It's time to navigate away from Indiana again. The school year is starting, and I'm about to move to a country I've never visited. Come Tuesday, I will have some new students, new co-workers, a new home with someone else's furniture, and a new culture to study...thankfully in a language I'm already comfortable with. Last year's school locations of Ecuador, Thailand, and Germany look to be replaced by some diverse locales, all brought to you by the letter "B".Read More
One year of teaching in China and two years of Peace Corps in Malawi later, my dear friends from Semester at Sea and I finally reunited. Alexis and I flew to Burlington, Vermont within 20 hours of Garrett's homecoming, and these are the good times we enjoyed. When I'm not at work, I don't want to be continuously documenting my life in high def. That's why I played with Instagram this time around (click on the images to view in lightbox).Read More
I spent my childhood in Wabash (and took innumerable visits in the last twelve years), and this was one of my top ten favorite mornings in my hometown. Maybe it had something to do with flying above the trees with the wind in my hair. Remember, I'm a converted adrenaline junkie...when the wind is just right.
This is a promotional video for the clean-up efforts of the Wabash River Defenders.
The upcoming term in Argentina will mark my 52nd country, and every once in a while I'm perplexed that this whole world obsession and world tour started from a town of 11,000 in rural Indiana. I talk about this town often–one I haven't lived in for 12 years to the week–and it's a weekend like my last one that confirms its hold on me. I continue to have those awe-inspiring moments in a place I thought I'd adequately covered.
Clean Out The Banks! is an annual event in Wabash, Indiana conducted by a volunteer group known as the Wabash River Defenders. If you were at Paradise Spring at 7:00am last Saturday, eating free donuts and preparing to wade in the silt, you're likely a member...or a donut enthusiast.
This year's 365 participants engaged in a community event for the benefit of their environment while spending time with that environment on a beautiful day. Being a recent student on the effects of community, I was eager to witness my first River Defenders event and document it for distribution.
The river stretches 19.2 miles across Wabash County from east to west, so my fellow documentarian, Chelsea, and I didn't have to drive far to reach the many scattered clean-up crews.
Walking along the river in Lagro, we found an ATV or mountain bike track that looked like serious muddy fun. We passed by many groups of fishermen heading to the water. One of the teams had a kayak, and its slender shape reminded me of rowing sculls torpedoing down the thin and shallow river. My imagination was probably stretching the water possibilities on this Mississippi tributary, but the flanking land offered no such limitations to outdoor enjoyment.
After a couple hours of tracking teams' progress, I was extended the opportunity to admire Wabash County from above on an antique open cockpit airplane from 1927. I couldn't stop relating myself to Snoopy. It was a beautiful aircraft, and it lifted effortlessly above the forests and farms to find the snaking river.
In the past couple years, I've had some very active shoots on land, while treading water, and even underwater with wild animals. Prior to this flight, I'd never had the chance to film from the air. The 90 mph winds pulled at the camera, but I had it strapped tightly around my hand, my arm anchored to my body. It was tough to shoot around the wings and stabilize with the turbulence, but the adrenaline rush from the open cockpit helped me achieve some awesome moments on film.
I wasn't at all surprised that such a plane existed in a hangar at the Wabash airstrip. The town is full of eccentric characters who collect distinct items, create unique artwork, build hidden bars in their basements, and wrangle community support for every facet of life, culture, and sport. A trip home can be comforting in its predictability or reveal a unique opportunity unfathomable hours prior.
It was this mid-morning flight that determined the angle of my documentation, supplemented by the mini-revelations along the banks of the Wabash. I spent the majority of my childhood outdoors, but my backyard was only a small indication of what my surroundings held. I won't always have an antique airplane ride to jostle my pre-conceived expectations of a place, but this one surely helped.
I'm currently in the process of editing a promo for "Clean Out Our Banks!" and will post once live. Here's a news package from WTIU of the event.
I've finally stopped moving for a while. Want to see what I've found as of lately?
World travel on Nike's dime
Nike made a new product that basically detects energy expended (a.k.a. Nike Fuel) throughout your typical, active day, and with this new product comes an intense online marketing campaign called #makeitcount. This video, created by Casey Neistat and Max Joseph, is reminiscent of the STA Travel Australia video "Move" and shows Casey plowing through his budget from Nike with 10 days of globe trotting. I just had dinner with one of the developers of this campaign. The world is small, people.
Advice for starting a creative career
This is good and giggle-worthy. Here are my favorite excerpts:
...it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience. Usually I didn't wind up getting the money, either.
IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it's all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn't matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that's not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we've sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.
