Portland Oregon-Based Digital Media

Originally Published on Yobeat | December 19, 2017

Mammoth Opening Weekend is always a good time. Even though Mother Nature didn’t decide to drop her bounty until AFTER we took our two runs and were happily back in Portland, my husband Aaron and I got a lot more out of our round trip from Portland to Cali than sore muscles, hangovers and high fives with friends. In fact, when we showed up to Mammoth Mountain Inn on Thursday November 9th, we were not only not married, but we were barely speaking. But I’m getting ahead of myself so let’s start at the beginning.

PART 1- Portland to Klamath Falls Departure: 6 am, November 9th, 2017.

Locked and loaded.

We’d driven 260 miles from Portland the scenic way – down I-5 to 97, through the foliage-dotted expanses of Eastern Oregon, over mountain passes where we saw our first snow of the trip, and were about 20 minutes from Klamath Falls before having a major emotional blow out. You see, I am an artist (read ADHD-riddled photographer who has a hard time passing up any photo op) and Aaron is jujutsu-trained Moto-enthusiast (cars, bikes – if it has a motor, he knows it) who just wanted to fucking get there.

It was our first real road trip together since we’d begun dating April 30th, and we’re still figuring out this whole compromise thing. But one thing we had already agreed on – we’re in love, and getting married the quick and easy way would ensure that our shared stubborn nature would not get in the way of our future world domination as a life team.

Klamath Falls is about five hours from Portland, and as stated we were ALMOST THERE, when I decide I need to quell my anxiety with a road soda. Aaron, who’s worked in the automotive industry for his entire life, was not into the possibility of losing his license so I could “chill out” a little quicker. Long story short, we ended up in a text battle with him walking down the side of snow-lined-highway 395 in a T-shirt and me drinking a PBR a half mile down the road at some crazy logging museum. The trip was off to a great start.

The calm before the storm…

We’d wasted about 20 minutes in the middle of nowhere having this stupid fight before he agreed to get back in the car and continue on the way to K Falls. Once there, he’d either hop on a greyhound back to Portland to move my shit out of his house, or continue on the way to our Mammoth vacation/pending nuptials. On that latter decision, we’d settled for “figuring out” during the drive. Tears, yelling, and all the other emotions that boil up when you’re about to make a lifelong commitment to someone happened, and by the time we got to King Wah, the shitty Chinese restaurant we’d agreed to eat lunch at – we were both too emotionally exhausted to fight anymore.

Aaron quietly ate his General Tso’s Chicken and I picked at my Chicken with Broccoli, while the 80-year-old waitress did her best to flirt with an old man playing KENO and pour us each a drink. Upon realizing a whiskey-ginger have been a bit much to ask – I changed my medicinal-cocktail order to a beer, and struggled to even eat.

The bar wench brought out the check, and with it was two fortune cookies. I took charge of paying for this meal, so I deliberated long and hard before deciding which cookie to open. I signed the check and prepared to toss my fate into the hands of the wise Chinese Fortune cookie gods, cracking it open.

I started laughing hysterically. The kind of laughter that fixes all the world’s wrongs in that one moment. With a renewed sense of commitment – I hopped back in the Highlander, kissed Aaron (who refused to open his cookie), and placed a call to Chapel of the Belles in Reno asking what time we’d need to arrive by in order to get married today.

PART 2 — Klamath Falls to MAMMOTH 1 PM PST, November 9th 2017

Reassured that he was making the right choice to continue on this journey with me, Aaron once again took the wheel. Since I’d assuaged my fear-of-commitment based on the Chinese fortune, I’d brought along the second fortune cookie. It remained unopened, and I set it down in the spacious center console of the Highlander Hybrid (aka ROBOCAR), next to my collection of 90’s CDs, disorganized camera gear, a laptop and a bunch of other crap I’d already managed to accumulate in the five hours we’d been driving so far. I told Aaron it was his time to call the shots, and agreed we would only stop for emergencies from here on out.

Aaron jumps for joy somewhere along the shore of some lake. 

About 40 minutes later we hit the California state line, and agreed to an emergency bathroom break in the the town of Tulelake. We took care of our business, and then I ran around snapping photos of hilarious signs, locals and scenery. Aaron was leaning against the Highlander looking at his phone when I returned to give him a big hug and excitedly show him the moments I’d captured. We laughed and decided next time we should pass up Klamath Falls and eat in Tulelake. “Maybe on the way back,” I said knowing full well that on a road trip, you never turn back.

We were logging serious miles and ALMOST made it to where you weave in and out of California on 395 before the gas light turned on (that’s a lot of miles in Hybrid terms) and we were ready to stop again. Unfortunately, we’d already passed ALL THE CIVILIZATION and according to the robocar, only had 7 miles of range when we hit the town of Canby, CA.  Aaron ran into the post office to find out it was 19 miles to the nearest gas station.

With a little smart driving, and the backup of EV mode (which has a top speed of 25 mph) we held up all the semi-trucks, while trying to drive as fuel efficiently as possible. We managed to pull into the Chevron station in Alturas, CA.

“I was worried about the extra cookie weight,” Aaron said, gesturing at the  emotionally-heavy-but-still-unopened fortune cookie. “But made it. With negative 7 miles to spare!”

We were laughing and enjoying our gas station fried chicken (for the record: WAY better than the K-Falls American-ese) when we passed the California border check point, again. Thanks to our mutual spastic-happiness, we’d managed to go the WRONG WAY and found ourselves in Surprise Station, CA, so named for its random-ass border patrol station. As we flipped a bitch, panic took over Aaron.

“Oh no! We have a Banana!”

I laughed. I mean, as a primarily agriculture-based economy, I know California is strict about outside produce entering the state, but it was one gas station banana with a Star Wars sticker on it in question… I told Aaron to let me handle it.

We pulled up and the very chill, very friendly, female agri-checkpoint agent asked, “Where are you guys coming from?”

I stammered some unintelligible gibberish before calming down. “Funny story – Oregon,” I said with a grin. “And we’re going to Mammoth Mountain. We just realized we were going the wrong way and turned around!”

She smiled, laughed (not with, but at us) and waved us through, without so much as glance at the contraband banana.

3 hours later. 5 PM pacific time.

We pulled into Reno just in time for rush hour. Aaron wanted to stretch his legs and I wanted eat and pee, so I suggested we hit a casino. The Grand Sierra Resort was supposed to be nice, and based on my shaky ‘I’ve-been-here-before’ Reno knowledge, it seemed to be on the side of town closer to Mammoth. Although the bathrooms were swanky AF, it turned out to be an unnecessary waste of time and energy thanks to the enormous parking lot and every vacationer from wherever-the-fuck they were coming from arriving at the exact same time.

The Outlets at Legends in Sparks, on the other hand, were way nicer. We scored some buy-one-get-one-half-off Converse and Aaron got new socks at the Adidas outlet. And I almost killed myself in the bushes trying to get a sick angle of this guy.

We stopped to get our first In-and-Out of the trip (always as good as I remember) and I volunteered to take the wheel. It should be noted here that Aaron gets motion sickness and prefers to be in control. But with 10 hours of driving already logged this day, his 37-year-old bones (many of them repeatedly broken by moto-life) were all set on sitting in one position. I knew I could pull off driving smoothly enough in the Highlander (it rides like a Cadillac – no sponsor plug!) to lull him to sleep, and tough out the windy, shitty part of 395 — across the mountains and into Mammoth — myself.

My eyes were tearing profusely the whole time (I recently spent a lot of money on Lasik; I’ll review that eventually) and the only thing that got me through the curves was the pack of Sour Patch Kids I keep in my car for my income-earning career as an Uber/Lyft driver. Aaron was snoring happily beside me, and woke up just as I finally turned off 395 onto the Mammoth Town loop.

At 11 PM we were both awake and alive, and although we didn’t get underground parking, we did have a baller 3-story room waiting for us slopeside at the Mammoth Mountain Inn.  Our crew was already there and checked in, allowing us to bypass the check in process. Keith Rutherford and Madison Blackley were contently passed the fuck out, but being the good mom she may be someday, Fancy Rutherford had cracked open the door to their room and got up to make sure we got in alright.

PART 3 – MAMMOTH Post-opening Day – Nov 10th, 2017

Aaron knows motorcycles. He’s got systems and plans and the way he likes things done dialed. When he brings a new person riding for the first time, he has it figured out. And so when I said, “I got your gear – You don’t need to bring anything except outerwear,” he interpreted that as me having everything he would need to snowboard.

Unfortunately, to me “snowboard gear” means hardgoods. I’d acquired a brand new pair of Vans (courtesy of their amazing PR team), bindings (courtesy of David Marx and the crew at Bent Metal) and board (Capita DOA – hand delivered with some keystrokes from Mark/Cooper and the collaborative efforts of UPS and the C3 warehouse team.) For the sunny, slush or pow I was planning on, this would have been an epic set up. The three helmets I brought for him to choose from (all mine), however, did not actually fit his head, and the extra pair of mid 2000’s Grenade Safety Mitts I’ve been proudly hoarding for such an occasion as Mammoth opening, were too small to fit his manly hands.

As the process of going snowboarding with a group of people who treat snowboarding as a job  – (Madison is pro for Bataleon, Fancy and Keith are a media dream team supporting women’s riding through @Powanoia) —  ground on, including Instagram tagging and costume coordination etc etc , Aaron’s patience waned. He and I decided to part ways with the crew and meet up after a run or two.

One hour later.

Aaron and I trekked through the maze that is the Mammoth Base Lodge — I’m convinced this place used to be a prison before it was a ski lodge (that would be SO CALIFORNIA)– to fulfill his needs. We stopped in to and see Lauren Burke who’d hooked up baller condo and tickets for the whole crew.  I went down to cash in our ticket vouches and Aaron headed off to get a helmet from the demo center and a pair of the cheapest Dakine Mitts money-could-buy in the shop and $120 later we were ready to hit the lift line.

We must give kudos to Mammoth’s best efforts to blow snow and set up features to be ready for an opening planned months in advance. But in the interest of being real, when we finally made it on-hill, we found one crowded, icy (by west coast standards) run, and every asshole from Southern California (who were maybe a little too amped), clamouring to remember how to strap in and wait in in line.

I always enjoy a warm up beer before I ride… 

Aaron, whose ability level is somewhere in the inexperienced and intermediate range, was used to riding hand-me-down sticks from dudes who only do aggressive carves in Oregon, and was NOT used to a playful board with no torsional stiffness. Especially not on windblown ice. I was too busy trying to be nice to some dude from Tahoe who wanted to tell me about his homey-snowboard brand, as well as capture social media moments for the Yobeat Insta story to help him out and well…

In the honor of moving this story along, let’s just say, we needed that “warm-up” PBR I’d carefully packed in my giant Dakine Bootpack and made Aaron schlep around (quick review: it fits A LOT of beer, and the padded/tarp lining helps insulate.) As we approached the top of the lift, I spazzily grabbed the bag from him, nearly ripping off his arm in the process, and then attempted to not fall over, while turning back to make sure Aaron was ok. Seconds later, I was sprawled out on the unforgiving icy ground, hurrying to collect myself and get the hell out of the way.

Aaron managed to make it down to the “safe strap-in zone” without falling – but informed me this would be his only run and he would need to figure it out on his own. I ripped to the bottom, where I figured I’d wait for Aaron, as well as Fancy, Keith and Madison, who’d texted me to tell me they were getting on the lift as we were getting off. I was concentrating on getting a sick shot of some ski blades when Aaron rolled up with his hand out for the hotel key. Minutes later the rest of the crew turned up too.

