Looking Back on a summer in alaska

“Every now and then I say I won't return, just for that small hit of freedom. However, I will so deeply remember this experience. Even if it proves true, and I never return, it'll be because it has inspired me to continue, not because I'm done.”

I wrote in my notes sometime in late July. A “summer” comprised of four season. A place, free from advertising, that felt like going back in time. Those four months in were the single most influential of my life.

Preparing for a summer in alaska

In a fit of nostalgia, I wrote “half the world away”. Then shared it with a few friends from the winter season. Will was the person I’d spent the most time with on the hill, and I was happy to hear that he too missed those days. We caught up a bit over text, and then, from my desk in the teachers’ office at Daejeon Middle, I got to thinking.

Unlike me, a first-year employee, Will had been working at Keystone for five seasons. It was obvious, when we went anywhere around the resort. Will was popular, because he’s a cool dude, but also, because over the course of his five years, he’d worked in several different departments. It was through Will, that I was introduced to the idea of working two seasons a year. So, two days later, when I’d reached a peak of frustration and isolation, I wrote him again. This time to ask about that summer job he used to talk about in the Tetons.

A Vail Resorts Property, like Keystone, applying to the Grand Teton Lodge was simple. From that familiar Vail Resorts Career page, I updated my resume, redrafted a cover letter, and in less than thirty minutes, I was done. Now familiar with the hiring process, I knew that the combination of my history with the company, and a personal reference in Will, would make me a prime candidate. And sure enough, after three days, an invitation to interview came through.

But, with three days of desk warming (no class) I’d begun searching further. I’d heard of coolworks.com, but never actually used it. It consistently kept appearing in my search. So, I created a profile, which allowed me to apply to numerous places nearly instantaneously. The idea of looking for a summer job was simple. I felt isolated in Korea, and I longed for a place with community.

Although the Tetons sounded nice, the purity of Alaska was ultimately far more appealing. I spammed the area with applications, applying to everything from hiking guide, to housekeeping. So, when Andrea, the F&B manager at the Grande Denali called me, I wasn’t even entirely sure what the position was that we were discussing.

Initially, I declined the call, and snuck out of the office to redial. Nervously, I watched for other teachers, as we chatted about the opportunity. “Well, I think you have a great personality, and I feel like you’d be a great addition to the team, so I’m not even going to ask you anything.” Two days after applying, without answering a single interview question, I had the job, it was that easy. That night, I packed up my apartment, and boarded a train to the airport the next morning. I really knew nothing about the job or the area. I wanted a place to meet people and speak English. I got so much more.

Summer in Alaska, Unfiltered

MAY: THE BEGINNING

Following three months in that foreign land, it wasn’t the mountains or the wildlife that intrigued me most about spending a summer in Alaska, it was the potential for conversation. Just two weeks prior, from the courtyard at Dong-Myung Middle school in Daejeon, South Korea, I was offered the server position at the Grand Denali Lodge, and after a brief visit home, I found myself rereading “Into the Wild” as the plane approached the Prince Edward’s Sound. I put the book away and began my first of many random summer conversations.

The woman next to me turned out to be a photographer, and Native of Anchorage. She gave me some tips on the area and showed me her work. As the wheels bounced onto the wet runway, we exchanged follows on Instagram. A stark contrast from Korea, before even exiting the plane, I’d made a friend.

It was still light outside, but late, as I got to the hostel. It was empty, so I went to bed. The next morning, while waiting for the shuttle, another opportunity for conversation arose. I was sitting in the common area, doing data entry if I remember correctly. That’s when Austin, from Georgetown, a guy my age, approached me to inquire about the wifi. We got to talking.

Austin had just wrapped up a winter at a backcountry ski lodge. He said he worked housekeeping, but the job didn’t matter, because he’d only remember the legendary skiing. We didn’t talk long before I had to go.

Standing out in front of the hostel, I chatted with a group of girls with bags. Denimira was going to the Grande Denali too. Once on the shuttle, I sat next to a girl from New Zealand. She’d been traveling the states for three months, and she’d come to Alaska to renew her funds.

The ride was lengthy. Five bouncy hours through the desolate tundra. But, sharing stories with another native speaker, made it go by quick.

At “Mckinley Village” my Kiwi friend exited along with a large group. Only a few people were left, as we drove the last fifteen minutes. We crossed a half-frozen river, then took a right, up a windy road. The cranky old bus driver announced the stop, then left three of us in the dusty vacant lot.

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Up the steep dirt hill, I wrestled my overweight suitcase toward the first set of wooden stairs. Inside the housing office, the managers chatted with a returning employee. It struck me to see how close they were, and I didn’t want to interrupt. It felt like I was barging in on a family. Eventually, I got my key, and carried the bag up two more flights of shaky stairs.

Across the wooden planks of the lofted walkway, which connected the cabin like housing units, I struggled, checking numbers, until I found E4, the last bottom unit on the end. I turned the key and opened the forest green door. Unlike the cozy pine exterior, the room was a small square with two twin beds, one on each side, a small shelf between them, a sink and mirror across the carpeted floor, and four plain walls, all white.

My first impression was that it looked a bit like a prison cell, but then I opened the window, and the afternoon light blasted in. Outside that window, the vegetation was still mainly bare, but the pines were green, and the tops of the mountains were all white.

The food and beverage Manager, who went by “AB”, the one who’d hired me, messaged to meet at the Employee Dining Room (better known as EDR). At 4:20, I took the first of many shuttle rides from the lower property, up to “The Grande” to eat.

Exceptionally jolly, and inviting to say the least, Andrea helped break the ice, as she showed me around the main lodge, and the restaurant where I’d be working. Rustic, with a plethora of windows that offered magnificent 360-degree views, complete with a large stuffed Grizzly in the middle. My first impression of the Alpenglow was “Wow!”. Even my “office” at the learners’ hill in Keystone didn’t challenge that view.

Down in the EDR , Andrea introduced me to a few returning employees who occupied the other seats at one of the five tables, and said she’d see me tomorrow morning for my first shift. I remember thinking the food wasn’t so bad. They had a salad bar. But, I struggled to get into the conversation. It was a long day. I kept up my hopes.

The next morning I woke up around 6, because of the time difference, and because I was excited. My first day of the new job was supposed to be about setting up the restaurant, but my mission was to meet people. In the lounge area, at an empty table, I set down my coat, and surveyed the room. Everyone else seemed to know each other already. It turned out they’d arrived a few days before. I introduced myself with a few handshakes, and then that girl with the curly hair walked in. She sat at my table. I saw it as an in. “Are you a PM server as well?” I asked her. “No, AM hostess.” She said with a subtle grin.

