The Unfortunate Boy Scout

These days, it’s pretty hard to see the good in scouting if you’ve never been a part of the organization or the culture.

Every summer there are groups around the country that go out and get lost in the backcountry, only to make national news; the last few years there have been controversies over the “moral dilemmas” facing the organization as it attempted to “address homosexuality” across the ranks of its membership.

But now, just when scouting was finally in a lull of sensational hatred from the rest of the country, these idiots besmirch the organization that has provided so much for so many.

I’m not sure if it’s the adorable “Wiggle it” ditty that accompanies the video, or the fact that these guys think what they did protected somebody and therefore think it’s a justified action, but to know that these guys are even associated with Boy Scouts is embarrassing.

One of the first sets of principles that scouting teaches for enjoying the outdoors is to follow the tenets of Leave No Trace, an organization dedicated to educating outdoor enthusiasts about responsibly enjoying the outdoors.

As you can see in the video, the defense for the act is that the rock formation was potentially dangerous…

Life is potentially, if not inherently, dangerous!

Just like the groups that get lost on backpacking trips, or individuals that find themselves in situations that they can’t get themselves out of, there is an assumed risk when entering the backcountry. To say that this same level of potential hazard is justification for knocking over an ancient rock formation is asinine.

Again, the unfortunate character of this story is the Boy Scouts of America, despite their wise decision to dismiss the gentlemen from their roles as scoutmasters.

At some point the organization has to catch a break, and I’ll always defend them against the individuals that don’t understand they represent something much larger than themselves. When I reached the rank of Eagle Scout, I was told that I was a marked man, a person with eyes always watching me, and I think that it’s a principle that the organization’s leadership should be reminded of.

Individual opinions and “moral” guidance have their place, but they should not be the sole governance of an organization created to develop stronger leaders and better men.

I feel a great deal of empathy for the Boy Scout of this decade, what I’ll call, the unfortunate Boy Scout because of the adversity that faces him.

Featured Image Courtesy of Tom McKemie

The Never Ending Honeymoon

There is no way that Paige and I are unique to this notion, but we want to know why the honeymoon should end just because it’s time to get back to work and, as everyone else is putting it, the real world?

Now just over two weeks married and fresh off our trip to Japan, I’m reflecting on the way we worked our way through Japan, how the honeymoon was so perfect and how that translates into the future. No gimmicks or self-help books, just maintaining the level of adventure that has come with our marriage and what will ultimately make us happier.

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The first level, or lesson learned if you want to look at it that way, that I’ll start with is the language barrier.

We hadn’t been in Japan for 20 minutes before we made a friend that turned out to be a baseball trainer from Japan that had lived and worked in the US and was moving back home to join his wife. He helped us navigate the airport so that we could exchange vouchers for rail passes and get on our way to Karuizawa. He joined us on our first train, and along the way asked if we knew any Japanese.

Beyond konichiwa and “Domo arigato Mr. Roboto” we had nothing.

He laughed and was astonished that we would make our honeymoon in a place that we didn’t speak any of the language, but that’s what works for us.

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Why would you want to go somewhere that you already know? That principle is why I believe that Paige and I are capable of continuing the “honeymoon phase” that everybody claims will disappear. We like adventure, and we like to overcome the uncomfortable moments in life, like being immersed in a culture that it turned out we didn’t know as much about as we thought we did.

Granted, the Japanese were very accommodating and English though broken is a pretty solid second language, especially in the heavier tourist areas.

There will be more to come from the trip, but I would leave you with this: Japan provided a great deal of time to reflect on what matters, as well as provided a chance to step way outside the comfort zone; I would encourage you to take every opportunity to do the same.

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I hated to leave the land of the rising sun, but it’s great to be back. I’ll have some great stuff coming your way soon as I roll back into the swing of things.

Image collaboration with Paige

Honeymoon Hiatus

As many of you know, I got married!

And since we’re honeymooning in Japan, it’s been difficult to blog without convenient wifi. It probably wouldn’t be too fair to Paige either if I spent all my time writing.

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Luckily, tomorrow is a travel day, leaving picturesque Karuizawa for Kyoto and hopefully some time to get a post queued up for you guys back in the states.

I’ll have a ton to share when we get back, so if nothing else get excited for that! You can also follow our trip on our Instagrams @PaigeWilhog and @JGWilb!

Finally, a word to the wise: a smile and a little bit of respect can take you a long way, even with a ridiculous language barrier.

Riding Silent: I’m Still Here

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I know the site has been really quiet since my last post, and there’s been plenty to write about, since the government shut down and everything, but unfortunately I’ve been a little busy with that whole wedding thing.

So, in lieu of the darkness from the Freelance Rider, here’s a look at everything that our wedding planning has consisted of as we approach our final hours before the big show.

