New Year’s Resolutions Suck–Resolutions are Great

My mom came into the living room on New Year’s Eve. It was 1999. I was 9 and wearing a shirt that was 5 sizes too big for me. I called it my pajamas. She and my dad turned on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve. They both invited me to stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square for the first time and ring in the new millennium.

Right as my eyelids started getting heavy and my head started nodding they asked me what my New Year’s resolution was going to be for the year 2000. This was my first time attempting to stay up past midnight. I had never even heard of a New Year’s resolution. Needless to say I didn’t have one considering that was my first time hearing the matter. They were both less than enthused about the whole concept as they explained it to me. That people decide to wait until the next year to make a change for the better in their lives.New Year's Resolutions Suck--Resolutions are Great

It wasn’t until the past couple of years that I started going along with the whole New Year’s resolution thing. Except I set goals for myself in the new year because I wanted to be different; just like everyone else. And just like everyone else I lost sight of my goals and the whole “new year, new me” thing I talked myself into.

As we came to the home stretch of 2016 I started thinking about my New Year’s resolutions. Maybe I’d make a commitment to myself to stretch more. It’d be awesome get into marathon shape. Somehow I wanted to grow my social media following and pick up more clients. But I’d have to wait another 53 days until the New Year to set all these plans into action.

A New Year’s resolution is a great idea. Where things get skewed is that we decide to make a change because we view it as a tactic.

Make a note to check up on your New Year’s resolution(s) on February 17th. I can almost guarantee that most everyone, reading this or not, will have slacked off and given up on that resolution. It’s how we’re wired. That if we’re not hungry for it we don’t flip that binary switch to kick the old habit and adopt the new. You may have decided to change your health for the better, expand your business, improve your marriage, make a career move, etc. All those ideas sound great in theory, but you’re going to fail unless improving where you see fit becomes your religion.

When you check in with yourself on February 17th and you realize that your New Year’s resolution is nothing but a distant memory don’t wait until 2018 to make a change. Start putting things in place that day to make yourself and your life better. It’s far better to make a resolution every day because you only get one shot. And when you actually decide to make a change in your life that’s when you’re going to pull it off.

Even if you’ve already failed on your New Year’s resolution, don’t sweat it. Make today your day for a new resolution that you’ve decided to execute. Because when it shifts from being a tactic and becomes a religion, you’re going to win.

Sorry Mom!

Sorry mom! I’ve been saying that a lot this year. More than I’ve ever said it, I think. Some family friends in Florida have even noticed that and they think it’s funny. I think it is too, hence why I say it so much. Everytime I do something or put myself in a situation where I can get a photo like this, that thought runs through my head.Taking photos from Banshee in Muir Valley at the Red River Gorge

Sending a chill up my parents spine’s is never something I aim to do. In fact I do my best to do the opposite. They’re my biggest fans and cheerleaders (right behind myself, but that’s another story for a different day) and inevitably see every single thing I share on social media. Aside from the beautiful views I get to see, they also get (have) to see the “thrilling” photos and videos I capture and share. Being the selfish millennial that I am, that does what he wants, I don’t know what it’s like to have a kid puts himself/herself out there like I do. So I can’t even begin to imagine how scary it might be even though I assure my mom and dad that I’m comfortable with the situations I put myself in, am always in control, and love what I’m doing.

My mom and I had a conversation earlier this year and I told her about my day. It consisted of a lot of hiking and ended with me looking over the edge of a cliff. Had this been a decade or two earlier, her or my dad would have had a tight grip on my arm, making sure I didn’t get any closer than they’d like. I don’t blame them and I know them well enough to believe that they’d still want to do the same thing today. I see parents doing that all the time wherever I go, protecting their kid(s), and I’d like to think that I’d do the same if I ever become a parent one day. At the end of my adventure update I told her that it was probably best her and dad weren’t there. She agreed with me.

My mom went on to tell me that she loves living my adventures through my eyes. And that it’s also great I’m out there doing the things I love without her. The things I do may scare her, but she also said it’s what she wants to see me do. My parents both know that when they see those “scary” photos, they see me living my passion and dream, making a concerted effort to chase a dream I want so badly.

A couple years ago I posted a photo to that was of me hanging one handed from a tree branch above a murky river in Florida. I don’t remember my caption, but my mom shared it on Facebook and said something like Hope he never loses his love for adventure. I look back on that and think that it’s quite impossible for me to lose any sort of adventure in my life. I mean, my mom and dad stressed the importance of going outside to explore the woods behind our house until it got dark, that I put down the video games to go surfing, and build ramps in the driveway to jump off with my blades.

