Many years ago, when the Outdoor Retailer trade show was still held in Salt Lake City, Fitz Cahall and I met for coffee one morning before the show got under way. It was the meeting I was most looking forward to, as I had long admired what Fitz and his wife Becca had built with their podcast, The Dirtbag Diaries. Social media and its empowerment hadn’t exploded the way it has now, and there weren’t many independent storytelling organizations that I respected as much as Duct Tape Then Beer, their production company. They had succeeded in spinning great narratives out of the cloth of adventure while remaining true to the ethos of dedicated dirtbags and outdoor fun hogs, and they’d done it while building an ethical company and working with good people. It felt like the Diaries were doing what I was trying to do with AJ, or vice versa, and I know I saw in them a kindred spirit.
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve both remained fans of each other’s work, and despite a lot of overlap in the stories we’re telling, we’d never discussed working together until this past spring, when a couple folks at DBD reached out to me. We kicked the tires on a few ideas for podcasts—taking stories from AJ in print and turning them into audio—but in the end they decided they wanted to tell AJ’s story and, I guess, by proxy, mine.
Which is weird. I’ve been on plenty of podcasts, but those have just been conversations, basically. With “Fit to Print,” the Diaries episode 135, Fitz and his crew took our interviews and turned them into a narrative. My narrative. It’s not just weird to be on the other side, it’s kinda scary. But these guys know storytelling like nobody’s business and apparently they have my number, too.
I do hope you’ll listen, because what I and all the other people connected to Adventure Journal are trying to do is telling meaningful stories, find common ground, and make the world a better place, not just through feeling good but by inspiring ourselves and others to action. Patagonia is a sponsor of the Diaries, and founder Yvon Chouinard says at the beginning of the episode that Patagonia exists to save the planet. AJ is a freckle on a flea on a dog to Patagonia, but we’re trying to do the same thing as best we can, while trying to be a model for responsible, ethical publishing. That, anyway, is the message that I hope you hear. (Thank you, ductlings, for all your work on this!)
About the photo. We spent a fair bit of time talking about my journey from Northern Virginia to Vermont to a job at Powder magazine in California. There’s a nicely embarrassing photo that Casey Sheahan, at the time my roommate and later president of, funny enough, Patagonia, took of me in the Sierra backcountry, where it’s so hot I’ve stripped to my tights, which are a neon floral pattern. If I can find it, I’ll post it. In the meantime, the shot above was taken at my family cabin in Pennsylvania, as I was driving west to a new life. That little Subi contained everything I owned, and while it died less than a year after arriving, shocked perhaps by the lack of rust on California cars and ashamed as its own weakening quarter panels, it did get me there safely. Photo by my mom.
Our audio player isn’t fancy, but you know what to do: