A blog about outdoor adventure and Vanlife

The Madness of Black Friday

Black Friday is here once again.  H and I made our annual Black Friday pilgrimage.

We looked for a parking place, like forever.

The lines were long and epic

Black Friday shopping traffic was unbelievable

The roads were packed with holiday traffic, and we had to park miles away from the mall.

OMG, We had to park, like MILES from the mall…

We scored a great deal on some sunshine (80% off, Woohoo!).  I trampled some people to get a screaming deal on some Fresh Air (it was practically free at $00.00).  We also got a HUGE box of endorphins for all our friends and all the loyal readers of this blog.

H jams over to the food court for some mall pizza

It was not all fun.  We had to climb to the 200th floor of the mall for some Sweeping Views.  Then we went screaming down to the lobby, only to hammer back up 160 floors for some Burning Quads.

H nears the 200th floor of the mall. Phew!

The parking lots were absolutely packed

All things considered, it was a successful Black Friday.  We spent $000.00 and arrived home tired and hungry.

The mall was so packed, we felt like cattle.

Pretty pictures aside, there is a message to this post.  As I write this, there are probably 1,000 anti-Christmas consumer rants being madly typed out on WordPress.

This is a blog about outdoor adventures large and small, finding peace and joy in nature, and the reward of outdoor sports.  Christmas is a strange thing.  It’s like a switch that turns on in mid-November.  All of a sudden, there are gazillions of messages offering eternal happiness and Christmas cheer if you just buy more stuff.  Shopping is fun, right?  What could be more fun than getting to the mall at 6am, and fighting traffic and crowds to save $20 on a widget?

Advertising is both subtle and insidious.  It equates buying stuff with happiness.  Buy this and your kids will love you.  Buy that and you’ll be a chick/dude magnet.  Show how unique and sophisticated you are with prominent labels on your clothing.  Somehow our self worth has become entwined with what you buy or what brand you wear, rather than what you do.  The message of “Buy More Stuff” reaches tens of millions of Americans who flock to the malls on Black Friday.  The reality is that a day outdoors with your family or friends creates memories that will live on long after Black Friday.

As we march toward winter solstice and winter holidays (whatever you celebrate), days are short and daylight hours valuable.  My message is twofold and simple-

Life is about DOING stuff, not stuff.

and

When you look back at your life in your elder years, you’ll never wish you spent more time at the mall.

So get out there.  Use your days for awesome adventures.  Use your nights for online shopping (if  you must), in the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, with the beverage of your choice, as you plan your next outdoor adventure…

Note:  The photos taken in this post are from on Mt. Tamalpais and at Nicasio Reservoir- Marin County, CA.  And yes they were taken on Black Friday.

See you on the trail…

Update-  Just received notification that I’ve been selected for Freshly Pressed for the second time.  I’m humbled, yet again.  For those new to the TahoeSux blog, it’s about celebrating a love of outdoor adventure through running, hiking, skiing, biking, surfing, stand up paddleboarding, mountain life, pretty pictures, and just being outdoors.  We are committed to original content and only post our own words and pictures.

For those interested in more, here are a few posts (in no particular order) that I think represent the blog and our message well:

The Simple Joy of Running in the Rain

In Search of Hidden Waterfalls- Alpine Dam

TahoePix- Alta Ghost Town

Girl and Dog on the Lake of the Sky

Bike Tour: Salt Lake City to Albuquerque  (also Freshly Pressed)

A Change of Seasons- The Sleeping Lady

Enjoy- Thanks for reading

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Categorised in: Adventures, Trails, Uncategorized

100 Responses »

  1. What a way to spend the day. Nice!

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  2. “Life is about DOING stuff, not stuff. and When you look back at your life in your elder years, you’ll never wish you spent more time at the mall.” I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing your gorgeous bike ride. We spent Black Friday at the beach. 🙂

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    • Thanks. I think we all get wrapped up in the consumer driven parts of the holidays. We are bombarded by messages of advertising in every form- TV, radio, print, e-mail, billboards, and even our mobile devices. Children are especially vulnerable to these and there is peer pressure on kids and parents to have the latest fad toys.

      I’ve given and received many meaningless gifts over the years as well. What matters more as I get older is the experiences of laughing with friends or feeling the crisp air of winter as I climb yet another hill…

      Love your blog, too. I get behind in reading it, but love your message of outdoor play.

