My new goal has been to do my first 14,000 feet or “14er” this year instead of next year. Today was really the first real training day for overall distance. Me and my cousin Dan hiked nearly 8 miles at Walker Ranch Loop. We did it for two reasons, we wanted to hike, but also to see if I could make the actual distance without spending all day there.

 

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The trail was really nice, it had lots of elevation changes with big fields, and other parts with tons of trees and a river. I stopped to take a few pictures like I do on every trail run we go on.

 

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I did eventually make it through the whole thing, but it was definitely the hardest hike I’ve had to do, and the last two miles for me was brutal. Almost all of the last part was all up hill and by that time, the sun was blaring down at us at a hot 80 degrees. To be fair, that’s not actually that hot, especially compared to Louisiana because we have no humidity, but because of the elevation we’re much closer to the sun, so it just plainly gets really hot when the sun is out, it’s almost like you’re getting a sun burn just being in it. I’d still take it over Louisiana, but it hindered me at that point quite a bit. It was to the point where I was REALLY close to passing out. I sat down for a few minutes and took a rest and was able to recover, but at that point my body had decided it had enough and gave me a big fat middle finger and a NOPE to go with it. That last mile and half was really hard.

 

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By the time we got to the top it was totally worth the trip, we spent some time on a bench for a few minutes to enjoy the view, and because we were so close to the end and especially when we saw the car parked we ran the rest of the way down. The picture above is at the top of mountain, it really doesn’t do it justice, and we had a really clear day so the haze was almost non existent.

As hard as it was, I did end up breaking several of my own records. Our total elevation was 7,359 feet. Most of that was driving, but we climbed some 1992 feet during the hike.

 

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Doing this proved that I could do it, although it was really hard, and so far every time I’ve gone hiking I’ve learned something NOT to do every single time. To say you have to be in shape to do something like this is an understatement, despite all of the work I’ve put into exercising and training over the last few months it was still tough. Especially with the Cystic Fibrosis, the last couple of miles my heart was beating out of my chest  going uphill, and my lungs were hurting pretty bad and although that sounds terrible, it’s not something I’m not used to it just takes me a bit longer to get where I want to go. If I hadn’t been in shape though, I most definitely couldn’t have done it.

That being said, I’m more than capable to take on my next challenge after another hike or two. Mount Bierstadt. A 14,000 foot monster. It’s a relatively easy hike compared to some of the others at the same elevation but I’ve proven that I can get there this year. The others I want to do are out of my scope until next year.

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It’s been awhile since we’ve posted how things are going here. Since January in fact, we’re almost at our first 6 months of living here!

Since August of last year we’ve been through a whirlwind of changes in our lives and our lifestyles. After a month or so of being sick and finally starting to feel better, we started to get prepared for the summer.  With the difference in altitude and all the outdoor stuff we have planned over the summer we know we have to get in shape.

We’ve been working out every week, hiking, dieting, and exercising. The altitude is tough on someone not used to it, and although it’s weird with my Cystic Fibrosis it doesn’t seem to affect me as much as Crystal. I’ve gained several pounds in muscle and lost some fat, I’m not huge or bulking, just getting fit and that’s pretty much been my goal.  Crystal is losing inches, and we’ve both gotten stronger and more fit, which is never a bad thing. It’s definitely been a struggle for the both of us to find a balance in the new lifestyle because exercising isn’t something we both love doing. I do it because I want to meet my goals and because I know if I keep doing it I can live a longer healthier life, but I definitely struggle all the time with not wanting to go to the gym or run.  I’m really proud of both of us for sticking with it and getting healthier.  Over time we’ll be happier from the results even if that takes 6 to 12 more months of doing it.

We’ve taken several hikes over the last couple of months visiting some local mountains and trails.