The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right.
That was the hardest lesson for me, I think: to let go and enjoy the ride, because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.
Getting better production audio: who wouldn't want that? STA Travel's World Traveler Internship 2012 commences: Matt and Amma begin the documenting of their European jaunt with this video of a Czech beer fest. Reinventing the office, how to lose weight and increase productivity: Though these days I have no control over what my office looks like, I like to take these tips and think of how they could again be redefined for this transient setting. The new MacBook Pro: No Film School explains the newest version of the MBP.
Update on Nomadderwhere
Throughout June, I felt incredibly confident in my role as media specialist for this world-touring school, TGS. I don't know if it was the homey accommodation we had, the energy of Berlin, the enthusiasm of the students, or something else. I created a rhythm of working and playing that felt solid and sustainable, which is harder than it seems to create structure in a fluid, ever-changing environment. It was so successful that I had time and energy to document for myself.
A few weeks ago, I packed up my ephemeral life and reverted to backpack living for about 25 days. After train journeys through Prague, Budapest, Salzburg, and Austria, I flew to meet friends in Denmark and said goodbye to Europe from Stockholm. Landing stateside in early July, I quickly picked up again to visit my hometown of Wabash and then the third place I'd call a 'home': New York City. Home is a loose term for me.
This summer break from school will consist of portfolio tweaking, reading of many travel narratives, home creative projects, and the ever-important duty of reconnecting with my community.
Here's my latest work:
- Q&A: Dealing with cash and cards on the road: Just my tips and habits at the current time
- Is it important to visit the places to visit from which your family originates: A reflective piece after a trip with a student to investigate her family history in Germany
- What creating art in a world art capital looks like: Two videos covering the Creative Arts curriculum in Berlin
Videos and captions are those of THINK Global School. The opinions stated in this post are mine and do not reflect the positions, strategies, or opinions of THINK Global School.
In a Sunburned Country and had me audibly exclaiming from his brutal descriptions of small-town life. In this book, Bill attempts to charge through the over 2,100 miles of mountainous footpath called the Appalachian Trail. This is probably as close as I'll come to tackling the trail myself, and through what vehicle would this vicarious journey be better than through the eyes of an underprepared 40+ year-old journalist and his even more underprepared, undermotivated, overweight, formerly alcoholic comrade.Read More
Living in one place for a couple months - regardless of one's experience - inevitably causes nostalgia upon leaving and for a succeeding period of time. If it was a bad time, the pleasant memories override the bad, and if it was a good time, as was Ecuador, everything habitual and endearing continues to perpetuate once home again. In my case, the lingering reflexes from previous travels usually mess me up in Indiana - sometimes big time. I tend to call these the ironies of my lifestyle, but lately I feel it's more a deficiency in domestic knowledge, exacerbated by my fondness for the last three months of international living.
I can't live up to familial expectations
Once I knew my work dates for December, my sister-in-law planned her son's baptism around my schedule - to make sure I could definitely attend. And there I was on the morning of his christening, coffee in hand doing the two-step warm-up dance outside in tights, watching my friend's husband jump my borrowed car's battery where it sat 90 miles from the church. It's not too hard to remember to turn the headlights off in the pitch black of night the evening prior, but that's assuming one gets those pangs of common sense.
...because I'm used to: cheap taxis and close proximity
When my school's transportation or my feet couldn't take me where I needed to be, I could stand on a curb in the historic center and hail a yellow car that never cost more than $5, even for a twenty minute trip. Distances traveled - in this country smaller than Nevada - were relatively miniscule compared my US of A expectations.
In my breaths between trips, I rely on my wheeling-and-dealing car salesman of a brother to have a means of getting around. Taxis in Indiana are as scattered as stars with meters that run like Michael Johnson. Not efficient, easy, or happening.
I've got plumbing confusion.
Cuenca resembles an historic European city with cobblestone streets, cloth napkin lunches, and more ornate churches than there are Sundays in a year. It is a lovely town with enjoyable nightlife and beautiful rivers flanking the walkable center. That's the necessary introduction for my dear American audience that will be disgusted with the necessary toilet paper disposal method: a trash can.
...because I'm used to: weak sauce toilets
The plumbing in Ecuador generally requires an 'exit-stage-left' strategy for used tissue. Not to divulge my rituals behind closed stall doors, but I have yet to not be confused with the protocol since my return. In the same way that I don't remember my current continent when my daily alarm rings, I have to go through a process of remembering where I am and what I'm doing every time nature summons.
The motor skills flop when cooking duty calls.