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I sensed an accent, but I couldn’t place it. “Where are you from?” I followed. She said, “I’m Dominican.”

As the only AM crew members, amongst a bunch of rather pretentious PM’s, Yanara and I immediately became friends. Throughout that first shift of set-up, we found ways to work together. And for the next few weeks every trip to work, EDR, or town was spent with her. No, she wasn’t a native English speaker, but her English was excellent, and her kindness and ability to listen made our conversations exceptional.

Throughout that first month of serving, when things were stressful, and I was still figuring it out. Through those days where I missed Flora even more. And, as the newness and excitement of the place began to turn. Yanara was there to comfort and listen. And in June, when I found myself in the blue’s she helped me get through. Without Yanara’s support, I very likely would have ended my summer in Alaska before it even began.

Yanara, Outside her room.

Yanara, Outside her room.

 

Although I ended up inviting a friend to live with me, in Keystone, I got lucky by somehow receiving my own room. In Alaska, it appeared that my luck had continued. But then, just as I’d begun drifting off for a nap after my second brutally early morning shift, Blue, my new roommate, threw open the door. With designer sneakers, with rein stones that sparkled in the morning sun, three massive camo bags, and a disgusted look on his face, Blue was unlike anyone I’d ever met before. And although he took up far more than half the space with his suits and sneakers, and he constantly played the same shitty trap music, sharing a room with him was very interesting.

Blue’s side of the room was constantly cluttered, but like me, he appreciated sanitation, which reflected in the way he kept the sink and bathroom areas clean. An exchange student from China, currently studying Hospitality Management, at UNLV, this obviously wasn’t Blue’s first trip away from home, but Alaska represented a far different challenge than Vegas. A city guy, in every sense of the word, one of the first things he ever asked me was “you think they have Uber eats?”

Unlike most others, who were in Alaska to make money for the season, Blue had several other, far more lucrative streams of revenue, which included playing Poker and selling exotic cars, which meant that he was there strictly to complete a mandatory internship. He worked as bell staff, which provided me with interesting insight into the position. Days of moving luggage, and chillin’ with the other guys. And nights of getting drunk off one beer, and more shitty trap music.

From Blue, I became inspired to play poker, I even discovered a few interesting songs, I obtained endless hilarious quotes, and I got a new perspective on Chinese culture. The dude is brilliant, and every decision he makes is strategic. Blue and I spent a lot of time together during those first few weeks, but as May became June, work picked up, and he was routinely working 60 plus hours per week, and all I wanted to do was sleep.

Blue conducting business, outside our room.

Blue conducting business, outside our room.

JUNE: THE SLUMP

“It started as a two top. And then two four tops showed up. When I got back with table 101’s drinks, three more four tops had joined. “Same old song” that …same old song… looped in the background and seemed to increase in volume as the stress began to make my ears ring. “Can I get a cappuccino with skim milk” “Oh, I forget to say I wanted honey” “Can I change my eggs to Over easy?” The requests where coming in faster than I could listen. I wanted kick open that door and sprint.” June 19th, 2018

The luster of the place had subsided, and business had picked up. Yanara and I were still friends, and I had Blue as my roommate, but outside of those two, my life was primarily comprised with stress and routine.

On the 21st I wrote “Perhaps it’s because of my erratic sleep schedule, or my diet of bagged liquid eggs, and iceberg lettuce, or maybe because of the ridiculous amount of walking I do, but lately, I’ve just felt completely depleted.”

I’d written several blogs about how great things were going, but I was lying to myself. And just six weeks into my season in Denali, I was running out of positivity. On a cold rainy day, which would have qualified as winter in the lower 48, I sat in my manager’s office, to discuss options before I made a break.

I spent many of my first weekends roaming the park alone. After my digital camera quit reading cards, I ordered an old Nikon F3 to take its place. This, off my first roll of film.

I spent many of my first weekends roaming the park alone. After my digital camera quit reading cards, I ordered an old Nikon F3 to take its place. This, off my first roll of film.

After a bit of success at the very beginning, I felt like I wasn’t meeting anyone. To say that I was frustrated would be an understatement. So, in a last-minute attempt to salvage the season, and create a social life, I pitched the idea of hanging out to Felipe.

Like my roommate Blue, Felipe was also from the Hospitality Management program at UNLV. But they’d never met each other, and aside from their love of cities, they were completely different. My first impression of Felipe was bad, to say the least. He showed up sometime in early June, on a busy day, and immediately began pestering me. While I was trying to figure things out for myself, he was following me around asking questions. He ended that first shift by forgetting an order, which led to an irate table.

Then, over the course of the next couple days, he was late, three times, by several hours. The cooks hated him because he’d constantly fuck up orders, and the servers couldn’t stand him, because he’d consistently show up after set-up, and walk out with the same amount of tips, about which he’d complain. But, despite a very rough beginning to his time in Denali, Felipe remained extremely friendly, and I was feeling isolated that day.

“I’m supposed to meet up with Felipe later” I mentioned to one of the other servers, an older guy, named Kenny. “Good luck with that” I remember him saying. Little did I know, that I was about to make an amazing friend. And it was from that first afternoon at “the spot”, that my summer began to turn around.

A crudely constructed wooden bench, a former EDR chair with no back, and an awkward rock under a canopy of trees. Just across the lines of water and sewage, that marked the properties northern boundary, “The Spot” was the place to “chill”.

A crudely constructed wooden bench, a former EDR chair with no back, and an awkward rock under a canopy of trees. Just across the lines of water and sewage, that marked the properties northern boundary, “The Spot” was the place to “chill”.

As I got to know Felipe, I realized that I’d been entirely unfair in judging him, and I got to see his perspective. He’d been denied the internship and applied for a job as a hail mary attempt to get away from Las Vegas, and to experience something different. He’d never served before, and on that stressful first day, he was thrown onto the floor without training. He was late all the time well… because he liked to socialize, which meant staying out late. Unlike me, Felipe didn’t plan a thing. It seemed like he just woke up when he felt like it, and began letting “it” happen, completely unaware of what “it” might be.

His energy and positivity were exactly what I needed. As we celebrated the beginning of summer under the midnight sun, a friendship was born. And like Felipe, I began waking up and letting things unfold.

The many layers of Felipe.

