles of marked trails throught a large park rated by difficulty. Green is easy dirt roads with small rocks and mud pits, blue is intermediate with larger rocks, ruts, deep mud, and steep hills, black is difficult and is only for lifted armored trucks, and red is nearly insane. Our group did blue trails all day and we challenged ourselves pretty good.

I drove through many rock gardens of 6 inch to 2 foot high rocks (thank god I bolted steel plates over the bottom of my truck). The mud wasn't too bad as it's been dry but we did have one guy manage to swamp his truck trying to drive through a deep mud whole and another flood his truck and short out his ECU trying to drive through a small lake.
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I met a cool guy named George from Costa Rica who had a truck similar to mine and was just in front of me in our group. George was about my ability as well so we decided whatever obstacles George tried, I would try.

We both drove through some rock gardens the rest of our group went around and did some fun obstacles.
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Not me but we did this trail!

Then we came to a giant dirt hill. I had watched trucks go over the hill many times and on several occasions, seen trucks come close to rolling and have to be winched down. The difficulty was it had deep ruts from bigger trucks going up it and a slight turn had to be made at the top. Plus if you took your foot off the gas too soon, you would get high centered and have to drive down backward or be winched off. I know I have a tendency to hit the brake a hair too soon. I always drove past the hill.

Our trail leader tried the hill and got stuck teetering on top. We rocked his truck off and he drove down the steep hill backwards which looked scary as shit. Then he had to give it several more goes before he made it over.

I thought after that our group would kip the hill but George got in his truck ready to give it a go. George gunned it up the hill, went over the top, and halfway down the other side before he stopped, stuck his head out the window and yelled "Yeah!" It was insane.

I was like yeah, I'm definitley skipping this but Marc looked up at me and said, let's go dad. I asked "aren't you scared?" He said, "yeah, but w said whatever George did we would do so we have to do it." Nothing like getting peer pressure form your six year old!

I got in, buckled Marc in and drove up to the hill still unsure if I'd do it. It looked steep, it looked rutted, I was scared shitless. I told Marc the hill was scaring the piss out of me ad he said again we have to do it. I put the truck in 4wd Low, accelerated toward the hill and gunned it up. I stayed on the gas and actually managed to get the front two tires off the ground. We came down hard on our belly but we had crested the hill. Thank god for skid plates and not being able to back down in front of my son.

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The rest of the day was cake after that.

Back at camp Marc and I cooked dinner, fished in the fishless creek, and hung out with the fellas.

Sat started even scarier. Their was a trail that was black, all steep hills, and started with a dirt bridge that was not quiet as wide as my truck in places. The first guy across started sliding off the bridge, ended up on three wheels halfway in the ditch, and had to winch himself out. I decided to skip this one. About half the group did it and then we went on. Next up was a log bridge. Basically it was telephone poles laid across a ravine and chained together with steel cable. Each rail was three poles wide and there was a 6 foot drop into the ravine. I had to redeem myself so while almost the whole group of lifted trucks skipped it, I drove across with ease (and a spotter).

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At the end of the day, I hooked up with another group and we did many rock gardens and muddy trails. They wanted to end with the scary black trail we has started with. I decided what the hell and did it. With good spotting the dirt bridge wasn't bad. The hills were a bit scary but I was more comfortable with my hill climbing so I did them with no problem (although I did flatten my tail pipe on one).

We went back to camp, had a nice cookout, went for a swim, and hung out some more.

Sun Marc and I stopped a few places along the Susquehanna trying to catch him a fish but were unable to get a nibble. We stopped at a great pizza place in Buck, PA, and headed home.

It was a fun weekend and I loved being able to spend it with my best bud.

Vacation Week Two

eek two brought in my family and overall things went really well.

The first time we went to the banks, my grand father took my dad and I on an air tour of the island. They took my brothers years later. This year my dad continued the tradition with Marc and I. Marc was quiet but amazed. He seemed to really enjoy taking in all the sights from the air. The exciting part though was that the pilot let me fly the whole trip. He asked if I had ever flown before and I told him I had taken an intro lesson Amy gave me for Christmas a few years ago. He said cool, reviewed the controls, and once the plane was in the air he let me take over. It was a blast. I got to fly over the Wright Brothers memorial, bank around Currituck Beach lighthouse, and fly back along the coast. I didn't get to land but that was OK with me because I did it once and it is scary as hell.

We played beer pong one night, poker a couple nights, and went to do drunk Karaoke. Evidently I did a horrible rendition of Sweet Jane but I was drunk so it sounded pretty good to me. I figure if you can't do it well, do it really really bd right?

It was great to see the kids have so much fun at the beach and hang out with both the families. Two weeks was awesome because it didn't seem like you were going home hwen you had just got there.

Vacation Week One

It's been a great month. We spent two weeks in the Outer Banks and then the following weekend I got to take Marc and go to ECXC.

Amy blogged about the Outer Banks so I'll just share my highlights and move on.

When I was 10, my family started the tradition of heading to the Outer Banks for or week or sometimes two each summer with my grandparents and my uncle's family. The tradition ended with the deterioration and eventual death of my grandfather, my parents' marriage, and my uncle's manhood (we'll save that blog for another time).

Anyway, a few years ago dad and my stepmother revived the tradition and we are lucky enough to get to spend a week at the beach each summer. This year we got a double blessing because we were able to talk my inlaws into renting the house the week before my dad.

So the first week was with Amy's family and the second was with mine. Unfortunately, the week got off to an incredibly Mormon start but got better as it progressed. Friday night we arrived and were invited to a spaghetti dinner by the local ward. Our first night at the beach was spent eating a half helping of spaghetti in a dimly lit chapel.

Then Sat morning we had to get up and drive 80 miles north (back toward home) to attend my neices baptism. Now the one rule about the beach is you don't do anything on Sat. That's the day everyone arrives and traffic is horrible. Getting out was Ok but getting back took 3 times as long as it should have with the last 15 miles taking about an hour and a half. I was not happy at all to have wasted an entire day and half of vacation doing church stuff that I didn't even believe in ("every time I try to get out, they keep pulling me back in"). But my inlaws were generous enough to be paying for the house so who was I complain about the plans. At the same time, when they invited us to church on Sunday morning we were like yeah right, we've had enough church for the whole year much less vacation. So they got dressed up for church while we were putting on sunscreen. If they only knew...

Anyway, aside from the first week being alcohol free and the evening scripture lessons (Marc, "this is boring, I'm going to play PlayStation") the first week was pretty good. The kids had cousins to play with and it was pretty relaxing.