Day 3: Living and Dying in the Grand Canyon

When the alarm went off at 4:45am I was somewhere between excited and dreading our rim to river to rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Before I had a chance to think twice about it I got myself out of bed and put on my hiking clothes for the day. Making sure everything was ready the night before is the best way to avoid procrastination and time-killing mundane tasks in the morning. So, after a few minutes of teeth-brushing we were out the door with the leftover pizza for breakfast on our way to the Grand Canyon. It was about an hour drive to the entrance from our Hotel in Williams and a short wait for a bus when we arrived. When we saw the Orange Line bus roll up early we high-tailed it to the stop and boarded for the 5-minute jaunt to the South Kaibab Trailhead.

There are myriad signs and warnings to not attempt hiking to the river and back in one day. That’s just for tourists, though, right? Not to mention Becca had completed this same hike last December and made out just fine. Funny enough, my initial reticence turned to total confidence once we started our hike, yet Becca’s knowledge of what was to come made her a bit more wary of what was to come.

As we quickly descended into the canyon the sun was slowly lighting up the towering walls around us and in the distance. The incredible beauty of this sight can hardly be described as anything but magical. I stopped repeatedly to gaze out into the endless canyon as it lit up in blues, reds, and oranges. The light and shadow play off of one another like great actors in a play, and it’s extremely hard to hike a narrow, rutted trail while you’re looking off into the distance constantly. The path drops steeply in curves and switchbacks, and we get passed by a large team of mules on their way to Phantom Ranch with supplies. We meet other early morning hikers who are taking in the views, some with freshly-brewed coffee they brought with them. Most of the these hikers are heading down to one of the campsites near the river to set up for the night and most likely hike back up tomorrow. Not us. We’re doing it all in one day. It’s not totally hubris; we also couldn’t get a permit to camp.

The hike to the river is long—5 miles—but it goes by quickly. The views slowly become more closed in and remind me of other canyons like Zion. When we first see the Colorado River the rushing water echoes loud enough to make us think we’re close. We aren’t. One of the great deceptions of the Grand Canyon is the scale, which becomes very apparent as you hike and hike seeming to only gain incrementally on something that seemed so near. Hiking down first also has its mental disadvantage of not realizing just how far back up you will have to go to finish.

We finally make it to an overlook where the river is just below us and the bridges we will cross are in plain view. Technically we don’t need to cross the bridges, but it barely adds any mileage to our hikes and they’re just a fun novelty of being down there. To cross Black Bridge, we pass through a dark, carved tunnel of rock that leads us onto it. Standing over the rushing Colorado that carved this magnificent canyon is an amazing feeling. We wander along the banks, where rafters have stopped to take a break from floating the rapids, and we refill our water bladders at the pump before continuing on. Having reliable running water to refill on a hike so infamous for people running dry is a fantastic luxury. No need to carry a filter or triple the weight if you can fill up along the way!

We cross over Silver Bridge, staring through the holes under our feet at the rushing water creating whitecaps on the rocks below. We stop for lunch on the other side, where we eat our Buds sandwich from Salt Lake City that we specifically saved to bring with us for this trip. It’s delicious and great fuel to move us along the river as we slowly begin to leave the bottom of the canyon. The hike up begins very gradually, winding along the river’s edge, offering views of the twisting flow until the trail turns in toward the rim and we leave it behind. From here the terrain and scenery will change rapidly. We pass through an oasis of beautiful trees, some green and other in full autumn color. A pair of mule deer cross the path gingerly as we quietly walk up on them. As the trail becomes steeper we arrive at Indian Gardens, the last stop before the real ascent begins. We have a short break, people watch, fill up our water and start the climb.

This final section is what I think most people think when they imagine hiking the Grand Canyon. It’s steep, mostly exposed, and pretty crowded. We speak to a few people along the way who had stayed overnight by the river, and they are genuinely surprised we’re doing it in a day. I understand why one might want to avoid this hike in the summer months when the heat can be stifling, but on a perfectly cool day in November the hike down did little to exhaust us, and we are perfectly fresh for the hike up. This section does become somewhat of a grueling plod at times. Just one foot after the other and promise of achievement and, more importantly, food at the top.

