The Best Worst Year in the Blue Ridge

I’m the kind of guy who compares anything to everything: my favorite TV show (Survivor) to my least favorite (The Bachelor), the best month (April) to the worst month (November), the greatest year of my life (2012) to the very worst (2006). I can’t help it. I compare. It’s what I do. It’s why I love rankings and ratings and top-10 lists, the best and the worst. I can’t get enough of the comparison game. I especially enjoy comparing all […]

And to All a Good Riddance

As the grotesque mass of space garbage we call 2016 hurtles toward oblivion, people everywhere are cheering the prospect of a new year. Myself included. We’ve proclaimed this the worst year ever, what with a most bizarre election cycle, the deaths of numerous beloved celebrities, raging wildfires and natural disasters, and the opening of the first seal of the Apocalypse. 2016 wasn’t that great a year for me personally, either. I lost my first car. I lost my second car. […]

North Carolina Never Disappoints

North Carolina has always been good to me. Well, I mean, there was that whole Ridgecrest debacle — but that only lasted a couple weeks. The rest of that 2012 summer quite literally changed the rest of my life. Then there was another North Carolinian summer in 2007 — that time me and my siblings took our first solo road trip to the Outer Banks, sans parents. It was new, it was invigorating, and it was terrifying as we nearly ran out of […]

Road to Ridgecrest

Before hitting the road, I knew I’d be adding some vibrant new colors to my traveling palette. The Grand Canyon. Mount Rushmore. Vancouver. Before hitting the road, I knew I’d also be reuniting with some old familiar colors. Sweet Seattle. Old Milwaukee. A Pennsylvanian Eden. Among all the colorful locales on my #RunningTo itinerary, however, there probably wasn’t one as vibrant or as volatile as the one I revisited last week. A picturesque slice of paradise and strife all the same. An old familiar altogether devastating place called […]

#RunningTo Week 22 in Review: Chattanooga & Camp Ridgecrest

Week 22 will forever stand as one of my trip’s more special weeks. I mean, each week of #RunningTo has been special in its own right. But when you combine reunions with siblings and a camp that changed your life, it’s hard to lump such a week with all the others. First, Chattanooga. I got to stay with my awesome brother, and my incredible sister even drove up for a day of Zuniga shenanigans (“Zunigananigans,” if you will). I love Chattanooga. A true gem of a city […]

I’m Not at Camp this Summer

It didn’t fully hit me until two nights ago: I’m not at camp this summer. I remember feeling the weight of this strange reality early into last summer’s decision not to return to Camp Ridgecrest. Later in the summer, however, I remedied the restlessness of the situation by working and volunteering at not one, but two local camps. This summer is different. As I came home to my hosts in Olympia after a day of #RunningTo wandering, I saw Major League Baseball’s All Star Game playing on […]

TMZ Reviews: “Camp”

“For the whole week, I couldn’t wait to go back to my real life, you know? Now I feel like my real life is fake and camp is real.” Last summer, I did not — much to my lingering chagrin — return to Camp Ridgecrest. Ridgecrest was that magical (though often daunting) land from the final chapters of Struggle Central. Early into 2013, I was convinced I’d return to “Struggle Central” for a second summer of struggle and redemption alike. Alas. I […]

How the Hollywood Sign Made God More Real to Me

The Hollywood sign never seemed more real. I’ve lived in southern California for over three years now, and I’ve seen those illustrious blocky white letters on countless treks into Los Angeles. I’ve shown off “Lady Hollywood” to visiting friends and family as if it were my firstborn child, lounging on the side of a mountain beneath that giant antenna friend of hers. And yet the Hollywood sign always seemed so far away. So untouchable and two-dimensional. Until this past Thanksgiving, […]