Category Archives: Life Stories

How I Went Vegan – Documentaries That Changed My Life

After more than 30 years of eating meat every day, I never thought I would stop. Switching to a vegetarian diet (much less vegan) was a joke to me. However, it only took a couple of hours for me to make a powerful mental shift and completely turn my way of thinking upside down—and just like that, I went vegan.

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2012 By The Numbers

2012 was an incredible year for me! While a lot of people say I stay “busy”, I prefer to say I stay “active.” To me, the word “busy” feels more stressful and less enjoyable than “active”, and I’ve absolutely enjoyed myself with very minimal stress these past twelve months. I plan to reflect on 2012 in a deeper blog post at some point as I look back on my first full year working for myself, but for now he’s a quick look at some numbers from the year along with one photo from ever place I’ve visited throughout 2012. Here’s to another amazing year in 2013!

2012 By The Numbers
Days Spent Traveling: 206
Days Spent Working: 130
Trips Taken: 25
States Visited: 13
Countries Visited: 10
Countries Visited with Danny Josa: 7
BMX Contests Attended: 16
BMX Contests Announced: 5
BMX Contests Organized: 1
Shutter Clicks: 75,000
Videos Produced: 80
Magazines Published In: 5
New Hobbies Acquired: 1
Helicopters Flown In: 1
Computers Lost/Stolen: 2
Curse Words Prompted by Said Computers: 4,736
Instagram Photos Posted: 1,291
Facebook Birthday Wishes: 292
Most Likes On An Instagram Photo: 12,700
All-Nighters Pulled Building My Soon-To-Be-Launched New Web Site: 4
Number Of Pages In My Soon-To-Be-Released Flatland Photo Book: 80

For the past few years I’ve used a Facebook album to post one photo from every place I visit, so here are all the images I posted during 2012 in order of when I visited them…

Recent Work & Other Randomness

Life has been full speed ahead since I started my full-time freelance career earlier this month, and I couldn’t be more stoked!

This past week Fox Racing flew me to Nor Cal to shoot some photos and a video of an in-store autograph signing with some of their sponsored motocross riders including Ricky Carmichael, Jeff Emig, Ryan Dungey, and Ken Roczen. You can check out the photos from the afternoon on the Fox site or on their Facebook page. While you are there, go ahead and click the “LIKE” button on their page and check out some of their apparel. You won’t be disappointed. Hopefully they will release the video soon—I’m really pumped on how it turned out!

While I was in South Bend, Indiana, a few weeks ago I shot a house check with Brett Banasiewicz that is now featured on the ESPN site. Check that out by clicking here…

Lastly, for a bit of randomness… Mexican Flatland rider and artist Niko Del Real recently drew a caricature of me that he posted on the site. Niko has been creating BMX artwork for quite some time now, and while I was working for I posted several galleries of his work featuring caricatures of various pro riders. Thanks to Niko for doing this! It looks sick!

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Heading Home

As I sit in the back of a tuk-tuk weaving my way through the disorderly and chaotic streets of Cambodia’s capital city of Phnom Penh I’m finally starting to truly reflect on the life I’ve lived in South East Asia for the last five weeks. I’m also getting to enjoy one of my favorite parts of traveling. The kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, and trying weird foods are all great, but there’s something about watching the daily life of a culture and a people that is so different than your own that just can’t be beat. The sounds of motorbike engines, horns, and bumpy roads, the smells of food stalls and fresh meat and produce at the local market mixed with the exhaust from the crowded streets, and the sights of ordinary people doing ordinary things. A guard helping a young boy cross the hectic street. A woman making sugar cane juice. Men working on machinery. And entire families of five on a single motorbike saddle going who knows where. In my own city, or even country, everyday norms are all too often overlooked, but on the other side of Planet Earth these distinctly different norms have a whole new meaning and give me a new perspective on things. And that is something beautiful that comes along with traveling.

This has been the longest stretch of time I’ve ever traveled, and my first time in this part of the world. The experience as a whole has been completely surreal and unbelievably exciting, and each mini-experience, adventure, and excursion along the way is a story worth remembering and telling on its own. I’m grateful I’ve had each and every one of these experiences and I’m just as grateful to have been able to go through them all with a close friend who I hold so dearly.

I’ve learned a lot while I’ve been on this trip. I’ve learned about traveling, about friendship and relationships, about cultures and people, and I’ve learned about myself. I feel a great sense of peace as I begin this 26-hour journey back to the United States. I am refreshed, recharged, and rejuvenated, and ready to get back to a life that’s a bit more familiar.

