What is the Price of Fun?

Lately I’ve been asked how much I spent in 2016. I spent the entire year on a massive road trip where I visited all 50 States, the District of Columbia, 1 US Territory, and 3 Canadian Provinces. So I understand everyone’s knee jerk reaction to question my total spending. Not many people are able to dedicate a whole year to travel and adventure, but lots dream about it. When I get asked that question I want to believe that people are trying to formulate a plan to start saving to go on some awesome adventure of their own.What is the Price of Fun?

A grand adventure is sexy, fun. But it’s not always practical. Relationships, work, and health concerns are only a few things that hinder the possibility of going on a big adventure. A large scale adventure isn’t a be all end all kind of thing. In fact I’d argue that there are TONS of smaller adventures to go on that fit within a reasonable budget and the memories from all these experiences add up over time.

I’ve spent some time pondering this and have put together a list of various adventures with drastically different price points. When you start doing rather than dreaming of what could be is when you’ll realize that a ton of fun is right out your front door step.

$0-$500

  • Hiking all the trails within your city, county, and state
  • Ride your bike 100 miles
  • Run a number of distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon)
  • Climb tons of boulders
  • Swim a mile
  • Surf more than 183 days in a year
  • Get scuba diving certified

$501-$2,500

  • Take a 2 week road trip
  • Climb a big wall
  • Ride your bike across the country
  • Thru hike 1 of the 11 National Scenic Trails (AT, PCT, CT, etc.)
  • Bike pack through Canyonlands National Park
  • Become a certified

$2,501+

  • Packrafting in Gates of the Arctic National Park
  • Hike/climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • Multi day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon
  • Take a guided hike to the base of Mt. Everest
  • Get certified in skydiving

16 Story Filled Photos of 2016

I was going to start this post in a completely different way. I wanted to share 16 of my favorite photos from 2016. As I was sorting through 23,613 photos I found myself reminiscing about the stories behind each and every photo. I vividly remembered what I was thinking as I took each photo, how cold or hot it was, what I was feeling (this year taught me I have feelings and that it’s ok to have feelings), how many people were around, what got me there, what I did after, and so much more.

Eventually I found a way to narrow 23,613 photos down to 32. And somehow I cut that number in half. Below are 16 story filled photos from 2016 that hold some of my favorite stories; in sequential order.

Enjoy

January 19, 2016

Rumbling Bald, NC

Katie Boue climbing at Rumbling Bald

This year would have never happened if it wasn’t for this girl. Katie is the one that planted the idea of a yearlong road trip in my girlfriend’s head 4 years ago. Long story short, that girl dumped me and I roped my brother into this incredible yearlong road trip we took together. At this point in the year Adam and I were wondering how we’d get through the rest of the year (terrifying, I know). She talked some sense into us, gave us an idea of what we were in for, and calmed our worrisome souls.

April 13, 2016

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

Las Vegas Strip overlook in Red Rock Canyon

We had just rolled into Nevada from California. Adam wanted to see Las Vegas for the first time. Having been before, I wanted nothing to do with Las Vegas. The day was fading and we wanted to do something interesting. A park ranger told us about this trail that’d lead us to a viewpoint overlooking the Vegas Strip. I didn’t think the view would be worth it after an hour of hiking. Adam went ahead and a few minutes later I heard him calling my name. Telling me I had to see this.

April 26, 2016

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend is famous. And that’s an understatement. The parking lot was littered with tourists, like myself. Walking through the sand dunes I saw the entire rim of the canyon covered with tripods and people standing next to them. Everyone was there wanting to get the same exact picture. In pictures this place looks so peaceful, like no one’s around. I guarantee you that in every single photo you see there are at least 100 other people around. This made me question social media’s impact on the environment for the first time.

May 19, 2016

Yosemite National Park

Travis Burke at Glacier Pointe

This was my last morning in Yosemite National Park. Adam and I woke up early to take photos of each other skating this stretch of road. As I was taking photos of him I saw an all too familiar grey van drive past. That van belongs to Travis Burke. He’s an incredible lensman (another understatement) and someone I truly look up to and admire. Surprisingly I didn’t fanboy over him when he stood next to me to snap some pictures of Adam skating as well.

May 27, 2016

The Wave

The Wave Arizona

Circa 2012 I changed the background on my desktop computer in my cubicle to a beautiful sandstone formation carved by wind and sand over thousands of years. A coworker of mine walked past and asked where it was I went to get that photo. I had no idea where in the world this place existed. I told her it was a background that came with Windows 7 and that I’d be more than happy to change her desktop background to that photo if she wanted. Hundreds of people play the lottery to get 1 of 10 coveted permits to see The Wave. On our second day, Adam and I won the lottery.

