Author: Ross M Perkins

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The Birth of a Mountain Rig – 2004 Honda CR-V

The Birth of a Mountain Rig – 2004 Honda CR-V

2004 Honda CRV Offroad

When living out of my car for two weeks, after I converted my Subaru wagon into a camper, I realized that having a vehicle that was built to suit my adventurous lifestyle was absolutely ideal. I also realized that converting a vehicle that spent the majority of its life as a racecar left a lot to be desired as far as amenities go.

stock 2004 Honda CRV EX 5 speed

This left me on the lookout for a vehicle that was stock, had a full interior, functional cruise control, and preferably air conditioning – simple enough. One brisk morning in Missoula, Montana I came across an ad for a 2004 Honda CR-V EX 5-Speed 4WD for sale. Long story short, it was in my driveway by early afternoon.

honda crv with offroad tires

Priority number one was maintenance: spark plugs, oil, upstream oxygen sensor, and replacing the knock sensor were all taken care of. The tires were also shot, so I opted for Mastercraft Wildcat A/T3 tires in a 215/70/16 to aid in traction and durability while taking on mountain passes. They were mounted on DRIFZ 308GG SPEC-R 16×8 +25 wheels that previously lived on my Subaru wagon camper.

honda crv lightbar

The wheels and tires completely transformed the look of the Honda CR-V, and that’s when the modding bug bit me. Along with everything mentioned above, these also found their way onto the vehicle within the first week:

  • LED Light Bar / Mount
  • Rally Armor Mudflaps
  • Spare Tire Cover
  • Key Fob
  • Scangauge II
  • Floor Mats
  • Roof Cargo Carrier
  • Buffed / Cleared Headlights

rally armor mudflaps on honda crv

While this is where the list ends as of now, it will be growing over the next few months. The ultimate plan for this vehicle is to purchase a rooftop tent and then create functional storage in the rear.
This CR-V even has a folding table made by Honda that secures under the floor in the rear. *Bonus*

swan valley montana
Jessica Ruth

After a week of driving, I am hooked on the Honda CR-V – even after I considered picking up a Subaru Outback. So far this has provided me everything that I have desired in a mountain rig – capable enough with 4WD/AWD, spacious, decent fuel efficiency.
The real test will start in a couple months when my aggressive spring travels start up!

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A Night of Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese – Draught Works Brewery & Tucker Family Farm

A Night of Craft Beer & Artisan Cheese – Draught Works Brewery & Tucker Family Farm

draught work brewery in missoula montana

On a snowy, slightly bitter, Wednesday evening in the ever-so delightful mountain town of Missoula, MT – two local businesses joined together for a night of palette pleasing. Draught Works Brewery hosted Tucker Family Farm to pair their craft beer with local artisan crafted cheese. To be upfront, I am no master when it comes to describing beer or cheese – so I’m not going to pretend to be. Rather, I enjoy indulging in both immensely and I let my tastebuds tell me if they approve or not.

man pouring beer at draught works brewery in missoula mt

This was my first year partaking in this event, but it most certainly won’t be my last. This sold out beer and cheese tasting was a delightful way to kick off my evening after a day of sitting in front of a computer screen for work. While Missoula is mediocrely sized, events like this feel right at home here. Residents take pride in Montana Made products– and judging by the amount of craft breweries, and restaurants offering cheese boards, they also enjoy locally produced beer and artisan cheeses. At least, I know that I highly appreciate it.

man and woman with beer in missoula

The setup of the event was simple: a punch card was given with the numbers 1-6 on it; you would walk up to each station, which displayed the type of beer and cheese, they would mark off a number on the card, and you would retreat back to your table with a taster of beer and slice of cheese in hand.

draught works brewery beer and tucker family farm cheese information

A pamphlet was also given out so you could read in-depth about the creations you were about to put in your mouth. This was also very much appreciated, as I can’t always rely on my palette to decipher the code that goes into complex creations, such as these.

girl drinking beer at Draught Works Brewery with tuck family farm cheese

This night was not me working, it was an enjoyable way to have a date night and dive deeper into what Montana has to offer. As much as the focus was on craft beer and handcrafted cheese, the night was really about being immersed in Missoula’s culture. Two local companies joining together to not only gain awareness of their brands, but to host an event for their community to come out and unite together for an evening of fun and delicious treats.