Doing anything short of experiencing new things would be a disservice to my parents work in raising me. At least that’s how I see it. While the word sorry implicates that I’ll never do something again, I’m also telling a bold faced lie because I’m not going to quit sending chills up my parents spine’s at times. When chills run up their spine’s they’re also seeing me live my passion, making a concerted effort to chase a dream I want so badly.. And that’s all they’ve ever wanted for me.

I’m never going to quit saying sorry mom! And I hope you say that often and never stop saying that.

Shout Out to Those Who Want to Leave a Great Legacy

This picture might look like a standard fence post along some back roads highway between Calgary Alberta Canada and Montana. It is, but it also means something more to me. You see, it took me back to my past. A time in my life I hate with a passion.

High schoolFence post in Canada that reminds me of those who want to leave a great legacy

I was never the popular or cool kid in high school. I got picked on for having wavy hair that stretched past my shoulders and eight ear piercings. My clothes were baggy, I tried to blend in to the crowd, slide in and out of classes, and hoped teachers wouldn’t call on me in class. But there was one teacher who singled me out from the rest.

My junior year of high school I took Photography I. Mr. Kendall gave the class different photo assignments each week where we’d have to shoot a roll of black and white film, develop the roll of film, and process the images in the dark room. While other kids used the dark room to make out, text their boyfriend/girlfriend, or sleep, I enjoyed processing my photos. I finally found something I enjoyed and I think Mr. Kendall took note of that.

One assignment was to show that we understood the rule of thirds and depth of field. Other than that, it was up to us. I took my mom’s film camera to a strawberry patch in the next town over and snapped a picture of a fence post with rows of barbed wire strung between each. There were some other photos I took, but I liked this one the most. In the darkroom I made some adjustments using the old school dodge and burn techniques and pumped in a little contrast to help the image pop.

My matting skills were worse than my photography skills at that point, and probably still are. Where I should have matted the photo dead center and slightly higher than the mid point, I ended up placing it way off centered. By the time it was put in place for all of eternity, it was noticeable that I suck at math, geometry in particular.

I turned it in with hopes that I’d get a “B.” Mr. Kendall was sorting through the photos the next day. He picked mine up, saw my name on it, and a little “ah hell” ran through my head as I saw him walking towards me. I wasn’t blending in that day.

He sat next to me and asked me what was going through my head as I was shooting that day and why I did what I did as I developed the image. He just looked at me with a smile as I told him my thought process and what I wanted my image to look like. When I stopped talking Mr. Kendall told me I should never put down a camera and that I needed to be a yearbook photographer next year (he was also the yearbook supervisor), my senior year.

The next year he took me under his wing every 3rd period in yearbook. He critiqued my images and helped me get better at all styles of photography: portrait, journalistic, sports, nature, etc. Mr. Kendall gave me a safe haven for 45 minutes during my last year of high school. Yearbook turned into a place where I wanted to learn and take pride in my work. It’s also the first place where my photo work was published for all to see.

Last week I got to talk with a new friend in Wisconsin. She told me about how she’s working towards her Masters in Social Work. She has another year of schooling that’s going to add to her paying off more student debt when she graduates and a friend of hers got a Bachelor’s degree in engineering and is about to be making six figures just two years out of college.

Social work, much like teaching, is a very thankless profession and the salary proves that statement. But I think people choose these professions, among others, to do more than collect a crummy paycheck.

As we were leaving, my friend was talking about everything she’s aware of that’s to come: helping people who don’t want the help, trying to fix a failed system, seeing people at their worst, and watching issues just get pushed aside to never be addressed, among many others.

But I don’t think it’s about the money. I wonder what kind of legacy I’m going to leave. And I want to leave a great legacy that helps others when no one else would step up.

My baby cousins aren’t really babies anymore. One’s in 1st grade and the other is in 2nd grade; another’s in Pre School, and another will be in Pre School next year. I don’t get to talk to them as much as I’d like, but I when I do I always ask how school’s going. They almost always tell me about how awesome their teacher is and what he/she is teaching them in school at that point in time and how he/she takes the time to help them, and all the students in the class, understand what they’re learning.

As a teacher, social worker, or professional in a similar profession, you want to make a difference in our society, to leave a lasting legacy; I’m guessing. And I’m going to guess that there are lots of times where people in these professions wonder if what they’re doing is actually worth it. But a difference in one life is worth all the time away from family, the migraines, and possibly tears of defeat—hopefully seeing another’s dream come true, that they influenced, can help make those long hours, migraines, and the emotional stress a little easier to bare.

I’m fortunate to have never been through “the system,” but I have friends have who speak highly of the social workers that helped them and their family. I get to see the legacy of a couple social workers live on in a couple of my friends.

And thanks to Mr. Kendall, I’m doing what I love, I’m trying to take photos that I love, and I think other people love them too.

