Cartas Españolas: Franco's "Nazi" Time Change

Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, October 2017

Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, October 2017

It's that time of year where things start to get dark and dreary, and hibernation doesn't seem like such a bad deal, really. For many of us, these feelings are due in large part to Daylight Savings Time's dreaded, "Fall Back," a day that hit this Sunday for most of you.

Interestingly, that day hit last Sunday for me over here in Spain, so I've actually been living an hour earlier than the rest of you for almost a week!

More intriguing however, is a nerdy time fact that I learned a couple of weeks ago. Unlike it's neighbors Portugal and contrary to its orientation about the Prime Meridian, Spain is actually one hour ahead of the rest of the region, aligning with most of Eastern Europe and giving it much later sunsets than anywhere else in Southern Europe. But why?

Well, that answer is actually rooted in recent history. You see, Spain's former dictator Francisco Franco seized control of the country after the Guerra Civil due in large part to the help of friend and rising world power Adolf Hitler. Actually, it was Hitler that helped Franco pull of the aerial bombing at Guernica that is depicted in Picasso's, "La Guernica." The massacre was a training ground for Hitler's aerial bombing squadrons ahead of another, more well-known, global conflict a couple of years out.

So, needless to say, the two were buds, and as buds do, Franco decided to give his guy Hitler some props. As a show of his respect for the German dictator, Franco decided to switch the clocks to match those in Nazi Germany, a move that has persisted into the present day.

Many attribute this change to forming current Spanish culture. For one, Spaniards are creatures of the night, not eating dinner until 10 p.m. or later on most nights. Theoretically, this could be because the late sunsets don't happen until around that time. Also, some argue that Spain's long workday is another direct effect of the time change, with days starting around 8 a.m. and ending around 8 p.m. (with a hefty 2 hour lunch break in between, of course). Then of course, there is the issue that Spain's stock market opens and closes earlier than most of its European colleagues, probably not the best look for a country that has yet to truly rebound from its 2008 economic crisis.

There have been rumors that Spain hopes to abolish the Franco-era time change, but so far nothing official is in the books. Until then, we'll just have to enjoy our sunsets a little later and try to forget that we can thank Hitler for that late puesta del sol.

Tunesday Returns

Hola, gente! Hanging in Madrid now and going through a summer's worth of songs I've been waiting to share. At this point some of them might be a little old for you all, but maybe a few lucky earholes will pick on something new today. 

Currently vibing to Chance the Rapper's semi-new album, Coloring Book, and in love with the song, "Summer Friends." Tune in, drop out.

Blogaria: Wisdom from a Sofian Soup Kitchen

Thanks to Atanas, my AirBnb host in Sofia, I had the unique opportunity to work at a local soup kitchen in the Bulgarian capital. It was definitely not what I expected to be doing on this little cultural adventure, and with no Bulgarian vocab to my name, I wasn’t sure I would be of any use. Still, I loved volunteering back in the States, so I figured I’d give it a shot in Eastern Europe. Why not, right?

The event was part of Food, Not Bombs, a worldwide organization that provides fresh, vegan cuisine to the impoverished around the world. It was hosted in the Fabrika Autonomia, a community center forged from a crumbling old Soviet beer factory. At first glance, it felt like we were walking into an actual homeless camp, but up some stairs and through a metal-latched door, we popped into an open gathering place with a few plastic chairs and tables, as well as a small operating kitchen.

Jimmy cooks up a mean Zelay.

Jimmy cooks up a mean Zelay.

What stuck out most, was the ambitious mission of this particular branch of Food, Not Bombs. First off, it was run by a group of anarchists. In the U.S. anarchists means people in black masks that start riots and break windows, yet this group was dedicated to what they considered the root of anarchy: empowerment through building community from the ground up, starting with the underprivileged.

Not only, did the group want to feed the less fortunate, they wanted to involve them, asking them to help cook the meals and source fresh vegetables from local vendors or farmers. One of the biggest side affects of poverty is a complete loss of self-worth, but I watched the simple act of cooking give some of that back.