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Ultimately we just want to do all the crazy things we want to do and our health not slow us down any. We have tons of things over the summer, like car camping, hiking, kayaking, we love being so close to be able to do all those things. Most importantly we’re going to try and hike our way to a campsite and camp for the weekend. I was in the boy scouts all through my childhood but we never camped that way where literally every ounce you carry makes a difference, so it’s going to be fun!

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That’s about where we are at the moment. I’m starting to see I don’t ever want to give up the mountains, we took a hike last weekend and I DID NOT want to come back home, I feel that way every single time we go, it’s a feeling I think that won’t ever go away because I just enjoy it way too much. One of these days I’m gonna build me a container home on a little piece of land somewhere in the middle of the mountains and live there a couple months a year in the summer, that’s a dream anyway! I’m excited to see how the next six months unfold, and it’s definitely cool to see how things progress here on blog. I’m going to try and post more updates, it just takes awhile of actually you know…doing things that are worth blogging.

Matt-

 

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The mountains of Silverton, Co in the Summer

 

Well we finally made our move to Denver Colorado! We had actually been planning it since just before Dad passed away. We made the move the first week of January, got up here on a wed, and I was in the hospital friday. I had been sick for that whole week moving stuff into our PODS and getting ready to leave.

I can’t say our first couple of weeks here has been grand,  I’ve been sick the whole time, crystal got sick from me so she’s been at home with a bronchitis infection and our German Shepard had an eye infection. The sickness hit us all really hard, but I’ve remained pretty positive about everything nonetheless. All that goes away with a little time and once we’re all feeling better we’ll get back on our feet and actually move in. We’ve actually still yet to do that. Our PODS is sitting at the storage facility waiting on us to move in!

We moved because of the healthcare so it’s a good coincidence that I was sick when we were moving, because it was a real test of what the future would look like here. I can tell you right now it was 100% worth it.

I actually get out of the hospital this coming friday the 22nd! I can’t tell you how much it was really worth moving up here for this. The hospital is amazing and the care has been the best I’ve ever had while in any hospital. The Cystic Fibrosis floor is awesome. I haven’t had to correct anyone, get on to anyone, fix mistakes, or had any medicine screw ups a single time. I think for the first time ever actually. It’s so much less stressful to not worry whether or not they’re going to kill you in your sleep by putting up a medicine you’re allergic to (yep happened plenty of times in Shreveport) or change medicines every two days because someone on the medicine team thinks they know everything over someone else when they know nothing about CF care. They’ve also been way more attentive to things that they just didn’t care about down south. I even found a new antibiotic I can take and not have a reaction to! As a reference to that, I’m allergic to 9 antibiotics, so it’s tough for me to take anything. It’s the first time we’ve tried anything new in years.

I have a large Cystic Fibrosis team. 2 floor CF doctors that only work at the hospital. The other 5 work out of the clinic and the hospital. They’ve been great and I haven’t even met but two of them.

I’ve tried some new medicines I haven’t done before, I have respiratory therapy 4 times a day, physical therapy comes in and I get to exercise for an hour 4-5 days a week. On top of all that, I can actually get my medicine at a pharmacy here that I hear specializes in CF care, and they cover everything, I don’t have to order from PA or Maryland for something that should be readily available, it was always a hassle before to get anything.

The hospital is brand new, technology is at the very top. You can watch movies directly from the tv, browse the internet, look at your medicines, check your pain (which relays to the nursing station). You can order all your food through the tv at any time you want. The CF floor has few speciality things like mini fridges in the rooms, with an exercise bike for PT and of course all the food and snacks you can’t normally get anywhere else in the hospital. They have all the latest equipment, air up mattress beds, the rooms are single private with tons of room, wood floors, etc it’s like living in a hospital hotel room. When you call your nurse they don’t yell at you through an intercom, they come check on you. There’s always a nursing station right across from your room, and if they’re not in here in 2 minutes tops that is pretty rare.