We had a quick team meeting and decided that maybe a scenic gondola ride to the top would provide better ‘gram opportunities. Aaron, meanwhile, would go kick it with the dogs in the hotel to wait for us. Maybe we’d all head back out later when the sun was warm and the park crew had worked their magic – but either way, none of us really wanted to ride just yet.

Back in Mammoth Mountain Inn, we started scheming. Aaron, who’d assumed Fancy wasn’t Fancy’s real name and did not know that Mammoth Opening is more like a trade show for the Cali snowboard scene than an actual day of snowboarding, was figuring it out. Fancy and Keith are married and they are as real as can be. Madison is living her dream of being a pro snowboarder and was excited for the working vacation. No pretenses here, just people being themselves and doing exactly what they want. (Mostly they want more Instagram followers.)

The dogs were not impressed by our shittalk.

Couldn’t resist this photo op. 

We devoured chips, salsa and guac and had a shit-talk-session-for-the-ages before Aaron and I decided to foster our relationship and headed off to check out the other offerings of Mammoth Lakes.

We ate Lobster Enchildas at Roberto’s (official review – shoulda gone carnitas) and stopped by Wave Rave to do market research (official review – awesome staff, awesome selection, AMAZING metal work.) Then we hit a liquor store boasting 150 beers and picked up some whiskey to chase with the genuine Portland-sourced PBR we’d brought down with us. And then we hit the Brothers Memorial Skatepark – where I did my best to impress teens with my old-lady boardslide skills.

Sweaty and accomplished we headed back to the Condo, where we found our crew exactly where we’d left them. Keith glued to a computer screen and Fancy and Madison playing with the dogs. (We’d later find out we’re not actually allowed in the “dog friendly” room without letting MMI know before hand and had to pay $300 pet fee. Whoops.) Our friends were hungry, but Aaron and I were not, so we passed on their plans to head to happy hour at the Inn to log some chill time before Tim Humphreys was set to show up for an EXCLUSIVE interview we’d lined up via Instagram earlier in the day.

About 10 minutes later, Aaron and I were bored with chilling and decided to wander out into the wilderness to find the fabled MMI happy hour, which was definitely in one of the buildings nearby. At 10,000 feet, without the sun, it’s cold and windy, and all the buildings look basically the same, but we managed to locate our friends without any major squabbles. Turns out they’d jumped the happy hour gun and were yet to even be served.

A round of Happy Hour burgers (official review: small, but tasty and filling, and definitely the only thing on the menu which wasn’t going to be massively over priced) and a great conversation in which we all learned enough about time to log a great interview back in the room and we were all ready to go get some actual work done.

The interview went great. We talked and talked and talked and covered a lot of ground, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks, but until then, keep reading…

If you’re looking for a last minute stocking stuffer, hit up vrzr.life. The full Hump Day will drop soon!

Originally Published on Yobeat | Dec 20, 2017

IF YOU MISSED CHAPTER 1 READ THIS FIRST. 

PART 4- Touristing Hard

Aaron’s second time skateboarding, ever.

November 11, 2017. 8 AM PST.

After our one-run debacle the day before, Aaron and I were on team “let’s go get breakfast, hit the skatepark again and then see some pretty shit instead of snowboard today.” We figured Fancy, Keith and Madison would create better snowboard content anyway, so we loaded up the Highlander once again and hit Mammoth Lakes just in time for The Goodlife Cafe to open. Our server – who I’d guess just switched from summer construction mode to waiting tables mode, worked with a quickness that ensured at least one of us got the wrong thing. (It was me – my Florentine Benedict came out covered covered in ham) but Aaron’s number 2 (a scramble with lots of stuff) was able to tide me over as we waited the 10 minutes for kitchen to whip me up a new one. When we left, the line was starting to stretch out the door and we patted ourselves on the back for the speed at which we were accomplishing things on a Saturday morning in a sleepy ski town experiencing its first Los Angeles influx of the season.

Next stop was the skatepark – on our previous trip the wind was whipping and my phone was dead, so I was excited to take some photos of other people rather than skating myself. Aaron and I wagered the over/under on how many people would be at the skatepark. He said less than two, I said more, and the loser had to buy lunch. I hesitated at the last minute and didn’t take the bet – but I should have! The park was poppin’ with a multi-generational vibe. Skate dads and their daughters who were ridiculously good, out-of-breath rippers from the beach of Orange county, and of course some scooter kids who were probably trying impressive tricks, if you’re into that sort of thing.

I was logging clips of kids who ripped, while Aaron was talking to Kyle, who’s daughter very well could be the next big thing in skateboarding, about getting back into skateboarding as an old guy. The hype was real and Aaron asked me to go grab my deck so he could try to skate the park.

“Letting” someone I love skateboard is a real mental struggle for me. I’ve experienced the pain of learning (read: broken bones, bruises, scrapes, not being able to walk for a month, much less snowboard) and it’s hard to want that for another person. But Aaron is a grown-ass man, and even though I knew my loose trucks and skinny little girl board would not be the right set-up for him to cruise this park, I said, “fine, go get that shit yourself.”

The park was poppin’

Aaron’s goals for skateboarding were far less ambitious than mine, and after circling the sidewalk around the park a couple times, he was stoked. We bid a fond farewell to all our new skatepark friends and pointed the car North to Yosemite.

We saw scenery!

We drove for about an hour North of Mammoth, passing high desert on the right and majestic-ass mountain ranges on the left before hitting the pull off in the “gateway town” of Lee Vining. It’s about 18 miles up to the gate of Yosemite, which seems like a scenic drive until you actually get into Yosemite and see what good scenery really looks like. And since it’s the off season – but snow hadn’t started to fall yet – the pass was open and fee station was closed. Basically, the perfect recipe for enjoying this natural wonder with minimal other humans and no additional expenses.

Doing the actual loop, or hiking to Half Dome, or any other those things you should really do when visiting Yosemite would take six hours of driving alone. Considering it was about 1 pm by the time we made it there, and we had plans to reconvene with our crew for the ultimate snowboard party in Reno at 6, that wasn’t happening. But we did manage to freak out some Asian tourists by attempting to skateboard on some big flat rocks, and shoot pseudo-senior portraits alongside a bible-study group, as well as bond with a couple old hippies over how fucking amazing this place really was. It was there we decided to turn back – Aaron’s altitude-enhanced cold and bad back didn’t need to log any more cartime at 10,000 feet, so we agreed we’d seen enough.

Back on 395, we got up to cruising speed, and agreed to make it out of the mountains before stopping at some epic side of the road restaurant to refil our bellies. The town of Walker came into view, with a roadside BBQ place on the left side and a roach-motel that said “Bikers Welcome” – complete with lots of moto-themed decorations – on the other. It was clear we’d found our human-filling station. And just when it seemed like it couldn’t get any more perfect – we were legitimately-surprised by Kieth opening the door for us. The crew had not only beat us there – but they’d already researched the menu and the scene for us. It was LITERALLY the last day Mountain View BBQ would be open for the season – and although they were out of mac and cheese, you could get a variety of slow-cooked meats on top of any type of potatoes you wanted. Aaron opted for with a BBQ Beef sandwich with fries, while I went with the Texas Spud – a massive baked potato drowned in BBQ pork, cheese, sour cream and chives. They were both amazing and thankfully Aaron was there to clean both our plates.

Four hours later we arrived in Reno. Hungry, tired, cranky and ready to kill each other once again. Our plan was to attend the snowboard-social-event of the season and enjoy some drinks and good company before retiring to our pre-honeymoon suite at a TBD hotel. However, before we could go out in public – Aaron wanted to stop back by the Outlet mall and get a clean shirt or two. As I don’t particularly care for shopping when I need something, and HATE IT when I don’t, I opted to sit in the car and work on my Insta story while he got what he needed. I did a quick parking lot change (less socially acceptable than at a ski area lot, but whatever, it was dark) and then got to work trying to choose the best of the content-overload I’d shot that day to make a quick story so that I could tease the premiere party and it would make sense in the timeline.

Aaron won this stop – he told the Banana Republic cashier about our plans to we the next morning and the whirlwind of a trip we’d be on and it seems she may have “forgotten” to charge him for the most expensive item he bought (a $15 sweater!)

When he got back in the car, fresh as a daisy, I was still swearing profusely at Instagram, my iPhone and the Ghost of Steve Jobs for making the simple act of sharing photos with the people not as easy as I wanted it to be. Aaron quietly navigated us to PigNic Pub and Patio for the party. Before we even made it inside, we found Tim Humphreys, Nial Romanek, Johnny Brady, and Dakota Whitaker out front enjoying a legal spliff, which was just the medicinal bump I needed to enter a room full of people I know and greatly enjoy.

The welcoming crew – Johnny Brady and Nial Romanek.

After some quick catch up, I told Aaron I was going to venture inside to try and secure a beer. A risky- proposition because through the doors I found nearly all my Reno snow-homeys. Christine Savage was in the bar queue and I soon had two Modelo Especial’s in my hand, but delivering them back out front well, that was gonna be the hard part.

Tim and Hannah Eddy were hanging out in the corner with their new book “Split the Difference” for sale. Gray Thompson was making the rounds, handing out hugs and spreading the vibe for “Board the World.” The Boreal cat-crew (Lane Knaack and Joey Leppien) were posted up at the bar, and Smokin’ Jay was shouting loudly at me about that one amazing time we’d shared at a Hookah bar in Germany. A shit ton of shit was being raffled off to benefit nature and Project Snow. The stars of Too Hard (aka Powanoia aka our Mammoth crew) had secured the best seat in the house for watching the videos playing on a screen. And a bunch of people I didn’t know filled in all the gaps. The only notable people missing were Kai Ujeski and Danyale Patterson, who assured me hours earlier they were “just about to leave their house.”

The party felt like the best house party ever. All my friends, jammed into a cool space with chill patio zones in the front and back. The drinks were affordable ($3 cans of Modelo were the go-to) and the bartenders were on it. I ordered two whiskey gingers, expecting shitty whiskey and a splash of ginger ale, and instead got craft cocktails with shitty whiskey and actual ginger beer. Those two drinks were enough to milk while the organizers wrestled with technology in order to get Too Hard to play on the big screen. The video was sick, duh, but it really wowed Aaron, who now got the fact that not only was our Mammoth crew fun to talk shit with, they actually fucking kill it on snowboards too.

All this excitement, weed and booze had made us sleepy and maybe hungry again, and we decided to dip out before getting to see Tim Humphrey’s movie “Uncaged,” or waiting for Dangy and Kai to arrive. After all, it was nearly 8 pm and we had a wedding to plan and execute before our scheduled appointment with the Boreal marketing team at 10 am the next morning.

As anyone who knows her could have guessed, Dangy texted “Where u at” right as we crawled into bed at the Nugget Hotel Casino.

PART 6 – WEDDING

November 12, 2017, 6:00 AM PST

We woke up at 6 am in our totally adequate room in the less-nice wing of the Nugget. I’d told our wedding party, including Maid-of-honor Madison, Wedding Planner Fancy, photographer Joey Leppien and Second-angle photographer/best man Kieth to meet us at the Chapel of the Belles (Reno’s oldest chapel and also the home of the original drive-thru chapel) at 9 am sharp, where we’d be dressed and ready.

However, when I started googling what we’d actually need to do to make this a legal thing I learned two things: 1) We needed to go to the county clerk’s office (which opened at 8 am due to it being Sunday and Veteran’s day weekend) to get our marriage certificate and 2) Chapel of the Belles didn’t open until 10am that day.

