The Unity of Pokémon Go

I caught on to the craze a little late. In fact, I didn’t learn about Pokémon Go until I saw it pop up in my Facebook News between seeing updates about the numerous shootings going on.

Never have I ever seen the world so captivated by a video game. EVER. As of the time of this post being written, the app has over 7 million downloads! It’s causing users to get outside and hunt forPokémon so they can catch em all and users are buying portable chargers so they can play the game all day. It’s nuts!The Unity of Pokémon Go

Our country, and the world, has seen a lot of madness these past few weeks. Orlando’s still recovering from the biggest mass shooting in United States history, dozens of civilians have died in Iraq, we’re set on escalating a race war, and the lives of men and women wearing the blue badge are at stake even more than before. Saying we as a society have become divided would be an understatement, but that’s what we’re going with right now.

I was watching Casey Neistat’s Pokémon MANIA video on YouTube and there was one scene that stuck out to me. When asked why he’s playing the game, a gamer said that it’s communal. He didn’t know anyone he was hanging out with until that day and he met one other person the day before. They all were different races, but they’re hanging out and talking like they’re lifelong friends.

Their race didn’t matter

Pokémon Go has done more for us than any peace organization or speech from our elected leaders. It’s brought people together (an almost impossible feat) and has given us a small escape from the tragedies that have occurred. The game has had a calming effect on all of us. The social media posts have slowly shifted from hate to happiness. People are being social with each other, no matter the color of their skin or their language. We’ve been given a reason to talk with each other and we’re taking that opportunity without even knowing it.

I love mocking this game. But I also love whatPokémon Go has done for the world. And if it takes a new twist on a game that I played when I was in the 3rd grade to bring a calm and unity to the world, I’ll take it!

Blink 182 has a new album out andPokémon is the big game being played right now. What year is it again?

The Great American Road Trip

I open the Facebook app. on my phone and scroll through my feed. It’s how I get caught up with my previous life back in Florida. My friends post about their lives: the start of a new career, a baby just entered the world, one’s going back to school, looks like a wedding’s coming since a couple just got engaged.

My thumb taps the new Instagram icon revealing a plethora of photos. That burger and beer looks way better than the half packet of flavored rice and can of chicken I just inhaled. There’s a rope swing and a natural water slide in British Columbia? I’m bookmarking those spots in my brain, those places look awesome to visit on the way to Alaska. Oh look, Chris Burkard just posted another stunning photo of Iceland. Iceland looks rad, maybe I’ll go there one day.

Social media’s my form of entertainment on the road. It’s also my newsfeed at times. I’m lying, it’s my newsfeed almost all the time. I was born in 1990, I’m 26 years old, I’m a millennial, a millennial that makes a living by traveling. I’m the prime target for travel companies. I see a lot of the same ads you see on your newsfeed. The ones telling you and me that it’d be rad to visit Thailand and experience the little cities by vespa, that the climbing over the aqua blue water would feel incredible, and that I can eat cheap street food for every meal; as long as I can afford the flight there. Europe looks amazing in those ads too. I’ve had some friends visit Europe. Some of them did a study abroad program, others taught English as a second language, a few were a nanny to some rad kids for a summer, and then there’s a few that lived out of their backpack for a week or two; maybe even a month or two. They all tell me I’d love it there and I don’t disagree.

These travel ads have a way with altering perception. They do a terrific job at telling you and me that we need to go to another country to experience something amazing. Staying stateside in our own backyard is boring and that the only way to really have an adventure is to travel to another country, if only for a week or two.