We’ve passed many people along the way, but suddenly our dusty footsteps come to a halt along with a large group of others behind a mule team. My first thought is the mules are coming down and we have to allow them navigate past us on the narrow trail. My assumption is quite wrong as we find out a hiker has died up ahead on the trail and the rangers are holding everyone until the person can be airlifted out. We take the opportunity to rest, but as it becomes clear the helicopter might take longer than expected the rangers allow us to pass. The unfortunate hiker’s body is covered in a tarp, only boots sticking out as a few dozen of us shuffle quietly by, all seeming to feel the same morbid curiosity and empathy for the lost soul.

From here, the throngs of people who were waiting are now hiking in a long, solemn line for final two miles and two-thousand feet of elevation. It’s impossible to not be affected by the thought of dying in a place of such extremes, but seeing someone dead along the trail really pounds the thought home. If nothing else, it makes you grateful to be alive in such an incredible place. Personally I’d much rather die on a Monday in the Grand Canyon than at home on the couch or sitting at an office. That said, Becca and I made it out alive and happily took our last steps back up to the rim. We were surprised at how quickly we made it. At 3pm we finished in just over 8 hours. I had built this hike up to be monumental, so I was fully prepared to be finishing after dark, but this outcome was very welcome.

We took our extra time to ride the Red Line bus down to Hopi Point, where the panoramic view of the canyon we just hiked in allowed us to bask in our accomplishment and stand in awe of the incredible beauty of this place. The views are incredible. Incredible views. Just ask our bus driver. We walked down the rim trail a bit, peeping other overlooks along the way, before hopping back on the bus and making our way back to the car. Clouds had overtaken the canyon to the east, so we left expecting there to be no amazing light show for sunset. Although the canyon probably wouldn’t have lit up, I again learned the lesson I’ve kicked myself for many times in the past: you always wait for sunset. The sky turned to beautiful fire in the west as the sun hit the clouds from below. We stopped along the road and I got some great shots anyway.

After such a big hike we retired right to our hotel, showered, and relaxed the night away. It was a perfect day, and our downtime was well-deserved.

dm.rt

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Day 2: Horseshoe Bend & Antelope Canyon

Besides having a comfortable bed, the best part of waking up at a hotel is the free breakfast. The Page Quality Inn was really cheap, had a great room and king bed, and has a big hot breakfast spread. There were the usual eggs and breakfast meat, and everyone’s favorite: the waffle maker. We opted for the potatoes with hot sauce and I attempted the “blue mush,” which was described as a Native American version of grits. It was not good. The potatoes and OJ were a filling meal and the view was fantastic!

After some brief research we headed just down the road to the famous Horseshoe Bend. The trailhead was full of cars from all over the US, and people flooded up the short, steep embankment leading to the overlook. The trail was only about a half mile on a wide path so it was hardly a hike, and the edge was crowded with so many people that they were the most challenging obstacle to get around. Once at the edge the view is breathtaking. The river seems to whip around this massive tower of rock in an inexplicable curve. The scope of what you’re looking at is hard to comprehend until you see a tiny structure on the bank below and then everything feels ten times larger. To escape the crowd (and just to see if I could do it) I climbed out on a small rock outcropping and stood there for quite a while as Becca and lots of other tourists took my photo hanging above the thousand-foot drop. After getting all the photos I scrambled back onto solid ground and we made our way back to the parking lot.

Most people have seen photos of Antelope Canyon even if they don’t know that’s what it was. The picturesque slot canyon with sinuous red walls and shafts of light beaming in through the sand in the air is one of the most photographed places in southern Utah, and it has been featured in countless magazines, default backgrounds, and wonderful WordPress travel blogs. The popularity of this place has always kept me from visiting. You have to book a tour with a large group and pay an entrance fee. Even though National Parks charge fees to get in, I feel like those fees go toward park improvements and places like this are more for-profit. My thinking could be flawed, but nevertheless we decided to give it a try!