tucker family farm cheese slices

About Tucker Family Farm :

Tucker Family Farm was founded by Tyler and his wife Kendra after their previous career paths weren’t quite what they desired out of life. Tyler’s family orchard on Flathead Lake and Kendra’s family farm down the Bitterroot had instilled a love for the land and utilizing their surroundings to produce something fruitful. After not agreeing with the way that mass farms were producing and raising food, they decided to take a stand and create a business that believes in ethical ways of going about the process. After a trip to Germany to experience a farm that was in line with their beliefs, they returned to Montana and began a farm of their own. They aim to offer food that is raised in the manner of a true family farm that focuses on healthy upbringings and products. You can read the in-depth story on the Tucker Family Farm website.

tucker family farms cheese and draught works beer

All in all– Draught Works Brewery and Tucker Family Farm hosted a night in Missoula that was not only refreshing, but slightly eye-opening to the phenomenal products that are created in Montana. We may be a large state with minimal population, but that is the beauty of this place (aside from the mountainscapes). The fact that this state continues to inspire and house immensely creative and passionate individuals will never cease to amaze me.

Draught Works Brewery is a must visit for anyone that finds themselves in Missoula
– great beer, phenomenal atmosphere, and live music on a regular basis!

Tucker Family Farm should be an essential staple for anyone that enjoys high-quality artisan cheeses.
My palette has never been more pleased.

Click on the image below for full resolution if you’d like to read about the select beers and cheeses of the night.

darught works brewery and tucker family farm pairing menu

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Secluded Thoughts at Cooper’s Lake Montana

Secluded Thoughts at Cooper’s Lake Montana

subaru camper on a backroad

The best part of having a vehicle that is always packed for adventure and capable of handling less-than-smooth terrain is that no place seems off limits anymore.
If I’m driving and see an intriguing road, I can turn off and see where I end up. If the destination is majestic, setting up camp only takes a couple of minutes. This last minute exploration delivered more than I had expected.

Cooper’s Lake, Montana

lifted subaru wagon camper

This random solo adventure took me to Cooper’s Lake, Montana – just slightly passed Ovando and onto gravel backroads. This was a first time destination for me, but I am already convinced that it won’t be my last. After discovering this gem I already have the notion to return with kayaks and paddleboards in tote.

mountain reflection on cooper's lake montana

Cooper’s Lake is a place of bliss. A lake that is engulfed in a beauty that is nearly unrivaled. Heavy forest ladens the land as the mountains jut up from the horizon in a fashion that makes you truly feel secluded. The shoreline only contains four camping spots, but they were all empty upon my arrival. While the weather wasn’t the most favorable, slightly brisk and consistent rain, the conditions made for near perfect reflections on the water. A scene that demanded all of my attention – I was fortunate enough to not have any cell service, but on multiple occasions the urge overcame me to put my camera away and just bask in the calm nothingness that my surroundings had provided me.

cabin on coopers lake montana

Montana has been gracious enough to provide me with many phenomenal views, in which photos don’t do justice, but there was just something that captivated me about Cooper’s Lake while I found myself sitting solo on water’s edge with large eyes and a relaxed yet anxious mind. It instantly hooked me and reserved a place in my memory that has been reserved for only the most special of places. Many of the locations that fill up that space not only represent the essence of Mother Nature’s splendor, but they also have amazing memories with friends tied to them. Cooper’s Lake, however, left me all by myself – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

how to be alone

While sitting there in my thoughts, my adoration for being secluded in environments like this took over:

10/7/16 Cooper’s Lake, Montana
What does it mean to be alone?

