The above photo was taken on October 7, 2012 in front of Muddy Creek Falls, the highest free-flowing waterfall in Maryland. It resides in Swallow Falls State Park.

This page is dedicated to my friends, both past and present, and well as close acquaintances. I may have lost contact with some, but each holds a special place in my heart.

There are special qualities I look for in friends. First and foremost is a positive attitude. Negative people aren't fun to be around. They'll pull you down with them. Life is too short to complain about the little things. I also like people who are reliable, know how to reciprocate, are a little silly, and who don't take themselves too seriously. Common interests are important too so it is no coincidence that so many of my friends have kayaks, are physically active, and love the outdoors.

Good friends make you feel better about yourself. They lift your spirits and make shared experiences all the more enjoyable. Put simply, they make life worth the living.

BrianOpen accordion icon
On Memorial Day, May 29, 2006, Brian and I paddled a meandering 20 miles from Clyde Watson Boating Area (Magruders Ferry) to Hallowing Point. The day was warm, a little humid, hazy in the morning, and clear around the middle of the day. We began paddling around 0830 and explored part of the east side of the Patuxent River using a float plan that involved a car shuttle so we could take advantage of the 1235 low tide.

After finding two small tributaries that ended quickly, we found two beautiful creeks that went on for a good ways into natural, wooded parts of Patuxent River Natural Resources Management Area (NRMA). This included Chew Creek and Cocktown Creek. After exploring the latter, we stopped for a quick lunch at the mouth of the creek on the north side.
Brian standing with his Epic V10 surf ski
The scenic creeks were meandering, clean, and loaded with a variety of vegetation, including some wild flowers. A small fish jumped over the bow of my surf ski.

Paddling downstream, Brian pointed out Kings Landing Pier, where he's launched in the past. Back in deeper water, we often maintained a steady pace between 6.2 and 7.2 miles per hour. After looking for new launch sites at Eagle Harbor (and not finding any), we paddled 0.9 miles south on a channel that led to a nuclear power plant. The water was noticeably warmer because it is used to cool the reactor. We saw fishermen catching catfish in the channel. Not sure if the channel went all the way through to Swanson Creek but it was barricaded and closed to boat traffic near the reactor.

I enjoy paddling with Brian because he is nice to talk to and always pushes me, physically. With his Epic 18 sea kayak, he was fast but now that he has an Epic V10 surf ski, he's definitely faster than me.
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Carmen and ClarkOpen accordion icon
I've been with Norma for quite some time now and as one might expect, I've grown fond of some of her friends...enough so that I consider them my friends too. Two in particular are Carmen and Clark. Carmen is a soccer player, swimmer, and cat lover. Clark is a brilliant scientist but he'll be quick to deny it because he is humble.

On January 16, 2011, we cross country skied on the Youghiogheny River Trail, a rail trail. It was a flat route on the southwest side of the Youghiogheny River, just southeast of Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania. Our out-and-back route that day took us 8.35 miles! This was quite impressive considering we had already done seven miles the day prior. This was only Carmen's second day of cross country skiing but she did fine. There were no falls that day.

Behind us in the photo at left is a frozen waterfall. My guess is that it is from Long Run. But Clark decided to instead call it Baleen Whale Falls.
Carmen, Clark, on skis, in front of a frozen waterfall

Here's a snapshot of Carmen kayaking on Dividing Creek on July 16, 2011.
Carmen on a kayak on tree-lined waters
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ChesterOpen accordion icon
On July 3, 2019, Norma brought home a 15 week old male kitten from a rescue shelter in La Plata, Maryland. They think he is a gray tabby with some calico. We considered various names: Quincy, Winston, Winslow. We went with Chester which Sara suggested because we love Chestertown. Chester is chatty, agile, and affectionate. He and Daphne play well together.

I've lived with cats before but never a male cat. There is definitely a difference between genders when it comes to personality though it sometimes takes awhile to notice.

Like a lot of cats, Chester does not like being away from what he is familiar with. So he is not the best cat for taking on outings. I suppose if we had made more of an effort to get him used to such things when he was young, he might have ended up being more adventurous. How much of this is nurture versus nature? I've heard of cats that enjoy going sailing, kayaking, or paddleboarding. But something tells me that if I tried to take Chester on the paddleboard, he would run off or I'd be all scratched up.