I still haven’t seen or heard from a ENT yet, just met with one of the ENT staff. Here’s what I know: They did a CT scan, and immediately rushed it to the other hospital (where they all are apparently) a team of 8 ENT’s had a board meeting about it, because it’s so bad (already knew this but that’s crazy still). They wanted to do surgery right away, but because they’re at a different hospital and the CF hospital is somewhere else, they only come here twice a week, and they’re all full for the next few weeks. I’ll be back in for about a week to have the surgery for the first available opening. I’m hoping they can find something new or different and I can kick this thing this time. The sinus headaches are just about murder so I’m ready to have some relief.

I came in with Rhinovirus, Enterovirus, (colds) Staph Infection and CF Pseudomonas. Pretty sick. I’m still contagious, but I’m feeling better, and hopefully by friday those viruses will have run their course and we can be done with the whole sick thing for a minute. I know everyone is sick right now, in fact all 24 CF beds are full right now. So when I finally do get out I’ll have to be extra cautious. This year just seems like a bad year for the colds and bronchitis going around.

So that’s my update for this time, I’ll post again after we get settled finally and start getting some pictures up!

I had some more posts I was going to prepare to show off the rest of our trip, but two weeks later something happened and I wasn’t able to get to them. My dad passed away on September 3rd. I’m just now writing about it now because I tried to write something about it a few times, and didn’t know how to find the right words. After everything was said and done and I was going through the last of his things a couple of weeks ago, I found something. Something I wanted to share, because not only was I surprised I found it, but it meant something for me to read it. I found a small journal, it didn’t have a lot of entries in it, just a couple of pages, but among them I found one that I’ll always remember. I wanted to share that entry with you. This entry was about the night HIS grandfather died.

 

dad4:30 A.M November 2, 1973

Well, my grandfather died tonight at 2:50 A.M with a heart attack. It’s really strange. I can’t say he knew me or I, him, but he was still a good man. Seventy-five years old. It’s hard to understand how a person is a reality one moment and a memory the next. How I can write a epilogue on a man’s life in such few words is not clear.  I feel as though there is something to be said, though I just can’t seem to find the words. As one life is ended, another is begun. Everything goes in a circle, it is non-ending. Grandfather Hudson was an honest man. He lived fairly simple and he treated others as he would have them treat him. He was loved by many but by so few.  If there is a god in heaven he’s with him now.

 

I’m not sure why this resonated with me so much. One reason is that I didn’t know dad used to write so much, but he used to write tons of letters, because back then well…there wasn’t internet. I’m glad I had a different experience than he did with his grandfather, I knew both my dad and grandfather very well.  His wish was always that he wanted me and my brother to have a better life and make better decisions than he ever did.  I know we made him very proud for doing that.  Another reason is that the words written have always been true to my life, ones that I’ve tried hard to live by.

Unlike that note he wrote, I knew my dad well. I’ve been taking care of him for years now, a privilege that I’m going to miss because I got to see him all the time, that time was always little and infrequent, but it was always time well spent. It’s been great talking about him, telling all our old stories and memories, even if not all of them are happy memories. Every single person leaves a legacy behind for another generation in one way or another.  I love and miss him so much, just as he was though.

I’ve never had a lot of death in my lifetime that was as meaningful as this one. I’ve seen several of my Cystic Fibrosis friends leave me over the years and my grandfather passed away from cancer a few years ago. Seeing the entire thing from start to finish in person is something so different than any experience you’ll see and have to do in your life time. I’ve learned so much in a very little time over these last couple of months.

I was told when I was very young because of my diseases that I would live a short life, I’ve been blessed to have surpassed all those dates and ages. Death is something I’ve always just known is on God’s good graces since I was little and I was told I was going to die. I’ve always had the mentality that you should always do the best you can in your life, be nice to others. We’re all human beings living on the same small blue earth, treat them as you would have them treat you, because you never know who might be struggling, have an invisible disease or might be having a bad day or struggling with life.  Have adventures, try new things, never be scared of change, and smile once every single day.  You might wake up tomorrow and it could all be gone forever. I’ve always done the best I could with living my life that way, sometimes that’s a struggle, but most of the time that’s the way I live. That way of thinking came from years of accepting that life is short.  People hear that all the time, it is said so much it’s thought of as a passing sentence and nothing more.

