House Remodel

Here are some amateur before and after photos of our house remodel. We bought the home from the original owner; the Mrs. lived here for 42 years. We were very impressed with the superb condition it was in. There are many things we loved about it when we first walked in–the floor plan, the large, bright windows, and we like the use of space. It is 2900 square feet. 3 bedrooms, 2 bath on the main floor and two-thirds of the basement is an apartment. Our family fits nicely in the space we have now, with potential to take back the apartment space if we ever want it. We also love the fact that it has central air (a first for us), attached garage, and “master suite.” The updates were mostly cosmetic, with some minor upgrades to the electrical. We are really happy with how everything turned out, not really wishing we had done anything different at this point.












Some details: We did not do this on our own. Our very talented contractor and friend Pat Larsen from American Fork headed up the project and did the work for us. One of our favorite features is the concrete countertops, Whitestone Concrete in SLC is the way to go if you’re wanting to do concrete. And thanks to Uncle Val for the beautiful work on our hardwood floors.

Grit – Adventure #4

Since I have become a father I have been constantly thinking about what is the most important lesson I can teach my children. There are so many great qualities you want your kids to have. Love, Charity, initiative, integrity, positive attitude. All are qualities that we admire in our loved ones and heroes. All are qualities that I hope to develop and then pass on to those that I am responsible for.  Through my pursuits outside, I have come to realize there is another quality that I really admire but gets mentioned much less in the descriptions of those we look up to. It has many names, perseverance, toughness, go-getter, badass. Really what it is though is just plain grit.

The climb

If you Google grit (let’s be honest no one looks it up in a Webster’s dictionary anymore), the first definition is “a) Small, loose particle of stone or sand.” You know the stuff that causes you to fall to your death when walking across a stone slab. Or the stuff you find in your teeth and the corners of your eyes after a long day in the desert. It’s the stuff my wife complains about finding in the sheets when I crawl into bed pre shower after a day in the mountains or at the beach. Grit in this sense, gets a bad reputation. But if you look at the other meaning of grit, it is one of the most valuable things in the world.




Grit is hard to describe because in every person it is a little bit different. To some it is determination, others it represents perseverance. And when it comes to our hobbies, people call it passion. Regardless of how you define it, it is a word that we use to describe someone we admire. I recently took Emmett on his first backpacking trip. It was my idea, I sold him on it and the night before I could see the uncertainty in his eyes. I knew very well that this trip could go either way. A complete success or we might never get out of eyesight of the truck. Emmett is almost 6 and has never hiked much over a mile before. I tried to lower my expectation and ensure that we just have fun no matter what.

On the last day of the trip as we packed up our backpacks and said goodbye to a new important place for us, I teared up thinking about how well he had done and what his little mind and body had accomplished. 3 days, 15 miles, 3200 vertical feet and countless moments of laughter and stoke.


Some of us get crazy ideas in our head and there is some strange force that helps us to make them a reality. Some call it determination, perseverance or passion. I call it grit. Now that my son is almost 6 I see his personality and passions developing each day. And no matter what drives him in his life, I hope that he has the grit to make his ideas accomplishments.

– Pitt



North – Adventure #3

My dad never travels anywhere without his trusty yellow legal pad. No matter what trip he goes on, there are always notes jotted down on the legal pad. Sometimes it is an itinerary, other times it has his gear list. But this time it became the rule book. We had been staying at a lodge on Makoop Lake, Ontario for about five days. To spice things up, everyone was putting money into the pot for a little competition. And on his legal pad, Dad wrote down all the rules: Biggest pike wins $10. Biggest walleye wins $10. Most fish caught wins $20. As if catching 75 fish a day was not enough motivation to enjoy the day on the lake.

Dad sans legal pad, in his element.

Dad sans legal pad, in his element.

When I put my 10 bucks in the pot with the 9 other men in our group, I did not know that the next day would be the greatest day I would ever have with a fishing rod in my hand. My partner in crime for the day was my brother in law Eric. I knew that regardless of how may fish we caught, we were going to have a great day. Eric is always 100% in and willing to explore and look for adventure. The sun rose at 4:30am so we were not the first boat out on the water, but we were the most ambitious. We took off to the North looking for adventure.

"Roads, Where we are going Marty, we do not need any roads"

“Roads? Where we’re going, we do not need roads”

No frills. Just the facts. This sign greets you once you land at camp.

No frills. Just the facts. This sign greets you once you land at camp.

Makoop Lake is only accessible by float plane. There is only one place to stay on the lake. Makoop Lake Lodge. It becomes a private lake for those that make the journey. There is something special about being someplace far away from any other humans. Seeing places that you are sure are only ever seen by less people than can fit on a city bus. When you see wildlife, you are pretty sure they are as excited about seeing a human for the first time as you are about seeing a wolverine for the first time.

We are easily distracted from fishing by awesome things. Like giant beaver lodges!

We are easily distracted from fishing by awesome things. Like giant beaver lodges!

