Monthly Archives: December 2013

A Left Coast kind of Christmas

At the moment I am writing to you all from Studio City in Los Angeles. Spending the holiday on the West Coast is a nice change of pace, warm weather and palm trees – not a typical Christmas for me but still enjoyable. I am staying with my Dad, enjoying a nice visit.

After tying up some lose ends in Nederland, I drove down to Denver to catch an afternoon flight out of the Mile High City. I don’t typically fly any airline other then Southwest, and for good reason. While everyone I interacted with at United was friendly, they charge $25 and $35 respectively for your first and second checked bags. You ONLY get free sodas on your flight, no solid food (unless you want to spend $8 for some ritz crackers).

I spent a productive hour at my gate talking with a lovely woman from Kansas who works in the outdoor recreation industry among many other interesting art-focused jobs (including helping design the monument for the fallen fire fighters from the South Canyon Fire!). After talking with her about my current situation and plans she offered some wonderful career/life advice. ‘Picture where you want to be in five years,’ she said, ‘and then start taking the steps to make that dream happen.’ The advice seems simple enough, but I find myself asking, ‘what is my dream?’. I have some direction but my end goal is not totally clear yet. I suspect that is the goal of the travel and adventures that I am in the process of organizing for the next year. More on that later.

After an extremely bumpy climb out of the Front Range, our flight was pleasant. It’s funny celebrating a holiday that you associate with snow in a place where the temperatures are in the 70’s and 80’s during the ‘winter’. I’m not complaining about wearing shorts, sandals, and a tank top, it’s just a little strange this time of year.

And speaking of this holiday, I find myself caring less and less about the materialistic focus that seems to exist in our country. Sure it’s fun to exchange gifts, but the excess that typically exists is such a turn-off. If you are a fan of The Office, Michael Scott has a great quote regarding the exchange of gifts:

“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is this tangible thing you can point to and say, ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth’.”

And while this is obviously made to poke fun at the state of affairs, its scary how accurately this seems to depict where this holiday has gone. While I don’t have any religious beliefs, I still appreciate Christmas and for me, it’s about spending time with family, being kind and thoughtful to others, and these two foci don’t necessarily have to be demonstrated through the giving of things.

Now after all that discussion about the excesses of materialism during this holiday you might laugh at me when I mention the one gift I received – a GoPro camera. Yes, this was a big gift. It was given very thoughtfully though and you all should be thankful (joking, kind of) because now I have a means to photograph and capture photo of the journey I am about to embark on. Hopefully I will produce some enjoyable media, I’ll let you all be the judge.

Enough of my rambling about my personal beliefs. This visit has really been wonderful and I am thrilled to be able to spend time with some of my family during the holiday season. My happiness at the moment though is focused on another opportunity that has just been preposed – a trip with an old climbing partner to attempt an ascent of Mt.Rainier in May. While I would love to attempt this climb, some logistical concerns are raised. My thru-hike attempt of the PCT this year will have a start date between April and May meaning I would have to leave the trail, get to Washington, attempt this climb, and make it back to the trail, loosing roughly a week (that’s a guess) of trail time. I am not too concerned with loosing trail time, I will likely have a month or more of ‘zero days’ during the duration of my hike. The issue comes with missing a SOLID week of trail time, and right at the beginning of the hike, in the desert, a place where you don’t want to waist time when the weather starts getting warm. We will have to see how the opportunity develops but all I can say for now is that I am thrilled at the possibility and I will attempt to make it happen if at all possible.
Until next time, be well friends and family, I look forward to writing my next update.

Redefining ‘Me’

You know what the funny thing is about relationships?  They can define us. I’ll suggest that this is an evolution and is also not universal.  I know quite a few people who remain individuals even though they are part of a committed partnership.  For some of us though, we slowly slip into cohesion with another and through this connection render our identity from the sum of ourselves and our partners.  Here is where things get interesting: a spectrum appears.  For some of us we remain our inner selves, for others we change. There is no right or wrong here, I don’t suggest that one is better then the other.  How frequently though do we take the time to step back and ask ourselves the question, ‘who am I?’.

In the wake of the most committed and serious relationship of my life (one that lasted 9 years), I found myself asking that very question: ‘who am I?’.  It’s a question I hadn’t addressed in a LONG time.  And why would I?  I was happy, content, fulfilled.  I felt loved, and for me, this pacified the need to have a strong identity as an individual.  I won’t say that I got to live my life EXACTLY as I wanted, but compromise is part of making a relationship work, right?  I certainly was living a lifestyle that made me smile on a daily basis. After graduating from college I moved to the Front Range of Colorado where I worked for the Forest Service seasonally as well as taught snowboarding, skiing, and finally settled into a job as the head grower for a commercial medical marijuana facility.

Fast forward to the present.  Getting laid off.  I guess that working in an industry that has a questionable legal status has it’s associated risks.  I showed up to work one morning a few weeks ago and got to speak to a DEA agent who informed me that a warrant was being exercised.  I was not allowed to be on the property, I was told to go home. After going out to eat breakfast with some co-workers and returning to my facility, I found out that $300,000+ of LEGAL medical marijuana had been cut down.  I won’t go into any more details other then mentioning, we were not doing anything illegal and this whole thing had to do with a previous business owner who wasn’t even involved with us.

Was the universe trying to communicate something to me?  The end of a major relationship, the end of a seemingly stable career/job?  What the hell is going on.  If there is one thing that therapy has taught me, and trust me, I’ve been to a LOT of therapy in the last 8 months, it’s this: dwelling on the past and what we wish could be different is not very healthy. Sure, talking about what we have experienced and figuring out how we feel about past events is important, but we can’t change what has happened.  We can acknowledge the events in our lives, replay them over and over and think of all the other possible outcomes, but we can’t change what has happened.  I already knew what I was working towards – a major change in my life.

I am almost 30, one year to go.  Most people seem to do a lot of adventuring in their 20’s and it seems I am almost a decade late.  I’m not one to worry about what others think though, and the opportunity to abandon all responsibility and live life exactly the way I choose is quite an exciting endeavor.

So here is the idea: this blog will function as a journal for personal reflection as well as a way to document my journey from here going forward.  The journey I am about to start begins in the middle of the Colorado ski season.

I have managed to get 6 days of skiing in so far – 4 at Loveland, 2 at Steamboat Springs, and one backcountry day.  In two days time I will be getting on a plane headed to Los Angeles to spend the holidays with my family on the West Coast. I return on the 30th and have a week of work before driving to Ouray with my girlfriend for two days of ice climbing at the Ouray ice festival.  We will then drive back to Fort Collins to pack up and drive to British Columbia for 10 days of skiing at Revelstoke, Kicking Horse, and the Rogers Pass backcountry.  We will then drive back and after 4 days in Colorado I will then be headed to Utah to connect with some college friends, hopefully drink some beer that is stronger then 3% and do 5 days of skiing at Solitude and Snowbasin before driving back through southern Colorado and getting in some days at either Monarch or Durango.

This is the plan right now and it is subject to change.  There are bigger ambitions just down the road and I hope some of you will be able to follow me on this journey I am about to begin. Here is to rediscovering who I am.