The many layers of Felipe.

JULY: SUMMER

The month of May was cold, and June was wet and dreary. But, as solstice officially welcomed summer, and the calendar turned again, I saw warmth in July. The days were long, and because we spent the majority of our shifts laughing and fucking around, the shifts felt short. On Tuesday evenings we played softball, and every other afternoon was a mystery.

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I rarely napped, we’d go straight to the spot instead, and then let the day unfold. Through Felipe, I met Zahara, a college girl from Anchorage, who’d been adopted as a kid from Ethiopia. She had a car, which meant I could finally escape that canyon. We went to Fairbanks just to watch a movie, began taking regular trips to Healy (the closest town), and I introduced them to hiking out at Savage River.

We watched movies in the community room, ate meals in big groups, played golf a couple times, rented biked, sampled beers at the brewery, and mainly just chilled.

But unlike chillin’ in the Lower 48, chillin’ in Alaska was often done outside, at the spot, or the billboard, or somewhere else with a view. Without cell service, or television, it was this lack of distractions, and the occasional addition of quality cannabis, that made for entertaining conversation.

Felipe introduced me to Piero, another great dude. and by the time my mom came to visit at the end of the month, I felt like I was part of a community, but then, it got hot.

Felipe And Piero posing at the bottom of the billboard they’d just raced up. Piero won, but split his eyebrow open on a ledge.

Felipe And Piero posing at the bottom of the billboard they’d just raced up. Piero won, but split his eyebrow open on a ledge.

For a year, I’d aimed to sit down once a week and recap the events, but things were hazy in the summer sun, and I just couldn’t keep up with the blog. Also, when I looked back on things I’d written, I sensed a consistent tone. I was proud of my writing, and it still seemed relevant, but this life I was living was different. It was brighter in that Alaskan sun, and I needed a new approach. It was on one of those trips to the store, with Zahara, that I purchased the notebook. And thus, began the daily journal.

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Sunday 07/15/18       

In her ’01 Subaru Outback, LL Bean edition, we sat, at the cemetery, sharing stories. “So, tell me about your life” I said. “Well, I was born in Ethiopia, and I was adopted when I was seven. “Where did you live before then? I asked. “In an orphanage.” She said. We talked for an hour, and then continued our conversation over blueberry pie at 49th.

Today I woke up at 3:30 am for work. It was a slow day, one of the slowest of the season. I made 90 in tips and left at 11am. I came home, took a two-hour nap, and then did laundry. I read only a few pages of “Living with the monks” before Zahara spontaneously joined me on the porch. We went to an Employee Dining Room dinner together, where we joined a full table of friends.

It’s 9:39 pm now as I write this in the notebook, I just acquired at the tail end of our trip to Healy. Tomorrow’s another day of research.

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Research

Packed into a stuffy basement art studio, in the heart of Eunhaeng-dong, I sorted through a bin of assorted ceramic characters. A mandatory excursion as part of an in-service training, decorating the doorplate certainly wasn't my idea, but the challenge served as welcomed mental inspiration.

“Why’d I come here?” For the first time in weeks, I remembered.

“This is my name in Hangul” “Mine says seize the day” Around the room, my peers forcibly shared theirs, and I followed with my simple grey plate titled “research.”

A wave of nervous laughter floated throughout the room, but it didn’t matter, because I understood.

The reason I'd gone to Colorado to teach snowboarding, why I’d traversed the pacific to Korea, and did so again to visit Alaska, have all been the same.

Last year, after 12 months of unemployment, and a lack of interaction, on a steamy summer day in Central Texas, I developed a plan…

 

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Since moving to Keystone Colorado on November 11th, 2017, I've been a Snowboard instructor, an English teacher, a Data enterer…, a Server, and most importantly, a student.

Today, as I browsed through my notes, basking in the 9:00pm Alaska sun, just as I had from that basement ceramics studio, I remembered why. It's about the experiences, the memories, the knowledge. I'm dedicating this journey to research.

More reports to follow.

RIP Roll #3

#4

Under my Vibram soled shoes, a sharp shale bed of rocks slid more with every step, as I scrambled up the last ledge, pausing at the top to unpack my camera. From a crouched position, I rose, slowly, behind the rocky blind, where not 20 yards in front of me, stood the prize.

I closed my left eye and waited for the moment. My breath slowed, and my focus narrowed. Then, a spotlight of white afternoon sun burst through the clouds and illuminated the Doll Sheep as he tilted his spiraling horns up. I pressed capture.

Aperture 8

Shutter speed 1/500

#9

Her, with her bright red “Wisconsin” sweater, lounging on top of the picnic table, with her poufy hair tilted sideways toward him. Him, with his red UNLV hat, turned back toward her from the bench, both shooting the breeze in the wind. Me with my grey and red TTU t shirt, standing before them, from the shoreline of Otto lake, at the base of Mount Healy, just taking it all in. We’d hung out all week, we’d all become friends. I focused in. I pressed capture.

Aperture 5.6

Shutter speed 1/500

#15

After nearly two hours of torturous beauty, at an overlook on the outskirts of town, I insisted we stop. Off to the side, a ruffling patch of white birch trees led me in. Vanya followed. “Here, it’s perfect” I said in the clearing. Then, without instruction, I looked through the viewfinder and found her piercing green eyes staring back at me. I pressed capture.

Aperture 5.6

Shutter speed 1/200

#35

At another braid in the Toklat river, a horseshoe of green and red peaks culminated at their center with a black and white chunk of glacial rock which drew me in. For nearly five miles, I’d inched closer, only stopping now to take it in. With my knee in the glittering mercury hued sand below, I could feel the power of the icy blue current which rushed toward me, for a moment, in pure silence. I looked up. I pressed capture.

Aperture 16

Shutter speed 1/125

The trigger stuck half way, as I hit the end of my third roll of film, a feeling of resistance associated with a nice sense of satisfaction. But, as I ejected the canister, and wound it back, clockwise, a horrible tearing sound vibrated from the body. Franticly, I opened the door to inspect. When, into the blue sky, all 35 photos released.

RIP Roll #3

Shit.

Here's the heavily oversaturated, not so candid, second shot I took of Vanya with her Iphone following the now lost attempt on film.   

Here's the heavily oversaturated, not so candid, second shot I took of Vanya with her Iphone following the now lost attempt on film.

 

Week seven was heaven

In a never-ending twilight, the canyon became bleak. For nearly two straight weeks, a thick grey blanket of clouds laid over my surroundings, and I sat in bed, with the same thoughts swirling in my head.