The second time I went to the event, Jimmy, an out-of-work construction laborer living in a gypsy camp, helped stir a giant pot of cabbage. His mother had taught him to cook as a boy, saying that someday he might need to survive on his own. Today, he was just as happy to provide for those around him, adding the perfect amount of spices to his culinary masterpiece.

Most of the poor were over 60 and could no longer work. There pensions weren’t enough to live on and their families had moved away. They were left to fend for themselves at their most vulnerable, 

The crew, hungry as ever.

The crew, hungry as ever.

Though I couldn’t communicate directly, the stories came rolling in through some of the kitchen crew kind enough to translate. Ana, an old woman dressed in mismatched sweaters, a skirt, and tennis shoes had once been a lawyer and spoke four languages. She had fled Greece as a teenager when the Civil War ravaged her country after WWII, and earned her law degree in Bulgaria. Without citizenship, she wasn’t allowed to buy a house, and by the time she had earned her papers, her income had dried up, forcing her to pay for a low-income rental alone on the outskirts of town.

From person to person, each story carried its own power, and I started to realize that just being there—which felt like nothing—was way more significant than I could have imagined.

Queen Ana resumes her throne.

Queen Ana resumes her throne.

On my last day at the Sofian soup collective, a woman approached me after the meal. She wouldn’t stop thanking me, and I started to get uncomfortable with what I considered unjust praise. An interpreter stepped in and explained that the lady and her son lived day to day on what they could find. Sometimes that meant going three days without eating. When they did find food, she would give it to her son. She said she felt weak all the time, but the sacrifice was worth it—he was her only child, after all. 

She wasn’t shy to tell us that she was suffering, and that she wanted the world to know it.

After a few tears she said one more thank you. Feeling completely overwhelmed, I couldn’t understand what this one was for, but picking up on my confusion she followed up. “Thank you for listening. Thank you for treating me like a human.”

I guess even when you feel completely over your head, showing up can go a long way.

Cast of helpers.

Cast of helpers.

Bulgaria Fact: The country does not use the Euro as its currency, but rather the Lev.

Bulgarian Word: Kade (kuh-day) which means where.

Blogaria: Urban Forest Workouts

Not your typical Central Park view.

Not your typical Central Park view.

While I float for the next month or so, I've dedicated myself to running every day. If not for the fitness benefit, I figure this will get me into a routine (word sound familiar?) that I can hold myself accountable for.

So far, so good, with 22 runs in 23 days (the lone exception being a ski mission day, more on that later). 

One of the things making these daily jog-a-bouts a little more enjoyable is the kind of impressive amount of running terrain I'm finding within city limits. Sofia for instance has a surprising amount of urban parks for what I expected out of a gray, drab, post-Communist city.

Fun fact, after visiting Cuba, China, and now Bulgaria, it seems like exercise was/is a key component in the Communist lifestyle, and nearly everyone is working out here in one form or another. That bodes well for me, as inner city parks like Park Borisova Gradina (ah, the elegance) feature full-on, forested running trails, enough so that I managed to get lost in a central city park for close to an hour before I could catch my bearings. This type of stuff is virtually unheard of in a Euro-metropolis, and I've been able to connect 40-plus minute trail runs without coming across the same track twice.

A couple more obstacles than your typical defense.

A couple more obstacles than your typical defense.

But it doesn't stop at trail running. These parks also have a gaggle of little surprises ranging from a forest soccer field, to a fitness circuit built into the trees. On one run, I ran into a halfpipe seemingly plopped in the middle of the woods. I'm not sure of the rational behind the placement, but it sure makes the typical run a lot more exciting.

Before leaving Sofia the forest fitness circuit turned into my gym and I started to recognize the paths more and more. Still, every once in a while I would stumble on a wooded amphitheater or even a zoo.

City running can get really boring, but I have a feeling the old Bulgarian morning jog never will.

Bulgaria Facts: Bulgaria's Shopska salad, a signature mix of tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and white cheese, was actually created by the country tourism board to promote the color's of Bulgaria's flag (white, green, and red).

During the Communist Era, religion was not banned, but it was frowned upon by the state. People could attend church, temple, or the mosque, but government agents (and even paid religious officials) stationed outside would take names of everyone who entered.

To further dissuade religious participation, the government that normally censored television programming would allow two special nights of Western television programming: Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday.