So don't expect to browse my web pages and find photos and blogs about Chester. He's nothing like Daphne and as such, he stays at home.
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Chester as a kitten
Chester kitten.
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Chester as a kitten
Kitten Chester.
3 / 5
Young Chester encounters Daphne on the stairs
Chester & Daphne.
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Chester cat sitting pretty
Chester cat.
5 / 5
Chester using Norma's arm as a perch
Chester perching.
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ChipOpen accordion icon
Most sea kayakers stick with sea kayaking and most whitewater kayakers stick with whitewater. But Chip is the exception. He's highly skilled both on canoes and kayaks, both on whitewater, flatwater, and everything in between. When it comes to portaging around obstacles to explore a rarely paddled creek, he's the man. I only wish there were more people as adventurous as him.

Here, Chip maneuvers his kevlar Wenonah canoe through shallow water on Mason Branch, near Mason Bridge in Tuckahoe State Park
. For more information see my May 14, 2010 trip report.
Chip canoeing with a long pole
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DaphneOpen accordion icon
It isn't easy being Norma's and my dog. In one week, Daphne went from the snow of western Maryland to the beach in Delaware to see the Atlantic Ocean. In between, she walked in the urban jungle of Washington D.C. where she found a dead rat. So much to see and do. But she's quite content to just lie on our bed and relax. That's exactly what she's doing in this snapshot, taken February 24, 2018.
Puppy Daphne on our bed

In the picture below, taken on April 7, 2018, she's posing next to her Mini Me statue.
Daphne and look-alike mini-me statue

On April 28, 2018, we had several guests over. Sometimes Daphne gets a little overwhelmed when there are too many people around (especially children) and she then looks for shelter amongst familiar faces.
Daphne lying on my lap

On April 30, 2018, Daphne completed her Puppy Basic Obedience (C-280) class through the Canine Training Association (CTA).
Daphne in training

This course was comprised of ten classes that took place weekly. She never missed a session (thanks to Norma) and despite being one of the younger students (just over three months old at the start of class), she managed to take second place in the final exam!
Daphne's ribbon

We were quite proud of her. There were about 28 dogs at the start of class but by the end, there were only 10 on the last day. Daphne's attention span fluctuates quite a bit so that day, we made sure to take her out hiking, bicycling, and socializing with her good friend Cassi (Sara and Samantha's dog) prior to the test.

On August 19, 2018, we took Daphne to meet her biological father, Finn, who is a mix of corgi and husky.
Finn, Daphne's biological father

How does Daphne get along with Chester? Generally, quite well. Sometimes Daphne can be a little overbearing and then she gets scratched. And when Chester walks on a blanket where Daphne is sleeping underneathe, Daphne gets very angry. But other times, they are good friends.
Daphne and Chester lying together

Daphne joins us for most of our hikes. We generally let her run off-leash when we are out in the woods and there is nobody else around. Untethered, she runs ahead then returns to us, ventures away from the trail to follow a scent, or does other things to ensure she covers a much greater distance than Norma or me. At Gorman Stream Valley on January 25, 2021, Norma and I walked 6.06 miles. But Daphne covered 7.3 miles...~20% more than either of us. At shorter distances, the percent difference is greater. This estimate was based on me carrying a Garmin GPSMAP 64st and Daphne being fitted with a MiniGPS on her harness.

In 2022, Daphne was voted "Office Dog of the Year" at my place of work. Her "royal" portrait was displayed for the next year.
Daphne in queen costume

You can find more information about Daphne at January 10, 2018 and January 20, 2018.
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DennisOpen accordion icon
Dr. Dennis W. was my 12th grade English teacher. We kept in touch through the years. On March 31, 2015, we met at Hoppy Brewing Company in Sacramento. Prior to this, I don't think we saw each other since somewhere between 1992 and 1995. I can't say he taught me to love books (nobody has taught me that yet) but he did teach me to appreciate some of the deep messages that writers often try to convey through their books.
Closeup of Dennis and me
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JanieOpen accordion icon
I've known Janie since 2010. We met at work. I was doing my circuit course workout with some other co-workers and (knowing she was a runner) I asked her to join us. She did and was able to do lots of pushups along with a good number of pullups.

Here, she is paddling her Bic stand-up paddle (SUP) board on June 3, 2011. She also has a L.L. Bean Perception Calypso kayak.
Janie on her SUP
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JennOpen accordion icon
From 1997 to 2001, I rented a room from Jenn in Gambrills, Maryland. I got along just great with her and her family. Without a doubt, she is the closest thing I've ever had to a sister and though we don't see each other very often anymore, I consider her one of my best friends. Left to right: Doug (Jenn's brother), Karen (the short one; Doug's wife), and Jenn.
Jenn, her brother, and sister-in-law

Along with the lovely house in Gambrills came Jenn's female dog, Babe.  Babe is half Samoyed and half Cocker Spaniel. She was a great frizbee-catching dog.

