Tag Archives: Vacations

In The Wild

When 11,200 feet above sea-level, sleeping in a tent, living like the early man, fishing, cooking over a fire, it is easy to feel uncomfortable and a little challenged.  Unless you’re this guy:

If you have been following my blog, you know that I spent the first week of August up in the Pecos Wilderness.  I’ve talked about wandering around lost and how hard the hike was, but what about what happened in the wild?

I went into the wild on a search, for fish, a fresh night sleeping on my new sleeping mat, and friendship.  What I found might have been a little different.  Heck, I shared a tent with the older version of the man pictured above, so how could my adventure turn out the way I expected?

Life in the wild is therapeutic for me.  I love backpacking because it gives me a chance to leave my normal life and leave it all behind.  Computers. Smartphones. Jobs. Stress.  I love being off the grid.

Guatemala was off the grid, or at least I was off most everyone else’s grid.  Living off the grid can be a challenge, especially not knowing the language, something unexpected could always be expected to happen.  But now that I am living in Colorado, I feel the need to get away, go backpacking, so that I can be challenged and refocus on life.

And so, up in the Pecos Wilderness, off the grid, we were attacked by a hungry heard of chipmunks.  Those little rodents were aggressive.  We had to lock away our food, even so they unzipped my backpack and chewed through three layers of plastic bagging just to eat three raisins.  They were telling me that the Stewart Lake campground was their home turf and I better show some respect.  Maybe they’d grown too used to backpackers and I could see why.  As I packed my backpack a troop of 15 teenagers hiked into our area to set up camp.

After a little fishing we packed our tent and trekked up to Lake Johnson.  If Stewart Lake my first step into the wild, albeit a little crowded, Lake Johnson was truly off the grid.

Other than the Rices, our backpacking partners, we didn’t see another human for a couple days.  It was just me, my dad, and the wild.

The fishing up at the high mountain lake was great, but then again, not great.  But maybe that was part of the challenge.  When I can’t just walk up to the closest Chipotle for a burrito to feed my hunger.  Providing food for myself isn’t meant to be easy.  Sometimes the fish just don’t bite.  And when they don’t, what’s going to calm the hunger pains?

Fortunately, I packed in enough food and really, caught plenty of fish.  I spent most of my time out by the lake, casting my line.  It was a beautiful time, but also invigorating.  Each night on the backpacking trip, we lit our stoves, boiled water so we wouldn’t get sick, and then hoped our food would turn out edible.

In the wild you can’t rely on your own strength, just ask Aaron Ralston.  He got stuck and lost an arm.

In the wild it can rain or not rain.  Too much one way or the other and you could be dead.

But in the wild you can also find life.

In the wild, up at Lake Johnson, I reconnected with my best friend.  Philip and I grew up going to church together, but because we live in two different states, hadn’t been able to talk in several years.

At night around the camp fire, with no computers or iPhones, we were able to engage in each other’s lives again.

Philip is currently stepping out into the wild in his own life.  God has called him into the full time ministry.  He has left his job, just months after becoming a father, and is placing his trust in God to provide for him.

There is nothing wilder than living on the edge for God.

On our last night around the fire, Sid, Philip’s dad, asked us to talk about what we’d experienced on the trip.

We’d talked about fishing, joked about all the deer that’d wander through our campsite (they would wander through and nibble on our leftovers knowing they were safe as it wasn’t hunting season).

But my favorite part was was talking about faith and community.  I don’t think these conversations would’ve happened if we hadn’t gone into the wild.  I felt focused on life, as each morning and night, around the the camp stove, we shared our hearts.

As I packed up my tent to hike out of the wild, I knew I didn’t want to stop sharing my life with the people around me.   It took going into the wild to see that my life needs true community.

This year, while I pursue my masters in teaching, I don’t want to forget what I learned in the wild.  I know that my studies will be challenging, but I’ll get comfortable. I know I’ll be connected to the grid.  But I hope that I stay connected to the community around me and not stop living in God’s wild creation.