With nearly two hours to figure out somewhere else to tie the knot, we decided to get ready and go grab breakfast somewhere by the county clerk’s office. Aaron was driving and I was assigned to pick the place, so when I saw the yelp ad for Peg’s Glorified Eggs, my previous Reno breakfast experience a couple years back – returned to me. This place had the best Huevos Rancheros I’d ever had. They came on a huge skillet with mac salad, fruit salsa, beans and rice. Aaron got the Loco Moco – a hawaiian classic of similar girth to my Mexican staple.  It turns out Guy Fieri can be right, and even though the little spray-painted head that marked this as a restaurant featured on “Diners Drive Ins and dives” had long been painted over, I’ll give him some props for finding this spot.  The service was quick – the staff was friendly, and as an extra bonus, the address was 420 – a perfect wedding day for a casual cannabis enthusiast such as myself! Not only did we get full in a hurry, we also noticed that Aaron’s Stinky Socks x Third Eye co perfectly matched my Pendleton wedding dress. We signed the check at exactly 7:55am and  headed to the government HQ and acquire our official wedding license.

It’s kind of scary how easy it was to sign up for our legal lives together. The woman helping us was a pro – she didn’t flinch when started laughing hilarious at rule #2 on the sheet (You can’t marry anyone who is closer relation than a second cousin) and made sure we triple checked the spelling and address info on this legal document. Aaron put down his card for the total bill of $60 and by 8:15 we were ready to coordinate the rest of the wedding.

Instead of Chapel of the Belles, we’d found Chapel of the Arches. It was tucked between a long-ago-closed pawn shop, and a full dumpster parked in the valet parking section of the casino next door. At 9 am on a brisk and sunny Sunday morning, only the most motivated panhandlers had secured their spots, and most of career-bums were still sleeping in the nearby park.

Our wedding party had sent it the night before – and woken up in Kings Beach and Truckee only a few minutes before 9 – but they still managed to arrive by 9:10, just the time that Aaron and I had decided on which room in the chapel we’d prefer to say our ‘I Dos.’ Madison brought a date named Andre ($4 and ready to pop!) as well as some concealer for my zits. Fancy and Madison wore cute black dresses that amazingly enough, managed to coordinate perfectly with my dress. Joey looked so dashing in his Carhartt button down that I didn’t even hesitate to hand him my Canon 60D to shoot our photos and Kieth was really ready. Not only was he looking good, but down to give the other Kieth Rutherford (an actual wedding photographer) a serious run for his money.

Before our guests were permitted to join us, our officiator (we’ll call him Reverend Reno) took us aside to ask us if we’d like a prayer.

“No!” we exclaimed in unison, and with that, things got under way. I didn’t want to walk down the aisle (ain’t no one got time for that) so Aaron I stood at the podium facing each other as the wedding party was seated and the ceremony began.

“We’re gathered here today … Blah blah blah blah blah … You can smile, you know,” Reverend Reno said as I chewed on my lips. My mind raced about the gravity of the words I was about to say, but at his urging, I let it all go and cracked a smile.

Aaron stood across from me grinning the whole time and grabbed my hands as Rev Reno occasionally said things that required responses. Amidst the blur of traditional bullshit, he asked if we had any family in the room. I glanced back at my friends and we all nodded in unison.

“Snowboard family!”

Aaron smiled and reach out to pat my stomach. “Also, she’s three months.”

The awkward pause was real for about 5 seconds before I rubbed my stomach and exclaimed, “It’s a burrito! Geez! Did you see the size of those huevos this morning!”

In the name of not being sarcastic assholes, we opted for the pre-written vows and said our I Dos. As the words “you may kiss the bride” were looming near, Aaron leaned over and gave me a kiss.

“Hey!” Reverend Reno said, “Not yet!”

“Don’t tell me what to do!” Aaron interjected. “She’s my wife and I’ll kiss her whenever I want.”

We busted open the doors to the Chapel of the Arches, to pop back into the reality of Reno. A few more bums had woken up and were excited to take pictures with me, the new bride. The sun was so damn bright I wished I was wearing shades. We resisted the urge to jaywalk in front of a cop (I’m a married woman, now!) and went to the park one block away. A huge metal art piece reading “Believe” was the perfect setting for some photos and our official cake ceremony. Aaron and I stood side-by-side and I impatiently waited to open the second cookie while my media team got into place. We cracked the cookie and Aaron read the fortune aloud.

“A man who hurries cannot walk with dignity…”

“…IN BED!” I added giggling harder than my inner 15-year-old would have at not only the joke, but the fact that I’d rushed the shit out of this entire wedding and it couldn’t have gone better if I’d spent three years planning it.

For our final wedding mission, we headed a quarter-mile up the street to the official Arch of Reno to pop the bottle of Andre and get some more pictures of the whole wedding party. Along the way we passed a couple of young, attractive panhandlers (who clearly didn’t know about hand jobs) and asked for change, saying they were just trying to get a beer.

I dismissed their requests quickly by gesturing at my outfit, “I don’t have any pockets! I just got married!” They smiled, and said, “true!” as we scampered off.  Once we made it to the Arch, we piled out into the median without even slowing traffic – it’s almost like the city of Reno plans on people taking pictures there – and got some more epic shots.

Making beggars happy!

I was buzzing around trying to figure out how to get one of the entire wedding party when a man who looked to be in his late 60s-80s offered to take a photo of all of us. Street smarts told me handing my IPhone to someone on the streets of Reno may be a bad idea, but I was sure my new hubby could take him down, so I walked over to hand him my phone.

I set up the exact shot I wanted, showed him how to press the button and went back to join the crew.

The old man fumbled with the phone – turning it off twice before saying, “Maybe I’m not the right man for this job.”

I ran back over and set him up again – this time showing him exactly where to hold his hands and how to press the top button vs trying to see the one on the screen. “Just hold it down!” I said. “I believe in you.”

PART 7- HONEYMOON

November 12, 2017. 10 AM PST

With a successful 45-minute wedding and photoshoot, we were amped and ready to get the honeymoon going! We’d loosely planned a reception at Boreal, and Aaron successfully avoided hitting two deer on the 30-minute drive up I-80 before we’d even pulled into the parking, nabbing the perfect marketing-office-adjacent spot.

Aaron headed off to find a restroom while I dropped in to chat with the Boreal Marketing team. Tucker hooked us up with passes, intro’d us to Sam and Brianna, and connected us with official Boreal photographer Jake, who agreed to shoot a couple more wedding photos for us with some snow cats at props. Though the idea of taking a couple laps did sound easy and fun, changing out of my wedding shoes and into snowboard boots pre-12-hour drive did not. So we passed on snowboarding, gave the Boreal crew a sixpack of Authentic Portland PBR, and opted to get back on the road.

With one quick pit stop to change and pee at a scenic rest area, we pulled into the In and Out in  Auburn for our first lunch together as a married couple at noon. Aaron’s sister used to live in Auburn and he wanted to get a couple photos of me in the gold panner, as well as maybe enjoy each other’s company in Old Town. He knew my photo ADHD would be satiated and he was right!

More importantly, I decided it was time to make it official and make my new husband buy me up some jewelry. Our first stop was one of those random oddities shops that sells crap your weird aunt buys you when she goes on vacation. This seemed like a plausible option for buying a wedding ring, so I walked up to the girl at the counter and asked if they sold any cheap rings. Surrounded by knicknacks and gag candy, she just shook her head, “No, but you might try the Silver Store – it’s right across the street.”

Now Silver sounded a little bourgeois for me – I was thinking plastic – but I figured hey, you only get married once, so fuck it! Aaron escorted me across the street to find exactly the sort of shop I was looking for, with a sales lady keen and ready to help us. I quickly explained the situation.

“We just got married and I need a ring. I don’t wear jewelry, and I don’t want anything fancy. Basically just looking to spend the least amount of money possible to have an everlasting symbol of our love.”

She sort of laughed, rolled her eyes and said, “OK, well, do you know your ring size?”

I told her 7ish and she walked me straight to the other side of the jewelry case, where the options for simple silver bands were plentiful. She then pulled out the thinnest silver ring I’ve ever seen. “This one is $12,” she said.

Now, I’m not fancy, but even I knew a ring like that wouldn’t pass along the ‘I’m taken, asshole’ message I was going for. I looked at Aaron and asked, “What’s my budget here?”

“Well, are we getting ice cream, after?” he asked with a totally straight face, and set my budget at $23.

The lady tried again, this time with a ring that was $21,  but I dunno, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. My hand gravitated towards a slightly thicker band with a bit of embellishment on each side. “How much is this one?” I asked.

The lady pulled it out and did the mental math. She hesitated slightly before breaking the news. “$31.” She looked at Aaron who was still showing little emotion and said, “She picked it – I’m not even trying to upsell you, but if that’s what’s gonna make her happy…”

I looked at Aaron with a smile and said, “If I can get this one, I’ll cover ice cream.” He finally broke his facade and said, “Ok dear, whatever you want.”

Our next stop with the ice cream place, but it turned out Aaron didn’t even want ice cream after all, so we got back on the long road home. We drove back up 1-5, going much faster and with a lot fewer curves on the drive down. We stopped a couple times – once for Wendy’s frostys in the central valley, where I was able to sweet talk the kid behind the counter into letting us get half vanilla/half chocolate frosties. Another time at the Olive Pit, a cheesy roadside attraction that is basically just a fancy gas station selling all the olive and olive-bi-products you could possibly imagine. I got a bag of almonds and a magnet that looked like a Cali licence plate which read “Olive You.” And at dusk we consummated our relationship in a trainyard somewhere near Lake Shasta. Our final California experience was a stop at All Star Liquor, where we scored $260 worth of top shelf booze for $160 and left patting ourselves on the back on a honeymoon well done.

As we crossed back into Oregon, the first rain drops we’d seen since we left Oregon three days earlier spattered the windshield. We discussed what should be our first dinner as a man and wife. Ok, it was an easy decision and as we pulled into the Taco Bell in Ashland, we were both in agreement we just wanted to be home.

We walked into the restaurant to find no one. No one at the counter. No one eating food. It was a stark contrast from All Star liquors, where 5 dudes in santa hats had nearly tackled us trying to explain all their promos, but it felt good to be back in Oregon. About five minutes later, a nerdy dude came out carrying a cash drawer and apologized for the delay… he turned out to be more of a Taco Bell concierge than cashier, and we dropped some insider knowledge on upcoming menu items which may or may not include Pop Rocks while we waited for our delicious “Mexican” food.

When my Mexican pizza and Aaron’s Nachos Bell Grande were delivered, the thrill was gone. We ate in silence both wishing Portland was 5 hours closer. And as we got back in the car around 7 PM, arguing over who would take the next driving shift, because neither of us wanted to, it was pretty clear the honeymoon was over. But what a 14-hour honeymoon it was! We pulled back into our driveway at 11PM, in plenty of time for Aaron to wake up and go to work at 8 the next morning.

I was pretty much convinced Robbie Sell was going to kill me. Not because I am super annoying (I can be) but because after he picked me up at the Albuquerque airport, I realized what I had just gotten myself into. A three-day camping trip in the Southwest, going on treacherous adventures in the middle of nowhere, with only my own wits and a scrawny ex-pro snowboarder with bad knees to protect me. Things could definitely go poorly.

Robbie, incase you haven’t been following along for the past couple days, has been around the ‘ol snowboard industry for a minute. First as a pro rider in the Neoproto era, and then a photographer and most recently the Arnette Marketing Manager, who helped us put on things like the Crew Clash, and made it possible for me to (try to) force my employees to get tattoos at SIA. When he posted on Facebook offering to pick up any would-be travel companions along the way, I figured Living Vancariously with him for a few days would be fun. And like they say on the Internet, YOLO.

Robbie had been on the road for six months at this point, and more or less had it down to a science. In addition to the meticulous planning skills acquired as an adult babysitter for Arnette, he had technology. I shook off any fears of failure, resigned myself to his care and prepared myself for adventure. Our first stop: the Bisti Badlands of New Mexico.