June 20, 2016

Shoshone Falls

Shoshone Falls, ID
I have no idea how, but Shoshone Falls is bigger than Niagara Falls. We got hooked up with kayak rentals for the day and paddled our way up the Snake River to the base of the falls. As we got closer the waves got big. I thought I was going to capsize the waves got so rough. Look close, Adam’s in a kayak at the base of the falls. This was by far the best summer solstice I’ve ever had.

August 2, 2o16

Kenai Fjords National Park

Exit Glacier

Alaska’s the Last Frontier and to my surprise; there was a butt load of people there! A few days prior I went to the base of Exit Glacier with scores of other tourists. I looked at the glacier and wished I could explore. By some miracle I found myself attaching crampons to my feet for the first time in my life, traversing a moving sheet of ice, and learning about this entire valley and glacier. Pro tip: the faster you hike up to the glacier, the more of the glacier your guide gets to show you.

September 7, 2016

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park

I was imagining how many double taps I’d get on Instagram as I was taking this photo.

October 22, 2016

Red River Gorge
Red River Gorge

Sorry mom! That’s become my favorite phrase to say. When I say that I know I’m living, really, living my life to the fullest. Although I may freak out my mom as I’m dangling in the air taking photos of my friends climbing, she knows it’s what I’m supposed to be doing. And I think she’s grown to love it when I say sorry mom!

November 6, 2016

Oahu
Oahu by helicopter

Doors off of a helicopter makes it really cold. For some reason my left nostril begins to drip snot profusely when I get cold. It’s not in the frame, thankfully, but there’s a huge strand of snot flying out of my nose as I blindly stuck my camera out the side of the helicopter to snap this photo. This was also the first time I’ve ever flown in a helicopter. Do I know any helicopter pilots out there that want to take me for a joy ride sometime?

November 15, 2016

Baltimore, MDYellowcard in Baltimore, MD

You know how there’s that one band that seems to speak to you? That no matter what you’re going through they seem to always have a song for that. Yellowcard is that band for me. They’re on their farewell tour. This might have been the last time I ever saw them live. My voice was virtually gone after this show.

November 23, 2016

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park sunset

4:30pm and the sun began to set in Acadia National Park. Adam, Tanner, and I pulled off the road to watch the sun dip below the horizon. What happened next I’ve seen happen a couple of times. The clouds got into position, readying themselves for the light of the setting sun to hit them and set them on fire. My fingers started going numb and my left nostril started dripping snot. It was so cold. We piled back into the van and blasted the heater as the sky turned dark.

November 27, 2016

Vermont

Vermont Bachelor Party

There’s no right or wrong way to throw a bachelor party. My friend Tanner (the guy grinning at the camera) joined us for 10 days on the road and called it his bachelor party. Usually beer’s involved so we hiked to the top of a mountain in Vermont and had a summit beer.

December 8, 2016

Upstate New York

New York Blizzard

All I could think about was how stoked I was to be experiencing lake effect snow. Being raised in Florida it’s something I only ever heard about on the news. For the first time I finally understood lake effect snow and how it can just dump ungodly amounts of fluffy white snow in a matter of minutes.

December 11, 2016

Eastern Pennsylvania

Chimney Climbing

20 degrees is a little cold to go climbing. But when’s the next time I’ll ever get to climb a chimney that was built to be climbed? The lesson I learned here is to just do it no matter how uncomfortable it is. It’ll always be worth it in the end. I climbed a chimney!

December 11, 2016

New Jersey

Delaware Water Gap

50 states, 1 US Territory, District of Columbia, and 3 Canadian Provinces in one year. Holy balls that actually happened. And we’re still friends. No matter what happens next no one can ever take this experience from us. Would you be able to travel for an entire year with your sibling(s) and still be friends in the end?

Parting Thoughts

As I was driving across the country in 2016 one phrase kept popping into my head. Just Do It. We’re told that we can’t more often than we can. It’s only until you go out on a limb that you realize what you’re capable of accomplishing. I was told I can’t take a year to visit all 50 states with my brother. Whoever told me that was right. To their dismay I did more than that because I can.

Whatever it is Just Do It.

