Chase Everything

...and I mean Everything!  

Chase what eludes you. Chase what you love, what you desire and what beats you at every turn. Go after the ones who break your heart; the ones you'd change the world for. Never settle for what tears you down as part of life or blinds you. Chase after what runs away. There are always those things that run. Chase every dream, at every turn, because we only have so much time on earth and nothing is ever guaranteed. Chase whiskey with beer... hell, chase whiskey with whiskey. Whatever you do, just chase your adventures.

I wish I had listened to that advice a long time ago. I wish I had taken my own advice, but I guess most of us don't. I wish I had chased everything that ever said "I have to go now, but I'll be back," but never did come back.

There was one morning we were on the road just outside of Ólafsvik on the far Western peninsula of Snæfellsness. It had been raining for days. It was a depressing rain, and every time we stepped out of the car it just poured on us. That wasn't the depressing part, however; It was that we were nearing the end. We had gone so far, and covered so much ground, that looking back it was all a blur. In many ways it seemed it should have never ended. I suppose that is the case a lot in life. We don't stop to savor the moment, or even take one to realize whats right in front of us. Then we say things like, "It just all seemed a blur and then it ended."  

As cliché as it may sound, getting lost is a good barometer for figuring yourself out. The best parts of us react when there isn't an easy solution. To travel across a foreign country, without a plan, but with the hope of making a film and art is by no means cliché. That is chasing the adventure.

Yesterday was one of the proudest days I've had the pleasure being a part of. I got to see someone who has given me a great deal of opportunity share her gift with the world. I got to see the world then jump a thousand feet in the air with excitement. If you know me you know who I'm talking about. If not, try a trip to YouTube. It will be the first thing you see.

I am proud of her, and all of my friends, colleagues and family that made it happen. As I watched her I realized that she has something I don't (but am trying for). It's not money or power. It's the drive to change the world you know; to never settle for anything less than ideal. She has the will.That is what I mean when I say "chase what eludes you."  

I'm still finding my way; still figuring out the best way to chase. I found a little piece of myself with a best friend driving three-thousand miles down a long and winding road. I wake up each day thinking it's time to go back--that it's time to find that will I have watched others boldly toss out into the world.  

We have a wonderful display of generosity, hospitality and kindness to share with the world. North of Everything is our chase and it's coming along nicely. Soon enough we will share the long hours spent behind and still very much ahead of us. It is a piece of art, and I arrogant enough to think the world will embrace it-- just as we were pleasantly embraced by our friends on that tiny, far-away island.

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With that I say thank you. Thank you to those who backed us with their time and hard earned money; the ones who showed us the way down the road; the Machine that gave us a chance and the girl from 1989 who gave us an opportunity; the monkey, the raptor, the boy from the badlands, and the one from across the pond; the girl who sleeps in the next room and listens to my troubles; the one who inspired me by walking for weeks alone; the one that I say I'm sorry to, even though the words are not enough; the one(s) that tolerates me; the one I will forever be linked to, and the one I haven't yet to meet but soon will. This entire adventure was chased because of, and for, you. 

-Justin

Turn It Up To 11!

I think about it all the time. Everyday, just before I wake up, I hope that when my eyes open I will be looking out over the countryside again. That being said, I am a grown boy, and realize I can't go on permanent vacation. A thirty-two year old kid can dream though, can't he?

We are home now, so it is time to get to work!  We have over ten-thousand photos and days worth of footage to sift through. There are lots of late nights filled with coffee still ahead, but we will be showing it soon enough. Let's say September-ish. I must say, we really have something quite special to share with everyone.

In the meantime, I'll give you a little dose of culture to brighten your day... 

It was on one of our last days of travel that I was sitting inside Kaffi Brennslan in Reykjavik, drinking a beer, when I overheard a song playing. It immediately felt familiar. Like all the best songs it resonated as if I already knew the words. You see, there are three things in the world that compete for my undying attention: coffee, beer... and music. The song was called "Automobile" by the Icelandic band Kaleo (not to be confused with the Hawaiian artist). When you hear his voice keep in mind these are four guys from Iceland!

My suggestions may not influence you, but if you happen upon a free moment or just want to hear great music then take a listen. They have strong lyrics paired with clever melodies; Rock and Roll at its best! The links below are from their Official Youtube page. To my knowledge the album has not been released in the U.S. Which means DON'T steal it! Although, please DO take a listen!! Hopefully you can buy it somewhere soon. 

Music discovery! The best part of traveling!! Oh, and make sure you listen/watch the video for Vor í Vaglaskógi. He hits his falsetto at the 3:56 mark and... DAMN! Happy listening.

twitter: @kaleotheband

https://www.facebook.com/kaleoiceland

It's 1 a.m. do you know where your children are?

Anyone who says nothing good happens after midnight has never been to Djúpivogur.  A small cafe bar overlooking the fishing harbor at midnight just as the sun peeks over the mountains is a perfect place to watch the World Cup.  The room was thin with about ten locals drinking their Viking beer and politely yelling at the t.v.   Just as the Chile Vs. Australia game ended the guy sitting just in front of us let out an exasperated sigh and began to shuffle in his seat.  He was clearly for Australia who managed to pull off an embarrassing loss.  