Whereas my fifteenth year was marked by an obsession with Food Network, today I chop vegetables at the speed and with the delicacy of Remy's first try. I can make a spectacular explosion of coarsely slaughtered salad ingredients, which is actually my most coveted meal when abroad, but anything involving even marginal levels of calculation and finesse isn't possible for at least a month post-trip.
I've actually got a known track record with the Indianapolis Fire Department with this issue.
...because I'm used to: $3.50 lunch specials and constant group meals
Near the end of Cuenca, I realized I hadn't cooked for myself - not a saucepan touched - in months. It was more cost-effective and timely to eat at a nearby restaurant with wifi than it was to assemble something palatable in the hotel's kitchen. I also felt like a bothersome house guest when I tried. And eating with the students meant a pre-set menu consisting of meat and potatoes, sandwiched by a creamy soup and a fruit platter curtain call.
I'm speaking the wrong language.
Ecuador presented me with daily challenges to expand my language skills, much like New York gave me the sensation of world travel the moment I left my apartment. I was able to push beyond my fluency from senior year of high school and regain the abilities swiftly lost with the apprehension of Italian.
...because I'm used to: never being able to communicate with the surrounding majority
This is nothing new. I was saying naka to my mother two months after Fiji - instead of 'thank you' - and even though my recent firings of Spanish have hit some native speakers, I am forgetting how to communicate to people at home in daily, civil settings. I am used to being a fly on the wall and observing life I don't connect with personally. In this environment, I can pop in and pop out; obligation to the place is non-existent.
With every trip abroad, the return home gets easier. I'm hoping these are the remnants of a dying reverse-culture shock trend. It's a plan to tackle one or more of these issues while in Thailand...and again when I return to the great US of A.
I've decided that, these days, if I can produce a blog post a month, I'm a lucky gal. Lucky to find breaths between beloved jobs to do similar work of my own volition. Lucky to be able to reflect on experiences and milk what value can be gathered. I doubt the cafe I edited in today for four hours felt lucky to have a table occupied by a one cappuccino gal, but I'm lucky I found that space this month to process my August road trip through New England. What was meant to be a longer trek through areas of Maine and Vermont had to be cut short due to the panic surrounding Hurricane Irene. The trip had no conclusion in real time. It felt like a rush job of a trip, even more so the documentation of it, but what resulted is a video exalting the thing I studied most - the water that I feel sources so much of the grit and character of New Englanders.
I was surprisingly unfocused on my fleeting dollars being allocated to gas, the pile of money I dropped for the rental car, or my lack of accurate driving instructions or lodging reservations. The nausea I usually reserve for typical tourist activity - the expensive kind - took a vacation as well. Instead, I felt loosely propelled by the desire to consume miles of coastline and smell a breeze conceived hemispheres away.
Like gulping sweet water in the middle of the night, driving was refreshing after my nine month car-fast, a guilty binge on air, music, and speed with a known expiration. And with this limited excursion, I caught wind of what a conventional adult vacation smells like - not bad at all, in fact pleasantly normal, if infrequent and savored for its rarity.
My entire summer was a jig-saw puzzle to assemble. Trips, subleases, weddings, births, and work were spaced out just so, as to make every two-week chunk a mystery until it was present. All flights were booked dangerously close to the week of departure, some including feline carry-ons and 12 hour durations. On top of air chaos, I often didn't know where I was going to be living or how to coordinate the housing of my cat (while she was still being a vagabond in New York). Newly cat-free and with a new job supplying accommodations for nine months out of the year, I decided against having a place in New York City and got a subletter lined up immediately.
There was a lapse of time between leaving my apartment and the start of work accommodations, leaving me temporarily homeless and living out of bags - something I tend to enjoy. During one of those weeks, I decided to rent a car and witness a region I've barely visited: New England.
Until I can whip up a fantastic video, here is a photoblog courtesy of my Blackberry.
Driving out of Queens in my first rental car
Reaching Mystic, CT at dusk to witness fishermen and draw bridges
Beautiful blue light at dusk around the marina
Stalked by a skunk while exploring Mystic at night
The woodsy Harbour Inn & Cottage in Mystic, CT where I soaked in a hot tub by the marina
French toast with apple and cheddar at Kitchen Little in Mystic, CT
Too bad I skipped the eggs
Cape Cod's Chatham coast where JAWS had some scenes filmed
First bowl of clam chowder in a fitting place - Cape Cod
Sunrise off Cape Ann, the filming location and real life setting for The Perfect Storm
Seasick while whale watching, but well worth it
Gloucester had that crusty charm I was hoping to find
Beautiful skies while driving toward Hurricane Irene and New York City
Await with bated breath the real deal documentation.