After Babe passed away in 2008, Jenn got a new hairdo and a new dog, Chaos, a border collie.
Jenn and Chaos

From left to right are Chaos (border collie), Tater Tot (beagle mix), Jenn (human), and Meg (collie, not miniature). I am amazed that Jenn's brother managed to get everyone to look and pose for the photo.
Jenn with dogs
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JoshOpen accordion icon
Josh and Andi moved into Savage in 2022. Josh and I hit it off well. He is extremely smart, industrious, funny, and personable. I couldn't ask for a better neighbor.

Here he is teaching a kid to make bubbles at Savage Fest 2023. He is very good with kids.
Josh helping little girl make bubbles
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Junkyard JimmyOpen accordion icon
Jim and James is perhaps one of the most common names in the United States. I once worked in an office where there were more men with this name than there were women. That being the case, I oftentimes assign someone a nickname to distinguish them from other with the same name...or I just call them by their last name.

Pictured here is Junkyard Jimmy, on May 22, 2006. Around this time, other Jimmys I knew would be deemed "Motorcycle Jimmy" and "Recon Jimmy." Junkyard Jimmy earned his nickname because he managed a junkyard.

Junkyard Jimmy used to live across the street from me. He was voted best heavy metal guitarist in Jonestown, Pennsylvania two years in a row and is an amazing martial artist. Jimmy is one of those rare individuals who is capable of excelling at anything he sets his mind on.
Junkyard Jimmy
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KenOpen accordion icon
Of all my friends, Ken is the one that I have known the longest. We estimate we've known each other since about the third grade. We went to the same elementary school, middle school, and high school. We got our black belts under the same Karate instructor. Though we lost contact during my military and college years, we managed to hook back up after I moved east. When I visit Cali, I usually try to spend time with him.

Ken paddles a Pygmy boat which he built. On May 28, 2010, he took Norma and me kayaking on Elkhorn Slough near Monterey, California. We saw a plethora of wildlife, did some nice walks, ate good food, and explored the tidepools.
Ken in a kayak he built
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LisaOpen accordion icon
I believe I met Lisa in 2005 at the Chesapeake Paddlers Association (CPA) SK102 kayak training weekend at Lake Anna, Virginia. Since then, I've paddled with her a few times including Nassawango Creek and Marley Creek near Glen Burnie. In this photo, she is waiting for the others to put their boats into the Nassawango as she patiently waits in her red Prijon Catalina kayak. For more information, see May 19-21, 2006.
Lisa in her kayak on the Nassawango
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MikeOpen accordion icon
Few things pull men closer than combat. Mike B. was my squad leader during the Gulf War back in 1991. From December 1990 through April 1991, eight of us were led by Sergeant Mike, where we lived in close quarters 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. About three months of this was out in the field, away from mess halls, buildings, showers, or toilets. He took fantastic care of us, make sure our needs were met, and kept our morale high. For details about our experience during the war, see Persian Gulf War.

Since Mike and I left the Marines, we've managed to keep in touch. On March 6, 2009, Mike, Will C. (another member of our platoon) and I met at Fogo de Chao in Baltimore. There, we talked about putting together a reunion for Second Battalion, Second Marines, Weapons Company, 81mm Mortar Platoon. The next day, I took Mike to the National Marine Corps Museum. In this picture, we pose by an old mortar...very similar to ones we shot.
Mike and me in front of an 81mm mortar
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NeilOpen accordion icon
This is Neil. Like me, he appreciates fast boats. He used to paddle a surf ski until he got into outrigger canoes. On this day, he used his 24 foot long Futura Sea Horse outrigger canoe in the Second Annual Paddle for the Cure on June 18, 2005. He placed third overall in a 7.9 mile race. Next, he got into stand up paddleboarding (SUP). He is one of my SUP role models. See my August 2, 2014 blog to read about one such race that he and I participated in together.
Neil with his outrigger canoe

On May 15, 2022, I saw him while Daphne and I were paddling close to his neighborhood. This was the first time he met Daphne.
Neil, Daphne, and I standing on the beach
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NormaOpen accordion icon
Norma is a fun, exciting, multi-lingual friend, and activity partner. She's a good hiker and trip planner who has lived in Japan and Germany. Norma has helped make my summer of 2006 the best and busiest summer of my life!