First off, there’s a waiting room. We only had to wait about 45 minutes from the time we arrived to start our tour, but the whole commercial aspect was amusing. Once our tour guide, Rihanna, introduced herself we took the short walk to the corral above the canyon entrance where about a hundred people from different tour groups were in queue. Here we waited for the better part of a half hour as people slowly filed down a narrow stairway to get into the canyon. Our guide pleasantly chatted with us about other hikes in the area and where we came from which helped pass the time. As we descended the stairs, guides from below yelled up at people taking photos down into the canyon. It was explained to us that they have had incidents of people dropping cell phones and water bottles from above so they have instituted a “no photos on the stairs” policy. This is a phrase we would hear repeatedly throughout the tour. The long climb down the stairs ended on the sandy wash floor of Antelope Canyon and we got our first views of the slots.

Someone in an online review described this tour as “waiting in line at Magic Mountain” and that description was perfect. The hordes of tourists snaked through the narrow corridors slowly, which ended up being great for getting the shots I wanted. Avoiding the people meant I had to shoot aiming upward most of the time, but that’s where the best views seem to be anyway. A few times I was able to wait out the people in front of us to get a clear shot of the full, open canyon. Our guide actually held me back and told me to shoot with the photography tour and then catch up to them when I’m done. The canyon felt longer than I expected, and I came out the other side with a smile on my face, lots of good photos, and a new, less-jaded opinion of Antelope Canyon tours. It was well-worth the money, and the guides really made the experience better among the flocks of people and their children bumping into one another. I highly recommend checking it out and using Ken’s Tours!

We felt good about our day in Page so we hit the road to Flagstaff, where we attempted to find a park or overlook for sunset. We ended up wandering at the Observatory, but found out it closes early on Sunday so we couldn’t explore too much. We settled on a little pull-off above town where the late-day sun washed over it as the shadow of the mountain behind us overtook the rest. Then we were ready for a beer. Dark Sky Brewing is right down the road from the observatory, and it’s a cute little space with string lights and Brewing tanks in full view. We got a flight of beers that included a great IPA, a rye sour, an amazing coffee vanilla pale ale, and a coconut coffee stout that may as well have been a candy bar. We had a really nice time there looking at photos from the day and talking about our big Grand Canyon hike for tomorrow.

We found a local pizza shop, Pizza Patio, that makes vegan pies and got one for the drive to our hotel. We got vegan buffalo cheese and sausage, which turned out to be wonderful. The man running the shop was super friendly and interested in my thoughts about vegan options so he could expand his menu. The drive to our hotel was short and the $33/night room was just perfect! Another great day on the books.

dm.rt

Day 1: Black Coffee, White Snow, and Red Rocks

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When you wake up in a warm, comfortable bed knowing that you’re leaving on a long road trip where you’ll be sleeping in a tent most of the time it’s pretty hard to get up. To that point, we took our time starting the morning. Eventually we got going and packed up the remainder of our stuff into the car and headed out. One of the challenges to living in Salt Lake City is you’re technically not allowed to leave a vehicle parked in any one spot longer than 48 hours so we had to drive my car to a friend’s place to leave it there for the length of our trip. I also stopped to get two cups of my favorite cold brew in town at Blue Copper before getting on the highway. Once the car was dropped, we got some breakfast in the form of vegan buffalo chicken wraps and an Avocolada smoothie from Tropical Smoothie Cafe (those are both as delicious as they sound) and we were finally on the road for real.

