Mashley’s Adventures – Road Trips, Visits and Sketches

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
~ John Burroughs


Feels like we’ve finally been busy! Matthew’s been having a lot of fun sketching and has been updating his art website. Even more exciting, however, was our road-trip this weekend (a vacation?) down to Myrtle Beach … where we met up with Jackie for a visit!

She travels a lot for work and we arranged a meet-up, knowing she would be near-by. Ashley’s schedule request didn’t go as hoped (no surprise) but we were able to head out Friday once she got off work and in a short 3 hours we had settled in at the delightful Myrtle Beach State Park campground. Jackie caught up with us and we spent a fabulous afternoon/evening together – chatting until early Saturday morning. Unfortunately, Jackie’s flight back to the Pacific Northwest was only a few hours later, so our visit was all-too-brief (though we’d say that no matter how long it lasted).

We had all day Saturday to explore. Started off the day with a walk along the nature trail and back along the beach. Then into town for a stroll along the boardwalk, art gallery and coffee shop exploration… it was a fabulous day spent together!

The minimum stay at the campground was two nights and Ashley had to be back at work Sunday evening. So that morning we both woke early, packed up and meandered out. Stopped for a delicious breakfast before leaving Myrtle Beach and then bee-lined back to Fayetteville. Laundry to be done and naps to take before work that night.

While it was a shame to visit for such a short time, it was great to be back on the road again! Sitting still, we’ve allowed clutter to build up a bit inside the RV, so it was definitely refreshing to pack everything away once more! Plus, it was just good to be moving, felt like home! 😀

If you’re in the area, we really enjoyed Myrtle Beach State Park campground. The beach was right next to the campground so it was easy to get out and enjoy the sunset over the ocean. Sure, it’s the off-season so a lot of stores were closed… but it was pretty empty everywhere we went. Our kind of touristing!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – During the week, Matthew’s been having fun sketching. He dug out supplies in December and has been playing since. Finally getting around to updating his art website – – you can see his doodles, and the progression, starting with this post. If you want to read it, just keep following the “next post” to see each new bit in order.

Mashley’s Adventures – Snowpocalypse and (Mis)Conceptions

Current Location: Fayetteville, NC

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.
~ John Ruskin


Well, we survived the great predicted snowpocalypse of Jan 2017. The storm threat that magically cleared bread, milk, and eggs from store shelves. The hospital informed all staff (at least on the unit we have contact with) that they were required to make it for their scheduled shifts and that, if necessary, they could sleep on the floor of the conference room or use one of the broken, defective bedside chairs that were waiting to be repaired.

Fortunately, Ashley simply got a ride home from a coworker who lives nearby before the great storm broke. We waited and looked out our window to see… a heavy frost. -rolls eyes- (Our accumulation shown in the picture above).

There was a lot of hoopla and, at least in our area, nothing came of it. It rained, some of that froze, and then we’ve been simply waiting out the cold. I know it wasn’t like this everywhere, but it can be comical to observe the hysteria that can occur. Better safe than sorry, I suppose.

In other news… we’ve noticed (once again, I believe) a trend in peoples’ views of living in an RV. We’re staying in a campground that is filled with long-term occupants. Some of our neighbors are retired and live full-time in their RVs and some are basically nomadic workers, following their jobs in a mobile abode. Whenever we first speak to them, it always seem that the workers make sure to mention that they have a home back… wherever. They ask where we live and I point to our motorhome, “right there.”

Even though they are living in an RV themselves, they seem to view it as a lesser lifestyle than living in a home. A couple have mentioned being “homeless”. Houseless – absolutely! Homeless? Not at all!

It’s just interesting to see others’ viewpoints. One person’s everyday-normal is another’s abstract-foreign. Different doesn’t mean wrong, and you can’t compare directly since everyone is coming from a completely unique viewpoint, their own.

Well, it looks like we’re having an above-freezing, delightfully sunny day. So we’re taking our coffees and going to enjoy a bit of time outdoors.