To be alone is to find the feeling of content within yourself. To live alone happily, one must find beauty within the world itself.
Once you can do that you will realize that you aren’t alone at all. Your energy is transcribed into others and vice-versa.
You are connected to a being larger than yourself and your energy in and of itself is a social mechanism that flows without effort.
To be happy alone is to find peace just being connected to the world.

subaru wagon camper on a gravel road

Those thoughts put me to rest easy that night and in return I woke up with a sense of content flowing throughout me that left me feel as if I was floating – not a care in the world. I decided to take the long way home – a random left hand turn took me up Huckleberry Pass, which was all gravel and an ideal playground to stretch the wagon’s legs out on, which dropped me out in Lincoln, Montana. My one hour drive home turned into nearly three hours of bonding with both the world and my car; for anyone that truly knows me, they know that scenario is absolutely perfect for my life.

subaru impreza on a mountain

Reaching the point of my life where I actually yearn for alone time has completely transformed my outlook on life. Peace and satisfaction are now found within myself, and when my friends and family can join me in indulging from time to time that feeling of satisfaction is multiplied tenfold. While being alone is not for everyone, and I understand that, reaching this stage of life melts away worries, doubts, and boredom. A simple walk or venture into the unknown can refresh your mind like no other and aid in realizing that you don’t need other humans to not being lonely – you just need to open yourself up to the notion of being fully connected to your surroundings.

To experience a life of adventure further, and hangout with me while I’m taking on the world
– follow Wanderlust Not Less on Instagram.

What I learned form living in my car for two weeks

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What I Learned from Living in My Car for Two Weeks

What I Learned from Living in My Car for Two Weeks

subaru impreza in skalkaho pass

A crazy notion was planted in my head mid-spring; a two-week-long camping trip that would take me through the mountains of Colorado. I would be traversing from the Northern Rockies that surround my hometown of Missoula, Montana to the southern portion of the Rocky Mountains that houses Telluride, Colorado. This lit a flame in me and inspired me to convert my Subaru Impreza racecar into a Subaru Camper.

guy laying on a bed in a Subaru Camper

The following months were filled with tinkering on my car in the form of maintenance and adding features to make this extended camping trip more enjoyable and the wagon more functional. Weekend camping trips around Montana proved to be a tease and made me anxious for the trip ahead– while also allowed me to fine-tune many of the camping features that I had implemented into my Subaru.

Foggy Mountains with a Subaru Camper

These two weeks living almost primarily out of my car changed my outlook on life for the better. Many of the thoughts that fully came into fruition had been lingering in the back of my mind for some time, but this trip just solidified them and ingrained them into my being.

Nothing is better than waking up to a phenomenal view of the natural world.

campfire and mountains in a subaru camper

The first morning that I had awoken on the top of a mountain with the fresh light of the day gently caressing the landscape around me, I was hooked. Days that I awoke with a sky encompassed with gloom were even more relaxing. It gave me permission to wake up slow. I didn’t wake up in a room full of electronics; I woke up to a glistening mountain peak in the distance and the nearly overwhelmingly refreshing intake of air with every breath. Now, you can get the same sensation while tent or hammock camping, but the fact that I rolled up the mountain in the darkness of the night, had my campsite set up in under 5 minutes, and taken down in the morning in even less time just makes naturing seem so much more feasible. Plus, setting up a tent in the wind and rain isn’t the most enjoyable way to kick-off a camping trip.

Mass amounts of living space aren’t required when you have surroundings to play in.

waking up in a subaru impreza outback sport

My little Subaru Impreza wagon granted me just under four feet of width from rear strut tower to strut tower. With the front seats pushed all the way forward, I was teetering on the six-foot mark for length. Being 5’11”, it was just enough– however, there was plenty of room when situated diagonally. Sure, it would have been nice to have enough headroom to fully sit up, but other than that, I lusted for nothing more. I really only spent the moments just before my eyes shut to the moments that my eyes opened in the morning in my vehicle. The rest I was out and about. With folding chairs and a compact folding table, it was easy to set up a workspace outside– where I belonged.

I don’t need many possessions to live happily.

Subaru Camper in Colorado

In the midst of packing for two weeks, I stocked my car with food, fluids, cooking equipment, and the likes of clothing and my camera gear. Over the course of time, I didn’t find myself yearning for the things that I left behind at home. Rather, I realized that nearly everything that I had back in my house I didn’t actually need. My wagon was already loaded with more possessions than I required. It was the sense of making due with what I had on me that came with an overwhelming sense of happiness. I never felt weighed down, overwhelmed, or distracted. Nearly everything that I had with me served a purpose to aid in my survival, whether that be physically or mentally. Returning home and waking up in my bedroom that first morning was borderline overwhelming.

