Day 276 – Thankful for Nurse Trees and a Random Trail Sign with Deep Meaning

While hiking in mount Rainier National Park this morning we hiked through another grove of ancient trees.  As we wandered in wonder of these huge sentinels we came across several “nurse logs,” the once giant trees fallen by the elements that has begun to decompose and has become a place for new trees to grow.  They’re beautiful in a few different ways, mainly in the beauty of nature and in the beauty of giving of itself even at its end.

We’ve seen many examples of these trees on this trip, the one above is a perfect example.  As its last gift to the world it provides a source of nutrition and safety, it gives new trees a place to grow.  There’s something about seeing them that just seems right, and I smile as I see them.

A little while later we happened past a sign that was explaining the way that nurse trees work and then included a quote by Edwin Way Teale.  As I read it I couldn’t help but think of my dad…

“For a great tree death comes as a gradual transformation. Its vitality ebbs slowly. Even when life has abandoned it entirely it remains a majestic thing. On some hilltop a dead tree may dominate the landscape for miles around. Alone among living things it retains its character and dignity after death. Plans wither; animals disintegrates. But a dead tree may be as arresting, as filled with personality, in death as it is in life. Even in its final moments, when the massive trunk lies prone and it has moldering into a ridge covered with mosses and fungi, it arrives at a fitting and noble end. It enriches and refreshes the earth. And later, as part of other green and growing things, it rises again.”

My thoughts immediately went to the memory of Dad.  In the past weeks his personality and smile have dominated my landscape.  He’s retained his character and dignity after death and I’m more aware of it now than ever.  Even though he’s gone he’s continued to enrich so many lives.  Many of his friends and families have done things to put smiles on the faces of strangers, have helped others, and done things they normally may not have, inspired by Dad.  He’s now risen to heaven and continues to live in us forever.

Just as the nurse tree Dad continues to provide a source of growth and food for my soul.  He raised me, helped instill his values in me, provided me with safety, and has continued to help me grow even through his death.

Dad, I love you dude!  I’ve been thinking about you often on this trip, wondering if you’ve seen these places before, and smiling knowing that you’re seeing them with me now.  Talking with you has put a smile on my face, I know you’re smiling too!


Day 275 – Thankful for the Raw Power of Nature

Day 275 – Thankful for the Raw Power of Nature

On our tour of awesome things in Washington today we stopped at Mount Saint Helens.  As we were planning our trip Becky mentioned that we should probably stop there to see it.  We both kind of shrugged, thinking it would be a little bit of a history lesson along with a pretty mountain view.  What we saw today was way more than that!


In learning more about the eruption we were all in awe of the awesome and amazing raw power of nature.  In a short period of time the mountain bulged under the rising pressure and finally exploded in an explosion that was nothing short of mind blowing.  In seconds an entire mountain was transformed, lakes moved, forests obliterated, and valleys filled.


The pressure created a blast that hit the forest at a speed of 500+ miles per hour, six miles away!  It was nothing short of incredible!  As we went on a nice 8+ mile hike we were able to see many views of the devastation, the new landscapes, the remnants of the old.  It was amazing!


For a day that was at first just a shrug and “okay,” it was a pretty amazing day.  It really helped me appreciate the raw power of nature.


Day 274 – Thankful for Visiting One of the Top 4 Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been

Day 274 – Thankful for Visiting One of the Top 4 Most Beautiful Places I’ve Ever Been

On our last day in Olympic National Park we started the day by heading out to Second Beach.  Using the tide chart from the park rangers we timed our visit to be sure we were there during low tide to be sure to do one of my (& our) favorite things…  exploring tide pools.   

After a short hike that included a banana slug sighting the forest opened up into one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve ever seen…

The pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.  

Knowing that we only had a limited time to get out to the tide pools before the water rose to the point that we wouldn’t see anything, I put the blinders on to the scenery and we made a beeline for the best looking tide pools.  We were immediately rewarded with some crazy huge starfish…

After spending some quality time in the tide pools we took some time to explore the beach and soak everything in…  and maybe have a fun picture or two…

I could’ve sat on that beach for hours and hours, it was so stunningly awesome…  by far and away it was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen with my own eyes, I’m so thankful to have been there!


Day 273 – Thankful for Ancient Groves

One of the many reasons I love the dream of going to every national park is that there are so many unexpected surprises.  There’ve been many times in which I’ve gone to a park with either low expectations or having a pretty solid hunch of what my favorite part of the park will be.  Wind Cave was a perfect example of this for me.  I went in thinking it was a checkmark and was only excited to knock it off the list because we were already close.  What I found instead was a profoundly deep experience in hearing, as the ancient Americans described it, “the breath of the Earth.”  Today was another of those days for me.