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Creating a Clutter Free Desktop

I’ve got a lot going on right now, so I need to be able to focus. If you’ve spent any time around me, you know that I don’t do fixed focus and single-tasking very well. Indeed, as I write this I am sitting outside watching traffic go by, listening to the iPod and writing (all while avoiding studying for tomorrow’s exam). This is not my ideal productive state, though I do manage to get some quality work done in similar environments.

Every so often I head over to Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits and see what lifestyle goodness has been posted recently. The latest excursion resulted in a number of posts that I had to catch up on, including one on how to Create a Minimalist Computer Experience. Again, if you have ever seen me on a computer, I am anything but a minimalist. Right now I have three text documents open (one in notepad and two in Open Office’s Writer), one folder open (all 4 of those are for the studying I’m supposed to be doing), as well as three different instances of the Chrome web browser, with a total of 36 tabs open between them.

Up until about 10 minutes ago, my computer’s desktop was cluttered with icons, notes written to myself, todo lists, etc. I followed some of the directions in Leo’s post and immediately felt better. I took a few minutes to sort through the stuff that I had on my desktop; all but 4 of them were either combined, moved, or deleted. Of these 5, one will remain (the recycle bin) and the other 3 are the task lists for projects that I am currently working on.

While I loved my background photo (you can see it here under the “something feathery” category), not only was it quite busy but I’ve also had it for awhile now and was in the mood to change. (I have a small collection of potential background photos, just for when I want to switch it up a bit.) My new background is much more simple and relaxing.

I prefer to leave my start bar legible, because of the clock in the bottom right corner. I like a minimal number of programs running, and consider widgets to be programs. I already had some short cuts implemented, and have been using them for years now, so that advice was nothing new to me.

I haven’t taken the leap of letting Google Desktop index my computer. While I’m sure it would be handy, I just haven’t seen the need. I guess it’s just not my style.

That’s where I’m at thus far. I spent about 10 minutes making my desktop less cluttered, which immediately helped me relax a little. Because of that I can now focus on the tasks at hand and get some important things taken care of. Now I need to make myself study, and then I can spend focus on knocking out some of those tabs… cause I really do have too many open. 😀

Targeting A Goal

We have made our life list and narrowed it down to a year’s worth of goals; now it’s time to start achieving those goals!

I’m going to use my goal of “Be financially self-sufficient” as an example, as I feel that it will be the most challenging of my three. But first, let’s recap:

What makes a goal good:

A good goal is clearly defined, actionable and measurable.
My goal, as written, is not a good goal: “Be financially self-sufficient.” Let’s fix that.

  • Clearly Defined – What do I mean by “financially self-sufficient”? I further defined my goal by specifying that I want my income to not be dependent on an outside company; I don’t want to fear that I won’t get enough hours this week, that the boss will fire me or that the store will go out of business.
  • Actionable – A vague goal does not provide a target to work towards. A good goal narrows your aim.
    This is part of the reason that I combined this goal with another: “Have own successful business.” I can work towards building a successful business.
  • Measurable – You have to know when you have reached your goal. Being measurable draws that line in the sand. To cross my line, my business has to provide enough income each month to cover my budget.

Ok, now that we’ve got a good goal to work with “Control my own income by owning a successful business whose monthly income covers my budget” it’s time to get started!

Plan Your Steps

Figure out how you are going to reach your goal, actually write down the steps. This process can be handled in a couple of different ways. You might want to work from beginning to end: the first thing that you need to do, the second, next after that, next after that, reach your goal. You may prefer to work backwards: reach your goal, the last thing you did, the thing before that, the one before that, the first thing you do. Is it easier for you to picture yourself completing your goal, or working towards it? Whichever it is, start at that picture, and work to the other side of your journey.