However, even the life I’m going back to isn’t completely familiar anymore. For the past five and a half years I’ve worked for Ride BMX Magazine, and when I get back home I will begin my new career as a full-on freelance photographer and videographer in the BMX industry. I’m eager to see what’s behind all these new open doors and to see where the paths behind them will lead me.

As I leave Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia I want to show my gratitude to Lindsay Matush for planning and researching the trip and being the best travel buddy I could ever ask for. I also want to thank all the other people we encountered an met along the way for giving us a glimpse into their fascinating lives and culture.

Thank you very much!
Kob kun krab! (Thai)
Khop chai lai lai! (Lao)
Awkunh ch’ran! (Khmer)

To see my other travel updates from this trip to Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, click my “Travel Update” tag page.

I have a ton of great travel photos to post over the next several months that I’m really excited to share. Be on the lookout!

*Written and photographed on my iPhone while in a tuk-tuk at 7:45am on January 13, 2012.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – 3 Cities In Cambodia

It’s been about five days since my last travel update from this trip, and as of right now I only have two more nights left in South East Asia before I fly back to the U.S., leaving Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia behind and ending this five week mega-adventure/mini-retirement. Since m last post Lindsay and I have made our way from Battambang to Siem Reap, and from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. I feel like we’ve been packing as much into each and every day as I usually squeeze into a month, so to give a play by play of the past five days would be impossible, but I’ll quickly list some of the highlights and a bit of reflection as I relax in this hammock on the third floor balcony here at our final guesthouse in Phnom Penh.

– We rented a motorbike and drove it through some of the most beautiful countryside I’ve ever seen.
– We rode a bamboo train with our motorbike on the cart. The bamboo train is a simple two-axle cart with a sheet of bamboo and a motor on the axles. The tracks are antiquated and dilapidated. Since there are only one set of tracks, if two carts are approaching each other from opposite directions the one with the least cargo/passengers must stop, disassemble their cart, remove it from the tracks, and let the other pass. Since our cart had our motorbike on it, we never had to stop and disassemble.
– We visited some temple ruins at the top of a hill with a fantastic panoramic view of the farmland around us.
– We visited the ruins of a second temple at the top of another hill. There were wild monkeys all over the place that were really fun to watch and photograph.
– On the same hill we visited some caves where men, women, and children’s bodies were dumped during the Cambodian Genocide during the late 1970’s.
– We watched several million fruit bats fly out of a cave at sundown for about a half hour as they streaked across the sky like a scarf waving in the wind.
– We ate boiled duck eggs with developed fetuses in them.
– We took an eight-hour slow boat ride from Battambang to Siem Reap, navigating through floating and stilted villages and getting an extremely interesting glimpse at life along the river for so many Khmer people.

Siem Reap
– We went shopping and got massages in the night market.
– We visited a place where local women make baskets, soaps, oils, spices, and other things.
– We visited a silk farm where caterpillars are bread for their silk cocoons. We got to see the process of a caterpillar’s life cycle and how the cocoon is turned into silk for fabrics.
– We saw both the sunrise and sunset at the temple ruins of Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
– We ate grilled snake.

Phnom Penh
– We pedaled bikes around the city and river front and drove a motorbike through some of the most insane traffic in the entire world. In Phnom Penh they do not have any regard whatsoever for stop signs, traffic lights, lanes, dividers, or any other rules or laws of the road. It is an absolute free for all a perfect example of controlled chaos.
– We visited the biggest “Killing Field” in the country where thousands of Khmer people were tortured, killed, and mass buried during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We visited a prison where thousands of Khmer people were held captive, tortured, and killed during the Cambodian Genocide.
– We ate grilled chicken feet and head as well as grilled dog and dog curry.

Be on the look out for one final update with some reflection on the trip as a whole pretty soon. Then, over the course of the next few months I’ll post some photo galleries and videos…stay tuned!

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – From The Islands Of Thailand To Cambodia

As I’m sure you could tell from my last few travel updates, our time spent on the islands off the southern coast of Thailand was incredible!

It's almost too easy to get good photos of long tail boats… Here's one that I'd normally hold on to for a photo gallery of some sort, but I have enough from this trip that I can let one slide.

