Car Camping Recipes for Road Tripping

You can find a shit ton of recipes and ideas for meals to make while camping online, however, I'd like to share with you some of the meals that I like to eat when traveling. Throughout the years, I’ve tried to keep things as simple and easy as possible, while not making meals that are bland or whack, as well as meals that are healthy enough to still sustain me after hiking all day long. This post provides some options for individuals that are car camping, as backpacking is an entirely different beast. With that said, simplicity, foods that can be easily stored in a cooler or not take up a ton of space, price, foods that are filling and nutritious, etc., all should be kept in mind, especially if you're going to be putting up a lot of hiking mileage. 

For starters, as great as it is to cook over a fire, I'd rather not spend time getting a fire set up and waiting for the embers to get hot enough to cook over. I'd rather just cook my meals with a camping stove. It's quicker and easier. Let me share with you the gear and supplies my wife and I use for cooking, eating, drinking, and storing our food:

I've had my Coleman stove for something like six years now. This bad boy is a little clunky, but is a solid purchase, especially considering the price. The MSR Quick Skillet and MSR Quick 2 System were items that we got over the summer, and both were so great to have-I'd highly recommend them, as they were really easy to store and pack up. We also got the Polar Bear cooler this summer, and, man, is that thing awesome. It's very comparable to soft shells that Yeti puts out, at a fraction of the price. The Duluth Pack Utensil Roll does a great job of keeping our spatula, tongs, knife, a sharpening steel, our VICBAY sets, a ladle, a can opener, a wine and bottle opener and anything else we want to bring with us; it's legit as hell and definitely worth the money. One item we need to get in the future is something for storing spices, as the lady and I usually cook with a decent amount of spices and bring a bunch with us. 

Now, let’s get to the meals:


Breakfast

For breakfast, oatmeal is my go to. It’s fast, it’s easy to make, it’s tasty, it’s nutritious, it’s pretty inexpensive, and it’s filling. You can probably find an endless amount of recipes for oatmeal online, but this has been a tried and true recipe for me. Let me preface this by saying, for the most part, I eyeball how much of everything I put into my oatmeal, as it was just trial and error of knowing how much I personally liked of everything, but I’ll try to give some measurements for you. Prop’s goes to my wife and my buddy, Jake, for helping to perfect this recipe over the years. Here’s what I got:

Oatmeal

Ingredients you'll need:

  1. Roughly a ½ cup of quick oats

  2. 1 tbsp of peanut butter

  3. A handful of dried fruits and nuts

    1. Since Wegmans is the shit, here’s what the wife and I primarily use. This bad boy has mango, dried cranberries, banana chips, almonds, coconut, yogurt raisins, dried cherries, and cashews in it. It’s the perfect mixture for oatmeal for me.

  4. About 1 tsp of cinnamon. I’d say I probably put a little bit more than that, but I think that’s a good starting point.

  5. About ½ tbsp of hemp seeds

  6. About ½ tbsp of chia seeds

  7. For sweetener, you can add honey to your oatmeal, and you can put as much or as little of that in it as you see fit.

  • Boil some water and add everything into a bowl.

  • Add as much boiling water as you like, stir it up, and enjoy!

If you’re unlike me and can’t eat the same shit over and over again, variety is much needed. The next easiest meal you can probably make goes to a tried and true meal…

 

tenor.gif

 Eggs, baby!

Ingredients you'll need:

  1. 2-4 slices of bacon
  2. Some eggs
  3. A few slices of bread
  • Fire up your stove

  • Cook a little bit of bacon and keep the grease in the pan.

  • Take the bacon out, set them aside, and then fry some eggs.

  • While the eggs are cooking, grab a few pieces of bread and start toasting those bitches over the flame of the other burner.

These are my two go-to breakfast meals, because they’re cheap, filling, delicious, and fast to make. In the morning, I’m trying to get ready and eat as quickly as possible, so I can get out on the trail as soon as I can. Primarily, the oatmeal recipe is the main meal that’s eaten for breakfast, with eggs, bacon, and toast being thrown into the mix here and there.


Lunch

For lunch, there’s only one thing that my wife and I eat, and that delicious meal is…

 

Peanut butter jelly time - Imgur.gif

PB&J

PB&J high fives are what's up

  • Grab two slices of bread, and spread peanut butter on both slices-this helps prevent the bread from getting soggy, my guy.

  • Put your jelly on there.

  • Sprinkle some hemp and chia seeds on.

  • Lastly, put some dried fruit and nuts in there.

