2012 in Pictures.

Here’s a little video collage of some pictures from 2012. Roughly in order: Fatbiking in Anchorage, AK; Stagecoach 400 in Idyllwild, CA; Maisie’s Ride – Eskridge, KS; Dirty Kanza 200 and Thursday Night Group Ride – Emporia, KS; Boundary Waters – Ely, MN; Fat-bike on a dry John Redmond Res. – New Strawn, KS; fat-packing the Vapor Trail, Salida, CO; Yellowstone Natl. Park – WY; snow-bike on ESU trails – Emporia, KS. Music is “Keep the Car Running” by The Foo Fighters

Happy New Year to everyone, and I hope you have a fantastic 2013! Enjoy!

See you down the road,

Matt

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The 2012 Top Ten Awards…Because All The Real Blogs Have Them, Too.

In an effort to give this blog legitimacy, I have made a top ten list for 2012.  This top ten list is the top ten most bad-ass people of 2012, at least to me (it’s my blog, I can pick whoever I want!).  Here ya go, in no particular order, the top ten most bad-ass people of 2012:

10 – Felix “Freefall” Baumgartner

Felix took a height at which most people start to feel fairly intimidated (128 ft), added three zeroes behind it (128,000 ft) and then decided to go for a skydive.  While being dragged to the Earth by his massive brass balls, he managed to not only break the sound barrier, he made it his personal play-thing; reaching 833.9 mph (373 meters per second, for my Canadian friends, ehh), or Mach 1.24.  Definitely earns a top-ten spot for that one.

9 – Barack H. Obama

In the eight years under the Bush administration, $5 Trillion dollars was added to the national debt.  In a never-before-seen-by-mankind, historically unprecedented display of one-upmanship, Barack Obama added $6 trillion in less than four.  I’ll put $6 Trillion in perspective.  The Hoover Dam ($690M), the entire Apollo Space Program ($145B), WWII ($5T), the Panama Canal ($14B), and the Transcontinental Railroad ($877M) (all figures in today’s dollar) combined would be $500 Billion less than $6 Trillion.  The bad-ass moment for Barack came in early November when he found 60 million Americans who think that four more years is a good thing.  Lincoln said you can’t fool all the people all the time.  Evidently all you need to do is to fool 52% of them, though.  (I didn’t vote for Romney, either, because he would have been just as bad, IMHO).

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Well played sir.  Well played indeed.

8.  Jay “Jimmy-John’s” Petervary 

Note – Jimmy John’s is a sandwich chain whose motto is “freaky fast” and Jay Petervary is precisely that.

The Tour Divide is a 2,745 mile mountain bike race from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, NM, which I’ve talked about in previous posts.  In June, New Zealander Ollie Whalley broke the record with a run of 16 days, 2 hrs, and 46 mins.  In mid-September, Jay returned the record back to ‘Merica, cutting it to an almost-unbelievable 15 days, 16 hours, and 4 minutes (almost 180 miles a day).  That’s freaky fast, especially considering he did it completely alone, and camped every night rather than staying in a hotel.  Freaky fast indeed.  It’s absolutely amazing what people are capable of.  Here’s an awesome video about his ride.

Jay has said he is planning on racing the Dirty Kanza this year, so if any of you locals (that’s you, Mom) are reading this, be on the lookout for him, and say hello.

7.  Eszter “Zoom-Diggity” Horanyi

It’s been said that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did except backwards and in heels, and when it comes to mountain bikes Eszter Horanyi is this analogy personified.  First, in the Stagecoach 400, she came in first in the women’s and third overall, and was a mere six hours behind Jay Petervary, who came in first.  In June, she raced the Divide, knocking over 5 DAYS off the existing record, and beating all but six of the boys to boot, with a run of 19 days, 3 hours and 35 minutes.  

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Here is Eszter finishing the Stagecoach 400, being warmly welcomed by Jay’s dogs.

Having had the honor of meeting both Jay and Eszter in California, I will say that they are two of the nicest, most laid back people I’ve ever met, and have forgotten more about long-distance riding than I’ll ever learn.  If you ever get the chance to meet either of them, you’ll be better off for it.  Truly amazing and inspiring people. Ohh, and really damn fast, too.

6. Eric “Mr. Freeze” Larsen

Eric Larsen is riding a fat-tire mountain bike to the South Pole. And back. Alone. By himself.  To the South Pole. Alone. On a bicycle.  Alone.  Ok, it’s not your normal, everyday Schwinn, but still.  It’s a Surly Moonlander, a fat-bike with 5″ wide tires, and custom ultra-light panniers from Granite Gear.  You can read all about his gear at this article by Jill Homer.  You can follow his progress on his facebook page as well.  Definitely an awesome display of bad-assery.

