Mountaineering and Climbing
I was hooked after my first trip to Mt. Rainier. Mountaineering is a wonderful combination of monotonous activity, moments of excitement, outdoor activity tinged with danger, and exhiliration upon completion. For me it provides an arena to learn new skills and an environment in which one feels totally alive, a tiny human amidst the vast forces of nature. See where I've been.
In addition to mountaineering I enjoy both rock and ice climbing in the DC area and, when I can get there, out west.
With more things to build on my list than I can count, I have an unending supply of projects. I've built simple furniture, cutting boards, and bookshelves; repaired window frames and framed in air ducts; refinshed two floors worth of chestnut trim; and generally learned a lot. I'm still an amateur, but I know enough to get by.
My wife Stacey and I are have mostly refinished a mid-century DC rowhouse (hence the chestnut trim), so I had to expand my construction skills to include drywall, insulation, masonry, and lighting 70 year old furnaces.
Now I've moved on to making various pieces of furniture, like the dining table below, customized to fit our house.
Stacey won't let me get small rodents, birds, or reptiles. But she did agree to two cats and a dog (and, in the past, a large-ish aquarium). So that's how we ended up with Madeira, Madrid, and Cairo, who all came from various DC shelters.
Madeira and Madrid came first and provided endless entertairnment in our small apartment. When we graduated to a house we added on Cairo the dog, who has been a constant source of both amusement and frustration.