      Like

  3. What about the madness of Cyber Monday? I look forward to seeing your next blog!

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  4. Thanks for this reminder that life is meaningful without the stuff. Congrats on FP!

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  5. Love it! Great post and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed. The farthest we got on Black Friday was our annual trip to Menards, to buy a “Mystery Christmas Tree”. Every year, we pick a tree from all of the trussed up little bundles, and don’t ask the nice man who’s freezing his butt off to unwrap it so we can have a good look. We buy on faith that we’ve miraculously picked the very bestest Christmas tree in the place. We don’t have any idea until we get it home, give the trunk a fresh cut and put it in the stand what it will look like when it’s fragrant branches unfurl and stretch themselves out. It’s a great tradition that my husband and I started with our first tree three years ago, and plan to do it every year from now on. This year, we got luckier than in years past. The tree is so perfectly shaped and gorgeous. I can smell the pine needles all the way up to my bedroom. Almost a shame to put shiny stuff all over it, but I’m doing it anyway. Thanks for the great read and the pictures. And here’s to all of us who don’t celebrate “Black Friday” like the millions of frenzied shoppers.

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  6. I don’t consider myself an ‘outdoorsy’ person but through my desire to raise my children better and create memorable moments for them I’ve been spending more times outdoors and I couldn’t agree more. I like your reasonable approach ‘shop at night, online if you need to’. Beautiful photos and smart, lovely concept!

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  7. This makes me want to get out and ride my bike again. It’s nowhere near as picturesque in flat Florida though. Great photos!

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  8. Those lines sure did look super long 😉 Looks like a killer ride!!!

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  9. Congrats on being FPed.

    I worked PT for 27 months in a mall (and wrote a book about it)…starting Black Friday people were insane. Truly mad. There is a sort of frenzy to acquire that is toxic…and so many more happy memories are indeed created by doing and being, not buying. Thanks for reminding so many people what matters!

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    • Thanks! I too worked at a mall part time, for a major outdoor retailer (begins with R and ends with I). I worked there for discounts to buy more outdoor gear for my adventures. Eventually when I realized that I was actually paying to work there and was spending more money on gear than I brought home…

      I was always stunned by the stampede mentality of the holiday season. People got completely bent out of shape about socks and hats. I remember some people buying multiple $400 GoreTex jackets so that they would have the right size/color on Xmas morning.

      Like

  10. Awesome post there. Glad to read posts from people like you 🙂

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  11. I like the photo with the leaf… And I love the blue of your skies…

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    • Thanks. The leaf was a lucky accident. I had stopped to take a picture of the bike tire tracks and canopy of trees. Completely by coincidence I stopped next to the biggest leaf around. A happy accident, no doubt.

      It was a stellar day to be outside. Clear and blue, and very crisp in the trees…

      Like

  12. What a delightful post…I love the “life is about doing stuff, not stuff”. You captured the point beautifully. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world.

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  13. We skipped the mall madness, as well. We took a family hike. It was funny that while in years past, we would have been happy if there were fewer than 20 people in front of us at the register to this year feeling a little crowded if we saw six other people on the trail.

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  14. What a fun read! So glad WP pointed me to your site.
    I love the outdoors as well (grew up in rural Ontario and now live in Toronto). Even in the big city there is lots of green space to hike and bike. Blue skies and sunshine can be appreciated anywhere! 🙂
    My blog features some of my love of nature but mostly it’s about minimalism and mindfulness. Apropos of the buying/gifting theme, here’s a post I wrote about it.
    http://minimalistself.wordpress.com/2011/05/25/permission-to-receive-less-expect-less/
    Take care!
    Jo

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    • I like your blog! Nicely written from the heart. I’ll make a point to go back and read more. I try to look at everyone’s blog who takes the time to ‘Like’ or comment on mine. The unexpected benefit of the blog is in finding other cool perspectives, and people.

      Thanks again…

      Like

  15. Beautiful pics and great message! I like the way you phrased it – life is about doing stuff, not stuff.

    Congrats on being FP! 🙂

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  16. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed, what beautiful pictures!
    My own take on Black Friday:

    http://uribotanicalgardens.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/my-favorite-holiday/

    I’m with ya!

    Like

  17. One of my favourite things to do, besides traveling (and eating), is trail running. I wish the hoards of people who spend their time and energy standing in line outside of Walmart, waiting for the doors to slide open, and then trampling over each other for items that won’t do anything for their spirit could feel the amazing high of spending an afternoon outdoors with the sun and breeze in their faces. I’m sure some of them do, but I have a good feeling that most of them don’t. It’s way better than lugging home a plasma screen. Very nice post.