I took a vacation for myself, and it was evidence enough that the casual weekend away should be more of a priority. It was close by, surprisingly economical, and equivalent to a routine enema - a metaphorical flushing of habitual activity, not your bi-weekly bowl of Colon Blow. Here's a vignette of my weekend with friends in Boston, Massachusetts.
I'm overly focused on the long-term trip, when really there are far more people (especially in America) poised and prepared to go somewhere for a couple days than there are people raring for an RTW. Are there any weekend trips you've always wanted to take but haven't yet? Tell me about it, and then go book your Megabus ticket.
Video Editing Note: In this vignette, I wanted to play with the idea of aged, albeit timeless, summer footage, which matched perfectly with this Peanuts-reminiscent soundtrack by Jeris. Of course, I had to include the beautiful capacity of the DSLR video during most of the video clips. I also did a lot of research on how to create the 35mm slide projector look. If you're pining for the HD version, head to Vimeo. Any tips or feedback?
I haven't traveled somewhere new for the sole purpose of leisure in a long time. Ironically, my mind doesn't focus on potential trips I can take myself on without a 'work' angle - work being a very fuzzy concept often mistaken for hobby. Moving to New York and the east coast was a strategic escape from the Midwest region that I've already traversed and learned to appreciate. In this portion of the states, aside from the city whose Indian name is Big Apple (or more accurately, Manna-hata), I've only meandered through Rockport, Maine. And I'm not even sure a trip centered around a daunting photojournalism course counts for leisure.
I wanted to be surrounded by unknown territory and be inspired to constantly day trip or weekend elsewhere. There were music festivals to attend, mountains on which to frolic, friends and family to visit - an abundance of excuses.
Well, the inspiration and excuses weren't strong enough for the first eight months, but the road called me this weekend. Yes, she dialed me up - on Skype - and said:
Lindsay, it's Road here. Look, you've been flying over the North Pole and crap, hitting up Caribbean islands and such, all while your home base is here in the States...in the unknown land of New England! Why have you neglected me? I suggest hitting the...me for Boston this weekend. Why not? Join the rest of the working world and take a weekend. Make me screech --I mean proud.
Her video was super choppy, but I got the message. In the name of the road and seizing my potentially fleeting New York days, I booked some Megabus tickets to Boston to visit my good friend, Katie, and of course the puritanical motherland.
Museum cocktail parties, national park hikes, fancy sandwiches, ocean air - I'm not really sure what side of Boston I'll see this weekend, but if you have any recommendations, how about leaving a comment and spearheading a Nomadderwhere, user-generated guide to Boston! I took the same approach when re-discovering Chicago in 2009, and your comments facilitated a unique week. And I don't mean to draw uncouth connections between Beantown and the Windy City...
Empire of Illusion came into my hands over a long dinner in Astoria. The carcass of a quality tapas spread and octopus massacre lay in between myself, a New York City civil servant, and an emergency room doctor. The combination of my background and recent experience prompt many big city people to ask questions about potential conflicts of thought, action, norms, etc. They are usually on point.Read More
This is a two-pronged post - conceptual and practical - so before you hate on cats, read the first half and reap the benefits. This week officially marked my sixth month living in New York City. Spending $100+ on shipping boxes was a cost I happily incurred, in the moment and in hindsight. Transporting little things on quick trips home was a breeze, especially since I've already weeded through and prioritized my material things in life. But the last step in this transition and relocation was the transportation of my 10 year-old feline, Alli.
Owning a cat at this stage in the game is one of the few things that goes against my potential nomadic ease. Three years of college in dorms and sorority houses weren't conducive to hosting her, and post-college travels only had me in her vicinity for 49% of that time. For nearly ten years, my parents were wildly flexible and tolerant to house my shedding ball of love. And when the decision to move to New York called for a serious analysis of my pet ownership, I was overwhelmed at the extent to which I couldn't live without her.
We suburban Midwestern gals tend to grow painfully attached to our household animals, and I assume this touches on a maternal reaction to a dependent's reliance, which we embrace with fervor. We hear and respond to 'the call' - whether it's directed at us or not - to serve other beings. And it hits us with a glee/glum one-two punch; the latter only for the inevitable life choices or threat of loss an invested pet owner must face.
Though I find it a ridiculous debate and one that deserve zero airtime in any arena, I know not everyone enjoys cats, hearing about cats, justifying the existence of cats, etc. And though I am scribing and cutting video with those feline travelers in mind, Alli has been an obstacle to one half of my lifestyle and a beloved necessity to the other.