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5. Neil “First!” Armstrong

Neil Armstrong and all of the Apollo Astronauts have always been my (and most of America’s) heroes.  We all know Neil Armstrong was the first to step foot on the moon.

He was also a pilot in the Korean War, but before that, in 1944 he earned his pilot’s license before his driver’s license.  He was an Eagle Scout, and also studied aeronautical engineering at Purdue.  

After his death in August, his family released the following statement “While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves. For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

4. CSM Basil “Old Iron Jaw” Plumley

If Sam Elliott ever plays you in a movie, you are automatically elevated to the status of bad-ass.  If you made all four combat parachute jumps in World War II, plus one in Korea, you are automatically elevated to the status of bad-ass.  Command Sergeant Major Plumley accomplished both of these.  

He is most famous for his actions as the CSM of the 1/7 CAV at the Battle of Ia Drang in Vietnam, Nov 1965.  He was the battalion CSM, and his actions are noted in the book We Were Soldiers Once and Young.  This was turned into the movie We Were Soldiers, starring Mel Gibson, and as previously mentioned, Sam Elliott as CSM Plumley.  CSM Plumley died on Oct 10, 2012, and was 92.  I’d like to say he’s in Heaven smiling down on us, but I know he’s in Fiddler’s Green, busting heads, balls, and Corporals. 

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3.  The Entire Hostess Management Team

In a strange twist of fate, Twinkies were the only thing that DIDN’T survive the apocalypse. The 19 people who were most responsible for running a multi-billion dollar corporation into the ground in less than five years are also responsible for taking hundreds of millions worth of pension payments out of employees funds.  On November 30th, these same 19 people received almost two million dollars worth of bonuses, quote “to oversee it’s liquidation.”  Ohh, did I mention that as a result, the 18,500 people (including over 600 here in town) that lost their jobs less than 5 weeks before Christmas DIDN’T get a bonus?  The fact that these managers somehow convinced a very corrupt bankruptcy judge to give them bonuses puts them in the bad-ass category.  Ohh, they’re also gigantic douchebags.  Almost forgot that part.

2. Officer Larry “Boots” DePrimo, NYPD

Your true character is revealed when no one is watching, or at least when you don’t think they are.  In an amazing display of humanity, Officer DePrimo saw a homeless man barefoot in freezing temperatures, and walked into a nearby shoe store and purchased the man his first-ever pair of socks and warm boots.  A tourist from Arizona snapped a photo, which obviously went viral through Facebook and Twitter.  Definitely a bad-ass (with a heart of gold).

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1.  YOU!

You are the most bad-ass person of them all.  Why?  For reading this blog, of course!  Thanks for that, and I hope you enjoy it (mom)!

See you down the road,

Matt

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Another Ultimate Doomsday Survival Guide

About the author (all REAL survival books start out this way) – Matt Slater is a ten-year veteran of the highly elite Kansas Army National Guard, and has written hundreds of counseling statements regarding PT failures and exceeding body fat standards.

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With the end of the world only hours away, this is going to be part one in yet another definitive guide on how to prolong the inevitable.  With the end of civilization as we know it fast approaching, food and water will be the new currency.  If you live in the midwest, it’ll be only food, since we don’t have any water to begin with.  Sometime in the next 100 hours, you’re going to have to eat an MRE… you poor hapless bastard.  

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The first thing you need to know about MREs is that no matter what you eat in them, your need to defecate will end.  Permanently.  I’m serious, the last MRE I had was in 2001, and I haven’t taken a dump since.  Imagine what eating two pounds of Imodium AD a day would do to your body, and you’re getting close.  

When eating an MRE, most people are concerned about the entree – the main meal.  This is wrong.  They all taste pretty much the same.  From chili mac to pork rib to the sloppy joe, it’s all pretty much the same crap (except for cheese tortellini, that stuff’s DAMN good eatin’).  What you’re really looking for in an MRE are two things – Jalapeno cheese spread and M&Ms.  Jalapeno cheese spread is the only thing that makes the crackers even halfway edible.  Coming in a distant second is regular cheese spread.  If you don’t know what M&Ms are, you probably can’t read this blog because it’s not in Russian, you communist asshole.  I digress.  Do whatever you can to acquire these items.  This list will help you in determining which MREs have what, and then you can dig for the MREs with these in them, or trade for them.  The trick to trading MREs is pretending you REALLY like the entree.  I.E. – “Ohh man, I will totally trade you my chicken and noodles for your Mexican-style chicken stew – I love that stuff!”  Of course, the other guy, who obviously didn’t read this blog, will stupidly agree, and that’s how you get jalapeno cheese spread and M&Ms.  Too easy.  That’s all there is to it.  Just make it seem like he’s getting the better of the deal, when in reality your giving him the proverbial shaft.  Once you master this, I’d run for senator.