Now we have made our way on another whirlwind journey to Battambang, Cambodia, and will finish out the last nine days of our trip here and in two other cities in Cambodia before flying home. Once again the means of getting from point A (Tonsai Bay, Thailand) to point B (Battambang, Cambodia) was pretty wild. Here’s the synopsis…

We spent the morning and afternoon rock climbing and kayaking at Tonsai Bay, then got a long tail boat to the mainland around 3pm. From there we boarded a mini van for a seemingly pointless one-kilometer ride to our double-decker bus. That bus ride started at about 4:30pm and was supposed to be 13 hours long, ending in Bangkok. However, about 12 hours in, after rain and flooding delayed us a few hours, our bus diver crashed into another bus, shattering the windshield and busting the driver side mirror and headlight. No one was injured, but plenty of first world tourists were pissed. Half the bus got off there and found other modes of transportation—in the middle of the night, on the side of the road, around who knows where. Lindsay and I didn’t have a schedule or anywhere important to be so we opted to stay on as it was the most convenient and cheapest option for us. Around 9:30am (already five hours late), we stopped on the side of the highway and switched over to a new double-decker bus that wasn’t wrecked. Another two hours later we were finally dropped off at a random bus stop somewhere in Bangkok.

Our busted bus.

Lindsay pulled out her trusty Lonely Planet guide and found that a certain bus station across town had busses that went to the boarder town near Cambodia we were tying to get to, so we hopped in a cab for about 20 minutes and made our way to the bus station. It worked out great and we were just in time for the next bus out of Bangkok.

After another three-hour bus ride we were finally at the border crossing and walked through immigration into Cambodia. Once inside the new country we hitched a free five-minute bus ride to a taxi and bus station where we got a “share taxi” (a beat up old Toyota Camry). We were in that car with another random guy for more than an hour, then he got dropped and a different random guy got in. Then the driver stopped at his house and his teenage daughter got in (sitting on Lindsay’s lap in the front).

Finally, around 9pm (30 hours after our journey began) we were at a hotel and ready to settle down for the night. The hotel (that we are still in it for another night) is the nicest place we’ve stayed at so far on this trip and is only $3 a night per person!

Entering into my 21st country…Cambodia.

Today was our first full day in Cambodia, and it was super relaxing and slow paced, but we still packed in a ton of super fun activities.

Here’s what we did today…
We took our time getting up this morning and dropped off some laundry to be washed at the hotel’s front desk, then went for a walk at the local market where we ate some soup and I got my face shaved and hair cut for $4. I haven’t had a close shave with a legit razor in nearly six years (I always just use a beard and mustache trimmer), so having my face shaved with a straight razor and talcum powder (no water or shaving cream) was a pretty wild experience for me. The haircut was deece considering the sheers were about as dull as you could get and still be able to cut hair. As the razor burn was setting in on my face I got a full head wash and massage that was worth the price alone.

Nope, not hamburger patties and tomatoes. Congealed blood with chicken innards that somehow look a lot like testicles. These are just some of the many colorful goodies you can find at the market. (I haven't tried either yet, and probably won't.)

The nice lady that served us soup in the market.

This was not very pleasant, but long overdue.

After we left the market we made a quick stop at the bank to exchange some money, then rented a motorbike ($5 a day). We took off on the chaotic streets on the motorbike and made our way to some temple ruins, stopping off first at a random roadside house to watch local people make rice paper in their front yard. After walking around the temple we kicked back in some hammocks, drank a coconut, and chowed down on some papaya salad. I ended up taking a quick but amazing nap in the hammock before we cruised on back towards town. On the way back we made a pit stop at a crocodile farm where we got to hold baby crocs for a bit. The night ended with some more soup at a roadside stand and a circus performance from a local school of aspiring artists. They were really talented and extremely entertaining—a perfect way to end a perfect day in a new country!

Moped cruisin'.

If you've ever wondered what the marks on rice paper are from, here's your answer… Bamboo drying racks.

What a croc.

Not quite Cirque de Soleil, but still pretty awesome.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Kayaking Around The Islands

I mentioned in my last travel update from this five week excursion through South East Asia that I recently did one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life, so this post is dedicated to that…

Along the southern coast of Thailand there are several inhibited islands and pseudo-islands (that are actually bays only accessible by boat), and all around these islands are massive limestone rock formations—some that have to be upwards of 600ft tall. When you are on a boat passing by them, they are some of the prettiest things in nature you could imagine. They make interesting silhouettes in the distance, and reveal an incredible depth of colors and richness when the sun hits them just right.

However, seeing them from a distance in a passing boat, no matter how many times I passed them, could not have prepared me for how majestic and breathtaking they are when I was directly underneath them in a kayak.

My point of view as we approached two of the formations.

There has only been one other time in my life I legitimately got teary eyed and choked up just by looking at something Mother Nature created (the other being when I was sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon), but that’s exactly what happened while paddling the small blue kayak through coves, bays, and inlets cut in the rock, under stalactites, and around tiny islands of solid rock protruding up from the ocean floor. Looking up and seeing how giant the formations were, and feeling so small in comparison was a powerful experience that I’ll never forget.