Last week I was in Bend, OR for a few days. Bend is east of the Cascade Mountain Range and still part of the high desert. The days were sunny, the air was dry as the desert is, and it was warm during the day and cool at night. Adam found this awesome swimming hole called Blue Pool. It’s the most crystal clear blue body of water I’ve ever seen in photos and in person. You’d think we found it in a forest in Southeast Asia, but we barely drove an hour west into the Cascade Mountains and hiked two miles from the gravel parking lot to go swimming.Adam Fricke doing a swan dive into Blue Pool on a road trip

We kept driving west for a couple more hours until we were stopped by the edge of a jagged cliff with the Pacific Ocean crashing against the rough Central Oregon land. The temperature plummeted by 20 degrees and the wind carried little particles of salt from the ocean down below onto the land. Trees with different hues of green leaves surrounded me as I walked along the trails of the coastal forest.Road Trip view from Yachats Oregon

A couple days passed and I was walking along the cobblestone beaches of Rialto Beach in Olympic National Park along the coast of Washington. Back in Florida it was in the 90’s with high humidity on the 4th of July. And here I was walking around the Pacific Northwest fog wearing jeans and a hoodie watching fireworks across the jetty crack in the sky.Justin Fricke on a road trip through Rialto Beach

Everything’s so different than the place I left back in January. I thought I’d seen it all in the southeast, but come to find out that the southeast was my safety bubble. There’s so much more to see and experience outside of our safety bubbles and it turns out that you don’t need to own a passport to see something you’ve dreamt about seeing in photos or meet someone incredible along the way.

I want to visit every country in the world. I think there’s a lot of merit in meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and how the rest of the world lives. But did you know that there’s such a thing as Fry Sauce? I didn’t, they have it in Idaho, and it’s delicious.

So What? The Nifty Fifty Story

I bought a 50mm prime lens when I bought my first DSLR camera. The Nifty Fifty’s a staple in the bag of most photographers. I shot with it for a little bit and to be honest, hated it. Too much of my images got cropped out and I just never liked my images. My go-to has been my 24-70.Justin Fricke in Yachats Oregon, shot with a nifty fifty

The last time I attached my Nifty Fifty to my camera was in January. Adam and I were in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the greyness was optimal for a Nifty Fifty, but I hated it. I blamed it all on the lens. Nothing I wanted was in the frame, it wouldn’t focus well, the images looked terrible in my eyes, etc. I took off the lens and put my trusty 24-70 back on.

I think we tend to do that when something doesn’t go our way or turn out the way we want. We lay the blame on something else, make excuses, and hide beneath the covers and wait for the perfect situation to arise.

The weather sucks, the sleepies won’t leave the eyes, creativity isn’t flowing that day, there’s too many people, it’s too late in the day, or it’s too cold in the early morning hours. Those are some of the excuses I tell myself a lot. I think that’s fear talking and I’m trying out this new thing. I’m facing fear head on and I tend to win.

Winning’s fun and it can be addictive at times. I’m probably a lot like you when I say that I hate to lose. And for me fear tells me that I’m going to lose. It’s easy for me to want to stay inside my bubble and never face the day, hack away at a to-do list, never try something new, never grow as a human being. That’s easy and it’s easy to convince yourself to do something because it’s easy.

I’m trying out this thing called “so what.” So what if the weather sucks, if I’m not feeling creative, or if someone might wander into my bubble. I mean it can’t get any worse, right? It can only get better. If we step outside our comfort zone we take the risk of growing. Sure we might fail, but so what?

Last week I made it to the Central Coast of Oregon. The late afternoon sun was shining through the trees along the side of the cliff and the lighting was absolutely serene. I was by myself and wanted to take a stab at some self-portraits.Oregon Coast Trail shot on a nifty fifty

Landscape and action shots are usually my go-to, and it shows on my Instagram, but so what? My Nifty Fifty accumulated some dust, but so what? I took it out of my bag and set up some shots that I thought would look cool. And that guy that was going to settle for mediocre and not experiment with a new shot because fear said otherwise? What an idiot.

23 Easy Ways to be a National Park Jerk

 