Green's gym.

Green's gym.

Bulgarian Word: Zele (ze-lay) -- Cabbage. This is what people in Bulgaria say instead of, "Cheese," for photos.

 

 

Blogaria: The Bulgarian Chapter

Ain't no party like a Bulgarian Garden Party.

Ain't no party like a Bulgarian Garden Party.

As mentioned in my last post, after a whirlwind winter and spring, I have landed in the former Eastern Bloc stronghold of Bulgaria. Why Bulgaria? Well, a U.S. passport can only grant you access to the Schengen Zone (most of the countries of the E.U. including France, Germany, and Spain) for 90 days during a 180-day period, meaning that one cannot simply hop over to Morocco for the weekend and start anew the following Monday (much to the surprise of an astounding amount of people I've met on this little Euro adventure). Thus, two weeks ago I looked up cheap plane tickets from Madrid and found an Eastern Exodus in the Bulgarian of Sofia. Let the misadventures continue!

I'll be spending the next month here, so I figured I'd write a little about my findings in a country that I admittedly knew very little about as of a week ago. If you follow along, you might learn some things with me, minus the potential food poisoning and bed bug attacks. Sound good?

Upon landing in Sofia, I grabbed an AirBnB close to Sofia's biggest park, Park Borisova Gradina. I'm staying with a guy named Atanas, who seems amped on getting his daily workout in and has even got me into his morning smoothie routine. He's showed me where to run in the morning, and the parks here are frigging incredible! So many trails that I spent the first few days just getting lost in the forest—in the middle of the city. Every once in a while I would pop out in front of an old Soviet monument or a strange forest amusement park, the whole scene feeling absolutely surreal.

One of my first nights in the city, Atanas invited me to a friend's garden party (yes, a Bulgarian Garden Party). In my head I imagined Bulgarian cuisine as a mix of soggy noodles, beef, and gravy with some bland bread thrown in, but I arrived to a table full of fresh veggie skewers, hot spinach bread (known as banitza), and homemade hummus. Little did I know that Bulgaria was once the Soviet Union's supermarket, growing a majority of its fresh produce and distributing throughout the Red Regime. Today that translates to a bevy of fresh fruits and vegetables and an incredibly rich and healthy cuisine.

Typical corner store on nearly every block.

Typical corner store on nearly every block.

The party was my initial introduction, but since I have been eating fresh almost every day. Atanas is vegetarian, and we've had no issue maintaining that diet throughout the city (though I occasionally peel off for some sausage or grilled chicken).

I figured I'd really have to be strict with my healthy eating regimen during my time in Bulgaria, but I'm quickly learning that Bulgaria of a fresh foodie paradise. Who knew?

Bulgaria Facts: Nearly every major Western Empire has passed through Bulgaria at one point or another, including the Romans, Ottomans, Byzantines, Nazis, and Soviets. The result is a strangely fascinating diversity that sees things like an old Roman Catholic church underneath a Soviet shopping mall, and mosques transformed into Russian Orthodox cathedrals.

The Bulgarian language is also thought to be the origin of the Slavic languages and considered one of the hardest languages to learn in the world (lucky me!).

Bulgarian Word: Nazdrave (pronounced: Naz-Dra-Vay) -- Cheers!

My Life, In Pizza

Hey gente, if it seems like I've been bouncing around a bit, well you're right on the money. In fact, instead of adding an MD or PA to the end of my title, I'm highly considering Kade Krichko, In Flux.

A week ago I started in Cuba before stops in New York, Barcelona, Madrid, and my current temporary residence, Sofia, Bulgaria. Yep, Bulgaria.

Unintentionally enough, I have had pizza in all four of those countries over the past week, testament to either an inquisitive palate or an unfortunate addiction to cheap and greasy food. I like to think it's the former (but realize it's the latter). So instead of a travel blog, I'm giving you a pizza ranking, as well as a few notes. Listen up people, this is important.

#4 Cuba — Think frozen Tombstone Pizza that you got in the school cafeteria, minus the real cheese. This is the go-to snack move in Cuba. On the plus side, it's 20 cents and you can pretend it's something else. Like a taco. Yeah, a pizza taco. That's better.