Lindsay under a massive overhang on a perfect natural diving board.

My best attempt at a Michael Phelps impersonation.

We paddled around aimlessly for hours, and constantly stopped just to take deep breaths and let our surroundings soak in, appreciating the fact that we were exactly where we were at that very moment in time.

Going into a cove.

Exploring an inlet.

Paddling under a giant stalactites.

Lindsay shooting the gap.

I remember feeling a similar way while white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, which I also put very high on the top of my list of my most memorable travel experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a water proof camera with me on the white water rafting trip, and this time, while I did have a camera in the kayak, I almost felt like no photo I could ever take would do the experience justice, so I opted to keep my camera in the dry bag for most of the trip. Lindsay shot a handful of digicam pics, and I did shoot a few photos with my DSLR, but I didn’t get any images that I feel truly capture how magnificent and meaningful the experience was for me.

I think part of the power in experiences like watching the sunset while sitting at the edge of the Grand Canyon, white water rafting through a jungle in Ecuador, and kayaking around tropical islands in Thailand comes from the fact that the journey of getting to that place and moment in time has been built up so much. After all the research and planning, flights, buses and car rides, and everything else that comes with the logistics of traveling, finally being in exactly that moment and mindset that you’ve been after all along is just a great feeling that can never be matched. For me, those moments are exactly why I chose to travel the world the way I do and are what make me feel so alive. In those moments I sit back and tell myself, “THIS is why I travel…”

Looking out from under a cut.

A view from the beach where you can see some of the formations we paddled around off in the distance.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – New Year’s Eve 2012 On The Islands

Wow, the past few days since my last travel update have been insane! As we rang in the New Year last night we hit the three week mark on the five week long trip. We spent the last five nights on the small, beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi. The whole place is basically like a non-stop Spring Break party with fewer boobs, more scuba diving, and much prettier scenery.

This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for since the first day I decided I was going to Thailand… Ahhh… Living!

Cheesing it up for the camera on top of Koh Phi Phi’s lookout point. The bay on the left is the more chill side of the island, and a mere kilometer and a half or so away, the bay on the right is the party beach.

Part of my time there was spent relaxing on the beach, laying back in hammocks drinking coconuts, and going to various beaches and view points on photo missions, and the other part of my time was spent getting my open water certification for scuba diving. This was my first time ever diving, and it was an incredible experience to say the least—it truly is a whole different world under the water. The highlight for me was a black tip reef shark and a few sea turtles on my very first dive! Swimming with great white sharks is really high on my bucket list right now, and with this certification I’m one step closer to making that dream a reality—hopefully 2012 will be the year for that!

Here is Lindsay feeding a monkey on Koh Phi Phi’s “Monkey Beach” while completely freaking out the whole time. The island we are currently on has tons of monkeys, so I’m looking forward to photographing them over the next few days!

It’s hard to tell in the photo but, there’s 6ft leopard shark just a few feet behind me. Thanks to Lindsay for snapping the GoPro underwater photo!

Jumping off the boat to enjoy a quick swim in between scuba dives near the bay where “The Beach” (with Leonardo Dicaprio) was filmed.

The New Year’s Eve party on the island was one of epic proportions. One side of the entire island was a massive party for about 48 hours straight. Of course, I was only there for about two of those hours, but that was plenty enough for me. It was a really cool and unique scene…all the bars and parties are on the beach, and during the night when the tide is low you can walk about a half-mile into the bay and still only be waist deep, so the music and dancing had a beautiful backdrop of long tail boats stuck in the sand and people wading in the water.

Celebrating the start of 2012 with Lindsay.

Happy New Year!

After a few short hours of sleep I woke up this morning at 5:15am and walked for a solid hour to a beach on the other side of the island hoping to catch a nice sunrise and to shoot photos on an empty beach. However, it was overcast all morning, so things didn’t quite go as planned.

This was my view while waiting for a sunrise that didn’t happen this morning on Koh Phi Phi’s Long Beach.

Lindsay and I hopped on the 9:00am boat off the island and got back onto mainland Thailand where we taxied to another port to catch a long tail boat to the new “island” we are on now called Tonsai Bay. It is called an island even thought it is still part of the mainland because you can only access it by boat. It’s way more relaxed and laid back than Koh Phi Phi, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for sun the next few days (it’s raining as I type this on the porch of our bamboo bungalow) so we can go kayaking around the limestone formations and explore some new terrain. Lindsay plans to do some rock climbing as well since the island has world-class walls to scale, but my wrist is still jacked from a slip and fall at a waterfall early on in the trip, so I’ll have to sit out during the climbing sessions.

