Mesmerization and cracks in time

You may have noticed a dip in activity around these parts as of late.

I'd like to attribute it to several months at sea with only occasional wifi access. Or maybe an extended session with a purloined case of Plantation Pineapple Rum. But alas, no. Shit just got busy, as shit does.

To help stay sane during this stretch, I leaned heavily on a new ukulele. She's a real beauty, wonderfully figured willow, in the tenor size: a bit bigger than the itty bitty soprano most people think of when they think of a ukulele. To be clear, when it comes to the ukulele I'm not what you'd call "talented." Or even "a musician." I mostly just fall in love with certain chord progressions and loop them over and over. There's nothing fancy about it whatsoever. As Leonard Cohen put it: "It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall and the major lift." But it's mesmerizing to me. And it can make 20 minutes feel like I just spent an entire weekend away.

The other thing I started dabbling with recently is meditation. I liked it from the start, combining the breath awareness of yoga (and freediving for that matter) with the blankness of driving four chords into the ground on a ukulele. In its own way, meditation is mesmerizing too. An hour spent meditating can feel like a lifetime, in the best possible way. 

It's an interesting word "mesmerize." One of those that sounds like what it means. It originated with Franz Mesmer who was a German physician (1734-1815). He had a theory of energy transfer between animate and inanimate objects that he called animal magnetism. In 1843, Scottish physician James Braid expanded the theory to include hypnotism which... ah hell, Wiki page here.  My main point: Mesmerization = Hypnotism. I'll move on. 

When we're mesmerized by something, it's like discovering a tiny crack in time – a place to explore, or just hide within, that's completely removed from the machinations of the day. Fly fishing, drum circles, laying on the ground and looking up at the trees...they've all provided me with spiritual hidey holes over the years. Places to expand or recover or just chill tf out. 

Invisible Oregon, the video below, did the same thing for me this morning. 

For the record, I didn't think I needed to see any more time lapse videos in my lifetime. Of course many of them are beautiful.  But at a certain point, I came to the conclusion that I've probably gleaned everything there is to learn from fast clouds and twitchy trees. I was wrong about that.

Invisible Oregon was shot by Sam Forencich using infrared converted cameras. They capture the infrared portion of the spectrum which produces amazingly ethereal imagery. It exists somewhere between conventional and thermal photography, both technically and visually (here you go nerds). 

But "hey, pink trees!" is far from the whole thing. Sam's landscapes are stunners, the edit is fantastic, and the sound design takes it all to a higher level. 

I truly find it, yep, mesmerizing. If you could use a little escape, I'd suggest full screen mode, some headphones, and seven uninterrupted minutes to climb inside. 

Paul's Boots + the Many Feet that Filled Them

I was in southern California last week for a photoshoot. We were about five miles off the main road in the mountains of the Cleveland National Forest when I heard a voice: "That's my hula hoop!"

It came from an area where I knew we didn't have any crew. I looked over and saw two people coming up a trail that I didn't realize was there. If you're going to overhear a single snippet of dialogue in a wilderness setting, "That's my hula hoop" is about as good as it gets. Two fully loaded backpackers, a man and a woman with dreadlocks both, passed by with a friendly "hey bro" and disappeared down the trail to the south. 

That's when I first noticed a small trail marker: Pacific Crest Trail. We were on the famed PCT and I didn't even know it. The trail runs the distance from Canada to Mexico (the PCT is the trail in Cheryl Strayed's book, and the movie, Wild). I like to think that the hula hoop duo started their journey on the British Columbia border. When I saw them they were about 20 miles from Mexico. 

Anyway, this sighting got me thinking (again!) about thru-hikes and routes like the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Appalachian Trail, or even the Superior Hiking Trail along the north shore of Lake Superior. On my flight home from San Diego, I pulled out an issue of Backpacker magazine that I had been carrying around unread for a few weeks. And what do you know, coincidentally (or sign from the universe?) it was a special thru-hike issue.

Now, getting to my original point: Paul's Boots!

One article that hit me especially hard was a tribute called Paul's Boots. It's about a man named Paul Evans whose dream it was to hike the Appalachian Trail. He never made it. But Paul's boots did and it makes for a great read

It also makes for a great documentary which you can watch below. The film tells the tale of Paul's Boots, of course, but then also expands so far beyond that – telling the tales of all the wonderful people who volunteered to bring Paul with them on their journey.

The AT stretches 2,181 miles. And yet, the sense of community and caring is about as tight-knit as you'll find. This story captures it all so well.

A closer look at mountains and other things

It's easy to not see mountains.

I don't mean, like, "what did I just trip over?" and then you turn around surprised to find the Grand Tetons laying there.

I mean it's easy to not see mountains for what they are. For what they're made of. It's easy to overlook the kabillion bits and pieces that make up the panorama we typically see when we "see" mountains.

How come? Well, mountains are big broad bastards. Overwhelmingly so. Wrapping our head around them requires far-focus, a suspension of disbelief, and some serious peripheral chops. It seems that clearly establishing a sense of distance is key to understanding mountains at all. 

But unfortunately this sense of distance also creates, I don't know else to say it, a sense of distance.

I've spent thousands of hours in the mountains – boarding, biking, backpacking, catching brookies, and just generally dicking off. I'm wildly comfortable at elevation. I feel as one. But still, when I'm there I tend to look at a mountain range as if I'm looking at a photo of a mountain range. I take in the beauty, of course, but abstractly so. Like most, I tend to focus on the tallest peaks, the deepest valleys, and the farthest horizons: happily wallowing in the wallop of scale while I miss the rest.

What got me on this path? I spent last week in Utah which included some time in the Wasatch Mountains. Over the course of seven days, Big Cottonwood Canyon got 61 inches of snow. Of course this sort of weather system makes for damn fine snowboarding. It also makes for piss-poor visibility. 

As a result, there were no stunning vistas in the Wasatch Range last week. No panoramic photo ops from the chairlift. No mountain's majesty, purple or otherwise, in any direction. There was just snow and clouds and, down in the valley, fog.

And so that's how things went down – me in the mountains, slicing long soft turns through an empty grey. 

I have to say it took a while for my mind to recalibrate, for me to stop looking toward a non-existent horizon for perspective. Over time though, I gradually surrendered my need for the far-away for what was right in front of me: dark stabs of douglas fir, non-negotiable walls of stone, the gloved transfer of snow from mountain to mouth.

Once I noticed these smaller things, of course, I couldn't stop noticing them. Thanks to the weather's veil, my view had shifted from macro to micro. I found myself seeing, and maybe even coming close to understanding, some of the individual pieces that make up the usually inscrutable mountains.

Hoping to find a lesson here, or at least an obvious metaphor to jump to without a properly fleshed-out transition (as I do!), I'm left with this:

We're living in stormy times; an era of uncertain horizons. I feel it every day.

I'm saddened that the forecast for tomorrow, January 20th, 2017, calls for more of the same.

I know that eventually, inevitably, the sky will break. So I plan to keep looking outward with patience. But in the meantime, I'm going to appreciate what's right in front of me too. The kabillion bits and pieces of life are far too important to overlook while I'm busy scanning the horizon for something more.

On fewer but righter things

 December 30th, 2016, Presque Isle, Wisconsin 

December 30th, 2016, Presque Isle, Wisconsin 

I spent the last few days alone in the woods.

I was camping on a rise of conifers in northern Wisconsin, a spot I discovered years ago while grouse hunting. It's an area I call the Cathedral. I borrowed the name from one of my favorite writers, Gordon MacQuarrie. He called a rise of conifers that he discovered in northern Wisconsin while grouse hunting the same.

If you're making your way by foot this time of year, snowshoes are required. As are a good amount of resolve and a layering system that allows for the quick ditching of clothes. Put simply, pulling a sled through heavily crusted snow is a bitch. The progress I made was largely thanks to increments and incentives of my own invention: Counting my steps in groups of 17, for example, seemed to speed things along, as did "Make it to that next birch tree, Johnny, and it's Snickers bars for everybody!"

Well, I made it to that next birch tree. And the one after that. And so on. Until finally it was time to turn off-trail and push through a rolling pincushion of sled-snagging maples. Eventually, they gave way to the rise of fir and balsam and pine. To borrow again from MacQuarrie, the Cathedral took me in.

