Nicholas Dubois Photography

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Looking Through Glass

Photography, since it’s earliest of forms, was designed to capture the light of what’s in front of us and to preserve it for the future. Despite where you choose to take it from here in practice, there is no escaping this fundamental truth, and though its been almost 200 years since the first photograph was captured, we continue to obsess over these superficial representations of the world in which we live.

Whether you prefer to identify as a photographer or not, our present circumstances have gifted many of us with the seemingly limitless ability to create photographs at almost no cost of effort, and we cannot seem to help ourselves. This cannot have been by accident. There must be a reason for our obsession, and if there is, what is the best way to capture what we have been looking for?

Talking around a campfire about the skills we’ve developed through our life that we are the most proud of.

I was not around when Joseph Niépce took the first photograph out of his apartment window, nor even when George Eastman released the simple Brownie camera to the public en masse, so I hesitate to value these historic perspectives. Indeed, as many who have taken photographs can understand, the context in which a frame exists is often obscured by the frame itself, so I will take it back as far as I can comfortably recollect with my own photographic memories, so to speak.

Our family journeyed to find the perfect Christmas Tree.

Gathered in a relative’s living room, I can remember colorful envelopes folded behind stacks of 25-32 exposures that someone had grabbed on a recent journey that they had taken. Sometimes the images would be familiar, and I could recall in my own mind the moment’s that those images immortalized, while other times, I would look on jealously as worlds unknown to me were locked behind glossy stock. The photographs would be flipped through, admired, passed on to the next set of curious eyes, and for what? Are we boasting the richness of experience that our lives have brought us? Maybe we are seeking some form of affirmation that, in the experiences we’ve had, there exists a value extending beyond our own memory? Or could it be that we are simply trying to communicate the wonder we possessed at the instant of exposure?

Why walk around rocks when you can climb over them?

Well, some years and many thousands of photographs later, it has occurred to me that photographs will ultimately be shared, and the reasons behind why they are shared can be as diverse as the individuals who choose to share them, multiplied by every moment any photograph has ever been shared. Yet, it seems that the choice to take a photograph in the first place can be simplified into two simple objectives. To me this seems important, being the moment of creation, and also, in the timely decision to open a shutter exists the origin of any reaction that particular exposure may invoke.

A special moment between new pals.

First, we take photographs of scenes that we anticipate others might have an interest in viewing. Sometimes this instinct is spontaneous and emerges only as the image itself unfolds before us. Other times, we might have been asked as a bystander to take a camera in order to capture a complete family, not void of the loved one wielding the device. Even better yet, if you’re lucky and talented enough, you could be paid for your visual perspective of major affairs, such as weddings, banquets, sporting events, etc.

Four friends. I don’t know if they were new friends or old, but they enjoyed this view together for a while.

Secondly, we take photographs out of curiosity and personal or professional interest in further exploring what we have found before us. You might relate this to a scientific practice of photography, as criminal investigators who might photograph a crime scene, or astrophysicists who capture scenes from the far off reaches of our universe. These photographs are taken with the knowledge that there is more to what we are seeing than meets the eye, and further exploration, or even experimentation, might expose a novel perspective of our subject. Also fitting into this category, are long exposures that often create supernatural patterns previously unknown to our eye, or “shooting from the hip” unaware of what is being captured within the frame. Many might even say that the strange desire to take photographs of ourselves fits into this standard, by allowing us to explore an otherwise impossible view of our body (As opposed to mirrors where we are seeing a flipped image). Yet put simply, I like to think about this choice as reflective of our desire to further examine the visual world in whatever detail provided for us, in order to see what might have been missed otherwise.

Streaks of flowing water in a long exposure image of Tahquamenon Falls.

Now, our choice to push the shutter button exists, like many things, on a sliding scale between those two extremes of pure experimentation or observation, and entirely aesthetic composition. The two extremes are also mutually exclusive of one another, since without experimentation and observation, it would be impossible to determine what is aesthetically interesting, and there would be little motivation to capture or observe a scene that lacks striking aesthetic qualities.

Eating an apple in the wilderness.

So, how is this going to help anyone take better photographs? If you’re wielding heavy duty professional equipment, you might spend a lot of time thinking about lighting, framing, camera settings, and gear you wish you had that would make your pictures way better, right? And if you’re just poking at a smartphone screen, why should you even think about this in the first place when it probably will just go up on Facebook anyways?