 

The Chimney Climbing Wall

I think that anyone who’s ever climbed at all in their life has later on looked at the side of a house or building that has a stone decoration or a stone column and thought to her/himself “I wonder if I could climb that?” That thought has crossed my mind numerous times and has even been at the center of a few conversations. Now it might be climbable, but hardly is it ever meant to be climbed.The Chimney Climbing Wall

When I was in Pennsylvania visiting a friend, his friend invited us over to his family’s farm. Bill and his brothers inherited this farm in northeast Pennsylvania and it’s been in the family for almost 80 years. There’s a farmhouse surrounded by over 100 acres of property and the farmhouse was small. Years ago Bill and his brothers decided to make an addition to the farmhouse that includes a few more bedrooms, bathrooms, living/dining area, and a fireplace to heat the entire house. Now Bill is a climber, so when it came time to build the chimney, he made sure it was climbable.

It took Bill and his brothers a couple of years to build this chimney, by hand. They’d meticulously place massive stones atop each other to form the chimney and reinforced it with rebar and concrete. And when it came time for the last layer of this, Bill made sure to place stones with positive edges facing out in a certain way, so that it was climbable. At the top he welded anchor to the rebar, so he could climb out a window onto the roof and clip a couple of quickdraws to the anchors to set up a top rope.

The weather was cold when I climbed, it was in the 20’s and lightly snowing. Bill claims there’s about a dozen options for routes that fall anywhere from 5.7-5.11. My out of shape climbing butt only made it up the center face and left arete’ before I couldn’t feel my fingers anymore.

At first glance this looks like an ordinary chimney. Look a little closer and you’ll start to see some routes. Look even closer and you’ll see some character to this chimney. While most of the holds are positive edges of stones that Bill found around the property and off I 81, you’ll notice some bomber fist sized stones up there. Throughout his climbing travels Bill has been collecting fallen rocks from places he’s gone. Start climbing up the main face and your first incredible hold is going to be from the top of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Keep going and you’ll find a hold from Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and so many others. Bill thinks there’s about 25 holds from tons of different climbing destinations throughout the country. He just needs to look at the photos he took as he was constructing the chimney to figure out where all of these unique holds now live.

In climbing terms, a chimney route is where you wedge yourself into an area and climb up. Often times you’ll brace your feet on one side and back against the other to work your way up. This chimney’s a little different. The heat from inside the chimney may not radiate out to keep your hands warm climbing in the winter, but then again, how often can you say that you climbed a chimney; that’s part of someone’s farmhouse?

How Do You Show Gratitude When You Have Nothing?

I pull up to the house of yet another Internet friend, whom I’ve never met in real life. It’s dark, cold, I haven’t showered in days, and I’m welcomed inside and offered a beer. A towel was already set out for me and I insisted I’d use the one I have in the van. I used the one that was set out for me. Wearing fresh new clothes I head down to the basement to get a load of my smelly clothes going before we head out for the night.Tanner Olson hiking in Acadia National Park

This isn’t the first time this has happened and I’m sure it’s not the last. My charm, kind smile, and long hair have nothing to do with receiving acts of kindness like this. I’m only describing one recent moment of hospitality and kindness that I’ve been shown scores of times this past year. Staying with someone, most of the time it’s someone I’ve only met online (Sorry Mom!), has been new for me. In the past I’d opt to meet someone for food or a beer and get a hotel room for the night if I was in the area or passing through. Those were also the days when I was bringing home the salary of someone in the banking industry. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful or didn’t want to socialize, I just felt uncomfortable. It felt like I was imposing or something of the sort.

Traveling on a shoestring budget has forced me to do something I haven’t been great at doing and that’s accepting others’ kindness. Within a month of living vanlife full time I was “forced” to break out of my comfort zone and accept the help of friends, and sometimes strangers. Over time I became more and more accustomed to accepting help from others in the form of giving me a place to grab a shower, sleep for the night, and sometimes even a meal. But then something began to weigh heavy on my heart.

Gratitude

How the hell do I show the amount of gratitude I’m feeling to someone who’s opened the doors to their home and lent me a helping hand, when I have nothing more than a sincere “Thank you?” The thought of gratitude and how to show it, aside from sincerely saying “thank you” more times than I can count has weighed heavy on me most of the year.

An overarching theme I’ve noticed as I’ve met so many people that have lent a helping hand has been that they’ve been shown some sort of kindness and hospitality during their travels. Complete strangers, friends, and family have shown them the same kindness when they were hiking the Appalachian Trail, on an extended road trip, or on a cycling trip, to name a few. Their stories resonated with others they met on their travels and were shown some sort of kindness. Lending me a helping hand is their best way of returning the favor and showing gratitude to others that have helped them.