10 hours later we returned to camp to report on one of the greatest days of my life. 202 fish caught between the 2 of us. Break that down and we caught a little more than 1 fish every 3 minutes. In between the outrageous amounts of walleye and northern pike, we witnessed a wolverine take a swim, countless bald eagles, discovered a gorgeous waterfall, and did not see another human being.

Fish # 103

Fish # 103

In todays adventure world it feels like everyone gets pulled to “hotspots”. Depending on the type of adventure you desire, it is easy to only look at the famous places. I am always intrigued in finding places that no one else have ever heard of. Or have looked over it on a map and written it off. When you do this, you run the risk of missing so many special places. Thanks to my dad, I now know not to overlook places like Makoop lake. It is one of those places that you drift off to when you are sitting at your desk and your phone won’t stop ringing, or the email won’t stop piling up. A place of solace, wilderness and unbelievable fishing.

The eternal sunset of the north.

The eternal sunset of the north.

Bugs in Canada have the power to blind you if you are not careful.

Bugs in Canada have the power to blind you if you are not careful.


The crew. Old and new

The crew. Old and new


I only posted this picture because my wife loves to see me in Carhartt overalls.

I only posted this picture because my wife loves to see me in Carhartt overalls.

You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose. Just don’t pick your friend’s nose!

One of the biggest factors in ensuring a great adventure is choosing the right partner. Because getting to know someone better is sometimes the only positive result. The greater the potential for pain and suffering, the more careful you have to be in your decision. You kind have to look to your judgmental side and start rating all your friends. Pros and cons, virtues and vices, I find myself labeling my friends and putting them into make believe categories and groups. Does that make me an inconsiderate piece of trash? I guess I better put myself in the jerk category.

The funny thing is climbers, skiers and kayakers do this very thing with almost everyone. For example a typical conversation between climbers goes something like this.

Pitt : “Hey Mark”
Mark : “Hey Pitt. Do you know anyone with a really cute dog, I could borrow to pick up chicks?”
Pitt : “Hmm. I think Justin has one. Do you know Justin?”
Mark : “I don’t think I do.”
Pitt : “He totally crushes. He is a super strong climber. Anyway I will ask him about his dog.”

It’s almost like people’s surnames don’t matter. They are only known by their first name and how hard they push it at their chosen passion.
Justin “the total crusher” Roth
Jackson “the ripping skier” Couch
Tyson “the gnarly paddler” Titensor

Listen for it in your next conversation with a climbing buddy or ski partner. You will find yourself referring to others in this way. But be careful, you can’t always rely on the opinions of others. To help me make better decisions when choosing an adventure partner and not rely on their pseudo suffix, I have created a flow chart to reference in my adventure notebook.


Though this may look like a very serious matter, I want to remind you that risk is part of the journey. Remember that it is not really an adventure unless something unexpected happens. So next time you are looking for just the right partner, maybe you should throw the flow chart in the trash and take a risk on new potential partner. Who knows you could have a great weekend with the future Dave “the guy that dragged my butt back to the car and bought me a burrito on the way home” Sherman.



Keep the momentum going

People adventure differently and that is okay. For some, adventure means pain and suffering. For others, adventure means just doing something out of the routine. Sometimes it means doing something minimal, and other times it requires the logistics of a large UPS hub. Which is correct? Who am I to judge.  What I do know is that the most important part is being prepared to jump on it when an opportunity presents itself.

This past weekend I travelled to Vail Colorado for work. I packed a huge duffel bag full of random gear so that I could seek out an adventure and take any opportunity that came my way. But nothing really came to fruition. I got a trail run in one morning, some rock climbing the next day and about 20 minutes of kayaking.  Nothing super exciting but enough to feel like the trip was not a full waste of recreational activities.   But nothing that I would really consider a great adventure. More like training for what is to come. As my summer begins to unfold, I have been stressing about being able to accomplish all that I want to. Sometime plans fall through, illness sets in or someone I love needs me more than I need an adventure. That is when I have to step back and just be grateful that I have all the opportunities I have and the great web of friends and family that encourage me.

On that note. I wanted to share a great video. MEC is a huge retailer in Canada and have always been great to work with in my past jobs. It is great to see a large corporation really produce fantastic content that makes you laugh. Who wins, I am not to judge. In my eyes MEC wins with this great commercial.




I’ve Got Ideas Man!

Almost every one of my friends has a special creative talent. I seem to like surrounding myself with artist, photographers, musicians, designers and others. I think this is because of my complete lack of artistic ability.  My drawings looks like a giraffe got a pencil stuck in it’s hoof and tried to ballet dance on paper. I have tried my hand at music since I was 10. Let’s just say I am yet to write a song about anything other then my favorite snack foods.  My five  year old puts me to shame with our Lego creations. He comes up with a solar powered, rocket fuel, camping van with a special mac and cheese oven, while I build a square 3-story hotel. My point is that my creative outlet is not easily displayed for others to see. I have to get creative about showing how I am creative. Luckily I am not easily discouraged. I recently read a great quote.