Well, this might all be true, but the fact is, while technical knowledge and high end equipment might improve the objective quality of your images, the subjective content of your images is completely reliant on the set of eyes behind the glass. Think back to the living room full of relatives looking lovingly through glossy memories, and try to remember what made them important to you. If you were the one doing the showing, it was probably the elation of sharing with the people you care about, an experience that was profound or special to you in some way. If you were the observer, you might have experienced an empathetic response to the moments being shared with you. It probably wasn’t the technical finesse the photographer exhibited in the shot that you noticed, though it could certainly add depth to a scene, and it definitely wasn’t the quality of the print that helped facilitate those emotions. It was the very human act of sharing and communicating a sensual experience (get your minds out of the gutter folks). Of course these Kodak prints are all but gone, stored deep in plastic totes long forgotten, but the act of sharing photographs is more common and easier than it ever has been before.

Minto and Fender express pure joy running through the Michigan snow.

The point that I’ve been trying to get to, is on the importance of understanding the photographer as simply a person behind a camera. Many people will try to take photographs that emulate what they have seen, and found to be beautiful in other photographs. Though, as close as they may come, they will never find an emotional depth to what they have captured. You must go out and find what in the world inspires your own eye, and photograph it, share the images if you want, but definitely go back to look at them from time to time to reflect on those moments. Then do it again. Maybe even go back to those old dusty bins and pull out the faded polaroids and slides of decades passed.

A rocky mountain stream.

It seems silly to put into so many words, but why wouldn’t we want to look at and share photographs that we were once so inspired to capture in the first place?

A Tail of Winter

Thousands of years ago, as humans migrated and spread across the terrestrial landscapes of our planet, the methods and modes of transportation diversified with each challenge faced by these early explorers. Driven not by fame or fortune, but instead by necessity, our early ancestors traveled deep into the cold white expanses of Asia and North America, following large packs of animals rich in fat and thick furs. As the snow drifted deeper, and the winds grew sharper, a relationship formed between humans and another highly intelligent and cooperative pack animal, the wolf.

Bolt and Stinky lovingly greet one of my fellow guides Luke during a snow storm.

The history of this relationship is vague and uncertain, however, the outcome is clear to anyone who as ever owned or interacted with the only animal ever granted status as man’s ‘best friend.’ From the northern Grey Wolf, a breed of dog was bred into existence that was highly devoted, sturdy, strong, and tireless. Fastened to a rudimentary sled along with a team of other dogs, these animals would pull their human companions for many miles for a fee of raw meat and a place in the pack. Thus, Dog Sledding was born.

A team of Siberian Huskies in British Columbia, 1909. These dogs were pivotal in transporting goods and equipment during the Gold Rush, as well as for early Arctic expeditions. Source: http://www.historymuseum.ca

The term ‘Mushing,’ as it’s often referred to, derives from the French word ‘marcher’ which means to walk. This was the command that French colonials used to order their team of dogs to begin moving. From it’s pre-historic roots, both the dogs and the activity itself have changed significantly. Used heavily for the North American fur trade of colonial times, and the Gold Rush of Alaska and the Canadian Rockies, dog sledding spread and diversified. Different regions sported a variety of breeds, from the massive Alaskan Malamute that pulled massive freight loads, to the stark white Samoyed used in the summer as well for sheep herding, each had it’s unique purpose specialized to the needs of it’s region of origin. Similar to the dogs themselves, the organization of dog sledding teams varied as well. In most of Canada and the Northern United States, the dogs were fastened double file onto a single cable called the gang line that would pull the sled in a narrow formation down wooded trails cut through dense Boreal forests. In the wide open tundras of Siberia, Greenland, and the Nunavut, dogs were each attached to the sled with a single line, and spread out in a wide fan formation that more evenly distributed the weight. Though the means and methods were varied, the purpose of driving a team of dogs across vast landscapes of snow and ice was never lost.

Inuit hunter and his dogsled team travel the frozen polar sea of Baffin Bay in search of seals, walrus and polar bears in northwest Greenland. The dogs are fastened to the sled in a fan formation, each attached to a line that runs directly to the sled. Source: https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.com

Today, with the rapid progress of motorized transportation, the utility of dog sledding has diminished, however the spirit remains in both the people who have experienced the power of a dog team, and the dogs who never lost their desire to run and pull. Across the world, Mushing has developed into a highly competitive sport that is both brutal and genial, where your competition is the ceaseless arctic wind, and your team is comprised of the most loving and devoted companions you may ever know.

