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  • Writer's pictureAdventures with Jim

Adventures with My Dad

While my sisters were still living at home, alone time with my Dad was quite rare. One of my earliest memories is a weekend day when it was just Dad and I. Mom had taken my sisters somewhere for the day and Dad told me we could do absolutely ANYTHING I wanted that day.

Jim and McKenzie

Jim and McKenzie hiking in the Southwest U.S.

I was maybe five or six years-old, so naturally, the day I planned out for us consisted of fun! What I remember most was a trip to Toys`R’ Us and dinner at Ruby Tuesday at the Freehold Raceway Mall. Our family frequented Ruby Tuesday often... (Jim K, party of 6, non-smoking) and I was a huge fan of their breadsticks. It was this fateful day that I tried the salad bar for the very first time!

I remember Dad and I walking over to the salad bar, and him asking what he should put on my plate. Being too short to see the various salad toppings, he described each food item carefully, occasionally picking me up so I could see what the options were. I tried many new to me foods that evening, and discovered one of my all-time favorites, coconut! Needless to say, and the salad bar became my go-to meal at Ruby Tuesday from that point on.

Growing up in a household of girls, there were no gender roles. We were expected to contribute to whatever needed to be done, which always seemed to include a lot of yard work... Aside from mowing the lawn, we can all drive a manual, and tell you the difference between a Philips head and a flat head (yes, it is shocking some people don’t know the difference). Dad taught me the importance of using a level when hanging shelves, to the best way to spackle a wall when the dog chews a hole in it, and how to use a chain saw. This is likely why I have the mentality that I can accomplish anything; I was never raised to think otherwise.

Jim and McKenzie baking

Through the years, Dad didn’t have any trouble keeping up with the many hobbies I chose to take on. He was there at my dance recitals to act as security, he’d come cheer me on when I danced at the high school football games, and he’d record the school concerts and plays from his seat in the auditorium. I always admired his love for music, especially the piano, and that in-turn he was supportive of my passion for the performing arts.

My dad’s sense of adventure was always prevalent. From the time I was born, family trips were done in his plane with him as the pilot. Despite the fact that I would get air-sick as a child (thank goodness I grew out of that), many of my favorite memories were loading up in the plane with pillows and blankets sticking out of the back door to head to Florida or Michigan on vacation to spend time with family.

As an adult, I’ve enjoyed many adventures alongside my dad. Who else can say they invited their father to join them on the last leg of their honeymoon? Dan and I could barely keep up with Dad’s walking tour of London, where we clocked over 40,000 steps in one day. We had the best time on a bicycle tour in Dublin, and getting pints at the Cathedral bar. Together, we have hiked in the Arizona desert, escaped from Alcatraz, and rode rollercoasters (while working for Wildly Different) in California.

Jim and McKenzie at Universal Studios

Jim and McKenzie at the Guinness Factory Tour

But the one thing characteristic I truly hope I’ve inherited from my father is his determination. From taking on new challenges like getting his twin engine rating, to continuously learning new skills (how many computer languages are there?!), and making major lifestyle adjustments to battle cancer, my dad never gives up. My dad is someone who can do anything and accomplishes whatever he sets his mind to. He loves hard, plays hard, and is truly a force to be reckoned with. ~ McKenzie Kaufeld Counts

Jim giving the bride McKenzie a hug on her wedding day

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