Camp sets up quickly in the winter; meaning your tent, your situation, your supplies. For the first few hours, anyway, there's little time for dicking around. Stomp out a spot for the tent, get it up, get your gear inside. You do it as quickly as you can so you can move on to a more important matter: the business of fire. Although actually, the busy-ness of fire might be a more accurate description.

They say you should gather three times more wood than you think you'll need before striking a spark. I say that's cutting it close. I collected some dry birch and cedar bark from fallen trees on the trek in, so getting the fire started wasn't a concern. But man, keeping it fed! A new fire, especially in the winter, is a hungry fire.

Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. 

But eventually. Eventually. You'll find yourself with a good bed of coals. You'll have dried your gloves. You'll have a pile of wood and a place to sit and a single bottle of Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA that you sledded in, weight be damned.

On the edge of the fire's glow, you'll see your tent protecting the barest of necessities: a tiny camp stove, tomorrow's breakfast, an embarrassment of goose down. You have tropicalia music that you'll play through your phone speaker at dawn like a transistor radio. You have a candle lantern and a bag of jerky and the solitude of the outdoors.

Everything you have with you has a purpose. Everything earned its spot on the sled. 

As we move into a new year, I'm hoping to carry that mindset forward. I don't need more things – I just need the right things. I don't need more undertakings, more accomplishments, more checks added to my list – I just need the right ones.

Taking a look over my shoulder, I've come to realize that I've been pulling an unnecessarily clumsy load. It's time to tip the sled and start over. It's time to think in terms of fewer, but righter, things.

Happy New Year everyone.

Bruce Gold: Last of the surfing hippies

I love people that love something. I mean people who really really love something. Every day. For all their days. 

The age of the person shouldn't matter I suppose. Passion is passion. But, for me anyway, somehow age does matter. Which probably explains why I've done more than a few posts featuring old people who are still committed to doing their thing. This includes one of my favorite things that I've shared here: A skier named Snowflake who advocates loving something so much that you forget to go to the toilet. 

With all that said, here we are again. This time we're being invited into the life of Bruce Gold who surfs Jeffreys Bay in South Africa. What's most impressive about Bruce isn't just his passion for surfing, but the extreme life decisions he's made as a result of that passion. As Bruce puts it, "It's hard to be a hobo. But it has it's rewards."

Jim Whittaker on a life well lived

A life well lived indeed...

Jim Whittaker is the first American to summit Mt. Everest. He did it in 1963. As you'll quickly see, thanks to this pretty stunning archival footage, they had to do things a little differently back then. 

But it's Jim's take on nature, adventure, and existence that really rings the bell for me. He's lived a pretty awesome life. I'd say getting a sense of it might be worth 3 minutes and 42 seconds of yours.

Been naked much lately? Me too!

 St. John, USVI

St. John, USVI

I'm currently perched on a cliff above the waters of Kiddel Bay, on the southernmost edge of St. John, USVI.

I should probably mention that since I've been here I've been naked. Quite a bit. As a jaybird. As the day I was born. But I'll get to that in a minute.

We arrived to St. Thomas late Sunday afternoon. Spent the night in Charlotte Amalie, grabbed a bite, and had a generally fine evening. But we were just staging, actually, for Monday morning's ferry to St. John. 

It seems I'm the only person I know who hasn't been to St. John. Its popularity as a travel destination is what a vexillologist would call a red flag. I would call it the same. (A vexillologist is a professional flag maker. I am just a guy with a strong distaste for tourists.)

But we're here anyway, my family and I, based on reports of a kajillion killer shore dives and hiking trails for days. 

Straight off the ferry, we bought a bag of genips (aka skinips on Grenada, aka chinups on Carriacou, aka spanish limes on google), and we pointed the Jeep to the remotest corner of the island we could find. From Cruz Bay to Coral Bay to the end of the paved road to the end of the dirt road to here.

So far, I have to say, the place has lived up to its reputation. Stellar reefs and deep-water boulder fields. Shark, turtles, tarpon, 'cuda, rays, cero, squid, plus all the reefy regulars flashing every color in the crayon box.

But this isn't a freaking travelogue. You're here for the nudity.

So okay. Down here, as it turns out, I'm the early riser in my family. No idea why. Given my taste for late-night rum, this is a goddamn miracle, not to mention a troubling indictment against the up-and-at-em-ness of my squad. But I'm not complaining because it means dawn is entirely mine. And these dawns have been especially good.

