Finding Solitude

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Driving the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park at dawn was like waking up but feeling like I’m still in a dream. Everything was soft and quiet, and there were no people except the occasional other driver. Shadow Mountain Lake was a hidden surprise just as the sun was thinking about cresting the horizon where I could pull over and enjoy the view in the very cold summer morning air. I would have stayed longer if I wasn’t losing feeling in my fingers. Mornings like these are why travel inspires me so much. There’s so much beauty in this world that is there just for you at any given moment.

Remember Where You Come From

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It’s hard to be creative when you’re comfortable. Any situation that requires some difficulty to figure out can often yield the best art in my experience. Whether it be a relationship problem or a physical challenge, being outside the comfort zone makes you think outside the box, which is inherently creative. That kind of thinking really opens up channels that seem hard to access when one is at ease. This freezing leaf reaches out toward the tree from which it came, yet it is finally noticed for its own beauty because it strayed.

Union Dawn

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Whenever I’m up for a beautiful sunrise I start thinking I should be getting up early every day to witness the beautiful light that appears before the sun arrives. Union Lake in Millville is the perfect place to see sunsets and sunrises, and even though I live a few minutes away, I often miss them. We never know how many more we’ll get, so I should start making an effort to see more of these.

As the holidays wear on, I’ll be trying to find time to edit some new videos to post before next weekend. Finding time is always the hard part. I’m also in the process of getting a new laptop, so once that happens I’ll be able to edit on the go a lot easier. Enjoy the time you have!

Winter Green

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The green never really goes away in the Pacific Northwest, creating a sense of eternal life in the region that invigorates everyone there to spend more time outdoors. The Goodman Creek Trail in the Willamette National Forest is just a half hour from where I lived last year in Springfield, Oregon. Though we never got any snow on the ground where I lived, you only had to ascend a little into the nearby hills to find the ice. During a late fall hike the forest was covered in a thin layer of ice as we climbed part of Hardesty Mountain. The surreal beauty of the greens and blues made it feel like being in a fairy tale.

It’s easy to take for granted what’s right in front of you, and even though I tried to get out at every opportunity, I now wish I had spent more time on these trails while I lived there. Though I’ve traveled many places, Oregon was the first one that felt like home to me. While I still have so many plans to explore the world I think I’d like to end up back here in some way for some time at least. The idea of home has always been elusive to me, but I want to pursue that idea with more tenacity going forward.

Swiftcurrent

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Glacier National Park has tons of amazing hikes, and the Swiftcurrent Pass Hike is no exception. The trail winds through forests, across snow, and then up a rocky mountain to arrive at the Swiftcurrent peak where there is a fire tower lookout. The nature changes constantly with views of mountains, lakes, and wildlife abound. The strenuous hike to the peak yields views of the entire park from the center and a knowledgeable ranger to speak with if you’re lucky!

The hike itself is a fairly gentle grade that switchbacks up the mountain, but it starts to get a little steeper toward the top. The fire lookout is in view early on as you leave the tree line so it feels much closer than it really is at times. Besides the incredible 360 view, there were goats and little rodents hanging out near the top, coming up to the elderly park volunteer like they were old friends! The volunteer ranger was friendly and ready to chat with anyone who makes the climb. He spends a few nights a week keeping lookout and then has a few days off. He makes the hike up and down every day he is there. He pointed out the peaks, a few points of interest, and even gave us a topo map of the park!

The Road Beneath His Feet: Frank Turner’s Life of Music and Travel (Video 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!

You can catch Frank’s 2,000th show this Thursday, December 15th at Nottingham Rock City (if you happen to have tickets. It’s been sold out for some time now!) or you can catch him at one of his many upcoming other dates for shows 2,001 and beyond!

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Note: It’s been a busy month since this interview! I have a lot of new content that I’m preparing to upload and some exciting interviews coming up that I can’t wait to share!

Traveling as a Woman: Safety, Freedom, and Normalized Sexism (MEN: THIS IS IMPORTANT!)

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Traveling should be a way to feel free in the world, but women often have to go out of their way to stay safe, which impedes the freedom all people deserve. We have a lot of issues, as laid out by our circus of an election in the US, but the thing that raises my ire more than anything is the bigotry and inequality based on nothing but gender, race, or orientation. Yesterday a good friend of mine posted a blog that totally wrecked me and got me thinking about mens’ role in the current state of women’s safety and equal rights. She described several instances where she was traveling (or even in her own city) and was harassed by men who felt entitled to make sexual advances toward her. I’ll let her do the talking.

Below is an excerpt from the blog of Mary Scholz, a great friend and one of the most kind and generous people I have ever met. (She’s also an incredible singer and musician. Definitely check out her work!) I am linking the entire post because you should read the whole thing. She lays out the mindset of traveling women in a way that struck me like nothing has before.

From the blog:

“I tell him he’s being inappropriate and to leave me alone.

He demands my phone number. He’s furious that I refuse to give it to him. He wants to buy me a drink, why won’t I let him buy me a drink?

People continue to bustle on by. I can’t feel the sunshine anymore.

What I do feel is small and trapped; and stupid, because I’m still sitting there. But I don’t really know what this person will do if I move. Or what the role of the second, silent kid will be. And I don’t know this town.”

Please go here and read the entire post.

It saddens me beyond words that someone I know to have a warm, open, and happy disposition could be so quickly transformed to someone frightened and withdrawn simply because of the entitled whims of terrible men. I have the desire to apologize for those men, but they aren’t worthy of being apologized for. They need to be chastised, humiliated, and/or arrested for their blatant abuse of women. They also need to be taught what they are doing is wrong and unacceptable. With the recent election and Donald Trump endorsing and normalizing sexual abuse, blatant sexism and bigotry, and general hatred, it seems like we are taking steps backward at times.The silver lining in my eyes is that people like Mary are compelled to share their experiences with men who lord their assumed superiority over them. If everyone’s mothers, sisters, wives, friends, and loved ones shared their terrible interactions with these loathsome men I feel like it would re-contextualize the whole thing for people who don’t believe it really happens. But it’s not simply women’s responsibility!

The villain in Mary’s story that struck me was the man in Ireland who sat idly by while his friend harangued and verbally assaulted her, a stranger on the street. This Everyman bystander is as bad, if not worse than the attacker himself. Those who sit by while these things happen give silent permission for the casual sexist/attacker to act out his assault without consequence. The silent Everyman is the one who needs to stand up, speak up against their friends, acquaintances, and strangers in the street who feel it is their right to push their sexual desires on unsuspecting women. Forget assault; try simple respect. The respect you would and should give any stranger. If you see this happening, raise your voice! Make it heard, and make it loud. Be sure that people on the street hear you and draw attention to it. People are unwilling to make the first move for anything, but this is important! Raise your ire and be sure that man will think twice before he gets the idea that it’s cool, okay, or even welcomed for him to launch into his repressed tirade on women on the street. If enough of us men follow this example, we can make it the norm, and we can make it better. Be better.

This is by no means a comprehensive solution to this problem. We have a lot of work to do and it goes well beyond these men in the street. It goes to the overall mindset of the country and the way children are raised to believe their gender or race gives them some kind of power over others. This institutional bigotry needs to be reset from the ground up and from the top down. We have to lead by example.

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I have some pretty photos and time lapses in my video for today from South Vineland Park. I end it with basically the same information I expounded on above. See it below.

Here’s where to find South Vineland Park:

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