If you don’t like PB&J’s, I’d argue that you’re also probably a commie, pinko that likes to see baby seals bludgeoned. PB&J is great, because, again, they’re filling, they’re cheap as hell, they’re delicious, they’re easy to put in a sandwich bag and take with you on a hike, and it's easy to store and travel with peanut butter and jelly. Along with our sandwiches, we typically also bring with us:

  • Oranges or maybe an apple

  • A ziplock snack bag of a different type of trail mix 

  • A cliff bar or two

Some of these get eaten while we’re relaxing and enjoying our PB&J’s, sometimes they’re eaten while we ascend a trail, or sometimes they’re eaten as we’re making our way back to camp. Either way, these are legit snacks to bring with you for a days worth of hiking.


Dinner

Neither my wife nor I are vegetarians or vegans, so we usually will have some kind of animal protein to go along with our dinner. However, since cooler space is at a premium, as well as not waiting food to spoil or go bad, we pretty much only stick to bacon and cooked sausage-something like this. All of our meals that we cook over the Coleman stove will have bacon in it, as we don’t bring butter or any other form of cooking grease. Again, since space is at a premium, bacon is perfect since it is amazingly delicious and provides more than enough cooking grease. We usually try to have a starch, vegetables, and small amount of animal protein in our dinners. Rice, quinoa, pasta, and potatoes are all pretty easy to travel with and store, and all are cheap. Bam, you got your grain/starch there. Additionally, all of our meals will have in them onion and garlic, as the lady and I are fiends for both.

Quinoa Bowl

Ingredients you'll need:

  1. 1 cup of quinoa
  2. 2 cups of water
  3. 2-4 slices of bacon
  4. ½ an onion diced
  5. 4-6 cloves of garlic minced (sometimes more depending on how big those bad boys are).
  6. 1 sausage chopped
  7. ½ of a head of broccoli
  8. Salt and pepper to taste
  9. 1 tsp of paprika
  10. ½ tsp of curry powder
  11. ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
  • Add 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a pot, bring that bad boy to a rolling boiling.

    • Make sure to add some salt to that piece.

  • While the quinoa is cooking, cook your bacon on a skillet, but not to completion. You want to remove the bacon from the pan before it’s done, keeping the grease in the pan.

  • With the bacon removed,  add the diced onion to the skillet, along with a pinch of salt, pepper, paprika, curry powder, cayenne powder, and let that cook for about 10 minutes. I love caramelized onions, so the longer they cook the better.

  • While the quinoa and onions are cooking, chop up one sausage, the cooked bacon, half of a head of broccoli, and your garlic. Set all to the side.  

  • If your onions are done cooking, but your quinoa isn’t, keep those suckers on low.

  • Once the quinoa is just about done and only has a 5-10 minutes left to cook,  add the garlic to the onions and let them cook for 1-2 minutes.

  • Then add the onions, garlic, bacon, sausage, and broccoli to your quinoa.

  • When your broccoli is tender and cooked to your liking, eat that shit up.

 

Balling Ass Pesto Pasta

That's some tasty ass pasta

This iFoodreal pasta recipe is seriously delicious as hell and really is pretty easy to make. There’s just a few things we do differently, of which is adding ½ onion diced, artichoke hearts diced, bacon diced, and subtracting cheese. I love this recipe, because it’s very easy to add things to the meal, and  you can get a little creative with ingredients that you like. You could also add some sausage to this beast, if you’d like.

You can find the ingredients and steps in the link above, but here's some added steps:

  • While the water is is boiling, start by cooking a few slices of bacon (as usual, 2-4) and keep the grease in the skillet.

  • Cook until almost done, and then remove the bacon from the skillet and set aside.

  • Dice ½ of an onion, add it to a hot skillet.

  • Let the onion cook, and add a little bit of pesto.

  • Follow the rest of the steps that iFoodreal has for this meal, but make sure to add the bacon and diced artichoke hearts when you add the broccoli to the skillet-you can also add sausage to this, but that might be a little much.

 

Potatoes are one of the most amazing foodstuff on the planet

Potatoes are the best

This meal probably gets made the least for dinner, even though it’s delectable, because it’s the most time consuming. If you want to speed up the cooking time, you can also wet the potatoes, season them with salt, pepper, rosemary, and thyme, poke shallow holes into the skin with a fork, wrap them in tin foil, and then stick them into your fire pit, turning them occasionally-45 minutes to an hour should do the trick-make sure to do this the morning or night before you make this meal, and then just wrap the potatoes in tin foil and put them in your cooler once they've cooled off. 