I've mentioned that I recently became a fan of early morning yoga. I wouldn't say yoga is entirely "my thing," at least not in the same way that, say, the sound of the ocean or being a smart-ass are my thing. But I like yoga enough that on my first morning here, it's how I decided to greet the day. There's an overlook next to our place that seemed perfect. I carefully considered what I needed to bring with me. But slowly I realized I didn't need jack shit.

Happiness, I'm convinced, is the result of reduction. Of removing everything that's not absolutely necessary so you can focus on what is. In the case of yoga, all you really need is you. Or in my case, all I really need is me. And so that's what I've been going with. Just me and the sun and the sea.

It's a helluva thing when the waves are crashing against the rocks and the sun is pressing warm against my skin. Birds are flitting all around me and singing like I'm in the scene from that old Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah movie. Except with less racial stereotypes and more dangling and flopping.

I have to say it's a great way to kick off the day. Especially when it's followed by some time in an outdoor shower. Of course my teenage boys think the whole thing is weird af. Mostly because, you know, the whole thing is weird af. But I'm going to stick with it while I'm here.

They're sleeping at that hour anyway. And. I so rarely get a chance to drive life into the corner, as Henry David Thoreau put it, and reduce it to its lowest terms.

At least not without the cops showing up. 

Fossil Diving! Venice, Florida! Right on!

So you probably know Venice, Italy – with its wonderful canals and gondolas. And you probably know Venice, California – with its wonderful canals and roller skate dancers with their comically ambitious boob jobs. But whatcha know about Venice, Florida?

Venice is a smallish town/series of interstate exits between Fort Meyers and Tampa. Like much of Florida, there doesn't seem to be much happening away from the water. But the beaches of Venice, and the waters offshore, give it the absolute finest tagline for a city that I've ever heard: "Shark Tooth Capital of the World."  And as if shark teeth aren't cool enough, these Venice shark teeth are fossils. 

I know! My 12-year-old-boy brain reels! 

 

So why are there fossils in Venice, Florida? It's time for a quick lesson in paleontology. If you're turned on by big words, darling, make yourself comfortable. This is gonna get kinky.

During the Cretaceous period (50 million years ago), Florida was under water. During the Oligocene (30 million years ago), sea levels began to drop and north central Florida became an island. Then during the Miocene (20 million years ago), that land mass...

Geez louise. tl;dr. Prehistoric geology evidently isn't my kind of kink. Here's a link if you wanna learn more. But in a nutshell: the dry parts of Florida used to be wet, and the wet parts of Florida used to be dry. Go back and forth like this for tens of millions of years and, I don't know, evidently you get fossils. 

So back to Venice. Five years ago we visited Casperson Beach (which is a real beauty) to look for shark teeth. They're laying and/or buried along the water's edge – pointy little black or grey buggers that you find by sifting through the sand. Looking for them was a perfect activity for my kids who were 8 and 11 at the time. It's a perfect activity for you too if you like to pair your OCD with a little sand and sun. Over the course of an afternoon we found 50 or so fossilized teeth: a mix of mako, lemon, and bull shark mostly.

If you want the big stuff (megalodon teeth, mammoth fossils, etc.), I was told at the time, you need to do a dive boat off shore. This year, that's finally what I did. Because, you know, I want the big stuff.

So two weeks ago I boarded the Hammerhead, a 31 foot dive boat run by Megaladon/Florida West Charters (who I'd definitely recommend). We left the harbor around 7:45 am with 10 divers total, for a 20 minute boat ride to an area called "the boneyard." On the way out, Captain Dan did a nice session on what we were looking for, why it was all there, and so on. Then we anchored and in we went. It's an easy two-tank dive, relatively shallow (30 feet) with no current. Visibility was only 4 feet or so (due to storms), but no big deal since you're looking right in front of you the whole time anyway.

So yeah! You creep along the bottom carefully peeping at every damn thing you can find. Every now and again, one of the things turns out to be a shark tooth or a dugong rib from a 14 million year old manatee. New fossils reveal themselves in the shifting sand over time (the sea is a bit OCD herself), so there's always plenty down there if you're patient/lucky.