Copping Robbie’s big places, little people tech. 

The Bisti Badlands are part of the BLM, which stands for Bureau of Land Management, basically public lands that are completely unsupervised and unpatrolled. You’re on your own out there. But lucky for me, I had Robbie, who’s professional plan included detailed directions copied off the Internet to his phone’s notepad, and even a topographical map, which he’d made me save to my phone too, just in case. We were happy to find there was even some cell service out in the middle of the desert.

I didn’t know exactly what we were looking for – the rolling sand dunes, rock formations and petrified wood all looked pretty photogenic to me – but Robbie had a vision. We came to the end of the well-worn trail and stopped to hatch a plan before wandering off into the wild. Dried up river beds twisted through a vast maze of hoodoos, different colored sand and rocks and even some formations that looked like wet concrete. The dunes were covered with tiny holes, and I was convinced a rattlesnake might pop out at any moment. But I was not in charge (and didn’t want to be), so I did my best to keep up as we trekked deeper and deeper into the Badlands.

“If anything happens to me,” Robbie said, “ just follow the power lines. They’ll eventually lead you somewhere.”

I look at the towers in the distance and laughed. “I just won’t lose you, ok?’

 

See anything? Maybe if we walk a little further…

After a solid hour of walking to the tops of highest peaks, only to discover more of the same, I was getting tired. I should have worn hiking boots not Adidas skate shoes, and why did I bring all this crap to weigh down my backpack? By this point I’d taken at least 50 photos, and had several snapchats pending, but Robbie was yet to take his camera out of his pack. I asked if he was ever going to take a picture.

“I will,” he said. “But I realized early in my trip that if I was too concerned about getting the shot, I would miss out on the experience, so if I don’t take any photos, whatever.”

We cracked some beers and kept on our search for whatever it was that Robbie deemed worthy of his digital pixels, but with the exception of a few small rock formations, found only more of the same. It was around 5 pm when we’d left the van in the small parking area at the Southside of the badlands, and now it was nearing 7. Off in the distance, the sky had blackened with ominous looking clouds and the occasional lightning bolt struck down. Though Robbie had still not taken out his camera, we decide it would be best to head back to the car. “Guess this is one of those places I’ll just have to remember,” he shrugged.

I don’t know, do those cloud look ominous to you?

While absolutely nothing looked liked anything we’d seen before (and yet everything looked pretty much the same) we were able to get enough service on our phones to get a general idea of the direction we were heading. The only problem – neither of us really had any idea what direction that was supposed to be. The clouds were moving quickly and we definitely didn’t want to get caught in a sudden downpour, so Robbie’s pace hastened. But before we knew it, the sounds of thunder were right on top of us as we traveled across open swaths of sand. Despite the impending darkness, we decided it may be best to wait out the storm next to something tall. We put on our jackets, opened another beer, and hunkered down.

The storm didn’t last long and in its wake left an epic full rainbow. Robbie finally got his camera out and we giggled like school kids capturing what was definitely the moment he’d been waiting for. Of course, due to excessive snapchatting, my phone had died (losing all the snaps in the process) but I made do with my DSLR. With photographic evidence of our adventure captured, and all the beer we’d brought gone, there was really only one thing to do. Get the hell back to the van, and quickly. The sun was starting to set and we were still in the middle of the desert.

I think they call this a Kodak moment. 

I could tell Robbie was getting worried as he walked quickly through uneven ground, cactus and sagebrush, leaving me hundreds of feet behind wheezing and attempting to will my legs to move faster. Every once in awhile he would disappear from view and my heart rate would hasten as I struggled to keep up. The New Mexico sand had turned to mud and was now caked all over my shoes, making each step even more arduous.

Every time Robbie would get to the top of a mound he’d pull out his phone and try and get a lay of the land, but AT&T service proved unreliable. Maybe if I hadn’t snapchatted so much and my phone was still alive, Verizon would have worked better. But I guess we’ll never know.

I think this is the stuff Robbie was looking for, so I stopped to take a photo even though I knew we were screwed. 

As night fell and we were still trudging miserably through the Badlands, and things were not looking great. I tried to locate the power lines, but they seemed to be in a completely different direction, and very far away. Off in the distance though, we saw a light. Without knowing if it was a house, a methlab, or an oil rig, we figured we might as well walk to it – at least we’d be near some sort of civilization if we were spending the night in the desert. As we got closer the building – which turned out to be a cute little house – we could see a TV blaring, and hear a dog barking away.

“Of course they have a dog,” Robbie said.

Having already accepted the possibility that we were totally fucked, all we could do is hope that the inhabitants weren’t something out of Breaking Bad, and weren’t going to chase us away if we knocked on the door. Well I tried to assure myself it would be fine, Robbie was less optimistic. Wet and muddy we knocked and stood hopefully on the porch.

An old Native American woman came to the door and looked at us curiously.

“We’re lost,” we explained. “We were hiking, went the wrong way, and then it got dark.”

When you’re lost in the desert and you find any sign of man, it’s exciting. Not that this fence helped us in anyway. 

I assume we weren’t the first idiots to find ourselves in this predicament as she shook her head, and opened the door, welcoming us in. Still reeling from the potential of a night in the cold, wet desert, being inside felt amazing, even if it was a stranger’s house in the middle of nowhere. We tried to explain where we wanted to be, and the women and her husband informed us that it was about 7 miles away. In other words, we’d walked in the completely wrong direction.

We stood there, awkwardly making conversation with the old couple, who were incredibly nice. The man was recovering from a total knee replacement, and a small child in a pink nightgown ran in circles around us. While I wasn’t about to walk seven miles back – even if it was on marked roads, but it seemed a bit presumptuous to ask for a ride. Luckily, their son-in-law, in his mid 20s, wearing superman pajama bottoms and a tapout hoodie, had come out of the other room and asked the old folks for directions of how to get us back to the van. Our savior!

Elijah turned out to be thankful for our foolishness – he was just in town helping his girlfriend’s parents while her dad was recovering from surgery and had actually been going a bit stir crazy, so he was excited for the excuse to get out of the house. Back at the van, we took off our soaked footwear and offered our new friend a beer. Everything had worked out fine – as it always seems to when you’re traveling – but man, that could have been really bad.

If you want to see the full rainbow, check out Robbie’s photo here. 

Stay up to date on all Vancarious things at Livingvancariously.com

Before people really used the Internet, before shooting film was just a novelty, before the Olympics realized people actually might want to watch snowboarding – everyone who was anyone in the East would gather at Stimilon Air and Style events. Masterminded and ran by Dave and Laurie Olcott, this big air series launched a lot of notable careers in snowboarding and united a scene like no other. While the 90s had lots of cool snowboarding stuff, the Stimilon big air series tops our list of the most influential and important thing to happen in East Coast snowboarding, ever.

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Top right: Tim Karpinski. Middle: Nugget and Pat the Eye Bridges. Bottom: Adam Moran

“The Stimilon events were so ahead of their time,” Scotty Arnold said. “Dave made some of the best jumps I’ve hit even to this day, and I if it weren’t for those events I would have never been able to go anywhere with my snowboarding.”

And while does Davo deserve a lot of credit for putting on incredible events, he was quick to remember his wife and partner Laurie, who sadly passed away on February 12th, 2015 after a battle with cancer.

staff

The diligent staff who made it all happen.

“I wouldn’t be anything in our industry without her,” He said. “She did so much behind the scenes and none ever knew about it because she didn’t do it for the attention. SHE – was the reason – I was.”

We recently discovered the 1999 “Ones to Watch” brochure and realized almost half of the people on it are still actively involved in snowboarding, and the rest, well, who knows? So we figured it was time for an update.

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Click on the above image to expand.

 

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Memories from Mountain Creek

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Left: Nugget, right: The legendary Zack Diamond

Men

1. Myles Hallen

myleshallen

Despite our best efforts, we were unable to track down Myles. He was last seen in South Lake Tahoe, where he was busy raising a shredlet of his own. If anyone has any information, let us know in the comments!

Myles Halen

Photo: Don Landerwherle

2. Tom Flocco

tomflocco

“I live in SLC and work and ride in Park City mostly. Still shredding a lot but only in the winter now. I am a massage therapist at a spa called Align. I’ve been working there for 11 years. They are super good to me and I get lots of time to shred. Keeping the mountain life alive over here.”

flocco87

3. Scotty Arnold

scottarnold

“I have been filming a bunch of snowboarding. I started a company called Stoyach. I am a landlord in Park City. Still snowboarding a lot and competing in fun events like the Bode Merrill mini pipe. And I skateboard a lot, too.”

overall_winners

4. Adam Moran

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Adam spent several years as staff photographer for Burton, and is currently in the freelance game. Hire him at adammoran.com!

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Adam and Bridges. Photo: Poppa Moran. 

6. Mike Baker

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“I’m living in southern Maine, own kayak and fish New England guide services, work for wilderness systems kayaks and am the father of 2 boys 1 girl, and married for 5 yrs. Still lurking the NH snow in the winter, hosting Mike Baker banked event and grooming at Waterville last year.”

Mike Baker at Sugarbush

Sugarbush. 

7. Andrew Mutty

andrewmutty

I’m back east. I live in Mass once again. Currently I’m a stay at home dad:) My contract with Nike ran out in 2011, 12/13/14 I was with Rockstar. That’s now over too. So now I am trying to refocus… see where the road leads me. Video Games is still active and doing well with USASA. I am working on the board with TTR trying to help snowboarding remain relevant as thing progress forward toward the 2018 Games. I bought a house and have become somewhat of a Macgyver in terms of how to fix things and not pay contractors to do it for me. Being a stay at home dad is a full time gig and tall task on its own. I really love the snowboarding world and I hope to find a place to grow there but the industry as a whole is in a tough spot and it’s not getting easier, so my focus maybe slightly broad right now to find a new career path… who knows, maybe some industry leader wants to kick some ass and bring me in to shake things up!”

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8. Preston Strout

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After a few years as part owner and marketing director at High Cascade, Preston sold his shares and now lives in Bend, OR with his wife Dawn and helps make one-footed snowboard antics possible with Crab Grab.

Preston Strout

9. Jeff Moran

jeffmoran

“Been living in Jackson Hole for 16 years (due to the influence of Sean O’brien and Chris Danielle)

-Starting my 12th year at the Jackson Hole Ski & Snowboard club: 11 years as head snowboard coach (2004-2015), 9 as the Director of the Freeride Program (2006-2015) and most recently I moved into a new position: the Director of Advancement (2015-present) focusing on fundraising, marketing and communications. Jhskiclub.org

-I got “re-sponsored” (HA!) in 2012 when I started riding/designing boards for Notice Custom Snowboards out of Whitefish, MT noticesnowboards.com

-I rarely hike or even go out of bounds. Still love to take hot laps and ride the park/pipe. Pow is fun, but I’m more of a quantity over quality kind of guy.

-In 2010 I started the Wednesday Night Lights Snow Jam Series at Snow King Mtn with Rob Kingwill. It’s a local rail jam for all ages designed to be a fun, casual competition for kids and adults

-I co-founded the Wild West Skateboard Contest Series in 2013 which now has 5 events in 2 states: WY & ID Wildwestskateboarding.com

-I’ve somehow managed to stay involved with snowboarding and create a life for myself in Jackson Hole with my amazing girlfriend Amy Glenn. I feel pretty lucky about all of that.”

Jeff Moran 2

11. Pat Bridges

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Pat Bridges chain smokes, scours thrift stores for old snowboards from specific snowboard video parts and enjoy godlike-status as Creative Director for Snowboarder Magazine.

