Category Archives: Travel

As Of Late

Go Skate Day: Old news but good news: Go Skateboarding Day happened, and I skateboarded. It wasn’t exactly a satisfying session, as skate sessions go, but it was a premium hangout with my old-time skate buds. For me, that’s what it’s all about these days—that good stuff that happens when you do something you love with people you love. Rolling. Laughing. Falling down. We’re humans. All we have is each other. So, another GSD spent with Scott and Ashley and Derek and I couldn’t ask for more.

 

Work train to Seattle: I rode the train up past the Puget Sound (destination: Seattle) to do a fancy ad-agency pitch for Nemo. It was a fun and adult-y thing to do. I like train travel even though it makes me a little bit car sick. Train sick? Anyway, it’s very hassle-free. A throwback from another time. Also, train stations are beautiful, and I always take time to appreciate beauty in my travels.

 

Holiday crowd avoidance: For the third year in a row, we went into the woods for a couple days, walking far and high, sleeping in tents, and then returned to town on July Fourth afternoon so dirty and dog tired that there was no need felt to celebrate, to light things on fire. Instead, copious food was eaten, and day beers drank at George’s house, and then home to watch TV as the mortars blasted through the evening cool. This has become my “America day” ritual, and I am not sorry.

 

Homesteading: Like a boss, Mark framed up a shed/living quarters AKA shedquarters in two days. I tried to help. I moved some two-by-fours from one pile to another and also tacked up plywood with the motherfuckin nail gun. It feels good to be building, building something real made from tangibles like wood and nails and windows, but also building a life—a potentiality of future days spent easily and peacefully off in the forest.

The Northwest-est

Piney’s gone. There, I said it. He’s on the other side. I’ll tell you more about it sometime, but for now I thought I’d get out of town. Get moving. Move on. I never did know anything else to do.

In our ambition to flee, we thought about driving south to California—but ended up heading north and west—the northwest-est—to the Olympic Peninsula. Here, is where the trees are so old and tall they meet in a perfect V overtop the road. Here, is where arctic oceans end in glassy bays at the feet of a razor-sharp range. Here, depending on who you are, is the promise land.

Pic by Mark.

Camping without my dog, or any dog (who is “my dog” anymore? I’ve had many …) was strange. After making camp, I didn’t have anything to do, no one to keep an eye on or worry about (except Mark, and he doesn’t need eyes keeping on him). I just sat in the sun and drank wine and read while the tide rushed in. Darkness fell, the stars came out—stark, distant, beautiful. When I looked up, a vast loneliness harpooned my soul. Guys, I’ve always been searching for something and never really found it. Maybe it’s the big “why.” Maybe it’s the definition of “me.” Having no real answers for you, I do know that the path to self discovery is a way full of desolate wonder. I leaned in and stoked the fire.

Pic by Mark.

Pic by Mark.

Sunday morning we awoke to whale spouts past the breakers and a pale, slippery head emerging from the sea. Rising and falling. Curious, but not too curious. An intelligent eye looking solemnly our way. I don’t have particularly eloquent words for what it feels like to see and be seen by a whale. Special? We felt special. It was everything you could hope for. We packed up and went home.

Pic by Mark.

Where-Ness

A while back after my boss returned from sabbatical in Europe, we had a conversation about the thing we really remember and hope for from a trip. Those encounters of “where-ness.” This has nothing to do with all the stuff you saw or plans you made, but rather a single experience—often just a flash—where you felt like you were an authentic part of a place.

He told of a sunset walk through Madrid with his wife, the air all warm and glowy pink, when they sauntered into a medieval square and were greeted by the student choir sitting on the fountain steps singing “Hey Jude.” The tune rose and fell as the pigeons flapped for scraps, and people milled around in a relaxed fashion—on their way home from work or out for an aperitif.

This moment had a live-in magic, and he thought he might remember it forever—or for a long time at least, long after he forgot the train rides and museums tickets.

It got me to thinking about trips of my own. What were the highlights? The squishy candy middles?

My rally through Canada last summer was full of them. Like: our first morning in Nelson—a laidback mountain town on a cold-water lake. My old friend Mark who lives in Nelson advised us on a morning wander. “Hike up the Pulpit early before it gets too hot,” he told us and we listened. Straight from the café with paper cups of dark roast still in our hands, we began our ascent on a morning of dazzling heat and beauty. The trail to the Pulpit—a big rock looming on high over the town and lake—was essentially just a steep set of stairs carved into a plummeting hillside. We climbed and climbed. Soon we were high on caffeine and lung-fulls of warm, tree-scented air. I nabbed a sweet, mealy saskatoon berry and popped it in my mouth. The temperature rose. We sweated into our tee shirts. Less than an hour later, we emerged onto the precarious sun-washed rock AKA my forever happy place. Overhead, bluer than blue sky. To either horizon, steep green valleys. Directly below, the city and of course the lake—calling us back down for an afternoon swim.