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  18. Excellent post, I can clearly see why it was chosen to be FP! I agree 100% with the message here, and am excited to check out more of your blog. While I wasn’t bike riding on Black Friday, I was relaxing, enjoying the day, and being mindful of the present. We have been trying to rid ourselves of this socialized “need” to have stuff–it’s quite hard because it seeps in quietly sometimes. But, for us, riding our bikes has been the most effective way to combat it.

    And as for your comment about “buy that and your kids will love you.” You are so right about this! I think a good example is a commercial that is playing right now for the Build-A-Bear company. It starts with the mother saying something about how her daughter puts star stickers on things she likes, so she knows she has to buy her daughter something special (Don’t follow the logic? Neither do I…). So she goes to Build-A-Bear and her daughter puts a start on it. It makes me shake my head every time.

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  19. so clever! so lovely! congrats on being freshly pressed! i couldn’t agree more with all you had to say. we try pretty hard to avoid all manner of sales and stampedes and door busters and EMT stations when we shop. if i can’t find stuff at a local hobby shop or small boutique or book store, then it doesn’t exist. what will my kids remember about their gifts? that they built them, read them or wore them and that they were enough. too much stuff stuffs too much. great pics and fun captions. good job! 🙂

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  20. This is an absolutely fantastic post. Think you for sharing, and congrats on FP!

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  21. Great post/message. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! 🙂 I truly wish that the real meaning of Christmas would somehow take this holiday back from the marketing firms. Posts like this one are a step in the right direction, though. 🙂 Great pics, BTW.

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    • I completely agree! It is sad how the season has transformed into a huge marketing gig. However, I know there are quite a number of people that do remember the true meaning of Christmas, I believe it just has to be reminded upon them.

      Like

  22. what a wonderful epic ride and on a street bicycle at that i also love to post my bicycle rides great post

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  23. Now THAT’S my kind of Black Friday! Beautiful pics, great post.

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  24. Absolutely brilliant….and you made me laugh….several times. I don’t want to say this post is life changing,…but….when I started my blog I said it had the possibility of changing lives. I didn’t think I really, really believed that until now–yours definitely shifted my mindset.

    First thing tomorrow–see the world….take more pictures….change the world with a blog or two.

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    • Thanks so much. I’ve been plugging away at the blog for about a year now, and it’s been an interesting experience. I’ve taken inspiration from many people’s blogs, and always appreciated simple stories stories and photos. Seeing the world through different peoples eyes is great. Even (or especially) when it’s far removed from my own world. This blog started from reading other blogs. What started as a Tahoe-centric blog about Lake Tahoe and mountain life broadened into a blog about outdoor adventure. Personal blogs are dynamic I suppose.

      There are so many different ways to write a successful blog. Blogs lend themselves particularly well to integrating original photos and media. I’ve been getting better at it as I continue to write. It took perhaps 40 posts to start “finding” my writing style and voice. Something I’ll continue to work on. I’ve gotten better about integrating photos to support the “story.” Too many topics, too little time.

      When WordPress notified me I’d been selected for Freshly Pressed, they called it a “photo essay.” I’d never heard the term two days ago. Apparently I’m a “photo essay” specialist. WooHoo!

      I’ve been drafting a “What I’ve Learned in a Year of Blogging” post. I suppose I’ll make that more of a priority. It’s been a learning experience…

      Thanks and good luck…

      Like

      • ….so the number was 40 for you….I’m at 4 with a new camera on its way. I feel like I’m on the brink…of what, I’m not sure. Thanks for sharing your process…it’s helping to smooth out this rough beginning of mine.

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  25. These photos are great, they remind me of going on bike rides from San Francisco to Petaluma through the Marin Headlands. I think it is much better to spend a day being active rather than focusing on mindless consumerism, Paradoxically though I work for a company called http://www.playgroundentertainmentgroup.com through the company our intention is to get kids in the habit of being active for life. Using media to get people more active? It is possible.

    Like

  26. Never a truer word spoken! Beautiful pictures too x

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  27. As an Australian, I’m not exactly sure what ‘black Friday’ is (I suppose I’ll go & google it now) but your message is definitely clear – and good. I thoroughly agree, life is all about the the things you do not the things you have. And congrats on being FP 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks!