Charms.  If you get Charms in your MRE, get rid of them as fast as possible and DO NOT OPEN THEM! Give them to someone you don’t like and won’t be anywhere near anytime soon.  Charms bring incredibly bad luck, and with the impending doom of the apocalypse, that’s the last thing you need.  I’m not kidding, there’s tons of stuff on the Google about it here.  Do not fuck around with Charms, not ever.  I know, you’re out there thinking, “this curse isn’t real, I’ll prove him wrong.”  When you do, please let me know 24-48 hours in advance, so I can clear the AO ASAP.  I want nothing to do with that kind of evil sorcery.

To end on a brighter note, I did get a pretty good ride in on the Pugsley.  That’s my fat-tire mountain bike.  It finally snowed here in Kansas, and it was great to get it out in it’s natural environment.  

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It has extra (4″) wide tires to provide extra float and traction on snow, but people found out you can ride them almost anywhere.  It sounds cliche to say, but it’s true – it really puts the fun factor back in mountain biking.  Riding single-track in Alaska was probably the most fun I’ve ever had on a bike.

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I also used this bike on a bikepacking trip to Colorado sans snow, so it really is a fun, diverse bike.  Today was a perfect day for a ride too.  It started out cold, with the snow nice and crisp, and then warmed quickly after noon to a downright balmy 47.  I saw Eric the Adventure Monkey out and about on his new Salsa Beargrease.  Good to see the fatbike thing is catching on!  I need to get a really goofy picture of him, because I definitely owe him.  Here’s the picture he took of me two weeks ago and put on his blog:

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Thanks.  Thanks for that.  Haha, kidding, but it does kind of suck because people actually read HIS blog.  Hmmm.  I’ll have to work on that.

See you down the road,

Matt

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15 Characters

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook asking people to describe 2012 in 15 characters.  Challenge accepted.

 

AK

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CA

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DK200

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MN

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CO

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MT

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2012 was a really great year for me, and hopefully 2013 will be that much better (as long as the world doesn’t end today).

See you down the road,

Matt

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Here and there

Ok, before I start this, I have some stats for you (food for thought on stats: if people knew as much about the Federal budget as they do about the total rushing yards of the ’72 Bears, we wouldn’t be facing a fiscal cliff).  I have ADD.  Bad.  Anyways, according to the stats, my mom has read this blog 205 times.  Considering it’s a week old, thats just over 29 times a day.  Thanks Mom!  Glad to see you’re enjoying retirement.  On a serious note, I want to thank everyone for reading, and for the messages and comments about it.

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Well it’s been a week since I’ve had a drink.  Go me.  Anyone who says alcohol isn’t a solution obviously failed chemistry.  Ha.  Ha Ha.  Man am I a nerd.  The biggest problem I’ve had so far was trying to find something to do last night.  It’s kind of a shock when all of a sudden you have the 30 minutes (cough!) that you would normally spend in a bar available as free time.  So last night, in my newly-acquired 30 minutes (cough again), I did four loads of laundry, vacuumed the house, did a load of dishes, and organized my bikepacking and camping gear, and still got to bed earlier than I did last Saturday.  Not bad for 30 minutes, ehh?  I’m hoping to get at least 70 miles on the bike today, but we’ll see.  It’s cloudy, overcast, fairly chilly, and everything is brown; just kind of a blah day, but I do need the exercise.  I’m starting to feel like this guy:

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Not good.  I’m gonna have more chins than the Emporia State yearbook (the local college has a LOT of foreign exchange students… like 20% of the student population).  I’d really like to get in an overnight ride, but that’s probably not going to happen in the next couple of weeks.  I DO, however, have a week off the second week of January, and I’m trying to decide where to go.  First world problem, but thats what blogs are for.  I’d like to get some more experience doing snow riding, but it’s going to be a little too cold and dark for Alaska.  Maybe some snowmobile trails in Wisconsin – Go Packers ay!  For something a little warmer and a lot closer, I’ve thought about doing the Ouachita Trail in Oklahoma and Arkansas, but who knows.  I really need to get in some overnights plus big miles for this summer.  One more week, and you’ll know all about it, promise!  It’s gonna be as awesome as the first time you heard the opera to hard rock transition in Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.