I would like to thank all of my readers here at the Neighborhood Cafe.  I hope you guys continue to be challenged by God and that each day you see how much he loves you.  God will provide for you, just put your faith in him.  I believe a life connected to our creator is life out in the wild, even if that wild looks like a city street.  Again, thank you all for reading my blogs over the last several months.  I would love to keep you all as part of my blogging community.  If you want to continue to read what I write, click here, and follow me over to my blog.  I hope you all subscribe so we can continue to build a faith community.  

Brendan Scott

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Hiking Through Grace

Last week I hiked up into the heart of the Pecos Wilderness with my dad and some old friends.  It had been over a decade since I’d truly backpacked, not counting my winter hunting trips.  It was great to set up the tent, cast the rod and catch some fish, and to renew old friendships.

So I don’t wander off in this blog, like my dad and I did on our trek up to Stewart Lake, I’m going to graciously trek right to the point.  Though fishing was great, hiking was breathtaking, and reforming friendships over conversations about faith and serving in our own community was refreshing, what really hit me was the weather.

Yep, I’m going to talk about the weather.  Okay, I promise that my next blog will hike back into the realm of backpacking and what a joy it is to wander, especially when discovering challenging conversations of faith and community.

I want to talk about weather, because I want to talk about grace.  As my dad and I hiked up the sun slowly baked us.  It was hot, and it stayed hot all week long.  The last time we’d been up in the Pecos Wilderness it had rained non stop.  I remember it being so wet we had a river in our tent.  Not this time.

It was weird that it didn’t rain.  I really didn’t mind the lack of rain, but it just felt weird.

As we hiked 9 miles down out of the wild it was so hot my feet started to burn.  I had to walk on my toes so my heals wouldn’t blister up.

What little water I had left at the end of the trail I dumped on my head just to cool off.  It felt amazing.  A little water can really be gracious on a hot day.

The water dripped off my bare head and shoulders onto the dry ground, evaporating immediately.

It wasn’t until we drove out of Las Vegas, NM that we felt the first drop of rain.  Or at least the Nisan Titan felt the rain.  The rain clouds looked like hands dragging their long fingers along the dry mesa tops as if they were scraping for last crumbs.

It was gorgeous.  But inside the cab I still felt parched.  We’d brought along two Dublin Dr Peppers for a celebratory drink at the end of the hike, but, as they’d been sitting in the hot truck all week, we were forced to wait until they could be cooled down with ice.   As we sep north on I-25 I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I popped open our two Dublin Dr Peppers.  They were ice cold.  As I swigged down the real sugar drink, I knew I’d just broken my sugar fast, but after the dry hike it was worth it.  Mine tasted phenomenal.  Probably as good as rain does after a long dry summer.

As we drove through Pueblo, Colorado the rain was coming down in sheets.  I was thankful we hadn’t faced this type of rain on our trip, ’cause now I was safe inside the cab of the truck with the AC blasting and no need for rain to cool me down.

Inside the cab we were listening to U2’s album All That You Can’t Leave Behind and as the rain died down the album came to a close.  Bono was singing about Grace.

Grace, she takes the blame.  She covers the shame. Removes the blame.  It could be her name.

It hit me, not like the soft rain we’d driven through in New Mexico, but like the drowning rain in Pueblo, we need grace just as we needed water on our hot hike.  I had to press repeat on my iPod so I could listen to it again.  It made me think, am I showing grace to the people around me or am I like the hot dusty trail I hiked on?

Am I a thirst quenching Dr Pepper or am I a hot pair of boots rubbing blisters?

Bono says, “Grace finds beauty in everything.  Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

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In-N-Out: My Weekend In San Diego

On June 30th I experienced the best fast food burger I’d ever eaten.  I went to In-N-Out Burger for the first time.  It was as good as advertised and well worth the 28 year wait.  Plus, eating at the burger joint, which has a much deserved cult like following, capped off an extremely great weekend.

