Cigars with Missionaries

 "' Uber is not available in your location'?!  They could drop us off here but not take us back?!" Steve said as the realization that we might be walking in 100% humidity for who knows how long. I fumbled around in my pocket for my iPhone, in hopes that I could push a couple more buttons better than Steve could to get us a ride out of nowhere. We were an hour out of Santo Domingo, which was at this time our desired destination, had little cell reception, and the only structures around us were a small market and a stand full of Dominican souvenirs. Oh and the scariest part? We were out of pesos and traveling solely with plastic and way too much camera equipment. I extended the handle from the rolling Pelican case and started to walk alongside the highway. 

"'Uber is not available in your location'?! They could drop us off here but not take us back?!" Steve said as the realization that we might be walking in 100% humidity for who knows how long. I fumbled around in my pocket for my iPhone, in hopes that I could push a couple more buttons better than Steve could to get us a ride out of nowhere. We were an hour out of Santo Domingo, which was at this time our desired destination, had little cell reception, and the only structures around us were a small market and a stand full of Dominican souvenirs. Oh and the scariest part? We were out of pesos and traveling solely with plastic and way too much camera equipment. I extended the handle from the rolling Pelican case and started to walk alongside the highway. 

 At the end of June, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to shoot some video for my home church and meet with non-profits doing good work where it was heavily needed. This particular work trip was different for many reasons, but mainly because I got to travel with a good friend: my girlfriends father, Steve, is the global outreach pastor at a church back in Santa Clarita, ca. After being around him for the past 6 years, I've learned to love his humor, respect his admiration for classic movie gems (mainly starring Chevy Chase), and gain so much wisdom from his stories. For 5 days we ran around Santiago and Santo Domingo visiting friends in villages, worked on our Spanish, and somewhere near the top of my list, smoked my first cigar with missionaries. 

At the end of June, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to shoot some video for my home church and meet with non-profits doing good work where it was heavily needed. This particular work trip was different for many reasons, but mainly because I got to travel with a good friend: my girlfriends father, Steve, is the global outreach pastor at a church back in Santa Clarita, ca. After being around him for the past 6 years, I've learned to love his humor, respect his admiration for classic movie gems (mainly starring Chevy Chase), and gain so much wisdom from his stories. For 5 days we ran around Santiago and Santo Domingo visiting friends in villages, worked on our Spanish, and somewhere near the top of my list, smoked my first cigar with missionaries. 

 Dominican friends. I was as stoked to meet them as they were to play with my camera. 

Dominican friends. I was as stoked to meet them as they were to play with my camera. 

 Our shirts were instantly soaked the moment we started trucking down the highway.   "Maybe if we walk a little ways we'll be back in the zone for Uber or Lyft to pick us back up. Should only be a ways if they could bring us all the way out here." Almost the second I finished my sentence, 2 loud honks coming from behind us made us whip our heads around to see if we were about to be killed or picked up. The extended van pulled up alongside of us as the host jumped out the side door. He said something in Spanish that was too quick for me to translate.   "A donde vas?"   "Santo Domingo," the driver said, as he waved us in the door like you would see on some cheesy commercial inviting you to come to a resort in Cabo. Steve and I looked at each other, shared some gentle laughs, and boarded this God-given van.

Our shirts were instantly soaked the moment we started trucking down the highway. 

"Maybe if we walk a little ways we'll be back in the zone for Uber or Lyft to pick us back up. Should only be a ways if they could bring us all the way out here." Almost the second I finished my sentence, 2 loud honks coming from behind us made us whip our heads around to see if we were about to be killed or picked up. The extended van pulled up alongside of us as the host jumped out the side door. He said something in Spanish that was too quick for me to translate. 

"A donde vas?" 

"Santo Domingo," the driver said, as he waved us in the door like you would see on some cheesy commercial inviting you to come to a resort in Cabo. Steve and I looked at each other, shared some gentle laughs, and boarded this God-given van.

 Local's choice of transportation.

Local's choice of transportation.