11 Books to Read that are Probably Better Than Textbooks

Justin Fricke reading the #askgaryvee book instead of text books

Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World – Bob Goff

Love prevails over everything. Short sweet and to the point. Every chapter in this book is a story about how if we all fall back to loving one another, the world would be a better place. My friend also pointed out that this is a great book to have around a campfire for some good campfire conversation.

60 Meters to Anywhere – Brendan Leonard

Addiction and overcoming addiction is hard to talk about and isn’t talked about enough. Brendan brings to light how climbing effectively saved him from continuing down a path bathed in alcohol that was leading straight to the guarded gates of prison. We all have our own addictions and whether you’re a climber or a knitter, Brendan writes in a way that anyone can relate their story to his.

Quitter – Jon Acuff

“Quit your job and do what you love.” That’s what so many people told me to do when I said I wasn’t happy with what I was doing. That’s terrible advice. Quitter is about quitting your job to do what you love, but the first chapter is title Don’t Quit Your Day Job. And the book only builds from there.

The Richest Man in Babylon – George S. Clason

Every summer my parents made my brother and I read a book. This was one of those books and it’s helped me handle my money more wisely than what I would have. The story takes place in Biblical times and while the references are a little outdated, the keys to personal wealth are so simple and easy to understand. I’m mad at myself that I didn’t read this book when I was 12.

Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy – Donald Miller

Something that you may not know about me is that I have a lot of insecurities. There are things about me that I don’t like, try to change, or cover up. I was putting on an act of how I thought others wanted me to be. Scary Close helped me quit putting on an act and in turn has helped me form better relationships over time.

The Art of Non-Conformity: Set Your Own Rule, Life the Life You Want, and Change the World – Chris Guillebeau

Having just landed a desk job, I caught myself wondering how others I’ve seen online live an unconventional, fun filled, life. I “had” to read this book in a mentor group and I fell in love with it when Guillebeau laid it all out there how he travel hacks and has made it possible for himself to visit every country in the world AND make a living.

#AskGaryVee: One Entrepreneur’s Take on Leadership, Social Media, and Self-Awareness – Gary Vaynerchuk

The drive to and from Alaska was a long one and while I didn’t read this book, I listened to Gary’s voice for over 10 hours as he recapped questions he’s received over the years from the Ask Gary Vee podcast he does. Overall, I think I got some interesting business ideas from him.

The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas J. Stanley Ph.D. & William D. Danko Ph.D.

When I was a little kid, and even into high school, I thought you had to be some famous singer or play a professional sport to be a millionaire. Little did I know that the steps to becoming wealthy and having over a million bucks is pretty simple. For the science people that love studies and statistics, the authors conducted a long study and came up with a lot of statistics that make it into this book. Oh and they disprove my theory that you have to be famous to be a millionaire and prove that anyone who handles their money wisely can be a millionaire.

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman – Yvon Chouinard

My mom bought this book for me right after I graduated college. None of the typical business books interested me, but Yvon speaks my language.

Start Something that Matters – Blake

Being the reality TV fiend that I am, I originally saw Blake Mycoskie on Season 2 of The Amazing Race. He got really far, but ended up not winning the $500,000 grand prize. But while he was rushing through Argentina, he became inspired to create the shoe brand TOMS. I read this while I was an intern at a bank and wanted to do something that matters. I didn’t know what that was at the time, but this was a solid springboard to show me that I had all the tools and resources I needed to do something that matters.

The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business – Bob Burg

I think we’re always trying to find a way to stand out amongst the crowd. We all know what we want to get, but hardly do we ever shift our focus to giving. The Go-Giver shifts that focus and illustrates how putting others needs and adding value to their lives can ultimately lead to unexpected returns.

Put down those stupid textbooks and learn yourself something that’ll actually help you move your life forward!

*Stay in school kids

**There are affiliate links throughout this post. When you click on the link and make a purchase on Amazon, you help keep The Weekend Warrior alive and thriving.

6 Things I Learned Driving the Alaska Highway

In July and August I was fortunate enough to drive the Alaska Highway to and from Alaska. Road trips are something I love. There’s nothing like driving down the open road, dodging obstacles and seeing the scenery change over the course of 1,382 miles plus getting to the highway via Canada’s road systems. There’s a lot of time to contemplate different things between audiobooks: relationships, work, outlooks on life, et cetera.

Here are 6 things I learned on what seemed like an endless drive on the Alaska Highway:

Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior driving the Alaska Highway

Embrace the Potholes and Rough Roads

The frigid winter takes its toll on the highway. As you drive further north you see the road take on various shapes. Potholes litter the road, ice heaves threaten to launch your car into the air as if you hit the wrong button in Inspector Gadget’s car, and the change between pavement and gravel will give your back an adjustment without a visit to the chiropractor. All that being said, it’s fun. The Alaska Highway wouldn’t be the Alaska Highway without all these challenges. It’d be just another highway.