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The views along the drive were incredible as usual with the added bonus of freshly-fallen snow on the surrounding mountains. As we got farther south and gained some elevation the snow was all along the road. Luckily the sun had been out for a while, and the roads were just fine. One of the more unusual yet very Utah sights was a herd of cattle being corralled along the side of Route 89 by a couple of real-deal cowboys on horses and some state troopers for backup I guess. That was a first for me. I kept expecting one of the cowboys to start twirling a lasso above their head. There isn’t much to see along the way–that is, the amazingly beautiful sweeping views of desert and red rock stretch on for hundreds of miles and, while they are breathtaking, it does tend to just become part of the background after a while.

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So, when we got close to Bryce Canyon National Park and saw some snow on the ground we quickly made the call to take the hour detour to the park and see if the famous hoodoos were covered in snow as well. The short drive to the park was picturesque enough with brilliant red rock formations painted lightly with new snow towering around us and a couple of carved tunnels to drive through for good measure. Once we got into the park we headed right to the Sunrise Point overlook where you can see for miles into the canyon. The hoodoos weren’t covered in snow, but there was enough along the bases to create a nice accent which made the view I’ve seen many times look like new. We wandered along the rim trail for a short while taking it in from different places and enjoying the chance to stretch our legs and breathe some fresh air before hopping back in the car on our way to Horseshoe Bend.

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We quickly realized we would never make it to Horseshoe Bend by sunset, so our plans changed from racing down the road to taking our time along the way. That’s the way it should be anyway. We took the opportunity to stop at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary outside Kanab, Utah, where we were met by the lobby ambassador cat Robinson and were told the last tours had already departed for the day. There was a human there to tell us that part. He also told us we could stop at the Best Friends location in the town of Kanab and do yoga with kittens. That’s right. Obviously we headed right there, but were informed that kitten yoga was last night. As a consolation we were able to go into the cat room and hang out with three kitties for as long as we wanted. Seemed like a fair compromise. We enjoyed our time there and then drove out of town as the sun lit up the beautiful red rock formations and dropped rapidly behind the mountains to the west.

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Southern Utah at night takes on a whole different feeling. The glowing mountains become massive, ominous silhouettes against the dark sky. It is sometimes hard to even make them out on a moonless night, but you still feel their looming presence. I don’t mean to make it sound so sinister; it’s incredible to make out the outlines of jagged spires and watch stars dance behind them. As we passed by a family on the side of the road taking a photo with the Utah sign we realized we had just passed into Arizona. Page is just over the border and we had decided to spend the night here to do Horseshoe Bend in the morning. We found a hotel for $57 somehow (between the Hotels Tonight app and Google Maps) so we jumped on that and checked in. It’s definitely the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in for the price. Can’t ask for more. We took a short walk around downtown Page, which includes a little wall of information and great photographs of the surrounding natural wonders. Definitely my favorite man-made feature of the town. After grabbing a few things from the grocery we settled in to our hotel for the night, making plans and getting excited to do it again tomorrow!

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dm.rt

Day 0: Packing and Planning

The day before a road trip is always the day I pack, never sooner. It’s part procrastination and part knowing that what I’m packing is what I use daily. Even though I pack at the last minute, I’m constantly making a list leading up to a trip. You never know when something will remind you of that one little thing you wanted to bring, so I always have my notepad list on my phone ready to keep things organized. It really helps avoid that feeling like you’ve forgotten something when you hit the road. For me, that thing is often pillows. I sleep on them the night before and forget them in the morning.

We will be on the road for three weeks, passing through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and a bunch of eastern states on our way up to New Jersey. The hardest part here is packing for warm and cold weather. I fully expect to be wearing shorts in Phoenix and Texas, but the mountains of North Carolina are often cold and snowy well before the rest of the south gets a chill. My simple solution to this problem was to pack layers instead of whole separate wardrobes. Being able to strip layers off is something you learn quickly when you hike in the cold, and it works just as well on a November-December road trip. Long sleeve shirts, light hoodies or jackets, and warmer coats as well as beanies and scarves are great for keeping you warm when you need it and easy to remove when you don’t.