To build a successful business, I have to:

  • determine where my strengths are
  • figure out how I can use those strengths to provide value for others
  • determine how best to monetize the providing of that value
  • set up a vehicle (business) through which I can share that value
  • begin providing value
  • expand my efforts until I reach my target income

What is the first step that you need to take to reach your goal? Do you need to find out just how big around LBL is, when and where you are most likely to see a moonbow or what strength you want to build your business around? (Probably not, unless you are borrowing my goal list.) Whatever it is, find out! You will probably be surprised how reachable your goal is.

Schedule Your Plan

With a calendar in front of you, lay out a time-line for each step in your plan. Keep in mind that these are not set in stone. Some of them will be take less time than you think, while others will stretch out longer. Don’t be surprised when things don’t go according to plan and be willing to work with these changes.

During this stage it is also a good idea to see how your different goals fit together. Perhaps your goals are large enough that you don’t need more than one or two. If that is the case, allow yourself to put the others on hold. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Two of my goals are relatively easy to achieve, both requiring more in the way of deciding to pursue them than planning and effort. The financial self-sufficiency goal is much more involved. I scheduled the smaller goals so that they serve as much-needed recreation during some of the harder times as I build my business.

Only One More Thing

At this point, the hard part is out of the way… figuring out what you have to do, determining a time-frame to do it in; only one thing is left. Take out that calendar, look at that first step and DO IT!

Breaking It Down

You have created your life list of goals and you have seen my list. Now it’s time to start working on them. But wait! Those are long lists! Of course they are, it’s called a Life List for a reason, you can’t do it in just a year.

Let’s narrow it down a bit so that you really can get started…

Which three of your goals do you want to complete in the next year? Three goals gives you enough to work on so that you can change projects when you get temporarily stuck and so that you can push yourself without becoming overwhelmed.

Which three goals?
I don’t know what your list looks like. I can’t tell you what to aim for this next year. Only you can decide that. You don’t have to choose goals that you think are “achievable”, part of this project is to push you beyond what you expect.

Here are my goals for this year are:

  • be financially self sufficient
    • have own successful business
    • sell my artwork
  • circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  • see MoonBow

The first goal encompasses two others (maybe a business selling my art?), circumnavigating LBL will take about a week, and seeing a MoonBow will take one night, with the proper timing. As long as I plan and prepare for these, they are all do-able (the second two easily). Without planning and working towards them, though, I won’t achieve any of these.

Even though I have long desired a business of my own, I wouldn’t expect to have one within the year (and am still not quite sure what I will do.) That’s ok, though, because that is a topic for another day. On Wednesday, we will discuss how to plan our goals so that they can be achieved in a year.

Today’s task:

Your Life List is made and you’re raring to get started. You can’t jump in and tackle them all at once, because you will never get any of them finished that way. Today’s task is to select which three goals you want to target for this year. Wednesday we will lay out our plans to achieve these goals and begin working towards them!

My Life List

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the
things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do.

Wednesday we discussed the importance of making your life list and you made yours. (You did, didn’t you?) Here is my wife and I’s. We have already completed some of our goals, as evidenced by the mark-throughs. A couple of the lists are only for one of us, but the vast majority are combined goals. The items with a * beside them are continuous goals. Some of the items still need further definition, but at least we have something to begin working towards.



  • Get married to man/woman of my dreams
  • * Best husband/wife that I can be
  • have children – 2-3 in 9 years
  • – decide how want children to end up – this one still has to be defined further
  • visit host family (again/meet)



  • Read all of Bible
  • * Best Christian that I can be



  • * Never stop learning
  • learn to sail
  • learn to fly airplane
  • learn to fly helicopter
  • become fluent in language – able to have conversation w/ native speaker
  • learn Finnish – able to have conversation w/ native speaker
  • start college
  • graduate college
  • take an offensive driving course
  • study abroad



  • be debt free
  • $10,000 emergency fund
  • be financially self sufficient – not be dependent upon a specific company or two for our income



  • have own successful business – something we enjoy running that provides enough income to live comfortably off of
  • sell my artwork