My days were much more relaxed and contained a euphoric feeling.

bridal veil falls in Telluride Colorado

Building off of the points that I just stated– the less that I had, the less I had to worry about. Distractions were limited to the point that I was able to fully immerse myself into the moment that was happening right then, not five minutes ago or five minutes from now. That appreciation for the current moment allowed the thoughts in my mind to melt away– taking with it any anxiousness, doubt, and duties that didn’t need to be currently addressed. It was freeing and allowed my mind and body to retune itself to the things that are important in life. We spend so much time worrying about things that are outside our realm of control– past experiences and what-ifs of future endeavors that numb us to the feelings that we have at the current moment that we are presented. While stresses and responsibilities are standard in life, when you learn to harness the present you will be more fitted to take on the future. But, don’t dwell on the future until it becomes the present. Embrace the moment of now as if it is the most important scenario that you’ll experience. When you eliminate the fog of irrelevant thoughts you will find your mind in a state of content and your body in an almost unparalleled state of relaxation. All of this, however, is the ultimate state of being that we can be in. I don’t exist here all of the time, as life does present itself and the powerful functions of the mind can take over and cause me to lose sight. But, keeping the general mindset of the present in mind most certainly helps to pull me back and balance my life.
[I apologize if that was a jumbled mess.]

Freedom comes in the form of a camper vehicle.

subaru impreza gravel road

Choosing a smaller vehicle to transform into a camper does limit you somewhat when compared to a designated camper; however, a smaller vehicle typically obtains much better fuel mileage, and the smaller size not only makes trekking around new towns easier, but it also allows you to venture up mountain roads that are completely unsuitable for an RV or truck/camper combo. While I do use my Subaru Camper as my primary daily driver a decent amount of the time (because I love driving it so much), I have it setup to the point that at a moment’s notice I can jump in the driver’s seat and take off. The sense of freedom comes with having it always ready to go. I don’t have to spend hours packing and creating checklists. I grab some clothes, camera, and food then I’m ready to hit the road. While campgrounds are convenient, being able to comfortably sleep in my car opens up backroad camping, truck stops, and, yes, even Walmart Parking lots. Extended trips can actually come with a very small price tag, and weekend trips cost only what fuel does. There are fewer reasons as to why you can’t go exploring.

subaru wagon Rocky Mountain National Park

I understand, car camping to this extent is not for everyone– I totally respect that. But, if you’ve ever had the itch to disappear for awhile this is the way to do it. My two week trip cost well under $1,000.
Nights were spent situated on National Forest Land and a few Walmart parking lots– neither of which cost anything.
I am already looking forward to next season when I can go explore the coastline of Oregon and Washington, the National Parks of Canada, and anywhere else that my wanderlust motivates me to go and experience in my Subaru camper.

Tip: If you are looking for free campsites, you won’t find a better resource than
I utilized that website many times on this journey.

New adventure rig as of 2017:

Honda CR-V in the mountains of Montana at Hungry Horse Resevoir
Honda CR-V Camper in Moab
People laying in Honda CR-V Camper in Moab




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How to make a Subaru Camper – Building a Bed in Your Subaru

How to make a Subaru Camper – Building a Bed in Your Subaru

Foggy Mountains with a Subaru Camper
After many years of spending my weekends at racetracks, whether doing media or racing, I began to long for the main reason that I moved to the bold and the beautiful state of Montana– nature. After taking almost an entire year off from automotive duties to go camping and exploring, I realized that the racetrack life just wasn’t for me anymore. I feel like I have accomplished more already than I had ever dreamed of and it was time to tackle the next phase of life. That is why I decided to turn my Subaru Racecar into a Subaru Camper. Example A, above, may not look like the ideal platform, being that it’s so low to the ground– but fear not, the coilovers are going to be replaced by Subaru Forester struts and springs to give my 1999 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport a healthy lift that will be about 2-inches over the stock height (and much higher than it currently is). Plenty of room to get me to the places that I want to explore.
The wagon is also rear wheel drive currently, but all wheel drive will be functional again by the time that winter hits.