#3 Bulgaria — This was actually a tougher call than you might think. Bulgaria does pizza well and isn't afraid to mix it up in the flavor department. We're talking ricotta cheese, banana peppers, bacon, and a lot of other flavor adders. Don't sleep on Bulgarian pie.

#2 Spain — Okay, Spain cheated a little bit, because they hired some Sicilians to make some damn decent 'Spanish' pizza. Slices are big and cheap, and they usually come with beer. The Spain-Italy connection is strong in the culinary department, so you know you'll get something tasty.

#1 New York — Notice I didn't put USA here. That's because New York is a small sliver of the country that does pizza right, every time. From $1 to $8, a slice of this stuff is going to be good. I'd say it's in the water, but I really hope that's not the reason.

New New York Times Piece!

Recently collaborated with Garrett Grove on a ski piece for the New York Times discussing the ever-present but under-reported cultural appropriation happening in China's Xinjiang region. This was a really interesting one to report and one of the hardest trips of my life, so to see it in print in addition to my feature with Powder, is a huge honor and relief!

Also, this bad boy made it all the way to the front page of the Sunday Sports section. Chills!

Cartas Españolas: Sonidos

The Spanish playlist continues to grow, but the song that will stick out from my time over here is the uber-catchy collaboration between Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi. Whether it be out at night, in the convenience store, or next to the kid with his cell phone blasting on the metro, "Despacito" is the jam of the hour in Spain. I'm not going to claim it's the best song out there, but it will always bring back a time and a place. Disfrutala.

Cartas Españolas: Mi Almacén

Home sweet, home. Come right in!

Home sweet, home. Come right in!

While I have a moment, I figured it would be nice to share where I've been staying for the last couple of months: Mi Almacén. For the record, almacén means closet in Spanish. No, not like a luxurious walk-in closet, but more of a dusty janitor-type closet. 

As you can see from the above photo, that is about all there is to my humble abode. So far I can fit two pairs of skis, a surfboard, a skateboard, enough underwear for a week, and myself in this little nook.

I'm 28 years old. I live in a closet. And I'm okay with that. In fact, I actually paid a little extra to live in said closet.

Why? Simple. The apartment had a roof terrace with a view of the city and was located in a neighborhood full of shops, markets, and bars. It sits at the base of a cool hill with some running trails and views of the coast. And hey, it's in Barcelona.

Someday I'd love to live in an age and salary-appropriate apartment, but for now I'm focused  outside in that big, wide world out there. Or maybe I'm more of a dirtbag than I care to admit.

I know some of the Instagram and Facebook posts tell a different, and maybe misleading, story, but I figured I'd let you know that the dude behind that social media veil rests his head in a janitor's closet with a colorful cot and a cheap scented candle. I think it might be vanilla, maybe.

 

 

I got nominated for a City and Regional Magazine Award Nomination (Yeah!)

This is new territory for me, so I'm not entirely sure how to do this, but my Seattle Met profile on Katie Rose Fischer-Price was nominated for a City and Regional Magazine Award! It was one of five chosen from hundreds of national entrants, and I really only found out it had been entered after I received a congratulations email from Seattle Met Features Editor, James Gardner.

Very thankful for the nomination, and further convinced that just putting these stories out into the universe can have an impact on someone's day. Tackiness aside, winners will be announced on May 20-22, so keep your ear holes open for more news.

If you haven't gotten a chance to check out the piece, take a gander here and see how I stack up against some seriously talent.

Cartas Españolas: Para Llevar

How do you take perfection to-go?

How do you take perfection to-go?

As I mentioned in my first post, these Cartas Españolas are meant to highlight a few aspects of Spanish culture through the mistakes and musings of a hapless guiri.

One particular mistake I've been making has been ingrained in me since longer than I can remember. For the most part, the U.S. food culture prides itself on its efficiency. Whether it be pre-packaged meals, fast food, or the iconic drive-thru—American eating is all about consuming on the go.

Well, that's not the case in Spain. In fact, if you want to get pegged as a foreigner in a hurry, all you have to do is order your bocadillo para llevar (to go). Spaniards take their eating seriously, and with that comes time alotted specifically for the activity. Multi-tasking might be valued in other parts of the world, but here it is almost frowned upon (unless you consider eating and sipping a beer multi-tasking).