The two Siberian Huskies in my kennel, Lou and Sparky, demonstrate their ceaseless enthusiasm for running.

Though the activity today is mainly sport, there are still pockets of the world where the most efficient mode of transportation is by dog team. Far north in Greenland, Nunavut, Alaska, and Siberia, the price of gasoline is too expensive to justify the use of snowmobiles for longer commutes, and thus teams of dogs are still utilized as transportation in these communities. Arguably the most famous contemporary utilization of dogs came in 1925 when the conditions were so harsh in Alaska, that neither ships, trains, nor aircraft could deliver a priceless cargo of anti-toxin to a remote town struck with Diphtheria, an illness fatal to children. A relay of dog teams delivered the medicine over one thousand miles from Nenana, Alaska to Nome, Alaska in just five days, saving many young lives. The event today is memorialized by a statue in Central Park, New York, as well as a one thousand mile race held every year in Alaska called the Iditarod that comes to completion in the same remote town, Nome.

Leonhard Seppala and his lead dog Togo of Nome serum run fame, 1927.
Source: Spirit of a Racer in a Dog’s Blood, Stephanie Clifford, New York Times

Now, despite the romantic history of dog sledding and the ways in which it has affected the world of people, arguably the most incredible part of this story are the dogs that have made it all possible. Indeed, many a sled dog has endured the harshest conditions ever known to exist on this planet, and carried on diligently to fulfill their duty. Though dog sledding in its most original form has all but died out, the indomitable spirit of the sled dog lives on in each canine bred for such a purpose. For the past several months, I have been immersed in their world, caring for twenty three Alaskan Huskies bent on doing what they do best. Throughout the experience, I have been taken by each one’s ability to both love what they do, and to look after me in return. As we glide quietly through the deep snows of the Boreal North, there have been good days and there definitely have been harder days, yet these canine companions of ours never fail to carry myself and my spirit forward with compassion and intent.

An Alaskan Husky named Chuck. The Alaskan Husky is a breed that has been specially bred for speed and endurance. They are often used in the contemporary race scene.

Eight Alaskan Huskies excited to be running a new trail behind 2017 Yukon 300 finisher, Lynne.

For me, dog sledding has been in dedication to them, to their heritage, and to the spirit of what they embody. Though the work is hard and the nights of winter are long, when I walk out to greet each one in the morning, eyes glinting, and tails wagging, I know just what they hope to do that day. What they were born to do. And we run.

Lady and WXCL resting during a 20 mile run.

Leaders Chuck and Cyborg resting at the front of an eight dog team.

The content of this post is a collection of oral traditions gathered by myself from a number of fellow Mushers, as well as my own personal experience. It only reflects my narrow understanding of the culture and it’s history, and is in no way exhaustive or objective. As are most cultures, dog sledding is far too complex to be summarized in one post, and I urge anyone interested in the subject to do their own research, or even seek out a dog sledding experience of their own!

Gravity of Love

Working in a variety of places, and meeting countless individuals with inspiring histories and experiences of their own, one of the most rewarding opportunities of setting out, away from my roots and into the unknown, have been found in the experiences I have come to share with the people that have been there since my entry into this world. Despite the physical distance that always tends to come between us, these moments bring closer an understanding that we can never truly lose what we have come to know and love.

When I left my home in Rochester, New York for college in a town that I had barely even visited to live with people I had never met, I imagined that leaving was a way to move forward and discover what was ‘out there.’ I wasn’t wrong, but in leaving, I discovered a that there was more to exploration than just experiencing something new. Life is the accumulation of every moment you live, so when the moment passes, I have found that you do not actually leave those moments and people behind, but you carry them with you wherever you go, and with each new moment or relationship we can enrich our past, our hearts, and our minds. I have experienced both sides of this process, and each in our own ways I’m sure, so have we all.

Before I left my small college town in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, my parents were setting out on their own journey to the deserts of central New Mexico in search of their own growth and discovery. It was terrifying for myself, and I’m sure also for the rest of my family. What I thought to be the only true home I had ever known was going to pass out of our lives, and into the past. I decided to stay in New York to preserve my heritage, and viewed New Mexico as a foreign place to visit when I could, and leave when I wished to return ‘home.’ What I failed to realize, was that I had done the same thing several years before, and my parents were about to set out on a journey that would shape our lives in a completely unexpected and significant way. New Mexico would eventually grow, as do all changes that we undergo, into an important part of who we have become, and where we are headed, though Albuquerque has now also passed into the history of our lives.

