Friday, September 30, 2016

National Park #4: Bryce Canyon!

National Park #4: Bryce Canyon!

There's just no way to accurately describe the incredible uniqueness of a Hoodoo... you just have to see them for yourself... or better yet, hike among them like we did!

This was a one-of-a-kind God-awesome adventure! We loved every minute of it!!

Byway 12 (UT 2016)

We have been on-the-go nonstop since the trip started! But thankfully, even the journey from place to place is as majestic as the actual destination!

Byway 12 in Utah is considered one of the most scenic drives in the United States. We can now attest to that! We were blessed to travel on it for several hours as our minds were blown away by the sheer beauty that surrounded us as far as the eye could see!

UT2016 (GTD's Utah Trip 2016)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

National Park #3: Capitol Reef!!

National Park #3: Capitol Reef!!

Apple picking amongst the deers!!!!!

This is one of the lesser known National Parks, but one of my favorites. We spent our time picking apples just a few feet away from wild deer that don't feel threatened by human beings. It was so cool! And the apples are delicious!!

Afterwards we spent time in God's Word. Our theme this week is taken from the current advertising campaign & slogan of Utah: "Life Elevated". That campaign has increased Utah's tourism by millions upon millions. We are taking time to discuss what "Life Elevated" looks like in a spiritual sense. God elevates us from lost to found, dead to alive, servant to friend, tail to head. In fact, Jesus said in John 10:10 that He came to not just give us live, but moreover to give us an abundant life. He elevates our lives with a supernatural abundance because He's a Good Father and because we are now a part His "Life Elevated" slogan and authentic advertising campaign to reach a lost and deflated world. Although I live a very financially humble life, I can attest that because of Christ alone I experience a supernatural abundance and joy that has elevated my life since I asked Jesus in my heart when I was 8 years old. He immediately took me to Life Elevated and all I want to do is invite people on this supernatural Life Elevated "balloon ride" to taste and see that God is good!

We are having an amazing time on our Mighty 5 Utah Trip. We finished our time at Capitol Reef with a 20 mile driving tour of this phenomenal relatively unknown National Park. Good times!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Magnificent Moment

One of my favorite pictures from our visit to Arches National Park is this silhouette picture of David Wainscott (72 years old) hiking on the edge of the approach trail to Delicate Arch as the sun was rising. The path itself is probably the best lead up trail to a magnificent landmark that I've ever experienced. As you reach the top and turn the corner you encounter a breathtaking view of the most photographed arch in the world! And this was just one highlight from an entire day of magnificent moments! God is amazing!

Stop #2: Arches National Park

Today we visited Arches National Park and it was spectacular!! It was our 2nd National Park on GTD's "Mighty 5" Utah Trip. Keep checking back for updates... (More pics to come!)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Let The Utah Trip Begin!

And just like that, GTD's inaugural Mighty 5 Utah Trip has begun!! So honored to have 12 fantastic participants on this trip =). First Stop: Canyonlands National Park!!

Monday, September 26, 2016

BRINGING DOWN THE WALL (OF TASKS)!

For 14-16 hours per day nearly everyday for the past 4 weeks I have awakened early and worked late. From "OhCrud:30 am" till "OhCrud:30 pm" I have attacked my Wall Of Tasks with an obsessed intensity. These tasks represent the last wall that stands between where I've been stuck for 6+ years and where God has called me to be. I've been pounding on walls like this since 2009-ish, never giving up never backing down. Six years ago The Great Recession nearly devastated our humble ministry. It nearly ended 19 years of hard work. We had to let go of our staff and all of our volunteers had to move on. It was like we were building a big house with 30 workers and everything was going great and the house was taking shape. Then in a matter of a few months in 2010 there were only a couple of workers that could continue to build the house. We've had so many wonderful supporters, contributors, and encourages that continued to fund our humble budget. Everyday Laurie and I have risen, picked up the hammer, and continued to build this house called GTD. It has been excruciating. It has been exhausting. It has been the hardest thing I've ever done. And everyday I've shown up for work. Everyday I've continued to build the house. I've sacrificed nearly everything in order to continue this building. A 60 hour work week is a short week. And inch by excruciating inch the house has continued to take shape. Now I'm standing at a Wall of Tasks that represents the end of that tough chapter, and the beginning of something even more beautiful for GTD... a strong and healthy future. We're not quite there, but we almost are and I can feel the celebration welling up inside of me. I've had to push pause on the tasks for now to run our trips out west, but I can't wait to return to keep tearing down this wall and marching on to much bigger and better things in GTD. Houses are meant for more than just constructing them... they are meant to house great works of ministry. And we are almost there! Praise Jesus!!

"Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain." - Psalm 127:1
 
(I wrote this a couple of days ago on our flight to Vegas, but didn't get a chance to post it until now.)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Salt Lake City Here We Come

Driving 400 miles to Salt Lake City, amazing scenery everywhere!!! Our first ever GTD Utah trip starts tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WHAT DO YOU THINK? ...WHERE SHOULD GTD's NEXT DESTINATION BE???


Where do you think GTD should go next? What destination would you like to see added onto GTD's list of adventure locations?? Where should we venture to in 2017??? Who knows, you may just have some influence in where we start taking groups next year (or in the next 5 years). We are looking at some exciting potential places. I'm already leaning towards one specific amazing place. Lord willing, we are going to add on at least one new "Bucket List" destination onto our playground menu for 2017. Give us your suggestions. If we use your idea or if you happen to guess a place we've already decided on for 2017 then we are going to give you $20 of GTD merchandise (T-shirt, coffee mug, water bottles... you choose). Whatever we decide we are going to announce it at our Annual Banquet on Nov 15th. And then start counting down the days to 2017! Thanks for your suggestions!

Our current list of destinations include: the Tampa Bay area, central Florida, south Florida, the Everglades, The Keys, north Georgia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, the Grand Canyon South Rim, the Grand Canyon North Rim, Utah, and Costa Rica.


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Friday, September 16, 2016

TOP 100 WORK TO-DO'S

Been working like crazy for the past 3 weeks on my top 100 immediate GTD work tasks. My goal is to complete all of these by the end of the year. To make it on my "Wall of Tasks" it has to be something that NEEDS to get done along with one of the following criteria:

   1) It will take several hours or days to complete
   2) It will significantly impact the ministry in a positive way
   3) If it doesn't get done it will create much more work or problems
   4) It's important and timely and the right thing to do

I have plenty of other smaller or routine tasks that don't make it on the wall. This wall represents my most important tasks... some of which I've been working on for more than 5 years and they are now within reach of completion.

I can't tell you how excited this nerd is that I'm within a few months of getting caught up on things I started falling way behind on 6 years ago when we encountered The Great Recession and had to let our staff go and lost most of our volunteers to other life priorities.

I've been fighting hard for 6 years to not only stay on top of my current priorities, but also to get caught up on hundreds of things that had to be put on the "back burner" (for which I had to chip away at day-after-day-after-day).

I've been chopping on this tree for many years... and it's about to fall (Praise God!).

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Never Forget!

Remembering the attacks of 9/11. God comfort the families and friends of those who lost their lives 15 years ago today as well as those who sacrificed limbs and lives to defend our country from that point on. And God bless the brave and heroic first responders who risked their lives as they ran directly into the places people were trying to escape from in order to protect and serve and aid. Never forget!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Can You Imagine?

Can you imagine hiking 10 miles to see these awe inspiring views right here in our own backyard? 

Where the rock walls really are that red and the water really is that color blue?  

Can you imagine taking in the majestic site of this 100 ft waterfall found hidden deep within the canyon walls and swimming in it's refreshing blue waters?  

How about hiking just a little further down to see another one just like it but taller and more adventurous to get to?  

Can you imagine popping a tent up along side the river here or laying alongside it in a hammock reading your favorite book or eating a nice hot dinner?  

If so, you need to join GTD on our next adventure to Havasu Falls in Arizona! 

Every year Havasu Falls is open to a limited amount of campers and we personally spend hours, days and weeks on the phone trying to reserve spots for participants to go with us. This is a highly sought after location, a bucket-list trip!  A place travelers come to from all over the world to see. 

