Lately, my favorite hobby has been spending time with my girlfriend, Lori. She's the best thing that ever happen to me. Yeah, I know how corny that sounds but after years of thinking I'd never find someone who knew me so well we'd be able to complete each other's sentences, it finally happened. She's become the love of my life and my best friend. She's an amazing person who takes care of mentally challenged children and has a heart of gold. She's also slightly twisted (in a good way) but anyone who can put up with me would have to be a little...off. :)

I've got several actual hobbies but only a handful that I actually do on a regular basis. I'll list a few of them here and provide some links in case you are interested in learning more about them yourself. And you can keep up to date on me through MySpace or Facebook.

One of my favorite hobbies is traveling. I love to travel. I've been to most of the east coast and am looking forward to getting out west more often. I'd like to eventually see every one of the 50 states. So far, I've seen most of the middle and eastern half, and also parts of Canada and Mexico. My dream trip is a tour of the British Isles. I'm wanting to spend about 2 weeks in England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Check out the Photographs section for many of the pictures that I've taken. I always have some new ones to put online so check often.

A new hobby I've been doing with my girlfriend lately is Geocaching. If you have never tried this, I HIGHLY recommend it. All you need is a GPSr and a computer. You upload geocache information into the GPSr (GPS receiver) and then you go on a global hunt. Geocaches are containers hidden in different places around the globe and you use your GPSr to find them. Once you find them, you sign the log and put them back for others to find. Some are larger containers and you can trade objects for fun. We have a large chest we keep that is filled with stuff we have traded in different geocaches around the country. You can get some exercise, learn something new about your neighborhood, and even discover historical places you never knew existed.

Another hobby I wandered into is hockey. I first started watching hockey back in the early 90s after I went to Atlanta with my friend Eric (the same guy who went skiing with me at Snowshoe) and he suggested we go see the Atlanta Knights play. From the moment they dropped the puck, I was hooked. I started watching it on TV and found myself becoming a fan of the Colorado Avalanche. They were a fun team to watch and won the Stanley Cup that season. Then the Nashville Predators came to town. I haven't missed many games since they first appeared in 1998. A few of my more fonder memories are watching Wayne Gretzky skate for what was to be his last season in the NHL as a player, seeing Patrick Roy make some amazing saves, and seeing players like Joe Sakic, Mario Lemieux, and Peter Forsberg skate in person. Aside from Nashville, I saw game 7 of a playoff game in St Louis versus the San Jose Sharks and there is nothing in the world like playoff hockey. The people of Nashville are in for a real awakening when/if the Predators make it past the first round.

So with all of the hockey viewing, the natural next step was "trying" to play the game. I ran across some people who always wanted to try it as well on the Predators message boards and before long, we were inline skate-clad and donned our jerseys. I haven't played in awhile because of work and most of the guys switched to ice hockey. In the meantime, a number of us get together once a week or every two weeks to ice skate at the Sportsplex during the free skate sessions on Wednesday afternoons. A good time is usually had by all!

One hobby that I do infrequently is target practice. I have a group of friends that enjoy going out about once or twice a month and shoot firearms. It's not as dangerous as the media would have you believe. It's actually as safe as owning a slingshot or a tube of mace. You just have to be responsible as with any self-defense mechanism. I obtained a Tennessee carrying permit in order to transport my weapons to the range without fear of arrest for having loaded weapons in the car. My collection contains a Mauser M2 .40 Cal auto-loading handgun, a 1945 Russian Mosin Nagant M44 7.62x54R rifle, and a reproduction .44 Cal 1851 Colt Navy black powder revolver (which is a blast to shoot! Pun intended), a Chinese-made SKS rifle rifle with a 30 round magazine. I've modified it a bit to make it more fun to fire, a M1 Carbine, and a CZ 52 Pistol.

I've shot firearms since I was a little kid when my father first taught me firearm safety and I've never been hurt, except the occasional small burn by a spent cartridge (which is usually from my brother's MAK90). I generally shoot with my brother and my friend, Mark. We do quite a bit of reading and posting on a great firearm forum called The High Road. It's a great place to learn something new and trade off stories with other qualified shooters and sportsmen. I'm no longer a National Rifle Association member because I didn't see where they were doing anything worthwhile for me but I was for several years.

A fun project I've undertaken a few years ago is collecting Civil War artifacts and relics. I have several nice, museum quality pieces that I will photograph and put online at some point. I'm most proud of my bullet collection which is a labor of love and a work in progress. It's also peaked my interested in battle sites and preservation of our battlegrounds. I was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans for several years. I have several family members who served in the Confederate Army, a few that served in the Union army, and at least two who died during the War. I'll be posting more information on the soldiers in the Genealogy section.

I've been to quite a few battle sites and taken many pictures. I'll be posting these pictures in the History section as they are scanned. I'd like to have a virtual Civil War battlefield tour online when I'm finished. It takes quite a bit of research beforehand and scanning some of the 35mm stuff takes ages. But it'll happen eventually. Stay tuned.

Something that I picked up after a family trip to Gatlinburg is snow skiing. Ober Gatlinburg is a good place for a beginner because if you can ski in that slush and ice, you can ski anywhere! The slopes aren't very steep and the training is excellent. There's nothing in the world like being up on top of a mountain covered in snow with nothing between you and the bottom except a pair of skis. But one trip to Gatlinburg can't prepare a person for the real resorts. I thought skiing was a breeze...and at Gatlinburg it was! When I traveled to Snowshoe, WV, for my first REAL skiing trip, I was petrified. The greens at Snowshoe are the equivalent of a blue at Gatlinburg. Snowshoe showed me what real skiing is all about and since then I've been to Park City, UT, Paoli, IN, and looking forward to more slopes in the future. I'm always looking for new ski buddies so email me if you are interested.

Pictures of the Gatlinburg, Snowshoe, and Park City trips are in the Photos section. I'm hoping to see Colorado snow before too much longer. I think my dream trip would either be to Vail, Aspen, or Breckinridge. I'm hoping to go back to Paoli, IN, to learn to snowboard one season, too.

Genealogy is another passion of mine. I first started doing research when my grandmother died suddenly. It got me to wondering where I came from. So I've started a quest to find out how I got to where I am today. It's shown me a whole new world I never knew existed. I've even met several people who are related to me that I never knew existed and have been sent pictures of my great-great grandparents.

If you've ever wondered where you came from or who your relatives really were, check out Ancestry.com or Rootsweb.com. You'd be surprised what you can learn. I'm also working on a new website called LedfordFamily.org which I have online where people can post stories about their Ledford heritage and write out pages from family Bibles before they are lost to history.

And finally, when I get some downtime at work, I like playing with computers. Specifically Linux. It's a fun operating system and extremely stable. It certainly beats having to reboot every day. It also has tons of free projects that can make it very interesting and business worthy. It's not for everyone but it will certainly continue to grow in popularity as more businesses search for stable platforms for applications and data storage.

Thanks for visiting my website. I'm always interested in new hobbies and learning new things. I'll be updating this section as time and education permit.


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