Wade Astin–Advice for Beginning Hikers

I’d like to welcome Wade Astin to “Advice for Everyone.” Wade, do you have any nicknames?
I suppose many friends and coworkers call me Wade-O ….for some reason.

What do you do for a living?
I work in Information Technology, from within the Healthcare profession. I am an RN who had a love for computers, so when our hospital was implementing the electronic medical record, I volunteered to be on the design and build team. After some initial transition pains, I have never looked back. I was so serious about this profession that I pursued and obtained my Master’s Degree in Medical Informatics. The MIM program info can be found here: http://sps.northwestern.edu/program-areas/graduate/health-informatics/

From an IT perspective, how can patients and their families help healthcare workers better do their jobs?
This answer really stems from my background in IT BUT also from bedside nursing. The best thing a family member can do to help is to compile and maintain a succinct and accurate list of current medications being actually taken by the patient (not those prescribed) AND share it with each provider at each visit. Explanation….Medication discrepancies contribute greatly to medical errors and readmission, the vast majority of which are preventable. http://www.healthleadersmedia.com/leadership/medication-reconciliation-slashes-readmissions

How old are you? (You can lie if you want to….)
No benefit to lying here…I am 52 years old.

Where do you live?
I live in Horse Shoe, NC. My wife Lisa, along with two sophomores (one high school and one college) have been based here since 1997. We live on a mountain that always seems cooler in temperature than the town below. I experience this almost daily as I drive up the hill, and watch the outside temp on the dashboard of the car. The drop is a predictable 4-5 degrees cooler every time.

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?
No website….the closest thing would be a Facebook page. But, I do participate in managing a group Facebook page. It is for a band of hospital employed musicians: Karma Dogs. At this page we post events and share Karma-oriented message and images. There is an interesting write up about the band located here: http://newsroom.mission-health.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/2017/03/2017-1-Spring.pdf

Are you a vocalist or instrumentalist or both? How would you describe Karma Dogs’ style of music?
I am a bassist, but at the casual level. You would not want to hear ME sing, as I warble off tune quickly. The REAL talent in the band is in the hands of Brenda (vocals), Mike (guitar and vocals), and Randy (drums). The Karma Dogs Facebook page states, “….We are passionate about providing a great experience for those who come to hear our blend of classic and modern blues, rock, and groove music.” Please check out the videos and recordings at… https://www.facebook.com/Karma-Dogs-1724575397758604/ 

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
I have a deep love of the Great Smokies National Park. I enjoy the beauty as much as the deep history. In particular, the north shore of Fontana Lake is of interest to me. Examples include the abandoned copper mine at Eagle Creek, the ruins of the Ritter Lumber company at Hazel Creek, the cabin site of Horace Kephart near Medlin, NC, and the Road to Nowhere, where the trails will take you to Forney Creek. There are multiple grave yards along the North Shore. It is a goal to visit and see each one. More info can be seen here:

Your favorite meal?
That is easy…breakfast, shared with others. In the tradition of a country breakfast, with eggs, bacon biscuits, hash-browns etc. I enjoy it best when cooked in a cast iron skillet, and eaten in the outdoors

Pet peeve?
Very few

Favorite book, or movie, or TV show?
Book: right now, I enjoy reading and re-reading “Our Southern Highlanders.”
Movie: I laugh out loud each time I see Young Frankenstein.
Television show….I no longer watch TV. I seem to struggle to enjoy the many offerings, although most of my peers LOVE Game of Thrones, Mad Men, etc. To be honest, I suspect I am missing out on much entertainment and conversation with friends by avoiding these TV shows.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for _________?
Serenity and peace.

Tell us about your family?
Married to Lisa since Oct 19, 1991. Two children, age 15 and 19. Hannah (age 19) is a student at UNCG, who is planning to study law. She works a summer job here in Hendersonville assisting at a law office. My son Walker is a sophomore in high school. He has grown to be a fine scholar, and practices several hours each day on his bass guitar.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I think my hidden talent is drawing/sketching. I have a love for pen and paper and cannot resist doodling a cartoon or plotting out a humorous caricature.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Explore the Smoky Mountains, end-to end. There are 900 miles of trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; some of the trails are essentially unused except by the most sincere hiker. If I had free time, I would become a member of the 900 Mile club. More info can be found here: http://900miler.smhclub.org/