Dare I say we all have similar parallels?
I know a man named Jase who could easily steal the "Most Interesting Man in the World" title away from the bearded Dos Equis gent. Though I'm not completely clued in to the inner workings of his life, it appears he has very few factors hindering him from living the life he does: one of unconventional exploration. When he's not driving across continents, he's bartending for first class flyers. Jase is one of the few people I know that can actually live a nomadic existence without a desire for the opposite. He's the exception.
As my dad likes to diagnose, I have a tendency to be a contrarian, not only in the sense that I follow an unconventional job path but that I lean toward what's underrepresented in any sphere. I was a grungy nomad with a Blackberry, a sorority girl in art school. I summon a Devil's advocate response to any topic, but I don't put on black lipstick and call myself a nonconformist. These aren't conscious decisions. I keep my emotional eggs scattered in many different lifestyle baskets, to stay balanced and maintain the ability to relate to diverse people. My cat acts as my personal weight toward a more stationary and conventional path, for which I do have lingering desires. And I think most of us do, if not for that then something else.
Individually, we all tend to dabble, desire what we don't have, and wish to do it all. If you live a committed and routine life, you probably have the occasional hunger for wildly-dangerous spontaneity. And I've met plenty of travelers who can't silence the impulse to nest. Had I given Alli away in the move, I would have lost the sometimes necessary 'ball and chain', not to mention something I love. And had I merely left Alli where she was in Indiana, my move would have seemed an uneasy balance of two lifestyles: a nest with a false bottom or a trip that lasted too long. I desire a lifestyle that doesn't overindulge or invest in one way but moderates with many, because things change quickly and constantly.
Never letting the dust settle doesn't necessarily mean movement. It means variety. It means evolution. I'm not dedicated to being a nomad or a cat-wielding spinster, I'm just open to being influenced by the things, beings, and experiences that matter to me over time.
Guide to Flying Stateside with a Carry-On Cat
For those of you who don't like cats, stop reading. This is the practical part where I cringe over the amount of bad websites on this topic in existence and my subsequent call to make my own wee guide. This being a strenuous experience for human and feline alike, the only thing that will make you feel more comforted and secure is preparation. Don't take this situation lightly. The following relates specifically to flying with Delta, but most airlines will require some variation of these steps. And obviously, these were my steps, but everyone has differing opinions over big or tiny details. Ask your vet for reassurance.
When booking your ticket, ask to reserve a spot for your cat as a carry-on in the cabin. Each seating area only allows a certain number of animals on a flight. Do yourself and kitty a favor and book a non-stop.
Flying across state lines is surprisingly a Department of Agriculture issue. Research what is required of the destination state in terms of pet inoculations and documentation. Frequent your veterinarian to receive a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (or a health certificate), and expect to pay $30+ for these pieces of paper along with any necessary shots (often rabies). These are only valid within 10 days of travel, so schedule this visit a couple days before the flight.
Purchase a soft kennel to ensure its fit under the seat in front of you. I dug into the airline's website to find out the specific model of airplane I was flying and the measurements of the foot storage. First shopping online makes finding specific measurements and reviews easier than at a physical store, but before I bought the kennel, I had my cat 'try it on for size' at the store. Some may frown on that. I smiled at it. After purchase, stick one of the health certificate carbon copies in the kennel pocket.
Leave the kennel out for a couple days prior - to make travel less of a shock and give kitty more time to familiarize with her carrier. I lined the bottom with an old mat that she recognized, along with a maxi pad to make me feel a little better about potential accidents. Packed in my other carry-on were additional mats and pads, along with food and a copy of the health certificate.
Arrive 90 minutes early for check-in, pay your animal carry-on fee, and to ensure getting the best seating arrangement. Having an empty seat beside you is optimal. And make sure you pass through security during a lull. One TSA agent asked me if I wanted do the screening in a closed room, in case she breaks loose. I felt confident I could hold onto her and take her through the metal detector. At these low traffic times, someone should be able to help you return the cat into the kennel, if that's usually a struggle. Thankfully, Indianapolis' TSA agents are wonderful people.
When at the gate, appeal to the attendant (if you haven't already at check-in) to make sure your seating situation is that which will provide the least amount of discomfort for fellow travelers.
Take-off and landing are both awful, because kitty will be hyperventilating and without your assurance that everything is okay. During the flight, put the kennel in your lap, make sure enough air is hitting her, and insert your arm through the flap to hold her close to you, petting the entire time. This works for my cat, who clings to me at the vet's office. And don't be surprised if she slobbers excessively. Mine wouldn't accept any water or food.