Over the course of 90 minutes or so, I found more than a dozen dugong rib pieces (heavy and black as night) and other fossils including jaw bones from whales and grind plates from rays. I found a bunch of fossilized shark teeth too, including one big megalodon tooth.

The best discovery, though, was this: I also found a dive partner. Because when I got back, I barely got done laying out the fossils when my 13-year-old son Tobias asked... "How old do I have to be to go scuba diving?"

VICTORY AT SEA!!!

So this past weekend he did a Try Scuba class at a local pool and loved it. (35 bucks all gear included!) He's starting online classes now and should be certified in time for our trip to St. John in July. 

That right there is about as good as it gets.

If you have any questions about diving for shark teeth in Venice, or Try Scuba classes, hit me up in the comments! I'd be happy to share what I know.

 

Morgan Maassen made a fine to-do list for you

Don't have your summer plans ironed out yet? Nothing nailed down for this weekend?

Fear not my indecisive one, photographer and filmmaker Morgan Maassen has about 4,000 ideas for you and he's compiled them all into one absolutely gorgeous video called "Motion."

I suppose "Things You Can Do If You're Bored" wasn't his intention when he put this together. But if watching it doesn't make you want to get out and do something (like right now!) I don't even know what to say to you.

Anyway, check it. The footage and the edit are fire and the music track by Kelpe drives it all perfectly. This kid is really really good. At 25, he's already shot for some of the biggest companies in the world. His work doesn't feel that way though which is about the highest compliment I can give.  

He's a good follow on Instagram too: here.

Me and Pac and that guy from Loverboy

So let's see here. It's Sunday morning. What should I write about?

Maybe something about the first day of Day Light Saving time? Or the freakishly warm weather? How about some thoughts on my country's vulgar decent into the meanest, basest aberrations of human instinct? 

No wait! Bandanas! 

 

I really like bandanas, you see. While I've never "collected" them, I realized the other day that I ended up with a stack of 'em anyway. Most of them I've acquired randomly over the years, going back to high school. Others have a very distinctly remembered provenance: the shop in Hillsborough, Carriacou, for example, stacked to the rafters with boxes of cheap electronics and sarongs... the lilt of the shopkeeper's voice as he took my $4 EC... the stiffness of the new brown fabric as I rolled it and tied it around my head... wearing it fishing the next day...

I've been tying on a lot of bandanas lately due to my burgeoning yoga habit. Per tradition, the yoga room is kept at a comfortable 247 degrees. Since I misplaced my prized 1977 Harlem Globetrotters headband, I've taken to the bandana instead. I tie it on every morning, nervously, like Christopher Walken in the russian roulette scene from The Deer Hunter

But there are lots of reasons for owning an unreasonable number of bandanas. A few for consideration:

  1. Looking awesome. Tupac and the dude from Loverboy can't be wrong! Axl is also a noted bandana enthusiast. But Axl can be wrong.
  2. Sun protection. Over the head, do-rag style. Over your face Buff/cowboy style. Or hanging out the back of a hat – all the protection of one of those sun-flap hats without the embarrassment of wearing one of those sun-flap hats.
  3. Bug protection. I'd much rather spray down a bandana with bug spray and tie it around my neck than spray down my neck. Especially if I'm going to be in a sleeping bag later.
  4. Water filter protection. A bandana won't make unsafe water safe. But it'll let you filter out the bigger crud before you run it through a proper filter.
  5. Tied to a cord with a rock inside, to throw the cord up over a limb (when hanging tarps, bear bags, convivial piñatas)
  6. As a makeshift tie down, strap, guy line.
  7. As a "container" when collecting berries and nuts (or whimsical pebbles and twigs for your new etsy craft shop). 
  8. For first aid: tourniquet, wound coverage, eyepatch, other gnarly shit.
  9. Tied to a stick to carry all your possessions when you finally say "screw this" and change your name to Utah Bindle Bill and live out the rest of your life happily riding the rails.

And don't worry, I didn't leave you hanging. I know you want some Loverboy right now. You can check out the video here. They did it with a silly skit in front. The cowbell (and the rawk!) kicks off at 2:22. 

Dreams are needs

What a great line that is: "Dreams are needs." It's the culmination of this video by Duct Tape Then Beer. As you may have noticed by now, I'm a huge sucker for "reminder videos." The ones that remind me to get out there and be the person I aspire to be. 

