The First Chapter. Long Drives and No Where to Park

Originally Posted on The Boys Who Lived.

We made it. My roommate Jon and I set out on an adventure of magnificent proportions. We left the comfort of home, friends, and a full size bed in search of something bigger. We found it. We pulled into Vail, Colorado last night after many hours on the road, and this place is crazy.

I have never seen so many wrecks in my life. The drive from Missoula to Vail was crazy. I saw at least 15 wrecked cars and trucks on the way and I have never driven on worse roads. But we made it, and we are smiling big.

I could have never imagined a place like this. It is a theme park for the fabulously wealthy. Gondola’s are in town taking people up the mountain. It is like a scene from a Disney movie, the snowcapped condo’s and hotels look like a movie set.

The bad part about Vail, the parking. There is not a spot to park, leaving us, the ones who are trying to survive the winter by living out of a van, up a creek of sorts. We slept in the Walmart parking lot last night, but that is temporary at best. They told us we could sleep there a couple more nights before they tow us, at least we have a few nights to try and figure this out.

When all hope seems lost, that is when the light decides to shine through. Jon and I went into Starbucks to plug in our rice maker, and we met the most interesting lady named Susi. She has lived in Vail for the last 52 years and was a wealth of knowledge. $1.50 taco Tuesday at Agave, free dinner at the Presbyterian Church on Wednesday, canned food at the Salvation Army, a potential place to park at the Mormon Church. This lady had it all. She filled us with a new hope that our crazy dream is actually possible in a world ruled by money.

If Susi taught me anything though, it was to put down your phone and computer and actually talk to people. We would have never met her if we hadn’t walked into Starbucks looking for a place to cook our rice, and we wouldn’t have talked to her if we would have been glued to our phones. There are so many cool people in the world, just take a second to talk to them and learn a little about life. We aren’t as wise or smart as we think we are.

And to you all out there that might potentially read this, take a second and dream. Life is too short not to dream.

From a boy who is following his dreams, I wish you a good night.

College Dropout. Ski Bum. An Update in the Life and Times of Riley Lemm

Here I stand, on the edge of glory, or at least that is what I tell my self to get rid of the nervousness.

Some of you know, most of you probably know, but for those who don’t, those who care that don’t know, I am walking away from college for the time being. Now that’s a pretty heavy statement I just dropped on you.

To do what, you might ask? I am going to go follow my dreams for a little while, whatever that means. I am moving to Vail, Colorado to work at Vail Ski Resort as a lift attendant.

Where will I be living, you might ask? I will be living out of a camper van, with my best homie/adventure buddy/roommate Jon Heutmaker.

Now this is the point where you can give me a list of a hundred reasons why this is a terrible idea, I have probably heard them all, and props to you if you can come up with one that I haven’t heard.

Most people react poorly when I tell them. They say something along the lines of, “You are stupid for walking away from college, a college education is necessary. You are never going to come back and you are going to live an unhappy, poor life.” Sorry, but you people are ridiculous.

Other people react like this, “I am so jealous of what you are doing. I wish I could just leave and walk away like you are. You are going to have a blast.” I was in your spot just a few short months ago, dreaming of adventures and struggling through classes that weren’t shoving me in the direction that I wanted to go with my life. Just take a leap of faith, even if you fail, you will learn so much about yourself, and you won’t spend your life regretting the time that you didn’t follow your dreams and sense of adventure.

Why exactly am I doing this, you might ask? I was sitting in class, going farther into debt without really getting any closer to my end goals. I was unmotivated and doing poorly because I was depressed about the current state of my life. Now it sounds like a bit of a cop out to just drop out, but I have realized that I might never have another opportunity in my life to do what I want to do. I don’t want to grow old with the regrets of not experiencing life. There is so much out there in the world, and I have seen so little of it.

Being in Alaska this summer reignited my life. I saw the world through a completely different lens. I was surrounded by people who weren’t living their lives in the traditional American sense of it. They were working to pay for travel, and to support their hobbies. There are ways to make your life work, without going straight from high school, to college, to work, to retirement. Nothing used to scare me more than the thought that I might wake up 30 years from now, and not have followed my dreams. Now I don’t have to be scared of that anymore.