Say you’re like me and don’t really have any way to show the gratitude you’re feeling at the moment. You may not have a way to repay someone at this point in time. But I’m willing to bet that at some point in the future you’ll have the ability to repay the favor in the form of lending a helping a hand to someone else. Some would call it paying it forward.

I look forward to being able to lend a helping hand to someone I don’t know. Until then, I’ll work on sincerely saying “Thank you.”

The Best of the Best

The waves looked small at Sunset Beach, but the HIC Pro was in full swing. Sunset Beach is a break on the North Shore of Hawaii that’s notorious for big surf. The North Shore is called “The Proving Grounds” for a reason. It’s where the best of the best surfers flock to every winter to try and score big waves in hopes of putting themselves on the radar of potential sponsors. But from the beach the waves looked small as contestants paddled out.The Best of the Best competing at the HIC Pro

These guys are some of the best in the world, but according to the rankings they’re in the top 250 or so. They’re not the best in the world that are on the World Surf League’s tour. In order to qualify for that you have to be ranked in the top 32 and these guys are far from that.

It wasn’t until a set came through and one of the competitors dropped into a wave that I realized how big these waves were. They were well overhead and all these guys were surfing as if they’re the best of the best. Making every turn and barrell look flawless. As I sat there taking photos underneath the shade of a tree I couldn’t help but think that I could be out there doing the same thing. Deep down I knew I couldn’t and the waves would demolish me, but these guys made it look so effortless that I thought I could be out there surfing with them. I thought they were the best surfers in the world.

The announcer took over the mic and let the crowd know that surfing’s knewly crowned world champion, John John Florence, was heading towards Sunset Beach on his homecoming parade. The crowd, myself included, quickly gathered along the road to get a glimpse of John John Florence as he drove by.John John Florence at his homecoming parade

John John had just won the world title a week prior in portugal. He’s been chasing that world title for decades, since he was a little grom that charged Pipeline every winter with guys twice his size and three times his age. He came by in the back of a black pickup truck that his mom drove holding the Hawaiian flag high above his head.

He has this way of surfing that makes you think you can go Backdoor at Pipeline, get pitted so deep in the barrel, and get spit out to win the Volcom Pipe Pro in 2012. But chances are that if you or I or most anyone else on this planet tried to do that, we’d eat it hard and surface with the gnarliest reef rash ever seen. The again we probably wouldn’t be invited to compete in the first place.

Last weekend I got to camp in Connecticut with my friends Megan and Michael. They run this camp cooking blog called Fresh off the Grid. Take a look at their website and read over some their recipes. I’ll be the first to admit that they make it look easy. I can do some cooking, but I can never get my food to come out looking like theirs. These two are the best at what they do. Take a look behind the scenes and it’s not as easy as it looks.Fresh off the Grid shooting one of their recipes

Not only do they have to cook their food, but they also have to photograph the entire thing to make it look visually appealing and give us, the readers, an idea of what it should look like. I’ve been behind the scenes on some of their shoots and it’s insane to watch them in their element. But what I haven’t even seen is the recipe development.

Before they shoot a recipe that they’re going to feature on their blog, they make it themselves multiple times. If you’ve ever experimented with cooking you know that it’s trial and error. And for a couple that’s lived Sedan Life for the past 18, or so, months, that also means eating their mistakes.

As I was in the background photographing them at work, I felt like I was watching poetry in motion. They have everything figured out, knowing who’s doing what, and having the whole recipe memorized. They know exactly what shots they need to get and even know when the light is going to be best for the best looking photos.

Whether you want to believe it or not, all food bloggers have these pristine studios where they shoot. The lighting is always perfect and they always know where every piece of gear and all their utensils are sitting. Fresh off the Grid is a camp cooking blog and every shoot is different. They’re at the risk of the elements and if they’re on a deadline to shoot a recipe and it’s scheduled to snow, that means they might have to shoot the recipe with snow on the ground and the frigid air blowing and messing up their whole system.

Fresh off the Grid and all those guys competing at the HIC Pro are the best of the best in their own respects. We’ve come to believe that your stats have to be the best, you have to have the most (or least) amount of points to win, or make the most money to be considered the best. I don’t believe that. Whatever your craft is, make it look so easy that others think they can do it because you make it look so effortless.

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.