painting on a rock in the Alabama Hills

  1. Take up lots of parking spaces at the Visitor Center with your compact car
  2. Leave food out and attract all the animals
  3. Take your massive RV on narrow roads
  4. Don’t hold the door open for the person behind you
  5. Walk 3 or 4, maybe 5 wide, on a trail
    1. Then walk really slow and hold up foot traffic
  6. Accidentally hit someone with your selfie stick while selfieing and don’t apologize
  7. Audibly complain about all the tourists; you’re not a tourist
  8. Stand too close to a crumbly edge
  9. Play your music loud on the trail; everyone wants to hear it
  10. Tell everyone how stupid they are for using technology
  11. Hold up traffic while admiring the wildlife
  12. Run up to and try to pet the wildlife
  13. Put a bison calf in your car because it looks cold
  14. Keep your dog off leash
    1. It’s better off running around off leash
    2. This way it doesn’t have to take a s#!t on the trail
  15. Never walk on the safety of boardwalks that keep you from falling into boiling hot, hot springs
  16. Tell as many strangers as you can about how many National Scenic Trails you’ve thru hiked
  17. Stand really close to the person in front of you, heavily breathing down their neck, while waiting for the shuttle bus
  18. Fart on the shuttle bus
  19. Risk your life and go anywhere to get an awesome photo for the gram
  20. Cut someone in line while waiting to use the bathroom
  21. Complain audibly loud about the terrible cell phone reception
    1. Make a non-emergency phone calls, because YOLO
  22. Build a new fire ring anywhere you want, we always need new scars on the land
  23. Enhance and create “art” in our natural spaces

Don’t be a National Park Jerk

The Desert, It’s Wild

Just be careful and don’t get lost, we’ll come looking for you in a couple days if  we don’t hear from you.

That was what the staff said at the visitor center at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge. They didn’t tell me I’d potentially go to jail or get a hefty fine if someone caught me exploring the different areas that are a little off the beaten path. All they did was smile and actually started to encourage me to explore new areas. They didn’t care, they just didn’t want to have to come rescue my butt. That was the perfect introduction to the west.Justin Fricke poking a cactus in the desert of Saguaro National Park

Photo: Adam Fricke

A couple months later I got to Big Bend National Park. Adam and I met up with our friend Sean, who works in the park, and he took us to the hot spring that sits right on the Rio Grande. It was dark and as we started walking down the trail, Border Patrol drove by. My first reaction was to duck and try to escape from being seen by their headlights. Sean kind of laughed and told me Dude, relax. As long as you’re not doing anything illegal, they don’t care. No one cares around here.

I’ve been in the west for a couple months now and the best way I can describe it is by saying It’s wild. It’s the wild, wild, west. I love it here: the vastness of the never-ending landscape, dry air, and all the dust (although my van would disagree about the dust). It’s a wild place that I’ve quickly fallen in love with, not just for the scenery, but also for the mindset. No one care what I do, as long as I’m not causing any harm, it’s all good.

Back home in the east, it’s a lot different. It was kind of easy to get into trouble, so many people telling me I can’t do something or go somewhere for no reason other than you’re not allowed. It bugged me like no other being told that, so I’d go somewhere and do something anyways.

Now no one cares, they wish me well, ask me to come back and show them pictures of what I find; oh and don’t die. They tell me not to die or get lost. I appreciate that.

A couple years ago I thought I hated the desert and the west of America. I’d never been here before, I just knew it was hot, arid, and full of nothing. Well all that’s true, but I love it here. How no one tells me I can’t or shouldn’t do something or go somewhere. It’s a lot different than what I expected. The desert’s become my solace, my go-to place.

Who would’ve thought a kid from Florida that loves the ocean so much would actually love the desert? Crazier things have happened before, I guess.

Keeping the Orange and Green Flowing on the Road

Life on the road can get a little stressful, believe it or not. There are deadlines to keep up with, the trip planning never ends, and Adam and I are always trying to find new work. Truth is, I love this stress, but sometimes it’s awesome to go off the grid and take a quick break. That’s what I’m doing this St. Patty’s day.

In the past I’ve sat behind a desk working at a computer in a swanky office for St. Patrick’s Day, but not this year. This year’s different, very different. This year you can find me in the desert. The desert you say? Yes, the desert, I say. There’s just something so calming and relaxing about a little desert oasis in New Mexico.Mike's Hard Mango Punch

Interested in a St. Patrick’s Day desert party of your own? Here are a few awesome suggestions to make your desert party epic, St. Patrick’s Day or not.

Go climbing

The desert’s filled with beautiful rock that’s just begging to be climbed. Gather up your friends and enjoy a day of bagging sends. If you’ve never climbed outside, get a group together with some friends that have a little more experience or even hire a guide. It’s a blast and you’ll love it!

