When I reach the place I’m going…

I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I can be a night owl and it gets out of hand sometimes and starts to impact my health. If I could just live as a night owl, I’d be fine. BUT, the pesky world doesn’t allow it.

The past few weeks have resulted in getting run down and sick and an embarrassing break out on my face!  So, I have been working to get on a schedule again.

Back on Track

After finally getting a couple good nights rest, I woke up this morning with a song stuck in my head. It is an 80’s country song by Wynonna that goes: “When I reach the place I’m going / I will surely know my way.”

Of course, my newly rested brain immediately began to creatively ponder the lyrics and how they relate to where I am right now, which is…

… well, I have no freaking idea how to get to where I want to go. (Ohhh… so that’s how it’s gonna be today. *SMH*).

Of course, that meant I had to watch the YouTube video for the song, which led me to another video… and another. Eventually, I ran across a video of a Commencement speech by Oprah Winfrey where she speaks of taking the “next right step.”

And… there we have it.

Just take the next right step, and don’t freak out over the end result!

So my thoughts on this topic are bouncing around in my head today as I push forward with our online merchandising, paying bills, RSVPing to a wedding and so on.

When I reach the place I’m going, I will surely know my way. In the meanwhile, I have to ignore my break-outs, the bags under my eyes and the constant humming under my breath. That’s just how I roll.

-Craig

 

 

 

 

Yep. I am Aloha. 

Hawaiian Hibiscus

The Hibiscus flower is notoriously flamboyant.

Mom… Dad… I have to tell you something. I know you raised me with good old-fashioned Midwestern values. I was that kid who had a paper-route and mowed lawns in our small idyllic community where everyone knew each other. You also taught me to be kind and patient – even when others did not deserve those graces. You taught me to value all types of people – even though our community was not racially diverse. You showed me how to live with humility, to be pleasant, and to have patience. I have carried those values into my adult life and they have evolved even further as my life has unfolded. 

I know you raised me right and I am grateful.

I think you may have seen signs that clued you in. I was always a nice kid and I was welcoming to new people, loved the ocean, and enjoyed pineapple. I also probably hang around in Hawaii more than other people, and I talk about Hawaii a lot. I didn’t exactly hide it. 

I know you had suspicions. 

Over the years, I have realized that it is those very qualities that make me who I am are also kind of aligned with something else. It is something that I cannot change and wouldn’t want to even if I could.  It is who I am at the core of my being, and I finally have a name for it.

Mom… Dad… I am ALOHA.

Wait, you thought I was going to say I was WHAT? Oh, yeah… I’m that too. But this time I’m telling you that – with every ounce of my being – I am Aloha.

You see, the Aloha spirit that so many people are celebrating these days, fits with my very nature. I’ve met others who are Aloha and they have helped me see that this is who I am. I always wondered why I didn’t fit in, but now I know for sure… and I can no longer pretend to be the Midwestern boy and all that goes along with that.

Thank you for always raising me to value others who were a little Aloha. In fact, I think you’re very Aloha-friendly. While the rest of the world was telling me that something was wrong with me, you just quietly allowed those personality traits to be “okay.”

I think you may have seen signs that clued you in. I was always a nice kid and I was welcoming to new people, loved the ocean, and enjoyed pineapple. I also probably hang around in Hawaii more than other people do… and I talk about Hawaii a LOT. I didn’t exactly hide it and you most likely had suspicions. I never meant to be deceptive. I just wanted to fit in. 

No more hiding. As of today, I am claiming my Aloha-ness.  Oh, don’t worry.  You don’t have to start calling me “Brah” or “Cuzzin.” Not everyone with the Aloha spirit actually lives in Hawaii and dances around with hula skirts and leis. Iam stayimg right where I am and will keeping being me. However, the Aloha spirit is in me and I can’t pretend that I’m something I’m not. Once in a while you may see a lei in my house, but just know that I am simply embracing a culture that has embraced me.

Please don’t feel like you have to explain it to anyone. I’m just going to be who I am and let them see that being Aloha crosses all races, creeds, locations and lifestyles. It is normal – just as normal as anything else. Only, there just simply aren’t a lot of Aloha people where we come from. So, it might take some getting used to. I know it may make some people uncomfortable, but I promise not to throw a lei on my most conservative family members just to annoy them. I’m just going to be authentically me. I just want to be happy without excuses. Isn’t that what we all want?

I’m Aloha. That’s it. I’m still me, but now I know who that is. I just wanted you to know.

-Craig

 We Finally Caved!

Meramec Caverns | Sullivan, MO
April 1, 2017

Yeah, you guessed it. This post is about caves. Specifically, Meramec Caverns in Sullivan, Missouri.

I can’t help but to remember the last time I was in a cave, because I have SO many photos of ourselves in a non-descript, one-hundred-foot-deep cave that sits at the entrance to the Napali Coast State Park on the Island of Kauai.

Even though we didn’t go there to see a cave, it didn’t stop us from taking selfies like we had discovered a stash of unicorns. The truth is, it was basically a drippy, dreary and dark garage.

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Millions of Years of Artwork.

Meanwhile, back in Missouri, K.J. and I have behaved like true “locals” and completely ignored the 4.6 mile long system of caves and magical wonderment located just an hour away from our house. It’s our loss, because the people who DO go to Meramec Caverns are reveling at its light displays, eighty-foot-tall ‘stage curtain’ made of stalactites, super interesting history, and zip-lining!

We started out on the most beautiful spring day and took the short one-hour and fifteen minute drive south to Stanton, Missouri. Well, we forgot something at home and had to turn back – so, for us it was a two and a half hour drive… but, that was our fault. It so happens that it was the most appropriate of days – April Fool’s Day – because we sure felt foolish. [Read to the end to watch the video for THAT story.]