Recounting those first days of terrifying excitement. The first time I entered this room. My first days as a server. My first taste of Alpenglow. Weeks two and three when I began to feel comfort. Weeks four and five where it began to make sense. Those first trips to the Park. That day out at Savage River. The adventure. The newness. The beauty. The excitement. The people. The place…

The persistence. The routine.

The initial google search. The endless scouring of the web. The days lost to planning. The emptiness of the present.

In Keystone, and Korea, and now in Alaska, after just six weeks I’d exhausted the luster of the place, and again found an ache.

But on the eve of summer, things began to change.

Across a narrow service platform under the second tallest bridge in the state, the Nenana River roared beneath as cars rattled from above. With my right hand wrapped tightly around my Nikon F3, I chose not to use the thin metal rope for support, opting instead for the freedom of a careful stride as I worked my way toward the safety of the other side. The clouds still existed that day, but they appeared to be drifting, and with each step my outlook was lifting.

Hours later, around a roaring fire at Dry Creek, we welcomed the first day of summer, and with it a warmth that would persist throughout the week.

Into the park, I drove for the first time, enjoying every moment of the open road. No longer confined by the strict path of the bus, with the windows down and Spotify up, the vibrance of the landscape had returned.

Along that same Savage River loop, but this time with friends. The sky opened as we approached the end. The wind howled, and the river roared, but both failed to dampen the choir of birds which echoed endlessly throughout the canyon. With a fierce sun still blaring, a light mist rolled through, creating a majestic ambiance of fantasy as we wound down the way.

On that afternoon in Healy, I began to feel healed. A beer from the brewery and a trip to the lake. I capped off that day by crossing “safe” at home plate.

A last-minute road trip for really no reason. We cruised with the windows down to celebrate the new season.

Life was good, then bad, and now it’s poetic. If you don’t appreciate this time, you’ll surely regret it.

Week six was shit, but week seven was heaven.

 

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Craving normal

Perhaps it's because of my erratic sleep schedule, or my diet of bagged liquid eggs and iceberg lettuce, or maybe because of the ridiculous amount of walking I do, but lately, I've just felt depleted.

From a steamy hot tub in the Dillon Valley, I watched 2017, a year that wasn't, evaporate like the fireworks which rained down over the mountains above. Having finally made a move in November, as I joined the toast with several newfound friends, I vowed to make 2018 full of new experience.

Five weeks later, I found myself watching the sunset through an arch in the desert, and five days after that, it sank into The Yellow Sea.

The ten weeks that followed would feel like a lifetime, as I answered an array of questions spanning from foreign customs to the job itself. There was the new continent, the culture, the food, the sites, the weather, the time difference, and of course, the girl.

After a ten week marathon of emotion, I found myself briefly, as I again sat on a trans pacific flight.

Back home, in the Texas heat, for a week, I slowly drifted back a year. But just as I'd began to rest and digest, I again found the air.

As I write this from my fourth bedroom this year, I'm staring out the window at yet another view. From winter to summer to winter to spring. In alaska first spring, and now into fall. The past six months have felt like six years. And while I love how it's happened, I'm slowly beginning to crave something more normal. Then again, maybe not, who knows.

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Serve yourself too

“Taylor, is fir jou” The Dominican hostess, Yanara, said to me while pestering my right shoulder.

“But I thought you said I had section 2” I began in protest.

Only two sips into my first cup of diluted EDR (employee dining room) coffee, still waking up from a 4am alarm an hour earlier, and suddenly summoned to the stage.

“Fine, which table.” I asked after two seconds of silence.

“105”

From the warm kitchen, I walked slowly, through the steel swinging doors and into the drafty dining room. Where, sat amongst a sea of vacant tables, a not quite old man, with long grey hair tied back in a pony tail and hidden under a black hat with gold letters displaying “Vietnam Vet”, sat with a matching black leather jacket and denim jeans, across from a woman, undoubtedly his wife.

In the hollow air, my steps reverberated across the wooden room as I approached. Armed with a metal kettle, with a red handle, for regular, I drew ready.

“Good morning! Would you folks like some coffee?” I broke into routine with my favorite weapon.

“You know Tyler, I’d love some coffee.” “Thanks.” The mid sixties man said in a tone so familiar that I’d swore we’d met before. And then, we got to talking.

For the next fifteen minutes, Jim, his wife, Nancy, and I, filled the silent room with pleasant conversation, all before I even took their order.

And, after one brief interruption for me to grab their food, I returned to the table, and we talked some more.

About his winters spent at ski resorts across the country, from Steamboat, to Stowe. About their homemade maple syrup. About their construction business. About their travels. And about their children. Between bites of eggs, over easy, the lovely couple from Vermont shared with me their lives. And I shared with them mine.

At the end of our lengthy conversation, I collected Jim’s cash payment, and generous tip, then said “goodbye”.

The next morning, they returned. And while the restaurant was a bit busier, I still enjoyed another wonderful conversation.

Since my encounter with Jim and Nancy, who’s actual names I never did get, I’ve enjoyed many more conversations, and I’ve been paid for them too.

As a self-entitled hospitality management student, I always hated the idea of serving. The thought of handling dirty dishes, and even worse, dealing with people, seemed like such a degrading task.

“Serving is for high school students, or the uneducated” I used to think. “I’ll never work in a restaurant” I’d say.

For years, I thought of serving as a sort of paid indenturement. Like a modern version of medieval peasant’s work. But, after a month of chatting with tables, I’ve found that the conversations I share while pouring coffee are often far more stimulating than sipping it.

You can tolerate it as a chore, or you can grasp it as an opportunity. Serve yourself too.

 

 

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flightseeing

“Thanks so much for comin’ out today… It’s gonna be a real good time” The late twenties hippy chick said to a small group of passengers. Made up of an elderly lesbian couple named Barb and Nancy from Nebraska, and their fabulous friend James, from New York, Miloch, a young twenties traveler from Bulgaria, and me. “That guy hangin’ out in the corner over there will take it from here.” Summer concluded.

A weathered old man leaned with his entire weight supported by the counter to his right, turned his head our way and said “Well, if I’m following Summer, then I must be Autumn, right guys? No, just kidding, I’m Bob, with one O”.

Quickly, they weighed us, and then we left.