On our first day at Olympic National Park I was so pumped when we saw Hurricane Ridge.  The beautiful line of several mountain peaks appearing seemingly out of nowhere was nothing short of spectacular.  When Dominic first saw them he immediately stated that this was his favorite national park.  The views were amazing and I was pretty sure that I’d seen what would be the best part of this park.  The next couple of days would just be because we’re already here…  which leads me to today…

As we were driving back from our morning hikes and lunch we stopped in the Sol Duc area to check out the hot springs (BUST – it was a freaking swimming pool!) and a falls (BEAUTIFUL!).  While there we were also going to check out this cool little grove of ancient trees, the “Ancient Grove.”  A short hike, I was expecting a nice little walk in the woods.  What I experienced was anything but that.

In this grove were ancient trees (surprising, never would’ve guessed that by the name, would you?).  The sign on our way in explained that some were over 750 years old.  Walking in I was expecting a thick and lush rain forest setting similar to Muir Woods, but instead it opened into a wide open expanse filled only with giant trees (350+ feet?), moss, and a few ferns.  It was wide open yet totally full and untouched.  As I stepped into the grove there was an overwhelming feeling of serenity. It was calm, no stress, no chaos, no sadness, no frustration…  just peace.  The breeze lightly blew through the woods and the sun came down in beams, broken up by the primeval giants.  Everything was right in the world, I was in heaven on Earth.  My heart was filled and all was good in my life.  To say it was amazing was an understatement.

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I must’ve been acting a little off, Becky came up to me and asked if I was okay.  All I could mutter and explain was that I was feeling great, incredible, at peace.  It was tough to explain, but it was one of those moments in my life when everything just felt right.  Not just right, but “right.”  Closer to something bigger than myself than I had been in a long time, something that had called me there without me knowing it, something that just felt like home.  It felt right.

To say that I was surprised by how incredible this little grove was, just over a half mile hike, would be an understatement.  With Dad’s death so fresh in my heart this was the breath of calm I needed.  It brought me peace.  Earlier in the day I had been talking with Dad while I was hiking, telling him about how I was missing him, wishing he was here, and knowing that he was.  At one point as I stopped a gentle breeze blew across my face in what had been otherwise stagnant air…  I knew he was with me.  When I felt the peace of the Ancient Groves I didn’t even need to talk with him, I knew he was there.  And for that, I am so deeply grateful.



Day 272 – Thankful for a Normal Kreiling Vacation Day

The Kreilings had an excellent time in Olympic National Park today, it was pretty much a standard Kreiling vacation day.  There was everything from seeing a new national park (to us) to seeing cool wildlife to learning / teaching life lessons to frustration to happiness to camera shenanigans to good food and a beer or two…  Everything was pretty much what we’d normally hope for in a Kreiling vacation day – including 8 miles or so of hiking 🙂


Day 271 – Thankful for Gavin Learning a Lesson

Last night Gavin decided to try something and then showed one of our young neighbors how much fun it was.  Gavin took a rock, climbed up on a swing set, and then proceeded to pound on a thin aluminum post cap for the other neighbor’s fence.  By the time he was done with it the cap was pretty much toast.

As you can expect, we were pretty ticked when we found out what he had done.  He apologized to one set of neighbors and then went over to the other neighbor’s house, without being asked, to apologize.  When he came home from the neighbor’s we asked what they said.  Gavin shared, “He said that he would be mad, but I was man enough to own up to what I had done and apologized in person so he wasn’t mad.”

When Gavin went to bed last night we talked about it some more, and he had tears running down his face until he fell asleep.  After taking time to think about what he had done he realized he made a huge mistake and felt bad for damaging something that wasn’t his.

This morning he and I got up early, headed out to Menards, picked up a couple of new post covers, talked with our neighbor, and had the new ones installed before 8am.

While I’m still frustrated that he did it in the first place, I was glad that he learned several valuable lessons from this.  First, think before acting and don’t do anything to damage other people’s things.  Second, when you make a mistake, own up to it right away and apologize in person.  Last, after the mistake has been made, take action ASAP to fix it.  I’m thankful for him learning these lessons on something like this that can be easily fixed.



Day 270 – Thankful for Writing Thank You Cards

I know, this one seems a little odd, doesn’t it?  Trust me, I didn’t think I’d write this one either. 🙂


Over the past couple of nights Becky and I have been writing thank you cards to everyone for flowers, gifts in memory of Dad, and for their presence over the past few weeks.  I hate to admit it, but when we first put the list together I kept thinking about how long it was going to take to write them.  The list seemed daunting, mainly because I was looking at it as a list of tasks that had to be checked off.