  • visit all 7 continents
  • visit New Zealand
  • stay in bungalo built over ocean on stilts
  • motorcycle trip across the US
  • see the Northern Lights
  • see MoonBow
  • Bike ride across US
  • Visit all 50 states
  • Travel out of US



  • Thru-hike AT
  • Thru-hike Sheltowee Trail
  • hot air balloon ride
  • hang glide
  • skydive
  • bungee jump
  • circumnavigate LBL
  • go rappelling



  • take photography class
  • own running/reliable motorcycle
  • knit sweater
  • learn violin/piano
  • earn black belt



  • live in RV
  • Live in SailBoat
  • design/build own house
  • build log cabin



  • sponsor a child
  • * be generous with time
  • * be generous with money
  • * be generous with emotions



  • have a custom made suit

There is my life list. Monday I will show you how I made it actionable. If you haven’t created your list yet, go back to Wednesday’s post and do that! Monday we will start working on it.

Define Your Life

I’m sure you know what you want to to today. You might even know your goals for this week. What about this year? This life?
Without set goals, it is too easy to live day-to-day, in a reactive state. If you are living in such a way, you can almost feel as if you are just treading water, trying to stay afloat. Then one day you look up and wonder where the years have gone.

I know what my goals are for this month, this year, and for my life. I am excited each week about the tasks I have to complete. Over the next few weeks I will show you my goals and how I plan to reach some of them while helping you set and reach your own. Today you get to create your own goals and Friday I will show you my list.

Good goals help improve your life in a number of ways:

  • Help reduce the clutter.
    If you know the end results that you are aiming for, then you can eliminate the actions that do not move you towards those ends. Whenever you face a decision, you have criteria to make your decision by. Does this help me reach my goals? If so, do it. If not, then don’t. You will find yourself being more productive because
    you are focusing on what is truly important to you.
    A simple example would be that I want to have a successful website, and I spend time playing Solitaire. Solitaire does nothing to help move me towards the website, so I have a good reason to stop doing this time-wasting activity. By using that time to work on the website, it will become successful faster.
  • Provide energy.
    I don’t know about you, but I am more motivated when I know what I’m working towards. It doesn’t matter if it is homework, running, or some other project; a clearly defined target gives me a finish line. The closer I get to that finish line, the more I want to reach it and the harder I will work.
    This is even more true when working towards something important to me, personally. You will find that, as you reduce the clutter, everything that you are involved in will be more aligned with things that are truly important to you, which will give you even more motivation and energy to complete them.
  • Let you know when to quit.
    Have you ever worked on a project and didn’t know when you were finished? Where you unmotivated and not interested in working on it? A well-defined goal explains when you have reached it so you can rest and move on to the next one.

What makes a goal good:

A good goal is clearly defined, actionable and measurable.
Here is an example of a common goal, one that is not good: Get in better shape.

  • Clearly Defined – What do you mean by “better shape”? Do you want to be stronger, have more endurance, or lose weight? Specify what you mean in your goal.
    ex: I want to be stronger.
  • Actionable – A vague goal does not provide a target to work towards. A good goal narrows your aim.
    ex: I want to bench press more weight.
  • Measurable – You have to know when you have reached your goal. Being measurable draws that line in the sand. If you leave our example alone, “bench press more weight” you could lift one more pound tomorrow and have completed it, or you could continue increasing the weight every week and never feel that you reached your goal. You need to have a specific target to reach.
    ex: I want to bench-press my body-weight.

