Do You Have Obsessive Climbing Syndrome?

Do you walk by a doorframe and immediately feel the urge to hang from it? Do you feel the little yellow calluses on your fingers approximately 16.3 times per hour? Are you the guy/girl in your friend group that uses words like crux, beta, dyno, and stoke in everyday verbiage?Do You Have Obsessive Climbing Syndrome?

If you answered yes to any, or all, of these scenarios then you might have Obsessive Climbing Syndrome (OCS). Obsessive Climbing Syndrome is common in men and women ages 7 to 93. Although Obsessive Climbing Syndrome is a new, rare, disease it is easy to self-diagnose and is treatable if symptoms are noticed early on. Common symptoms, in addition to the ones listed above, include, but are not limited to:

  • Spending all your money on shiny karabiners, “nuts,” “cams,” and “draws” and calling it an investment
  • Freaking out over the new Reel Rock Film every autumn
  • Naming your pet after your favorite climbing crag or some climbing jargon
  • Moving to a new state just to be close to your favorite climbing crag
  • Washing yourself with biodegradable soap in a river and calling it the best shower you’ve had in a month
  • Have been mistaken to have an “illegal white powdery substance” all over your hands and face when it was climbing chalk
  • Plastering stickers of your favorite climbing cities, shops, and breweries all over your car
  • Getting your hair or beard caught in your belay device. (This is not a symptom. If this has happened to you, chances are it’s time for a haircut and/or beardcut)

Those living with Obsessive Climbing Disorder may not show symptoms until their teens, 20’s, or 30’s. Once symptoms show, consult a doctor right away. Most begin to show symptoms in their early 20’s when they’re on a date, or just hanging around someone of interest.

Talk to your doctor if you think you have Obsessive Climbing Syndrome. Since it effects both men and women from the time they’re little gym rat kids just getting into climbing, all the way up to the older generation that said you weren’t a real climber if you used chalk, you probably have Obsessive Climbing Syndrome to some degree if you enjoy climbing.

Many sufferers of Obsessive Climbing Syndrome have gone on to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Most will end up dedicating an entire room in their house to storing their gear. They call that room their “Gear Room.”

If you suspect your friend has Obsessive Climbing Disorder, confront him/her directly. Ask something like “Ted, why did you name your dog Dyno and your cat Moab?”

Ask your doctor what Obsessive Climbing Disorder medication is right for you. Quit worrying about grades, rock quality, who has the best beta, or how hard you climb and get back to climbing just for fun. If you see stars and/or are bleeding from the ears, chances are it’s not due to Obsessive Climbing Disorder. You probably took a big whipper and slammed your head against the side of the wall. In that case, you should’ve been wearing a helmet.

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.

When Leaving Sucks and It’s a Good Thing

When I left Florida 8 months ago I was a trainwreck. Tears fell from my eyes and I couldn’t call home for weeks because I’d start balling my eyes out again. During those first few weeks on the road I wondered if I had made the right decision. I was wondering if leaving my family, friends, the place I called home for 25 years, everything I knew for a year on the road was the right decision. I got to see my parents again for a quick ski trip in North Carolina a few weeks later and at the end of the trip the water works started again. Leaving sucked.Adam Fricke leaving and looking out the window on a JetBlue flight

Over the last 8 months I’ve had to do a lot of leaving and in some ways it’s gotten easier. I’ve grown accustomed to it and while my gut still churns when I leave certain places and people, I knew the ultimate test would be when I visited Florida again.

It was a quick visit because I was flying over the state from Puerto Rico back to Montana. So a visit made sense and my mom made sure I knew that. She can be very persuasive.

Catching up with family and seeing Max, my 14 year old dog, again was awesome. It was a reprieve from this yearlong journey, but I found my stomach in knots as I said my see ya laters* to my cousins, baby cousins, aunt, uncle, and friends I haven’t seen in what seemed like forever.

You’d think that after leaving so many places and so many people this year that I’d be a boss at leaving. But I’m not. I lose my shit 9 times out of 10 in some way shape or form when I have to leave. My stomach turns to knots, I go silent, and sometimes I even cry.

As I gave my dad one last hug for a while on his way out the door for work my eyes welled up with tears just as they had 8 months ago and the tears fell like rain drops as I hugged Max for what could be the last time. My mom couldn’t hold it together as she saw me breaking down and we cried together as we hugged it out before she drove Adam and me to the airport. As I was walking out the door my mom said this phrase for the third time this year.

Leaving wouldn’t hurt like this if we didn’t love each other so much. And it’s true. When it hurts to leave it means I’ve loved and enjoyed every minute of where I was and who I was with and I don’t want it to end. It means I even loved the difficult moments that we often wished had never happened. It means that place in time and who I was with will always have a place in my heart. It’s exactly where I was meant to be and with the people I was meant to be with.

Leaving is still hard and I think that’s a good thing. I’m grateful that I’ve learned how to process and channel my feelings when I’m leaving, but I’ve learned to become grateful that leaving hurts.