Camp outCamping with Mike's Hard Mango Punch

Want to know what’s awesome about the desert? Camping! When you’re in the desert, you’re out there. Usually it’s just you and who you’re with, make sure you enjoy being around those in the group. When the sun starts to go down, get that campfire lit and grab a beverage or two to enjoy with everyone. Feeling festive? Grab a Mike’s Hard Mango Punch, a bright and vibrant way to start your evening around the campfire, or a Mike’s Hard Limeade, with a blend of delicious limes that yields to a citrusy finish, to keep with those festive orange and green colors.

Sled down a sand dune

What’s more fun than screaming down a sand dune in the desert? Not much, I must say. There are some great sand dunes at White Sands National Monument in southwest New Mexico that are just waiting for you to go flying down on a sled.

Take a hikeJustin Fricke The Weekend Warrior on a desert hike

Desert mountain peaks galore await you to stand atop them. Make sure you stay plenty hydrated and don’t party too hard the night before. Bring warm clothes and snack too, those peaks over 8,000 feet can get a little chilly. Be smart, but it is always nice to have a celebratory Mike’s Hard Mango Punch at the peak when you get there. The bright colors will bring a smile to your face as you cool off from a gnarly hike to the top.

Mountain biking

Screaming along the orange desert sand on two wheels with the sun shining down on you. Now that’s a great way to spend a day in the desert. Load up your car with your favorite mountain bike buddy and your bikes and spend a day out on the desert trails.

Find a hot springJustin Fricke The Weekend Warrior relaxing in a desert hot spring

The desert is teeming with unknown places. Do some searching on the internet and find a hot spring to relax in. Nighttime’s the best time to hit up a hot spring. It’s not so hot like in the middle of the day and you can look up and see the stars twinkling high in the sky.

What are some other fun things you like to do in the desert?

26th Birthday Challenge | How I Climbed 26 Routes in a Day

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to to do a birthday challenge. In the past I’d be confined to the climbing gym on my birthday, relegated to bagging the amount of V Point in boulder routes for the age I was turning. It was fun, but it wasn’t climbing outside. Living on the road this year afforded me the opportunity to do something I’ve never done: have a climbing birthday challenge outside and in a new place to me (Video of the birthday challenge is below!).Justin Fricke The Weekend Warrior on his birthday challenge at Hueco Tanks State Park

Photo: Adam Fricke

What’s a birthday challenge?

The way I interpret it to be is anything you want it to be. Turning 23 and want to climb 23 sport routes in a day? Go for it! Turning 50 and you want to run a 50 mile ultra on, or around, your birthday? Hell yea! That’s what’s fun about the birthday challenge, you turn it into whatever you want and you make the rules. As long as you’re doing what you love with people you like being around, you’re winning.

What was my birthday challenge?

Go to Hueco Tanks State Park in West Texas and climb 26 boulder routes in one day. I wanted to only count climbs with a V2 grade or higher, but my body had other plans for me.

How’d it go?

Terrible, awful, awesome, so much fun, and everything in between. I’ve never been to Hueco Tanks State Park to climb, so Adam and I agreed to hire a climbing guide. That was a key to success. Rather than spending lots of my time looking for boulders in an outdated guide book, our guide was able to show me great routes to climb.

Now I’m not in climbing shape. I’ve only climbed a handful of times since hitting the road two months ago and it showed. After a couple V0’s and a V1, my body told me that anything and everything would count as a climbed route. For some reason I thought it’d be a great idea to try and bag a V4. Don’t get me wrong, Moonshine was awesome. It’s got great flow to it, but that overhanging roof climb killed my arms and core for the rest of the day. After I was done screwing around on Moonshine, I only had 6 climbs under my belt and it was almost noon.

Our group went to a spot that’s tough to get to, but was loaded with Vo’s. Within an hour I had bagged another 7 routes and was halfway to my goal of 26. On our hike to our last spot I was contemplating whether I’d realistically be able to finish my challenge or not. As I was flailing on some V0’s and V1’s, it became a real thing that I’d have to suck up my pride and start repeating some climbs, and that’s what I did.

