What The Hell Am I Doing?

My obsession with snowboarding, the outdoors and anything that was active enough to break a few bones started in Upstate New York. It was here that I snowboarded down sheets of hardpacked snow in icy conditions only to finish a run in 30 seconds. It was commitment.

It wasn’t until I heard of a place out west where powder and fresh fallen snow replaced the shear sheets of ice I was use to riding. I found myself at Windell’s Snowboard Camp in 2001, Oregon aka a boarding addicts dream on acid. My love for the action sport industry snowballed from here. While most people were soaking up the sun during the North American summer, I was escaping to Mount Hood.


Windells made me want to work in the action sport industry. I needed to become a designer of sport equipment for the sports I loved.
It was while at Windell’s photographing that I was introduced to surfing. To this day the beach here in Oregon, Short Sands, remains my favorite. The water was cold (52 degrees) in the summer!

I always thought I would end up getting a job in the pacific Northwest, but when I applied at Reef and got the job after struggling to get a job in action sports it was a relief. Woosh! Got the gig, off to sunny SoCal.


Working at a Surf company makes it easy to really get into surfing when “executives” encouraged me to get in the water before work, during lunch and after work. It also helps that I was surrounded by life-long surfers/co-workers that where there for the same reason I was: to work in, and enjoy the sport that we couldn’t get enough of.

It took me at least three times a week over the course of three years just to be able to stand up and start riding down a wave. It is by far the hardest of the board sports. Skating and snowboarding have nothing on the original board sport.

After 4 years of surfing, I am just beginning to touch on the skills that I set out to learn when I started. It’s been one of the most enjoyable, frustrating, adventurous and travel packed journeys of my life so far and I am so excited to continue learning these skills, exploring new places and practicing “sliding water hills.”


Traveling is the only way that I feel at “home”. I have always had the need to travel and explore.

One day early in high school I had a panic attack, thinking that I might never GO and be trapped in my small town.

Knowing that awful feeling of “not going” drives me to GO whenever, wherever and however. If the opportunity presents itself, I make it my priority to GO. It’s one of the most important facets of my life.

I own several backpacks, yet no bed. I have owned and broken dozens of snowboards, surfboards and skateboards, but have never owned a couch. Large personal possessions are of no use to someone who will GO anytime.

I have been very fortunate to have a job/career (not really a career yet) where it was nearly mandatory to travel to other countries to see different “consumer markets” (someday we will need to find a new set of words for this since the ultimate goal of life is not go consume in markets and collect possessions.) Check out my portfolio site ir you get a chance: FS5K


I think my favorite part of traveling is finding and eating the local cuisine. Now when I say cuisine I am talking about a particularly specific type of food that can be found in every corner of the world, in every culture. It’s the local, tradition food of the land. I love to eat what and where the locals eat.

My rule is: if the place has a short menu usually less than 5 dishes, and is packed with locals, you know its got to be good.

Fancy restaurants, top chefs, extravagant or designed setting and de cores aren’t for me. I want to find the mom and pop, hole-in-the-wall places that serve the local food. For me the simple, and traditional is the true taste of the place.


I have several goals for this: lets call it a “self experiment”

Goal 1. Because I Can.
I have a skill/knowledge base/service that I can provide from anywhere in the world, as long as I have a pencil, big eraser, Mac computer with web camera, scanner, and internet connection. Ain’t Technology grand.

Goal 2. To Work, to Go, to Stay, to Explore, to Experience.
I am looking to get visas that allow me to work part-time jobs to make everyday living costs like rent, food, petrol, ect. This work will also allow me to make friends, meet the locals and immerse myself in the culture.

Goal 3.
I have found that it takes about 3 months minimum to really experience a place. You can really only have about 3 experiences a week. The body/mind needs down time to absorb and recharge after a great day of exploration.

I have saved as much money as I could for the past 5 years for this trip. I want to have a fair amount of money to do the big extra things that a lot of back packers can’t do because of money. Like take a 3 week boat surf trip to a far off island.

Goal 4.
I plan to start my own company in the near future, I need to hone my skills. Fear of the unknown is powerful, and I need to get used to that beast being in my life full time.

I have to prove to my self that I can adapt, innovate, change, and succeed in any circumstance.

What the world needs now is not another product. These years of exploration will allow me to find what will help the planet. I WILL make whatever I start Sustainable, or it will not be done. Rather “not do” than “do harm”.

Travel like A local
Work to Go to Stay to Explore to Experience
Snow/Surf/Skate/Sport/Adventure/insert new unknown sport here
Prove that the virtual office works, and is the new way business can operate, save and succeed.
Prepare my self for entrepreneurship, and the stresses, challenges, and skills that are necessary to build a company.
Have fun, cause when I came back, its all hands on deck, nose to grindstone for the next 15 years.
Learn to cook local traditional cuisine. Ohh, and enjoy. Create photo story of all the food that I eat.
Learn photography (make photo diaries)
Learn videography and editing (make video diaries)
Learn to fly?
Learn to sail?
Work on a boat / yacht
Learn to dive / get certified
Learn the world better?
Go. Learn. Enjoy.


8 responses to “What The Hell Am I Doing?

  1. Kathy Barrnes

    Hi – I admire your sense of adventure. Hope everything turns out for you. Keep in touch. Love – Kathy B.

  2. Bethany Lukens

    yay! i found you. go! go! go! so jelly. make sure you teach those kiwis about the pop-up. Also, look up my friend Justine Pepperell… I used to work with her in Santa Cruz when i worked with geneva. she surfs… a lot… and lives in wellington. not sure where exactly you are. love much.

  3. The site is looking good. I enjoy reading your adventures and hope you find what you are looking for. I know you will. God speed. Even though I am in little North Rose I am in spirit with you. KEEP IN TOUCH.

  4. Angie Escalera

    Sounds great, Phil! I look forward to reading all about your experiences and adventures.
    P.S. let me know if you find the meaning of life out there! Cheers ~ Angie 🙂

  5. What irony that I read your goals for life, 29 years to the day that I gave birth to you in Geneva, NY. The same day that Mt. St Helens erupted. Now I know you have trouble believing in a Greater Being, but someone certainly had designs for your life. I love reading your adventures and I even love more that you talk about local foods because that tends to be my passion.

  6. So happy that you finally went. Hope you have the best of times. Could strongly recommend Bali know it is quite a trip but probably twice the temerature in the water, as solid waves and 90 percent cheeper to eat and live.

    Take care



  7. oh my goodness bru
    nice work!
    that aramoana spot looks like a goofyfoots dream…

    getting in to rugby ? naah cricket’s prolly your game…he he.
    like baseball.but slower.


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