Ingredients you'll need:

  1. 2-4 slices of bacon
  2. 1 red potato per person
  3. ½ of an onion diced
  4. 4-6 cloves of garlic minced
  5. 1 sausage
  6. 1 tsp of pepper
  7. 1 tsp of paprika
  8. A pinch salt
  9. ½ tsp of curry powder
  10. ¼ tsp of cayenne pepper
  11.  ¼ tsp of Dinosaur BBQ Cajun Foreplay Dry Spice
  12. ½ tsp of thyme
  13. ½ tsp of rosemary
  • As always, cook a your bacon and keep the grease in the skillet.

  • While the bacon is cooking and chop the potatoes up.

  • Cook your bacon until just about done and then remove from the skillet and set aside.

  • Toss the potatoes into the skillet.

  • Season with salt, pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, curry powder, and some of this baller ass Dinosaur BBQ Cajun Foreplay Dry Spice

  • While the potatoes are cooking, start dicing ½ of an onion and 4-6 cloves of garlic.

  • After about 10-15 minutes of the potatoes cooking, add the onion, along with a pinch more of pepper and paprika, and stir them bitches in.

  • As this cooks, chop up a sausage.

  • Let cook for another 15-20 minutes or so, and add the garlic, bacon, sausage, thyme and rosemary, and stir it all up.

  • Let cook for probably about 3-5 more minutes.

  • Set up a chair in a meadow, overlooking the Rocky Mountains, while the sun sets, listen to elks bugle, and enjoy a baller ass meal.


Snacks

When road tripping and camping, snacks are a most. There are several snacks that I associate with camping, and thus are a must whenever we go on a trip:


Over the years, the wife and I have made a variety of different meals when we camp, but these ones tend to be the easiest, cheapest, and most delicious of the recipes we've found. One of the most balling meals I've made was probably shrimp and grits over a fire-my homeboy, Bryce, knows what's up-but I'd rather keep meal prep and cook time to a minimum. I'm sure you could probably find some other recipes out there that are a little easier and quicker to make, but these are some surefire meals to try. 

If any of you make any of these meals, let me know how they go! Additionally, if you have questions, feel free to hit me up via email @ dpdonnaru@gmail.com or in the comments. Hit the trails, stay weird, and love one another. 

The Hike to Kearsarge Pass PT. 2

The day started off with Danielle waking me up to let me know that our alarm clock unexpectedly failed to go off, which caused us to get out of bed about an hour later than we had anticipated. I may or may not have forgotten to turn the alarm back on, after turning it off the previous morning...whoops. We reluctantly shook the cobwebs of sleep off, and got ready to take on the day. For breakfast, I made us eggs, bacon, and toast, along with some espresso-thanks Gretchen and Bret-and we quickly scarfed it all down before heading to the Kearsarge Pass trailhead.

View as we make our way to the pass

We left our campsite and started off for the trail just around 8 a.m. The hike from the trailhead to the pass would be about five and a half miles with an elevation gain of 2,560 ft.  Luckily, for pretty much the entire hike, I felt pretty good and I didn't feel that the hike was overly strenuous for me, as much of the trail is switchbacks. I was pumped and ready to freaking go.

Danielle trekking along 

The terrain up the trail was truly incredible. During certain parts of the hike, especially as we got closer to the top, I felt like I was on another planet and that the scenery surrounding us could have just as easily been Mars. The landscape seemed completely otherworldly, and all around us-nearly encircling us-were the jagged and sharp peaks that Inyo had to offer. And to add icing to the cake, we got to hike passed 5 beautiful alpine Lakes-Little Pothole, Big Pothole, Gilbert, Flower, and Heart Lakes. Each lake was a color reminiscent of an icy teal or an icy sapphire, and each were surrounded by the biting peeks of the Sierra Nevadas. The pass cuts directly through the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which separates the John Muir Wilderness part of Inyo National Forest with Kings Canyon National Park, and Danielle and I couldn’t wait to see what Kings Canyon looked like at the top.

Wild terrain

On our way up, we met a hiker that was doing part of the Pacific Crest Trail and was hiking to Mount Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the continental US. We talked about how beautiful the campground and landscape was, how insane the wind had been the other night, and how awesome the hike had been up to that point. After exchanging pleasantries for about 10 minutes, she continued onward towards the pass, moving and grooving at a pace that Danielle and I could not keep up with. She undoubtedly had her trail legs.

Kings Canyon National Park

On the Kings Canyon side, there were peaks off in the distance and a series of lakes and ponds in the valley below that dotted the landscape. On the Inyo side, we saw the apexes of the teeth that made up the peaks of the National Forest, as well as Big Pothole Lake in its pristine glory. At that elevation, the trees were no longer present, providing us the opportunity for a near 360° degree view of stunningly beautiful landscape.