“I have always recognized myself as being a person of modest abilities. My achievements have resulted from a goodly share of imagination and plenty of energy.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

5 years ago I reached out to my best childhood pals. I told them that we need to have an annual “Manventure”. The only requirement for the excursion is that we are together and we do something that will remind us of life as teenagers when we all had imagination and plenty of energy.  It has not happened every year since but it has caused us to always stay connected and pass ideas back and forth. I love the process. An email, a text message, just a few words gets ideas flowing and minds racing. It engulfs me. I start researching, looking at maps, dreaming and imagining.

This is my creative outlet. This is how I can let my mind run wild. Whether it is finding a river that would allow us to re-enact Huck Finn and float all weekend on a home made raft in knickers and  a straw hat. Or planning a adventure based off a text that only said,  “4 dudes, 2 vespas, 3 national parks, Go!”  Finding ways to fit adventure in my life and doing something new is my creative release. As I have mentioned before, this is one of the greatest aspects of adventure.  You feel a greater sense of accomplishment when you complete something you have created, even if it is small.  But when you do something completely new and different, the unknowns increase the potential for needing to improvise. That is when the real adventure begins.

Remember, if you are like me, you do not really need to be an expert at anything in particular. I am not an elite athlete or a trustafarian with unlimited time a resources to get things done. But I do have plenty of imagination and energy. And with that, I have all the resources I need to have an adventure and come home tired, soar and smiling.

– Pitt

One of my many "ideas" that did not end the way I planned.

One of my many “ideas” that did not end the way I planned.

Adventure #2 – My Permanent Adventure Partner

About 10am in the morning on our second day on the river, I asked Becky if she could name every place we have been for our previous nine anniversaries. The list came out something like this.
1. Tokyo
2. Mexico
3. Washington DC
4. Switzerland
5. Home
6. Costa rica
7. Fisher towers
8. Pregnant
9. Vegas

Ten years ago I was young and in love. So we got married.  Most people cringe and the thought of being married so young, but for Becky and I it was ideal. We had very little commitments (except to each other) at that age and flexible jobs that allowed us to do whatever we wanted. I pretty much had a live in adventure partner. We travelled the world and looked for weekend getaways constantly.

Becky has learned that if I come up with an idea, it is better to let me go with another partner first to test it out. If it is not a complete suffer fest, then she will consider letting me take her.  When I have persuaded her to be the guinea pig and join in on round one, she knows there is a high probability of unexpected hardship, and I know there is a chance of tears. But for me there is the chance of having a complete unique experience with my wife which is 10 times more special then experiencing it with my dirt bag buddies.(sorry guys).

For our 10th anniversary we tried something completely new to us both. We have been on paddle boards a handful of times but never gone much further then a couple of miles on a lake. I concluded that we had sufficient experience to take our skills to a river and rally a self support trip. Why not? What is the worst that can happen? We quickly learned that one of the worst things that can happen is up canyon winds. My torso quickly becomes a sail, posed and ready to destroy all progress.  As I look to check on Becky and how she is doing, I see here kneeling on the board, head down just trying to make any forward progress. I instantly start to worry. I am not worried about our safety. I know winds change and we will be okay. I am worried that my wife, who was so willing to follow me on this adventure because I masked it as an anniversary trip, is deciding that this is the last time she joins me on one of these ideas.

We turn a corner after 2 hours of slow going and see whitecaps coming up river. We push slowly to the sandy beach and assess the situation. Luckily we landed right at a great campsite protected from the wind. We discuss the situation.  “Let’s hang out here for a minute. The wind will die and we can make it to the next camp ground before dark.” I said.  We hop back on the boards after about 15 min and dig in. Becky instantly starts moving upstream while I dig into the river taking the spray in face while not gaining an inch of momentum. Five minutes later we find ourselves back on the beach defeated. “I guess we were meant to sleep here tonight”.

When I wake up in doors it takes at least 20 minutes for me to really open my eyes. But when I wake up outside, my eyes seem to spring open due to the instant smile that forms on my face. Nothing gives me energy like seeing the morning sky from the comfort of my pillow. We were instantly energized by the tall red walls of the canyon and calmness of the water. We quickly broke down camp and started paddling peacefully down river. All my worries about Becky refusing to go on another adventure disappeared with every stroke of the paddle.  There is not one person on this earth that could take in the view of the canyon and feel the stillness  of air and think that it was a bad idea to be there.  I will let the pictures describe the beauty and inspire you.

I took a risk in doing something completely new with probably the only partner that I worry about impressing,  in a place that I knew nothing about.  These aspects of the adventure could have totally sank the success and shut down the momentum and support for this summer long project. That is one of the risks you take when you sacrifice the not so important things to chase what matter most to you. Together with the woman of my dreams, my permanent adventure partner,  we learned that if adventure could have a level of perfection, we were damn near close to it.








Trip details

Gas – $85
Food – $45
Jetboat service – $90
Departed SLC – 6pm Friday
Returned – 9pm Sunday for a total of 51 hours away.
6 hours driving each way
24 hours on the river

Check out my other less lovey stories and share them with your friends. Who know you might convince them to join you.

– Pitt



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 661 other followers