Category Archives: Adventures

Orphan Girl Headframe

Last week I shared about my journey from writer to million dollar art packager at the World Museum of Mining. We finished the art and John, the owner of Headframe Spirits, asked one of our supervisors if we could go up the Orphan Girl Headframe. She paused, looked around skeptically and said, “We’re going to the office. What you do is up to you.” A huge smile streaked across John’s face. He later admitted that he’d been trying to get up the Orphan Girl for years.  He guessed less than 50 people in as many years had been allowed to climb to the top.

A headframe is a large steel or concrete structure that’s used to lower miners and equipment into an underground mine shaft. In Butte, Montana there are more than twelve still standing, providing beacons to the city’s rich mining history. The Orphan Girl Headframe stands 100 feet tall and once lowered miners 2700 feet into the earth. During its run from 1875 to 1956 the “Girl” pulled out 7,500,000 ounces of silver. While that’s a large amount, it’s only 1% of the total silver produced in the area.

Butte has an incredible history and for further reading I would highly recommend The Battle for Butte by Michael P. Malone.


[Click on pictures to enlarge]

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Published in Mountain Outlaw Magazine

Some good news on the publishing front. I recently had two articles published in the summer issue of Mountain Outlaw Magazine. They’re based out of Bozeman and in partnership with Big Sky Weekly, who previously published one of my stories.

These two assignments were a blast to work on. The first, One Track Mind, is about cyclist Tejay van Garderen. Tejay grew up in Bozeman, now lives in Boulder, but travels around the globe racing for one of the top cycling teams in the world. The list of people I got to interview for this story was great.

I spoke to Tejay over the phone while he was in Italy training between races. He’s very kind and surprisingly humble for how big a star he’s becoming in the cycling world. His dad was also great to talk to and shared fun stories of Tejay growing up. I interviewed Carl Strong of Strong Frames in Bozeman. When I was a wannabe mountain biker in middle school my friend Nate and I dreamed of owning one his bikes. And finally, through Team BMC’s press officer, I was able ask legendary American cyclist George Hincapie some questions. Hincapie has been a part of NINE Tour de France winning teams. I look forward to watching him and Tejay attempt go after another Tour for their leader Cadel Evans starting June 30.

The second story, Distilling Butte, is on John and Courtney McKee of Headframe Spirits in Butte. What I thought was going to be a simple interview turned into a 5 hour interview complete with tastings, moving million dollar artwork at a museum (more on that next week), climbing to the top of a mining headframe (also more on that next week), and bottling gin. They make some very good spirits with reasonable Montana prices, which is refreshing when coming from Seattle. I particularly like their Anselmo Gin and and Neversweat Bourbon Whiskey. Their Bourbon Girl Cream Liqueur is also good and when blended with vanilla ice cream produces one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had.

Below is a picture of the magazine cover as well as the first pages of both articles. They can be read in the writing section of this site. I thought the magazine did a great job with the layout of both articles. Enjoy.

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Spring Break Photos and Cru Blog

I posted last week about how I was going on a road trip spring break with Cru at UW, documenting their journey along the way.  I’m in Minot, ND and we have three days left on the trip.  I thought I would be able to write here on my own blog but editing/posting photos and working on their blog has taken up more time than I thought.  People have asked to see my work so click on the links below to follow our road trip and flood rebuilding.

Click HERE to see the blogs I’ve written for them

Click HERE to see the photos I’ve taken


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I’m going on Spring Break

I’m 30 years old and I’m going on spring break. I’m pretty excited. Cru at UW has invited me to document their trip as they take twenty college students to rebuild flood damage in Minot, North Dakota.  Here’s part of an intro to the trip I wrote for their website:

On June 22, 2011 sirens pierced the quiet streets of Minot, North Dakota.  Flooding of epic proportions was coming and the city was recommending citizens to pack up what they could and leave as soon as possible.  Over 12,000 people left that day and the waters came hard.

A larger snow pack than usual mixed with a very wet spring caused the Souris River to reach record levels, beating the previous record set in 1881 by more than three feet.  For days water poured through town, in many places reaching the roofs of homes.  Many businesses were also ruined.  Water came just feet away from the roof of gas stations, service shops, and a Burger King in one of the popular business districts.

The aftermath.  Over 4,000 homes were flooded.  Twenty percent of Minot sustained some level of loss with an estimated two hundred and fifty to three hundred million dollars in damage.  People returned to their homes to find soaked carpets and the ability to push fingers through their wet drywall.  Neighborhood streets began to look like the dump, as people tore their ruined homes apart and threw away belongings.

Cru at UW has been blessed with an opportunity to spend spring break (March 16th—24th) traveling to Minot to help rebuild homes that were ruined by the flood.  We’ll be working with organizations in a variety of ways, mostly rebuilding homes.

Trip photos can be seen here


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Montana Roadside Attractions

I was astonished to discover on a recent road trip that my friend Bryon had never been to the Rock Creek Lodge.  Home to the famous Rock Creek Testicle Festival, the bar/restaurant/gift shop in rural Montana is a treasure trove of weird and sometimes inappropriate gifts.  In college, I frequently stopped to purchase a magnate that pictured a cartoon bull with steam coming out of his nostrils and read “I had a ball at the Rock Creek Testicle Festival.”  Several of my close friend’s moms have that magnate hanging on their fridge as a gift for letting me stay with them. You’re welcome.