Looking down on Big Pothole Lake

The months of excitement and wonder were finally over. Danielle and I stood 11,760 feet above sea level, being pounded by wind, and nearly paralyzed by the insane beauty surrounding us. We stood in awe and felt like champions. We had been anticipating this moment for months, and finally being able to experience it left me feeling overwhelmed with joy. At one point, I remember Danielle and I taking the sites of it all in and neither of us said a word to one another for what felt like an eternity; we were both astounded and bewildered by the scenery and were completely speechless.

We finally sat down and took a break, enjoying our daily peanut butter sandwiches and the landscape before us, after having already spent about an hour at the at the top. At about 1:30 p.m., we reluctantly decided  that it was time to start making our way back to camp. We got our things together, took a few more photos, and took one last opportunity to take it all in. We had anticipated an incredible hike, but I don’t think either of us could’ve imagined such a magnificent experience.

Taking in the beauty and some lunch

Our descent back to camp was pretty easy, and it took us just slightly over two hours to finish up and get back to the trailhead. We came across a few other hikers that were heading up as we were heading down, a group that had lost their friend-whom we later came across and told him his friends were looking for him-as well as our friends from the previous day. When it was all said and done, we had started the trail at 8 a.m. and were back at the trailhead by 3:30 p.m. A successful day to say the least.

Heading back to camp

Back at camp, we made a quinoa meal for dinner, cleaned up, and then got in the tent around 6 p.m. We got into our pajamas, played some Uno-Danielle beat me in both games that night, resulting in her being ahead in our total games 5 to 4-and we then watched some Parks and Rec, which was a perfect way to end the evening.

I initially arrived at Onion Valley Campground being intimidated, but eventually fell in love with it. It was a campground unlike any other I've been to before, and I hope to one day find myself back in its grips again. When I think back to Onion Valley, the first thing that comes to mind are the rugged, steep, and jagged peaks that envelop the campground-they're like harden gods looking down upon the campground, blowing their furious and fierce wind to ward off any visitors not worthy of staying there. I'll also soon not forget the wind...that god damn wind.

Top 101 Songs of 2017

So, putting this list together wound up being much tougher than I anticipated, primarily because I'm such an indecisive son of a bitch. I found myself rearranging this list, adding and subtracting songs, and struggling to decide if I was content with my final version-I totally rearranged it right as I was drafting this post, as I recently listened to Midwife and have been jamming her album since. Needless to say, this Google doc was constantly in flux. With that said, the songs at the top of my list have been cemented there since I added them. You'll notice there is a lot of Planning for Burial up in this piece. Dude put out so many amazing songs this year. I've lumped together Dull Knife Pt.1 and 2 as my number one, even though they're two separate songs. However, for me, listening to those two songs back to back is a must. Feel free to give a listen to the Spotify playlist I made with all of these songs-link is at the bottom. Enjoy and happy New Year!