If you'd like to reserve a spot, be sure to contact us immediately as time is running out. 

The trip starts November 18th and ends the 23rd. (6 Days/5 Nights tot) (4 Days/3 Nights down in the Grand Canyon)

GTD will provide your backpacking and camping gear, full time guides, trip planning, transportation to and from designated areas, accommodations, permits, entrance and camping fees. (Does not include airfare, upgrades, or restaurant meals.). 

For more details and costs click on the Havasu Falls link found to the left of this page. (If you're on a mobile device you can find it in the drop down menu at the top of the page). 


Landry Academy Appalachian Trail Backpacking Pics Uploaded!


Over 600 pictures from our Appalachian Trail Backpacking Trip with Landry Academy have been uploaded to our GTD Online Photo Album! Check out all the pics of this exciting adventure with so many phenomenal people =). Click here to see them.


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Thursday, September 1, 2016

FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS??? AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!

Well our Segway Tour got cancelled by a little storm named Hermine. Not a problem for ALL-WEATHER friends. Nothing that a little chocolate fondue, Publix subs, and an episode of The Office couldn't fix. It was our last time to hang out with Alex Powell before he heads off to serve 2 years with YWAM in Hawaii and our first time hanging out with Erin Powell since she officially became an RN (or eRiN as I now like to call her). Laurie & I dearly love this great SisBro combo and their hearts for Christ as well as their FUN LOVING attitudes!! Looking forward to many more God-awesome adventures with these 2... maybe even one in Hawaii!! So thankful for the wonderful time we've had together as "The Real D.E.A.L" (Doug, Erin, Alex, Laurie). Journeying on wherever God leads!

THE EARLY BIRD GETS THE RESERVATION  (HOPEFULLY!)

Sometimes my job requires all nighters, late nighters, or 3am wake-up alarms. This morning I had to fax our group reservation request for the only group cabin located 10 miles down trail inside of the Grand Canyon. The request is for Sept 2017, but the earliest you can submit a request for Sept 2017 is at 12am (3am my time) on Sept 1, 2016. Each request is evaluated in the order it is received and if the fax arrives 1 second (or more) before 12am then it goes to the bottom of the pile. Tens of thousands apply every year, but only a few get the reservation. Sept & Oct are 2 of their most popular months. It took 1 hour and 20 minutes of constant faxing (kept getting the busy signal) to get through. We use an online fax service that will attempt to connect for 10 minutes before timing out if it only gets a constant busy signal. So every 10 minutes I had to try re-faxing until it went through. Now it's the waiting game to see if we get approved. It takes up to 3 weeks to get a response. I will let you know what the results are as soon as we find out. Hoping for success!

Friday, August 26, 2016

An Eye Candy Of A Hike

I hiked those mountains....I actually hiked the entire ridge line behind me!!!  It was a long hike up and down, but it was absolutely beautiful and challenging all at the same time. I love being out there...carrying everything I need on my back, filtering my water, making my food by fire, sleeping in my hammock underneath the beautiful sky, spending time in God's amazing creation, and hanging out with some of the most positive and encouraging people I have ever met. 

It's an experience unlike any other, an experience I hope everyone gets to have at least once in their lifetime. I'm ready to go back...but it will have to wait...at least until November when we head to Arizona to hike part of the Grand Canyon called Havasu Canyon and hike 10 miles to Havasu and Mooney Falls...(100-200ft falls) to sleep along side a teal blue River and explore the incredible sites and enjoy the remote area called Supai. 

It honestly is a feast for the eyes...giant red rocks, teal blue waters, breath taking waterfalls, and enormous canyon walls.  

I'm getting excited just talking about it...the amazing part is GTD has reserved a limited number of spaces to take others with us so they too can experience this majestic place (they only allow so many reservations a year and we were blessed to get them). 

If this sounds like something you'd like to do, send us a message.  We provide all the gear, we will help you prepare, and we will even provide you all the encouragement you need along the way!  

Don't miss out!  For more info click on the Havasu Falls link to the left of this page. 

EMBRACING A BETTER WAY OF LIFE... GOD'S WAY OF LIFE!