Food is important on the road as well. Being vegan it’s not as easy to just stop at a fast food joint for a quick bite, but also wanting to be somewhat health-conscious it’s a good idea to cook some food to bring with you. We cook a large stir fry, or in this case we made a big thing of sloppy joes with lentils. Lentils are healthy and filling so they last a while. We also pack plenty of snacks for the car and the old standby: peanut butter and jelly. You can never go wrong with a PBJ in the car or on a hike. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Just bring a cooler and keep it stocked with a little ice and you can have good food with you at all times and save money from eating out all the time.

As much as I like to keep lists of what to bring, I’m much less detailed on the whens and wheres of my trip. I like to keep my options open which can be good and bad. It’s much harder to know where you’ll be staying if you don’t know your exact routing, especially if you’re trying to couch surf. Traveling in warmer months is easier since you can camp just about anywhere, but the winter can prove challenging if you don’t have cold weather camping gear. As much as I try to avoid it, this trip may include some hotels until we get out of the high deserts of northern Arizona. After that we will be staying with friends, couch surfing, and camping anytime we get the chance and the weather allows!

So we said goodbye to Salt Lake City this morning for a little while. I’m sure I’ll miss it, but the road has been calling for some time now and it’s time I finally answered.

dm.rt

6 Amazing Cycling Trails in Salt Lake City

When you talk about biking in Utah, most people assume you’re talking about mountain biking. Utah has some of the best mountain biking in the world, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I have yet to brave the single track downhills and smooth red rock drops that Utah is famous for in the world of MTB. I have sampled a lot of the paved cycling trails and road routes available around Salt Lake City, and they are worth checking out.

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Salt Lake City is famous for its wide streets, and along with plenty of room for cars there are tons of bike lanes. For the most part, drivers around SLC are very considerate of bikers on the streets. You just have to make sure you look both ways even when the lights are green as I’ve found that people run red lights here like it’s the state pasttime. Luckily the traffic doesn’t even come close to what you’d see in other major cities, so once you get out of the heart of downtown you almost have the roads to yourself. There are designated bike routes from North Salt Lake all the way down to Sandy and beyond. It makes it super easy to get around town on two wheels and get where you’re going in a healthy and environmentally friendly way. Anyone from Salt Lake knows we need less smog in the air.

Jordan River Parkway/Legacy Parkway/D&RGW Rail Trail

Map: https://www.myjordanriver.org/

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If you’re looking for something with less cars and traffic lights, then there are a couple of great trails with beautiful scenery to choose from. The Jordan River Parkway Trail runs for 45 miles from the north end of Utah Lake to Bountiful where it connects with the Legacy Parkway Trail (14 miles) and that continues north as the Denver and Rio Grande Western Rail Trail (23 miles). With only a handful of road crossings you can get into your rhythm here, crossing over small bridges and marshes as you take in the views of the beautiful Uinta range to the east. The signage leaves something to be desired at times, but keep an eye on your map and you should be fine.

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The ride from downtown SLC to Utah Lake is about 35 miles and once you get there you can reward yourself with a very warm dip in the Saratoga Hot Springs! Personally, on a hot day, I couldn’t get in past my ankles before I had enough, but someone with a higher tolerance for heat on a cooler day might enjoy a dunk! I don’t recommend this. One of the best parts about this trail is the UTA light rail runs along most of the trail so you can go one way as far as you feel like then hop on the train to get back to the city!

City Creek Canyon

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If it’s hills you want then you’ve come to the right place. It’s hard to pedal anywhere in this city without going uphill at some point. The serious cyclists will head up Big Cottonwood Canyon or Emigration Canyon for a workout, but I like to get away from the cars. City Creek Canyon offers a challenging workout uphill 5.5 miles through some beautiful scenery following the rushing creek. The best part? It’s closed to cars from October to June and on every odd day of the month the rest of the year! Even when you have to pass people you have a full-sized road to do it.

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There are a few rough sections of road, but it’s a mostly smooth ride to the top. There are picnic areas along the way to rest and even a few water fountains that sometimes work! Once you make the last push to the top, you have a 5 mile downhill cruise ahead of you. Just watch the turns and keep your speed under 15mph, and you’ll have a great time coasting to celebrate your accomplishment!