We first met on May 31, 2006 at Greenbelt Lake then later that day, we ate dinner at Chef's Secret, a Thai restaurant, not far from the lake.

My favorite picture of Norma is from our July-August 2009 trip to Maine. Here she's holding up some seaweed.
Norma in Maine holding seaweed, 2009

Most of the stuff we do is outdoorsy active. But not everything.
  • October 28-30, 2011: We managed to spend a whole weekend in the Brandywine, Delaware area visiting mansions, museums, and gardens without doing any bicycling, hiking, or kayaking!
  • Martin Luther King Weekend 2012: We just spent some time with her interns in Delaware.
  • Chestertown Weekend 2014: We saw the tall ships and art studios.
  • Owl Chase 2015: We spent some time looking for owls. Outdoorsy, yes. Active, no.

  • After spending the best six years of my life with her, we were finally wed on October 7, 2012.

    On January 20, 2018 we adopted Daphne who has become a huge part of our lives. She has greatly enriched our time together.
    Norma with Daphne on kayak, 2018

    Here's Norma, Daphne, and I at Savage Mill with Santa Claus on November 26, 2023.
    Norma, Daphne, Santa, and I with Christmas background
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    Norma's FamilyOpen accordion icon
    Norma's family is my family just as my family is hers. But I also feel a certain friendship with each of them. Thus, I include them on this page.

    Norma's mother is Hazel. Norma's sisters are Joyce and Laah. Their husbands are Jimmy and Scott, respectively.

    Below, we are gathered on December 26, 2014 at Scott and Laah's house. The numerous deer heads and antlers on the wall are a result of Scott's fine hunting skills.
    Extended family at Scott and Laah's house

    On December 22, 2018, we got together to spend an early Christmas together. We had a nice turkey dinner, opened gifts, sang carols, did some sledding, and had a good old-fashioned snowball fight.
    Extended family at Hazel's house
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    Norma's FriendsOpen accordion icon
    Here are some of Norma's friends and her friends' offspring on October 23, 2010. I'm at the far left...not where I stand politically...just in the photo. On the blanket are Ashlyn (the child) and Amy (the grown-up). Between the blue chairs are Viviana (the child) and Allison (her mother). At the table are Clark and Yvette. In the green chair is Eric, Yvette's son. Just to the right of the portable fireplace is Jorge, Eric's father. The child sitting to the right of Jorge in the back is Daniel. Standing next to Daniel is Harold, Daniel's father. Sitting in front of Harold is Rekha, Harold's wife.

    The following picture was taken at an Indian Restaurant called Tiffin on February 8, 2012. This was to celebrate Bill and Anita being wed and their short return from living down under in Chile. Bill is Norma's former landlord and the former mayor of Hyattsville. From left to right are Carmen, Thanusha, Norma, Matt, Bill, Anita, Elizabeth, Sandy, Clark, Malar, Dursha, and Nidhiksha.

    Norma has a very tight group of friends...much more so than me.
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    RalphOpen accordion icon
    To say Ralph does more than his fair share of the work would be an understatement. He has led numerous kayaking and hiking trips, both for adults and Scouts. He volunteers his time to pick up trash on the Patuxent River and he also helps keep the hiking trails clear.

    In this picture, Ralph appears in the center at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary after a long day of removing trash from the Patuxent River.
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    ReyOpen accordion icon
    I've known Rey since about 2011. He is one of the funniest people I know and he is also a great father. In many ways, we are opposite but we get along great.

    Rey and his kids joined several of us for a family friendly car camping event at Westmoreland State Park on June 17-19, 2016. Here, he is enjoying a fine hot dog meal.
    Rey car camping with family and friends
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    RickOpen accordion icon
    Rick was the first friend I made when I moved to Maryland in 1995. We lived in the same apartment complex and found we had a lot in common. We were both short, Japanese-American guys from California. We both like hard rock. We've both done a lot of martial art training. We both served in the military.

    In 2004, I was staying at some Army barracks during the Marine Corps League Department of Pennsylvania pistol match weekend. Coincidentally, Rick (aka "Slick Rick") was also staying in the same building. At the time this photo was taken, Rick was serving in the Army National Guard.