The day before, I stumbled out of bed in Colorado, a perfect state to live in, save for the lack of In-N-Out Burgers, and boarded a plane at an unhealthy hour of 6:00-am for San Diego.

The real reason for my early flight was a wedding.  My good friend RJ was to be married on the beach behind the Catamaran Resort.  RJ and I were in a men’s life group in college called Rootz (The spelling is still being argued over).  Over the years our friendship deepened over our love of sports (I have to constantly forgive him for being a Patriots fan) and adventures.  Our friendship grew stronger when I moved to Guatemala.

No, RJ didn’t ever visit, he was too busy trying to find his life’s calling here in the states, and I don’t blame him, because if he hadn’t, he never would have met his future wife.  No, RJ was one of the few from Rootz who stayed in contact with me while I was in Guatemala.  His commitment to the friendship meant a ton to me, and so when I received the invitation to his wedding in the mail, I knew I needed to be there.

His wedding was at 3-pm on Friday, June 29th, the same day as my early flight.  I would’ve loved to have spent more time in San Diego, but on my meager budget I could only afford one night.  I boarded my plane in hot Colorado, leaving the horrible forest fires behind, and half a morning later I walked out of the San Diego Airport.  The clear blue sky and 70 degree temperature instantly made me love the city.

Around 2-pm I started making my way to the Catamaran Hotel with my friend Rob.  We’d decided to walk over to the wedding, only a three mile walk, which is nothing when the sky is clear blue sky and cool breeze comforts you along the way.  Walking is also a plus because Rob found a 20 dollar bill along the way.  My discovery wasn’t as cool, but when I saw that one of the wedding guests was wearing sandals I was ecstatic!  Without hesitation I peeled off my hot dress shoes and slid on my sandals.

The wedding was beautiful.  RJ and his wife, Andrea, couldn’t have asked for a better day.  Andrea was gorgeous and RJ looked stellar.  But I think the wedding could’ve been in bland Wichita (my apologies go out to Marinés, my only friend who lives in the little Kansas town) and I still would have been thrilled to be there.  Yes, it was a blast to dance the night away, to take a ferry across Mission Bay at midnight, but nothing compared to being there for my friend.

I wanted to be at the wedding to let RJ know I supported him and Andrea and that I would be praying for them as they took the next step in their lives.

I haven’t been able to attend all of the weddings that I’ve been invited to, but as I danced, ate, and spent a little time talking to RJ, I knew this was the best way I could say thank you for being my friend.

I believe strongly in staying connected with people.  Sometimes it takes only a phone call and sometimes it takes a plane ride.  I guess that’s why I went to the wedding, but it’s also why I went to In-N-Out Burger.  The day after the wedding, after a great breakfast with RJ and Andrea, I met up with another friend who lives in San Diego.   Kasey and I had worked together in Guatemala.  We hadn’t talked in almost a year, since we’d both moved back, but as we ate, our friendship felt instantly renewed.

Maybe that’s what having a Dr Pepper, animal style french fries, and a burger with special sauce will do.  Or maybe that’s what happens when you reach out to your friends.  After we ate our burgers Kasey drove me back to the airport.  I was exhausted.  My trip to San Diego truly had been in and out, but even though it was so quick, it was very much worth it.

For me, even a quick trip is worth reconnecting with friends and showing them that you care about them.  I mean if we didn’t have friends and family, who would we love and be loved by?  Or more importantly who would take us to In-N-Out Burger?

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A Tribute To My Mom: 5 Reasons My Mom Is Better Than Your’s

In honor of Mother’s Day I thought I’d tell you why my mom is better than your mom.  Now I could easily name more than five reasons why she is the best, but I don’t want you to get all upset.  I mean if I listed seven reasons why my mom is better than yours, you’d feel seven times worse about your mom.