Today’s Task:

Now that you know the benefits of having defined goals, and what constitutes a good goal, it’s time to set your own goals. There are many names for the goal list that you are about to create, such as Life List and Bucket List. No matter what you call it, it is time to come up with a list of goals that you want to achieve during your life.
Required materials are simple: a piece of paper, writing instrument, and some time.
Instructions are also simple: Write down the things that you want to achieve during your life, keeping in mind that your goals need to be clearly defined, actionable and measurable.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while making your list:

  • Dream big! Don’t think about where you are now, think about what you want to do. No matter what it is, you can do it.
  • Don’t forget to think small. Just because others might not think that it is a spectacular goal doesn’t matter; if it is important to you, include it on your list.
  • Categories: If it is helpful, here are some categories that are commonly included when creating a goal list: Family, Spiritual, Education, Financial, Professional, Travel, Recreation, Hobbies, Community, Charity.
  • You can change your list. A common question is “what if I don’t like my list?” People change over time, including their goals. Fortunately, you can change your list as well. It is not set in stone, and you are the one that made it. Simply make a new list and work on that one instead.
  • It doesn’t have to be perfect. If you can’t get all of your goals defined perfectly, just write down what you have. You can narrow them down when it comes time to start working on them.

This is not a new concept, you have probably heard of it before. As have many other people. However, few people actually create the list. Fewer still actually try to complete their list; many tuck it into a drawer and forget all about it until they pull it out some years down the road.

Will you be one of those who either never makes a list or makes one only to tuck it into a drawer somewhere? Or will you take a blank piece of paper and use it to improve the rest of your life?

Maximize Your Money

I have been accused of being a bit frugal. As a recently married college student whose wife is also a full-time student, I generally do my best to live up to that accusation. 😀 As a man of limited means, I try to get the most value out of any money that I spend.

This doesn’t mean that I always buy the cheapest that I can find. In fact, it often means that I will pay more in order to get better quality. This works out when the higher quality item doesn’t break and I don’t have to go purchase a replacement. It all depends on how I will be using the item: a one-time user can be cheap and disposable, but something I want to last generally needs to be better quality. So before making a purchase, I have to determine what I want the results to be.

This theory also works for other expenditures. I go white water rafting every year. There are two different rivers equally distant from my home. I have never been to one of the rivers, and have been going to the other for over a decade now. This is a simple decision for me to make each year. While I would love to visit the “new” river, which has a 4/5 rating, it will cost as much just to hire a raft as it does to spend an entire weekend at the “old” river, which has a 3/4 rating.

For less money, I can drive down to the old river, stay in a campground for two nights (or backpack and camp in the state forest for free), hike up into the mountains and go rock climbing/rappelling (free, since I have my own gear), explore a local cave, go white-water rafting, and then return home. All this for the cost of rafting the new river, and that doesn’t include food, transportation or any lodging.

All in all, I feel that I get much more value out of my money for the weekend trip, as I get to take part in a number of favorite activities and spend a longer amount of time doing it. I know what is more important to me in this case, and how to best reach my desired outcome.

Do you put much thought into your purchases? Do you only look at the price-tag or do you consider other, more important factors? Next time, whether it is something as small as paying an extra $1 for a preferred chocolate bar or going on a slightly less exciting trip that lasts much longer, picture your desired outcome as you decide what to purchase.

Want 2 Extra Weeks Every Year?

If you are like the average American*, you are spending over two weeks every year with your television! Just think how many more adventures you could have in two weeks!

How much television do you watch every day? Just one show? Assuming you watch a single hour-long show each day, that adds up to 365 hours each year: 15.2 days! You’re spending over two weeks staring at the TV! I know it doesn’t seem like much when you only watch a small amount at a time, but a small amount every day adds up quickly.

What if you watch more on weekends? If you watch an extra two hours on the weekend (one show each day), that is 104 more hours, bringing the yearly total up to 469 hours. That’s nearly three weeks! 19.5 days.

Many people complain that they don’t have enough vacation time, but those same people are often spending even more time just sitting in front of the TV. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great shows out there; some are fun to watch and some can be educational. I’ve even got a couple that I like to watch. However, I would rather really live my own life than watch someone else live theirs (whether it’s made up or not).