  1. Dull Knife Pt. 1 and Dull Knife Pt. 2-Planning for Burial

  2. Please Help Me-Funeral Advantage

  3. Whiskey and Wine-Planning for Burial

  4. C.E.O.T.7.K-Funeral Advantage

  5. Dreaming in Letters-Pallow

  6. Holding-Pallow

  7. My Best Friend (Is a Nihilist)-Iron Chic

  8. Somewhere in the Evening-Planning for Burial

  9. Shining-Funeral Advantage

  10. Days-Death Bells

  11. Cruelty Incarnate-All Pigs Must Die

  12. Friendship-Planning for Burial

  13. Only You-Death Bells

  14. The Hanging Cage-Funeral Advantage

  15. Roman Candles-Death Bells

  16. I Hope You’ll Pick Me Out-Planning for Burial

  17. I Put Red House Painters on a Mixtape for You-Planning for Burial

  18. Hierophant-King Woman

  19. Idle Minds-Pallow

  20. Let’s. Get. Dangerous-Iron Chic

  21. 16 Psyche-Chelsea Wolfe

  22. Indigo Illusion-Sannhet

  23. Warmth of You-Planning for Burial

  24. Sleep Well-Sannhet

  25. Threadbare--Planning for Burial

  26. Leaves Will Bloom Long After We’re Gone-Planning for Burial

  27. A Caustic Vision-All Pigs Must Die

  28. Comfort-Planning for Burial

  29. Fernbeds-Sannhet

  30. Last Kiss-Minus the Bear

  31. At the Cauldron’s Bottom-Full of Hell

  32. Fog-Wear Your Wounds

  33. Anthem for No State Pt. III-Godspeed You! Black Emperor

  34. The Culling-Chelsea Wolfe

  35. Invisible Ink-Iron Chic

  36. Mischief Night-Planning for Burial

  37. Golgotha-Iron Chic

  38. Sapphire-Sannhet

  39. Iron Rose-Wear Your Wounds

  40. Twin Fawn-Chelsea Wolfe

  41. 4 BC-The American Dollar

  42. Coolverine-Mogwai

  43. Slave Morality-All Pigs Must Die

  44. Wear Your Wounds-Wear Your Wounds

  45. Tame Beasts-Minus the Bear

  46. Thousands of Miles Between Us-Converge

  47. Burn These Enemies-All Out War

  48. We Lost Our Home-Funeral Advantage

  49. Bosses Hang Pt. III-Godspeed You! Black Emperor

  50. Sound-Big Brave

  51. From a Silver Tongue-Low Estate

  52. After the Party-The Menzingers

  53. Lull-Big Brave

  54. Isky-Glaare

  55. Still Burning-Incendiary

  56. Sugar for the Pill-Slowdive

  57. Undertow-Death Bells

  58. In Praise of Leeches-All Out War

  59. Lookers-The Menzingers

  60. Ordinary-Day Wave

  61. Perfect History-Death of Lovers

  62. Borer-Big Brave

  63. Lakewood Mausoleum-Funeral Advantage

  64. Choking on Indifference-All Out War

  65. Orphans of the Smog-Death of Lovers

  66. Earth is a Cage-The Body, Full of Hell

  67. The Rope-Low Estate

  68. Deluminate-Full of Hell

  69. Ruins-Glaare

  70. RTD Pt. 1-Midwife

  71. RTD Pt. 2-Midwife

  72. DNA-Kendrick Lamar

  73. Ursula in B Major-Death of Lovers

  74. Trumpeting Ecstasy-Full of Hell

  75. Tellin’ Lies-The Menzingers

  76. Fact or Fiction-Incendiary

  77. Love- Kendrick Lamar feat. Zacari

  78. Deny-King Woman

  79. Lemonade Beauty-Deafcult

  80. My Love Grows in Darkness-Glaare

  81. Stars Collide-Deafcult

  82. Super Natural-Turnover

  83. Rubix-Deafcult

  84. Livin’ Ain't Easy-The Menzingers

  85. The Dusk in Us-Converge

  86. Song for an Unborn Sun-Midwife

  87. I Did Not Want to Love You So-The Body, Full of Hell

  88. Humble-Kendrick Lamar

  89. Front Toward Enemy-Incendiary

  90. Sell Your Cause-Incendiary

  91. Time-The American Dollar

  92. The Idyllic Ream-Set and Setting

  93. Anything You Synthesize-The American Dollar

  94. Inference (1)-Fog Lake

  95. Behind the Mask-Fearing

  96. Butterfly Dream-Turnover

  97. Novocaine-Fog Lake

  98. Reason-Midwife

  99. Breeze-Turnover

  100. Farewell, Man-The Body, Full of Hell

  101. Bedchambers-Succumb

 

https://open.spotify.com/user/1221911261/playlist/40nyMlFd57l68l4tjcaIhZ

 

ToP 50 RELEASES OF THE YEAR PT. 2

Without a question, 2017 was the year of Planning for Burial. I've been a big fan of his music for a while now, and this year just further cemented Thom Wasluck's musical genius for me.  I can't say how many times I've listened to Below the House, but it's an absurd amount. Like, a ridiculously absurd amount. From the pounding and guttural bombardment of Whiskey and Wine to the droning and ambient anguish of Dull Knife pt. 2, that album is utterly enthralling, and encapsulates the mood and emotions of sadness and melancholy so perfectly. It's an album that I connected to upon first listen, and haven't stopped jamming since its release back in March.

If one fantastic release wasn't enough, Planning for Burial also released Matawan-Collected Works 2010-2014, which boasts some of my favorite songs from him to date, including I Hope You’ll Pick Me Out and I Put Red House Painters on a Mixtape for You. A collection of rarities and unreleased tracks that were recorded between his first and second albums comprises this release, and god damn does it not disappoint.


I was also fortunate enough to see Planning for Burial twice this year-once with the mighty and amazing Have a Nice Life and then this weekend here in Rochester, NY. The Boston show will forever be one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed, and seeing Planning for Burial and then Have a Nice Life was almost like an out of body experience. Both times I saw Planning for Burial, I was floored and amazed by what I was hearing and seeing, and by the fact that what I was hearing was just one dude, a guitar, an insane pedal board, and some amps. Like, what?!