There’s this quote from Stephen Colbert in a GQ interview that’s stuck with me the past couple of years.

“’What punishments of God are not gifts?’ So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”

All the rough spots in the road teach you to embrace and be grateful for them all. They’re a total inconvenience and make the ride a little rough, but it’s the rough ride that makes the smooth road up ahead that much more enjoyable.

Go at Your Own Speed

A lady at the Visit Center in Watson Lake in Canada’s Yukon Territory told me I was at least a 4 day’s drive from the nearest, legitimate, town in Alaska. I was only 3 days into the long drive and was ready to be in Alaska. It only took another 2 days.

Just because someone did something faster or slower makes you or them no less or more. We were all created differently and go at different speeds. It makes no sense to make comparisons with others, only yourself. Go at your own speed; and you get decide how heavy your foot weighs down on the gas pedal.

Enjoy the In-Between Moments

In his book The In-Between Jeff Goins breaks down that we define life by moments. Big moments are what we remember, but most of our life is made of little tiny moments. And when we get caught up waiting and looking ahead to the next big thing, we take for granted to little things that give life its flavor.

While Alaska or somewhere in Canada might be the end goal, there’s so much more to love and experience on the Alaska Highway. I don’t many places where you’ll willingly stop to get mediocre ice cream in a picturesque setting, skate on asphalt that’s covered by snow and ice most of the year, see 7 black bears along the highway within an hour, take pictures of 3 bison at sunset and then get surrounded by a herd of 50 bison 2 miles down the road, or take a swim in a turquoise lake to stretch out your legs.

Take Your Eyes Off the Road

Someone gave me a map of all the campsites along the Alaska Highway. They all looked great and well maintained, but that meant I had to pay to sleep in my van on a patch of dirt for the night.

A friend of mine told me to keep an eye out for free sites near bridges and river banks. Sure enough, some of my favorite spots to call home for the night have been on the Alaska Highway. They weren’t always easy to find, but they required me to look a little off to the side of the road to find these hidden gems. Opportunity won’t always present itself in the middle of the road. Sometimes you might find them hiding off the side of the road. Unless it’s a bison crossing the road.

Heed the Advice of Others that Have Gone Before You

The drive gets boring and I listened to the Ask Gary Vee audiobook. It’s an awesome listen and not just for entrepreneurs. But in the book, Gary was asked a question about who to listen to for business advice and if info programs that are sold are even worth buying. His response was incredible.

Listen to people who have done and been successful at what they’re talking about. Heeding the marketing advice of someone that’s never led a marketing campaign or the leadership advice of someone who’s never owned a business, let alone been in a leadership or even a managerial role, is good time wasted. So many people are willing to lend you their advice because they want to feel important. That advice is rubbish unless they’ve actually done it. Same goes for people telling you how rough and terrible the Alaska Highway is, only because that’s what their friends have said.

Enjoy the Ride

I can’t describe what makes 1,000 miles of driving over a highway that’s frozen most of the year so great. But if you love road trips like I do, this one that has to be on the top of your list. All the naysayers are going to say it sucks and that the road’s too rough and you need to carry extra fuel with you. Don’t listen to them. Use your common sense and enjoy the ride.

How to Get Companies to Pay You to Travel: My Story

A couple times a week I get a message on Facebook, Instagram, or through email from someone asking questions about how they can get their upcoming trip sponsored, like I have.

My friends/significant other and I have been planning this trip…love to travel…take pictures…have fun…inspire…video…et cetera–how do we get a company like Merrell or EnerPlex to sponsor us?

Sponsorships are kind of like mermaids. They’re never seen and often talked about. So let’s talk about sponsorship for a trip.How to Get Companies to Pay You to Travel: My Story

There are two types of sponsorship:

  • Product
  • Monetary

I’ve seen lots of people get sponsored on a product level. It’s awesome not having to pay for a product/service you need and you’re saving money. Getting sponsored on a monetary level is tough. Unless you have a big following, you have to prove yourself and stand out from the rest.

Companies need to see a return: Companies see this in 1 of 2 ways. They A.) expect you to leverage your massive following to show off their product/service. B.) They believe you have a special set of skills (photography, videography, writing, etc.) that will supplement their marketing/advertising efforts.

In order to qualify for Scenario A, your social media following usually has to be on par with, or larger than the company’s.