Now, sitting here in a small Michigan town on the shores of Lake Superior, which has only recently grown in familiarity to me, it is easy to forget the fear of change and growth that plagues us with each new transition we face. The one constant has always been the close friends I have made along the way, and most importantly, my family. Two thousand miles away, a distance that at time’s feels like it could be measured in light years, and only traversed by myself in the cabin of an aircraft far above the world that connects us, my parents are recently returned home after a journey to visit their son, but more importantly, to share with me a world that has become my life.

My Mom and Dad with Prim and Mr. Schue!

Though they had never been here in particular, this trip for them was certainly not the only time that they had taken time out of their lives to travel long distances in order to share with me my own. From the shores of Lake George, New York, to the Vail Valley of Colorado, my parents have done all they can to explore my life, and I myself, from the Rio Grand Valley in New Mexico, to the Hill Country of Texas, have done what I can to explore their own. With each crossing of paths, I have come to discover novelty and wonder in the people that have always been there, and the further growth of a bond that has always seemed limitless.

This isn’t always easy to see, and often times, the weight of the past or obligations of the present can distort our perspective enough to completely miss opportunities, and never is it more important to measure these parts of our lives, than when it all seems to have grown stale.

So we went sledding, my parents and I. We rode, and we talked, and despite the Upper Peninsula’s descent into my own normalcy, we discovered here together, things that none of us had ever seen or done. We loved some dogs, we walked out on the northern ice, and passed the time catching up until eventually we had to say goodbye for our next adventure.

Lake ice at Whitefish Point, Michigan

But, despite the miles that filled the space between us as they flew south, the separate worlds on which we live, seemed to orbit a bit nearer, held close by the gravity of love.

It’s Easier to Experience, Than Explain

Wide eyed and full of anticipation, our guests will arrive at Nature’s Kennel following the long snowy drive down backroads of Luce County, Michigan. Pulling into our parking lot, they are typically greeted by a guide finishing up their morning chores and sent inside the main house for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate. Small talk and boot fitting fill the living room before spilling out into the yard for a dog sledding orientation, and the adventure starts to gear up.

There are a lot of first timers that come from here or there with the dream to experience the power and devotion of a team of sled dogs. Many return from a past journey that kindled a passion for the trail, but each and every one shares a curiosity for the ancient mode of transportation that has inspired countless narratives, a full blown sport, and a culture that is rooted deep in the Northern expanses of ice and snow.

There is an interesting dichotomy present in many outdoor pursuits, between a simplicity in the action of walking through the woods, or in this instance, getting pulled behind a group of excited dogs on a sled, and a complexity in the minutia of managing the logistics behind the experience itself. The guiding profession builds a bridge to soften the cost of entry for individuals seeking to feed an adventurous spirit, and participate in a world unknown.

While we discuss the sled, and give a peek into the activity in which they will soon embark, our new friends have many questions that are often answered with the vague “it’s easier to experience, that to explain,” and we reassure that they will find that they can answer those questions themselves once they are neck deep in the action itself. The most pressing information is in describing the tools that our equipment provides, how to use them, and the basic commands or signals for communication with each other and the dogs. Beyond this information, the simplicity and clarity of mind after getting out there, is where the purpose and reason for embarking on an adventure truly resides.

Soon enough, we pull the quick release that has secured the team while harnessing up, and we are off as the noise and excitement of the kennel is quickly muffled by the snow and trees gathering behind us. Our particular operation maintains a series of trails that provide a handful of options upon departure. We have a 10 mile loop that brings us back to the kennel in 1-2 hours, a 20 mile loop that requires 2-3, and an overnight journey that brings us out onto the 20 mile loop, where the teams will come upon our camp to hole up for the night, and enjoy a more in depth dog sledding adventure before returning the following day.

95% of the trails we run are on State owned land, particularly used for the logging industry. It has been years since the plots we ride on have been cleared, and most would never know unless made aware of the fact. Passing through Pine stands, Aspen groves, and open meadows, the only indication of time or direction is the sun’s movement across the sky, and to the rider, they could be anywhere, faithfully following myself and the dogs into a vast wilderness only briefly interrupted by seasonal roads and snowmobile trails.

Riding through Plantation Pines in Michigan.