I plan on taking full advantage of this next season of my life. Even though I am taking a break from college, I am not taking a break from what I love to do. I will write everyday, and maybe when I come back, I will have a story that I like enough to share with you.

I guess I will leave you with this, no matter how old you are, follow your dreams. Don’t live your life any longer with those dreams turning to regrets inside of you.

Oh, and by the way, I leave on Saturday. Yeah this Saturday, the 22nd of November. I start work on Monday the 24th. Have a good year and see you in April.

Alaskan Adventure. Pt. 1. It never stops raining.

I am not the first person, nor will I be the last person to take an Alaskan Adventure. This land of the north is considered a land that has yet to be fully conquered, a frontier of sorts, a land filled with huge bears and even huge-er bear stories. I have, in my 2 days that I have been in Alaska so far, have heard enough bear stories to last a life time. I kid you not, if I hear one more bear story I will maul the person telling it.

It is hard to write about personal experiences. People rarely find the personal day to day experiences of another human being to be interesting, but it isn’t all about how interesting an experience is. I am mostly writing so I can keep everything straight in my mind, and as an escape from the 16 hour work days that will soon engulf every aspect of my life.

I missed my first flight to Alaska. 5 minutes earlier and I would of made it. Curse the construction that delayed my drive to the airport. This started a headachey chain of events. Switched flight fees, waiting standbye, cramped seats, baggage switchover, another standbye, another cramped seat, and finally my destination. An interesting side note: I sat next to a lady on my first flight from Seattle to Anchorage, who graduated from Polson, Montana in 1978. It was a bumpy, short flight from Anchorage to King Salmon, then a bumpy drive from King Salmon to Naknek.

Naknek is my home for these next few months. A town made up of canneries, fish processing plants, a boat yard, a general store, a liquor store, and a post office. No phone service, and when I say no phone service I don’t mean phone service that is really bad most everywhere and good enough in some places to receive a text, I mean absolutely no cell phone reception. It is a good escape from the ever pervasive world of cellular devices that the rest of the world consists of. It is nice to be able to meet and talk to someone who doesn’t pull their phone out halfway through a conversation and give you only a part of their attention.

I haven’t seen a night here yet. It is light for about 21 hours a day. At ten at night it still feels like mid-day, it is quite the trip. Alaska is a beautiful place. People who have been to Alaska always say how beautiful it is here and coming from Montana I thought I knew what to expect. Flying into Anchorage was wonderful. The mountains up here dwarf the mountains back home. And then when we got to King Salmon it was an entirely different landscape; flat, short trees, and brush for as far as the eye could see. It was beautiful in a very different way than Anchorage, but equally beautiful.

Tomorrow we start working. Yesterday was orientation, rules, and a run through of all the different jobs in the processing plant. I get to work on the fillet line. Should be an interesting experience filleting salmon for 16 hours a day. Tomorrow will be difficult, the next day will probably be even more difficult, and the day after that even more so, then eventually it will get easier as my body becomes accustomed to the long hours and hard work, at least I can hope that my body will adapt or else this will be a long couple of months.

There are three of us crammed into a little tiny dorm style room. It would be a stretch to call this dorm style as a dorm would be considered luxury to what we are living in now. A nine foot by nine foot by eight foot box with a bunk bed and a twin. Thin walls and one outlet, a crooked door and a window that opens into a warehouse. I can’t complain that much though, it could be worse. It just adds to the Alaskan Experience. My two roommates are from Colorado and Utah, Spencer and Bryce. Good guys, makes life a little bit easier. Spencer still calls me Randy even though I have corrected him a few times, such is life. It could be worse.

I will try to write and update this blog a couple times a week, that is if a bear doesn’t maul me first. I wish you all a happy Wednesday and a good week.