Relaxing on the long tail boat ride from Krabi to Tonsai Bay. The rock formations all around this place are sick!

After a few more days of enjoying this majestic tropical paradise we’ll be off to cross the border into Cambodia and spend our final week there before heading home. Hopefully I’ll have time to squeeze in another update or two before we head back to the U.S. on January 13th.

Here’s a quick peek at the island we are on now. Incredible!

Have a healthy, happy, and lucrative New Year, and good luck on all the goals you set for yourself! I can’t wait to work on writing down my new personal goals when I get back home!

NOTE / UPDATE: I had this blog post ready to go up early on the evening of the first (Thailand time), but couldn’t get Internet access until tonight (evening of the second). Since writing this post we sat through a super gnarly 15 hour rain storm. Our bungalow got soaked and we were about to leave the island to head to somewhere with nicer weather. Then as we were working on our exit strategy the it got sunny and beautiful and we proceeded to have one of the best days of the trip! More photos and explanation on that in the next update, but I’ll say this…What I did and saw today is in the top three most incredible things I’ve ever done/seen/experienced in my life!

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Day 13 – Laos

I have now been away from home for 13 days on this five-week excursion throughout South East Asia, and as I’m slipping into the nomad mindset more and more, things continue to get better and better. This afternoon we crossed the Mekong river from Northern Thailand into Laos, getting another stamp on the ol’ passport. Starting tomorrow Lindsay and I will spend a few nights in a tree house 450-feet above the forest floor. During the daylight hours while in the forest we will explore the unfamiliar terrain via cable zip lines and long hikes through the mountains. This is one of our most anticipated adventures of the trip, and we can’t wait to see how it pans out!

So many things have happened on this trip since my last post that keeping the blog updated with all the details could easily be a full-time job, and would no doubt take away from the incredible experiences I’m having.

I do, however, like to keep a record of some of these things for my family and friends to (and anyone else inquisitive enough to have a look), and for me to have as a personal reminder.

So…a few of the highlights from the past few days include:
– Sleeping in an open-air hut in a hill tribe village.
– Riding an elephant through the back roads of a small mountain community.
– Relaxing in a Jacuzzi filled with water from a natural hot spring.
– Hiking through various forests to a few amazing waterfalls.
– Learning to carve basic household items out of bamboo.
– Floating down a river at sunset on a bamboo raft.
– Watching the sunrise over a Chinese tea farm in the mountains.
– Visiting the most bizarre temple we’ve seen thus far.
– Checking out a gallery of paintings inside an artist’s house.
– Becoming more comfortable driving motorbikes on the chaotic streets of Asia.
– Eating more local cuisine, including fried and soft boiled quail eggs and fried chicken tendons.

Carving something cool.

Dumbo ain't got nothin' on this guy!

Fried quail egg with pepper and mystery sauce? Why not...

One of the many waterfalls we've swam at.

City shuffle...motorbike style.

Getting the shot.

The White Temple in Chiang Rai...crazy!

HDR iPhone photo of sunrise in the mountains.

Happy holidays to everyone! Wherever you are in this incredible world of ours, and whatever you are doing, I hope you have a great one filled with fun, laughter, and people you love!

Travel Update: 15 Cool Things We Did In Thailand In 1 Week

A lot can happen in a week, and over the past seven days Lindsay and I did and saw more things than I would have ever dreamed was possible. We have had one adventure after another, and we still have so many more experiences ahead of us over the next four weeks. I’ve already taken a lot of incredible travel photos, but I’m holding on to those for now, so until I post the epic shots, here are 15 of the cool things we did during this first week in Thailand accompanied by a handful of photos and snapshots we took along the way.

If you like this post, make sure you click on my “21 Great Adventure & Experiences Worth Writing Home About” post that went up a few days ago…

Also, here is a page with some more updates from Thailand.

15 Cool Things We Did In Thailand In 1 Week
– Walked around some of the most iconic wats (Buddhist temples) in Asia.

– Got an hour-long Thai massage.

– Used just about every mode of transportation there is; including river taxi, tuk-tuk, cab, bus, mini van, bicycle, motorbike, and train.

– Stumbled upon some old people having a party where I was given the shirt off someone’s back and a handful of sticky rice with curry paste.
– Drove motorbikes to the highest point in Thailand.

– Watched a traditional Muay Thai kickboxing match.

– Learned to make typical Thai dishes in a cooking class.