Those who have chosen to embark on an overnight will eventually find themselves cruising passed our encampment into the adjacent row of pickets that secure the dogs while we spend a night out. Evening is quickly upon us as the teams are unhooked, sleds are packed up, and the dogs are given a soft nest of straw to bed in.

Mussel wakes up on a snowy Michigan morning.

Our shelter is a big canvas wall tent with a wood stove installed. The tent opens to a covered porch and kitchen to stage our dinner and breakfast for the next morning . Dinner is a backcountry classic with vegetables, potatoes, and meat wrapped in two layers of foil, and prepared back at home base before we left. They are cooked on an iron rack laid over our campfire, and enjoyed around the same fire sitting on a bale of straw. While dinner is cooking, the dog’s evening meal is prepared with frozen blocks of raw beef, kibble, and boiling water, poured together and mixed into a warm beef stew. Each dog is ladled three cups of the mix while the smell of our foil packets begins to drift our way.

After dinner is through, and maybe a s’more or two has been prepared, the tired begins to creep in as we talk gently around the campfire about our lives and what brought us here. The tent goes dark and begins to quiet, and the guides stoke the wood stove one last time before turning in.

The stove requires two or three stoking’s throughout the night, and we typically split this chore between us, taking turns to keep the tent warm. Sleep is usually heavy and full of strange dreams between trips to the outhouse and throwing wood on the fire, with the following day beginning at 6AM to prepare the dogs morning meal, a thermos of coffee, and rekindle the campfire from the night before. The occasional howl will inspire a trip to visit the dogs for a greeting of wagging tails and morning stretches. The howls get more excited once we turn the corner with their sled full of stew close behind, and they are all soon satisfied. Well, some of them would probably eat the bowl too if it wasn’t so darned hard to chew!

Our human breakfast was a new experience for me, and it’s one that come’s highly recommended. A ziplock bag, again prepared before our departure the previous day, that has been filled with a variety of vegetables, mushrooms, bacon bits, cheese, and a couple of raw eggs, then thrown into a pot of boiling water to cook one of the best omelettes you will ever have! Or at least it feels that way in the moment.

Eventually dishes are washed, camp is put away, and the dogs are being hooked up to run the second and last leg of the journey. The sleds pull out, and we are back on the trail for 20 miles as we swing around the loop back to the main kennel.

Bell, Baba, Lady, Charger, Mitch, and Cyborg rest in the shining Michigan sun.

We park the sleds upon returning home, and everyone is tired, but full hearted from the journey. Some might go straight inside to warm icy fingers and toes, while some will stay in the yard to help unhook and bring the dogs back to their home to savor their last moments with them.

As everything comes to a close, belongings are gathered, information is exchanged, and there is an outpouring of gratitude and wonder for all that they’ve seen. The hesitation to leave is eventually trumped by obligation, and our trail companions roll away to process and attempt to describe for friends and family, the moments that have come, but will never be gone from their minds.

It Is What You Make It

As we sit anxiously at the start of something that is unknown to us, there is a sensation that is equal parts exhilarating, and also terrifying. It is a feeling that makes us wary during times of change, while driving us forward with unprecedented flexibility, to adapt into the world we are now facing.

Whenever any of us are asked about a time that defined where we have ended up, and who we have become, the answer is rarely mundane, and more often than not, it’s riddled with challenges and struggle. There is then a paradox, if you will, in the way we sometimes shy away from experiences or choices that are difficult, preferring the comfort that we associate with stability, even if we know deep down, that stable is the last word we would use to describe our lives.

On the flip side of this coin, there are also those of us who fear stability, and ironically find ourselves trapped in a cycle of restlessness and boredom, leaving every time something is not quite what was expected.

Like many horoscopes, you may find that you have related at some point in your life to both of these states of being, and despite the unpleasantness, these almost universal states of being, are to me, the beauty behind how we live and grow as individuals.

This is an awfully vague metaphor to describe the sensation of launching into the woods behind a row of charging dogs, and you’re probably wondering what the hell I’m talking about if we’re being honest. But, if we stop to think about it for a moment, the substance of our lives is built from journey’s large and small. Right now, for me, these journeys are a few feet behind a team of dogs, while for you, it could be the beginning of a new project at work, or saying goodbye to your kids as they walk out the door for school. Just waking up in the morning, you might notice your senses heightening, and your world opening up before you.