In a way that's a funny little aside, but in a way it's also kind of telling. I haven't met a lot of people in Spain yet, but those that I have been able to meet have mostly been over a beer or some tasty munchies. The idea of slowing down, picking up your head, and enjoying a couple bites is refreshing in a world so often lost in the hustle and bustle of eating on the go. I mean, does it really take that much time to sit down and take a couple of (delicious) bites?

Granted, I'm still eating a majority of my food walking out the door, but I'm trying to linger a little longer, and just chew on things for a while.

Cartas Españolas: Menú del Día

Getting the schedule straight in Spain has been hard. Typically I'm a decently early riser and I usually use midnight as my go-to-sleep gauge, but in Spain that's been thrown for a loop and a half. People wake up late (think 11 or 12 on weekends) and go to bed even later (we're talking 4 a.m. at least, guys).

With that schedule comes a cosmic shift in meal times as well. Don't expect to get breakfast at 7, because chances are the store or restaurant won't even be open by then (even for a cafe con leche). Also, whereas the big meal in North America is dinner, here the importance is placed on lunch.

Though the siesta has been officially removed from the Spanish workday, the idea of a long lunch persists, and after weeks of blowing it off in favor of the later meal, I began to realize that lunch is actually the jam over in Iberia.

If you want to do a Spanish lunch correctly, you have to find a good menú del día , or as they often call it here, simply menú. The menú is essentially a three course meal packed into a lunch sized portion and a lunch price point—appetizer, main dish, dessert, and drink (often beer or wine). Best part is that it usually costs around 10 Euros, which is currently around $11.

Course 1: Fish Ceviche

Course 1: Fish Ceviche

Today in Barcelona, I scored an awesome Peruvian meal that consisted of a fish ceviche starter, fried fish entree, and a tres leches dessert, all washed down with fresh maracuya (passionfruit) juice. Yes, I know this is a food post, but check this stuff out.

Course 2: Fried fish with lentils and rice

Course 2: Fried fish with lentils and rice

So if you ever find yourself in Spain, make sure to learn from my mistake, embrace the lunch hours, and order the damn menú. I guarantee it'll be the best thing you do all day.

Course 3: Just enough tres leches cake to make you feel like exploding.

Course 3: Just enough tres leches cake to make you feel like exploding.

Cartas Españolas: An Ode to Haircuts

It's kind of a weird thing, but it's a me thing, so bear with me: I love getting haircuts in new places.

It all started with a trip to Cuba back in 2012, when a friend Rafa invited me to get a haircut with him at this barber he had met on the street. I was a little suspect at first, but figured for the sake of cultural immersion (and my shaggy appearance) a touch-up wouldn't be the worst idea. Plus, hair grows back—right?

As it turns out that cut was a real game changer for me. Rafa's 'barber' was an 80-year-old man whose 'barber shop' was the living room of his family's home. As we sat getting our hair trimmed, dinner simmered in the kitchen, and the man's wife walked in and out with laundry. I couldn't believe how intimate the whole setting was, but also how intimate the experience itself was.

To sit in a barber's chair is to put your trust into a stranger, and interact with that person for the next 30 minutes. It doesn't matter if you speak the same language, together you have to solve this problem that is your friggin' mess of an updo, and somehow you have to get it done as a pair (potentially trio depending on how interested the crowd gets). In the end, the experience brings you closer to this person, and it's this kind of weirdly authentic moment.

After my Cuban cut (which was, by the way, maybe the best haircut I've ever gotten—and for $1 no less), I made a point to get a cut wherever I could: On a return trip to Cuba, then Colombia, China, and, most recently, Spain.

The barber chair comes in many different forms, including this open air edition in Cuba circa 2013.

The barber chair comes in many different forms, including this open air edition in Cuba circa 2013.

The Spain one was a little funny, and perhaps a little longer coming. I was in Madrid this past June, grabbing tapas at a bar in La Latina on a Sunday afternoon, when a man with a handful of records sparked up conversation. He put up with my lack of Spanish and started telling me about his travels to the U.S. and then dove into the rest of his life (the Spanish are not shy about sharing their lives with strangers).

