Tag Archives: Outdoor Life

How Living in a Jeep Changed me as a Person

DSC_0049 13I was reading this article by the tremendous people at Outside Magazine, about “How to live out of your car,”  (there are some great tips in there) and it got me thinking about the trip I took with Outdoor Life’s help in 2010, fishing my way across the country.

I did not, at the time… “plan” to live out of my vehicle when I left. I was working a great job that I was lucky to have, but couldn’t shake the feeling that… there’s an entire country out there of drop-dead gorgeous stuff that… I might never see. I was dealing with some problems that I’ll not get into, but suffice it to say… I felt an urge to move, go, escape, travel… anywhere.

With a bare-bones budget and nothing but a road map full of places that I’d been dreaming about for the better part of 20 years, I put everything that I owned in storage and headed for Maine in late May.

Now… I’d set up trip itinerary of places to fish, things to see and friends I’d had that I wanted to visit, but planning an itinerary for a cross-country road trip is like making a plan for what you’d do if your house caught on fire: It might ease some anxiety prior to the actual event… but rarely is it something you can execute in practice when the time comes.

I did see the things I’d hoped I would (Hemingway’s grave in Idaho, the Grand Canyon, The Pacific, the Florida Keys), I got the chance to fish with a rock star, and I even lived with a marine artist named Pasta for the better part of a month (it got to the point where he started saying: “I’ll see you ‘home’). I lost about 40 pounds and grew my hair out for the first time in my life.

Prior to that trip, I was a quiet, soft-spoken guy with a lot of anxieties about the little things in life (‘Did I wear this shirt already this week?’ ‘Am I coming down with a cold?’) and to some degree I still am.

But on that trip, more people helped me than I ever could have imagined would prior to undertaking it. Anglers from Maine down to Florida and out to California and up to Oregon had me stay at their houses, introduced me to their families, and took me fishing.

I’ve always been a religious person, although I’ve come up short of that definition more times than I can count… but I’ve always believed in God.

What that trip did, the way it changed me… was that it gave me a faith in other people that I’d not had before then. It also reassured me that you don’t need to know how something is going to work, you just need to keep trying everything and believe that it will. My idea of Divinity changed from some all-powerful master on high watching our every action… to a collection of souls down here on earth that, more often than not, want what is best for not only them… but for all of us as a group, together.

That’s what I brought back from the road, and I carry it with me wherever I go today. It has been a saving grace in the days that were to follow.

Happy Wonderful Weirdos Day

I’ve been told that I look weird in most photos, but in this one especially. 

Yep, it’s a thing. You can be guaranteed with the growth of social media that every single day will hold some significance or have some reason to celebrate, and today, it turns out, is “Wonderful Weirdos Day.”

I’ll not attempt to describe the day or its purpose, I’ll leave that to Daysoftheyear.com, where you can find a purpose or reason or significance for every single day. Here’s their definition:

“Nothing’s quite as dull as being normal, boring and average. Celebrate being weird, and celebrate the weirdos in your life on Wonderful Weirdos Day. Make an effort to be weird by dressing weirdly, doing weird things and encouraging weirdness with your friends and in the workplace!” 

For those of you who would have used this reason to behave oddly, and are disappointed that there are only four hours left to take action, I apologize. Feel free, after reading this, to behave weirdly throughout the weekend, and even on Monday should you feel so inclined. Just have this blog ready to pull up on your phone for justification.

I’ll confess that for most of my life, I’ve been fairly normal. I followed the rules and got pretty good grades in high school, went to my fathers alma mater, Syracuse University, because they offered the most in scholarship money and had a great journalism program, took an internship and then a job as a copy editor out of college, was paid to create content for a website full-time for a few years, and am now working on my Master’s Degree at Emerson College.

There are, however, seven months of my life that I think would fit the description “weird,” by most any standard.

In 2010 I did a project for Outdoor Life called Fish America, where I attempted to fish the entire country, sleeping in a Jeep.

That, I can testify, is a weird experience. You’ll never see as many double takes in your life as you will when you wake up in a Walmart parking lot, open the door, and strangers stop and stare for a second, trying to figure out just how long you’ve been in there.

You will never find an answer to the question: “Where are you staying?” that’s addressed to you by guides you’re hoping to fish with, or people that you meet along the way, that doesn’t have people scratching their heads. Eventually you’ll just point to your Jeep and wait for it to sink in.

Sleeping in a Jeep takes some practice and getting used to, like anything new and foreign. At first you will find all the sharp objects that you packed for the trip by sleeping on them. Eventually you will move said objects to the opposite side of the Jeep, and sleep only on one side.