BIG travel is king: Everyone goes on weekend trips, sometimes weeklong trips, and occasionally trips that last a month or two. Hardly anyone dedicates their life to travel. If you’re willing to dedicate the next year or two of your life to traveling, your chances skyrocket. But you have to prove that you’re going to do what you say you’re going to do with or without the help of a company or two.

In order to prove to companies that you’re doing this trip with or without them, you need to self fund it first. It took Adam and I two years to save up what we thought we’d need to buy a van, build it out, money for the year, and a little extra on the side in case something happened. It wasn’t easy; we lived at home, worked our normal jobs while picking up freelance gigs, and every extra dollar we made we put into savings. When Merrell and EnerPlex came along, they just helped make our yearlong road trip even better and have in some ways certainly made our live easier than what they would have been.

You’re not getting paid to go on vacation: When you get your trip sponsored, it all of a sudden turns into a job and is no longer a vacation. Granted your job is way awesome to brag about, but you’re going to constantly be on the lookout for ways that you can fulfill the promises you made to your sponsors. You might even find yourself working while you’re traveling.

Don’t expect to get paid right away: Think of it as dating. Usually you want to get to know someone, go on a few dates, introduce them to your friends and family, and then maybe you make it Facebook Official. That’s usually how long-term relationships happen, at least in my case. Hardly ever do one-night stands turn into any long last relationship. Expect to actually get to know a company over time. Work with them on a product level for a while and interact with them on social media.

The industry’s small: Every industry is small. Do a stellar job and over deliver to your sponsor(s) and other companies may take notice.

You can just travel: Being sponsored and paid to travel’s great and all. But you can still travel because you love it and believe it’s what’s best for you and the best way to spend your time.

Getting sponsored to travel doesn’t happen overnight. It’s helpful if you’re already active within the industry and have made some connections in one way or another: social media, working with PR companies, working directly with brands, meeting others in the industry at trade shows/conferences, etc. Perhaps sharing my story could help shed some light on the topic.

Here we go:

I’ve always loved to travel. My parents showed me from an early age that it’s best to collect experiences rather than things. My dad went to a lot of conferences for work when I just started walking and my brother was a little baby. My dad got to bring my mom, my brother, and me along and to this day my mom tells people that I could basically find our seats on a plane by the time I could walk. It was fun, my mom made it a game, kind of like “Hide and Go Seek.” As Adam and I got older we’d take family road trips to visit extended family in North Carolina and snow ski, down to the Keys to snorkel and fish, and in 2010 my mom insisted the 3 of us guys start going on an all guys surf trip.

We listened to her.

One day my dad came home from work and told Adam and me that his book publisher somehow found a way to see a baseball game in every stadium with some friends one summer in college. Oh and they got sponsored to do it. About that time I had just started The Weekend Warrior and Adam was getting savvy with a camera. My dad threw out a challenge to us, get some companies to sponsor our annual all guys surf trip. That epically failed, Adam and I didn’t really make an effort, but if you’ve seen The Bro’d Trip website or watched any of our vlogs, you’ll see that we’re not doing this alone. We’re working with some companies on a BIG level and they’re helping make this yearlong road trip better than what we had originally imagined.

I’m sure every traveler has a timeline about how they got their career started and eventually got companies to sponsor their trips on a product AND monetary level. This is my timeline:

  • April 2012: Boss tells me I’m a terrible writer and shouldn’t focus my efforts on writing. I start The Weekend Warrior to practice my writing skills and give others some motivation to get out and enjoy their own hobbies outside of work, school, family life, etc.
  • Summer 2012 – Fall 2013: Continue working at a job I don’t like, have awesome adventures outside of work, and meet a whole new batch of online outdoor bloggers and freelance creatives.
  • October 2013: Go on a fun 9 day road trip with my girlfriend and climb with friends that are on the tail end of their yearlong road trip. Girlfriend is enamored with this life and begins pestering me about quitting my job when she graduates college in 2 years to take off on our own yearlong road trip.
  • December 2014: I succumb to her pestering. We begin saving.
  • March 2014: Girlfriend dumps me, for good reason, and I decide I still want to do this road trip. Talk my brother into doing this year on the road with me, after he graduates in December 2015. We’ll write about it and share photos while on the road and make a documentary about our year on the road when all’s said and done.
  • Summer 2014-Summer 2015: Continue working my desk job, pick up freelance writing gigs on the side, and lose out on a social life. Going out with friends becomes a luxury. My dating life becomes virtually nonexistent. Adam continues to go to school, wait tables, and work at a surf camp over the summer.
  • July & August 2015: Put together a proposal to send to companies that we think will take an interest in what we’re doing and align with our vision. Lose our sh!t in excitement when companies actually approach us and want to work with us.
  • September 2015: Quit my job. I give 6 weeks notice because they were nothing but stellar to me for the past 4 years. Everyone at the office is excited, jealous, and somewhat confused at what I’m doing.
  • October 2015: Buy a Sprinter Van from a nice retired couple in Rhode Island and begin building it out.
  • November 2015: Continue building out Sprinter Van and have my last day at work.
  • December 2015: Finish building out Sprinter Van, throw a going away party for all our friends and family, and move stuff into storage unit.
  • January 2016: Hit the road for a year!

