New York City? Really?

Guests hardly ever believe me when I tell them I lived in New York City for two years. How could a raft guide live there? There’s no rafting there.

As I look back on it, on our time chasing dreams in the magazine industry, I too find it hard to believe how far we’ve come from those fresh-faced degree-wielding days in the city that never sleeps.

Clean shaven, short hair, and a lot of collars, I thought the world was at my feet. From PR agencies to publishing houses, this was the big chance to find success.

But how much do you really know at 22?

Looking back, I’m thankful for the opportunities I had. Tracking investments, conducting interviews, Third Wave Fashion opened the door for me to be a writer, a published writer at that. Living in Manhattan provided lessons I never anticipated, from city slush in January to heat-rashed ice baths in July because air conditioning didn’t exist in our East Harlem apartment.

Yet, despite so many memories, so many people met, it’s hard to believe we lived there.

In my third year as a raft guide, I’ve been told by friends and family that this job makes total sense. I’m outside, I’m “in my element” and loving every moment chasing new dreams.

But these same people never saw me in New York. They never saw the late-night bus rides after fashion-tech meetups, or the furiously scribbled notes from interviews that still hide in the shelves of our office.

Our life in New York taught me to work faster, to expect more out of those around me, and to make hard decisions. In that past life I was a writer, I followed stories and helped guide opinions through a still-young industry.

Now, fashion is a new PFD. Everyday-tech consists of little more than a simple watch to keep trips running on time.

It’s hard sometimes to accept that we lived in New York City, but it shaped who I became. Who I am. To draw correlations between life in Manhattan and life running rivers is difficult, but I know it’s this combination that will guide me into the future.

And that’s what it’s all about.

Not where you’ve been, but where you will go because of it.

Travel Writing: Finding My Voice

What’s the key to travel writing? How do you break into an industry that so many people want to be a part of? More importantly, how do you separate yourself from the hoard?

Travel Writing

Having written for the Fashion Tech industry, had a story about life as a raft guide published, and traveled around the world, it can’t be that difficult… Right?

It’s here, at this awkward intersection that I find myself and my writing. Blogging fell out of my routine when we moved away from New York; outside of the UNDO story, writing in general has been almost nonexistent since I started guiding. So what then is my angle? Where is my voice as I approach my third year on the water, just returned from Iceland and finding myself deeply motivated to share my experiences with others beyond my closest friends and family?

The key, so I’ve read, is in separating yourself from the common traveler, that there is an emotional difference in travelers able to share their experiences with the world. I can do that. So why haven’t I?

As I watch the Intagram and Twitter feeds of my favorite travel magazines, the inundation of photos, reviews and mediocre concepts, I realize that the key to travel writing is to separate yourself from those standards. To write in the same vain as a travel publication is one thing, but you can see for yourself among the poorly-lit hotel rooms and over-edited selfies that even getting recognized by these brands is about who you know. And that’s not me. Would it be cool to say you know someone at the top travel mags? Absolutely! But at what cost? In a 30 under 30 story about outdoor photographers, I cringed as children were featured, not because of their prodigal ability to find beautiful light and inspiring dimension, but because their parent(s) were well-known, published, photographers. To me, it isn’t cute.

Photo via Paige Hogan | @PaigeWilhog
Photo via Paige Hogan | @PaigeWilhog

I learned quickly in New York that getting ahead in certain industries was all based on who you knew, and it’s part of the reason why I didn’t pursue a career in PR. Of all the lessons though, New York also taught me if you’re true to yourself and you believe in what you’re doing, it will be hard to stop you.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Between this blog and The Eddy Folk, my goal is to share stories with you that aren’t like all the other travel blogs. Yes, there will be reviews, I’ll tell what gear Paige and I like, and there will be a ton of photos, but the voice will be different. These stories won’t be series-upon-series of listicles made famous in the Buzzfeed generation, and they won’t be full of drone footage shot in some remote corner of the country. These blogs, these stories, they’ll be told from the ground-level. Looking you right in the eye and reaching for your heart, the purpose of the Freelance Rider and The Eddy Folk isn’t to soar above you as you sit behind your screen, rather to invite you on our journey, to encourage you, and share all the Earth has to offer as we explore it together.

If you want to be a travel writer, go write. Don’t set your sights on writing the same garbage everyone else is, just be you. If the magazines like it, they’ll find you… Because you’re that good.

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For more adventures in tapping the travel industry, follow The Eddy Folk on Bloglovin’ and don’t forget to find me on Twitter!

Investing In The Future: The Greatest Paradox

If you went to college, thought about college, or encouraged your own child to go to college, then you’re probably guilty of saying that you were making an investment in the future. Considering that any investment is an investment in the future, the statement alone seems silly, but that’s beside the point.

What has me thinking about the phrase though, and more so the paradox that accompanies it, is spurred from a comment that I heard over the weekend, when an “Economic Analyst” said that the problem with windmills is that they are:

eyesores.

Really?!

You’re an economic analyst, that speaks on national television, and the worst thing about wind energy is that the structure producing the energy isn’t aesthetically pleasing?

Offshorewindpark Burbo Bank
Image: Siemens UK

That brings me to the main issue: in an age when we are more than comfortable telling students to pursue academic careers and higher education, to make investments in their futures; why, as a society, can’t we muster the confidence to invest in energy technology for a more stable future?

According to the American Wind Energy Association, the market supports 80,000 full-time jobs, and considering that number is projected to have a potential to reach 500,000 jobs by 2030, then we should be doing everything we can to encourage the growth of wind energy.

Do I understand every little issue? No.