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And on that note, the weekend will be busy, but our closest friends will all be with us and we couldn’t ask for more. For those that couldn’t make it, we understand, and wish that you could join us on Sunday as we step into a new way of life.

Thank you all for reading, and I’m excited to add the newlywed perspective to the Freelance Rider.

I Read A Manga… And I Liked It?

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As many of you know, the honeymoon is coming a couple of days after the wedding, and Japan is going to be new for both of us. The resounding question though has been:

Why Japan?!

For me, it’s simple. Tons of history, a rich culture full of varying levels of quietly understood respect, and awesome food. A honeymoon should be a trip of a lifetime, something you may never get to do again so you make it as memorable as possible.

Paige on the other hand, though food also sits high her list of reasons to go, has what some may call “closeted” emotional attachment to the trip. No, it’s not where her parents met, or the fact that the Japanese seem to consistently sit near the top of healthiest populations despite their misfortune with mercury issues. No, instead her reasons come from a cultural background that I would have made fun of in high school… Manga.

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Yes, it can be strange, and when we first got together her collection was a bit overwhelming, but after considering my closet full of war documentaries and fact books about WWII, I realized we all have our quirks.

So in an attempt to better understand why Japan was our destination, and to grasp at what my soon-to-be wife had loved for so long, I agreed to read a book.

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She dug through her closet, and pulled out the first four books of the Neon Genesis Evangelion series. From what I’ve grasped, and may catch flak for, the primary character is an angsty teenager that is estranged from his dad, is necessary to the whole process of protecting earth with robots called “Angels” and allows his self-pity to block out the awesome things in his life like the beautiful women that continuously stream into the picture.

The series was picked because it’s one of Paige’s favorites, and it was supposed to be a fast read.

I’d like to point out here that I’ve tried to read a comic once before, the closest thing I had come to a graphic novel, and because I couldn’t wrap my head around why someone would put the pictures and tiny inklings of conversations together, I gave up and threw the comic away.

This time, however, Paige won. The first book was, in fact, a quick read that left me at least wondering how stupid the angsty teen could be, and before I new it I was into the fourth book of the series.

Ultimately, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I tried a Manga, and I think I liked it. I should probably also explain for everyone that Manga, as I understand it, is basically like anime but as a book. If it’s written down/static it’s manga, if it moves (like it’s animated) then it’s anime.

The lesson from all of this, try something new. Even if you made an attempt once before, give everything a second chance, because you never know when the things you find stupid one day will begin to fascinate you.

Wedding Stress: A Broken Calm

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11 days out, and we’re looking for a break in the storm.

Before I go much further, Paige and I have offered our thoughts and appropriate condolences to the people of Japan, primarily Kyoto, that were affected by Typhoon Man-Yi which forced hundreds of thousands of residents to evacuate their houses before the storm’s 3 inches an hour filled the streets with the swollen Katsura.

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Considering the aftermath of the typhoon, I would ask you to understand that Paige and I offered to help in any way we could once we arrived in Japan, and the stress that I refer to from here on is no reflection on how we feel about the community in Kyoto, but rather simple frustration with ourselves for not developing a back up plan.

So.

Our frustration began with the invitations that we sent out. All of the addresses had been handwritten to express how much each person meant to us, thinking that penmanship and hard work would be appreciated by our closest friends. The problem though, came from the wonderful US Postal Service. Apparently, cursive is a one-way ticket to postal purgatory, and we now have about 70 invitations floating around the US with a final headcount due to our venue today.

As you can probably assume, this debacle has been no cup of tea. Our strongest source of comfort, until last week, was Japan. Our flights were taken care of, reservations made at a beautiful resort along the river in Kyoto, and time to relax away from everything.

Friday night however, our contact with Hoshinoya Kyoto emailed us to let us know that the damage caused by the typhoon has closed the resort for the duration of the year. Again, we responded with concern for the well-being of the staff and the community, but in the humble nature of our host, the resort encouraged us to look at other options and to focus on our honeymoon.

To put that in perspective, our honeymoon which has been planned for two months, was literally washed away in a night, with two weeks until we would be heading to a country with a language we are struggling to learn, in addition to the invitation debacle we are trying to work through. Given the challenges, I was told this adage:

The rockier the wedding, the stronger the marriage.

I feel, at this point, that we’re building a house on stone, where the shifting sands of time will be hard-pressed in disturbing the foundation we’ve been building the last four years.

In the end, we can’t wait for the wedding. Our closest friends have all reminded us how much we are loved and how strong their faith is in our future, and we couldn’t be more grateful for it. Japan will be an adventure, despite the ironic shift of our honeymoon from calm to the storm that it was preluding.

As a final piece of advice, keep your wedding small, invite the people that really matter, and have fun. When the unexpected happens, roll with it, and make the best of every situation.