What to Do With This New-Found Time:

“But it’s only an hour a day, what can I do with an hour a day?” First of all, that’s just an excuse. Second, you can do a great deal in less than an hour a day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Spend more time with your family
  • Spend more time with your friends
  • Learn a New Skill
  • Pick Up an Old Skill
  • Baby Step toward your next adventure
  • Try out a new recipe each night
  • Spend more time on a current hobby

Because my time is not taken up by TV watching, I can pursue many of my other interests. I have a camping list prepared for a variety of different situations, and can be ready to go in an hour. This preparation allows me to be ready to go for spur of the moment trips. I am continually tinkering with my gear, modifying and improving it. I am working through a drawing course and will be able to complete it in a couple of weeks because I have the time available to spend on it. This website is often produced when others are watching TV.

When my wife and I moved into our last apartment, we left our TV in storage. Because it wasn’t there to tempt us, we were able to spend more time with each other. We weren’t just sitting beside each other watching TV, but made our relationship even stronger by talking to each other and sharing experiences/activities. Your time doesn’t have to be spent on hobbies, it can be used to build relationships.

But I really like my shows!

I’ve got some shows that I love to watch, too. Unfortunately, I’m horrible about catching them when they’re on; I’ll get caught up in what I’m doing and lose track of time. Furthermore, I dislike commercials and hate having to wait until next week to see what happens. In order to get around all of these troubles, I wait until the season comes out on DVD and watch it then. Often I can borrow it from the library or from friends. I can watch when it’s convenient for me (ideal for when I’m sick and stuck in bed) and don’t have to worry about commercials. I can have friends over and make it into a group activity.

You have to be in control of your time. By watching a 12-episode season on DVD, you can save 4 hours just by cutting out commercials. Since there are no other shows on the DVD, you don’t have to worry about flipping through channels to see what else is on.

Change the Habit

I know that it’s habit to sit down after work and watch some TV to relax. Like any habit, it can be hard to break. You will have to replace it with another activity, and you might need support from others. Take control of your time, choose your activities and be amazed at how many more adventures you can be a part of!

* Actually, the average American watches over 4 hours of Television per day. That’s 60 days, almost 9 weeks!

Adventure Is Not All About Travel!

Often when I tell someone that I am going on a trip, they comment “what a great adventure!” And they are right. However, I think that people often have the mistaken idea that adventure = travel, which is not the case. Traveling might get you to the adventure, it might even be an adventure in and of itself, but adventure can be found wherever you are.

I think that the biggest reason for this mis-belief is because people don’t realize what I said in my first post, that “an adventure is something that is exciting or new to you.” They think ‘adventure’ and picture some grand excursion. In reality, an adventure can take place in your back yard, at your local park, or in your home town.

It all depends on your mindset. When you are looking for adventure, you can find it in the most surprising, dare I say everyday, places. If all it takes is doing something new or something exciting, you can do that in your nearest grocery store. I can wander over to the cheese section and find some very interesting looking specimens. I have never tried any of them, and know nothing about them. For a quick culinary adventure, I could pick out one that looks interesting and ask someone behind the counter what they recommend that I try it with. Pick up their recommendation and go home to sample. I might feel safer to do a quick search online for recommendations I searched for “Merlot and cheese combo” and came up with a list of cheeses to consider: Brie, Camembert, Cheddar, Gorgonzola, Gouda, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, and Parmesan… in about three minutes. If you’re already a cheese fan and have tried everything offered locally, check out the other aisles, I’m sure that you can find something new.

If you are short of inspiration, spend some time with a 5 year old. Any child will lead you on a constant stream of adventures, if you let them. You will explore with a prince or princess, discover exciting worlds and otherwise have an amazing time. All of these amazing adventures to be had in familiar, everyday settings. (Don’t have a 5 year old that you can borrow? I’m sure that if you ask your friends, family, and neighbors you will find someone who could use a babysitter, even if it is just for a few hours of peace during the day.)

As a blog about everyday adventure, I will be mentioning all different kinds of adventures that are available, not just the ones that involve travel. Don’t become discouraged because you don’t have the time or money to go somewhere for a week-long getaway, you can have adventures anytime, anywhere, as long as you are looking for them.