Unconventional Ways to Conquer Jet Lag That Aren’t Scientifically Proven

Your plane ticket is booked and you’re ready for your grand adventure. Only problem is that your schedule is packed from the moment you get there to the moment you’re boarding the plane back home. You don’t have time to deal with jet lag. You need to feel 100% from the get-go and the suggestions on those travel blogs usually require you to lose out on a day or more of activities so you can recuperate and allow your body’s internal clock to reset to the local time. Here are some non scientifically proven ways for you to conquer jet lag.Marina in Waikiki Hawaii where Gilligan's Island was filmed

  • Listen to heavy metal music. Metal is loud. Metal doesn’t care about how you look or feel. And metal sure as heck doesn’t care that you want to sleep.
  • Eat lots of carbs because a full stomach will keep you going no matter the scenario.
  • Watch every single movie on the airplane. Doing so should keep you awake and ready to tackle your big adventures.
  • *Drink lots of booze. Think of it as tailgating for the big game.
  • Stay up all night the night before you leave. You do want to reset your internal clock, right?
  • Tape your eyelids open so you can’t close your eyes and succomb to sleeping. You know you wished you had tape to tape your cheeks into a smiling position at your: graduation, wedding, bartmitzvah, etc. Same concept.
  • Carry around Scream in a Box.
  • Dump cold water over your head. It works in movies. Unless you’re going to a freezing cold place. Don’t dump water over your head if you’re going to a cold place, or else you might get hypothermia.
  • Connect yourself to an IV drip of caffeine. Burnt coffee from a chain coffee shop or Red Bull are the two preferred methods of staying caffeinated via IV drip.

*Always drink responsibly

Remember the scene about the 3 hour tour in Gilligan’s Island? The marina in this photo is where that scene was shot.

How Jealousy Plagues Your Hustle

Last week Sara Dietschy, one of my favorite YouTubers, tweeted out Don’t get when artists/entrepreneurs exhibit jealousy when ppl they know win. Guilty as charged! I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my jealousy has skyrocketed when I see a friend of mine “win.” I know I should be stoked for her/him, but I mean come on, why didn’t I get the opportunity?Justin Fricke sitting along the shore of Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks in Michigan

Real talk: Columbia Sportswear started this program in the spring of 2012 called #OmniTen. They picked 10 social media influencers and took them on one heck of a trip to a press event in Sedona, then threw them at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and topped it all off with a backpacking trip to Havasu Falls. The whole concept was for these select social media influences that are rooted in the outdoors to test gear, build hype on social media, and inspire others to get out and go on adventures.

I started The Weekend Warrior in April of 2013, about the same time the spring 2013 team was gearing up for their epic adventure. That’s the same time I was getting on social media (hooray for free marketing!) and that’s when I found out about #OmniTen. By some miracle Columbia Sportswear contacted me around August or September of 2013 asking me some questions about myself and specifically, my knowledge in snow sports. I know more about snow sports than most Floridians, but nowhere near as much as someone from out west or up north. Shocking surprise, when I followed up they let me know they were pretty set and a couple months later I saw a lot of happy posts all over social media. I made it to their short list of influencers, but wasn’t picked. 10 new #OmniTen were sending out celebratory tweets and the veteran #OmniTen teams we congratulating them. And there I was in my cubicle on the third floor of an office building in downtown Orlando. I was mad I didn’t get picked. And I was jealous.

In 2013 I wanted nothing more than to be recognized for my blog that had no direction and wasn’t even a year old. I also wanted to impress a girl and try to find a way to get this blog to pay for itself. But I wasn’t ready and I’m a totally believe that when you’re ready, opportunities present themselves and it’s your job to take advantage of those opportunities.

Lack of patience is only half of this equation. Insecurities clout my mind on a daily basis. Maybe you feel the same way. When I see a photographer friend of mine post a photo from a photo shoot location I begin nitpicking her/his work to mine and trying to figure out what I have to do to get the coveted call from a producer/client to be the photographer on a photo shoot. I do the same thing when I see a friend of mine announce a new writing gig or take to social media, sourcing questions for an article they’re writing. As you might know, comparison sucks and leads to insecurities, but they’re a part of life and I think the best way to overcome them is to take pride in your work and that you’ll get your chance if you keep hustling (going back to that patience thing).

Three years later and I’m glad things didn’t go down the way I wanted them to go down. Unless you’re a big name like Jimmy Chin you usually get a big red “X” put on your forehead by companies when you’re an ambassador for or sponsored by one of their competitors (all assuming they look at your social media profiles). After the winter 2014 #OmniTen team went on their sweet adventure to Park City, UT Columbia did a couple more things with a select few of their #OmniTen ambassadors, but the program has dissolved for the most part.