Still struggling to wrap my head around what was about to happen, I tailed the group, as we exited the single room cabin and took exactly twelve steps. At a shin high wooden gate, propped open with his good leg, Bob welcomed us to the runway. “Okay, let’s go ahead and load, we’ll have plenty of time for pictures when we get back”.

 I took twenty-seven more steps toward the Toyota tundra sized twin prop, the third in a row of four, and then three more into its narrow seven seat cabin.  

“Now, you’ll wanna fasten those seatbelts realllll tight” Bob said as he crawled through the isle toward the cockpit.” “It’s kinda like being on a dirt road in a school bus up there sometimes”.

“How was yesterday’s flight?” Barb asked nervously, for one last bit of reassurance. “Yesterday? Hmmm… Yeah, I flew a few times yesterday, can’t remember ‘em though. It all runs together!”  Bob replied, just before he cranked the ignition and threw ‘er in gear.

Like a semi-truck, we rolled around a turn, and then punched it. Outside my window, thick forest wisped past, as we approached the edge of the remote runway through a series of increasingly large leaps. With seemingly only yards to spare, we were airborne.

Immediately, it felt different. Almost as if we were driving on some elevated highway. Around mountains we turned left and right, as bright birch leaves rose into steep and jagged rocky peaks that filled our windows.

“Just to the left is Long's peak, and that’s Huntington on our right” Bob said over the headphones as we cruised not over, but through the “spine” of the Alaska range, and into a dark grey patch of air.

Another chunk of coal and white brushed past, and then the skies went dark. Pellets of icy snow blurred by, and a sudden updraft shook the cabin. “Coming up next we’ll see Mt. Savage, I think they named it after my ex-wife” Bob didn’t seem to care.

Before we’d even finished our collectively nervous laugh, the skies broke.

Through a skyline of pearl white, we buzzed into the village.

“I’ll go ahead and lower the left wing here, so you guys can get a better view of that glacier” Bob came back over the air to announce another unregulated maneuver, although he had already thrown me sideways into Miloch’s outstretched selfie arm.

Slightly dazed, I settled back in place and refocused my view out the window, where a series of pure white peaks rose in succession, culminating at the base of an enormous castle of ice.

Through the outskirts of the forest, the suburbs of the front range, the city of the Alaskans, and now at the front gates of the castle, our small motor vehicle slowly wound its way up toward “the big one”.

This here is Foraker peak, it’s a scary place to be. “A few years back a group of climbers got caught in a storm up near it’s 17,000 ft summit and no one got to them for 3 days”. "And this one here is mt hunter, the second tallest, at 18,000ft." Another mound of earth filled my view as we drove down the drive.

“That there is 8’000 ft basecamp, and up here you’ll see a group of climbers approaching the 12,000 ft mark." Through the front windshield, I watched as a multicolored snake wound its way up into the sky.

"This one on our right is 16,000, the last camp before the 20,000 ft summit." Another cluster of neon tents populated the surface.

"And this, folks, is the highest point in North America, Mt. Denali."

Above one last group of thin clouds, the summit stood, glowing in the fluorescent white light.

For at least twenty seconds, no-one spoke, as we slowly carved around the south face. Along the west ridgeline, over a starkly contrasting dark floor of tundra, we cruised in the mountains’ shadow until eventually veering left toward the Polychrome Mountains, a metallic bunch of copper, coal, and graphite. Over fiery red hills carved by black sandy river beds, and back, across the front range and into the valley, we went.

Again, we bounced down the runway before settling. Then, just as if pulling into the driveway, Bob parked and turned off the vehicle.

Out in front of the plane, Barb and Nancy took pictures with Bob. James did too. Miloch disappeared. And I stood there, laughing hysterically at how ridiculously amazing an experience I’d just had.

 

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The less I know

 

 

From my twin sized bed, under a mess of random linen. Surrounded by a sea of clutter, both mine, and my roommate’s, I sit here, exhausted, at the end of another long day.

At 3:40 am, my alarm chirped into my plugged left ear; it could have been a mile away. Tempted to snooze, I forced my achy body out of bed, toward the shared bathroom shower in the hall. Out of the steamy yellow room, I crept back into darkness, attempting to dress without waking my roommate.

Engulfed by the cold purple air, I stepped into morning, with a wet head of hair, a shirt, and thin black dress pants, I began my ascent to work. Up a series of muddy switchbacks, I climbed nearly half a mile, as my parched mouth gasped for air and my legs screamed for mercy.

At 4:30 am, I clocked in, and began preparing the restaurant for open. For the next 7 hours I lifted, plates, and trays, pots of coffee, and jugs of ice; I took orders, from grumpy old men, and annoying kids; I cleaned, tables and carpets, plates, and the buffet; and I walked, 13,342 steps (7.2 miles).

At 11:37 am, I sat in the Employee Dining Room, better known as EDR, struggling to keep my eyes open while mindlessly chowing down on another cafeteria meal, with a return trip through the switchbacks looming between me and my post shift nap.

I live in a box sized dorm room, with two drawers for my clothes, a built-in shelf separating the beds, a sink, and a door, to the twice shared bathroom. Each morning at the break of the Alaskan Dawn, I climb a treacherously steep series of muddy switchbacks to work, where I’ve spent 13 of my last 15 days. My diet consists of monotonous cafeteria meals, with occasional handfuls of leftovers from the picked over breakfast buffet. I live in a no-name town that consists in its entirety of one thru street with a handful of log shops on the right-hand side. I live, in a treacherous place, with far more predators than people. I work, as a server, making minimum wage. I work, in a job that forces me to approach strangers on a repetitive basis.

The job

The hours

The demeaning nature of it

The forced interactions

The anxiety of approaching new people

The lack of options

The lack of “things” to do

The exhaustion in my legs, my body, my mind

The fact that I left a steady, good-paying job in South Korea, one that I fought for eleven months to get, to become a server. I mean, I have a degree in Hospitality Management for Christ’s sake!

And most importantly, the fact that I'm really. fucking. happy.

 

The more I try, the less I know.

 

 

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High up above

Desk warming, it's a time to prepare for upcoming classes, it's a time to plan your weekends, or to catch up on the blog, but after you've done all that, and it's still only quarter past 10, it's a time to drift away in thought. Today, I'm at Dongmyung Middle school, where I spend my Thursdays and Fridays. And unlike the bland office feel of my other desk at Daejeon Middle, this one has a view. Perched up in the foothills, on the edge of the city, from my desk, I can stare longingly at a wild forest. Across the hall, which I often wander, a magnificent view of the city sprawls out across the valley. But unlike most days, in which the vibrant colors of the mismatched roofs and modern towers shine in the morning sunlight, today everything is white.