Conversely, Funeral Advantage's Please Help Me delves into the sadness of breaking up in a much more upbeat dream-pop manner. Please Help Me and CEOT7K are two of my favorite songs of the year, and I absolutely danced like a maniac to CEOT7K at my wedding back in August. This EP is incredible, and my only knock against it is that it's not an LP. I want more from Funeral Advantage, and hope we get some more music in the near future.

From there, Blueprints for an Empty Vessel by Pallow continued to traverse the waters of  gloomy and melancholic music so thoughtful, creatively, and magnificently . Blueprints for an Empty Vessel's melodic gloomgaze immediately hooked me in with Holding and then punched me in the gut by the end of the album with Dreaming for Letters. I feel that this album will wind up being one of the most underrated releases of 2017, but it shouldn't be. It's a phenomenal album with incredible lyrics. Between this LP and their two EPs, there’s not a single song of theirs that I don’t think is awesome as hell. Do not sleep on this band.

Next up is Long Island's amazing Iron Chic. I'm not sure there is any other band that fully encapsulates the doldrums of your late 20's/early 30's as perfectly as Iron Chic does, and Can't Stay Here is a prime example of that. I found myself relating to so many of the lyrics throughout this album, and totally sang them as loud as possible more than a few times. Iron Chic is hands down my favorite punk band, and Can't Stay Here is yet another slam dunk from a band that has released some of my favorite albums over the last decade or so. I can't wait to stage dive and sing along when I see them at the Bug Jar next month.

Then there's Sannhet's So Numb. Good god does this band and album rip. Do yourself a favor, put on Sleep Well, turn the volume up as loud as possible, sit back, and prepare to headbang until your neck is about to break. Holy shit is this album incredible. I've yet to see them play live, and I've heard their live show is unbelievably awesome, so that's on the list of things I have to do. This album is amazing from start to finish, and these dudes reign as the kings of post-metal, as far as I'm concerned.

Between Chelsea Wolfe's Hiss Spun, Death Bell's Standing at the Edge of the World, All Out War's Give Us Extinction, and All Pigs Must Die's Hostage Animal, my ears and brain were in heaven all throughout the year, and the amazingness didn’t stop there, as there would even be more amazing releases from some of my favorite bands as the year progressed. Godspeed You! Black Emperor, King Woman, my long anticipated wait for a Death of Lovers LP, Full of Hell, Big Brave, Incendiary setting the world ablaze, and Jacob Bannon's incredible debut of Wear Your Wounds all assaulted me, made me want to sing, dance, sit in a corner and be miserable, scream at the top of my lungs, headbang into oblivion, and pick up a guitar and write music. 2017 was a fantastic year for music, with some of my favorite music to date being released. If you’ve yet to check any of these bands or releases out, do it to it, Lars, because you won’t be disappointed.  

Here’s my top 25 releases of 2017:

25.   Damn.-Kendrick Lamar

24.   Auras-Deafcult

23.   Music for Chilling Out-The American Dollar

22.   Covert Cult of Death-Low Estate

21.   Every Country’s Sun-Mogwai

20.   Thousand Mile Stare-Incendiary

19.   After the Party-The Menzingers

18.   Voids-Minus the Bear

17.   The Dusk In Us-Converge

16.   Ardor-Big Brave

15.   WYW-Wear Your Wounds

14.   Trumpeting Ecstasy-Full of Hell

13.   The Acrobat-Death of Lovers

12.   Created in the Image of Suffering-King Woman

11.   Luciferian Towers-Godspeed You! Black Emperor

10.   Hostage Animal-All Pigs Must Die

9.  Give Us Extinction-All Out War

8.  Matawan-Collected Works 2010-2014-Planning for Burial

7.   Standing at the Edge of the World-Death Bells

6.   Hiss Spun-Chelsea Wolfe

5.   So Numb-Sannhet

4.   Can’t Stay Here-Iron Chic

3.   Blueprints for an Empty Vessel-Pallow

2.   Please Help Me-Funeral Advantage

1.   Below the House-Planning for Burial

Top 50 Releases of the Year Pt. 1

Last year, for the first time, I put together my top 20 albums of the year. I sort of just did it on a whim, at the end of the year, and I really enjoyed it. This year, I decided I'd start keeping track of the new music I listened to right from the beginning of January. I created two docs-one for my favorite releases of the year, and one for my favorite songs of the year. 