Yeah, THAT awesome.

See you down the road,

Matt

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I know what you did, Clint Bowyer.

I’m on to you man.  Quick bit of history real quick.  Emporia Kansas America, the town where I’ve lived for most of my life, is home to The Clint Bowyer of NASCAR fame.  

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Since he’s from here and we’re the same age, that means that I’ve known the guy since about the 4th grade.  Some people have said he’s an asshole, but after thinking about it, he’s 1/20th of the asshole I would be if I were a millionaire race-car driver.  And his The Clint Bowyer fund has donated a very large (like say, millions) amount of money for the community, which is awesome.

That being said, I want everyone to know what The Clint Bowyer has done.  He devised a maniacal plot and sucked the ability to drive worth a shit out of almost everyone in Emporia and somehow kept it for himself.  I can just imagine him standing on a pedestal in the The Clint Bowyer Building at the fairgrounds,

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winners cup held high over his head, shouting “BY THE POWER OF NASCAR!  I AM THE POWER!” And then an orb of blue energy forming over each of the four entrance stones our city commission wasted a quarter of a million dollars on

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and then all four of them simultaneously shooting a lightning bolt that hits the The Clint Bowyer Building, and then BAM, almost everyone in Emporia is unable to drive worth a shit anymore.  Yeah, I know what happened, man.  Not cool.  

See you down the road (if you’re able to still drive, that is),

Matt

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The History of Me, Part II

I was pretty much drunk for most of the Bush Administration.  Depending on who you talk to, that may or may not have been such a bad thing.  I started bartending in 2003 for college money.  I did that for a year, and then our National Guard unit got deployed to Kosovo in 2005.  While I was there, I saved up money so when I got back I could open a bar, which I did.  I will say that almost everyone, up to and including the fourth highest ranking person in the Army, the US Army Europe (USAREUR) commander –  a 4-star General – told me it was a really bad idea.  Don’t do it kid, you’ll shoot your eye out.  Well, I think you know what happened next.

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Yep, I got hit by an icicle.  When you own a bar, it seems like a really good idea to drink as much as you possibly can, every single day.  So that’s what I did.  Not a great way to live, let me tell you.  I do want to say, that I did meet some really great people along the way, and am that much the better for it.  My main problem is when I have a beer, I don’t have an off switch.  I’m not the type of person who drinks every single day, but I do do the binge thing.  IE – if I have to work the next day, I don’t drink that night, but if I’m off, it’s nothing for me to kill a couple or three six packs.  Not the best way to live.  My one saving grace was that in 2007 I bought a cheap mountain bike to ride around town to save gas – initially.

I started going on longer (at the time) rides; 8, 10, 15 miles at a time, then increasing distance and frequency.  In August of 2009, I got hired at my current job, and in December of that year, I bought a road/touring bike with the intention of riding the Bike Across Kansas that next summer, which I did.  2009 was really the year that the bike bug hit me.  Three things really happened all within a couple of weeks of each other.

First I found Eric Benjamin’s, the Adventure Monkey, blog.  He was training for his first Dirty Kanza race, and was blogging about it.  As being this was a hometown race, and he worked at the same place I did, I was hooked!  He was going out and doing 3-4 times the distance I was, and in all kinds of weather.  In one of his posts that winter, he mentioned this girl by the name of Jill Homer who lived in Alaska and rode bikes on snow incredibly long distances – like say -half of the Iditarod Trail, and blogged about it.  The very first post of hers I ever saw was this video

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/8548336″>Alaska Slickrock</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user419463″>Jill Homer</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

and it probably saved my life.  If Eric’s blog was the kindling, then Jill’s video was the lit match.

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Hey, you gotta start somewhere.

About this same time, I came home from work, and was flipping through cable (my roommate at the time had it) and stopped on the documentary channel because there was a mountain biker.  The movie turned out to be Ride the Divide, a documentary about a 2,745 mile mountain bike race from Canada to the US-Mexico border.  That movie was the true fuel for the fire.  After watching that, I knew I could do anything, but I had to get in shape…and quit smoking.  I also knew I was headed to Afghanistan in late 2010, and preparation for that really took precedence, but I managed to get some bike stuff in.