When my stomach turns into a big knot I remember that time I chased Max into the ocean, he stopped on a dime, and I had to swan dive over him into the ocean so I didn’t mow him down (I didn’t plan on swimming that day). Getting hailed on during a hike totally sucks, but I wouldn’t have wanted that hike to be any different in Glacier National Park. Those big smiles on my baby cousins faces when we played airplane will be engrained in my memory forever. I never wanted that drive home with the windows down after the Magic game listening to New Found Glory to end knowing my best friend would be boarding an airplane to his new home the next day and I always nurse that last bit of whiskey to keep talking with my dad on the patio.

If leaving were always easy we’d have no community in our lives. We wouldn’t feel known and we wouldn’t know what it’s like to enjoy life with others by our side.

Leaving probably won’t ever get easier. 8 months ago I naively hoped it would. And I’m glad it hasn’t. I’ll gladly take being a blubbery mess whether I show it or not over being glad to leave any day; leaving without a community or fond memories to look back on or look forward to making new memories with the people I enjoy spending time with.

And I hope you feel the same.

*I never say goodbye, only see ya later

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.

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

You Can’t Change The World

There isn’t much music I like. Pop punk where the standard dress is skinny jeans and the median age of listeners is 14. And white boy rap, though I’m not sure that’s the politically correct terminology. Towards the top of that list is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. I wasn’t really a fan of these guys until their latest album, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made. There’s one specific song on the album I’ve been listening to religiously this year and I think it really hits home after the events that unfolded in Orlando this past weekend.Kolob Canyon in Zion National Park

You’ve probably already heard by now that Orlando was once The City Beautiful and now has the mark on it as being the city where the worst mass shooting in United States history occurred. Orlando’s an underdog city, Orlando will bounce back, and Orlando’s still The City Beautiful (you can read more about that here). In the wake of this tragedy it seems like we’re all jumping to make a difference; we want to change the world.

You Can’t Change The World

You’re too small, I’m too small, we’re all insignificant. If we all had our own agenda to change the world, we’d all be fighting the battle alone. It kind of goes along with that saying “Too many chiefs and not enough indians.” Again, probably politically incorrect, you get the idea.

In a song to his daughter, Macklemore tells her to: find what she loves, do it every day, and eventually the world will change. Think of it this way. If you’re in a relationship it probably happened like this: You were searching profusely for Mr./Ms. Right and eventually gave up. But when you gave up you decided to spend more time with yourself and you became a happier you. In that time you probably learned to put your guard down and then Mr./Ms. Right came along and proverbially swept you off your feet. And if Mr./Ms. Right literally swept you off your feet, I’m jealous.

Doing what you love puts you in a loving mood. And love is contagious. Chances are, when you’re doing what you love, you end up helping someone else find what they love or invite them to join in on whatever makes you so obnoxiously happy. Basically you show someone else love. And showing love to someone is the easiest way to change the world.

“…Don’t try to change the world, find something that you love and do it every day. Do that for the rest of your life and eventually, the world will change.” Macklemore and Ryan Lewis

How to See America by Postcard

The following post is sponsored by Pursuit Watches.

At the beginning of this yearlong road trip with my brother, I was looking for something new to create. Something I could look forward to in each state that would challenge me as an artist and explorer. It took six weeks and nine states to figure it out.Julia Pfieffer State Park Waterfall by postcard

I’d been saying it for a while; I wanted to see the places in America that you only see on a postcard. Postcard in hand above Hot Springs National Park, it all came together. I’d buy a postcard and find the location where the photo was taken, and recreate it with the postcard.

Now it’s become my obsession. Anytime we’re in a new place I’m on the hunt for a postcard. But finding a postcard view doesn’t come without its challenges. This is how I go about finding that postcard view:


Some areas are going to yield more postcard views than others. Your job is to figure out what’s going to be best. Plan to find a specific area, where the sight’s plain obvious. Cities are hard to find because they’re always changing whereas a rock spire or a fallen rock is going to stay there, hopefully, for years to come.Big Sur California Postcard

Ask Questions

Certain locations are easy to find just by looking at the photo. Other locations are harder to find. Take a look at the top left corner on the back of the postcard; there’s a description and sometimes it’ll give you a specific place that you can plug into Google Maps. When all else fails, ask someone at the store if they can give you directions to the specific location.

Know the Time of Day

Timing is crucial. Knowing when to get to the location is crucial when you’re trying to catch the light at the right time. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to the location to set up and be ready for the light to be just right.

And enjoy the location!Death Valley National Park Daunte's View postcard

Have an Understanding of Photography

A basic understanding of photography goes a long way. You’ll be able to make sure everything’s composed well, is sharp, and that the background isn’t blown out and blurry. You want the postcard to be the focus, but you also want to be able to recognize that the background is the same location as what’s on the postcard.

These are the settings I prefer:


1/200 sec or faster

ISO 100

Again, those are my ideal settings, but I’ll adjust for the light and setting as I see fit, and so should you.Death Valley National Park Postcard

Be Prepared

You’ll be surprised how easy it is to get to some locations. And then you’ll be even more surprised at how difficult it is to find, and get to, others. Make sure you have plenty of water, snacks, and be aware of your surroundings so you don’t get lost trying to get that epic photo.

Whether you’re looking for something to do on a road trip or are trying to spice up a weekend, get out there and find a postcard view. You never know what you may find unless you get out there!

This post is sponsored by Pursuit Watches. Take a look at their stylish line of watches for the man and woman that wants to get out and explore what’s out there.