Mom and Dad, if you are reading this could you please send me a plug strip, my two grey flannels, and a few more pairs of wool socks. Thanks. Candy would be nice too.

Song of the Day, Lige Newton — Whiskey Keeps Me Warm

This is a fantastic song by one of my friends, Riley Roberts. Whiskey Keeps Me Warm,” is from Riley’s most recent EP, Before Winter Comes Again. I interview Riley for another online publication and you can read that here if you are so interested.

East of the Atlantic

I live on a land cultivated by blood. If you are of European decent and live in North or South America then you have a responsibility to acknowledge and bear a portion of the guilt concerning the reality that you live on a land stolen from its first inhabitants.

“Now, slow down, Adam. Don’t be so hasty – I did nothing to the aboriginal people. I was born helplessly onto this land, and I treat every aboriginal person with respect.” You might say to yourself. I understand that it takes an enormous amount of empathy to be able to fully grasp this situation (that I might not even fully understand myself. Who does?), but is it adequate to simply say “I’m sorry for you, no person or group of people should have to go through that (assimilation)?” No. One must put themselves in the shoes of those aboriginal peoples that suffered and still suffer.

Roughly 150’0001 Canadian Aboriginal children from the year 18282, when the first residential school was opened, to 1996, when the last was closed, were forced, by the government, to leave their family homes and attend government-run Christian residential schools. All of these children faced the cruel process of having any element of their original upbringing beaten and lectured out of them. This, aside from the physical abuse experienced by many of these youths, is a horror in itself.

Imagine if your town/city/farm was invaded by an alien humanoid, let’s call them the Naeporue. The Naeporue found that the way you lived was inferior to their own. Your rulers are secretive and untrusting. You slaughter countless other animals for taste rather than survival. Your mating rituals are often marred by selfishness and insecurity. There’s plenty not to like! So the Naeporue decide to purify you and your fellow humans. To do this they construct large buildings on your land (which they seem to be making themselves comfortable on) where they send all of your children to be transformed into better beings. You’re not gonna go, you’re past any possibility of changing your inferior ways. And, hey, your kids are gonna be really “good” people now! They’ll be able to interact in this new world that the Naeporue have created, and maybe even be successful in it. Maybe with time your children will even forget who their parents are and how they used to live.

Imagine the trauma that those 150’000 Canadian Aboriginals experienced. Imagine the identity confusion they would have faced throughout the rest of their life. If I suffered from such confusion, confusion that I can’t even fathom, I would have probably experienced an enormous amount depression, which I might have satisfied with various unhealthy habits. Then what if I had children? Would my self-confusion bleed into their lives as well?

Many Native Canadians survived and prospered after being sent to residential schools, but probably many more suffered for the rest of their lives. This suffering, this identity confusion, may even be soaking the generations after them.

Does this explain suicide and alcoholism among native communities? No. But it may help us understand it. Maybe just a little bit.

What am I doing about these circumstances? How am I making it right? My European ancestors were probably part of the problem, anyways.

I’m bearing the shame as much as I can, and trying to empathize. Which I know I will ultimately never be able to accomplish. What is my reprimand worth? Almost nothing. Realizing the futility of these things may put me in somewhat of a better position. I don’t know if this problem of land theft can ever be settled without putting it all back into the hands of the native peoples.

Of course, I encourage you to consider your place in this matter, and that you try not to detach yourself from it; especially if you are of a European ethnic background.

Peace and love,

Adam Schmidt

1: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/at-least-3-000-died-in-residential-schools-research-shows-1.1310894

2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indian_residential_schools_in_Canada

Song of the Day, Brasco Noir x Campana — Bad Ritual

Video

This music video dropped a few days ago and I have had it on repeat. Brasco’s flow is incredible and Campana is mind blowing. I have had the pleasure of meeting both of these homies. I see big things for them in the future. The music video was put together by one of my favorite producers, Tyler Dopps, who produces for Shelton Harris. This is a sick song. Become fans before being fans means you are a band wagon fan. You can download Brasco’s album, Bitter Sweat, here for free.