With each passing flake, floating softly in the brisk winter wind I'm reminded of a day not so long ago, but half a world away.

They called for eight inches, but as the storm clouds cleared, nearly two feet of untouched snow sat out on the trails. For months I'd longed for a day at Vail, with no means of transport, but now, with my father in town, everything had aligned. With the sun breaking through, we boarded the gondola to set out on the day. For hours we plowed through untouched trails, carving our own paths in dry champagne powder. Navigating trees, and avoiding the crowds, the day reached its peak as we dropped into the outer reaches of the south bowl.

The organ work of "fix you" by "Coldplay" filled the canals of my ears, as my board floated silently, yet still increased in speed. The sun had gone, but in its place, a steady stream of thick flakes poured down at an alarming rate, covering the few scarce tracks from earlier in the day. With only a few yards of vision, noone, nothing, and nowhere else mattered, just the moment, and my board, as I floated along in a globe.

The powdery snow, now up to my waste, parted with ease. Then, the chorus broke, as the treeless bowl gave way to a forest of lush green pines, and leafless aspens. The terrain flattened, and the music fell silent. Now entirely alone, I carefully carved my way through the trees, as an overwhelming sense of calm filled my chest. Through tight spaces, I squeezed and wound.

In a clearing, I stopped for a moment and inhaled, not just the fresh forest air, but the peace of the silence, the beauty of the trees, and the magnitude of the moment. An exhale followed, and out went the fears, the anxiety of my big move, and the worries of the unknown.

Over my right shoulder, a silhouette appeared.  My father, glided past me, and I dove down in pursuit. Back into the forest, and eventually out onto a trail. I stood at the bottom, holding back tears at how beautiful a moment I'd just lived.

Aside from one, single photo I snapped of myself in the forest that day, I have no physical evidence that it ever occurred. I have no clips to look back on, and no videos to edit, but I do maintain a memory, and I always will. One that I can go to without service, or screens, one that I can visit when I sleep, and sometimes when I dream. A memory, as pure as the moment itself.

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Live & in person

The car accelerated swiftly, as a parking lot filled with scattering foreigners faded into view. From my backseat window, I watched a sterile city skyline, filled with judicial complexes and science centers, become a chaotic mess of wires and tin roofs. Alongside a river, the car wound back and forth navigating spontaneous pedestrians, stray cats, and numerous other obstacles. Past the exotic smells of a traditional market, through steam spouting manholes, and eventually into an ally, the driver, my co teacher, one of two, performed several death defying maneuvers all while bantering with my other co teacher. Blocked from a hazy morning sun, the car stopped abruptly in a damp and dark garage.

From the car to the lift, we stood there in silence, as the moment gained steam. "Beep, beep, beep", a green light flashed on the lock box, as the handle gave way. On a cold patch of tile, I took in the room. A fragment of kitchen hugged the left wall with a washroom on the right. Through a frosted glass sliding door, the main room beconned, with a bed, a small desk, a dresser, and a tv stand. From there, the sandy grey wooden floor continued through another sliding door which concealed a laundry room. The space was small, but clean, and functional. Relief.

Rushed off immediately for a long list of errands, I returned to the apartment that night, and immediately fell asleep. The next afternoon, after a morning at school, I sat in the space, contemplating my next move. Based on my drive in, this area looked rough, but curiosity prevailed. Down the cold marble staircase, I descended from my third floor flat onto the first narrow street. In an increasingly heavy rain, I walked swiftly, splashing through puddles, as I found my way. Not ten steps from my apartment, and I'd already found a cafe. Another five, and there were two more, each with their own feel. A mess of telephone, internet, and other wires connected the brick, granite, and wooden facades above.

A right, then a left, revealed my first taste of lights. Down a cavernous brick road, I wandered, under a shower of multi colored raindrops against the flashing neon sky. Past restaurants and tattoo parlours, bakeries, and bars, a bowling alley, a batting cage, and a thriving outdoor market. Under the shelter of the "sky road", an umbrella of screens, I turned slowly in awe.

Back at my flat, I shed my wet clothes and layed on my yoga mat, warmed by the traditional Korean floor heater. With my window cracked open, I listened to the sounds of the city on that rainy Wednesday night. The tap of the drips on my radiator outside, the honks of the horns, the motors of the scooters, it was all right there.

Eventually, I showered, and layed down for bed. With my widow, and both sliding doors closed, the room was silent. But, as I closed my eyelids, and drifted into a deep slumber, I thought about how amazing it is to live it in person. For months, I'd researched Daejeon, but now it was real. No longer a two dimensional screenshot, or a place on a map, this city, and this area, was now a place I could feel.

Paid Vacation

 

For nearly three months now, I’ve begun each day by watching the sun rise over frosty peaks, gone snowboarding several days a week, dined on great meals and sipped unique brews, all while somehow managing to save money.

Leading up to this season at Keystone Resort, I tried to prepare myself financially, but the weather dependent nature of the business made this task quite difficult. After a week of training in November, a lack of early season snow made work scarce, as I went 8 full days without a shift. But, as Thanksgiving approached, business began to improve, and given my lack of expenses, by Christmas I had escaped the red and entered the green.

My biggest monthly expense is of course, rent. But at only $360 per month, my employee housing accommodations are easily covered with just a few days work. Next in line is food, which I estimate to run me about $300 per month. These two, and a few other miscellaneous expenses such as board maintenance and beer, which come out to around $100 a month, leave me with about $750 worth of monthly bills.

Like any resort, Keystone’s restaurants are rather pricey, but my 50% off employee rate makes lunch reasonable, and I prepare most other meals at home. And my lack of car, for all of its inconvenience, has allowed me to save money on insurance, fuel, and maintenance.

Aside for a few six day weeks around Christmas, for the most part, I work five days a week, with two days off. If I get a full-day lesson during each of these days, I end the week with 30 hours, but outside of peak season, the odds of this are slim to none. Much more likely to occur are a couple of half day lessons, a couple of full-days, and a day without work, which all sums up to about 22 hours of work. My hourly rate of $11 per hour keeps me afloat, but the tips, oh the tips, are what allow me to save.