As we delved further and further into 2017, I realized that this was, without a question, one of my favorite years for music in quite some time. Not only was there a high quantity of great releases this year, but the quality was outstanding. As we end 2017, this year brought me some of my absolute favorite LPs, EPs, and releases of collected works to date. Additionally, I got to see one of the most amazing shows this summer-Elizabeth Colour Wheel, Planning for Burial and Have a Nice Life in Boston. I initially wanted to just do a top 20 list, but there were way too many incredible releases this year, so I went with my top 50.

Moving forward, I want this blog to be about my photography and traveling. However, music plays an integral part in both, especially when it comes to editing, processing, developing, and printing my photos, so I thought it only appropriate to share with you all some of the music I've jocked over the course of 2017. For me, the biggest surprise this year was Turnover's Good Nature. I didn't think I'd like that album at all, but I gave it a listen, and I dug it. There's multiple songs on the album where I want to sing and dance with my wife, so hats off to them, since that's not something I'd expect to be into.  Glaare's To Deaf and Day would probably crack the top 20 for me, but I only recently started jamming it; it is really a solid album with some amazing songs, but I need a little more time to digest it. Anyway, jabroni's, let's do this. Here's Pt. 1 of my favorite releases this year:

50.   Lost-The Stargazer Lilies

49.  Melancholia-Save Us From The Archon

48.  Morningside-Fazerdaze

47.   Succumb-Succumb

46.  Iteration-Com Truise

45.  What Now-Sylvan Esso

44.  Mysterium-Hammock

43.  Time Well-Cloakroom

42.  Cultivations-Au.Ra

41.  It'll Get Worse If You Let It-Bleach Bath

40.  Portrayal of Guilt-Portrayal of Guilt

39.  A Crow Looked at Me-Mount Eerie

38.  Open City-Open City

37.  Rainbow Mirror-Prurient

36.  A Life of None-Fearing

35.  Dragonchaser-Fog Lake

34.  Interference 3-Fog Lake 

33.  Broken Spectre-Lost Film

32.  The Days We Had-Day Wave

31.  Good Nature-Turnover

30.  Ascending a Mountain of Light-Full of Hell/The Body

29. Dancing Chrome-Night Sins

28. To Deaf and Day-Glaare

27.  Slowdive-Slowdive

26.  Reflections-Set and Setting

 

I'll be posting Pt.2 tomorrow or Friday, so stay tuned for that, my friends. 

From Spark to Flame

Two years ago, as my wife and I drove from Rochester, NY to Ilion, NY to spend Thanksgiving with her family, a malaise washed over me that I was unable to pinpoint. I had been dealing with some things around that time, and I was feeling uneasy on a regular basis. That car ride wound up being a life changing experience for me. A conversation, an episode of The Tim Ferriss  Podcast, and a defining moment of clarity affected me in a way that was initially scary, but has since been liberating in ways I never would have expected. What I'm going to share was written roughly two years ago, right after celebrating Thanksgiving with my family. I wrote it and wasn't quite sure what to do with it at the time, and saved it for the right moment. I entitled it From Spark to Flame, and I think that title is perfectly apt. Enjoy!

Growing up, my dad owned his own carpentry business, and his company’s clients were located primarily in and around New York City. After I graduated high school, I’d make a few extra bucks here and there by getting thrown into job sites for my father, primarily working as a grunt on jobs. But around my sophomore year of college, I really started to work more regularly with my father's company. During my breaks in college, I’d be able to work for him, commuting from Long Island into the boroughs of New York, experiencing the demands of a full-time job that was physically taxing like a son of a bitch. When summer breaks rolled around, I knew I always had a job waiting for me with my father’s business. And I loved that! It paid well, afforded me good hours-at times 60-70 hours a week-I got to spend most of my week in the City, and I was working with some dudes that were crazy, weird, and goofy, but in a good way.

My older brother, Chris, had been working for my father for years, starting right after he graduated high school, and did his best to show me the ropes, keep me in line, and help me out when needed. On nights when I was at a job later than normal, and was exhausted from working long hours, I’d crash at his place, and then head out to work the following day.

One night, after a long day and night of working, Chris offered his couch for me to crash on, and I happily accepted. As we were relaxing, my brother and I started talking about life, the future, and our dreams. Let me preface this by saying that my brother and I are polar opposites in terms of our interests and likes. I love my brother, but we are complete polar opposites. Anyway, I mentioned to him that I had been really thinking a lot of traveling. I told him I had dreams of seeing America, Europe, Asia, really as much of the world as possible, but would be happy with hitchhiking my way across the country (I recently finished reading Dharma Punx and really wanted to trek the entirety of this beautiful, crazy, goddamn country). He told me I was crazy and ridiculous, that it was a fool's dream to think like that. He told me I needed to work, focus on finishing college, and then put my efforts into getting a job that my education was preparing me for.