Building a Bed and Storage in Your Subaru Camper

fir plywood panel

Once I got the notion to create a Subaru Camper that would allow me to take off at the last minute with minimal preparation, as well as to be able to road-trip and sleep nearly anywhere– I headed to Lowe’s to snag a sturdy wood panel to create my base. At nearly 3/4 of an inch, I found the Fir plywood panel to be plenty rigid and very affordable. I also snagged a couple hinges while I was there– but more on that in a bit.Subaru Camper bed platform

The most important thing to remember is to measure 3+ times before cutting. I set my seat to the position that I am comfortable driving in, then I measured from the back of the seat to where the hatch begins, and I also measured from the widest parts of the strut towers.

man wearing safety goggles holding a saw

*Remember to wear goggles– safety first as wood chips are flying.
I have all of the plastic panels removed, which gained me a little bit more room length-wise and width-wise. I also took that overall length and then cut my board roughly 3 inches shorter. This assured that the wood wouldn’t be pressing against the back of my seats and potentially tear through after prolonged use. It also gave me some leeway towards the hatch for the storage door (more on that in a moment, as well).

man laying in back of a subaru camper

I am 5′ 11″ and I cut the platform to roughly 5′ 6.5″. This allows me to lay completely out if my legs are spread, or I can comfortable lay on my side in a “S” shape. It’s okay to cut the board wider and longer the first round. It’s easy to remove more, but you can’t add wood easily after you chop it off.

boards in back of subaru

I layed 2″x4″s down on each side of the spare wheel well to assure that the bed platform would lay flat. If these weren’t in place the board wouldn’t have laid flat, as the hump where the fuel pump compartment is in the center portion of the car sticks above the rest of the rear floor.

interior trim mount on Subaru Wagon

I also eliminated these pesky little interior trim mounts that were hindering the bed platform from laying down flat. All it required was a flathead screwdriver and a hammer to pound out the welds. I utilized it as a wedge to pry the mount away. You can see the screwdriver wedged in there in the bottom left photo. The overall width of my bed platform is roughly 39 inches.

wood hinges on bed platform in a subaru camper

I wanted to be able to access my spare tire compartment so I could utilize it as storage or my spare tire if it isn’t in a basket on top of my car. That meant to create a door within the bed platform. All this required was measuring from the back of the hatch area to just passed where the spare tire compartment ended. I then drilled in the latches to the board before I cut it. I had to remove them to cut, but by pre-drilling the holes it made it much more easy to connect the two pieces perfectly after I cut it.

foot support on a bed platform in a Subaru Wagon

The next step came with stabilizing the front of the bed platform in my Subaru camper. The rear area has plenty of flooring to stabilize it, but with the rear seats removed the front section is just floating in the air. I measured from the floor of the car to the bottom of the plywood. I then cut 2″x4″s and attached them to the platform using two 3″ screws in each. This proved to add a mass amount of support. By removing my rear seat, it opened up a respectable sized area to utilize for storage that can be accessed via the rear doors or by scooting the front seats forward all the way.

subaru camper Net storage

To further aid with storage, I decided to run a net storage system in my Subaru Camper. I connected a basket-style net to each door area. One side wraps around a strut bolt, and the other around the knob that you use to adjust your seatbelt height. Depending on the style of net that you go with, mounting points can vary. These are genuine Subaru nets that came with my parents’ 2015 Subaru Outback. The top net is the flat type that you would typically attach to a roof basket. It had hooks on it that I was able to connect to many holes around the skeleton portion of the roofing (perk of having a completely stripped interior), as well as utilizing hooks that are connected to magnets that just stuck to my roof. I snagged 8 of them from Harbor Freight for crazy cheap and each can hold 4.75 lbs. I plan on utilizing the top net to hold lighter items, such as my jacket at night– while the side nets can hold my books, phone, wallet, knife, bear spray, gun, drawing pad, camera, ect… you know, the essentials.