It's officially March. In 11 days, the clocks change. Now is the time for the planning of trips and the prepping of gear. Now is the time to get excited.

Start with this video right here. And if you're so inclined, I included links to a few more below.

Being There > Being Away

This past week had me on both coasts.

I was within yards of each ocean, to the east and the west, but never got the chance to touch either one. From my hotel window in Asbury Park, New Jersey, I could see a tiny sliver of the sea. And then 48 hours later: a strip of bright white turbulence, lit by the moon, along the Pacific Coast Highway. Just a quick glimpse from the driver's seat at 60 miles per hour before the 10 took us inland.

They were business trips both: a presentation in New Jersey followed by a photo shoot in LA. The presentation was well received and the shoot, despite a huge celebrity and 50 or 60 people on set, went off without a hitch. So: mission(s) accomplished. I made my way through the airport Sunday evening feeling exhausted but, you know, pretty good. 

One thing I wasn't feeling though is that I had actually been in either place. Yes, I had been away from home. There were planes, trains, and automobiles. I have receipts. But I never really had a moment, or more accurately: I never took a moment to be where I was. 

I was thinking about this last night. And then this morning I came across this video. The filmmaker, Andrew Norton, and his wife (who sounds as cute as a bug!), serve up a great reminder of what it's like to truly be in a place. To be affected by it. Sometimes it's epic in scale. Other times, small and simple. If you don't open yourself up to it, though, you're going to miss your chance for either.

I do realize he was in the Galapagos and I was in Jersey. So I'm not going to beat myself up over it too much. But my point holds. 

Go big and go home

Off the grid and tiny. These are two popular themes in homes these days.

More often than not, though, "off the grid and tiny" translates to poorly joined plywood, battery-powered wifi, and a precious name ending in "ita." All of which exists for the sole purpose of being painstakingly documented on Instagram.

OG snowboarder Mike Basich's tiny off-the-grid house ain't that. His shit is crafted. Like really crafted. And way bigger than the sum of its parts.

Mike was tearing it up on the snowboarding tournament circuit 15 years ago. He was doing well and living large. And then one day he decided to bail on all that. He spent the next 5 years building the coolest little place I can imagine. The stonework alone took him 2 1/2 years, all done by hand. His hand.

What do you do when you're done? You call your buds and you build a friggin' chairlift to go with it! 

I love building things. The sense of gratification and pride is so rewarding. But aside from a few sketchy snow caves over the years, I've never slept in a place that I've built. This alone has the gears in my head turning. Combine that with the careening clown car that we call 2015 America and, well, I might be building sooner rather than later.

10 Gift Ideas for Outdoorsy Drunks

Outdoorsy drunks: you know the type. You might even be the type! 

Whether you're shopping for yourself or your like-minded friends, here are 10 Gift Ideas sure to satisfy.

1. A Vintage 1960s Travel Bar

Outdoorsy people enjoy travel. And drunks enjoy bars. So outdoorsy drunks will love their own travel bar! Executair made these cases in the 1960s and '70s. Several models were available which include various combinations of bottles, cups, and bar tools. You can find them in excellent condition on Ebay, many for under $50. I got the one above, with the original hangtags still on it, for around $60. They're lockable, so make sure the one you get either includes the keys or is unlocked.

 

2. Flasks and Growlers

Any outdoorsy drunk worth his salt and limes already owns a flask or two. But trust me, they can use a third! Drink holding technology marches constantly forward, leading to cool new shit like growlers. Perfect when you're looking to keep 64 ounces of your favorite microbrew fresh. Or when you're looking to armor a couple bottles worth of tequila. Respectable flasks'll put ya back $20-50. I like my basic Stanley which was $25. Growlers are $30-75. I don't have a growler of my own to recommend (HINT!!!) but here's a damn fine review.

 

3. A Place For Somebody To Set Their Butt

Nothing complements a fine outdoor cocktail like a fine outdoor place to set yer butt. Conventional camp chairs are fine but when weight, space, or dope-ass style are a concern, I'd suggest the Alite Monarch Rocking Chair. It kind of rocks on two feet, sits low to the ground, packs down to the size of a can of Foster's Lager, and weighs around a pound. Perfect for paddle trips and the like. 70-ish bucks. 