      Here’s my condensed version of Black Friday for the international audience: Black Friday is the official start to the Christmas Shopping season. It is the day after Thanksgiving (our official day of gluttony, american football, and tense meals with all the relatives you hate). Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday in November and many people have a long weekend. Retailers and advertisers try to foster a stampede mentality among U.S. shoppers by promising “once a year” deals. It’s very effective. Shoppers flock to the malls by the millions. They even camp out at the mall in search of limited deals, which large retailers take a “loss leader” on to foster a sense of scarcity (like offering a few televisions below cost so that people camp out to be first in the door.

      Short Version- Black Friday is our national holiday of rabid consumerism. It follows our national holiday of Gluttony.

      Hope that helps.

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  28. Love this! Outdoor adventures are more remarkable than the “shopping spirit” that happens during this time of year. They bring about an internal part in yourself that often times you never knew existed. I feel so free and alive when I go for a run or some type of outdoor excursion. Nature is beauty in itself.

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  29. Fantastic! Congratulations! 🙂

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  30. I already enjoyed the writing but from the moment I saw the word “widget,” I was sold. I avoid Black Friday as much as I can. No extreme outdoor adventures happened that day BUT I did take my cousin who was visiting from out of town and showed him around. I’d rather use my Black Fridays to spend time with friends and family than to dodge crazy people buying stuff 😛

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  31. Brilliant, your blog post was a great way to end an impossibly perfect day, Thank you. 🙂

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  32. I’ve ridden my bike on those same roads, but don’t remember them being so empty. Maybe it was because everyone was at the mall.

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  33. Thank you, thank you for putting into words that which I could not. Simply beautiful.

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  34. I’m right there with ya. I was doing the same thing Friday morning, though on dirt with my Specialized. I have yet to partake in any black Friday/cyber Monday/give us more money Day, and don’t see myself doing so anytime soon. Great photos too!

    Like

  35. A reblogué ceci sur Espoir d'école and commented:
    Black Friday again…Cette fois,le cycliste cherche une place de parking pour aller au magasin et…

    Like

  36. Black Friday is too much about negativity anymore but not very many people these days can be influenced to not be so selfish, especially in the Christmas (holiday) season. (I state Christmas for it is the holiday I celebrate but Holiday for as not to offend any others who read for I have no bias). People go out to buy gifts at a cheap price and will do anything for that new TV or game. The shame is in those people that have nothing and still give the shirt off their backs for others. I am glad my mother and father raised me under the pretense that if you cannot give much, give more. If more people would enjoy life rather than fight over a different way to sit in front of a screen all day then maybe the world would be a better place.

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  37. Reblogged this on A Life In Paperback and commented:
    So very refreshing & delightful. These are the people I appreciate in life.

    Like

  38. Beautiful images, and very good satire. I know I’d take a trip like that over fighting over plastic in a mall any day!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rohan.

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  39. Nice post! While I wasn’t enjoying the outdoors on Black Friday, doctor’s appointments instead, I certainly agree that you can’t buy happiness (especially not on the rudest shopping day of the year). Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    Like

  40. Love this! ❤ Great idea to spend such a nice day

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  41. Congrats on FP and great post. I’m not an outdoor enthusiast but I did not shop on Black Friday and I was outdoors — raking leaves and it was a nice day. Later I watched an old movie with my kids. I’ll have to do some shopping at some point but I want to make sure we have time together, time outside, time with our dogs. Congrats again.

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  42. +10,000!!!! I agree 100%. I could go off on a 5 page rant right now with my own feelings about the consumerism on steroids land we live in, but I digress. Best line “Life is about DOING stuff, not stuff!” Bravo!

    Like

  43. Thank you thank you! I just blogged about something like this, but not nearly as eloquently. The photos were beautiful. Thanks for the breath of fresh (balsam-scented) air!

    Like

  44. Reblogged this on Iterative Living and commented:
    I found this photo journal post about an alternative black friday activity. I hope you enjoying find yourself an adventure soon.

    Like

  45. Ohhh black friday…haha It is quite the event and I must admit I enjoy it! Great post, and congrats on FP!

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  46. “The reality is that a day outdoors with your family or friends creates memories that will live on long after Black Friday.” TRUE – this is the best example of an anti-stuff post I’ve ever read!

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    • Thank you! Lord knows I’ve given and received many ridiculous gifts over the years, all under the guise of “I have to get something for Aunt Marge (or whoever).” I certainly don’t want to come off as an anti-Christmas curmudgeon. As I’ve gotten older, I appreciate the time together, not the stuff.