Pat Bridges

Photo: Don Landerwherle

12. Jeremiah Cook

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Photo: Don Landerwherle

“Been out in San Diego for almost 10 years after 6 years in Boulder/Denver Colorado. I’m now a DJ and it has been my source of income since 2003. I only get to ride a few times a year these days at Big Bear or Mammoth, but I live at the beach so I am surfing as much as possible.”

jerry

13. Jason Ortiz

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I’m living in Ansonia, CT. I have an 11 year old daughter, Ava, and will be attending Lincoln Tech in September to become an electrician.

Jason Ortiz

15. Nick Scofield

nickscoffield
Well, after Stimilon I was forced to get a real job and face the world head on. I moved to Burlington for about ten years, worked at the big “B”, had a little Chemo adventure I’m sure you’re aware of and am recently officially in remission. Then I decided to move back to CT to be closer to family and help my mom who has MS. Now I work at Victorinox Swiss Army helping manage their watch repair centers in the U.S. I currently live in Shelton, CT with my girlfriend. I still skate a bit and ride, but not nearly as much since the hills aren’t as close anymore. I’ve gotten into cars a bit and go to a lot of exotic car shows. I just started exercising again as now that’s I’m 40 I guess I need to! And that’s pretty much where I am today!

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Women

1. Hannah Grant

hannahgrant

 

“I’m living in Steamboat Springs, CO. I just got married this past April and we have two huge dogs (a newf and st bernard.) I still snowboard a ton in the winter and ride mountain bikes in the summer. I work at a dispensary, which my husband owns. Life’s pretty darn good in Steamboat!”

Hannah Grant 2

Photo: Don Landerwherle

2. Anna Bock

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“1999- I won the Stimilon- 1st place Overall Pro Championship- back then it was just old cameras, pagers and VHS lol.

That comp opened up a lot of doors, I was riding for Burton B team with Ali Bernsten, who has actually remained a great lifetime friend of mine. Love her she is doing great in NYC.

2000- 2001- got wildcards for US open big air, also was invited to the Grand prix big air series tour out in California and did events in Tahoe, Breck, and Big Bear. Which lead to a few the summers training at the Burton House on Mount hood. I ended up getting 4th in the US open big air in Stratton, Vt in 2001 and just overall had great time riding all over the West and East coast with the team. Around 2004 I had a bad injury to my right shoulder in a contest. Resulting in a broken collarbone. I did treatment called Ondamed -Wave Medicine with my father Dr. Steven Bock and then ended up getting certified for the therapy after

I healed. I can now treat others in that field , I did that for about 7 years. Then ventured to South Florida where I have a condo and started Photography Business called Elitestar Photography. I live in a small surf town called Delray Beach. North of Miami. I live a nice mellow and simple life. Love to travel and go to events. I still go up North and out West to see the family. Spend my free time on the beach and with friends. Love doing charities and events down here. I love simple things no kids yet but one day.”

Anna Bock

 

Photo: Don Landerwherle

Follow Anna on social media: Twitter- @annabock1 | Instagram @annabock and @elitestarphotography

3. Ali Berntsen

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“I’m in NYC, I have a clothing brand called We Were Once Fiends. I went to FIT in 2004-2006, then worked for fashion brands from 2006-2013, and in late 2013 I started WW1F.”

Ali Berntsen at Sugarbush

4. Brooke Geery

brookegeery

“Oh hey, that’s me! After I tore my ACL, broke my ankle and gave up on the pro snowboard dream, I went to college at Western Washington University, freelanced for just about every snowboard publication known to man, interned for Snowboarder Magazine, was associate editor at Bluetorch (which became FuelTV), spent two years doing wakeboard and boardercross research for the X Games, six years running running web content at Alliance Wake, a year and a half as social manager for Nike Snowboarding, some other stuff I forget. And obviously I still run Yobeat.”

5. Lauren “Nugget” Naudascher

nugget

 

“So what’s the Nug doing? Living the life Brooke, living the life. So I am a Domestic Goddess, raising my two fantastic kids 6 and 1. I live in NH, married to my college sweetheart 16 years of love. I also have my own baking business Sugar and Flour. Jason “Larry” and I are trying to keep true to our roots and give our kids the opportunity to see the snow and skate world. Oliver, 6, has been riding since age 2 and Ellery will give it a shot this winter. Oliver absolutely loves snowboarding and can totally hang with the big boys, which is sweet. I feel so fortunate to have meet the tight group of friends that I did through Stimilon. It’s built life long friendships. Thanks to Dave and Laurie for creating something so awesome. I couldn’t ask for anything more than I’ve got! I love my life.”

Nugget proves she ain't chicken!

’98 Waterville Valley Air & Style Challenge. Photo Don Landerwherle

6. Karen Plourde

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We also couldn’t find Karen – does anyone out there know??

MORE VINTAGE COVERAGE

1999 Air and Style Challenge

Making it Big in Big Air by Pat Bridges

1999 East Coast Contests in photos

The official Stimilon archive

RIP Laurie, you are greatly missed!

In football, baseball and basketball, pro salaries are as common a topic of discussion as great plays or crushing defeats. When a rookie is signed to the majors right out of college, the details of his contract are often public knowledge, subject to dissection by the sports media and fans on message boards. But in the snowboard industry, salaries are a seemingly taboo subject. It’s all about the fun, right bro?

The hesitance to discuss cash is actually for several reasons, the biggest being that there is no “global snowboard federation” setting the rates for what snowboarders get paid. The majority of a rider’s money comes strictly from sponsorships and endorsement deals, negotiated by agents or in many cases, the riders themselves. How much a rider makes based on several factors, least of which is ability, and most of which is based on social media reach, editorial coverage, competition results and the willingness to play the game (being where you need to, when you need to, and doing it without bitching, at that.)

In researching this story, I reached out to marketers, team managers and agents I received a lot of similar responses amounting to, “I really don’t think I should say…” Even the pros themselves are hesitant to share just how much they are netting, either because they think they’re worth more, don’t want to seem like they’re bragging, or don’t want to bum out a teammate who may be making less. The “bro factor” plays a huge role in who gets paid at all, and so staying away from money-related drama is just good business.

But the biggest reason that snowboard salaries are somewhat hush hush is simply that they are so widely varied. The riders you see in contests and videos could be making anywhere from a few thousand, to several hundred thousand dollars a year, with the top guys bringing in seven figures. A lot of pros though, are lucky to make it through their career without going into debt or working a second job during the summer.

How do snowboarders make money?

Ozzy Henning, Mike Gray, Zak Hale and Madison Blackley, slightly richer after this year’s HDHR

The snowboard industry is divided into several segments. Video/editorial pros can either focus on backcountry or street and create content, which helps promote their sponsors through various channels. Contest pros can make money by winning contests and getting editorial coverage, (though unless you’re a consistent top 3 finisher, it will often cost more to travel to the contest than you actually win.) It’s also possible to make a career based on resort riding and web edits, although the most valuable and successful riders do some combination of all of the above.

The snowboard landscape is split into regions, with the Europe/Asia/Africa market existing as an almost entirely separate entity from the North American one. Within Europe, the market is again divided, equally as much by language as it is by country, as the majority of European snowboarders ride almost exclusively on holiday, meaning they travel rather than living by a resort. This makes the “regional” pro, which is a necessity for brands in the US, less of a factor when looking at European marketing.

Brands, no matter how core or corporate use snowboarders the same way – as giant walking billboards. Accordingly, the amount of space the brand occupies designates how much a rider should be paid for their services. Outerwear, which is the highest visibility, is typically the highest paying sponsor, while hardgoods, optics, gloves, helmets, streetwear and headwear make up the rest of the pie. Non-endemic sponsors (those that don’t make anything to do with snowboarding, ie energy drinks, beef jerky, head phones) also purchase real estate in the form of sticker placement, appearances, and of course oh-so-valuable social media shout outs.

What is a snowboarder worth?

Contest riders historically are paid the most because they get the most media exposure. Winning a gold medal in the Olympics is not only a stunning endorsement for the equipment you ride, but you’re likely to be mentioned in every media outlet, appear on late night TV, and even get talked about on the National Nightly News – which may not sell actual snowboards, but for a mainstream brand translates to a lot of value. In general, for any type of brand, editorial coverage is valued at a premium of about 4 times that of advertising. Basically, having a third party say you’re great is always going to be more valuable than paid placement telling people the same thing.

For an actual snowboard brand, sponsoring athletes is just one piece of the marketing puzzle, and brands divide their budgets between athletes, advertising, content-creation, events and more, making the answer to the question even less cut and dry. Within the industry, much of the snowboard media is “pay to play” meaning the mags and sites will not feature a brand unless they are advertising. So brands not only have to pay a rider a salary and cover their travel expenses, but then pay to get them featured in a video (buy ins to pro movies can be upwards of $20,000 which pays for all the expenses that go into making a video such as travel, equipment and filmer salaries – although this system has crumbled in recent years), and then buy an ad in the magazine so the magazine will then feature their riders at all. And all of this is done with about 10% of of their gross revenue, however this number varies depending on the brands strategic business plans, and could be as little as 3-4%.

The Great Recession

Never fear, according to a bunch of crap people are trying to sell on the Internet, money doesn’t matter. 

Now the bad news. Snowboarding’s death/slump/recession has hit professional snowboarding especially hard and salaries have been contracting steadily over the past couple seasons. Some of this can be blamed on the departure of Nike from the industry. The footwear giant was paying riders way more than those riders could possibly sell in snowboard product – as the multi-billion dollar brand had a lot more available money to pay its athletes to serve as brand ambassadors and not just tools to sell boots. Six figure contracts were common, (although not the norm), and though they’re honoring those contracts (some with over a year left to go) that’s a big chunk of money that is no longer being pumped into the snowboard economy. Add in a couple awful winters and a sluggish global economy and there’s not a lot of money floating around at the moment for professional snowboarders.

That said, the idea of getting paid to snowboard at all is still a relatively new one. When the first generation of snowboarders began to gain market share in the ski industry, most people were just excited to get free stuff and never dreamed of getting paid at all. It is only in recent years with the proliferation of coaches and academies that kids (ok, their parents) now see snowboarding as a viable career option at all. And while riders in the 90s seemed to be raking it in, the reality is there are a lot more people getting paid to snowboard now than ever before.

So while the exact numbers in the bank accounts of professional snowboarders may never be common knowledge, some people are getting paid, and others are getting by. Snowboard super agent Circe Wallace summed it up best. “There are maybe 5 guys making 7 figures plus. Everyone else is fighting for what’s left over.”

Summer in Portland can be deceiving. It’s sunny every day, there are insane skateparks a plenty and if you want to snowboard, it’s totally a possibility. Life is easy. Everyone is nice, the scenery is beautiful, and holy shit is there a lot of stuff to do. It’s perfect enough that you might be tempted to move here- especially if you’re from somewhere shitty. But don’t be fooled. Portland is really a horrible place to live, and even more so if you’re a snowboarder. Here are just a few of the reasons you definitely should not consider moving here full time, if at all.

Terrible puns are a part of daily life. 

1. It rains all the fucking time. Have you ever been in a place where everyone suffers from seasonal affective disorder? It ain’t fun and from November to March, get used to it.

You will be horrible at skating Burnside. 

2. The mountain is far away. I mean, far is a relative term, but driving an hour and 15 minutes both ways (sometimes 4 hours if the snow level is low and it’s a weekend) is a serious commitment and really kills your whole day. Plus, on powder days you have to get up at like, 6 am. Gross.

Passive aggressive assholes are everywhere. 

3. Mt. Hood is flat. There’s a ton of traversing most of the good stuff is super short with really long in and outruns. It really requires calf strength and is super annoying.