I should make known that a life and career centered around travel isn’t always glamorous, at least it isn’t for me. One night I got chased out of a site I wanted to call home for the night and didn’t find another site until 10:30pm. As I sit here writing this, I smell terrible. I’ve lost track of how many days it’s been without a shower, have only worn deodorant on one of those days, and changed clothes yesterday for the first time in over a week. Today my diet has consisted of a couple granola bars, a banana, and a sandwich. But I did spend the better part of the day rock climbing with new friends, taking photos and video, and that’s pretty cool I get to call that work.

If you’re interested in reaching out to a company to help support your trip, here are a few tips that might help:

  • Stand out from the rest: See “BIG travel is king” above.
  • Solicit your skills: Are you a baller at editing, take stunning photos, have a way with words, or have some other marketable skill? Use that to your advantage!
  • Put together a proposal: Companies get pitched all the time (hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day). Make your proposal stand out from the rest; your proposal is the best way to show off your marketable skills.
  • Follow up: Be persistent without being annoying. Getting your foot in the door’s one of the toughest things to do and chances are that your proposal won’t do the trick. Follow up with the person (or info email account) you sent your proposal to let the gatekeeper know you’re serious and deserve to speak with the decision maker.

Parting thoughts

Do the work first, build an audience, hone your skills, show your value, and prove that you’re different from the tens, possibly hundreds, of thousands that have the same dream. Demonstrate that you can provide an ROI (return on investment) to the company. Do all that and then maybe a company will have the confidence to invest in you and give you the creative freedom you want that will ultimately benefit them and their bottom line.

Be great at all this and maybe you’ll have companies vying to work with you. I’ve only very recently realized this and am constantly learning more and more about this career every single day.

Go Explore – Because It’s F*@3!ng There

For quite a while now I’ve wanted to visit Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta Canada. It’s hard not to want to go to either of these places once you’ve seen the pristine aqua lakes on social media with no one around. Now that I’m here, I hate it. I’ve barely taken any photos and I want nothing to do with these parks. I just want to drive away as fast as possible; and that’s exactly what I did.

Truth be told, I knew it was going to be a junk show at the waterfalls and lakes I wanted to see. I’m willing to put money on it that everyone else there knew they wouldn’t be alone either. So why is it that even if we know a place is going to be overrun by fellow tourists we still go to these picturesque places? And I’m not just talking about Banff and Jasper National Parks. I’m talking about Horseshoe Bend, The Wave, Yosemite National Park, and too many other places to name.Medicine Lake in Jasper National Park taken by Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior

How does the image that’s attached to this post make you feel? I hope it brings you calmness, maybe a little wanderlust, a sense of being there alone, and some need to explore all mixed in. If this photo made you feel any of those things “Perfect!” that’s exactly what I was going for when I took the photo.

What you’re not seeing or feeling from the photo is the family standing right next to me. The kids are being loud and obnoxious, yelling things back and forth to each other in a language I don’t understand while the parents are taking photos of each other to once again prove they were there. This photo, among so many others, has told you a lie. I wasn’t alone, it wasn’t quiet, calm, peaceful or any of those things you may have felt by looking at this photo. And that’s because I went to a place that was easily accessible. Behind me is a parking lot filled with cars and I took the stairs the park service built down to this spot.

When asked for the hundredth time why he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, an annoyed Sir Edmund Hillary responded with “Because it’s f*@3!ng there!” We’ve been conditioned to believe that we have to have a reason to go out and experience nature, explore. It has to be to land a shot, get a story for a blog or news site, get in a work out, find some treasure, et cetera. But it’s never to explore because it’s f*@3!ng there.

When’s the last time you went on a hike that wasn’t listed as one of the most beautiful places in your area? Or took a different route on your drive home. Or surfed a new break? Or climbed a new route because it looked fun? Exploring isn’t all that hard, but we hardly fulfill our natural born instinct to explore. Instead we think there needs to be a reason or there has to be an accomplishment.

It’s been said that the right thing to do might not always be the popular thing to do and the easiest places to see might not always be the best places to see. With easily accessible sights, you’re going to find access issues in the form of crowded parking lots, trash all over, congested walking paths, selfie sticks getting the shot, and long lines to use the bathroom. There’s something to be said for going out to areas with less foot traffic. While you might want to get that feeling of calmness and being alone at that one beautiful lake you saw on the Internet, you won’t be alone. Everyone else has seen that same photo, wants to get that same photo, and wants to feel what that photo on the Internet made them feel but this time in real life.