I think I climbed one route a total of 7 times to get my route count up to 22. Tired, dehydrated, hungry, and ready for the day to be over, we approached our last climbing area for the day. I only needed 4 more climbs and it was a slab wall we came to. I hate climbing slab. It’s my nemesis and ironically what stood between me and finishing up my birthday challenge.

As I pulled the lip on my last climb, I was elated to see the golden hour sun setting over the desert of West Texas. It took 9 hours for me to barely heave my way up 26 boulder routes and almost quit numerous times, but it was all worth it. I got to do something I’ve never done, celebrate my birthday with my brother and new friends in a place unfamiliar to me and learn some things along the way.

Never give up. If something’s worth fighting for, then never quit. I wanted to quit on myself numerous times, but I also hate to quit and lose. That’s half of the fight. The other half is fighting pride. I came in with a way big ego and this birthday challenge crushed me. I never sent a V2 that day and I ended up having to repeat routes in order to bag the 26 I wanted. It’s totally cool to change a strategy to make something work, and I think it’s necessary. It helps to keep things in check and it made me grateful to be doing what I was doing.

In the end, it was the best 26th birthday ever.

Find Your Favorite Office

I’ve had a lot of offices in my career (if you even want to call it a career). When I worked in banking I had a mixture of an open work space, two cubicles, and two offices. Within the past two months of living on the road, I’ve had…we’ll I don’t know how many offices I’ve had. Some offices have had a window, others didn’t have a door, a few have been open air, the worst had terrible wifi, and the best didn’t have any wifi. Each office has been unique, each one is my favorite for various reasons.Favorite Office in Padre Island National Seashore

Here’s how you can find your favorite office:

Know what you want

Do you want an actual office, a cubicle, or an open work space? Knowing which you want is kind of important because you need to actually work in a place or in a field that offers that office you so desire.

Bust your butt

Nothing’s going to be handed to you. You have to work for it. If this doesn’t apply to you and you already have the office of your dream, congratulations. Stop reading this, you’re above me and everyone else still reading. I envy you, no really, I do.

Go find your office

We live in a world that’s ever changing. That’s what’s great about today’s modern era. If we don’t like how something’s done, we can change it or go somewhere else where we like how something’s done.

Same idea goes for offices as well. If we don’t like our office, we can work remote. Pack up, take a road trip, and find your favorite office. I take that back, you don’t have to take a road trip to find your office. Your favorite office could be a local coffee shop, park, beach, or in the mountains near you.

Figure out what you want in an office and go find it. Take a look at a postcard, cruise Google, or find an old map and go. Take advantage of today’s modern resources and find the office that you love the most.

Just make sure the boss is cool with you telecommuting. And if you’re your boss, wi-5!

Where’s your favorite office?

Haters Are Going to Hate

For the past month I’ve been on the road with my brother, living in our Sprinter Van, traipsing about the southeast exploring cities, hiking trails, climbing rocks, and surfing cold waves. It’s been a lot of fun, despite the challenges, and we’ve even got some press for what we’ve been doing. We made the front page of The Orlando Sentinel, GrindTV loves our van build, and our alma mater featured us in their newspaper. You’d think all that press would be great, and in the form of website views, subscriber count on the website and YouTube Channel, and social media following, it is.Haters are Going to Hate

Being in the public eye though, that makes you a number one target for anyone looking to spread a little hate. When the writer at these news sources would shoot us the link, my eyes would go to the comment section after reading the article. I’ve noticed a trend in the comment section of every article. They start out super positive, strangers tagging their friends saying “Let’s do this” and “Inspiration for what we’re doing” along with a little “Way cool guys, keep it up!” Those comments get me feeling all warm inside until one person comes along to spread a little hate. It hurts, it gets to me when haters degrade what my brother and I are doing; saying it’s stupid and worthless or that the Sprinter Van we worked so hard to buy with cash and spent two months building out looks terrible. The one that hits home the most is when people say that we’re spoiled kids who mooched off their parents and that we’re just a couple of deadbeats.