Unfortunately, day to day, doing the same things over and over, we might dull to the kick of a cup of coffee, and we settle into taking for granted how far we have come, which eventually leads to the paradox of fearing a break from normal, and being trapped in a cycle of trying but never being able to move on. You might be surprised to hear that even dog sledding is subject to the same complacency after running the same route on repeat, and even the dogs sometimes seem to get bored! The only thing I have to maintain my perspective, is the fear and wonder in people’s eyes as they sit waiting to take off from the yard on their first ever dog sledding adventure.

How, you ask (or maybe not), do you escape the fear of taking off, and also the trap of complacency? That’s a damn good question, and I don’t have an answer, just a sled, a few dogs in front of me, and a hunch.

My first twelve dog team!

I have often read articles, and have been shown evidence, that routine is the key to success, and I do not disagree at all. Without routine, our lives would be a jumbled and confusing mess, with no possible way to know what we’re supposed to do next, and we truly would get nowhere. For instance, right out of the kennel, I know that I have to make an immediate right “gee,” to get onto the tour trail, and if I ever took a wrong turn or two, I would be hopelessly lost. However, nothing is ever that simple, and as it usually is, breaking the rules is where my inspiration lies, and I hope that you too might find some inspiration in what I have to say next.

Adventure truly is everywhere, and I do not mean adventure in the classic sense of setting off into the sunset with no idea where the trail might take you, though it would certainly qualify. I also know by now, every tree by the side of this trail, and Bell’s favorite ones to steal pine bows from. Adventure to me is finding yourself in a situation that provides input that your sensory organs have never processed. It freshens your mind, and floods your nerves with anticipation. If you asked me, the eternal optimist, every single moment of your life, no matter how structured, would be a new adventure, ripe for growth and learning. Of course, it rarely ever feels that way in reality, even with a fresh eight inches of snow setting on the ground.

The forever curious Bell.

This is why I believe that routine cannot be the only key ingredient in moving forward. I have found that occasionally breaking trail to find an alternate path will bring you off of the hard packed ice of your routine, into the cold fresh snow that stings your senses into awakening, and opens your eyes to the novelty of every passing moment. Even when running the trail backwards isn’t an option, you can still find an awareness of the nuanced changes that your everyday path is undergoing to amplify your appreciation for the extraordinary moments that slip quietly into our daily routines.

As you continue to explore the untouched or overlooked corners of your life, your options expand with every trail opened up. Even if they all lead back to the same place, you’ve given yourself the freedom of mind to choose what you wish to see, and to make with your your life what you will.

That being said, my last suggestion is to never take advice from a cold snow bum in the northern reaches of nowhere. Try it for yourself.

Thank God I’m A Country Boy

It usually starts with one dog, blearily crawling out from their barrel, to initiate the cascade of shrill howls that kickstarts my awareness every morning. Who needs an alarm when you have 150 Alaskan Huskies, hungry and ready for the day, right outside of your window? Granted, this certainly isn’t the only howl I’ll hear through the night, but it always seems to be the one around 6AM that rouses me from my bed and into the darkness a northern dawn.

Downstairs I can usually hear our resident expert Lynne rustling around the kitchen downstairs and preparing to go feed our next-door neighbor’s dogs before I can get out of bed. My roommate Scott continues to sleep soundly, woken up a bit later, presumably by another howl. Throwing on a sweater and my headlamp, I head downstairs to get the day rolling.

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Where It Begins

I’ve suddenly found myself, living in a place I would have never imagined living, doing something that I didn’t know existed two months ago. I figured, what better time to start sharing some of my photographs and experiences with those who might be curious, and maybe, if I’m lucky, find some inspiration in the process.

Blogging these days certainly isn’t a novel way to share ideas, and to be quite honest, I often find the practice somewhat trite and self-obsessed. However, in certain light, overlooking its seemingly shallow content, I’ve found good reason to share with the world (Okay…probably more like my family and friends) how a passion for the outdoors and exploration has brought me to the place I am today, and wherever I wind up as the future rolls on. Coming to this realization was aided by a blog my parents (mostly my mom) started in order to share the excitement of their new life in Austin, Texas, along with some truly enlightening posts that some good friends have shared over the years, and I suddenly feel silly for ignoring the way that blogging can keep us connected to the world, and particularly the people we love and care about. So, to all of you (still) reading, thank you, from the bottom of my heart, and please send me a message in any way you have the means to say hello!

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