– Snuck into a dorm at a national park and slept for the night.
– Swam in emerald green pools of beautiful waterfalls and climbed the surrounding rocks.

– Ate strange street vendor foods including a variety of insects, shark fin, and chicken intestines.

– Played with tigers—babies and adults.

– Had hundreds of tiny fish nibble at our feet and legs in a fish spa.
– Visited and bargained with vendors at several markets, including a flower market along the riverfront.
– Ran out of fuel in a rented motorbike at the top of a mountain, coasted down the mountain, and had an ice cream vendor siphon gas for us to get back into town.

– Slept in an overnight train for 15 hours.

After Lindsay read my short, generic notes about this trip she felt that they didn’t quite do it justice so she wanted to elaborate on the 15 points made to help paint a clearer picture. A little dramatic and long-winded if you ask me, but here’s our first week in her words…

– Explored the most ornate and legendary temples in Thailand including Grand Palace, home of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, home of the 140-foot reclining Buddha, and Wat Doi Suthep, which is perched atop one of the tallest mountains in Thailand.
– Had our bodies pummeled, stretched, popped, and rejuvenated in an hour-long Thai massage at one of the plethora of roadside stands for about $5 USD.
– Took advantage of just about every mode of transportation Thailand has to offer; including river taxi, tuk-tuk, cab, bus, mini van, bicycle, motorbike, moto-taxi, songtheaw, and train.
– Stumbled upon a local roadside political party, quite off the beaten path, where we were welcomed like celebrities and given the shirts off their backs to support their (hopefully worthwhile) political cause, drank whisky with the locals (me), and were fed some sort of interesting concoction of chili paste, sticky rice, and raw cauliflower while they took pictures and cheered us on.
– Drove motorbikes to the highest point in Thailand, and coasted 15 kilometers down the steepest part of the summit to avoid running out of gas.
– Hooted, hollered, and cheered “Oo-iy!” with the locals at a Muay Thai boxing match while Lindsay drank the local brew and Fat snuck into the ringside section to take photos.
– Learned to make traditional Thai dishes like pad Thai, green curry, spring rolls, and hot and sour soup in a cooking class in Chiang Mai, the Northern Capital of Thailand.
– Snuck into a set of beautiful dorms at Erawan National Park to crash for the night when we couldn’t find our rundown bamboo hut in the dark. We did spot it on the way out the next morning and were glad we opted for not-breaking and entering the much cleaner and nicer dorms.
– Swam in ethereal pools of blue-green water at each of the seven tiers of beautiful waterfalls, rock slides, and swimming holes at Erawan Falls.
– Experienced Thailand by taste bud at the many-wonderful and many-bizarre street vendor stalls, including our favorites of pad Thai, fried rice, curries, and noodle soup, as well as the more adventurous options like insects, shark fin soup, blocks of congealed chicken blood, intestines, and an assortment of mystery meats.
– Played with tigers at a park in the tiny town of Mae Rim. The big cats as well as the babies. We have mixed reviews—a neat experience, but we’re positive the tigers were drugged, and they were kept in cages akin to animal prison.
– Ran out of gas in our motorbike at the summit of Doi Suthep north of Chiang Mai, coasted at 60 km/hour down the curvy, mountainous, hairpin turns, and slowed to a stop just in time for an ice cream vendor to siphon gas for us from a couple of different bikes and then give us free ice cream when we tried to pay him.
– Experienced the incredibly odd feeling that comes only when hundreds of tiny fish nibble at your feet, legs, and hands while you soak in a roadside “fish spa” and people watch at a Bangkok night bazaar.
– Shopped ‘til we dropped at markets all over Thailand—from Bangkok’s Chinatown, to Patpong Market (night market and red light district—home of the ping pong show…we’ll leave that to the imagination), legendary backpacker mecca of Khao San Road, the Flower Market along Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river, Chiang Mai’s night market and Sunday walking street, and the stalls selling everything you can imagine and could never need that seem to line every inch of marketable space and sidewalk in all of Thailand.
– Slept(ish) in the overnight sleeper train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai…a mere 12 hour journey that somehow took 17.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Day 2 – Bangkok

I spent another day in Bangkok today. Most of the day (and night) was spent walking around the enormous city in disbelief at all the crazy crap you can buy in markets, in awe at some of the incredible Buddhist temples, and searching for a taxi that wouldn’t rip us off.

Of course there were lots of great moments from the day, but for the sake of a quick blog post before I head to bed and get an early start tomorrow venturing off to a new city, I’ll stick to some basics, mostly revolving around food…

With no tour guide and no signs to read, I don’t know much about this teakwood mansion, but I know we couldn’t wear shoes or take photos inside. And supposedly the entire thing was made with wooden pegs—no nails. Typical Asian tourist pose!