Haters are going to hate…

Here are some things I’ve learned about haters that maybe you should know as well:

Haters are bullies

Just like in school. We gave them a new name.

What haters say, doesn’t matter

They spread hate to spread hate. Their words hurt, I know, trust me I know, but they don’t control you.

Haters are jealous

Often times they try and bring you down because they want what you have. They can have what you have by busting their butts for it (like you have), but they feel it’s easier to pull you down to their level and try to take what you have.

Haters are afraid of you

Since you’re doing awesome things, they feel they’re going to get lost in the mix and the best way to avoid that is to pull you down.

They don’t know your struggles

You’ve struggled and fought to get where you are. Haters only see where you are now and equate your success and happiness to luck and their misfortune.

…Creators are going to create

No matter what you do, you’re always going to have a hater. That really irks me because haters don’t see what we creators go through to do what we do and get where we are. While we’re working really hard, pulling all nighters, and breaking our backs to do what we love with only the hope that others will enjoy and be inspired by what we create, haters are out there spreading hate by typing mean comments, trying to degrade on our hard work. Just know that their pain is their life. Haters spread hate because they want you to feel the pain they feel.

 

Making Friends and Shaking Hands in the New Year

As this post goes live, we’re now 29 days into the New Year. Let me ask, how are your New Year’s Resolutions, excuse me, Goals. How are your New Year’s Goals going for you? Because remember, resolutions are stupid. Are you on track to following through on that action plan you set in place to achieve those goals or has it all been thrown to the wind?

Let me be the first to congratulate you if you’ve stuck to your action plan and are still on track to achieve your goal. Now if those goals have been thrown to the wind, not to worry. Why? There’s still time to get back on track. It’s a Leap Year and that means time is on your side. Rather than having 336 days left in the year, you’ve got yourself a whopping 337 days!Mike's Hard Lemonade

My New Year’s Goal is to have a conversation with a new person in every state I visit this year. Since I will be visiting every single state this year, that means I have to strike up a conversation with 50 random people! That may not seem like a lot to you if you’re the social butterfly of your friend group, but for the quiet, reserved one, that’s a HUGE deal.

Here’s how I’m working to achieve that goal:

My brother and I are taking a yearlong road trip. If you didn’t know that, you can head over to The Bro’d Trip’s website once you’ve finished reading this (it’ll still be there, I promise). We built out our van to be a “luxurious” home on wheels (more on that in a minute), but we want to spend as much time outside of the van as possible. We’re getting outside and doing as many things as we can. Surfing, rock climbing, hiking, exploring, taking photos, and making videos – those are the things we want to make part of our normal day, and so far we’re doing just that.Making friends with Mike's Hard Lemonade

Walking around taking pictures of what we might perceive to be ordinary has drawn a question or two, usually about camera/photo related things. Talking to a camera with a funny looking microphone on top has drawn a crowd, but none of that’s actually shareable. It’s awesome having a quick talk on the street, but none of that’s shareable in the sense that I get to learn more about someone. What is shareable is usually found at a local watering hole or in a refrigerator.

For centuries we’ve had conversations over a drink because it elicits a social atmosphere, a place to share stories, and learn about each other. That’s why my brother and I are keeping our refrigerator stocked with Mike’s Hard Lemonade. You see, we built out our Sprinter Van to be a cool place to come back to after a long day and share stories, hangout, eat food, and have a couple drinks with new friends.Mike's Hard Lemonade in the snow

Everyone has a different taste; some like beer and others like wine. One thing almost everyone can agree on is that Mike’s Hard Lemonade is a delicious twist that beer drinkers and wine drinkers will always make an exception for. The variety pack is an easy way for us to make sure everyone has a drink they like, rather than keeping multiple types of beer and/or wine on hand. That’d be irresponsible.

Have a New Year’s Goal that needs the help of some friends? Grab a pack of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and get to working on it!

This post is sponsored by Mike’s Hard Lemonade and all thoughts are my own. Mike’s Hard Lemonade, nor does The Weekend Warrior, promote or condone the consumption of alcohol by minors, nor do they condone the over consumption of alcohol.