Upon disembarking, be prepared for someone to pull you aside to inquire about your cat's health certificate. Though no one asked for mine, I think we'd all rather pay $30+ for nothing than get pulled in by the USDA.
Once at the final destination, make sure before the cat is let free that she knows where to find her water, food, and litter box. I recommend trying to maintain as much continuity as possible from her pre-flight norms - litter brands, food type, bowls, comfort toys or blankets. My cat needed a serious wipe-down out of the kennel, as she urinated a tad and slobbered her mat damp. Post-travels, it will take a while for kitty to feel comfortable and recovered from the traumatic experience. Thankfully, it's all over now.
Kitty ended up having to relocate back to Indianapolis because I got another traveling gig. On this leg, I consulted with a vet about giving her a mild sedative, which she took right before leaving for the airport. We tested the drug on her a couple nights prior, and it hit her like a brick within 20 minutes. Unfortunately, when it came to flying time, the pill didn't dissolved quickly, and its effects hit her five hours later back at home, swerving like a drunken sailor.
Crush up any sedative you give your cat into soft food she will easily digest. Test this practice a couple nights prior and make sure she has supervision the entire time. She will try to jump, and she will not be coordinated enough to succeed.
Do you know where we were a year ago today?
This is a game my family plays. Actually, this is just a common sentence equation my parents throw around, about which my brother and I like to joke. Whether we recall where we were last month or dream of our future location a week away, the Clarks can often be found discussing their coordinates except where they are in the present.
Today, I'm sporting my genes and recalling my exact location at the 2010 New Year: on the Pacific Harbour beach in Fiji, taking a break from an exhausting project. Don't worry; I have a purpose for this nostalgia.Read More
I am 26 days fresh in New York City. Already recovered from the lower back strains of poorly lifting a 65 lb. military trunk, I'm finding real comfort in the room that houses my first purchased mattress and this neighborhood that seems to defy the modern-day NYC paradigms. As enjoyable as this month-long transition has been - and as dedicated as I am to making this city mine - I still feel in transit, and this feeling seems potentially eternal.Read More
Composing somewhere around 30,000 feet, I'm completely immersed in the inevitable pool of realization. After a childhood in rural Indiana, an academic pilgrimage throughout the state, and 50 countries of exploration later, I'm finally settling on my first independent living situation.
I chose out of a sea of laudable contenders a city that for years seemed too self-praising for my tastes. I've never encountered anyone who feels as conflicted about New York City's energy as me, but emerging from the self-made pit of doubt and prejudice, I came to the exciting conclusion that this massive metropolis is where I'm supposed to be. It's safe to say I no longer roll my eyes at the "cool girl" city in the classroom of America.Read More
I'm moving my home base. I actually have an apartment in New York City. Did any of you ever thought this would happen?
In case this simple video update doesn't give you all the answers you need, I'll fill you in from the plane ride over.
A self-starting, world traveling, commercial fishing, supremely athletic, go-getter. That's a whole lot of epithets. For those of you who haven't yet read up on Sierra, be sure to check out Part 1 of this series before reading on to learn more about her new project in Alaska!
Sierra Anderson and I have only met through google chats and phone conversations, but being on such similar paths led us to becoming friends and collaborators. This series of Interview a Traveler continues to give kudos where they are due...to fellow travelers doing some very cool things.
You've recently just started a new venture called The Real Alaska. What's the premise behind it, and how do you hope to generate revenue from this?
The Real Alaska, founded by Brett Veerhusen and myself, is a blog and reality web-show documenting our "re-admittance" into the commercial fishing scene this past summer. Brett spent his summer captaining for the first time in Bristol Bay, Alaska, while I worked as the “skiff-wo-man” for my dad in Chignik off the peninsula. We both grew up in the commercial fishing scene. In fact, Brett and I refer to it as our second lives, one that most of our friends don’t even know about.
Alaska is virtually its own country. It's a completely different element up there with very different people doing risky business around the clock. Through our own personal journeys, we hope to educate, entertain, and provide insight into what this industry is all about. Eventually, we'll broaden our scope to encompass all things Alaskan and bring in contributors.
Being that we both are entrepreneurs, we hope to pitch this to investors, get better equipment, and turn this into something more. We have a vision, but right now we're building credibility, a portfolio, and letting it develop organically, in order to have something to pitch down the road.