At one of the temples we visited (the best one of the day) there was the famous “reclining” Buddah. That thing was huge!

There’s a million and one weird things you can buy in markets all around the world. And as much goofy Fox knock off stuff as i’ve seen over the years, this knife probably takes the cake.

Now we get to the knitty gritty…I said in my last post that we had only scratched the surface of bizarre foods, and tonight I proved that statement correct. On the menu? Cricket, grub, bigger cricket, mealworm, small grasshopper, frog, large grasshopper, and giant cockroach.

All of them went down with no barfing and no water. The most challenging to conquer, as you may have guessed, was definitely the cockroach. If you want to know what it was like? Hit me up on Facebook and I’ll tell you the street where you can buy them so you can try for yourself…

21 Great Adventures & Experiences Worth Writing Home About

Part of what’s so fun about traveling is creating incredible memories that will no doubt last a lifetime. I’m always on the lookout for new, unique things I can do or situations I can get myself into, and over the past five years or so of traveling I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of really amazing things that I’ll never forget.

In this photo gallery you’ll find images of 21 of my favorite adventures and experiences that are worth writing home about…

Some of the things I plan to add to this list are:
– Scuba diving, hiking, and rock climbing in Thailand.
– Staying in a jungle tree hours in Laos.
– Cage diving with great white sharks around me.
– Swimming with dolphins.

Travel Update: Thailand Trip – Day 1 – Bangkok

This blog was never intended to be a personal journal, but I figured I may as well post a few updates from this five week journey through South East Asia whileI I’m here… This will be the longest trip I’ve ever been on, and we have some really wild things planned, and if this first day is any indication of what’s in store, then it may be even crazier than I even anticipated!

After more than 30 hours of travel time from L.A. through London I arrived in Bangkok earlier today where I met up with my good friend and travel partner Lindsay Matush. We got settled into a hostel, then hit the town, starting off with a traditional tuk tuk ride through the city—an experience in and of itself.

Photo by Lindsay Matush.

We both wanted to dive right into the street food scene, so we snagged some freshly grilled squid and a plate full of muscles.

We also ended up eating shark fin soup, which may be up there with Guinea pig as one of the strangest things I’ve ever eaten. But I’m sure it will pale in comparison to what’s still to come from this trip…

After walking through some markets we ended the night with a fish spa—one of the most bizarre feelings ever! You basically sit there with your feet and lower legs dipped in cold water as a few hundred tiny fish nibble on your skin. After about seven or eight minutes I got used to it, but the initial shock was super funny.

Hopefully I’ll have Internet here and there along the way, so keep checking back for more updates from Asia…

Stepping Down From Working At Ride BMX Magazine

After living out my childhood dream of working at TransWorld’s Ride BMX Magazine for an incredible five and a half years I have decided to step down from my position as Associate Online Editor to pursue other life and career goals.

Congratulating my friend Matthias Dandois on his winning flatland run at Vans Rebeljam in Eindhoven, Netherlands—the last contest I covered for ride on my final days with the company. Photo by Elodie Jumelin.

During my senior year of high school, at the age of 17, I made it my mission to work at the world’s leading BMX magazine. I didn’t know anything about the magazine business or the BMX industry, and I had no clue how I’d make my dream a reality. However, by the time I graduated college some five years later I had figured it all out and there was a job at Ride waiting for me on the other side of the country.

Since the Online Editor position was new to the company I got the opportunity to take a barely-breathing Web site, and over the course of the years, nurture it and help it grow into one of the most visited BMX sites in the world; and I will forever be thankful for that experience. During my time with Ride I’ve had the privilege of riding, shooting, traveling, and becoming friends with some of the people I looked up to the most as a kid. I’ve also had the chance to travel to more than a dozen countries experiencing the BMX culture and lifestyle on a global scale. None of this will ever be forgotten or taken for granted.

I have to give a huge thank you to Keith Mulligan, Jeff Zielinski, and Ryan Fudger for giving me the opportunity to work and grow with them and the Ride brand.

As I move on to the next chapter of my life and enter the world of freelance work and self-employment I am looking forward to continuing to work with some of the best brands in BMX in the form of photography, videography, writing, announcing, and more. I’m excited about the future that lies ahead and can’t wait to see where the wind will take me when I stretch my wings and begin to fly.