Early Spring Things

Austin, TX: I went to Austin. It was cold and I got a cold. My intention for the trip, to skate/drink margaritas/wear short sleeve tee shirts, was shipwrecked by sickness and the evil, piercing temperatures. “Unseasonable,” locals called it. Still, I was charmed by the city, by its accessible tacos for every meal and the cheerful custom neon announcing every business. People say it’s like a  “hotter Portland.” I don’t know about that. Austin has an altogether different feel. It’s rambling, winsome. It reminded me of the plains cities I hung around in my Coloradan youth, where dust was part of the decor and the streets were built wide so the tumbleweeds could roll on through.

The Fredericksburg, TX park—built by Billy & Cathy. 

Me and Amanda at an Austin watering hole. We’re cool and we party. 

Dark On Netflix: Crikey! It would be too reductive to call this show the German version of Stranger Things, so I won’t.

Snow in the city: I threw out kale seeds and then it snowed over the chartreuse sprouts. Later, the rain melted the blanket of snow away. There were the sprouts! Little fists of defiance pumping up toward the sky.

2017: Following Up

2017: The year that saw a new pup, a hundred road trips, a thousand trails—long, winding and otherwise. It was the year Mark gave me sparkly ring, and took all these lovely pictures of me wandering around. Proof! I embrace the wisdom of walking. It was the year I got a new job at Nemo. Procured a parcel of land in the woods near Bend. Built a fence. Cried over my old dog Lefty. Spent the night on a mountain in a blizzard and didn’t die.

Photographs aren’t real life, but they’re a slice of it. I’m glad my better half is always snapping away pics when I’m not looking, because then on dreary January 2nds, I can look back and know that I really did it. I went outside and followed the path, contemplating all the craggy views and forest sprites. I left behind the computer and the television in favor of simple happinesses with man and dog, blank-brained meditations on the trail and other moonshine of the mind.

If my year were only these images, I would be happy. Luckily, it was even more.








Desertification

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This isn’t a curated reporting from the impossibly perfect vacation. It’s just pictures from a road trip to the desert last week. It was fun. It was raw. We hung with family and talked politics. We bopped around gathering sagebrush bows and piled them on the dashboard, so when the sun beat down on the car, it bloomed with the scent of desert wind.

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Speaking of, is there anything more relaxing than the desert landscape? Placing yourself under the influence of the open sky and red-rock cliffs, you’re immediately at ease. You fall in line with the natural world and its beauties. You wander past sandstone monoliths thinking about the long history of the earth and how life came to be. Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, yeah—Portland, Oregon to Moab, Utah, via a maze of roads riddled with wildfires and repaving projects. Every time I venture there, I leave wanting to plan my next visit. Next time we’ll bring bikes and ride out to Klondike Bluff. Next time we’ll winter camp. Next time we’ll drive backroads through Capitol Reef … Then, 15-17 hrs later I get home so burnt from driving I vow never to go back.

But, you know, it’s hard to stay away.

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Mark and his dad. Multiple generations of awesome dudes.

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On Saturday, we meandered red-rock labyrinths with my mom and sis.

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The Colorado River ran through all of it.

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I really wanted to swim in this dreamy desert locale, however I was warm but not hot and the water was very cold. But I waded! 

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In the canyon with the cottonwoods and cool waterfalls.

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Let the world make you feel small as often as possible.

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A very cute coffee situation in Moab. Piney and Rocket.

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Deep thoughts at sunrise. 

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The road home. Sagebrush on the wind.

Happy Anniversary

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Happy anniversary Lefty—it’s been one year since you died. It’s been a year since we buried you under the new maple tree, and then the winter came and buried you again in all that snow. Dang, though, how the flowers bloomed there in the spring. This summer was hot—you would’ve hated it. I would’ve had to finally get you that haircut everyone was always asking about. I never did touch your hair, though. It was too perfect the way it was. Au naturale was how you rolled.

Your brother Duke moved in 4 blocks away. You could’ve partied together daily! But your buddy Riley, he died in the spring. Both of you gone too soon.