How do you deal with the ever-nagging issue of money, and what advice would you give my budget-minded readers?
I'd recommend developing a skill you can use on the road, something you can barter with to help you save money. This was the case with the SMU Travel Bug and hotels/adventure companies, because we had a marketable outlet for companies to use. It doesn't have to be a website or video editing skills. Photography, though, is a big one, and I just recently took this hobby up myself. Multimedia is huge in marketing businesses these days. If you can add to that or help a business out, they can help you in return.
Do some extra work for a family. Be an au pair. Apply for the Peace Corps. Networking is huge. There are plenty of WWOOFs along the way where you can trade work for rent, too.
Why do you personally find travel documentation important, and what would be your ideal job/lifestyle in five years?
I'm a bit of a dreamer and very inspired by what I see. Documentation has become my portfolio, but more than that, it's like therapy. It’s a way for me to hopefully inspire others to hop off the bandwagon and experience a world outside of their own. Although I don’t have a degree in journalism or multimedia, I am building credibility based on the experiences I document now. I’ve always enjoyed entertaining, so documenting allows me to do that and also educate.
If The Real Alaska takes off in the future, I can see myself taking people on adventures and documenting their experiences on camera. Anything having to do with multimedia and journalism would be my niche - where I can share my passion with others. To be a host and take people around the world, or in this case, Alaska, would be a dream job.
How to do you reason the unconventional and daring life you lead? I know many people would love to have their lives revolve around travel.
A professor of mine once told me:
In your 20s, always choose the option that you'll learn from the most and wait till your 30s to choose the option that pays the most.
Regardless of what I do, I want this time in my life to be about building valuable experiences, not possessions. I don’t understand how everyone pushes us to spend the "now" getting ahead, jump starting careers immediately out of college, finding the perfect someone, and ‘settling down’ only to later question it all.
In my opinion, there are two types of people in this world: those who talk about traveling and those who actually do it. Many say they want to or wish they could but come up with a million reasons not to, money being the biggest excuse.
If I wasn’t doing what I am now, I would take off to Haiti and go work there for a year. They could use that help right now. Join the Peace Corps, Volunteer Abroad, etc. It doesn't necessarily take money to do that, nor does it mean you have to be single either. Two of my best friends who are newly married and tight on finances have still found ways to travel and work in different countries. Traveling is like jumping off the high dive in the swimming pool. You just have to take that first step, then you're in.
It's important to be practical, too. If you really want to travel like you talk, your going to have to give up and sacrifice other things. I gave up having a car for about three years to lessen my expenses.
How do you know when a travel or work experience is right for you?
That really comes down to your personal goals and motivation. Sometimes work opportunities come a lot sooner than we anticipate, and we're afraid to jump in knowing we might be tied down. Everything we do is a learning experience; however, don't let money be the main motivator. Trust your instincts.
Being well-cultured and having a diverse portfolio of work experiences are very important in today’s world, so traveling in my opinion helps you go far no matter what career choices you make. If you can think in "bigger picture” terms, you’re already setting yourself up for success in the future.
Be sure to check out the first half of this interview. UPDATE: Sierra has a new TV show on TLC, Hook, Line & Sisters. Do you have any questions for Sierra about her future travels, The Real Alaska, or her experiences throughout 40+ countries? Leave a comment, and I'll make sure she gets the question!
She self-created her own World Traveler Internship. She knows the ins and outs of commercial fishing. She's a star athlete with an extreme passion for satiating her wanderlust. Let's check her out.
Sierra Anderson and I have only met through google chats and phone conversations, but being on such similar paths led us to becoming friends and collaborators. I've been amazed by her tenacity ever since. This series - Interview a Traveler - continues to give kudos where they are due; to fellow travelers doing some very cool things.
Her Bio: I am an Alaskan native, a local of Breckenridge Colorado, and a daughter of a commercial fisherman and world traveler. I grew up in the remote bush of Alaska, and when I wasn’t traveling, my summers were spent fishing off the Alaska Peninsula. Through university and travel, my zest for the outdoors and thrills increased exponentially. I'm a self-proclaimed "Curious George."
So you're a self-proclaimed "travel bug." How did you acquire this fantastic disease?
I’m a genetic byproduct of my mother, the globetrotter. Having traveled to 87 countries herself, I was fortunate during my formative middle school years to join her in many of these exotic adventures. Since then, traveling has been in my blood. My mother made each experience as authentic and educational as possible. That meant reading up on everything, never traveled in tour groups, renting cars and traveling cross-country through the continents of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
My dad is the same way. This was the start of an impacting theme of my life. I learned what it meant to push myself to the limits each day and it carried over to how I live my life now.