    He passed away on October 7, 2018. He was swimming at Virginia Beach, Virginia and got caught in a rip tide. This surprised me since I'm pretty sure Rick was a good swimmer. I now have a great deal more respect for rip tides.
    Me and Rick, standing
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    Sara and DonOpen accordion icon
    Norma and I met Sara and Don not long after we moved into Savage in December 2009. As we became more active in the community, we learned that we had quite a lot in common with them. What I really admire about them is their ability to lead. They say a good leader doesn't say, "Go" but rather "Let's go." That describes them perfectly. It is their dedication to the community that has inspired me and several others to become active participants. Every community needs people like Sara and Don.
    Sara and Don at the La Palapa Too restaurant

    Below, Sara is kayaking and taking photos at Mallows Bay on June 21, 2014.
    Sara kayaking at Mallows Bay
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    StacyOpen accordion icon
    Dave and Stacy (no, they're not a couple) went with Norma and me to the National Museum of the Marine Corps on December 3, 2006. What Dave, Stacy, and I have in common is that we all served in the Marines and all are or were active members of the Howard County Sierra Club. Dave was a radioman whereas Stacy was an air traffic controller. Stacy has swum across the Chesapeake Bay twice!
    Dave, Stacy, and I at the National Museum of the Marine Corps

    Here's Stacy and I at the Marine Corps War Memorial on Thanksgiving Day 2023. On that day, Stacy, Norma, and I also spent the day in the Washington, D.C. area visiting the National Museum of Asian Art, the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture, and Arlington National Cemetery, ending the day with dinner at Denny's.
    Stacy and I at the Iwo Jima Memorial
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    SteveOpen accordion icon
    Cousin Steve has been sort of a big brother figure to me. I remember going to see him and his sister Cindy quite a bit when I was young.

    Now that we're older, we still try to get together. In this photo, Steve is paddling my Prijon Catalina like a pro in Annapolis on October 10, 2012.
    Steve paddling my Prijon Catalina kayak
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    Sue M.Open accordion icon
    I have known Sue since about 2004. We met through the Howard County Sierra Club. She is a dedicated environmentalist who loves the outdoors and nature every bit as much as Norma and I.

    In the above photo, taken September 16, 2006, she is leading an International Coastal Cleanup Day event at Terrapin Nature Park on Kent Island. Sue is on the right wearing sunglasses. Can you recognize anyone else in this photo besides me?

    On March 14-15, 2015, Norma and I joined Sue on the Delaware Owl Chase weekend.
    Sue and others helping clean up the environment
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    SuzanneOpen accordion icon
    I can't remember exactly when I first met Suzanne but I think it might have been May 19-21, 2006 at Pocomoke River State Forest and Park. That was a fun weekend filled with good people.

    Suzanne is an avid kayaker who organizes and leads trips with the Chesapeake Paddlers Association. You may find her paddling a Wilderness Systems Tempest 165.

    Below, Suzanne and I are paddling up Nassawango Creek on June 20, 2009.
    Suzanne and I kayaking

    Together, we have led some good kayak trips:
  • Broadkill River and Prime Hook 2010
  • Chincoteague 2010
  • Trap Pond 2011
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    Team SNaCkOpen accordion icon
    Not too many people on this web page appear more than once. But I've had a lot of good times with Norma and Carmen so I figure they deserve multiple entries.

    On November 11, 2012, Veterans Day, the three of us took a day trip out to Philadelphia. We saw a lot of stuff that day.
  • Fairmount Waterworks Interpretive Center
  • Reading Terminal Market
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • Eastern State Penitentiary: A prison built 1822 to 1836 that linked solitude with moral and vocational instruction. It exemplified the Pennsylvania System of penology and became a model for over 300 prisons worldwide. It was closed in 1971 and remain a popular tourist attraction.
  • Jack's Firehouse Restaurant
  • Board Game Art Park at the Municipal Services Building. Here we are with a giant game piece.
  • Carmen, Norma, and I in Philadelphia by giant game piece

    This is us with a giant domino.
    Carmen, Norma, and I in Philadelphia by giant dominoes

    Eventually, the bond between Norma, Carmen, and me became strong enough that we needed a name. Carmen suggested Team SNaCk where the SNC stands for Saki, Norma, and Carmen. It seemed appropriate since we take so many snack breaks whenever we're together. I had shirts made with our Team SNaCk logo and we made an effort to wear them whenever we got together, like on our bike trip to Baltimore on May 18, 2013. Though you can't tell by the picture, we're all wearing similar'll just have to take my word for it.
    Carmen, Norma, and I at Druid Lake in Baltimore by wood sculpture
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    Wedding group walking to the ceremony
    Wedding group walking to the ceremony