Thanks, Wade. Can I ask you to offer some advice for beginning hikers?
I approach this section with a Tips/Tricks approach of things I have learned over the years.
Use GOOD socks and GOOD boots; be prepared to cross a creek with waterproof crocs or sandals. It is worth it to get your feet wet and cooled down. (BTW, awesome waterproof crocs are only six bucks at Walmart.)
Dime-a-dozen tea candles make excellent solid fuel fire-starter…no liquid leakage! Even doubles as a candle!!
Filter all water that you drink. Period.
Know your route….. in advance. Have a good map. Share start and end points with family before you go. Consider that 2-3 miles/hr is about normal.
Go as lightweight as possible.
Use the essentials for all hikes: Flashlight, Lighter, simple First Aid kit, Map, H20 Plan, Knife, Bandana, use Baby-wipes vs. TP.
Take a camera, and friend, and share the experience.

Wade, thanks much for sharing with us from your experiences. May your adventures bring you great joy and satisfaction.


Sven Christiansen–Advice for Canyon Hikers

I’d like to welcome Sven Christiansen to the blog, and thanks for being with us. Can you tell us how old you are and where you live?
A whopping 53, and Fishers, Indiana, a northern suburb of Indianapolis.

What do you do for a living?
President of USA Homestays – placing international college students to live with local families. Plus more.

Do you have a website or a blog or a Twitter account or anything where people can learn more about you?

Okay, well, I’ll link to your organization’s website anyway, if that’s all right. How did you get into working with international students?
(At this point Sven and I had a lengthy phone conversation going around the mulberry bush a few times. We were neighbors twenty-five years ago, and it was a great chance to reconnect. We talked about families and kids and the international college kids he’s met and had the opportunity to get to know. The whole talk was a lot of fun, but it would take several pages to transcribe. I’m also, quite honestly, not a particularly good notetaker on phone conversations. The upshot is that there are lots and lots of international students who come to college in America and are looking for opportunities to stay in American homes and make friends and learn from each other. Sven has WAY more students interested in doing this than he has host families for, in several metropolitan areas. He’s always looking for more host families, and would also love to have coordinators to start this work in new areas. Check out the website for more details.)

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
North Korea. I was there before Dennis Rodman made it cool. (Clearly there’s a story there…)

Okay, what were you doing in North Korea?
During my college days, my dad was stationed in South Korea (US Army). I visited the family during the summers, at which point I also had summer jobs/internships. These jobs were always at AFKN, the American Forces Korea Network, TV and radio for troops. During one of my summer jobs, they had an armistice meeting in Panmunjam on the DMZ. I went and covered it. The meeting area is divided down the middle between North and South. Media are free to roam across the dividing line. I took two steps into the North and then two steps back to the South. That was enough for me.

Your favorite meal would be?

You’re an outdoorsman. Tell us about some of your trips?
Each summer we take a group of students to the mountains of Colorado. Each spring break we take a group on a 50 mile hike through the Paria Canyon in Utah and Arizona. The canyon hike is brutal. I love the Colorado trip because all the young studs can go hiking to their hearts’ content while I stay at the lake and fly fish.

Pet peeve?

Favorite book?
Love the “Circle Trilogy” by Ted Dekker and “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for……?
Us to meet the right international students and the right host families.

Tell us about your family?
Been married to the same paragon of patience for 27 years. Four kids.   (Kelsey is a social worker in Indy, Connor plays football for Elon University, Chase just left for Alderson-Broaddus University and will play volleyball, and Mikayla is a freshman in high school.)

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Hmm. Well, there isn’t much I can do… I guess some people are surprised I can speak German.

When and how did you learn to speak German?
I was born in Berlin and German is my native tongue.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Read a novel.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I’d also like to write a novel.

Assuming you were serious about “I’d like to write a novel,” can you tell us what genre appeals? Western? Thriller? Sci-fi? Literary?
Thriller. For sure.

Can I ask you to offer some advice to canyon hikers?
Stay home.

Ha! But, seriously?
Serious advice: train, train, train before you go. And watch for quicksand.

Okay, and thanks much, Sven. I appreciate you taking the time to let us get to know you a little, and may God bless and guide you and your co-workers in your work with Homestays.