A guy I work with invited me for a ride in June of 2010.  He had a new 29er (29″ wheels instead of the 26″ that I had).  I spent the whole ride in the biggest gear that I had, and couldn’t even come close to keeping up, and about a month later I bought my first 29, a shiny red Gary Fisher.

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This was a great bike to get serious about mountain biking on.  I was so serious, in fact, that I thought I was good.  I went to go visit my friend Mike in Missoula, MT.  Well, Jill had recently moved there too, and I pretty much begged her to go on a ride with me.  After much pleading, she reluctantly agreed.

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She isn’t the type to say “no, Matt, you’re really not that good at all.”  She just showed me I wasn’t.  Did I also mention she set the women’s record on the Tour Divide in 2009, and it wasn’t broken until this year?  Yeah.  Anyways, after making a general ass out of myself, I promised to myself I’d quit smoking and get in shape.

We left Kansas en-route for Afghanistan the day after Thanksgiving 2010.  We went to Camp Atterbury, Indiana for about 3 weeks for pre-mobilization training.  While there, I went to the gym and hopped on the exercise bike for a bit.  After I got back, I got some good-natured ribbing about it, and someone joked that I was going to try to cover the distance between our base in Afghanistan and Emporia on an exercise bike.  I did the math, and figured out I would need to ride 23.3 miles every day.  Totally doable.  I didn’t make it due to mission briefings, rocket attacks (twice), etc, but I did get on the exercise bike as much as could – at least 4 days a week.   What I DID manage to do was get in incredibly good bike shape, and also lost about 20 pounds.  Ohh, did I mention I had my last cigarette in the Berlin Airport on December 17th, 2010?  Yeah, that helped out immensely.

While I was in Afghanistan, in addition to riding the pedals off the exercise bikes in the camp gym (this really happened, twice), I watched Ride the Divide probably 40 times, and read Jill’s book – Be Brave, Be Strong, about her previously mentioned Tour Divide run.  I decided that I wanted to see where this whole thing went, and planned on doing the Dirty Kanza 200.

When I got back, I splurged on a new mountain bike – a really nice, custom-built bike.  For any bike geeks that may stumble across this, it’s a Surly Karate Monkey with SRAM everything – 2×10 gearing, a Rockshox Reba suspension fork, Salsa Woodchipper drop handlebars, and  two wheel sets – one with cross tires – Kenda Happy Mediums for gravel, and the other is 29″ WTB Nano Raptors for..well, I’ll tell you later 😉 The guy who owns the local bike shop thinks he built it primarily for the Dirty Kanza.  He didn’t, but it worked great for that.

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In January of this year, I signed up for what would really be my first big race.  It was the Stagecoach 400, a brand-new bikepacking race in Southern California at the end of April, put on by Brendan and Mary Collier, who was the first woman to attempt the Tour Divide, and one of the main players in the movie.  Eric the Adventure Monkey was going to go also, but he decided he’d rather have open-heart surgery instead.  I’m not sure he has his priorities straight, but to each their own.  I went, and decided that I didn’t like it, and opted for the easy way out by getting hit by a car and going to the hospital 20 miles in.  It may have put an end to my race, but it did enable me to meet and greet some of the best racers in the world, including Jay Petervary and Eszter Horanyi.  Gotta find your bright spots where you can, I suppose.

As being the extent of my injuries was a severe case of road rash, I decided to proceed with the Dirty Kanza.  All I needed was a new bike frame, seat, rear wheel, derailleur, and tires 27 days before the race.  No problem.  I finally got everything put together three days prior, and toed the starting line.  I knew I wasn’t going to do well, due to lack of training from the accident, but I just wanted to finish.  I did manage to cross the finish line at 1:40am, after riding for 19 hours and 40 minutes.  My knee was grinding so loud it sounded like a bad clutch, but I finished.  200 miles of gravel and dirt roads on a bicycle in less than 20 hours.

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I wasn’t exactly expecting a picture.

After that, I took it easy for a couple of months.  Our schedule at work is really screwy, but every six weeks we have a scheduled six days off.  I try to get in a trip on those.  I went to Minnesota in July for canoe camping on the Boundary Waters, and in September I bikepacked the Vapor Trail in Salida, CO.

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About two weeks ago I went to Montana and met up with a friend and got a personal tour of Yellowstone.  That pretty much brings me up to date.  This year has been a really amazing year, and I’ve met some really amazing people that I’ll get into in my next post.  I’d better end this before it turns into a book.

I’ll see you down the road,

Matt

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