bed in a Subaru Camper

The final step was to install the mattress. There are many options here, from custom sized foam strips to just a sleeping mat. I found that a twin size mattress is just slightly too long to fit properly, so I went with a full-size memory foam mattress topper. I know a full size futon mattress will also fit. However, the main selling point of a memory foam topper is that it easily conforms. The side portions wrap around the strut towers to keep you from laying against bare metal, and the back part fills in all of the side gaps to allow for more foot room. Towards the section by the seats, excess foam will fill in any gaps– especially if you move your seats all the way forward to sleep to maximize space. It is also flexible enough to allow you to open up the storage door over the rear wheel compartment. I put it in expecting to have to trim it, but it fit better than I had ever imagined.

Subaru camper with a mountain view
Now that your bed platform is created and you have established some storage areas– you can lay down and relish in what you have just created.
Think of all of the places that you can now go in you Subaru Camper – whether it be deep into the woods or in a Walmart parking lot on a road trip. No more must you waste precious time setting up a tent. And, it’s surprisingly more spacious than expected.
This guide can be modified to make essentially any wagon or SUV into a camper. If you don’t want to strip out your interior, you can sacrifice some storage space– but not lose your rear seats. A full size futon mattress or memory foam mattress topper will fit just fine with the rear seats folded down. I used to have a futon mattress when I rocked a full interior.

laying in the back of a subaru camper with camp fireThis Subaru Camper project has been dubbed the Backwoods Outback. You will be able to follow it on adventures via the links below, as well as the tag #backwoodsoutback on Instagram.
Instagram : @wanderlustnotless and @rossmperkins
Facebook : Wanderlust Not Less
YouTube : Wanderlust Northwest


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Lost Family’s Sonyok Mountain Invasion

Lost Family’s Sonyok Mountain Invasion

Last weekend I had the honor of exploring with some pretty rad people. People that seem to mesh together and push each other on a personal level, as much as a creative level. They formed a unit that defined the word camaraderie– while still fully welcoming newcomers, such as myself. The crew is known as the Lost Family (Instagram / Facebook – definitely follow those, they’re inspiring).

With a mantra of :
“We’re a community driven collective of adventurers looking to squash routine and enjoy as much of this world as possible.”
They succeed tenfold. They are stoked to have likeminded adventurers explore with them; if you have a camera– even better.

The base of Lost Family also operate a parkour gym in Missoula, MT– known as Unparalleled Movement.
I was invited to tag along for their #MTsunriseseries – which essentially requires you to wake up a little after 4am to make sure that you can snag some liquid caffeine and hit the road to arrive at a breathtaking location just in time for the sun to break the mountain ridges.
This series, and their adventures in general, unite wanderlusting folk from around the PNW and beyond– not secluded to Montana alone.

The following photos are a collection that I captured on this particular adventure. While I don’t typically shoot portraits, this group pushed me out of my comfort zone and graciously posed for me (some unknowingly) while I captured some new favorite shots.

So, before I completely turn into a 14-year-old girl and keep gushing..
Here’s to the Lost Family and learning the valuable life lesson of the difference between Pans and Cans.

Lost Family • Sonyok Mountain • #MTsunriseseries

Feel free to save & share these photos, I’d just immensely appreciate you crediting :
Instagram : @wanderlustnorthwest and/or @rossmperkins
Facebook : Wanderlust Northwest and / or Ross M. Perkins
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You and the Mountain Ride Together

You and the Mountain Ride Together

foggy mountaintop
You’re standing on a mountain peak, every which way you look the ground is a pure white. The cliff at your feet is almost indistinguishable from the color-absented ground to your left, right and below.

snowboard sitting on snowy mountain
You’re planning your line to take, scouring for that opening that will allow you to maintain momentum while breaking into the trees. Your eyes somewhat squinting, as if that’ll truly make a difference– struggling to be able to make out the ground from the fog-ridden sky, with white-plated trees playing one of the most well executed games of hide and seek that you have seen in quite some time. There really is nothing to do but drop in. You choose a general spot and commit.