Initially mentioned at orientation, the potential for gratuity was one aspect of the job that I had failed to considered. And because an adult lesson at Keystone costs nearly $200 a day, for my first few weeks, I felt uncomfortable accepting money from my students. But, as my confidence as an instructor grew, and my lessons improved, I learned to graciously accept all that was offered. Now, not everyone knows to tip, and I’m sure not everyone leaves satisfied, but on numerous occasions throughout the season, my end of day cash has outweighed my hourly earnings.

The instructor life is far from glamorous; I’m currently writing this from my bottom bunk as proof, but when considered as a whole, it really is a wonderful experience. For three months now I’ve lived in a place that most people save up to visit for a week at most, I’ve logged 50 days on the mountain, and haven’t spent a dime on lift tickets, I’ve enjoyed good drinks and great food for half the price of the tourists, and I’ve saved up money to be spent on travel. Would I do it forever? No, but then again, that’s part of its beauty.

Two years ago I was just beginning my “career” in finance. A cubicle job, that came with a cubicle life, I was making 40k a year, and saving none of it. My luxury apartment ran me $1,300 a month, and my other expenses took the rest. I worked ten hour days, and spent my time off dreading the return. I was depressed, confused, and unrelentingly frustrated, by how mislead I’d been by society.

Often times we're told or influenced into paths that aren't our own, we're fed fallacy about our futures, and we're discouraged from finding ourselves. We spend sleepless nights stressing about things that don't really matter, we spend years saving money to purchase things, and we spend lives without ever living. With every big decision comes sacrifice, but I'm here to tell you it's worth it. Oh, how good it feels, to be free.

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Stay wild

A light snow fell from a soft blue sky. On a trail I had no business riding, I struggled to keep up with my father as his black jacket faded into the distance. The trees narrowed, a panic ensued. At a snail's pace I slipped into a clearing, and sunk deep into the untouched snow. I unstrapped my bindings and assessed the situation. No cell service, no map, and no idea where I was. In a circle I spun, attempting to find some sign of direction, but instead I found an overwhelming sense of calm. Unlike anything I’d ever experienced, there in a valley of snow, towered over by thick pines in every direction, all of my worries slipped away. At the mercy of nature, my high strung tendencies no longer seemed relevant.

Eventually, I hiked out of that clearing, and found my way to the chairlift, where my father was waiting for me, worried. Expecting to find me demoralized and angry, I could see the surprise on his face when I excitedly recounted my journey.

Over the years, my proficiency on a board has improved significantly, and seaking out places of solitude has become my favorite aspect of snowboarding. But as an instructor, and resident of Keystone Resort, I have yet to enjoy this mountain as I have so many others. Plagued by one of the worst snow years on record, and a seemingly constant horde of tourists, with each passing day, my mood toward this resort sours more. Part of the Vail Resorts family of mountains, I’ve found Keystone to be void of character and extremely commercial. From Starbucks coffee, that’s even more overpriced than usual ($5.50 for a black coffee), to a base area that was constructed to look historic, but really just looks like the set of some low budget western, this resort lacks even the slightest inkling of personality.

“Tyler, you ungrateful piece of shit, why can’t you just enjoy this opportunity!?” Well kind sir or madam, for the most part, I am enjoying it. I know, I’m filled with contradictions, and just days ago I published a blog about the importance of enjoying the moment, but the reason I’m writing isn’t to seek pity. No, really, I understand how lucky I am to live this lifestyle, and to call the mountains home, but I’m writing this to highlight the growing corporate and commercial movement in the ski and snowboard industry.

I grew up riding Wolf Creek, a relatively small ski area in the San Juan mountains of Southwestern Colorado. 30 minutes from the nearest town, and hours from any city, Wolf Creek was the epitome of what skiing used to be. With $45 lift tickets and just one small lodge at the base, the Wolf Creek experience was an authentic one. And while I never did get to enjoy the prized backcountry esc trails of the mountain’s left side, I always felt a way to connect with the wild nature of it all.

Amongst clashing bluetooth speakers that blare out electronic music, metal, or some other ego boosting junk, massive clouds of vape smoke, and the smell of PBR, at Keystone, and Vail’s other mega resorts, I often feel as if the spirit of skiing and snowboarding is largely overshadowed by all the evils of conformity.

Here it seems people are far more concerned with being seen, and looking cool, than connecting with the beautiful and humbling nature around them. Just minutes from one of the largest interstates in the country and only an hour from the the towering skyscrapers of Denver, Keystone often feels like an overused piece of land that once was something special.

Earlier today I took a walk along a trail that connects the resorts’ two main base areas, and inbetween magnificent stretches of forest I found beer cans, cigarette butts, and numerous other abuses of nature. Long before emerging to the second base, the sound of obnoxious shouting entered my ears, thus removing me from a peaceful experience.

In the past year Vail Resorts has acquired Whistler Blackomb, a prized Canadian Resort and Stowe Vermont, an east coast paradise, thus broadening its reach even further. A trend that began several years ago with the acquisition of Park City Resort, this movement toward a monopolized ski industry is one that is deeply troubling. Originally created as a means of expression, as a way to experience nature, and as an ultimate escape, I am now coming to understand first hand how seriously endangered skiing and snowboarding are today.

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Home

The tree isn’t tall, probably less than two feet, but to my right it’s colorful lights glow amongst red and green bulbs. In the kitchen, a pot of water is nearing boil, as I sip my first cup of coffee in anticipation. Pressed up against the living room wall, the dining nook is where I write, with a view of the living room to my left. Next to the door, an old pine bench houses a few boots, and on a rack next to it rests a couple of coats.

My roommate's board and skis lay sideways against a vacant chair always threatening to fall, and his helmet’s on the table in front of me. Two couches provide ample seating, as we rarely exceed a viewing capacity of two on our small old television. There’s a lamp in the corner, but I prefer the windows behind it. Occasionally I pick the strings of that acoustic guitar.

The wood laminate floor isn’t gross, but I wouldn’t dare walk it barefoot, for all of its clutter. Through a narrow corridor, the kitchen hugs one side, with two rooms on the other, and a toilet and shower at the end. My room, the second, has a bunk, two sturdy dressers constructed of pine, and a matching nightstand. Some built in shelves on the right side provide ample storage, but on hectic days, the floor usually wins out. My brown leather boots, a t shirt, and an odd number of socks populate random portions of floor. One window, on the back wall, is largely filled by the needles of an old pine, but offers views of the mountains at its edges.

Under the wooden roof of the top bunk, I’m shielded from the popcorn ceiling overhead. Two recessed bulbs and a lamp provide a pleasant blanket of light, and the “falling snow” candle on my nightstand exudes a comforting aroma.