There was the one side of me that completely disagreed with him and thought, “Fuck that, man. Forget everything and do it!” There was also the other side of me that was fraught with fear and anxiety about traveling, the cost, who I’d travel with, how I’d stay safe, and so on and so on. The fear weighed on me like a damned ten ton backpack.

I share that story because roughly ten years has passed and that desire, that flame inside of me, has never dwindled, not even for a second. In fact, the opposite has happened-the spark that flickered inside of me all of those years ago has now begun to swell into a forest fire. It’s grown and grown, never once subsiding as I thought maybe it would. And now, more than ever, those flames are licking at my skin, blinding my eyes, and exponentially growing by the day.

After college, while grappling with the fear of making my dream a reality, I did what most people do after graduating college-I got a job. I got a job that afforded me a decent salary, with decent benefits, and a decent title. I got sucked into the trap that most of us are told we’re supposed to do-do well in high school, go to college and do well, and get a good paying job.

Now, I got a job that is actually quite rewarding and I believe is quite important-I help people essentially find employment. I got into human services, and found it to be a very rewarding field. I get to go to work each day knowing that I’m making a difference in someone’s life, even if it’s a small difference. That’s always been important to me, and I don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. But the hunger for adventure, to see and experience new places and things, to eat foods and drink beers in new places, etc, can’t always be fed when you go to work day in and day out.

After graduating, getting a job, getting settled and finding success within my occupation, I’d take my week long vacation each year, sometimes having a just taking time off to explore the area around my house, other times spending a week in NYC or Maine, and other times taking trips to Canada, but those trips always left me wanting more. I never came back from those trips feeling completed satiated by my experiences. There always seemed to be a hunger that was never quite fed with the trips I had previously taken. I always felt like I wanted more time to experience the places that I had gone to, and I always dreamt of continuing onward to someplace new and exciting. Whenever I’d make my way back home, the fantasies and daydreams of continuing onward, heading west or to new continents, seemed to follow me like a black cloud hanging overhead.

Through the years, the thought of traveling long-term, whether it be road-tripping (not so much hitchhiking anymore because I now have a car), backpacking, traveling from hostel to hostel across Europe, buying a van to live in and going from place to place, purchasing a tiny house that’s mobile, or even WWOOFing, has become so enveloping, so engrossing, that it began to take hold of me in a way I didn’t think possible; the desire for long-term travel was becoming so tremendous that it started to have a negative effect on my mental health. There’d be instances where I’d feel completely at peace, happy, and content, but the moment I began to think about hitting the road for an extended period of time I’d find myself plagued by a malaise that was all too familiar. No matter how hard I’d try to shake those feelings, it became increasingly difficulty to overcome, because I always felt that I was letting myself down, failing myself by not making my dreams a reality.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving, my wife, Danielle, and I were driving to her parents’ house for the holiday. The drive from our house in Rochester, NY to her parents’ house in Ilion, NY is a two and a half hour drive, which always affords plenty of time for deep conversations, pondering life, and/or listening to music or podcasts. During that drive, we listened to an episode of The Tim Ferriss Show where Tim interviewed Rolf Potts, the author of Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Right from the beginning of the episode, I was hooked and enthralled by Ferriss’ and Potts’ discussion on travel. I was amazed by what I was hearing. The talk of traveling the world for extended periods of time, breaking down the fears of travel, traveling in cost-effective ways, made me feel exhilarated. I wanted to scream at the fucking moon with excitement and vigor. As soon as the episode was finished, I was ready to bypass my future in-laws home and drive through the night to wherever the road took us.

Slowly but surely, however, the fear and anxiety of traveling long-term began to creep its hideous head into my psyche. The familiar fear based questions that always prevented me from traveling started to fire off in my brain, questions such as, “how can you afford this, how can you make this work with your job, where are you going to go, how are you going to get there…” so on and so on until I felt overwhelmed by the anxiety I was causing myself. Just when I had allowed myself to feel excited by the thought of traveling long-term, I did everything to immediately scare myself into thinking it was impossible...until I finally said enough is enough.

Hello There

It's been a long time coming, so I finally got my ass in gear and put together a website. In the coming months, I play to add more photos from my recent trip to California, as well as write blogs posts on a bi-weekly or monthly basis. Thanks for checking out the site, and stay awesome.