Though the location may not be as iconic you’re going to get what you seek when you head out to explore more unknown areas. Crowds will virtually be nonexistent, it’ll be quiet, parking won’t be an issue, and there are plenty of trees to choose from when nature calls. Others might not understand why you’re not going to that picturesque place, but you’re just going to explore for you and it’s none of their damn business, and that’s all that matters.

There’s no real reason to explore, other than it’s fun. You should try it again sometime. Go explore – because it’s f*@3!ng there.

9 Reasons You Should Never Go Backpacking

Neither of my parents are into backpacking, therefore I discovered backpacking on my own and started going without them suggesting I go. Since then I’ve taken backpacking on trips in the southeast, out west, and in Alaska. I love it, but that doesn’t mean you will. In fact, here are 9 reasons you should never go backpacking.

Adam Fricke backpacking in Denali National Park

9. Animals might attack

Fact: animals are more afraid of humans. 90% or more of the time they will run away shitless from a human making it tough for humans to see some awesome wildlife, like bears. On the off chance an animal attacks you, the news will be sure to exploit the entire incident because the news is always unbiased and never tries to provide entertainment. 

8. You have to wear the same clothes every day

Remember the days when you were little and wanted nothing more than to wear your favorite t-shirt or pair of underwear for like a week straight, but your parents wouldn’t let you? Backpacking is kind of like being a kid again, but instead of getting to wear the same clothes day in and day out, you have to wear those same clothes day in and day out. We all know that adulting is awesome and that reliving your childhood is a bunch of living in the past nonsense.

7. There aren’t any flush toilets

I don’t know how anyone managed to squat over a hole and do his or her business. Sitting down is so much easier, and better for your health. Those people in Asia that still squat don’t know what they’re missing.

6. Your entire day is a workout

Commuting to and from work, working 40 hours a week, spending time with the family, watching the suggested amount of 5 hours of TV a day, and somehow finding time to sleep leaves no time for a work out during the week. It’s such an exhausting schedule that you probably ought to take it easy on the weekend. Carrying everything you need on your back for miles on end is tough work, kind of like a workout, making your entire day a work out.

5. The cell phone signal might be terrible

You know how much you love getting work related calls over the weekend? And how you’re just dying to go out to the bar with your friends for the third time this month? If you don’t have your cell phone within signal range, you might miss out on getting that call from your boss asking you to come into the office at 6:57 am on a Sunday without the chance of overtime pay and dropping a couple of Benjamins at the bar with your friends and going home alone, again.

4. What if the weather sucks?

Yea, what if it does rain or snow or just blow some wind around? What are you supposed to do, keep hiking because the only way out is by foot? Thanks to rain gear and your lightning sprinting speed the last time moisture outside of the shower touched your head was while you were on the way to your Psychology 2 your sophomore year of college. Thank goodness because you need to look and feel like a million bucks all the time, even in the backcountry. And why would you ever bring rain gear? I mean where are you going, to be a deckhand on one of those crab fishing boats in Alaska?

3. You don’t have the right gear

The only tent you have is a 2 person Teton Sports tent your friend said you could borrow a sleeping bag you once bought when you toured Europe, and a backpack from that time you took a month long vacation to Thailand. You need to go out buy some brand new stuff that’ll set you back at least $2,300. Ask Lewis and Clark who set out to explore the American West, they’d recommend you buy a brand new set of gear for your weekend backpacking trip.

2. No one wants to go with you

Tent companies make single person tents for fun. No one goes backpacking alone. Tent companies just want to make those single person tents for the fun of it, even though they lose money on them every year because no one buys them because backpacking is something that has to be done with a minimum of 2.5 people.

1. You might learn that less is more

Only packing what you need? Giving up a time to go out and buy a new pair of shoes or a watch or a dope hat you’ve had your eye on for months that’ll totally fulfill your life when they all fall to the back of your closet and instead choose to carry what you absolutely need on your back for a few miles between campsites? Never.

2 Dudes 2 Spoons 1 Pot

As we were loading up to go on a backpacking trip, Michael asked us an honest question “Do you guys share a spoon?” To conserve on dishes and pack weight, he and his girlfriend share a spoon and eat out of the same cooking pot when they go backpacking. “Nah man, we’re not into that” I responded and we all laughed.