 Even though we boarded a van heading exactly where we needed to go, we still had an issue: cero pesos. And we figured this van didn't accept debit. Soon enough, the host came down the aisle collecting peoples money who had recently boarded. Steve and I were in the last row awaiting to see what would happen. Us and the host didn't have much of a conversation, save for us showing him our cards and saying "no pesos, lo siempre." I tried communicating that we could get off at the next stop, but the Dominican host stared at us without a word for several minutes. He wasn't too happy that these two gringos hopped on his cab and expected a free ride. Eventually he went back to his seat up front. We shrugged and looked out the window for the next hour and a half drive to the capital.

Even though we boarded a van heading exactly where we needed to go, we still had an issue: cero pesos. And we figured this van didn't accept debit. Soon enough, the host came down the aisle collecting peoples money who had recently boarded. Steve and I were in the last row awaiting to see what would happen. Us and the host didn't have much of a conversation, save for us showing him our cards and saying "no pesos, lo siempre." I tried communicating that we could get off at the next stop, but the Dominican host stared at us without a word for several minutes. He wasn't too happy that these two gringos hopped on his cab and expected a free ride. Eventually he went back to his seat up front. We shrugged and looked out the window for the next hour and a half drive to the capital.

 Cerveza. 

Cerveza. 

 A family born and raised in this village on the outskirts of Santiago. A church was planted here by a friend of ours named Felix, and has already done some incredible things.

A family born and raised in this village on the outskirts of Santiago. A church was planted here by a friend of ours named Felix, and has already done some incredible things.

 Cigar factory doorman. I was shocked when he told me he was 41 years old. 

Cigar factory doorman. I was shocked when he told me he was 41 years old. 

 I started to get a bit more nervous when we started to approach the last stop. Our plan was to tell him we had no money and try to say we'd go to an ATM and pay him back, with a generous tip. Before we could even take another stab at our humiliating spanish, the host took us off the bus and told us to follow him. The host wasn't a scary looking guy, but we were in an unfamiliar zone and following a guy we were indebted to. We had no idea where we were going. 

I started to get a bit more nervous when we started to approach the last stop. Our plan was to tell him we had no money and try to say we'd go to an ATM and pay him back, with a generous tip. Before we could even take another stab at our humiliating spanish, the host took us off the bus and told us to follow him. The host wasn't a scary looking guy, but we were in an unfamiliar zone and following a guy we were indebted to. We had no idea where we were going. 

 Many cigars were shared this week. Including my first in which I spewed after when I stood up...

Many cigars were shared this week. Including my first in which I spewed after when I stood up...

 After what seemed to me like a never-ending walk through the slums of Santo Domingo, we were relieved to see that he took us to an international bank, yet he still didn't look too happy. After screwing with the ATM machine and holding up the line, we finally got out 3,000 pesos, although we had no idea what we owed. The host was hard to understand and would usually just stare at us. We handed him 2,000 pesos for the 1.5 hour ride (about 40 US dollars). He took it, shook his head, and finally cracked a smile. He said "No, no, no," virtually returned all of the bills, and only kept about 6 US dollars.

After what seemed to me like a never-ending walk through the slums of Santo Domingo, we were relieved to see that he took us to an international bank, yet he still didn't look too happy. After screwing with the ATM machine and holding up the line, we finally got out 3,000 pesos, although we had no idea what we owed. The host was hard to understand and would usually just stare at us. We handed him 2,000 pesos for the 1.5 hour ride (about 40 US dollars). He took it, shook his head, and finally cracked a smile. He said "No, no, no," virtually returned all of the bills, and only kept about 6 US dollars.

 Not only did my first time in a third world country teach me to never travel with just plastic, but this trip was amazing to hang with kids like these. I could teach them how to click a shutter all day long, even if they swarm and fill my lens with finger prints. For more information on how you can help a rad organization in a place like the DR, check out GO Ministries    here.

Not only did my first time in a third world country teach me to never travel with just plastic, but this trip was amazing to hang with kids like these. I could teach them how to click a shutter all day long, even if they swarm and fill my lens with finger prints. For more information on how you can help a rad organization in a place like the DR, check out GO Ministries here.