Seeing it all from the last day I saw him, to today has opened even more doors for me. Doors that even though I knew they were there for years didn’t open for me until his passing.  One thing I’ve learned is that there’s nothing more important in life then the company you keep. Your friends. Your family. Your loved ones. Spend all the time you can with them. I’ve probably spent more time with friends and family in these last couple of months then I have in years.

We were already making life changes before dad passed, we committed to traveling 10 days out of the year so we can see the world. We try to spend more time with family and friends more than ever before. We’re also using this opportunity to go through things and declutter our lives. I’ve found a life filled with useless things isn’t a fulfilled one for me any longer, something I’ve come to realize these last couple of years but more recently so. Give your loved ones a call. Make some time for them. Have some adventures in your life! Whatever you got going on, work, school, or whatever will always be there when you get back. Have adventures together. Be safe. Have Fun. Laugh. Cry. Love. Every precious minute of your life is worth living to it’s fullest. Every single one. All you have to do is remember that.

I’ve spent about three weeks trying to write this post, I’m still not sure this is what I want to say or how I want to say it. I miss my dad every single day, and I couldn’t sum up the words about him or his life, much like that note he wrote. If I could, it would be way more than a single post on a blog, so instead I talked about the life he’s inspiring me to live.  Here I am right here, living and breathing for another day doing the best I can, and tomorrow the sun will rise again.

I’ll leave you with a song that’s been on my mind. It’s one of my favorites from Yellowcard and it most certainly fits in this instance. It’s called “Telescope” this is the acoustic version.

 

On the first day of our journey, we headed out super late that night so we could pass through the Texas heat, but we did plan on a stop or two along the way. We stopped off outside of Amarillo to shoot Cadillac Ranch. I remember seeing Cadillac Ranch for the first time in a National Geographic when I was a kid, so I was pretty excited to see it. The art group who originally created it encouraged people to spray paint what they wanted on the cars which left years of gooey paint in huge chunks and layers. It’s pretty dirty out there because there are no trash cans around the site to throw away the cans, and even though it’s open to the public it’s still personal property, but I think it just adds to the whole experience as it is, for the photos at least.

This RV park just up the road marks the area you need to be in to find it. We got here right before sunrise and took a few pictures before the crowds made it in.

All the years of spray paint on the axel. It’s so incredibly thick it’s taken on it’s own form and shape.

We left our own mark (picture right) at the top. I’m sure it’ll just be re-covered after a few days or weeks, though to have been there and done it is definitely enough!

Footprints of all the visitors who come during the rainy season.

I most definitely underestimated the overall exhaustiveness or driving for hours on end, getting up 6 and going to bed at 11, back to back the whole week, so I didn’t get to live blog like I wanted to. I actually didn’t edit or process any images outside of what I took on my phone the entire trip. Follow me on instagram to keep up with the photography happenings.

All images copyright Matt Hudson.

We got together tonight to talk about the trip and play some board games, but ended up testing out our new cameras for a starry night adventure. The following shots were done with a Nikon D610, 28 2.8. 15 second exposure time, at 2500 iso.

On a clear night like this one, you can see the Milky Way in it’s all glory.

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This next shot was just taken straight up, so it’s all galaxy. Our little globe is tiny compared to the hundreds of billions of worlds out there.

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Earth is an amazing place, one in an infinite amount. It’s easy to forget how small we really are. We’ll be taking some more night shots on the way during the trip. It’s great shooting here in Louisiana, but getting the opportunity to shoot in the desert, where there isn’t a light for hundreds of miles is beyond measure of shooting inside the city limits.