Alaska

Interview a traveler: the trailblazing travel bug, part 2

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 Fish

Sierra Anderson Fish

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

The Real Alaska

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.

Sierra harbor mountains inspiration

Sierra harbor mountains inspiration

Why do you personally find travel documentation important, and what would be your ideal job/lifestyle in five years?

Sierra thinking Greece

Sierra thinking Greece

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.

Sierra Anderson Venice sinking city flood

Sierra Anderson Venice sinking city flood

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.

Fishing in Alaska

Fishing in Alaska

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!

Interview a traveler: the trailblazing travel bug, part 1

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 Hanggliding

Sierra Anderson Hanggliding

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.

Sierra Skiing

Sierra Skiing

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.

Sierra Anderson Running

Sierra Anderson Running

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.

Sierra renting a car in Corfu

Sierra renting a car in Corfu

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.

Sierra Travel Bug

Sierra Travel Bug

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!

Consume & Update: Football, Fishing, and Facelifts

The amount of reading and weeding I did this week compared to how much I displayed below is amazing. I spent hours on this one...you had better enjoy it. No really, enjoy :)

The Ongoing Football Debate

I think soccer is swell. American football is also a snazzy game. I think the American distaste for soccer on the ultra-popularity scale is confusing, and our "jump on the band wagon" mentality when it comes to World Cup fever makes us look all the more silly and stereotypically hard headed. AFAR magazine takes a moment to comment on this debate, but what I especially appreciated was the John Cleese rant at the end. Enjoy.

Heavy, Heavy Thoughts

I know I had issues in Fiji with communication and staying true to my belief in how humans should coexist and relay information. My friend, Amanda (see her Interview a Traveler), is struggling with similar issues in Bangladesh, a country that has real trouble in the verbal sector.

Alarmingly, what I found myself doing was adapting to another way that Bangladeshis communicate: through force...After several seconds of this “masculine” throw-down as I screamed, “Go, uncle, move on,” I raised my own hand and smacked the wallah in the back to snap him out of his red-blooded trance.

I hit another human being. I resorted to violence, the sort of violence I am trying to combat in my work. In all reality, he didn’t even respond to my hand smacking his back. He just pedaled forward, yelling at the man behind him. But was it appropriate? Though it is culturally acceptable, should I have hit him?

I admire her for vocalizing a phenomenon that surely comes up in many people's travels - probably something most try to repress. I know at one point I got caught up in a rowdy moment with the kids and thwacked my host sister with the back of my hand just as all the other kids did. She didn't flinch...she actually found it funny and smiled at me. I was silently horrified with myself.

Have you had any moments like the ones Amanda and I have had abroad?

Fire Dancing in Fiji

Nice work capturing the moment, Gary.

Sierra at Sea

Listen to this story...My friend, Sierra, is a world traveler, star documentarian, and commercial fisherwoman in Alaska. Right now, she's on board her father's boat, wrangling herring and braving an intense fishing season, one which recently put in her a whirlwind of drama. Check out this video she shot while on her father's boat, which was recently assaulted by another vessel, and then follow that with her story of how it all went down.

Other Discoveries

Help Gary Arndt plan his trip to Spain...where should he go?

I love Anthony Bourdain for his determination to get his shows RIGHT - especially after knowing what we went through in Fiji - and I'm also a big fan of his writing style...and when he writes about writing.

Schrute Farms on TripAdvisor...it's performing mighty well

The Ethical Traveler's Guidelines, in case you thought you were getting sloppy

Update on Nomadderwhere

As you may be able to tell, I've been busy this week. I hope you enjoyed my Carnival of Blogs, and thankfully no one realized I made a lingo error with the use of "Blogs" instead of the more apt title of "Posts." I said the wrong thing in my video and went with it. Eh.

A Big Thank You: I'd like to say thank you to Rusja Foster, who helped me photoshop my Carnival of Blogs icon. Yes, this is actually a picture of me circa the 1987 New Year, and I wanted to have a fun visual for the week-long event. Rusja got it done and done fast. She's also in the top 50 for UK's STA World Traveler Internship.

Potential Facelift: I'm in the process of giving my site a facelift, since my tabs above will soon not accommodate the vast array of info to come. I'd love to make this process of reformatting my site a little transparent. By that, I mean I'd like your input. Give me a little help by telling me what you like about this site, why you come back for more, and what I can do better in the future. It takes about 30 seconds...unless you're an overthinker.

Give Me Your Input

Updated This Week: You may have noticed new icons on the right sidebar that link to different topics of interest. I'm trying out some new button ideas for my future reformatting - plus, I think it's easier to navigate to what you want. What do you think about these images? Also updated this week are more of my static pages that needed a little dusting. Don't look just once and forget about them. They're always changing! Check out the following this week.

About, Garrett, Baby Steps, Travel Advice

1 Minute or Less Moments: Fiji is still unfolding before your eyes (in the form of video and written posts), which is why I'm on week five of posting raw video files onto my Nomadderwhere Facebook Fan page. This week, new videos are ready for your viewing eyes. Click on the icon below to watch the view from my bedroom window of Cyclone Mick, me "reporting live from the eye of the storm," and a coffee break amidst the worst of the wind and rain. Always a good time...