But I do understand that the change won’t happen over night. I do understand that in a country that isn’t too focused on the manufacturing jobs that have been lost, we turn old factories into turbine producing factories. Hell, power those factories with wind power and it’s a double-whammy.

I also understand, however, that the reason we aren’t pushing harder for wind power is because we’re comfortable. Yeah, I get it, when it comes to where you get your power from, there aren’t a whole lot of choices, like here in the city we’re stuck with ConEd and if we lived in North Carolina we’d be stuck with Duke Power. But that’s the real problem. When there aren’t options we don’t have to make decisions, and let’s face it, American’s aren’t decision making people.

Decisions confuse us, we shake and stutter, and ultimately end up with nothing because we don’t know how to choose. Henry Ford knew it when he said that customers could have any color Model T they wanted as long as it was black.

Ultimately, that is our barrier with alternative energy. We like to talk about making investments, all of which are meant to enhance the future, but none of us want to make the decision that makes it all possible. We have a system, it isn’t great but it works, and even if we’re slowly poisoning ourselves, our grandparents started it so we’re more than ok with it too.

In 2030, I’ll be 40 years old. Like I said, the projection is that wind power will produce 500,000 jobs by then. I think it’s time we stopped investing in the generic future, and start investing in the creation of a better future. Why? Because if nothing else we deserve it.

College: Is It Worth It?

It’s been a well established factor of every American’s life since the late 90s that a college degree is required for a halfway decent future.

But is that really the case?

tumblr_muumxk9HyX1spokgpo1_250Gif via Chekovy.tumblr.com

As startups and 20-somethings launch their ways through the fog of the saturated job market, it’s left some people wondering if traditional colleges are actually providing an ROI that balances rising tuition costs.

Thanks to The Daily Beast, a list of the 20 colleges with the worst return on investment has been put into pictures. Feel free to peruse the list, and with a list of only 20 it will be easy to think that you’re in the clear.

If you are, that’s great, but more than likely, your next job application is still going to say that you’re not qualified, regardless of whether or not your school was fortunate enough to not make the list.

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I’ll offer my experience as an example.

The image above would be the essence of why we have to question the ROI of college. As tuition costs rose at the university I went to, though not on the list, the school still managed to find the extra money in couch cushions to get signs made that were totally misspelled.

So, as I look for my next job, lucky to be in New York, I too am wondering just how far a four-year education from a school that couldn’t spell university right is going to get me.

347_1053085692656_6951_nOur first picture together, circa 2008

I can gladly say that I met my wife in college, and some of the closest friends I have today I met in college, so I can’t say don’t go.

But when it comes down to dollars and cents, with high school grads developing the next great app and fast-growing businesses, I must encourage everyone to at least consider their options. Weigh the consequences for yourself, and most definitely don’t go longer than you need to.

If you’ve already graduated, struggled finding a job, and you’re considering grad school; reconsider those student loans and figure out if it’s really worth your time, effort, and money.

Daily Blogging: 2 Week Mark

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It’s Friday, and the week has been full of new things, posts on politics, fashion, student issues, and occasionally a mention of joblessness in the face a wedding.

Today however, considering the weekend is on the brink of beginning, I’ll go easy.

When I told Paige that I was no longer going to be working the job that I’d been at since May, we weren’t sure what I should do. It’s difficult to look for a job when you have to ask for the second month off so you can go on a 19-day honeymoon in Japan, let alone the week before that trip to have the actual wedding. So, considering the difficulty of finding a job with those stipulations, Paige issued me a challenge.

Blog at least once a day.

I had a decent number of followers, and was only on the website once every other month or so, but faced with quickly approaching student loans and a fairly weak portfolio, it only made sense.

Thus it began. As many of you saw, last week, a post went out everyday, the numbers slowly crept up, and I began to see the potential that Paige has been telling me existed for a long time. With that, this last week I decided to up the ante, to strive for at least a few days of two posts, just to see the reaction, and get a feeling of when you would be reading.

Paige nailed it. On Monday, you guys put my numbers close to the total views and visitors that I had for all of last week, and the week only got better. We redesigned some of the options on the website, I started tagging my posts, and updated Tumblr too.

Thanks in large part to Paige, but the quiet support that many of you have shown just by visiting, my whole attitude has turned around as the wedding gets closer.

I guess what I’m trying to say is thank you. To all of you. You’ve helped ease the stress of looming loan payments and wedding detail finalization. If there is any topic you want to see written about, or you want some advice on here, just click that gif on the right, or connect with me here.

You’ve helped me, and I’ll help you. Have a great weekend, and smile a little bit, you deserve it.

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Non-Profit: Not Just My Wallet

photoPhoto: Paige Hogan

I had never considered non-profits in terms of where my future might take me. In fact, I really thought it was just a cruel reference to the ongoing state of my wallet.

But, as I find myself jobless, a month before getting married, non-profits may actually be the answer to my prayers.

While talking to a close family friend, and conveniently enough the officiant of our wedding, I explained that I was in search of a job and that writing may be one of my top skills. With that, the flood gates of information had been opened.

I had never considered how much non-profits drive the economy, how crucial the organizations are on a larger scale than just the immediate benefactors of the service or assistance.

So, with eyes wide open and a plethora of new information to dive into, non-profits are now looking like a shining beacons of hope through the fog of joblessness and student loan debt.

Because of discretion, I won’t mention his name, but I would like to thank our close friend for opening my eyes to these hidden opportunities.

You never know when the voice will speak, but I’m pretty sure they’re right when they say it will be still and small.

Do you know a non-profit or organization that could benefit from a larger voice? Get in touch with me, and we’ll see what I can do to help!