Mas Cafe Por Favor

 The Vandura came to a drawn out stop on the 101 heading northbound as I merged into the left lane and flipped on the turn signal. The brakes, signaling with a vibration of the whole rig, reminded of their deterioration and its urgency to be checked out.  Oh well, for now...  I thought to myself. We crossed the highway and hit the gravel which allowed us to pull up close to the cliff and get a first look at the surf. It was just after 7:30 am. "There's a little bump. Better than anywhere we've seen yet," James said, peering out the passenger window.

The Vandura came to a drawn out stop on the 101 heading northbound as I merged into the left lane and flipped on the turn signal. The brakes, signaling with a vibration of the whole rig, reminded of their deterioration and its urgency to be checked out. Oh well, for now... I thought to myself. We crossed the highway and hit the gravel which allowed us to pull up close to the cliff and get a first look at the surf. It was just after 7:30 am. "There's a little bump. Better than anywhere we've seen yet," James said, peering out the passenger window.

 Grip it and rip it.

Grip it and rip it.

 My good friend    James    took a break from his panamerican moto trip on pause in Alaska to come down to Santa Barbara, hang, and work on another project. Even though we both love working on photo stuff, it gave us an excuse to share laughs, revisit old memories, and enjoy each other's sacred company. "Looks good to me. I'm down to grab a board and wetsuit, hike down, and see if it's worth it to even paddle out in. Worth a shot." James and I had been drinking some coffee while watching waves roll in, and decided we had nothing better to do than go for it. As I stood up to start gathering gear,  3 cups of coffee and a lot in my system was finally starting to work its magic.

My good friend James took a break from his panamerican moto trip on pause in Alaska to come down to Santa Barbara, hang, and work on another project. Even though we both love working on photo stuff, it gave us an excuse to share laughs, revisit old memories, and enjoy each other's sacred company. "Looks good to me. I'm down to grab a board and wetsuit, hike down, and see if it's worth it to even paddle out in. Worth a shot." James and I had been drinking some coffee while watching waves roll in, and decided we had nothing better to do than go for it. As I stood up to start gathering gear,  3 cups of coffee and a lot in my system was finally starting to work its magic.

 Cheese.

Cheese.

 If you haven't caught up on what James is up to, I suggest you would. An OG sender and forever dirtbag, James is revolutionizing the outdoor world. Along with two childhood friends, they're currently on a moto mission from Alaska to South America, climbing all the great peaks in between. They recently just summited Denali. Even with that going on, he somehow finds time to startup a rad leather company, prototype shown above. Follow their ride by clicking   here  .

If you haven't caught up on what James is up to, I suggest you would. An OG sender and forever dirtbag, James is revolutionizing the outdoor world. Along with two childhood friends, they're currently on a moto mission from Alaska to South America, climbing all the great peaks in between. They recently just summited Denali. Even with that going on, he somehow finds time to startup a rad leather company, prototype shown above. Follow their ride by clicking here.

 Blown out and small.

Blown out and small.

 Brent reminiscing about his youth.

Brent reminiscing about his youth.

 Selfie. Thanks James.

Selfie. Thanks James.

 Pre-Boneless.

Pre-Boneless.

 Back to our childhood.

Back to our childhood.

 Doing my best to not let my stomach control my morning, I began gathering camera gear, my single fin, and a wetsuit, knowing full well I may be hauling this stuff for no reason. James was loading up on film in the van and rambling on about adventure legends we both really admire. Before filling my arms, I took a second look for any nearby public restrooms or a clearing from the road. Nothing. We started walking down to cross the railroad track as a loud noise from my gut stopped us in our tracks. "I may have to take care of some business before we commit to this," I said, recalling experience from past dawn patrols. "Don't worry about it, we got all the time in the world..."

Doing my best to not let my stomach control my morning, I began gathering camera gear, my single fin, and a wetsuit, knowing full well I may be hauling this stuff for no reason. James was loading up on film in the van and rambling on about adventure legends we both really admire. Before filling my arms, I took a second look for any nearby public restrooms or a clearing from the road. Nothing. We started walking down to cross the railroad track as a loud noise from my gut stopped us in our tracks. "I may have to take care of some business before we commit to this," I said, recalling experience from past dawn patrols. "Don't worry about it, we got all the time in the world..."