In just two days I am embarking on a five-week journey with one of my best friends Lindsay Matush to backpack throughout Southeast Asia for five weeks. When I return I plan to revamp and expand on my online portfolio, so be on the lookout for updates! Until then, keep up with me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and keep checking my blog—hopefully I’ll be able to post some things while I’m trekking through rain forests, exploring jungle canopies, and diving off of remote beaches.

Thanks so much to everyone for your continued support. All the words of encouragement I’ve already received truly means the world to me!

Click here to read an interview that ESPN did with me about my decision to leave my position at Ride BMX.

Why I Don’t Drink Alcohol

A lot of people are pretty surprised when they find out I don’t drink alcohol and that I have never tried smoking or drugs. As a result I have received a full spectrum of reactions after revealing this fact about myself. While my thoughts and feelings about this subject have shifted slightly over the years, my core beliefs and values have remained the same since I was 15 years old.

No Smoking No Drinking No Drugs

I’m not sure why, but growing up as a young kid in a small town I never really had the desire to try drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes like a lot other of kids my age did. Every once in a while my parents would let me have a few sips of whatever they were drinking at the time—wine at Thanksgiving, or rum punch at Christmas, but I never drank enough to get drunk or ever experience what a buzz was. Then in ninth grade, a friend I looked up to introduced me to a new term and concept a few of the bands he liked subscribed to: “straight edge.” I don’t remember exactly how he explained what straightedge was, but I knew I fit the description, so during my freshman year of high school I made the choice to live the rest of my life free from alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs. I understand some people might find this shocking given that I had never even tried any of those things, but to be frank, it wasn’t a difficult decision. I didn’t even have to give it a lot of thought because it simply wasn’t a big deal to me at the time—and it still isn’t. The desire or curiosity was just never there, and part of what lay beneath that lack of desire was the fact that I never wanted any outside substances to affect my actions or decisions, and I always wanted to keep a healthy mind and body.

Throughout the rest of high school I had what some would consider a bit of an elitist attitude about “being straight edge.” I marked big black Xs on my hands and drew an sXe symbol on my backpack to show people that I was straightedge. I purchased and proudly wore straightedge T-shirts and hats. I was openly vocal that I thought my life choices were better than someone else’s if we didn’t see eye to eye on the issue. However, as I grew up I grew out of that attitude and mindset.

One of the early straight edge hardcore bands I listened to; Earth Crisis.

Over the years I stopped using the term straight edge and stopped labeling myself as such. A big reason for that was I didn’t want to be associated with people that acted like I did in high school. Also, I didn’t want people to ever think I was labeling myself something just to be a part of a group or to fit in. I especially never wanted to be associated with straight edgers who were violent towards others who didn’t have the same beliefs as them. I became mature enough to come to grips with the fact that my decisions and choices are just that—mine. They are personal to me, and although I’m proud of the way I live my life, I also respect other people’s decisions on how they choose to live theirs.

Nowadays if someone asks me if I’m straight edge I may or may not say yes, but I’ll always tell them I have committed to living my life without drugs, tobacco, and alcohol. If asked I’ll always tell them my reasons are that I never want outside substances to affect my actions or decisions, and I want to maintain a healthy mind and body.

I’m smart enough to realize that I’m the minority when it comes to this topic, so I know not everyone will understand my decisions. I’m also smart enough to know that, in moderation, none of these substances are that bad and wouldn’t really have much affect on me, if any at all… The easiest way I’ve found to help people relate is comparing my lifestyle to being vegetarian: Most vegetarians don’t think that eating a piece of meat will hurt them. But at the same time, they don’t have the desire to eat a piece of meat because it’s simply not a part of their life. Have you ever seen a vegetarian look at a steak dinner and be bummed they can’t eat it? Probably not. It’s not that they can’t eat it; they simply don’t have the desire to eat it. Vegetarians don’t necessarily have above-average willpower—many simply don’t have the temptations to begin with. So even though many vegetarians do not think a piece of meat will hurt them; because they’ve lived their lives without it for so long, if they were to eat a bite of steak, there is a good chance it would make them sick to their stomach, and possibly even cause them to throw up. Sometimes even the mere thought of eating meat can make a vegetarian feel queasy. Obviously these statements are extremely broad and don’t apply to all vegetarians, but again, this the best way I’ve come up with to help people understand my perspective. So, everything I just wrote is true for me if you replace “eating meat” with “drinking alcohol.”

I don’t expect anyone to read this and decide they are never going to drink or smoke, but on the same token, just like any other commonalities in life; it is great to meet people who share similar beliefs on this subject. And of course, if I were ever in a serious relationship, I’d love for it to be with someone that has the same values as me when it comes to this.