Bryon was likewise surprised to learn I’d never stopped at the 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, Montana.  Both stops are between Bozeman and Coeur d’Alene on I-90, a route we’d traveled more than thirty times.  We pledged when our ski trip was over we’d stop at both locations on the way back to Idaho.  Below are some pictures and the highlights of each stop.

Rock Creek is right off the interstate and besides a large parking lot and stage for the festival, it feels abandoned.  Not pictured are men’s and women’s g-strings, a life size wood bull with large testicles that almost touch the floor, and racy post cards.  My wife and I caught the tale end of the festival two years ago and had the opportunity to try a Rocky Mountain Oyster.  They taste like chicken.  The party had died down when we were there but from what I’ve heard it’s a pretty rowdy four days.


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Pictures: Bryon stands outside the $50,000 Silver Dollar Bar in Haugan, Montana.  Second picture, there are plenty of cheesy items to purchase.  Third picture, inset in all those pieces of wood are silver dollars, many with an accompanying signature.  Above the door there’s a current total count, 58,390 silver dollars.  Last picture is of Bryon, I really think he should have bought that hat.



Cheep knives, air soft guns, cross bows, t-shirts with wolves on them, gaudy jewelry.  Within the Silver Dollar Bar is everything you could ever want to bring home and throw away two years later.  While Bryon and I were checking out the weapons a man accidentally shoved a knife through its holder and cut himself on the hand, bleeding everywhere.

Both locations were quite the experience for us.  I can confidently say we will never go to both again.  At least not on the same day.


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Year End Wrap Up: 2011

I traveled more in 2011 than any previous year.  After quitting my job as on optometric technician in July I’ve tried to spend as much time on the road as possible.  I traveled to places that were new (Turkey), places I visit every year (Bozeman, Orlando, Portland) and places I haven’t been to in years (Sidney, B.C., Madison, WI)

I swam in the Aegean Sea, saw the biggest hockey stick in the world, skied in July, rode Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride at Universal, and flew in my first float plane.  I look forward to the adventures that are to come in 2012.

Here are some of 2011 stats along with a couple of pictures.

Beds I’ve slept in: 23

Hottest Temperature: 100 degrees in Izmir, Turkey

Coldest Temperature: 7 degrees in Montana during weekend of Cat/Griz game

Best Delicacy: fried fish in Bergama, Turkey

Best Burger: Dotty Dumplings Dowry in Madison, WI and Burgatroyd food truck in Portland, OR

Plastic 16.9 oz bottles consumed by Pamela and me during 2 weeks in Turkey: 109

Pictures are of Pamela and me at the Stadium in Ephesus, watching a Sounders game on my laptop in an airport, and mimicking a kissing sand sculpture in Parksville, British Columbia.


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Night Photography, Montana & Idaho

This past week a group of friends gathered to celebrate my buddy’s 30th birthday in Red Lodge, Montana. The “ski trip” was filled with micro brews, iPhone app conversations, amazing egg scrambles, hot tub soaks, 4 turkeys walking down the road, reminiscing about college, and a little skiing. Montana hasn’t received much snow so with early season conditions I left the camera in the cabin and focused on getting back into ski shape. However, I did take some night shots near the cabin and in Couer d’Alene.


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Portland Food Trucks

Matador published my article on Portland food trucks. I’m really happy with the way it turned out. Just reading it makes me excited to try some new food trucks this weekend, as I’m headed to Portland tomorrow.  Hope you enjoy the story.


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Vancouver Road Trip

My second article for the Matador Network was published yesterday.  It’s based on a road trip I took with my wife and cousin-in-law to Vancouver Island this summer. I have more pictures I will post at a later time but I’m on the road now.  Hope you enjoy the article.

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Yellowstone National Park–July

I know this is a little late but what can you do?  After skiing the Beartooth Highway in July, Tanner and I dropped down the south side of the pass and headed toward Yellowstone.  This is my favorite way to enter the Park because there aren’t as many people and you’ve a better chance of seeing a wolf in Lamar Valley, since they were reintroduced in 1995.  We didn’t see a wolf this trip but before hitting the Tower-Roosevelt junction we did see a black bear.  Tanner saw the bear first and here’s the conversation that ensued.

“There’s a bear.” Tanner says, pointing to the side of the road.


“Right there.” Pointing at the same spot.


“Right there.” Still pointing.


“It’s right there!” Still pointing and now shaking his finger.

And as it turns out the bear was “right there.”  I just didn’t see him.  He walked across the road and headed down a hill.  At the time there were only seven cars (including ours) so we drove up twenty yards, pulled the car over, and grabbed our cameras.  Within five minutes there were over a hundred people and the bear disappeared down the valley.  Whether or not you see animals, a drive through Yellowstone is always a good way to end a ski day.

The first two pictures are bison in Lamar Valley.  The first bear picture is a little hazy because it was shot through my window as I was trying to put the car in park and not scare him.  And the last picture is right before the bear headed down into the valley.


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