Downtown SLC to Airport to Saltair/Salt Lake Marina

Map: https://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=BGR089-011

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My favorite bike trail starts on North Temple heading west out of Salt Lake and goes through bike/pedestrian gates around SLC International Airport. As you pedal around the perimeter of the runways, huge planes soar just overhead and touch down just a few hundred feet away! It’s an amazing sight to see them so close and feel the wind as they blow past you. Don’t stop to look or the police will come ask you politely not to interfere with the radar equipment. From there you pick up an actual bike trail leaving the airport property. You will shortly follow some roads in between sections and pick up another freshly paved trail soon after. It eventually opens up to a frontage road that is very lightly trafficked and has basically become a very wide bike trail instead.

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Enjoy the open space and the distant view as you approach the salt flats. It might look like snow, but it’s really salt deposits from the Great Salt Lake you’re seeing. That big structure that looks like the Taj Mahal isn’t a mirage, it’s the Great Saltair, a music venue on the edge of the lake overlooking the salt flats. Check out the unique architecture, and, if it’s close to sunset, I highly recommend walking out to the water to watch the show! Continue on to the marina and you can sit at picnic tables for a break and walk down to the water to put your toes in. From here you just turn around and head back to the city to finish your 35-mile ride!

Millennium Trail – Park City to Summit Park

Map: http://www.walkrideusa.com/states/utah/park-city-utah

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In the warmer months you might want to escape the heat of the valley by heading up to Park City. The elevation will alleviate some of the heat, but it will add an extra challenge to your ride as well! Beginning at City Park you pick up the Silver Creek Trail and head north to the Park Avenue multi-use trail before finally connecting to the Millennium Trail. This will take you through Kimball Junction turning northwest the rest of the way and climbing to Summit Park. Be forewarned, Summit Park is not a proper park so there’s unfortunately no official stop and rest point here. On your way you’ll pass by beautiful mountain views and a beautiful large pond.

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After visiting the “summit” and cruising down you can take some time to stop at one of many restaurants (or the Whole Foods hot bar) for lunch and treat yourself to a couple of beers at Park City Brewing Company before the easy ride back to the park. There’s even a pedestrian overpass to cross I-80 and get there easily!

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Salt Lake has a few great small trails through the city and some under construction, but these are my favorites. SLC is a very bikeable city, which makes it great for visitors and residents alike. There are plenty of bike racks around town and at local bars and restaurants. There are bike rental kiosks in several places for quick trips around town. If you need any work done there are tons of great bike shops. The Salt Lake Bike Collective does group rides every Tuesday night at 6:30pm and they only go as fast as the slowest rider so no one is left behind. It’s a great social event! This is definitely a bike-friendly city, and it’s only getting better!

The Road Beneath His Feet: Frank Turner on Music and Traveling (Video Interview)

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since I did this interview! It’s one of my favorite that I’ve done, and it’s a perfect way to sort of re-launch my ambition for this project. I’ve been living in Salt Lake City since April, and it finally feels like home. That’s one of the things I discussed with Frank in this interview. Feeling comfortable here and finding my way hasn’t been so easy, but I feel more inspired than ever right now, and I plan on riding that for as long as I can! Happy Halloween, everyone! Enjoy the interview!

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Frank Turner has been described musically in many ways: punk, folk, country, acoustic-hardcore (okay, I made that one up.) Over his decade career of playing music as a solo artist who now tours with a permanent band his stylistic range has been great. There is something for everyone in his oeuvre, and those fans come together to dance and sing along each time he passes through a city that’s remotely close to them–and that is quite often. However you’d like to describe the music of Frank Turner, one thing is undeniable: he is a traveler.

He has been touring all over the world for the past decade or so, bringing his music to people in basements, bars, and stadiums. Although his touring has become much more regimented over the last few years, his beginnings were anything but. Taking shows any chance he could get, he often traveled on short notice and without the support of a bus or even a van just for the opportunity to go to a new place. His determination is quite evident, and his music has only gotten better for it.