 

4. A Proper Muddler!

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Friend: If you've made brandy old fashioneds without a muddler, you haven't made brandy old fashioneds. Now, muddlers aren't specifically for outdoor use. But the best ones are made of wood and "wood" is 4/5 of the word "woods." Woods are specifically outdoors. I've made a few muddlers in my day, turning cherry or maple on a lathe like the ones above. A fine gift if you've got a lathe. If not, you can buy one of these Pug muddlers, which are freaking gorgeous. OR! I was thinking it would be easy to make an especially outdoorsy (and almost free) version of a muddler. Like this:
            • Cut a fresh 10-inch length of maple, about an inch in diameter
            • Whittle or peel the bark from the working end of the muddler
            • Sand the working end of the muddler until smooth
            • Carve the rest for style
            • Wipe it down with kitchen mineral oil to preserve/class up
            • Accessorize with some maple branch swizzle sticks
 

5. Likker Jars and/or Likker Jar Supplies

Well, I've posted on infused liquors before. For the record, I'm a fan. They're a delicious item to bring to any party – a gift that's way better than some stupid-ass bottle of wine. You better get cracking though. Whatever you whip up needs a few weeks to acquire its beautifully boozy patina. OH! AND! Holy shit I got one more idea! You could also give someone all the necessary gear so they can make their own infused liquors. By "necessary gear" I mostly mean: Mason jars, booze, and fruit (you can get them all at your local grocery store).

 

6. A Hammock! And String Lights too!

A hammock and string lights make for a fine combo gift. ENO makes nice versions of both if you're looking for some one-stop shopping. I'd recommend the double hammock, even for single use ($70). There's just something wonderful about pulling the sides over you, cocoon style. The lights ($20) seem to last forever on three AAA batteries. Perfect over a hammock, a tent entrance, or backwoods bar.

 

7. The Gift of Fire

Outdoorsy drunks love drinking around campfires. You know what else they love doing around campfires? Looking at fire! While any Bic'll do the job (usually), I recently bought a blowtorch of a thing that's already saved me on several rainy camping trips. Wet tinder? No problem. This sucker'll dry it and light it both. I got this Turboflame Windproof Lighter on Amazon for $23. You'll also need a canister of butane to fill it which is like $5.

 

8. Swizzle Sticks

Swizzle sticks rule. You could make some! Or you could buy a kajillion vintage swizzlesticks on ebay for like almost nothing! I know swizzle sticks aren't an outdoor-specific thing. But damn it, let's make 'em so.

 

9. Metal pint glasses

Alright, so most of my metal pint glasses were collected from various outdoor-related trade shows. For a gift, you'd probably want to buy some. They're a little spendy, but pretty much indestructible. You can get a four-pack for around $30. A small price to pay for such badassedness.

 

10. Vintage Bottle Openers Yo!

CHEAP! COOL AF! We're lucky to live in a world that's flush with vintage bottle openers. I've always thought the flat ones are especially sweet: a little bit of beer history that you can carry around in your wallet, clip to a carabiner, or hang with some cordage from a tree. Pretty much every brewery made 'em back in the day. You can find 'em on Ebay for around $5 a piece. 

Love something so much you forget to go the toilet

This guy, and this video, are wonderful. I really think you should watch it.

And then ask yourself:

"Is there something I love as much as Snowflake loves skiing?"

If so: You're lucky! You get to go do it. 

If not: You're lucky! You get to go find it.

Either way, get going.

Other particular harbors

Other particular harbors

So Jimmy Buffett has this song called One Particular Harbor. After close examination of the lyrics, I've decided it's about one particular harbor. It's a pretty straight-forward thing, as Buffett songs tend to be, but I've always liked it. 

“I know I don’t get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It’s a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe

There’s this one particular harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear”

Jimmy said he wrote the song while staying on Cooks Bay, Moorea, Tahiti. I googled it up and, yup, based on the pictures I would have written a helluva song there too. But since I've never been to Tahiti (and also have no song writing ability), that didn't happen. As it turns out, his particular harbor isn't mine.

Who needs French Polynesia?

My particular harbors are mostly in the Caribbean: 

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