I miss going skating with you. I miss using you as a footrest. I miss catching all the love beams you were always sending my way—always watching me, constantly keeping your eye on things, forever making sure I was safe and more importantly that I wasn’t gonna leave you behind. I’m not going anywhere, boy, I’m right here.

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Lefty at the river. 

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Lefty at the fire lookout. 

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Lefty at the skatepark. 

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Lefty at the desert lake.

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 Lefty and me forever. 

Canada Mega Post

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I’m a healthier, happier person after spending 5 days in interior B.C.—everyday another exploration in the forest, and everyday another constitutional swim in cold, clear water. Those lakes were so clear that my shadow spooked me more than once, way down where it was on the bottom of the lake. Overhead, the sky was very blue, except where it wasn’t because of billowing plumes of smoke. Wildfires are real, and they’re a way of life in Canada.

Up in Canada, where we basked and wandered, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at will. The only hurry was which recreational activity to do next. I’d pester Mark to rush so we could go outside. Because that’s just what you do up there.

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Piney did dog things like play with the Canadian dogs and splash-and-bite the Canadian lakes. In Nelson, he met Pillow, Bree and Kale—a husky, Great Pyrenees and Australian shepherd respectively. In Trout Lake, he ran off into town with Al’s Siberian Husky, Rider, and got a taste of that wild freedom afforded to the country pup. He liked what he tasted … too much. In Revelstoke, he ripped around a beatific farm with Qimmiq, a low-riding Aussie with a whistle-pig squeal. Although Piney will have many more adventures and live happily every after, he still just wishes we left him in Canada.

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Meanwhile, at Kootaney Lake. 

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All the hips in Nelson, B.C. 

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Had lovely hangs with my ol friend Mark Fawcett and his new pup Kale Chip on their private beach. Life is good in Nelson.

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My pal Al Clarke built this baby cabin with his 2 hands. I know him from 20 years ago, back when we were both traveling the world as itinerant snowboarders. He’s a legend and quintessential mountain man. How lucky that we get to hang together again all these years later!

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Typical Trout Lake views.

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Backyard secrets of the North country. 

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Stu’s fabulous farm, where I foraged a handful of black raspberries and plucked 3 delicious pea pods off their vine.

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Revelstoke National Park was stupid beautiful. There was a grizz wandering the area, but we didn’t see him. Only us up there with the wind and wildflowers. 

Summer Assessment

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Hi from the dog days of summer, which spin around with “drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs, and bad luck.” According to ancient tomes, they do anyway.

Sure, the Dog Star has risen and the solar eclipse approaches, but this was a regular old weekend, cosmically speaking. I didn’t do anything special, and that was special. Because you should be allowed to relax in the summer.

Garden wise, the very first tomatoes are ripe on the vine, but I had to throw out the brussel sprouts. They were full of aphids—I’ve been warring with bugs for weeks now. They are very small, but they won.

Puppy, wise, Piney swam for the first time. A momentous milestone in the development of a tiny canine brain. Importantly, he did not swim to fetch a ball or stick or save a drowning human. There was no goal to the wild paddling—just fun. He splashed around in circles and bit the water and I laughed with delight because … because what’s better than fun?

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Vacay Vibes

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This is what we’ve been waiting for. We were here all winter. The darkness and ice kept coming back. It was hard work. And now the sun and the heat and the motherfucking vacation days are here.

The trick to summer is finding the perfect balance of lazy days and crazy days. For 4th of July weekend, we split it half and half, which is a very nice and very exact interpretation of “balance.” Two days were spent sleeping in, skating, and watering the vegetable garden, with an emphasis on BBQs and cold beer. Two days were spent with our belongings on our back, walking up the side of an active volcano (google it—she’s supposed to blow sometime this century!).

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Here, you’ll find a lot of pictures of the hiking and tent camping we did. We put sunscreen on whatever we could and just walked and walked. The trail took us through a landscape that was equal parts Legend and The Sound Of Music. Wildflowers and secret babbling brooks shadowed by angular snowcapped peaks. A legendary landscape fit for fräuleins, fairies and unicorns.

With tired legs and campfire smoke in our clothes, we drove back into town on the afternoon of the Fourth. Just in time to do nothing. Just in time feel good. Just in time to relax in the backyard while the wind chime chimed. Just in time to ride lazy bikes to Jesse’s house and watch people skate a mini ramp and then ride lazily home to bed.

Fireworks? I care not.

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