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I had the opportunity to sit down with Frank at his stop at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware (his first show in the state!) It’s hard to believe this show was over a month ago! To give you an idea of his touring dedication, this was show number 1,971 since he started touring as a solo act in 2005, and the 2000th show is scheduled for December 15 at Nottingham Rock City in the UK. We talked about traveling, life on the road, maintaining relationships with such a manic tour schedule, and finding time to be creative along the way. We also touched on Brexit and Thanksgiving with Sick of it All. While Frank admitted to slowing down a bit with age (he takes a day off every few days on tours instead of scheduling multiple gigs in a day) he certainly has no intention of stopping.

Frank was very generous with his time, and never shy with a smile during our chat. The full video interview is below, and I have transcribed some of my favorite bits here:

“The experience of going from being medium-popular in a very underground way to back to zero again was, I think, quite useful for me on a personal level and it made me quite self-reliant and kind of determined and hopefully humble and grateful for what I have.”

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On getting to 2,000 shows: “A couple people have asked ‘what number do you think you’ll get to?’ And that’s a really, really sort of existentialist question because it’s essentially asking me how long I think I’m gonna live.”

“The thing I love about the idea punk rock is the idea of self-creation; the idea that you can consciously decide what kind of person you are rather than just accepting what the universe throws at you.”

“I took a sort of conscious decision that I was going to do something interesting with my life and not just kind of sleepwalk into the kind of person my parents wanted me to be.”

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“One of the major misconceptions that pisses me off is people who think that what I do is easy. That’s different than saying what I do isn’t fortunate; what I do is incredibly fortunate. I love what I do, I’m incredibly grateful, and I’m lucky to do what I do, and I thank the fates every morning that I get to do what I do for a living. But, for the record, it’s fucking hard.”

“I’m furiously pro-immigration everywhere and at all times. We’re a nation of immigrants as much as anybody else.”

On the best travel advice he’s been given: “In terms of appreciating a city you’re in: Look up! If you want to learn about the history and the architecture of a city, look up. Look at the tops of the buildings. And drink a lot of water.”

HERE IS THE FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Where would you recommend anyone travel to: “Anyone from Europe I’d say America. I’d say ‘stop having fucking opinions about America without having been here.’ As much as much as I love them, don’t just go to San Francisco and New York. Go to Texas, go to Ohio, go to the South, go to Memphis. See the states; it’s a wonderful and unique and interesting thing. Other than that, just try and go somewhere you haven’t been! I try and do that as much as I can.”

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I want to thank Frank Turner, Xtra Mile Records, Epitaph Records, Hillary, Tre, and everyone at World Cafe Live who helped make this happen!

Frank performed his 2,000th show Thursday, December 15th at Nottingham Rock City. You can catch him at one of his many upcoming other dates for shows 2,001 and beyond!

dm.rt

How to Beer Crawl Boise in 3 Easy Steps

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Delicious and beautiful, the War Cry by Barbarian

Beer might not be the first thing you think of when you hear Idaho, but Boise has a vibrant beer community and some offerings that would make the mouth of any cicerone start to water. I’m going to highlight a few of my favorite places from my recent visit to the spud state, but I would highly recommend looking around for yourself as well. We all know how quickly craft breweries can pop up!

First things first: I know everyone has different tastes in beer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been belly up to the bar at some world-renowned craft brewery or local legend with the best imperial barrel-aged something-infused blah blah whatever beer and someone sidles up next to me and asks the bartender what they have that tastes like Blue Moon. And that’s fine. I used to react in astonishment and judge their horrible taste, but they are in the same brewery as I am, and that’s a good thing! Whichever friend, article, or pure flight of whimsy brought them there, they are now among great beers, and the bartender and patrons should be their guides to trying something new.

