If you haven’t heard, wildfires have been taking over eastern Washington, with some half dozen different fires including the incredibly massive Carlton Complex which has torched over 215,000 acres to date. Coupled with a couple weeks of 100+ degree heat, and as my friend Scott put it best, it’s felt like a smoky oven. Needless to say, we’ve been laying low and doing our best to adapt to the situation at hand, things seem to be improving but I’m still skeptical for the future. For now, we’re enjoying a reprieve and I’m reflecting as well as looking forward to how and best balance this reality as it unfolds. Below you’ll find a few pictures from our weekend of clarity, and a few words regarding what it’s like living in a pressure cooker. If you’re into pictures or like your dose of crazy diluted as possible, remember to check us out on the Facebook and Instagram, where angry rhetoric is in short supply.
Winters, for me, have always been a practice in hibernation. Not in the most literal sense, and I haven’t always seen things this way, but as my time here continues to unfold and my views and values continue to evolve, it’s easy to see how the seasons affect many changes in my life. My food, sleep, work, my mobility, my drive, and so much more, all are grounded and shaped by the colder months, where and how I spend them. This year marks the ninth winter season I’ve come to Alta, Utah. Each of these seasons has seen progression, regression, evolution and expansion. I’ve loved, learned, limped, and continued to move forward. While I’ve never had a vehicle with me for any of my winters here, it’s only been since 2008 that I haven’t owned a car year round, and only in the last two years that I’ve truly embraced the bike. This season makes the second winter of Nature of Motion, and it’s interesting to see the hint of a pattern here. Winter is truly a time for introversion, a time for reflection and renewal. As I look back, look forward, and look inward, I continue to notice new things, re-connect with the familiar, and find my creative spark to progress. It’s easy to look to the side of the screen and see the pattern, the abundance of posts and activity in the summer months, and the scarcity in the winter. Granted, there’s been a lot more than just my change in transportation in these last few years, but I think that reflects a lot of what goes on behind the scenes. Recently, I’ve been thinking and journaling a lot about this topic, this sort of seasonality and localism that plays on my life each winter. March is usually when I start to wake up and dig myself out from the haze of the winter, it’s also the month of my birth, so it’s a pretty appropriate time to be reflecting inward on my progress and position. A little over a year ago I wrote a piece on this subject entitled A Case for Place. Here now with a year gone by and I find myself in the same place, thinking along the same lines. But what do I have to add? What have I learned or how have a grown? I find it helpful to look back first, to gain some of this perspective of time and place, so before I spewed out all the nonsense below I took a minute to read the original piece, if you’ve got a minute, and think it’d help you too, check it out here. Enjoy.
I met Amos during the summer of 2009 while I was working at a small farm outside Palmer Alaska. I’d caught a ride up to Anchorage with my friend Rich, who had work lined up as a sea kayak guide out of Whittier. Rich was gracious enough to let me throw my bike on his roof and stuff my bicycle trailer and gear in his trunk. My original plan was to spend a few weeks seeing the state before riding back down to the states later that summer, but after our road trip through southern Utah and up to Alaska, I found that the meager savings of a ski bum really didn’t go that far. So faced with a little new found perspective I spent some hours surfing the web and the WWOOF directory trying to line up some work-trade jobs and possibly something with some pay or stipend that could see me through the fall. After cycling about 1000 miles back and forth from Anchorage to Fairbanks, catching a ride down to Homer, I managed to find some paying work with this small farm located in the Matanuska Susitna Valley. When I wasn’t pulling weeds or washing vegetables, I hiked the nearby mountains, went for some bike rides, and sampled some of the traditional local harvest, Matanuska Thunderfuck. That is, until I met Amos.
This is what’s up.
Life on a bike is full of adventure. No matter what’s thrown your way, if you’re flexible and adaptive, you can always make it work. This time last year we were riding into the mountains loaded down with food and climbing gear, tackling summits and remote climbs in the wildernesses of the Washington Cascades. We spent our downtime relaxing and riding around a small town. Now, shifting gears and taking a little break, we’re relaxing with family and riding a little over 20 miles a day commuting to and from work on our bikes.
Borrowed from The Skier Boyz
You don’t always head out the door expecting greatness. Sometimes you’re not that inspired, your motivation level is low and you just can’t seem to get stoked. A long night of drinking, lots of crowds, gray-skull and no new snow, maybe you’re tired and just want to chill. But some one or some thing gets you out there, gets you going, and you find a spark. The rhythm of the skin track lets your mind wander, a hole in the clouds burns through and a sunlit ridgeline beckons. You make it to a summit, the snow is softer then you thought, you’re with a friend you love, and you can’t think of anything better in the world.
“By now the revolution has deprived the mass of consumers of any independent access to the staples of life; clothing, shelter, food, even water. Air remains the only necessity that the average user can still get for himself, and the revolution has imposed a heavy tax on that by way of pollution.”
Every winter the air around Salt Lake City Utah gains national attention for being some of the worst. It’s unique geography, dense population, and numerous industries often trap air between mountain ranges, creating a thick, foggy soup of air that can often be the worst in the Nation. As residents once again protest the quality of their air and argue that breathing clean air is a right that we can’t be denied, I have to wonder, what’s exactly making this air so unhealthy, and whatever it is why can’t we just turn if off? What could possibly be worth our lives, poisoning our air and killing ourselves?