This is a candid picture I captured at the end of our last event. This picture says it all. They didn't want the trip to end. They didn't want to say goodbye. Teenagers praying for each other. Teenagers embracing each other, embracing God, embracing a better way of life. A life with FULLY HEIGHTENED JOY because that joy was not being detracted by the baggage and consequences that naturally results from disfunctional life choices (many of which choices are constantly reinforced in our culture as the "norm" such as sex outside of marriage, getting drunk, getting high, getting wasted, being lazy, avoiding hard work, playing hours of video games, complaining, cursing, being negative, putting others down, peer pressure to conform to shallow standards or mediocrity, and the list goes on). It was just 7 days before when 23 people met-up to embark on a Christ-centered backpacking adventure. Most of them were teenagers. Almost all of them were complete strangers from different parts of the US. In less than 24 hours we had already become a tight family. Over the course of 7 days we had a blast! But it wasn't like what many people today refer to as "fun". It was pure. No obscene language. No course joking. No disrespecting of adults or leaders or even fellow peers. No cliques. No one left out. No hangovers. No "coming down". No impatience. No complaining. No arguing. No drama. No STD's. Not even a hint of negativity. Many people would read that and think, "Wow, it must have been real boring!". Au contraire, mon frère. It was anything but boring. In so many ways it was so much like the way life was inteded to be. Every fiber of my being agreed with what was occuring. It was not just right, it was SO right. And it left no bitter aftertaste, no ill side effects, no regrets, no bad conscience, no disappointment, no feelings of missing out. In the words of Goldilocks, it was "just right." It was such a beatiful thing! It was a God thing. I'm so blessed to be a part of a ministry that sees this kind of result trip-after-trip (to God's glory!). I'm so blessed to meet so many high caliber people who are striving for more in this life than personal happiness. It's an incredible thing to see. I want to thank Tom & Jen Henriksen and Landry Academy for the wonderful opportunity to work with your students. I also want to thank the many supporters of GTD who support, encourage, and pray for this ministry. God uses you to enable these life changing events to happen! From the bottom of our hearts, thank you so much!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

END OF THE SUMMER CLEAN-UP (Part 5)

We made it back home safe & sound a couple of hours ago (Praise the Lord!). We ended up stopping at a rest stop outside of Lake City, FL for a few hours of front seat "sleep" before finishing the trek this morning. The truck and trailer did great! Now it's onto unloading and cleaning up the gear in the truck and trailer. Giddy up!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

END OF THE SUMMER CLEAN-UP (Part 4)

Roadside stretch! The 2 longest days of the year for me is the day I drive the trailer up to the mountains and the day I drive the trailer back home. Today is the drive back home. Keep us in your prayers as we travel southbound. Yip! Yip!

END OF THE SUMMER CLEAN-UP (Part 3)

We've finished cleaning, sorting, and restocking GTD's rock climbing, rappelling, and backpacking gear. PJ!! GTD owns enough high quality gear to outfit 30 climbers and 20 backpackers. We cache the gear in a God-awesome location in north GA where we are within 2 hours of 5 different airports and centralized to tons of hiking and climbing spots. All of this gear is used to introduce people to outdoor activities in God's creation along with the greatest adventure of all - following Jesus!

Friday, August 19, 2016

END OF THE SUMMER CLEAN-UP (Part 2)

We spent the day at the laundromat washing & drying 25 sleeping bags plus several loads of food bags, compression sacs, pillows, towels, clothes, etc, etc. We spent about $125 in quarters... that's a lot of quarters - LOL! Well, they say, "Cleanliness is next to godliness." ;)

END OF THE SUMMER CLEAN-UP (Part 1)

Yesterday we started our end of the summer clean-up. Outdoor adventuring can be messy business. To keep our gear and equipment in great shape and to extend its lifespan to maximum length we have to work hard to maintain it. In years past we didn't have time to stay on top of our equipment like we wanted to as we would rush from event to event with a skeleton crew of workers. Over the past year we've been striving to do a better job with the equipment we've been entrusted with (taking into consideration our small staff along with limited time and resources). We have to be back to FL on Aug 20th so we are scurrying to "get 'er done!" :)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