Overall, Meramec Caverns was well worth the trip (or, two – in our case).

This geological wonder is a monolith that extends hundreds of feet below ground with some of the most rare and awe-inspiring formations in the world.  The caverns are beautifully presented with lighting and an easy concrete path and hand rails extending throughout.  We were also pleasantly surprised to discover that there is extensive history and geological significance which has been painstakingly preserved. It is a very special cave system and equally unique experience.

The surface of the water inside the cave is perfectly still and appears to be crystal clear.  In reality, it is an optical illusion. The water is actually reflecting the formations above.

Lighting is used creatively to enhance the stalactites and stalagmites to awe and inspire. Mirrored rivers fool your eyes to believing you’re looking into a deep chasm, only to realize it is the reflection of the phenomenal cavern overhead. The variety of formations and colors are beautiful.

Our tour guide used humor, anecdotes and history to keep everyone entertained as they lead groups ranging from 10 to 75 tourists at a time through the cave system and back again.

Our Take On It

While we didn’t exactly step into Narnia, the tour did not disappoint. The ever-changing formations, well-placed lighting and informative and entertaining tour guide made it a satisfying experience.

We will leave some of the details about the cave and grand finale as a surprise. As a hint, it involves a video / musical presentation and a very clever use of a 700+ Million year old stage curtain. It’s quite impressive.

Perhaps the best endorsement we heard was from one tour-goer who said she likes to take the tour several times a year – alone – just to see what new and interesting formations she can spot each time. Now that’s an endorsement.

The stalactite “Stage Curtain” displays colorful lights and a presentation during the tour.

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Colorful lights and a musical presentation is displayed on a stalactite “stage curtain.”

Highlights

For us, the highlights of the tour include:

  • The third largest stalactite in the world,
  • An 80-foot tall stage curtain of stalactites,
  • Underground rivers and waterfalls,
  • Outlaw history (complete with statues),
  • A spacious and fun gift shop,
  • An ice cream parlor,
  • Clean bathrooms,
  • Zip Lining (although, we did not partake),
  • Campgrounds and RV areas,
  • Boat tours on the Meramec River,
  • and… more.

Accessibility

There are approximately 58-60 steep, often wet, stairs to climb in order to reach some of the most impressive formations. It’s worth it if you can make it up and back down. I’m not the most agile bear, but I found it pretty easy by just taking my time.

It is noteworthy to mention that while the steps are in good shape, solid and paved with grooves for traction, there is no elevator. The steps can be sort of steep, lighting is dim, and the stairs are often wet. Anyone with serious mobility issues may have to skip  one small section of the tour leading to the “wine room.”

Those who cannot make it up the steps to the “wine room” are respectfully offered a detour to the grand finale area where there is lighted, comfortable seating. The rest of the tour makes the short trip up and down the stairs, then the group reunites for the grand finale.

Things to Know

Bring a jacket. It’s 58 degrees year round inside the cave. You’ll also want to wear shoes with decent traction (remember those 50+ steps that are wet and dimly lit?).

Oh, yes… and you will get dripped on a little bit. At least, once in a while. It is a cave with dripping formations overhead. It is minimal.

Also, if you bring your own pocket flashlight (to get a better look at some of the formations) please be considerate of those around you. Don’t be the guy shining people in the eyes with one of those super powerful mag lights. It’s rude.

The entrance has interesting displays and artifacts as you head toward the ticket booth.

Cost

Surprisingly, the caverns are privately owned, but you can hardly tell that it isn’t a state park.  Your admission of $21 per adult & $8 per child (as of April 1, 2017) goes to into the coffers of a private family-owned enterprise.  It is open every day from 9am – 6pm except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.  In other words, stop by anytime… you won’t miss this one because of the time of year or day of the week.

Children

Meramec Caverns is a terrific day trip for all ages. We don’t have children, however it appeared to us that children under four years of age bored with the tour quickly and had to be watched closely by their parents. On the other hand, school-age children – as well as their parents and grandparents – were quite mesmerized.

Video

Check out our video below about our day at Meramec Caverns!
It was a lot of fun! Let us entertain you… 

For the official source of information about Meramec Caverns, visit their website.


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Welcome to our Truly Remarkable Life!

We are just a couple of 40-something guys trying to live a Truly Remarkable Life.

TRL KC Aquarium Octopus with Names and Logo
*No squid were harmed in the making of this photo.

K.J. is a total foodie and baker, and Craig is a writer and poet. Together, we love to travel every chance we get!  Watch our Get to Know Us videos if you want to know all about us.

We have a pretty interesting story, and an even more interesting one developing before our eyes. So, we decided to share the best of our adventures and experiences with you! We’d love it if you came along for the ride.


Meet Our Family

Our fur-children make our family complete. Both are rescues and spoiled rotten.

TRL Dogs with Name and Logo

Those faces!

Krypto is a terrier mix born in about 2009, and was rescued from an abusive home by a good friend of ours in 2010. Over the next two years, his humans both passed away unexpectedly, which left Krypto very traumatized. He was left in our care and we’ve promised him a forever home. We wouldn’t trade him for anything. He is all boy… and very protective of his dads and little sister!

Scrappy is a very petite Shih Tzu. KJ rescued her from a breeder who was going to have her put down because she was the runt of the litter. He promptly drove five hours and handed the man a check for full price just to make sure she survived. She has been KJ’s bundle of love ever since. She is a pretty, but persnickety, little girl… but we love her just the same.

Thanks for checking out our “Get to Know Us” videos. Check out the videos for Krypto and Scrappy!  Be sure to subscribe on YouTube, and follow our journey on Facebook and Instagram.

See you soon!

-Craig & KJ


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