“Huh? There’s an APP for that?”

Some of my greatest frustrations are borne out of things not working when they should.

Take for example a couple weeks ago when my refrigerator decided it wanted to store perishable food at room temperature. Curdled milk and limp lettuce may be delicacies somewhere, but not in our house.

Our posse ready to hit the trail

Our posse ready to hit the trail

And so it was that I was presented with a problem and quite possibly an undesired project.

I got to thinking about this idea of a project on our latest outing of the Dads’ Bucket List when we took our troops to hike on the Appalachian Trail for the first time.

Our posse met up at my house on a Chamber of Commerce blue sky Saturday morning. We filled our backpacks full of supplies, told the kids to wear comfortable shoes and then with straight faces told our wives we’d see them some time around mid-November “if things went as planned”.

A dismissive nod and “see you this afternoon” let us know they weren’t biting.

Shoe trees were in full bloom in north Georgia

Shoe trees were in full bloom in north Georgia

At any rate, we were off for some good bonding time while hiking on the App Trail. We headed to Neel Gap in Blairsville, GA where we hiked in on a trailhead about 30 miles north of the Southern Terminus (and about 2,154 miles south of the trail’s Northern Terminus in Maine).

Our kids were jumping out of the cars ready to hit the trail running, but first we had to cover the ground rules.

  1. Feeding wild animals is okay but there’s no room in the car to bring them home.
  2. If you get lost and separated from the group just continue to wander aimlessly until you hear banjos.
  3. If we come across any of those people playing banjos, don’t let dad join their jam session
  4. Don’t tell mom we fed you cookies for breakfast or about any of these other rules.
There's no whining in hiking"

There’s no whining in hiking”

We hiked out to multiple checkpoints manned by one of our dads.  At each one the kids earned a puzzle piece, which helped them focus on a task and more importantly muted the “how much longer?” whining. In the end, they were able to walk away with a completed puzzle and a memento from their first time on the trail.

Afterwards we had a picnic lunch and got to catch up with each other and rehash observations from the outing including the fact that none of us wanted to switch careers with the snake wrangling Park Ranger who passed us on the way down.

Sitting there, I reflected how a route as expansive as the Appalachian Trail comes to fruition. Turns out it was an idea by a forester named Benton MacKaye. An idea that turned into a successful project.

And since we’re back on the subject of projects, you may wonder what became of my broken refrigerator. Well, rather than call a repairman or buy I new one, I decided to tackle the project. I’ll add it was no small task for a guy that wasn’t familiar with things like dispenser solenoids and defrost heater assemblies.

Off in search of those banjo sounds

Off in search of those banjo sounds

In the end, I fixed it and was reminded that sometimes we’re capable of doing things we didn’t know we could.  There may also be a lesson from my project that ties back to this latest outing.

Whether it’s the notion that I can fix a refrigerator or a forester’s concept to have a trail extending from Maine to Georgia, everything starts with an idea.

As we drove home, I wondered what ideas are incubating in our kids’ minds.

And more interestingly, where will those ideas lead them?

Go. See. Be. Do.


About Matt Boettcher - Dads' Bucket List

Husband and dad to two boys who's always trying to enjoy the humor and meaning in the journey of fatherhood. Check out how things are going at: http://dadsbucketlist.com In addition to these responsibilities I'm also an avid (some would say obsessive) sports fan, very amateur gardener, aging but still active runner, and an always willing to experience a new country traveler.
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