man snowboarding through trees
Tip down and elevation dropping fast, the multiple feet of powder causes you to float over the top, shooting a tail of flakes behind you. Every now and then, the elevation change increases unexpectedly. You lean back to reclaim your composure, but with an interstate of soft snow below you, it sucks in your board slightly.

man riding tail of snowboard
You find yourself leaning backwards at a 45º angle (it’s acute)– essentially doing a wheelie down the mountain towards the tree line. At that very moment, floating through the ground– you have an undeniable realization of the complete happiness that has engulfed you, accompanied by a sense of freedom that is rarely matched.

snow covered trees
You break the tree line and slow slightly. Some trees inches from each other, some feet apart– you look ahead to plan your line so you don’t take a trunk to the face. You only have but a mere moment to plan your attack– to the point where you don’t fully realize your thoughts. Your eyes are the captain and your legs are the rudder. They are tied together for instantaneous movement. Once you situate yourself deeply in the trees, and the burn in your calves begin to intensify, you come to a halt. The silence overtakes your senses.

man sitting on cliff with snowboard
There is literally nothing making any noise other than yourself. The magnitude of your current setting makes you feel so content being small. They say there is always someone out there that is bigger, faster, stronger– but when my rival takes the sheer form of wilderness, I am content residing in a respectable second place. For when you compete with nature, as long as you respect her, the camaraderie formed will be unrivaled by anything else– and that competition turns more into an undying partnership. The realization of this partnership sticks with you as you continue traversing down the mountain. It is a partnership where nothing is forced, expected or taken. On that day– you and the mountain ride together.

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Shooting Film Keeps Me Humble – It’s Not About Perfection

Shooting Film Keeps Me Humble – It’s Not About Perfection

mountain road in missoula montana
Canon AE-1 Program

Since first getting into photography roughly 7 years ago, I have stuck mainly to digital. It was only in recent years that I picked up a film camera– not many rolls have passed through the lenses though. I may have to change that.

canon ae-1 program and pentax af p35 film cameras
iPhone 5

This Canon AE-1 was my first real 35mm film camera and remains my go-to. My father has been keeping his eyes peeled at rummage sales and thrift stores for any cameras. Because of this, I have nearly 20 or so film cameras, many being so old that they don’t even sell that format of film anymore. I recently got the bug to shoot some film again– which caused me to pump out two 24-exposure rolls in less than a week. One with the Canon and one with this Pentax, which was the first roll I shot with the newly acquired camera.

Canon AE-1 Program forest and field
Canon AE-1 Program

On top of these two rolls, I had another laying around. I figured it was from about 6 months or so ago– turns out I took the first shot nearly one year ago and only filled it up in June / July. That made for a nice surprise.

Woman grabbing rocks in mountain river
Canon AE-1 Program

I dropped my film rolls off early afternoon and about 4 hours later I received a call informing me that they were developed and ready to pick up from the local photography store, The Darkroom, in downtown Missoula.. I hadn’t felt excitement like that in quite some time. It is hard to explain– it was essentially an art project that I had started a year ago and I was finally finishing the end product (with no clue on what to expect).

missoula montana mountains
Canon AE-1 Program

The other part of the excitement is just seeing whether any of the photos actually turned out, or if underexposure and blurriness would dominate my film. Turns out that out of everything, it was light leaks that dominated my film. (That’s the red / blue streaks you’ll see in many photos.)

two men flyfishing
Canon AE-1 Program

The couple photos in there of these two fellas were a nice surprise– Corey (on the right) had to depart Montana earlier this year. This was one of the first and last adventures we were able to partake in together before Las Vegas sucked him in for a few years.

This video was shot the very same day– capturing out hiking, fishing & general shenanigans.

urban deer in Missoula Montana
Pentax PC35AF-M

Excuse my moment of nostalgia– but that is what shooting film is really about. It’s about capturing a moment, then forgetting about the moment, followed by developing and opening up that envelope with as much anticipation as a 5 year old on Christmas morning.

girl with her hand up
Pentax PC35AF-M

For me, film doesn’t have to be my best work. It just has to make me slow down.

turbo rwd subaru wagon and mk3 vw jetta
Pentax PC35AF-M

It is the random snapshot of my girls..

