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Chief Shenanigans Officer

Hi, I’m Woody. Born and raised in small town Illinois, I grew up in an outdoor-focused family. Mom’s side was into fishing and camping and bike riding. When my mom met my dad, he introduced to re-introduced her and us to the hunting world. I can remember spending countless nights going on drives around the country just to look at deer. They would bring me out with them hunting or to track a deer and eventually getting me started during college. Overall, my family has always had an adventurous spirit. Through middle school and high school, I focused more on school and sports and girls. You know, teenager stuff. My grandparents would take us on trips every year and smaller more frequent ones. They took us to the Badlands, Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida and the list goes on. I was young and never really appreciated what I was seeing and experiencing. Now I find myself going back to a lot of those places to experience them with the appreciation they deserve. Now, my own adventurous ways started to come back after high school. While in college, my own adventurous spirit really took off. I spent countless hours adventuring around Southern Illinois and the Shawnee National Forest throughout college. My favorite game was, and still is, WDTRG. Where does the road go? We would pick a direction and just start going until we found something worth stopping for or some cool roads. We would have no destination in mind, just out for what we could happen upon. Maps or GPS were typically not allowed as that took away from the adventure for us. My regret is I didn’t spend MORE time adventuring in college with all the free time. After college, I started taking the adventuring and exploring further and further out. I’ve gone to Maine on bear hunts, Colorado numerous times, Montana twice, The Dakotas, Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, and the list goes on. I’ll take small weekend trips if work takes me somewhere, or if I get home early. I’ve built a life that allows for as much adventure as I can fit in. That was all fine and dandy until the fall of 2022. In the fall of 2022, I started getting sick. I had a reoccurring strep infection that went misdiagnosed for 4 weeks then took two months on and off of medications to get it under control. Before that was under control, I also contracted COVID. So much fun. During this time, I started getting weaker and my brain just wasn’t working like it should. We attributed it to just being sick and my body needed rest.  I continually got worse.  I started to really go downhill. I couldn’t control my body temperature, emotions, thoughts or really anything. My mind and body were just shutting down. Doctors were trying different medications for various things and nothing was really helping, although some made things worse. I continued to go downhill. I lost memory abilities, cognitive abilities, dexterity in my hands, muscle. After a long time, we learned I was having moments of disassociation or derealization. I wouldn’t know what was going on or where I was, who I was with, stuff like that. I had a negative reaction to some anti-depressants they were having me try to see if that was a factor and tried to kill myself. Shout-out to Backpacker Radio podcast and SecondChanceHiker. While I was going through my hardest moment on the interstate, I remembered their conversation about the suicide hot line and called in and I’m very glad I did. They helped me off the ledge and I learned some more information about it. It was a very rough spring. I eventually lost the ability to walk down stairs or lift packages. I went to physical therapy to help with that, and while working with her, we learned I had Lyme disease. Most likely contracted during my Northwoods trip in the fall of 2022. The timeline matched up with when some of symptoms started. So, add that to the strep infection and COVID. My body and brain didn’t have a chance. The doctors gave me the meds for that and a few symptoms went away. The bulk was still there and I was still working on getting strength back. I’m still affected by some of the mental and brain related issues today along with other random physical symptoms. We are working with doctors continuously to figure this out. And that leads me to why I started this. I needed a place to document my adventures since my memory was no longer what it was. I also wanted to spread the idea of really taking it in. Living in the moment you’re in and not always looking at the next step or what you have to do next. Life is the race you want to lose, and having fun along the way is great. I learned through all this life can be taken from you at any moment. Whether it be death or a wild round of illness that changes every aspect of your life. Its too short and the race is too fast not to enjoy every moment you can. And you never know which moments are going to stand out later in life, so we might as well be present in every one.


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