You’ll be too busy looking at strippers to get anything done. 

4. Drivers suck. For a city where no one is willing to make the first move at a four-way stop and the speed limit on the highway is 55 mph, the rate of wrecks is out of control. If you ride a bike regularly, you will get hit from time to time, and if you’re trying to navigate the streets using your cell phone, you’re only adding to the problem.

You’ll be forced to watch the X Games while you’re buying weed. 

5. The snow is heavy. This year it never even really got cold enough to snow. I mean, that’s not normal, but it could be the NEW NORMAL. Either way, you only get a few light powder days a year. What the shit is that?

You can’t even get gluten in your lap dances!

6. Everyone will hate you. Even though pretty much everyone in Portland is a transplant, nothing gets more eye rolls than when you say you “just moved here from California.” Sure, there’s irony in the self-loathing, but once you’ve been here more than a year, you’ll understand and begin to hate yourself too.

The parks are filled with scooters!

7. It’s not a snowboard city. There’s too much to do here to really wanna dedicate the amount of time and effort it takes to drive to the mountain. Snowboarding is a full day, where as even if you’re old and lazy like me, there are fun mellow parks you can skate and pretend you’re “exercising,” and still have time to day drink.

The swimming holes are way too crowded. 

8. It’s not that cheap anymore. The five-year-old dream of moving to Portland, splitting a house with eight of your closest friends from Craigslist so you can pay $200 each a month for rent is dead. Even though rent has gone up dramatically, wages and potential for gainful employment haven’t. Also, while most bars still have beers for $2, a lot don’t!

Even the squirrels in Portland are lazy. 

And that’s really just scratching the surface. If you’re looking for a new place to live the shred dream, we hear Denver is the spot. Whatever you do, don’t move to Portland.

You’ll be part of the problem. 

http://www.dontmovetoportlandoregon.com/

Photos: Ashley Rosemeyer

Of all the action sports, snowboarding is probably the least misogynistic, but that’s not saying much. It’s still a man’s world. It’s not that women in snowboarding are asking for special treatment – just a non hostile environment where it’s cool to be yourself, and maybe a lower contest entry fee if they’re competing for a smaller prize purse. And it will get there, especially with motivated girls like Danyale Patterson to pave the way. With ear muffs on to block the haters, and the drive to make just about anything happen all by herself, Danyale is someone who will be remembered in snowboarding long after her body gives out (the streets are a harsh mistress, ya know.) It doesn’t hurt that she’s singlehandedly making a women’s street video happen right now, either. It’s been a long time coming, but this is Dangy’s hump day.

What do your parents think about your chosen life path? Are they supportive?

My parents are the dankest and just want me to be happy. My dad taught me how to snowboard and is pretty much the same as me. He’s in mags for like ice climbing a stuff.  My mom is such a sweet heart. She wants me to go to school and get a real job, but my happiness is most important. My mom dropped me off at a weed trimming scene last summer.

ha! How was that?

Well I was fresh outta knee surgery, but I wanted to make some paper. So she drove me to Cali and dropped me off. She’s an angel.

What percentage of the snowboarders you see in videos do you think support their snowboarding by trimming weed?

70%. That and drug studies

What’s the job like? Gimme your average day.

It’s so boring. Just sit there with lil fiskers and trim away while Listening to radio lab. Roll up. Collect finger hash (Your fingers collect hash from handling the weed). Get money.

A highly athletic switch nosepress at Sugarbush.

Do you worry about being a bad influence on younger girls?

No. I don’t do anything that bad. Weeds legal, drinking’s legal. I’m straight.

Do you feel pressure from the industry to clean up your image and be a nice girl? Do you think if you weren’t into partying you would have an easier time getting support for your projects?

Of course. I get so harshed for partying. I don’t get it! We all party! God, the cover of that 32 movie was Dylan Alito puking. We aren’t doing anything that sloppy. Why can’t girls party?! I mean they all do but we aren’t allowed to show it?? Why? It’s fun. It’s really fun. I have a lot of priceless stories and memories of partying with my friends. When I edit I like to show those good times. They make me smile. I meet a lot of good people while partying. It’s a douche bag male run world and women are supposed to be clean lil virgins for the boys. Grow the fuck up, bros. It’s not offensive, it’s fun. I don’t drink or get high while snowboarding. Apres, dawg. If you get worked up over a flipping Too Hard edit your life must really suck and you should go have some fun. But yeah sponsors are always saying wack noise like “can’t help you out cuz your image is too risky.” Guarantee no dude is hearing weak stuff like that. If you ask me they should be shut’n the hell up and enjoying the show.

Are you an idiot, or a genius?

Genius.

How do you figure?

Cuz I can solve like almost any Sudoku.

Ha. How did you get Vice to do a series on Too Hard?

I impressed them with my Sudoku skillz and they were like, “Whoa! We gotta do a series on this baddie.” JK. That was all Lukas Huffman. He worked pretty hard too. I just chilled.

Are you happy with how it came out?

I am! I mean it only showed some sides of Too Hard. I wish it showed how much fun we have. I’m not usually hurt and bummed out. It was definitely a super fun trip and so cool to be on Vice and even cooler that Lukas chose us. Such an honor. He’s a legend.

You girls definitely took some flack for it – was it discouraging?

Yeah. But not really. Like it is when people say shit like, “ignore the hate girls, you rule.” Or like how you just asked that question. The hate comments don’t bother me, it’s the fact that people think it bothers me.  I don’t notice the hate until people like shove it in my face, I guess.

Yeah, don’t feed the trolls. If you let it bother you, they win.

I’m not really a pussy when it comes to that, cuz I also get a lot of love too. Sometimes I get more hate and sometimes I get more love. You win some you lose some. You just gotta try your best.

Life in the streets is hard for a playa. Photo: Ashley Rosemeyer.

How did you get that shiner?

I was in Quebec at a house party. My dude friends got in a fight and I tried to join in haha. I tried to punch a guy and then he punched me. haha. I flew into some bushes. And then the bro ran into the house and locked the door. And my friends broke the house windows. OMG such a funny night though. Just a brunch of idiots and fighting outside and breaking windows. I bet the neighbors were like WTF!

How did your knee hold up this season?

Not great. I had a fucked up surgery. So I had to have two surgeries. And then my rib started popping out. But because my rib started popping out, it forced me to stop boarding. And now my knee feels really good. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been now. I’ve been skating and I don’t get tired as fast as I used to and I ollie way higher.

What happened to your rib? That sounds gnar.

I just got bucked and landed on it. It started popping out. And I didn’t stop riding or drinking. I was in Quebec and just couldn’t stop sending it and it was next level painful. Every time I laughed or did something with my abs it would pop out. After two weeks I forced myself to go to AK and chill. Now my rib is fine.

Seems like you’re always at the gym, did you work out or do any training before you got hurt or is this a new leaf for you?

I’ve always been into physical fitness. Papa bear raised me that way. But actually I usually work out a lot every summer. And last summer I just skated way more, I kinda think that made me weaker. I don’t skate tranny either so I’m just ollieing non stop. Might have wrecked my knees. But shit happens. And I don’t get to work out a ton in the winters. I’m either filming some one or getting filmed or helping at a spot or editing. It’s a full time job.

Yes, you can wear pink and be a bad bitch.

What was it like filming in Yonkers? I remember you said it was one of your favorite spots.

It was so kush! You don’t get kicked there. And I was with Corinne. It’s always smooth and mellow with her.

Why don’t you get kicked out of spots there?

Cuz there’s less anal rich white people.  Not to be racist but yeah, black people are chill and they are always pumped too. After the Bronx I went to Worchester (white/religious place) and no one is excited or hyped. They just want you gone. Like really? You could watch some chick eat shit or land something cool. Something you’ve never seen before and you are just pissed. They like super scared of different things, I guess.

Old white people are the worst. You spent some time on the East Coast this winter – what did you think of the scene there? A little different from Alaska…

Yeah. Everywhere is different from AK. But yeah east coast vs west coast. West is more laid back and easier. East is hard and cold and makes people more hard and cold. But they both good. West coast seems less intelligent, but happier.

Did you spend much time in AK this year?

AK is cold and harsh and dumb. Haha. But people are NOT afraid to be themselves no matter what. And yeah, because I’ve been so hurt, it’s better if I’m not around friends. So I don’t drink. Cuz if I can’t board with the homies I can only drink with them. But if I can board with them, it’s all good.

Do you think people in snowboarding are afraid to be themselves?

That’s tuff. It really depends who your talking about. I guess the majority are like Worchester, they are afraid of different things. Mostly rich white people that prob started snowboarding because it was “cool” and don’t want to risk not being cool or different.

Doing work. 

Speaking of cool and different, what’s up with Pozi Pozi?

It’s Gus and Estes project. It’s sooooo legit. They make all the music and it’s freaking beautiful And este is so good at filming and editing, they are geniuses. A full movie will be dropping soon.

Everyone is obsessed with social media and staying relevant and you’ve got it pretty well handled. Is there a secret to being popular on social media?

Yeah, Study it. You gotta know what’s cool. I mean it depends who you want to be popular with though. If you want a bunch of sheep then you just post pretty shit. Sexy pics or pics of beaches and you know tag shit and like people’s photos. If you want cool people to like you, you have to be witty and only post if it’s solid. If you questioning it, don’t post. But if go for sheep, you’ll get wayyyy more followers.

Are followers all that matters?

Depends what you want. Followers or respectable respect. I go through phases. Sometimes I’m on point and I’m witty and my gram is dope. Sometimes I don’t care and just post whatever. I always lose followers when I post though, unless it’s a snowboarding pic and I hate posting those.

Why do you hate posting snowboard photos?

Cuz when I’m snowboarding I’m not taking pics or thinking about the ‘gram. So if I post a snowboarding photos it’s like, “Hey, look at this photo of me snowboarding from last month.” I mean sometimes you can post an current snowboard pic. But the nice ones are weird to post.

What’s your favorite social network?

Snapchat cuz it’s real. Insta is too planned out and careful and fake.

A lot of people like to bemoan the internet and social media because it’s made things harder, or whatever. How do you think it’s changed snowboarding? And what opportunities has it afforded you personally?

It’s given everyone opportunity. So now people without budgets can get famous. But it’s so cluttered and such a mess now. I think it would be better if people stopped posting so much. But you have to post to keep up. And to keep posting shit you’re not even proud of sucks.

But the WORST part is that your good shit gets the same views and respect as the bad shit. That’s why I wish social media would slow down. But also, The majority of people watching don’t know much about snowboarding. So you could post the same shit over and over and most people don’t even notice and it’ll get the same hype.  On Too Hard the most popular posts are the unique ones. Not good snowboarding. Or good editing. But like just a dog pulling and girl or a girl snowboarding and drinking a beer. Stuff real life people could do. But sponsors don’t respond to that.

Sideways at Sugarbush. 

So, are you really considering trying to do contests? Why didn’t you go that route first?

I did do contests when I was younger. Like Rev Tour and Grand Prix and Opens. But now I’m just concentrating on winning le bad bitch race. But really, contests were just too expensive to travel to and it was hard to go to school and travel. I lived in Tahoe and started going to spots with Nicky v and Le BHappy crew and filming was more fun and easy to do while I was going to school. I also like editing and so it just made sense to go the video route. But yeah, contests sound fun. To switch things up. I miss jumping a lot. I’ll jump some this summer and see how it goes. Jumping is pretty magical. Like floating through space for a second.

Do you think you have what it takes to be the next Jamie Anderson?

I wish.

Do you think you could make it to the Olympics? What would it take for you to make that happen?