Tell us about the SMU Travel Bug and how you went about creating your own school-sponsored travel program.
It was a team effort. Without Shelley, Cody and our new "bug" Tyler, none of it would have happened. I was motivated to try something new. I took a risk in doing it, and I made some valuable relationships that helped make it all a reality.
I was inspired by STA’s World Travel Internship in December 2009. I applied right away, but after finding out in March that I didn’t make the cut, I wasn’t ready to give up. I discovered that the competition was a great learning experience and opportunity to meet some very cool and knowledgeable people in the field, not to mention meeting this awesome chick interviewing me right now.
Motivation: I thought to myself, "What if the World Travel Internship could be sponsored by SMU instead?" I wanted the challenge of making it happen for myself and to use my travels to inspire others with the spirit of adventure. I knew the intrinsic benefits of travel, and I wanted everyone else in my school bubble to see it, too.
Risk: Fortunately, I came out of college debt free but also with little to no money in hand. I needed the funding. In a matter of two months, I met my travel buddies, Shelley, Cody, and Tyler, then planned the journey to Europe with out really knowing whether or not it was actually going to happen.
Networking: After concocting a sponsorship proposal with our itinerary, budget, purpose and everything the SMU Travel Bug would do and provide, we presented these things to a number of teachers and faculty, including the International Department in hopes of gathering support. As an advocate for world travel himself, and mentor to me, Dean Niemi, of the Cox Business School, was on board and personally sent a letter to the International Department proclaiming his support and financial backing for the SMU Travel Bug. His support was fundamental.
Come May 1st, we got the approval of the Study Abroad and received enough funding to pay for my half of the journey (as a business school alumna). Halfway through our trip, Outdoor Interlaken, a prestigious outdoor adventure company in Switzerland, offered to sponsor that portion of our trip. The famous Hostel in Interlaken, Balmers Herberge, also hosted us for the week.
Where were you expecting the SMU TB to propel you, and what has actually come from the whole experience?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business, specifically in the adventure travel industry, and I thought this might be a means of working towards that. Unfortunately for the SMU TB, it ended up being too much too soon. I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it, but in the meantime, it's a resource and portfolio of experience. Now I take more a journalist and multimedia approach to things. I have developed different skills that will propel me further down this path.
In your opinion, what are some essential characteristics of a compatible travel buddy?
Adventurous: It helps if they're a little crazy. But really, it's all about balance. Differences can be a positive thing, as long as they bring out the best and propel each other forward.
Positive: Find a team player that can make it through the grime with little fuss. My travel partner, Shelley, is a great example of this. When we were traveling from Romania to Greece on a stinky train, Shelley was incredibly sick. She had every reason to be miserable but managed to find some sense of humor in the situation and make the best of it. Attitude is everything, and it’s quite contagious.
Physically fit: Most people don’t consider this as that important, but it is. You never know when you might have to walk five miles with 40 pounds of luggage on your back. Yeah, it happens.
Flexible: If you’re on the hunt to find the perfect travel companion, remember you have to first be that person to them. You have to be able to make adjustments and sacrifices yourself. You’re not only living together but having to make quick, sound decisions every day.
What has this post-trip, post-graduation, “limbo” time been like for you, and how have you been deciding the next steps throughout this time?
The transition out of college is not often an easy adjustment. College is seriously a bubble. The SMU Travel Bug propelled me toward what I want to do, and since then, I’ve been working as a ski coach in Breckenridge, herring fishing in Sitka in the Spring, and salmon fishing in the summer. I’ve managed to deal with being ‘limbo’ from living in a resort town with varying seasons.
Presently, I am living in my hometown of Breckenridge, Colorado. Having just returned from 3 months commercial salmon fishing in Alaska, I am embracing the freedom of now before starting my job as a ski coach and instructor. These next couple months are about documenting my story of commercial fishing in Alaska. As of right now, I am traveling in Turkey and taking advantage of my downtime to hone in on video editing and writing.
What is The Real Alaska? Be sure to check out the second half of this interview with Sierra. Do you have any questions for her about the SMU Travel Bug, travel-centric entrepreneurship, or her experiences throughout 40+ countries? Leave a comment, and I'll make sure she gets the question!
With recent years of life seeing 30 flights or more,
it's almost surprising today marks a first in my life as a transient.
Reliant on repetitive lessons or others for the logistics,
I rarely put much thought into an airport day.
The more effort and worry
at times the more likely I actually grasp the astounding experience
of lifting off.Read More