They came, they hiked, they conquered!! 23 backpackers from all over the United States came as part of Landry Academy's annual Appalachian Trail Backpacking Trip in Hampton, TN. All 23 participants literally poured their sweat, blood, and tears into conquering this challenging ridge hike. And they did it!! We've had a lot of GREAT groups over the past 20 years, but this was one of the BEST! I wish everyone could meet and spend quality time with this group of teenagers and their parents. Their depth of character, love for Jesus, positive attitudes, and zest for adventure is 2nd to none! We quickly became more than a group of individuals, we became a family. Sometimes it's hard to say goodbye to such wonderful people. This is one of those times. I'd go anywhere with this group of incredible people. We are so proud of them and their accomplishment! Tonight we eat, celebrate, and hopefully have a well earned deep sleep. Glory to God!

LAST LEG!

We are on our last leg of our AT hike. Today we will cover 7.3 miles in order to complete our 4 day 22 mile backpacking quest! Love this awesome group of people!! PJ! (Praise Jesus!)

Friday, August 12, 2016

BLOW DOWNS!

Downed trees (also known as "blow downs") was the name of the game today. We hurdled, crawled under, squeezed between, scrambled over, and traversed around 30+ downed trees during our hike today. It added about 2 hours and a lot more sweat onto our quest today, but we made it to our camping spot for the night. Everyone kept positive Christ driven "can-do" attitudes throughout our hiking obstacle course. We love this group and their depth of character! We are overcoming each challenge and soaking up this adventure!

GAME ON!

We are taking on another physical day on the Appalachian Trail! Bring it on!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A.T. HIKERS!

We are having a BLAST hiking a 22 mile section of the Appalachian Trail!! (Landry Academy AT Backpacking Trip 2016)

FEEDING THE SOUL!

This is more than just a backpacking trip. It's a God-awesome backpacking trip that is focused on seeking Him first! We start each morning with daily devotions from the Bible. This morning we focused on Philippines 2. There is no better way to start each day than feasting on God's Word! (Landry Academy 2016 AT Backpacking Trip.) =)

MEGA BEAR BAGS!

One of the precautions we have to take while backpacking is hanging all of our food outside of our campsite area so that we don't attract unwanted midnight visits from wildlife such as bears. All food should be hung well away from camp (usually in a tree) at least 10' off the ground and at least 5' laterally away from the tree. It was quite the adventure and a great source of laughter as we hung 250 lbs of food last night!! I love how much fun this group is even when it comes to doing our nightly "chores". Can't wait for today's adventures!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

BACKPACKING ON THE A.T.!!

We kicked off our 22 mile backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail today with 21 fantastic students, teachers, and family members from Landry Academy. We split into a few groups before hitting the trail. 4 days of hiking in God's amazing creation is already off to a great start!

BACKPACKING WORKSHOPS

Jen & Tom Henriksen along with Laurie Finger did a fantastic job teaching, preparing and equipping the Landry Academy crew for our upcoming AT backpacking trip that starts later today!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

TREE CLIMBING WITH A VIEW!

Yesterday we kicked off our 2nd Annual Appalachian Trail Backpacking Trip with Landry Academy. The first 2 days consist of trip prep including teaching workshops, distribution of gear, and a whole lot of fun - especially this 60' tree climb with a breathtaking view of our base camp!! Tomorrow afternoon we start our 4 day 22 mile trek on the AT. This is one of the most amazing groups we've ever worked with... we already feel like a big family!! Can't wait to start this hike! Praise God =)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

ALL PACKED UP!

Our goal was to pack up all of our backpacking gear yesterday in 4 hours for our next event. We did it in 12 hours! Classic overachievers. LOL!

Full day of final prep today. Then trekking towards Hampton, TN!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Hiya Hiawassee!

We have arrived to our Gear Cache location in Hiawassee, GA. We've set up our camping hammocks on the beatiful shores of Lake Chatuge. Tonight and tomorrow we will be packing up all the gear for our A.T. backpacking trip with Landry Academy. Everything kicks off Monday! Can't wait!

Last Flight of the Summer

We barely made it in time to board our flight for our last event of the summer. I was able to get an hour of sleep last night... at least it's progress!