Tunes to Ring in 2014

For several years I have wanted to write a holiday letter to send to family and friends. You know the type - the page long typed letter highlighting one's life over the past 12 months. Since I actually did things worth writing about and have stories to tell, I thought this would be the year. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm ran out before the letter was written. The result is the card you see above so I guess you can say I told my story through photos and a few words. 

I did have a creative spark in me, however, and created this playlist with comments for each song. Those of you lucky enough to be on my holiday card list should have received the CD by now. 

Onward to 2014. Here's to a  year of fun, adventure and inspiration with family and friends!


Ode to the Ski Poles

Backcountry still-life, Beehive Basin
Skis long gone, poles remain

Like many avid skiers in Bozeman, I try to extend my ski season as long as possible each year.  With skiing working its way into my life most months of the year, it is little wonder that ski gear takes up a good bit of space in my garage and closets. Much time is spent researching and talking about gear with friends, and it is with pleasure I dream of the newest, lightest backcountry binding, sing the praises of my favorite pair of skis, find the perfect pack that I intend to have forever. The list goes on and on.

At the same time, certain pieces of gear are essential to the backcountry ski experience but seldom do I excitedly purchase them or rave about them to my ski partners. Thus is the life of the ski pole.  While it is certainly possible to ski without poles, epic days in the backcountry always happen with poles in hand.

I had never given thought to my ski poles until recently. As I got them out of the garage for the first ski tour of the year, I realized that I have become attached to them. If I lost them, I’d be bummed. The aforementioned poles are a pair of mismatched Black Diamonds about seven or eight years old. The green one came first followed by the orange one a year later.


Last days of a life of leisure (For now)

After losing my job in March, taking a planned (Pre-lay off) three week trip to ski tour and travel in Europe in April, coming home to few jobs prospects and subsequently renting my place at a premium price for the summer, traveling for seven more weeks, coming home again and job hunting, I am heading back to work a week from today.

Shenanigans from recent weeks
Al Dean the Cat doesn't think too much of our behavior
This is a bittersweet moment I must face as I am going to miss having my days free. The reality, however, is that it will be good to earn a paycheck again, have a place to be each day, meet new co-workers and start work in an entirely new field. Before my time is up, I will make it a point to do an additional blog entry - one with substance. I've had a few things I'd like to write about so I better get at least one of them done as my time will be limited come Monday.  


Five weeks, three countries and a handful of words

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Crno Jezero, Montenegro
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been longing to travel abroad. Yes, I know I just got home a few weeks ago but I guess travel is something I crave. This desire becomes stronger as we reach that time of year when good days for biking season are limited but skiing hasn’t started in earnest. I still get outside often but it’s not  as satisfying as when it's the height of winter or summer.

One of the things I miss about traveling is hearing the sound of a foreign language spoken daily, which is captivating.


Dealing with wanderlust by becoming a citizen diplomat

It’s been over a month since I’ve been back from my trip. While I am glad to be home and am anticipating the upcoming ski season, part of me wishes I were still traveling. Feeling unsettled in life (Job search is going slow) is contributing to the desire to hit the road but part of it is the reality every day life doesn’t offer the constant stimulation that traveling does. On many days life isn’t good or bad or dull or exciting or anything too extreme one way or the other. Life just “is” much of the time.

I miss the long and carefree days when all I had to concern myself with was what will I eat, what sites will I visit, how will I get there. I miss visiting new places and having new experiences each day. I miss the sound of the Serbian/Croatian/Montenegrin language and checking out Balkan men with dreamy eyes.


Getting to know your date by what is on his/her iPod

Any lover of music cannot deny that at one time or another they have begun to form an impression of their date or a new acquaintance based on musical preferences. After all, many things make a person who they are including music. Most likely the tendency was more prevalent in one's younger years and I can recall certain friends in the 90s saying, “If he/she doesn’t want to follow the Grateful Dead with me than it’s a deal breaker.”

A DJ always has opinions when it comes to music
Although I wouldn’t dump a guy today because of incompatible taste in music, it is always interesting and insightful to find out about another’s interest (or lack of interest) in music. Because of that, this article, “What Your Taste in Music Says About You on a Date,” resonated with me.(http://www.howaboutwe.com/date-report/1610-what-your-taste-in-music-says-about-you-on-a-date/

Below I have pulled out some bands mentioned in the articles that are on my iPod and added my own commentary. I have also included a few bands at the bottom of the list that were not mentioned in the articles. Feel free to give your thoughts or add other bands in the comments area of this post.


Riding the 8:10 pm Night Train from Belgrade, Serbia to Bar, Montenegro

The train has just pulled out of Belgrade, Serbia on the 11+ hour night journey to Bar, Montenegro. I am pretty certain that by the time we arrive I will have lost at least five pound through sweat. I am sharing a three-bed compartment with two Serbian babushkas and have had the misfortune to be assigned the top bunk. It is sweltering up here which is unfortunate because the only relief from the Serbian heat comes in the evening when temperatures drop from the mid to upper 90s (It’s even reached over 100 once or twice during my visit) to the low 70s.


Fat Tire Exploration in the Gem City

Cactus, Antelope & the Spirit of Woody Guthrie
Larame mountain biking
Double-track & small rolling hills

The folks at the bike shop told me that to get to any of the mountain biking near Laramie, you had to drive to the trailhead. 

I remember from my time living here “back in the day” that there was a trail we used to ride from town called Coyote Canyon. When I asked about it, the bike shop staff told me that it is and has always been private property and discouraged me from riding it. Being a little bit rebellious (And really wanting to go on a ride without driving to a trailhead!) I set out to find it.


Reminding me of my love for the Allman Brothers Band

A review of Gregg Allman’s memoir, “My Cross to Bear”

Recently, I stayed up late several nights in a row reading this book. Quite engaging, a nice summer read. I intend to do a proper book review one of these days and make good on my promise to do more writing. I am hoping that this post will evolve over time.

Despite the not so great writing and the rambling nature of parts of the book, I still I enjoyed it. It is written as I imagine Gregg Allman speaks and his story is told with passion and enthusiasm.

JazzFest, 2010

To find out what others are saying about the book, you can click on this link:

After reading the book, I can't get this tune out of my head....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwOXU-Ayt40


If the band played on, they were probably at a great venue

Over beers the other night, friends and I were discussing great live music. In the spirit of the film High Fidelity, we began listing our all-time, top five concerts. I couldn’t possibly limit my list to just five shows so Instead, I tried to come up with my all-time, top five venues, which soon became the nine top venues. In an effort to revisit some of my fondest musical memories and make good on my promise to do more writing, I decided to put the list down on paper. Feel free to include your favorite concert venues in the comments section of this blog.