In August 2015 I got a message from Merrell asking if I was open to partnership opportunities. One thing led to another and they’re now my main sponsor. I was stoked to be working with them and when I signed the contract to make it official, I took right to social media. I threw out my exciting news and it was met with loads of congratulations. I finally got the chance to feel the excitement that so many others had felt that I had been jealous of.

Jealousy plagues our minds because it’s easy to get mad and question others better judgement when it’s not our turn to win. It gets in the way of our own hustle. A little bit later I saw a follow up tweet from Sara.

RMBR: You win when your friends win. Surround urself w hustlers and take over the wrld together.

The Gateway to Freedom

7 months ago I stood next to a casino in New Orleans overlooking the Mississippi River. I anxiously stood there, I wondered to myself what I’d find out west. All I wanted was to just be out west. This was my first time seeing the Mississippi River in my life and the Mississippi symbolized, to me, the gateway to freedom.

Growing up in the east I heard all these stories about how the west is this magical place for anyone who loves the outdoors. It has big open spaces, dark night skies, colorful deserts, mountains that put the Appalachians to shame, interesting people, fast moving water, and freedom. Freedom to do whatever the hell you want as long as you’re not hurting yourself or other people. It was that freedom I’d been craving for so many years and I could finally see it waiting for me across the Mississippi River.The Gateway to Freedom

Now I’m standing on the shores of the Mississippi River beneath Gateway Arch in St. Louis. This time I’m looking east and my back is facing the freedom I found out west. I’m seeing where I was running from and now I’m running towards it.

These 7 months have been beautiful. I thought I’d hate the desert and I found new life in the desert. People looked at me like I was a rockstar when I told them I live in a van. The west is where I broke out of my comfort zone. It’s where I felt at home taking risks. It’s where I told a girl she was beautiful and where my hopes of starting a real relationship were shattered. The west is where I learned to love the terrible moments that get me down. It taught me how to keep fighting when odds were against me; that quitting isn’t an option. I felt the freedom to fail and embrace the failure. The west is where I went when I was lost; and was found.

This freedom I found is only a state of mind, I guess. But this place wasn’t just a state of mind. The west became my home and now I’m going into the unknown. I don’t know when I’ll be back and that scares me. The limited space in the east, big cities, and bright night skies scare me.

I know I’ll be back out west soon enough, but the west, and all its freedom, will always be in my heart. And I hope the west will always have a place for me in its great big heart. I’m slowly realizing that it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. And that to have lost a game doesn’t mean to have lost the match. But for now my compass needle is pointed east. I don’t know what’s there, but I want to find whatever there is for me to find.

Thanks for Sharing Your Unbiased Political Opinion!

Hey!

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your unbiased political opinion on social media. You not only affected my political views on this whole election, gun control, tax laws, etc. but you also affected the entire Internet’s opinions on this important subject matter with one status update/”tweet”/”snap”/share.Bison in the Badlands National Park sharing their unbiased political views

Had you not shared your unbiased opinion bashing that one candidate, I might have actually voted for him/ her. And boy what a mess that would’ve been if I actually voted for him/her. And I’m sure you changed the way most people are going to vote with that unbiased post you shared on social media.

I’m also really glad I was cyber bullied, indirectly, when I was indirectly called an idiot, among other words, when you made that post saying that anyone who is voting for/supporting the candidate you’re voting against is an idiot, among other words.

Your political opinion is highly valued and I think that’s what drives people like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Evan Spiegel, Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger, and other people like these guys that create social media platforms. Now I’ve never created a social media platform, but I’ve been a dedicated user of several for the past decade and based on my experiences I can wholeheartedly say that these developers did NOT develop their platforms to be used to better connect with your friends, family, and Internet friends. They developed these platforms so people like you and me can share our unbiased political views and opinions with the entire Internet world.

The first Presidential Debate on September 26th was amazing and I actually got to watch it. The opinions rolling in virtually every second of the debate letting me know if Hillary or Trump was telling the truth and whether I should support him/her was unprecedented. It really helped me in knowing who to aim my popcorn at when I threw it at the TV in disgust of the opinion/remark that candidate just made.

Going forward there’s one Vice Presidential Debate and two more Presidential Debates. Since I live in a van, I might not be able watch any of these debates. So I need your help. I need you to tell me who to vote for. Please continue posting your unbiased political views all over social media. It really helps people like me know who I should vote for; based on your unbiased opinion.