A complete change in my lifestyle. Steroids, training, living at breck and riding jumps non stop. But yeah I believe anything is possible.

Would you want to do that though?

I do want to jump all day. But I would never live in Breck. Hmmm. I don’t know where would be livable with good jumps. PC was the dopeness til Vail bought it. Vail ruins everything. Northstar used to be cool too. Fuck Vail, infinity times.

Yes, their $150 lift tickets are not that sweet. Which brings up another thing. There’s definitely talk that “accessibility” is important in snowboarding lately. Do you think if people stop throwing themselves off buildings more average people will get into snowboarding?

I don’t know. Not really. I think the more media it has, the more people will do it. Like if it’s in movies and cartoons or on TV, I guess. And the more of the inner city free hike parks the better! It’s something for people to do, but first they need the idea, and then they need a place that’s accessible.

Wardrobe malfunction. 

Alright, speed round: Plead the fifth or drink a fifth?

Drink a fifth

Weed or addys?

Weed

Tapout tat on your upper back between your shoulder blades or hatchetman tramp stamp?

Tapout tat, fo sho.

Whats your biggest fear?
My mom’s Roomba.

Who are your dream sponsors?

An airline company, some booshy hotel, American Apparel, Land Rover, Wells Fargo, Versace, Gucci

And your actual sponsors?

Gnu, Airblaster, Dragon, Outdoor Tech.

All photos: Robert Harold Sell III

What do you do when you get laid off from your job, have some money in the bank and want to see America? If you’re Robbie Sell, you put your stuff in storage, buy a camper van, and map out an epic adventure to capture photos from all around the continental United States. After six months on the road, Robbie has been lots of places and seen many things, and although he’s going it alone, he’s also bringing everyone along with him through the magic of social media. With over 20,000 miles already under his belt, we figured it was time to catch up with Robbie for an official Vancarious Hump Day.

Brooke: Why did you start this trip in the winter? Seems like van camping is a bit more desirable when it’s warm out.

Robbie: Well, I got laid of from Arnette when they discontinued the goggle product line, so I was out of work at the time and I didn’t immediately find another opportunity to jump into a similar career position. I knew that I had to take advantage before I found something else and do the stuff that I wouldn’t be able to  when I sat back down at a desk or got a girlfriend. I was like, I gotta go on a roadtrip. I was thinking, well I can do a few cool little spots that are within whatever time frame, or I could just do it right and do it as big as I can. To me that’s a cross-country venture, which I had never done.

Brooke: Oh wow, you’ve never driven cross-country before?

Robbie: I’ve been to numerous places across the country, all the snowy regions and a couple random spots for trade shows but no, I’ve never driven farther than Cook City in Yellowstone for snowboarding film trips. So I’ve never driven farther than 1,000 miles in one stretch.

Brooke: It’s a big country.

Robbie: Yeah, right? When I decided I wanted to do a road trip, I started doing research. How I would do it, what kind of vehicle, how long it was going to take me? I had a car at the time that just was too small, so I knew I had to sell that and the DMV put me through a bunch of delays before I could sell the car, and it took me like 4 months. I was planning on starting in the summer but it was near winter and by the time I got the title, sold my car, and found the exact van. I didn’t wanna wait any longer. I’d already been telling people like, “hey I’m gonna do this project,” and I didn’t wanna back out on my word, so I was just like fuck it, I’m gonna go in the winter. Having been a pro snowboarder in the past, what’s a little snow? I’m not afraid of being a little cold, I’ve experienced it so much that it’s like fuck dude, I’ll just reroute my path a little bit and send it.

Brooke: I actually think that it’s really fun to go to tourist attractions in the off-season because there’s no people to get in your way.

Robbie: Yeah exactly! There’s huge pros and cons to going to a lot of these locations in the winter – avoiding the average tourists and people that are scared of cold climates when they could go do it in the summer. But the downside to it is the major touristy destinations that are kind of business-oriented are typically closed. I went to Niagara Falls and there were a bunch of parks that are still under renovation and they had it all blocked off. When I was in Washington DC, a lot of the monuments were being spruced up for all the summer tourism. And then some places were just totally shut down because of the snow, so I had to do a little covert mission, jumping over fences and stuff that were meant to keep some people out. But once upon a time I was a skateboarder and a snowboarder and that never stopped me, so I still have that mentality. I feel like no trespassing signs are just a mere suggestion for people who it would benefit.

Brooke: Yes, absolutely. Just trying to keep people safe. Okay speaking of skateboarding, how on earth do you take the selfies of you doing kickflips?

Robbie: All the self portraits are mainly just because I want my photographs to have a subject in them, and I feel that makes an image tell a little bit more of a story. It’s human nature to be a little more interested in seeing what another person is doing, so being that I don’t have a person with me along the way, I have to take a photos of myself. I set up my camera on a tripod and then I hookup radio transmitters – basically the pocket wizards that are meant for studio flashes. I have it set up so that I use it to trigger the camera shutter instead. I have one in my hand that I usually try to hide. If I’m doing something where I’m jumping up and down on a rock or I’m skating, I just put it on sequence mode and shoot a bunch of frames so I can try to time it right. I don’t have a super fancy camera anymore, I have a more amateur one that only shoots 3 frames a second so it’s not like when I use to shoot snowboarding and I could shoot like 8 frames and have a bunch to pick from. I typically have to time it just perfect, and it’s not easy. Those ollies or kickflips that I do, it should only be a couple shots to get it, but I usually have to try it like 20 or 30 times, just to get something I’m satisfied with. Having been able to shoot professional snowboarders in the past, now I strive for that perfect moment, so being that I’m not a really good skater it takes me a long time to get those shots I’m at least mildly satisfied with. Or I’m just tired and sick of it so I’m like ah, it’s good enough. It’s a lot of work, but I just want the picture to be a little more interesting to the viewer.

Fuck it. From Iowa and Missouri in a Hurry

Brooke: You’re trying to make a book out of this right? So you don’t want half-assed photos.

Robbie: Yeah in the very end I wanna have a tangible product to remember the adventure from because all these websites, you know they’re so quick to archive everything, and nobody looks through the keyword metadata, you know searching into it. These days they’re just like, “What’s next! What’s next!” so I wanna have something that’s a little more easily found. It’s gonna be sitting on your bookshelf or coffee table. Hopefully I’ll be able to do it, I don’t have the cash to really front it, so I think I might try one of those crowd funding things, so if somebody wants to they can just kind of like pay for it up front and I’ll hook them up. Maybe if I can create more of a compelling story, I might even try to get a random small town publisher to see if they can work an angle on it.

Brooke: Yeah, well van life and travel is always hot so…

Robbie: Totally yeah, Foster (Huntington) already paved the for me. And his stuff is really cool, but I have a novel story, a solo road trip. His is more about documenting others’ lives via their van vehicles.

Does it get any better than a limo ride with Alex Mertz? Not likely. From I Heart NYC (Dirty Version)

Brooke: What’s your favorite spot you’ve been to?

Robbie: Kind of recently my favorite spot has been New York City, mainly because I had so many friends there and after having been on the road for, I think at that point it was like 4 months, it was really great to just kind of see friends and kind of revitalize my enthusiasm for the remainder of the tour. I was getting burnt out right before that, so hanging with friends and not driving for a few days was really nice. Just kind of getting to act normal for a minute. So that was a favorite spot, but Washington was really beautiful, like all the scenic areas up on the coast.

Brooke: Did you get up to Forks?

Robbie: Yeah I did. I went to those huge trees are on the beach and The Vance Peak bridge, the abandoned train bridge that tumblr and instagram made famous, and now it’s illegal. And then I went to the Mt. Baker ice caves, that was pretty cool up there. Other than that, Detroit was insane. Going up there and seeing a city that claimed bankruptcy just a number of years ago, seeing all the abandonment and the poverty that’s going on there, it was kind of sad. But it was really cool because I got to sneak into some really amazing abandoned buildings. Beautiful old churches and the Michigan theatre, like the whole urban decay kind of vibe and the urban exploring has been a kind of fun thing for me to do and try to document and share with everybody.

The Florida natives can be unruly. From Floriduh

Brooke: How was Florida and the Keys? Are you gonna move there and retire?

Robbie: I actually didn’t like Florida. Driving through Florida, it’s like a sprawling suburbia. I don’t know how many stop lights I hit down there, but it kind of started me off on a bad note. The Everglades were cool, but getting to them was kind of miserable and it was definitely the hottest region I had gotten to so far. Just super humid. And the Keys were scenic and photogenic, but when I actually got to Key West it kind of reminded me of what Mardi Gras would be like – just streets full of chaos and people just drinking on the streets and acting like a bunch of shit heads. It was a really cool experience to go there, but I don’t know maybe a different, season or if I would have had friends with me to…

Brooke: Get hammered and party?

Robbie: Yeah, party. But for me just kind of rolling solo I just found myself the most authentic local food there then took off and went up along the Eastern edge of Florida. Checked out Miami and all that. The Everglades were cool, you know seeing alligators and shit.

Brooke: What about Louisiana, did you go to New Orleans?

Robbie: I got to New Orleans exactly a week after Mardi Gras, so the locals, like all the shopkeepers and what not, seemed burnt out. Like they’d dealt with like going to war. There wasn’t a lot of enthusiasm when I was there.

Brooke: Bummer.

Robbie: Before I got to New Orleans I went by one of those preserved plantations, where there was like heavy slavery and what not, and went on a tour there. I’ve never really been in a region like that so it was kind of a culture shock. Going through there is like walking into a history book. And just kind of feeling that weight, like well you know sure I never had anything to be ashamed of because I’m not racist by any means, but that region still is so racist and it just felt super strange.

Oak Alley Plantation. From the Lame Past of Louisiana

Brooke: Did you go through Baltimore, speaking of racism?

Robbie: Yeah, I have a friend, this chick Lindsey, who used to work at High Cascade back in my day, she and her husband live in Baltimore, so my experience was going up and hanging out with them for a couple of days. But I really wanted to visit the 12-O’clock boys, but didn’t see any quads or dirt bikes ripping down the streets, so I was kinda let down. I wanted to see just a squad of people overtaking the roadways just causin’ a rukus. I went to a roller derby. A bunch of butch chick just smashing each other and it was fun.

Brooke: You’re hitting all 48 mainland states, right? How many do you have left to go to?

Robbie: Well, I’m in Texas right this second, even though I’m trying to catch up my blog and it looks like I’m just touching New York. As far as the public knows – unless they’re following my Instagram – I’m way far behind. But I’m in Texas and doing all of the Southwest. I’ll be going from here into New Mexico, touching Colorado and touching Utah, going into Moab and Zion and all those beautiful state park areas. Then Arizona and then probably down into Southern California. So it seems like I’ve got just a little bit left, but it’s gonna be a couple thousand miles at least, and probably going to be about a month before I wrap this thing up.

Perspective. 

Brooke: Have you gotten a lot of Instagram followers out of this trip? Is that all that matters?

Robbie: So I wanted to make this like a marketing project, like a portfolio piece. And when I’m finished show it to a potential employer or brand. I was kind of fancying myself as like a marketing consultant or something like that, and I feel like a fucking failure.

Brooke: Why?!

Robbie: I had a really small following in the beginning, like I think it was less than 2,000 followers and right now I think I’m like almost at 5,000, but I thought I was gonna be in like 10-20k plus range. When I pitched the project I had a whole turnkey package that I wanted to partner with a number of relevant brands in the youth lifestyle market, Coal Headwear, Arnette, DVS shoes, Ninja Suit – since I was shooting all these photos and subtly using their product in them. I was gonna have them use the pictures on their social media and then kind of like tie it back to like, “See this guy is on a cross country adventure, tune in to see where he’s at now.” If all these brands that I pitched it to did it, I think it would have really caught on a lot more. But a lot of the marketing directors that I spoke with are just either overwhelmed and they didn’t wanna add anything else to their plate or just idiots and didn’t see that they had a great opportunity to engage with their current audience or even build a bigger one. So for me it’s kind of a little bit of a let down, cause I was expecting so much more from it.

