Dear Jack: You’re Not Too Old to Want to Hold My Hand

9 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that you’re 9 and a half, it’s an age where I am doing my best to be mindful of sorting out the balance between what’s too “babyish” for you, versus what is inappropriate because it’s too heavy on the PG-13 side of things.

You surprised me recently with your actions, not your words. You taught me that you are still at a crucial age when you want to hold my hand, as a symbol of feeling close to me during father-and-son activities.

A couple of weeks ago when our family was at the beach, you and I had a daily routine of wading out into the crashes waves. You reached out for my hand the moment we took the first step into the water- every time.

But that makes sense. Those were pretty rough waves.

However, this past weekend I insisted on taking a walk at a nearby trail; just you and me.

The moment we stepped out of the Jeep, simply stepping off the asphalt of the parking lot onto the grass, well before the trail even began, you insisted:

“Here… Daddy.”

You reached out your hand to me and didn’t let go during that whole hour-long, very sweaty, hike.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now 9 and a Half Years Old

9 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

You turned 9 and a half this week, during the time which was supposed to be your last week of 3rd grade.

It was sad yesterday as I drove to your school to pick up all your belongings from your teachers. The closest thing to closure you had for finishing 3rd grade was some Zoom calls with your class.

The tragedy is that, as I predicted last fall, 3rd grade would be your favorite by far. It is unfortunate it had to be cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But we still have each other and we still have our health. And we continue to still make life fun!

Love,

Daddy

My New T-Shirt: 6 Speed Manual Transmission Symbol

It is true that I am of a dying breed. Not only am I of the minority of drivers who can drive a manual transmission, but I am of the shrinking group of people who actually still owns a stick shift vehicle and drives it it as my main vehicle everyday.

In 2020, only 1 out of 8 new vehicles on the car lot even have the option to be sold with a manual transmission. Not only are vehicles with automatic transmissions more efficient on fuel, but they are also less expensive. It used to be the other way around!

It only makes sense that for the few of us who can still drive a manual, and who still do so daily, we are a unique group of people. We actually like the fact it’s not easy, even if it’s all muscle memory to us at this point.

I drive a 2010 Jeep Wrangler, which I have now owned for a year. One of the reasons I was able to snatch it up was because I didn’t flinch when I saw that it had a manual transmission.

Granted, I had never owned a vehicle with a stick shift before, but I had driven my dad’s old 1988 Ford Ranger during college a bit; while making money mowing lawns- as well as driving it when my own car was having issues.

A year into driving a manual transmission every day, it feels wrong when I do drive my wife’s car, with its automatic transmission. I always instinctively press my left foot down on the floor when I start the car.

So it only makes sense that with my $150 Amazon shopping spree for my recent 39th birthday, I chose this 6 Speed Manual Transmission T-shirt.

If you would like to order one like it, just click this link.

I also ordered the same thing for the spare tire cover on my Jeep. I will do another blog post and video on that once it arrives!

Dear Jack: Our Family Quarantine Jeep Ride on Old Mill Creek Road in Nunnelly ,TN

9 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Well, now that the Governor of Tennessee has issued a mandatory “stay at home” order, it looks like last weekend’s family quarantine Jeep ride might be our last one for a couple of weeks.

At least we definitely had a fun adventure, taking the Jeep down Old Mill Creek Road in Nunnelly, Tennessee.

It’s a barely-paved road that continually crosses back and forth over a creek.

Your favorite part of it was definitely getting to play in the water with your sister.

I look forward to being able to do this again as soon as we are able!

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Hiking Gilliam Loop Trail and Pogo Ridge (9 Miles) in DeSoto State Park During Christmas 2019

Christmas 2019 was extra special in that my nephew Matt (who is in the Air Force, stationed on Mississippi) and my niece Sara (who is a school teacher in California) were able to spend the holidays with my family in Alabama.

With all the Christmas cargo we had to take down from where we actually live in Tennessee and then bring back from Alabama, my wife and I decided to take both her Hyundai Elantra and my Jeep Wrangler for the nearly 3 hour drive there.

For me, it was just an excuse to be able to serve as a Jeep tour guide during Christmas vacation. I started out by taking Matt and Sara (and their mother Jeanene) on a 23 mile drive along Little River Canyon on Christmas Eve.

And for the day after Christmas, I announced I would be heading up a 9 mile hike in a “hidden gem” of a trail in DeSoto State Park, called Gilliam Loop (which begins at Cabin 21)- or at least, my version of it.

Matt and Sara agreed to join me, with zero hesitation.

Gilliam Loop is actually a mountain biking trail, but if you know where to veer off the path, you can connect to Pogo Ridge.

Back in 1934, the Civilian Conversation Corps (known as CCC) built culverts along the trail, which runs parallel to Little River.

So it is really cool to see these 86 year-old structures still in place.

Pogo Ridge leads a crossing point of Little River itself. However, we opted not to cross through the river, which would have meant we would have had to hike the rest of the day in wet clothes.

Therefore, we took Exit 4 of the trail back to the Road 12.

When it was all said and done, we had hiked 9.25 miles in 3 hours.

Before heading back to the house, I took them by Howard’s Chapel; the church built into a giant rock, where the founding pastor’s ashes are contained.

Oh, and I failed to mention:

Christmas Week 2019 contained perfect Fall Weather, which allowed us to have this much fun!

I had the top off the Jeep the entire time, as the temperate remained in the 60s for most of the time.

It will be a Christmas I never forget!