I really can’t help it that my mom is the best.  I mean she brought me into this world, toilet trained me, and even put her foot down and said no to me a couple of times.  Mother knows best!  But those are things every mom has done, or should do.

Here are the five reasons why my mom is better than your mom:

1. She Will Not Steal Even If It Is Free.

How many of you take those free sugar packets from Quicktrip or 7-11?  Not my mom.  One day, after my older sister, Katie, and my Grandma came back from the gas-station, they were talking about their free sugar packets.  “You take extra packets too, Grandma,” said my sister.  “All the time,” replied my Grandma.  My mom, who was standing right next to the two thieves, cut in,  “That’s stealing.  Taking one is okay, but to take more is wrong.”  For the next thirty minutes she let my sister and her mother-in-law have it.  So much so, that they swore off gas-station sugar packets.

My  mom has morals.  That’s why when I went to print out a picture for her Mother’s Day gift at Wal-Mart I made sure to pay for it.  The machine printed out my picture and never charged me.  I could have just walked right out of the store, but I knew my mom would never accept a stolen gift.  So I found the nearest employee and asked to pay for the picture.  My mom has taught me well.

2. My Mom Would Jump.

The crystal clear lake lay forty feet below.  One, two, three . . . jump!  This was Guatemala 2009, Lago Atitlan to be exact.  We were all standing at the edge of the lake urging each other to jump.  I jumped, made a big splash.  My dad said no (Chicken).  Emmy, my little sister, jumped on her first try (She’s awesome).

My mom is not a chicken, nor is she just awesome.  She is a mom who jumped off of the highest cliff on Lago Atitlan.  When my dad wouldn’t do it, my mom faced the big drop and showed her family how cool she is.   My mom jumped off of a 40 foot cliff into the lake.  As beautiful as Lago Atitlan is, with it’s stunning blue waters and the three volcanoes dominating the view, I will always remember that lake for my mom’s death defying jump.

3. My Mom Kicked Me Out Of The House

Okay, she didn’t litterally kick me out of the house.  Five years ago, I was working at a job I hated.  This lame job scheduled me to work on Mother’s Day.  Three months later I found my self living in Guatemala.  And my mom had everything to do with my move.  No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to celebrate her on Mother’s Day.  She told me to go to Guatemala because she saw my passion for missions and wanted me to have a chance to serve.

My mom is better than all the other mom’s out there because she has faith.  She knew that she had to let me go so that God could work in my life.  I would never have lived in Guatemala if it wasn’t for her.

4. My Mom Teaches Kindergarten

I know, I know.   You are thinking that Kindergarten is easy.  Those kids take naps.  But in reality teaching Kindergarten is more like this video.

My mom pours her life into those kids, which means they are lucky.  She is a fantastic teacher, who works super hard to make sure all of her students are socialized, and know their A, B, C’s, and know not to stab one another with scissors, and how to read, and how to deal with bullies, and how to do calculous, and how to write responses to their favorite Dr Seuss book, and when is the right time to go potty and where is the right place, and how to have fun all while staying in the lines.  My mom doesn’t back down from any challenge.  She teaches Kindergarten.

5. My Mom Would Impersonate You

My mom is immensely tallented at doing voices.  Not a day paces by without her coming home from work with a story (remember she teaches Kindergarten) and those stories are always accompanied by a creative impression of her student.  She always keeps her impressions tasteful and never stops surprising me with her versatility.  She can pass as an old man, little girl, British nanny, and even my dad.  Sadly I don’t have any video of my mom impersonating anyone, but she’ll do a voice for you if you ask her.

You might not be able to see my mom impersonating you, but that shouldn’t stop you from impersonating her.  You should love kids like she loves kids.  You should love your family like she loves her family.  You should love and follow God they way she loves and follows God.

My mom is better than your’s because she showed me how to love and be loved.

Thank You Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

This is a repost from my blog, which I posted yesterday.  I figured I would post it again, because my mom is that great.  Thank you to all the mom’s out there!

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