That backpacking trip with Megan and Michael fell through because of rain, but my backpacking trip, with Adam, in the backcountry of Denali National Park last week went off without a hitch. As we were packing and getting ready a couple hours before the bus came to whisk us away into the backcountry, I looked at Adam and asked “One pot or two?”camping and cooking with 1 pot in the backcountry of Denali National Park

Now we could’ve taken two pots or fancy backpacking plates and bowls so we’d each have our own to eat from, but that’d add unnecessary weight to our already heavy packs and take up precious space in our packs. We opted to go with one pot. With that one pot we’d cook and eat from it, together. Instead of turning our backs or eating at opposite ends of the river, we’d sit there across from each other eating from the same pot, but with different spoons.

Sharing with one another has never been one of those easy things to do, at least not for Adam and myself. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but maybe it has to do with us trying to identify as two separate dudes that come from the same parents, or maybe we’re afraid of the other breaking what we feel is ours, or maybe it has to do with us wanting our own space. It might be a mixture of all those things rolled into one. But sharing a pot where the other’s saliva may get mixed in with a bit of food the other’s going to eat is one of those things we’d have to put behind us if we didn’t want to deal with extra gear.

You’d think that we’d know each other pretty well by now. I mean we’ve lived together for 24 years and of those 24 years, 7 of those months have been in a van. But the more we’ve traveled this year, the more we’ve realized how little we actually know about each other. As the year’s progressed we’ve both found ourselves wanting space, time alone. I think that’s normal, for us. Our conversations have become rudimentary at times and when the other’s not driving the other’s usually texting or checking the social media news, escaping life for a few minutes. Sure we’ve grown together, but in some ways we’ve also grown distant.

Take all forms of entertainment away and you’re forced to find new forms of entertainment. We hiked through bear country together being loud and talking. We only brought one can of bear spray, so we had to be around each other all the time. And the only way to get food from onto our tiny shovels and into our mouths was from the same pot.

As much as I wanted to have my space it was nice to talk to my brother sitting across from me at dinner again. It was almost like the family dinners we had with our parents every night when we were growing up. But it’d be nice to have a bigger rock to sit on next time.

Don’t Drive the Alaska Highway

“You’re funny, sir.” 

This time I wasn’t thrilled to hear someone telling me I’m funny. The lady at the Watson Lake Visitor Center in Canada’s Yukon Territory wasn’t laughing, didn’t show a smile, not even a smirk.Justin Fricke on an unpaved section of the Alaska highway

I had been driving from Squamish in British Columbia Canada up to Fairbanks Alaska with my brother. This was day three of driving and by this point I was ready to be in Fairbanks and exploring Alaska. I had asked how much longer it’d take us to get to Fairbanks, I thought it’d take 10 or 11 hours. The lady at the visitor center, on the other hand, thought I was kidding and informed me that between swerving around potholes and slowing down for ice heaves, we also had to deal with road construction delays. And it’d realistically take another 20 hours.

She said it all in a tone like “You’re crazy for driving the Alaska Highway.” That’s not the first time I heard something like that. For about a year when I’d tell someone I’d be going to Alaska this year and driving the Alaska Highway it was always met with “I can’t believe you’re doing that!” and “How much spare gas are you taking?” and “I know some who did that a year or two ago. Had to replace all their tires, that road’s terrible!”

All those reactions from people made me wonder if Alaska was even feasible. That is, until Adam and I met Dennis in Texas this past February. Dennis is a retired man who drives an older Sprinter Van than ours around the country with his cat, Cathy, and rocks a license plate from South Dakota that reads U 4 JESUS. When we were done comparing build out notes, I asked him if he’d ever been to Alaska.

“Sure have, I love Alaska!” he said.

“And did you drive the Alaska Highway?” He looked at me with a little grin and said what I’d been waiting to hear.

“The Alaska Highway ain’t shit! Not since they paved the damn thing.”

The Alaska Highway is a highway like no other. It’s long days of dodging pot holes and getting a crash course in how to drive over something you never knew existed until a few hours beforehand, like an ice heave. But the reward for keeping your car on the road are beautiful sights, stopping to take pictures of bison, skating small bits of the deserted highway, listening to Harry Potter books on tape, and having conversations with your brother that you haven’t had in a long time.

The next day we rolled into Fairbanks. It didn’t take 20 hours, it only took 10 hours from Watson Lake. To be honest, it wasn’t really that bad at all.

We never came close to running out of gas. Gas didn’t come anywhere close to costing $6+/gallon. The drive wasn’t terribly boring and we didn’t die! It was fun.

Looking back on it all, I find it kind of funny that I worried about driving the Alaska Highway based on what others told me. All of whom had never driven the Alaska Highway themselves.

Take advice from someone who’s actually driven the Alaska Highway. Preferably more than once. If you’ve ever thought about driving to Alaska, go drive the Alaska Highway. That’s what Dennis told me in Texas and I’m glad I listened to him.