Monday, August 31, 2009

The Friendliest Place on Earth

Hello. I'm Emily. I recently arrived in New York City after spending the last couple of years happily exploring the wilds of the great American West. I worked a series of odd jobs, many of them seasonal in nature: forestry researcher, ski lodge dining room server, brewpub jack-of-all-trades, freelance writer, wilderness field guide. Not only did the mountain air and the smell of sage work their way deep into my heart, I fell madly in love with the culture I will hereafter call "crunchy."

You know. It's not precisely "hippie," but it's definitely granola. "Dirtbag," when spoken with a great amount of affection and pride, is also an acceptable term. We can often be found working in fields relating to wilderness, education, holistic health, music, or psychology. Many of us have a bad case of a travel bug that is more likely to take you backpacking in South America or Southeast Asia than wining and dining in Paris... though we aren't above enjoying the finer things in life. At the risk of further pigeonholing this lovely bunch of people, I will add that if you attend an ultimate frisbee pickup game, odds are that you'll run into a few of us.

I've come straight from Durango, Colorado, a sort of dirtbag heaven on earth. Located in the Four Corners at the exact point where mountains meet desert, there is ridiculous climbing, dirt biking, skiing, and kayaking in the area, much of it actually within the city limits. Many of my friends live out of their trucks year-round because when they aren't field guiding, they're off on a road trip to Utah canyon country or backcountry snowboarding in Wyoming. Plenty of my old coworkers at the brewpub moonlight as rafting guides on the Animas River and have been known to wax rhapsodic about the trip to "Gnar-nia" their new tele skis took them on. The big expenses in our small budgets tend to revolve around gear and music festivals. So leaving that for the bright lights of New York has been interesting, to say the least. You know that part in Crocodile Dundee when Mick arrives in Manhattan in his outback finest? And looks spectacularly uncomfortable and out of place?

Well, it's actually not like that at all. I'm from Massachusetts originally, have spent a fair amount of time in cities, and am incredibly stoked to be here. I am, however, experiencing a few pangs of nostalgia for the stars, which I won't be seeing for awhile. I miss showing up to work in torn Carhartts and Chacos. And there's a lot I'd do to breathe in the scent of a ponderosa pine. Mostly, I miss the people and the lifestyle.

In this blog, I'll write about all the outdoorsy, adventurous things I can find to do in this urban wilderness. I'll talk gear a bit for all you gearheads out there, and if I see or hear about a sweet band playing in the area, you'll definitely know about it. Any tips about inexpensive and/or awesome outdoor getaways and activities would be great. This is New York, and it has a little of everything. I know that there's a little crunch to this Big Apple, and I intend to find it.

"That's incredible. Imagine seven million people all wanting to live together. Yeah, New York must be the friendliest place on earth." 
~Michael J. "Crocodile" Dundee

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