A stark contrast from my luxury apartment in Denver, this humble abode is surprisingly comfortable. At nearly $1,000 less a month, I was admittedly hesitant to call it home, but as I’ve settled into my life here in the mountains, my apartment has become exactly that.

Now

Last week, after nearly eight long months of waiting, I officially received my placement in South Korea. An opportunity that I began pursuing in April, the English Program in Korea, or EPIK, is a government program that allows native English speakers to live and work in South Korea for one year. And while I've remained committed to the process for the better part of this year, today is the first time that it truly feels real.

At the beginning of this month the placements began to roll out, and despite being told I was at the top of the list, for weeks I obsessed over my inbox to no avail. But finally, as I edited a photo last Friday night, the message popped up. "Tyler, I am very pleased to inform you that you have been placed in Daejeon, South Korea for the Spring semester". An initial relief and a burst of excitement drowned out the worry, but with it came an overwhelming impatience.

In the midst of the holiday rush, for the past six days I've found it difficult to enjoy this current life, opting instead to look forward. But today, when I woke up to another email regarding my placement, I realized just how precious and fleeting this life truly is.

As a boy in Central Texas, I wanted nothing more than to escape the flat and scorching landscape and nestle high in the Colorado mountains. I picked up snowboarding at an early age, and our annual trips to the mountains became a sort of spiritual pilgrimage. Unlike vacations to the beach, or to Six Flags, I felt a deep connection to the mountains and the unspoiled nature that surrounded them.

When the time came to choose a college, I chose one close to the mountains, and for my first job thereafter, I did the same. But after years of inching closer, this most recent move was the pinnacle.

For the past two months I've called Summit County home, and although at times I've become trapped in the routine, and lost sight of my surroundings, the reality is, I've made it, to the place I've always wanted to be. For the entirety of my adolescence, my teens, and my early adult life, I've looked west toward the mountains in wonder, and now I'm at the Summit.

Up here it's beautiful, it's bright, and the views are breathtaking. But when I look out from what is now my office, I'm filled with wonder toward a new frontier.

Still unsure of a departure date, just knowing there is one has inspired me to appreciate every breath of crisp mountain air. Watch the clouds, feel the sun, breathe the air, live.

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Namaste

Anxiously I paced, back and forth across the warm wooden floor. Outside, the sun sank below the horizon, reflecting blues and magentas off the empty skating rink ice. "Lets all find our mats" the instructor said, in a tone that matched the lavender scent of the room.

After nearly a year of interest, and my own attempts at independent stretching, my first yoga class was set to begin. "We'll start with Childspose" what a relief. "Feel the weight of your day release from your body" I did.

Following a gentle introduction the pace grew faster, as our instructor introduced the flow. Downdog to Chaturanga, Chaturanga to Cobra, back to Downdog. My breaths grew shorter, and my heart raced, as I struggled to keep up. Warrior One, now Warrior Two, oh and I can't forget Three Legged Dog.

Lost in the flow, I had no concept of time. Seconds became breaths, and minutes new poses. At times my arms shook, and my legs screamed for mercy, but as the lights dimmed and we entered into our final pose, my body and mind melted into a state of deep relaxation. There in vegetation, for once my mind was silent.

As the lights grew stronger, and the music softened, I rose from the ground and reentered reality. No words were said, as I rolled up my mat and slipped on my shoes, but a sense of shared admiration floated about the room. In my relaxed pace, I found myself alone with the instructor and a brief conversation ensued.

With a ten punch pass in my right hand, I emerged into the cold night filled with an internal warmth. As I walked the mile or so back toward my apartment, I contemplated just how wrong I'd been about yoga. For years my mom had tried to get me to go, and for years I'd told her that she needed to do more traditional workouts like me. But through the consistent struggle that is yoga, I now believe it to be the most powerful workout of all. Unlike the ego driven exploits of weight lifting, yoga is a deeply introspective exercise with effects felt far beyond the mat.

Since my first class three days ago, I've begun each day with a flow that has helped propel me into the day. As our instructor said to us at the end of my class, "namaste".

"Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us "

Saabing

Yesterday was my 25th day on the mountain, 28th if you count training. The ski bum life is all about the mountain. And my job as a snowboard instructor makes it difficult to ignore. Yet despite convenient access to endless winter activities, at times I'm overcome with wanderlust.

Living in a ski town is pretty awesome. From bars and restaurants, to grocery stores and even a movie theater, all of our basic needs are covered within a five mile radius, all easily reached by free shuttle. I can walk out my front door and be on a lift in less than ten minutes. On off days I can shuttle to Breckenridge for a lap and beer, or ride the steeps at A-basin. But sometimes, when the slopes are crowded, or when the lighting is just right, I want nothing more than to get in my car and drive.

No destination, no schedule, just me, my car, and the road.

When I moved out here last month, I made the decision to leave my Saab 9-3 behind. I wasn't ready to sell it, but the thought of purchasing snow tires and dealing with potential maintenance issues just seemed like too much of a hassle. Whereas with previous moves I had packed my car to the brim, this time I was determined to downsize. Ultimately I was able to fit all of my necessities into one medium sized suitcase, and one snowboard bag, a decision I hardly regret. But less baggage aside, I really miss my car.

After two years of driving a family hand me down, and saving all the while, I purchased my 2008 Saab 9-3 in December of 2012. Hardly the most popular choice for an 18 year old kid, I fell in love with the car as soon as I inserted the key fob into its center console ignition. Filled with quirks like hidden cup holders, a boost gauge, and night mode, this car was endless amusement. Powered by an efficient yet exciting 2.0L turbo, and upholstered with a soft premium leather, my new car was the perfect blend of luxury and sport.

Despite warnings of high repair costs and almost certain issues, in my five years of ownership, the car has been nothing but dependable. From countless trips back and forth to Lubbock from home, and several more to Colorado and back, I rarely went a day without driving it, an act that was always more pleasure than chore.

The whistle of its turbo as it smoothly accelerated around mountain turns. The smell of its leather. The quality feel of the steering wheel in my hands. And most of all, the freedom of the open road and all of the possabilities it represents.

I often find that wanderlust is over romanticized, particularly amongst my generation. This grandiose idea of endless travel is one that can been seen promoted on any social media platform, at any time. The thought that somehow constantly drifting will lead to some sort of enlightenment has, in my opinion, become far too common and misunderstood. But god dammit, I really miss my car.

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