You will learn what areas are, and are definitely not safe to sleep in. I’d suggest, to anyone crazy… er… weird enough to try this to… just be careful around the Texas/Mexico border and tell your story to restaurant owners where you might grab a snack. Many are more accommodating than you’d imagine, although some are not.

In theory, and I say this only from reading and from a few nights of experience, your body should shiver itself awake before you freeze to death in your sleep… if you’re say… in Idaho in December and the temperature drops to -17. And, while again I’d not recommend this, in my experience you will awake to the sound of your teeth chattering, you’ll crank the heat until the convulsive shaking stops, and you should be able to get a few more hours sleep. Again, I’d not suggest testing this theory, but it worked for me.

Lying on top of that Jeep, in places like the Carolinas, Texas, and California, can be a spectacular way to take in some breathtaking stars. If, however, you misplace your phone… look on top of the Jeep FIRST… before driving to places you’d been the day prior. You might be incredibly lucky and your phone might stay on top of the Jeep while you drive around beneath it looking for it… but “prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.”

The weirdest thing of all that you will encounter if you attempt such a thing is fairly simple, and maybe something many of you have already discovered.

We’re raised to keep our doors locked, not to trust strangers and be sure of where we are at all times. We’re taught from an early age to fear the unknown.

So the weirdest part about the entire experience… is just seeing firsthand how incredibly kind, outgoing, genuine, honest and helpful almost everyone that you meet is.

Weird, right?


Can we Finally Say: Print’s Here to Stay?

The Drake: Always an interesting and enlightening read.

While home in Upstate New York for a weekend this winter, my mother was excited to show me a recent purchase she’d made to play music: A record player. Yep, I’m talking about vinyl. She’d found a record player, and even a few (Springsteen) records to go with it, for sale at a local Best Buy. She was understandably excited, as I’m sure it brought back memories of the first music she owned, played and loved. I’m not sure she’ll be using its capacity to play MP3s anytime soon, but a record? Those she is more than familiar with.

Analyzing trends in the way we purchase and consume media is something we’re all trying to do in this business, with the aim of being one step ahead of the curve so that we might be working on something worth sharing tomorrow, today.

But I have to say (write), trends I’ve been seeing in publishing give me some hope that we are not all destined to absorb every piece of information that we read or view through an electronic device. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’m missing a limb if I don’t have my phone within reach, but I don’t think it’s the ideal medium for everything we want to read, view or share. That’s not to say I deplore various social media that have crept up in the past decade. Instagram seemingly has more inspiring, beautiful photos every day, and I’ve tried to use it to share my Catch a Cure journey with you as best I could. If ever we needed to be reminded, as Shakespeare wrote, that “brevity is the soul of wit,” there’s Twitter, which, like it or hate it, will make concise writers of all of us who use it.

And we haven’t changed our name to the “United States of Facebook,” but let’s face it… that platform has had a more profound impact on the way we share, consume and absorb content than almost any in the past half century. Here again, I have to admit it has been a powerful tool in sharing Catch a Cure with sponsors, donors, anglers and readers. The advertisers that seemingly know me a little too well… I guess that’s something we have to put up with.

But I recently received my Spring issue of The Drake, and it was a robust 116 pages. Our family just adopted a new four-legged friend, and let’s just say… if you’re a dog person, there’s at least one feature in this issue you’ll like (although likely many more). It’s probably worth noting that I am in no way affiliated with The Drake, although they did publish one piece I wrote a while back, so perhaps I’m not entirely unbiased either.

And I’ve become a fan of a relatively new magazine called Anglers Journal, which I think is looking at conventional angling through the more artistic lens traditionally reserved for fly fishermen.

Of course I have a vested interest in this topic, I’m hoping to start a fishing publication you’ll love, by administering a survey to find out exactly what that is, and while I’d love for that to have a presence in all forms of media, I’d especially be excited if you’d be as interested as I am in putting it on something you didn’t have to plug in.

Field & Stream and Outdoor Life, two magazines I’ve read and loved for as long as I can remember, have held their own on the newsstand while they’ve added a myriad of web options over the years. And, of course, I think many of my New England neighbors would riot in the streets if their On The Water didn’t show up regularly in their mailboxes.

But what I’m cautiously wondering, while knocking on wood… is this: For years as the web grew and became more interactive, capable and dynamic, pessimists predicted that it would only be a matter of time before trees were safe in the woods, no longer needed for print (magazines anyway), which would go extinct as everyone turned to smartphones and laptops for all their information and entertainment.

What I’m finally beginning to hope, out loud, in light of the progress we’ve seen from all of these publications, is this: Is print here to stay? And perhaps… even… grow?