two men smiling
Canon AE-1 Program

.. to the even more random and forgotten snap of hometown buddies from months ago.

mount jumbo in Missoula Montana
Pentax PC35AF-M

It’s the never-ending quest to find sunflare.

bridge up the rattlesnake in missoula montana
Pentax PC35AF-M

Film keeps me humble. It doesn’t have the huge amount of data to utilize in post-processing. It’s real, it’s true, it’s honest.
Film is the airplane mode of the photography world– technology is restricted.
Many of these shots would look quite different if I snagged them with my digital, because then I would have the immediate impulse to jump into Lightroom and edit away. Sometimes I even try to replicate film..

boots next to a muddy puddle
Canon AE-1 Program

It is this honesty that keeps me coming back– which is why I may impulse buy a slightly newer (think 90s) Canon SLR that’ll let me utilize my new lenses that are mounted on my digital bodies.
Next up with be a home development kit. I like to be hands-on after all. (One step at a time though.)

Gundam Wing Action Figures
Canon AE-1 Program

The thing about letting someone else develop your film– you’re allowing them to view your shots before you even get to.
No hiding the bad ones & only showing off the gems.
Like I said– it’s honest work.

wanderlust northwest courage to explore mugs
Canon AE-1 Program

With that being said– I take off next week for a two week journey that’ll take me on a roadtrip from Missoula to Los Angeles for a little over a week, followed by a flight to Chicago before returning back home. That seems like the perfect time to further experiment with this film thing..

Pomeranian on Film
Canon AE-1 Program
Man Smiling in Chair
Canon AE-1 Program
2 men smiling in from of subaru
Canon AE-1 Program
Turbo rwd subaru wagon impreza wrx sti
Canon AE-1 Program
EF honda civic hatch film light leak
Canon AE-1 Program
wood pile with light leak on film
Canon AE-1 Program
woods and open field in missoula montana
Canon AE-1 Program
mount sentinel and river in missoula montana
Canon AE-1 Program
wanderlust northwest montana camera hat in missoula montana
Canon AE-1 Program
red leaves and snow
Canon AE-1 Program
Montana camera stickers
Canon AE-1 Program
man working on 2004 subaru wrx
Canon AE-1 Program
home in missoula montana
Pentax PC35AF-M
Girl smiling in missoula montana
Canon AE-1 Program
blurry face of a woman taken with film
Canon AE-1 Program
sidewalk covered in leaves in missoula montana
Pentax PC35AF-M
Tree reflection in puddle on trail
Canon AE-1 Program
Tree reflection in puddle
Canon AE-1 Program
Watch for bears
Canon AE-1 Program

** Updated November 10th**

Canon Rebel K2 35mm film camera

I just snagged this camera today. Manufactured in 2003, it will allow me to utilize my new digital lenses to shoot film and the built in light meter will assist in snagging the correct exposure in every frame!


Represent your love for photographing this beautiful state with our Montana Camera Stickers & your love for exploration with our NW Compass design!

Wanderlust Northwest Compass and Montana Camera Sticker on Macbook

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Montana Brewers Association – 7th Annual Missoula Brewfest

Montana Brewers Association – 7th Annual Missoula Brewfest

The Montana Brewers Association has been uniting Montana breweries from the East to the West, the North and the South. Being the voluptuous state that Montana is, that’s a lot of ground to cover. Friday the 16th of October (today), will be their 7th annual celebration in the form of a Missoula Brewfest held in Caras Park. This brewfest will be featuring 154 beers from 42 Montana Breweries – 30 being special fest releases! We had the privilege of tasting a handful of the beers this evening.

Montana Brewers Association’s Missoula Brewfest Special Release Brews :

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Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho’s Elevated Oasis

Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho’s Elevated Oasis

Goldbug Hot Springs – Idaho’s Elevated Oasis

man and woman hiking in idaho to Goldbug Hotsprings
This weekend some friends kidnapped me and drug me into nature– or I was just invited and so stoked to go that I could only sleep a couple hours before we hit the road.
Goldbug Hot Springs near Salmon, Idaho was the destination of choice– and it was a first for all of us. In the photo above, you can see the ‘V’ in the mountain ridge.

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