His name was Roberto, and he owned his own peluqueria, or salon, in Madrid. He always came to La Latina on Sundays to buy cheap records at the El Rastro flea market (a Madrid staple). He especially loved the selection of flamenco music, and offered me flamenco record as a gift. I was kind of blown away by this generosity, and promised to visit his hair salon someday if I got the chance. We exchanged numbers and I disappeared into the El Rastro crowd.

It wasn't that I didn't want to see him again, but it was the type of situation where the number exchange was almost a polite formality rather than genuine interest. Sure, I enjoyed meeting Roberto, but would I actually see him again? Most signs pointed to 'no.'

But then February rolls around, and fate as well as a stubborn desire to learn a language has me back in Madrid, and with vintage shag no less. Feeling itchy and greasy, I remember Robert, pull up WhatsApp and shoot him a message. 

Two hours later I'm in his barber chair, and he's telling me about his daughter while his girlfriend sweeps the floor and tries to find a news program that isn't talking about U.S. politics. It's surreal to be here, but at the same time I recognize the renewed power of the haircut. It's such a stupid little thing, but I can't get over how many random conversations, off-humor jokes, and local knowledge it has given me.

I thank Roberto, tip graciously, and snap a photo of the man in front of his life's work. It's really cool to see people in their element, and Roberto has certainly found his.

We don't make any formal plans, but he says to let him know when I'm back in town so we can grab a beer. Who knows, maybe we'll listen to flamenco.

Thanks, Roberto! Hasta la proxima!

Thanks, Roberto! Hasta la proxima!

Cartas Españolas: A message from San Valentin

This is a short and sweet post for all of the lovers out there on the day after Valentine's Day. In Spanish class in the United States, we were taught that, 'esposa' means, 'wife'. What we were not told was that in Spain it also means, 'chain.' Language: It always gets the last laugh.

PS For anyone uncomfortable looking at their significant other as a shackle, most men in Spain refer to their wives as, 'mujer,' and women call their husbands by, 'marido.'

Cartas Españolas: Commuting and the Mini-Huelgas

After a long and particularly mentally draining couple of months, I left lovely Seattle to move to Spain and pursue a dream I've had ever since I was a kid: To learn another language. Funny thing about learning a new language and culture is that I have been messing up—a lot. But I think my mistakes and misadventures, like always, have yielded the most interesting learning experiences in this overseas adventure.

How interesting you ask? Interesting enough that I've decided to dedicate my blog to it over the next however long this chapter lasts. These posts will range in length, but will include anything that I've goofed on or found so damn strange that I simply had to share it with, well, someone. As always, thanks for tuning in. This should be fun.

It's my first few days in Spain, and the thought of leaving a whole life halfway across the world is really weighing on me. To avoid feeling totally adrift, and to put my feet somewhere near the ground, I had signed up for language classes in Madrid for a few weeks.

To get to class every morning, I take 653 bus, and then the yellow line subway to the green line (they have numbers, but colors seem to stick better) before walking Gran Via to my school. It's not a particularly out-of-the-ordinary commute, maybe 50 minutes total, but it's a commute, something I haven't experienced since I was driving myself to high school soccer practice. 

I thought it would be a total turnoff, but I have to be honest, it's kind of nice having a routine. Get up, eat, catch the bus, get this damn thing moving. There's definitely a rhythm to it all. Heck, I even get some reading and language practice in on the way.

But one thing that threw a huge wrench into the entire operation is something that none of us have likely ever experienced in the States, a partial, and seemingly entirely subjective, transit strike. Described to me as a mini huelga, or mini strike, this transit scrap is relatively common in southern Europe, but something that is so hard to wrap my head around. 

As in the U.S., this action was caused by a discrepancy between disgruntled transit workers and the government or powers that be. Unlike the U.S. these workers are only semi-disgruntled, and instead of shutting down the whole dang system like they would at home, they pick certain lines and certain times to shut down, namely the hours between rush hours.

For example, buses from a suburban line might not run from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., return to service from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and then run only half of its buses from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. But that's just an example, as the hours seemed to vary each day, just enough so that this Guiri (the kind nickname they have given me, the foreigner, over here) could not figure out which strike he was participating in on any given day.