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Nomadderwhere's Facebook Fan Page

Journeys of a Lifetime in March

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Sampo Arctic Icebreaker: Crunch across Finlands waterways in this 75 meter ship, and psych yourself up for a quick dip in the icy sea - protected by a thermal watertight suit, of course. Book well in advance. This looks awesome.

The Lower Zambezi River: What an incredible ride in between Zambia and Zimbabwe, where I actually saw elephants swimming, massive crocodiles sunning, and hippos pop out of nowhere - scaring the living daylights outta me.

By Road

From Cairo to the Cape: Africa is a trail map, and this is the main route. Bike it, overland it, drive it, but I beg you...don't walk through the Sahara. Give yourself at least two months, more like four, to make the trek, and you'll really feel like you know Africa.

From Delhi to Agra: Try shrine-hopping in India, avoiding the bulk of the heat and rain in March. Aside from the usual must-dos like the Taj Mahal and Agra Fort, be sure to visit Fatehpur Sikri to see a well-preserved palace complex with an interesting history...no, really!

By Rail

The Shinkansen: The mother of all train systems. The Japanese are so time-efficient, the driver will humbly apologize if the train arrives even a minute behind the expected TOA. All you'll be thinking on this trip, aside from how clean and swanky everything is, is scenery...scenery...scenery...ooooh, cherry blossoms!

Venice Simplon-Orient-Express: Definitely not for the backpacker type, this line from London toParis to Innsbruck to Venice is possibly the most luxurious train in the world (ex: bring your black tie). Mark off two days and one night in March 2011 and take one of the year's first rides across the Alps and Dolomites.

On Foot

The Grand Traverse: Amble the great divide between Fiordland and the Southern Alps in New Zealand's South Island, and make sure you get there in time for the clear views in March. A five day trek with camping lodges on the way; it sounds like you need to book ahead to witness this masterpiece of nature.

The National Mall: After Japan, why not doing the Grand World Tour of Cherry Blossoms (not a real trip) by hitting up D.C. thawing trail. Bring some stellar walking shoes to visit all the memorials, but don't forget your artsy scarf and cat-eye glasses for the museums next!

In Search of Culture

Venetian Legacy: After taking the luxurious train from London to Venice, why not continue onward by stepping back in time, to when the Venetians were on top of the trading world. Take a ferry to Cyprus, via Greece, to view the cultural and economic influences on the harbor cities - town halls, mansions, fortresses, and all things tall, flashy and handsome.

Moorish Spain: Wind around Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada and Ronda to observe the remnants of the region once called the most civilized and properous in Europe (for 400 years, I might add). The Moors were partial to using Arabic architectural elements, bling in the form of gold leaf, and serious tricks with water fountain construction.

In Gourmet Heaven

Malbec in Mendoza: I don't think I need to do too much convincing with this one. Here's all you need to know: Argentina, mountains, wine, meat...done. Oh, and I can't forget, the first weekend of March holds the Vendimia, or harvest, festival. Don't you dare miss that!

Margaret River Wine Region: Man, I'm all about the wine this month. Visit the very bottom left of Australia in March, and you'll not only have beautiful red teeth from all the lovely wine tastings but also ears ringing from the sweet music of local events and festivals. While you're there, why not check out where the Indian and Southern Oceans converge. Kir-Splash!

Into the Action

Dogsledding in Alaska: Go just about any cold month and experience your mushing fantasy; however, venture up to Alaska in March and try your skills on the Iditarod trail, which will be held at that time. Not sure how much of a spectator sport it is, with its 1,151 mile course, but surely the scenery and will of the competitors is awe-inspiring.

Vermont's Catamount Trail: Can you ski across an entire state? Why not give it a try? Because it's hard...but, boy, what a story you could tell your friends back at home, through your chapped lips. Take a month and meander up or down the trail through the Green Mountains, stopping in country inns along the way. Be sure and carb load with lots of maple syrup!

Up and Away

Heliskiing the Alps: It's exactly what it sounds like: skiing on new snow overlooking the entire mountain range of the European Alps. Whether you go through France, Austria, Switzerland, or Italy, it doesn't matter. Base yourself at one ski resort or move around across borders. All you're going to remember are the amazing views and the adrenaline rushes.

Microlight on my Golden Birthday

Microlight on my Golden Birthday

Victoria Falls by Microlight: I was fortunate enough to experience this on my golden birthday, when I turned 23 on the 23rd. Get up early in the morning, put on a helmet, and board a kite with a lawn mower engine attached. Fly into a surreal world above the trees where you can see hippos swimming, elephant herds wandering, and the world's largest waterfall spew water of gigantic proportions.

In Their Footsteps

Route Napoleon: Why march in March along Napoleon's footsteps post-exile in Alba? Why, for authenticity of course! Make your way from Cannes to Grenoble, although I imagine you won't be greeted by mobs of supporters calling you "emperor," Oh well, at least you'll see some pretty cool scenery.

Tolstoy's Russia: Witness what inspired Leo Tolstoy to create work, such as Anna Karenina, by following his trail of museums and influential cities. Be certain you take a day (or two) trip to Tula, where he was born and now lies today. Tula also marks the location of his experimental school, friends, favorite natural surroundings, the peasants he worked with, and his novels' conceptions and creations. Enjoy the brisk winds of Russia in March!

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in April for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.