Into the Sierras

 "Hello, John Peachey here! I am the very fortunate lad that is cousins with your evidently beloved blogger. Sean and I have been roaming the Sierras for multiple years and nostalgia reaps through the pores each time we saddle up and travel the good ol’ 395. 

"Hello, John Peachey here! I am the very fortunate lad that is cousins with your evidently beloved blogger. Sean and I have been roaming the Sierras for multiple years and nostalgia reaps through the pores each time we saddle up and travel the good ol’ 395. 

 From a personal standpoint, it has been unbelievable to witness first-hand the transformation of our innocent childhood obsessions, to the mix of our adolescent stupidity and daredevil phase, to our now blend of young adulthood in which we still garner snippets of the stupidity that fostered unforgettable memories.

From a personal standpoint, it has been unbelievable to witness first-hand the transformation of our innocent childhood obsessions, to the mix of our adolescent stupidity and daredevil phase, to our now blend of young adulthood in which we still garner snippets of the stupidity that fostered unforgettable memories.

 The Eastern Sierras are truly a breathtaking phenomenon that each settler must dabble with. From the rugged mountain peaks, to the lively green pastures, to the burbling of winter-fed streams that fill the tranquil lakes, flanked by the heaps amounts of birch trees, the Eastern Sierras are truly iconic.

The Eastern Sierras are truly a breathtaking phenomenon that each settler must dabble with. From the rugged mountain peaks, to the lively green pastures, to the burbling of winter-fed streams that fill the tranquil lakes, flanked by the heaps amounts of birch trees, the Eastern Sierras are truly iconic.

 Believe me, I can continue this passage in describing this utter beauty, but what has made the Eastern Sierras so special to me includes the memories that have been shared with family, friends, and the strange interactions with other travelers. Even though I should end my feature here, I would not be doing any justice if I did not share one of my fondest memories in the Eastern Sierras with your beloved blogger.

Believe me, I can continue this passage in describing this utter beauty, but what has made the Eastern Sierras so special to me includes the memories that have been shared with family, friends, and the strange interactions with other travelers. Even though I should end my feature here, I would not be doing any justice if I did not share one of my fondest memories in the Eastern Sierras with your beloved blogger.

 I recall very vividly a July summer spent exploring and tampering the depths of Rush creek with our conventional fishing rods. We were reaching the beginning of our elongated adolescence as Sean and I became confident enough to tamper with the creek on our own while also attempting to reel in some tasty trout.

I recall very vividly a July summer spent exploring and tampering the depths of Rush creek with our conventional fishing rods. We were reaching the beginning of our elongated adolescence as Sean and I became confident enough to tamper with the creek on our own while also attempting to reel in some tasty trout.

 As an avid fisher, it is impossible to disagree with the notion of reeling in huge trout epitomizes a superb day in the stream, however, I truly miss the days when Sean and I would spend hours tying hooks to only lose them in the mere seconds after rigging up our lines by casting them into bushes.

As an avid fisher, it is impossible to disagree with the notion of reeling in huge trout epitomizes a superb day in the stream, however, I truly miss the days when Sean and I would spend hours tying hooks to only lose them in the mere seconds after rigging up our lines by casting them into bushes.

 I apologize for this tangent, but I will never forget the time Sean heaved out a world renowned cast in an attempt to land his line right in the middle of this swirling eddie. Unfortunately, Sean casted this rod right into the thickest bush located in the Eastern Sierras, which in turn cemented his line on the other side.

I apologize for this tangent, but I will never forget the time Sean heaved out a world renowned cast in an attempt to land his line right in the middle of this swirling eddie. Unfortunately, Sean casted this rod right into the thickest bush located in the Eastern Sierras, which in turn cemented his line on the other side.

 Being in our early years of fishing and possessed a lack of wisdom towards the sport, Sean tugged on his rod for minutes, to only find himself with a rod 5 inches shorter. To this day, I still crack up to the memory and witnessing Sean’s face as he reached the epitome of fishing despair. Thanks for the memories my friend!"

Being in our early years of fishing and possessed a lack of wisdom towards the sport, Sean tugged on his rod for minutes, to only find himself with a rod 5 inches shorter. To this day, I still crack up to the memory and witnessing Sean’s face as he reached the epitome of fishing despair. Thanks for the memories my friend!"