Brooke: Yeah.

Robbie: I’m appreciating what I’m doing, seeing the nation and experiencing the culture that I wasn’t really around growing up. But having the background of working in marketing and trying to be an ambassador for these brands and what not, I couldn’t help but put bigger expectations on myself. But it’s not done yet, it could sky rocket at any moment.

Brooke: You just need one photo to go viral, that’s it. One. One photo.

Robbie: True, and when it’s finished too I’m sure it’ll get some traction, you know, here’s the package. If and when I do the Kickstarter, I’ll use that as an editorial piece in its own right, too.

Washington’s future is bright. From Let’s gota the Dakotas

Brooke: Definitely. I think our whole need for immediacy and the now now now can kind of taint experiences in that way.

Robbie: Yeah, being at the age of kind of being in the millennial lifestyle but remembering, you know, analog photography and actually reading books.

Brooke: You know you can still do that stuff, right? You can still read books even though kids don’t.

Robbie: Yeah, I have a couple of books that I brought with me on my road trip that I’ve dabbled with here and there, but I’m incredibly busy – like you’d think “oh you’re just driving and taking pictures you got all the time in the world,” but being that I have a very very small budget, I see my bank account just getting smaller and smaller. It’s like, will I have enough money for gas and peanut butter and jelly to get home? I’m not trying to lag too hard because I wanna get back and post up and find some way to have a little bit of income. I’m shooting, I’m driving, I’m planning, I’m editing, and then I’m exhausted and sleeping, so there’s not really much downtime. It’s kind of exhausting.

Brooke: Vacation is the most exhausting thing in the world, right? You try so much harder then in regular life. So, after this you have absolutely no plan? Is there anywhere that you’ve been where you’re like maybe I’ll move there and figure it out?

Robbie: During the trip I’ve kind of in the back of my mind. I’m literally living in the van and I don’t have a location that I need to go back to for a mortgage or girlfriend or employment. So I’ve been open-minded about what’s next. In all these locations thinking like, “What would it be like to live here? What kind of opportunity could I have? Could I try to start another restaurant? Could I offer some sort of something, you know? Could be a damn constructive worker?” I’ve been thinking about that all along the way and there have been some really cool zones and I always weigh the pros and the cons. Minneapolis is amazing and even though I can handle the cold, would I wanna handle their brutal winters? The community and culture there is super cool. I’ve kind of seen the same exact thing in a number of other locations too. There’s that in Baltimore, there’s that in obviously New York, there’s that in a lot of those major hubs across the nation, but nowhere is perfect and if it is perfect, it’s probably overpopulated and crowded and annoying.

Brooke: Right.

Robbie: I haven’t fallen in love with anywhere and it makes me think, do I want to go back to where I grew up in Lake Tahoe? Should I get back into snowboarding? You know I saw actually a really good change with Corey Smith when he went back there like it looked like he was really enjoying himself and I think that’s when he started all the Spring Break stuff. I hope I could find something inspiring wherever I go, but I don’t know where it’s gonna be. Like I said I have my fingers crossed that this project will get noticed or discovered.

John Wells. From Wyoming because

Brooke: A dream job without having to try. Isn’t that what everybody wants?

Robbie: Yeah, I have been fortunate in the past, a lot of things have fallen in my lap, but I can’t rely on that, of course. I’ve been making a lot of notes about possible brand ventures. I’ll need to come up with business plans and find investors and what not, but you know, dreams come true. I’ve been fortunate enough to make a few of mine a reality from becoming a pro snowboarder to being an established photographer and starting a restaurant and then actually making this adventure come to life, it’s like it all started with just a thought and then kind of talking about it and it just comes to life. So if I keep making these notes and then put a little more thought into it maybe they can also be something to put into the past.

Brooke: Another chapter in the book.

Robbie: Mmmhhhmm.

For more visit LivingVancariously.com or follow @Robbiesell on Instagram and stay tuned tomorrow for the story of how we managed not to die in the New Mexico desert!

Matt Alberts was sick of looking at a screen. While the Denver-based skateboarder and photographer enjoyed making and capturing images, the world of digital photography had sucked much of the joy from the process.

“I shot a lot of film photography in high school, and the darkroom is where I really fell in love with it. A lot of it had to do with that hands-on feeling and the smells and the red light and just like the making, instead of sitting in front of your computer, which is really the part that was driving me nuts.”

 

The image that started it all. 

He found the inspiration he was looking for in the process of wet plate photography. He’d actually grown up with a few of family heirloom tin types – his fourth great grandfather was a wet plate photographer in the 1800’s – but it wasn’t until he saw what went into it that it really clicked.

“I saw a video that glorified the process and I was so inspired by it. I was like, this is what my ancestor used to do, I gotta fuckin’ learn how to do this.”

Through a friend, he got linked up with Quinn Jacobson, one of the best wet plate photographers in the biz, who ended up taking Matt under his wing.

“He saw my passion for wanting to learn about it and do something with meaning and he basically just taught me for free. He pretty much just gave me the keys to his studio and was like here you go, come by anytime you want.”

Not shot on wet plate. 

Shooting with collodion is not cheap – Matt’s 11 x 14 camera body alone cost nearly $7000 and that’s not even counting the chemicals and set up required to make the actual tin types. Matt poured his own money into the project, and is still paying off the debt. With so much invested, he wasn’t just looking to shoot photos of just anything. He wanted an appropriate project to give even more meaning to his images.

“There’s a lot of noise in the collodion world where people are just making tintypes not for any sort of reason besides the aesthetic. To take this much effort to make something by hand and to make these photographs, you should have a reason. That train of thought lead me to wanting to photograph what I loved, which is skateboarding. I met up with Chet Childress that’s sort of what solidified the project for me.”

 

Life is pain.

Since collodion is only sensitive to UV light, it can technically see beneath the skin. For example, if you have tattoos, it often won’t even see them. Growing up in Philly, where skateboarding is often illegal, Matt had a few run ins with the law himself, and has always been aware that some people may not see his passion the same way he does.

“I wanted to photograph people who have really dedicated their lives to skateboarding culture and given back to it. To try to capture with the photographs the real person, not maybe the criminal exterior but the real, genuine, nice person on the inside.”

 

The road.

From there, Matt hit the road. “We went on this first Route 66 trip with just a destination in mind, but no real goal other than to make some tintypes and capture skateboarding. That was the best trip – we basically just went for it and did what we wanted.”

After a successful first trip, Matt’s work was starting to gain notice. He held a show in Denver, and was invited to show work in Kansas City and New York as well. With the hype growing, Matt was eager to get back out on the road, and got linked up with the marketing people at Cadillac, who saw his vision and wanted to partner with him to create more. The Lifers project turned out to be the perfect fit for the luxury car maker’s “Dare Greatly” campaign, focusing on people who’ve dedicated their lives to their passions. Cadillac actually inspired Matt to expand the definition of what a lifer is, which is how the Seasons Collection was born.

“They said to me they see a lifer as being ambiguous, and I was like well I guess it is, it really isn’t just skateboarding, it can be anything. The spin that we put on the Seasons Collection is that even as somebody that skates all the time, you can’t skate everyday. Some days maybe it’s snowing and you’re into snowboarding or you go surfing or cycling. There’s a lot of commonality there and like minded people within skating, snowboarding, surfing, cycling.”

With a brand-new Cadillac delivered to his door, and a major upgrade with a mobile darkroom in an airstream trailer, Matt spent all winter capturing snow lifers such as Bobby Meeks, Scotty Arnold. Right now, Matt is in the Sun leg of the seasons tour – which has brought him back to skateboarding and cycling, with a little surf thrown in for good measure. He, along with a group of friends and professional skateboarders, are traveling down the west coast, stopping in Seattle, Portland, at Windells and the Berrics, and finally, hoping to get a portrait of Tony and Riley Hawk. From there, your guess is as good as his.

“Is there an end? I really don’t know, especially since I’ve kinda broadened the horizons of what it means to be a lifer. I still don’t feel like I’ve fully captured everybody,” he said. “I could do it forever.”

For more on the Lifers Project, visit http://thelifersproject.com/ or @thelifersproject on Insta.

Celebs like Stan need not obey signs for plebeians (also this one was just sitting there, waiting to be jumped over.)

Summer Snowboarding is officially underway at Mt. Hood. Camps are in session, Cobra Dogs are being sauced, Volcano Cones are being scooped and the new Japanese restaurant next to the Taco Shoppe is Soy Sauce Nation approved. Or actually, Stan just said he liked it. Close enough.

Now the bad news. The the snow level at Hood is the lowest I’ve ever seen it in my 15 years of summer boarding. It’s looking like Mid August up there. In fact, this year, Oregon is feeling a lot more like So Cal every day – never ending sunshine and Californians everywhere, but it’s not all bad news – the crowds are smaller, rain days have not been an issue and the slush is on point. If you’re going to make a pilgrimage to Mt Hood, we’d recommend doing it sooner rather than later and here’s what you need to know.

The view from the Mile. Gulp.

Access: The only snow remaining is on the actual Palmer glacier – to access it you must ride the mile and then walk 100 yards or do down to the Palmer lift. Good news! You have much smaller chance of embarrassing yourself by falling in the lift line this year, as the ramp up to Palmer is already dry wood! Add in lower attendance across the board and the fact that you can’t technically take laps without unstrapping and there’s a good chance you’ll never even have to stand in a line at all.

 

Tucker Speer holding it down on the jumps at Windells. Photo: Erik Hoffman

Public Park: This year Public Park has been moved to skiers right of Palmer – where High Cascade’s lap park is usually located. Getting there is a blast – lots of rock ollies, some smooth corduroy, and a few side hits. The park has 10 or so rail features, but the real fun is lower down where the Tline park crew as assembled a variety of smaller jump features offering many possibilities for airtime. If you prefer to keep your base on the ground, you could also ride it as a snake run and slash til your heart’s content. You do have to unstrap to get back on Palmer (obviously) but right now it’s more like a mellow walk than a hike and totally worth it.

For more impressive visuals, check our Snapchat. Quick. Hurry. They’ll be deleted soon.

Camps: The High Cascade/Windells merger is moving a long, and this year, many staffers are doing double duty. On hill this means a lot of the animosity between the camps has subsided (hooray!) and several of the features are shared. High Cascade’s lap park is located above Windells main lane and is open to all campers (ski and snowboard) and the massive Superpipe, which sits below the main parks, is also shared. As of yesterday, riding out of camp is possible, but sketchy and highly frowned upon by ski patrol, so don’t be an asshole and use the rope tows to get yourself back to the lift/parking lot.

Mary Rand has the right idea. Photo: Mark O’Malley/High Cascade

If you don’t want to unstrap: The Palmer mid station has never been more useful than this year – and for lazy people like us, the ideal day is spent mashing chunder and spraying skiers on the main trail. It’s great for perfecting your creative carve moves and wowing the lift riders in the process! If you have camp access, it is possible to cut over and ride through the top of lap park, which is basically a super long, wave-like quarter pipe, and still make it back to the mid station. Surfs up, brah!

Considering that it didn’t actually snow this winter, the facilities that Timberline and WAC have managed to put together are nothing short of impressive. Our official advice: get here before mid July or figure out how to get your ass to the Southern Hemisphere instead. Or, you could always mountain bike. We’ve heard that’s fun too.