Then something funny happened as I started writing the first one.  As I thought about the person it was going to be mailed to I smiled and thought about how much I appreciated that person.  I paused to think about what I should write and considered their gift, be it time, cards, flowers, whatever.  As I thought about their gift I smiled again.  Then I started to write inside their card.  While my pen was leaving its mark I started smiling again, thinking about how they would smile when they read it.  Once I was done writing it I paused again and thought about just how thankful I was for them and their gift, and smiled again thinking of their upcoming smile.

From the first thank you card on I realized that this wasn’t just a task or obligation to complete.  Writing these cards was both a part of the healing process for me (a reminder of what had happened) and a wonderful memory of a friend or family member doing something out of the goodness of their heart to bring my family and I joy in a difficult time.  As I penned each thank you I was reminded of their love and was thankful for them.

By the time I reached the end my smile was just as big as it had been when I wrote the first.  I thoroughly enjoyed writing them and was thankful for the joy and happiness that being thankful can bring.  Kind of silly that the “Thankful Blogger Guy” had to be reminded of that, isn’t it?  Regardless, I’m very thankful for writing thank you cards (thanks for the encouragement Becky!!!).


Day 269 – Thankful for Pausing to See How Far We’ve Come – Thanks Express Family!!!

While taking care of some business things today I found out that one of our teams had hit an all time high for Clients Billed (one of our most important metrics) this past week.  The reason this number is so important is that means we have many people working at many different businesses in our communities.  The more businesses we work with the better the selections of jobs we can offer people to help them find the right career.  If we could only measure two things in our business, this would be one of them.

I was ecstatic when I saw that number and was so proud of how all of the hard work of my teams had paid off and was now benefitting them, our clients, and the associates we put to work.  As I started to type up a congratulations email to the teams I paused and decided that I should add some perspective.  When I went back to old reports for comparison I was shocked and amazed at just how much growth my teams have had!

Way back in February of 2010 we made the call to expand in one territory to a second office.  Since then we’ve expanded again and now have three offices in that area.  In another market we’ve grown, and grown, and grown…

Back in 2010 those offices were putting people to work at 60 different businesses…  Today, I am proud to say that my teams have people currently working at over 140 different businesses in the same markets!!!

How awesome is that?  Thanks to the hard work of my teams we’ve more than doubled the number of different businesses we help people find their new career at.  I am so pumped and proud of them!!!

When I first saw our client count I was very happy, but I was on top of the world when I stood back and got some perspective.  Thanks for the awesomeness my Express Family!!!



Day 268 – Thankful for Starting Something(s)

There are many times in my life when I have a great idea, I put some thought into it, I never started action on it, and it faded away.  An opportunity lost, a wasted idea.  In some cases the concept might have been a failure, other times it might have been huge.  When I don’t start it I’ll never know for sure.

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Between last night and today I’ve started something(s).  I made the first step.  I’ve taken action to start bringing an idea to reality.  Whether or not it turns out or not I’ve got the feeling of starting something and it’s great!  Creating is one of my favorite things in the world and it is awesome to get something(s) rolling!

There’s a lot of work ahead of me, but today I’m thankful for taking the first step.  What’s the old saying?  A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  There’s been an idea or two that have been swimming in my head for quite some time and today I’ve taken the first step in setting them free…  and it feels AWESOME!!!


Day 267 – Thankful for Becky’s Love & Support

These past couple of weeks have been completely surreal.  It seems like the world stopped turning and then started moving in a different direction.  Up was down, chaos and turmoil was the norm, and everything was in a constant state of upheaval.  There’s always been one rock I could stand on, that would support me, and was always there when needed…


Throughout these past weeks Becky has been there for me in any way imaginable.  She’s been there to hug me when I’m down.  When I needed time alone she stepped back.  Several times she reminded me to take care of myself.  In the moments that I needed to collapse she held me up and wiped the tears away.  The nights I stayed over in the hospital she kept the house running, the boys fed, and all going to the right places at the right time – never once giving me a hard time or complaining.  Whatever was needed, Becky was there for me.

When I wasn’t sure what to do she pointed me in the right direction.  The couple of occasions in which I just wanted to run away or shirk my responsibility she encouraged me and coached me.  When I lost sight of what was really important she guided me.  Every step of the way, whether present with me or not, she was there with me, supporting me.

As she did all of this she stayed strong for me.  She misses my dad as much as I do and has her own sadness to deal with, yet she set it aside to take care of me.  There were many sacrifices she made as she has kept me going over the past couple of weeks, I am incredibly grateful for her presence.  Without her love and support I wouldn’t have made it through this.  Every day Becky helps me to become a better man.  Every day she supports me.  Every day she loves me.  For that I am extremely thankful!!!