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The tap list can be overwhelming sometimes

If you’re only going to stop at one brewery in Boise make it Barbarian Brewing. If you love sours this place is paradise. I don’t mean flavor-of-the-week raspberry Berliner weisse either, they have barrel-aged golden sours, sour reds, and I saw a sour porter listed somewhere. You have your pick, and they’re all fantastic. They age their beers in tequila barrels, wine barrels, whiskey/bourbon barrels, and of course the regular old oak barrel. The flavors run the gamut from sweet to tart and everywhere in between. My favorite on the sour side of the spectrum was the War Cry, a golden sour aged in bourbon barrels for a year and blended with white wine juice. If ever a description seemed like it was made just for me it’s this one. The Watermelon Sour and Beta Wolf 2.0 sour IPA are also wonderful.

Barbarian doesn’t stick to just sours, however amazing they may be. They extend their talents to IPAs as well, and the quality stays the same. They have a nice selection of east coast style IPAs to choose from. The Space Wolf was my favorite, with lots of big hop flavor and still crushable at 6.8%. The CryoWolf experiments with cryogenically freezing several hop varieties which, from what I’m told, preserves and presents more of the hop characteristics while also increasing the yield of the batch. The pièce de résistance, however, was a very intimidating triple IPA called Fenrir. Billed as a juicy east coast IPA and coming in at 11.5%, this is what we call a “dangerous beer.” Juicy barely does it justice, with sweet, citrusy goodness oozing out with every sip, the high alcohol content is hardly noticeable. It goes down smooth, so please be sure to get yourself an Uber or walk back to your hotel after a few of these.

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The best looking cupcake tray I’ve seen

Just a short one-block walk from here is the second brewery I’d recommend: Woodland Empire. Much darker and less shiny than the bright taproom at Barbarian, this place just has a different vibe. It’s dog-friendly, and the bartenders were almost as eager to greet us as the pups under the table. Here you’ll find people playing darts while a long table hosts 4 serious chess games. The menu is a bit more eclectic, with some seemingly gimmicky beers like a celery mint collaboration that actually turned out to be delicious. The sours just couldn’t live up to Barbarian, but they did have some tasty IPAs and other offerings. The Big Sticky Red IPA was a nice full-flavored beer, and the Pineapple Weed Pilsner (infused with chamomile) was uniquely delicious. My favorite was a coffee stout featuring beans from local Neckar Coffee. It pepped me up for the 20 steps I had to take to get to my next stop.

Basically right next door to Woodland Empire is PreFunk Beer Bar. This is the place to squeeze in, find a seat in the small bar area or at the tables outside, and get comfortable to finish out your night. With beers on tap from all over the US and beyond you will definitely find what you’re looking for. My favorite of the night was the Phantom Bride IPA by Belching Beaver, but there were a lot of tempting taps from O’Dell, Victory, Firestone, and so many more. It got pretty crowded, but it was never too loud. It was a perfect way to finish out an evening of drinking before heading over to the Knitting Factory for a show.

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A couple of honorable mentions that are close as well: 10 Barrel Brewing, who expanded their reach by selling to Anheuser-Busch in 2014, has a pub nearby, and whatever you may think about big beer distribution this place puts out some pretty tasty IPAs. The local Payette Brewing, who are in the other direction geographically and otherwise, moved to a location closer to downtown last summer and the taproom is beautiful. Outside you can sit on the grass and watch people’s dogs chase each other as you sip on some decent IPAs and fun one-off beers probably brewed with maple syrup or gingerbread cookies.

Boise has managed to surprise me in many ways over the years. From the proximity to ski resorts and hiking trails to the beautiful parks and disc golf and now the excellent beer scene, I count Boise among the best cities I’ve had the pleasure of visiting. The 3 places I described are located downtown, so there’s plenty of access to food and entertainment as well. If you’re feeling like some caffeine and/or sugar after your beer crawl, Guru donuts is just a block away for coffee and treats (if you get there before they sell out.) Drink well, be merry, and get home safely! Enjoy Boise!

dm.rt