Somedays my bus never showed up, other days it came 15 minutes late, others right on time. If I tried to adjust my schedule accordingly, it almost always switched back on me, leaving me stranded upstream without a WiFi signal. 

Stranger still, it seemed like I was the only one inconvenienced by the whole thing. Apparently the mini huelga, like the siesta of years past, is a part of Iberian life that I will just have to get used to. 

 

Best of 2016

How do you rank a year that was off the charts in so many ways—above, below, sideways, and back again?

Well, the verdict is still out on that one. All I can say is that 2016 brought so many different people, places, and things into my life and, perhaps more importantly, helped deepen my appreciation for the humans that stick with me through all the late text replies.

This year I was able to write a feature about mountaineer Scott Fischer and the incredible family that carries on his legacy, a task that felt both overwhelming and amazing. I can't thank the Fischer-Price family enough for letting me share their story, but to Katie Rose for trusting me and teaching me so much about the lasting impacts of a father that was larger than life.

I also traveled to China for a feature I'd been planning and re-planning for nearly three years. The intersection of sport, culture, and current event has always fascinated me, and POWDER let me pursue that fascination in the Middle Kingdom, using skiing as the vehicle. The trip was quite possibly the toughest thing I've ever done, and it really took it's toll on me mentally and physically. To see all of that manifest in a finished piece—well, that's about as close to a Christmas bonus as I'm going to get in this life.

Aside from the big pieces, I was able to work on some really fun stuff with friends, including shooting and writing about a ski competition inside Fenway Park—hallowed ground for any Boston sports fan—for POWDER. In this year in review, I also published an online feature about skiing in Kyrgyzstan with Vice and had fun making fun of the ski dad some of us East Coasters know all too well.

In terms of goal-reaching, I didn't publish any books this year, but I did lend a helping hand to a pair, penning work for POWDER's, Monumental and Fodor's Seattle Travel Guide, so I'm counting it!

I don't really think it's fair to rank one year against the rest, but I do think the New Year serves as a great way to check-in, a great way to help us realize that 'hey, yeah, I did do some pretty cool stuff this year.' Whether it's travel, relationships, or simply balancing the checkbook (something I hope to accomplish someday), we all did some pretty worthwhile shit in 2016—remember that.

Anyways, enough pandering, here's a few favorite pieces from 2016. Thanks for reading.

Katie Rose On Top Of The World

Awakening: China—COMING SOON

Ok, I suck at scanning things. Bear with me...or buy a copy!

Ok, I suck at scanning things. Bear with me...or buy a copy!

New Year, New Tunes

Well, not exactly new. Jim James has been putting music into the stratosphere for a bit here now, but his song, "Here in Spirit" has me feeling good this week, so I'm passing to you.

Today is my last full day in the U.S. Tomorrow (traffic willing) I'm jumping a plane to Spain where I'm going to be poking around for an extended period. It seems like forever ago and a little like yesterday that I packed up my life into a few bags, but here we are again.

Excited. Terrified. Overwhelmed. Psyched. The travel cocktail has been shaken, flipped, and stirred, and now we'll just have to see what happens. You don't know, 'til ya go, after all.

I'm hoping the miles will give me the fuel I need to bring this blog to life. Maybe I just need a kick in the pants.

Anyways, as always, thanks for being you. Enjoy kiddos.

Monthly Roundup: October 2016

Hiking to grab some surf out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. October 2016.

Hiking to grab some surf out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. October 2016.

Playing catch-up before the end of the year is one of my favorite (read: least favorite) games, but here I am again, scrambling to keep up.

For those of you who have been following along, thank you again for embarking on this non-sensical journey with me. 

October was a dreary one in Seattle, potentially the most dreary on record as rain records were shattered statewide. I was able to hop on my skis late in the month and got caught in my first blizzard of the season on the same trip! Luckily, my buddy Phil and I decided to use it as a decision-making exercise and both decided there was no shame in turning around whilst being whited out on the Muir Snowfields. 

There's a little snippet of my October 2016, stay tuned for November and a few of my favorite pieces from 2016 in the following weeks.

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