      Thanks again!

      Like

      • I think you come off as exactly what Christmas represents to a lot of people, time together creating peaceful, joyous, loving memories. There’s nothing curmudgeon about that. I’d rather have an experience than a shrink wrapped holiday gift set of anything. 🙂

        Like

  47. Reblogged this on Whirling Words and commented:
    Life is About Doing Stuff, indeed. I am really doing it wrong…

    Like

  48. I really enjoyed this. Amazing photos!

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  49. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, again !!!! Stuff ….. it’s amazing that we put so much value on it, your post hit the nail on the head, great job!!

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  50. Love the photos and the story. i hate the whole “Black Friday consumerism-Christmas is a shopping holiday” thing. I stayed away from the stores, took a run outside, got my nails polished and cleaned up from Thanksgiving guests, and went to a movie. No mall for me but a very satisfying Friday, without the black. Congratulations for getting FP’d AGAIN.

    Like

  51. This is beautiful! What a departure from the pointless consumerism which defines Black Friday! I wish I would have found this post sooner. Just awesome!

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  52. Sounds like a great way to spend any day – your Black Friday appears to be the same day we have in Australia on “Boxing Day” – day after Christmas Day – not a good day to try to go anywhere near shopping centres here.
    Congrats on being FP for the 2nd time

    Like

  53. Now that would definitely tempt me to venture out on Black Friday.

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  54. Wow! And WOW on the pics ….. love them. 🙂 Makes me want to go outside in the rain and go for a walk around the block.

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  55. I saw on the news the other day a family who camped out for 3 days, missing Thanksgiving, so they could get a new flat screen TV…

    Anyways a nice day of cycling in California sunshine beats Black friday anytime.

    Like

  56. Yes, this is really great. I love the pictures and thought behind this!

    Like

    • Thanks- You have a great blog! Love it. Following it now. One of the great things about being Freshly Pressed is that you get to connect with kindred spirits from all over the world.

      I’m have a couple posts drafted on the economics of riding your bike, electric assist bikes, and cargo bikes. We are both avid “utility” cyclists as well as road/mountain bikers.

      Like

      • That is great to hear, it is great to have found you, so Freshly Pressed is really good for us all!

        Can’t wait to see some of those posts, and I really do appreciate you coming to check out my blog too, it means a lot.

        Like

      • Thanks. Every time someone clicks “like” or takes the time to comment, I check out their blog (if they have one). We all blog for different reasons, and I’ve seen many great blogs, many great stories, beautiful pics, and different writing styles. We all draw on each other for inspiration.

        Like

  57. If only everyone had this realisation the world would be a better place. We don’t have Black Friday in Australia but way too much time is spent accumulating stuff while family fun time takes a backseat. I am going to show your blog to my non-blogging husband who is a huge fan of cycle touring.

    Like

  58. Amazing! Well said and I love the message. This sure motivated me to focus on my university papers so I can get outside to run, ride, and climb sooner then later!

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  59. I love your idea of how to spend Black Friday. I would much rather be living than out trying to get more stuff that I don’t need. Congrats on making Freshly Pressed, it was fun to read.

    Like

  60. Sometimes I get over riden by wanting more,doing more, being more. My friend used a great affirmation: I am enough, I have enough, I do enough. I need to say that to myself often just to help me appreciate life as it is instead of always aiming for some future filled with more things. life is so filled with amazing things expecially nature. Lovely blog. Thanks

    Like

  61. Great post. It’s the days we spent outside that are memorable. Laughing. Playing. And seeing the world as it really is.

    Like

  62. I love that post! I find it funny how the day before people spend time to give thanks… snd then hours later they go and trample each to get STUFF! How ironic.

    Like

  63. I shop where you shop, best prices in my town. Enjoy the uphill’s and the downs…..be safe.

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  64. nice! forget black Friday 😀

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  65. What a great way to spend Black Friday, free from commercialism, crowds, no parking, and long lines. Great post!

    Like

  66. I stumbled across this today. A timely reminder to get out there and DO stuff.

    Like

    • Thank you. I forgot about this post. It’s that time of year again when consumption and consumerism impossible to escape.

      Personally, we’ll be headed out to the beach to surf, and dig holes, and roll in the sand.

      Like

Trackbacks

  1. Inspiring Blog Award! | The Cornerstone Caveman
  2. The Madness of Black Friday « charlesnyangiti

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