After a few minutes he stood up and walked over to our table.  Noticing we were the only ones there not speaking Icelandic he asked where we were from.  Once we said America he quickly sat down and started talking to us asking us all sorts of questions.  Mainly though, the conversation was steered towards football (soccer).  Asking if we played, we answered yes, thinking it a harmless conversation on sports.  It was not.  It was becoming an invitation.  A quick phone call and 5 minutes later our new friend Nathan's brother shows up.  Gunnar is over the table with arms crossed and looking like a character from Game of Thrones (funny enough he actually is in Game of Thrones as they film it not too far from his home, but that's a whole different story.  Without skipping a beat Gunnar asked, "What size shoe do you wear?   We are going to play football tomorrow".  And that was that...

Twelve short hours later we are blazing down a mountain road going excessively fast through bends and turns that normally would terrify us.  However, this time the view was too beautiful to worry about anything else.  All football should be played in places like this.  

Welcome to Borgarfjodur Eystri!  This was no small town league match, although Gunnar's response when asked if this was a real league was, "Of course it's a real league, but I haven't played in ten years...".   All I could think in my head was how perfect this scenario was.  

Gunnar and Nathan

Once again we are presented with example after example of just how friendly Icelanders are.  We met two fantastic friends on this little jaunt and all it took was a couple beers in a random bar.  Drinking in bars back home only leads to sleeping in the next day and not being productive.  Here it's the perfect way to get your foot in the door.  Although, when asked how Nathan was that morning his only response was, "Hangover".  I just laughed and told him good luck!

Take a look at our new clip.  Pay particular attention to Gunnar's warm up regiment.  Seriously one of the most fascinating people we've met!  Thank you Gunnar and Nathan for an unforgettable day!



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I change my mind pretty much by the minute.  Go here, or go there, and somewhere in the middle decide to blindly go a different direction.  Iceland and I have a lot in common in that respect.  Just when you think your'e going right the road tells you something different and sends you left.  Forcing you to go a direction you had not intended.  Looking at a map would be too easy.  It's best to just point yourself left, right, up, or down and see where you end up.   Two days ago we ended up at the Arctic Circle.  

Waking up late as usual we raced down the road to our ship 40 kilometers away.  We may have broken a few speeding laws, but there was no way we were missing this chance.  With literally one minute to spare we hopped aboard and set off for Grimsey Island north of the mainland of Iceland.  A short three hour voyage we docked and made our way up the highlands of Grimsey to the point where the Arctic cuts the island in two.  

Dalvik Harbour

In my head I had alway pictured a cold and desolate place with little to no vegetation.  I was pleasantly surprised to find it the most lush and beautiful landscape of rolling hills.  Set in the middle of a field is a small marker pointing in the direction of major cities around the world.  There we stood well above everything we have ever known.  South of us was the rest of the world.  

Arctic Circle Marker
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I never thought I'd actually stand in the Arctic Circle.  Let's be honest it's not exactly the North Pole, but I'll take it nonetheless.   It's a good goal to have when you decide to go to a place far from what you are used to.  The Arctic Circle qualifies.  I never thought I'd be any kind of explorer, but things change.  Recently my travels have taken me all over the world and opened my eyes.  Something tells me that after this little jaunt up the cliffside I think that home will often be far away.  

After spending several hours on the island we headed back to the mainland.  Courtesy of our Captain we were allowed on the Bridge to watch the view from where he sits.  Where he has sat for the last 18 years.   Ferrying people from Iceland to Grimsey for almost two decades, Captain Hebertsson has always been on the sea.  Even before he helmed the Seafari he spent over twelve years catching and selling fish from the waters just offshore from his home of Dalvik.  

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It's an interesting quality of most Icelanders we have met.  They don't stray too far from home. Even the younger ones who set off for university studies tend to come back to their hometown to work and live.  Many times we have heard that even Reykjavik, a city of only two-hundred thousand people, is "too big".  I can see why they love where they live though.  It verges on perfect no matter which direction you turn.  We have turned a lot.  Each time we find a place we never want to leave.  Captain Herbertsson might have the right idea.  Drive a ship, fish the sea, and go home to a beautiful view each and every night.  

-Justin

Few things leave me speechless...

Anyone who knows me well, or even for ten minutes, knows that I can talk a lot.  Just ask Ivan trapped in a car with me for 2 weeks.  I just like talking to people.  It doesn't even need a direction or purpose.  Just chatting away with someone for a little while and you can learn so much.  Even if it's just about the weather.  Well... maybe not so much the weather, but you get the idea.

If the last nine days have taught me one thing it's that sometimes I need to just shut my mouth and take it all in.  I don't have anything profound to say in this particular post.  That's not because I don't have a lot to say.  It's simply that nothing I could say could compare to what we have seen with our eyes the last 48 hours.

I'll let the video do the talking for me.  

Oh and by the way.  Don't get used to it.  I'll be back tomorrow!  Until then check out this new clip of our travels and visit the images page on the site for new photos.

-Justin




Then it all started coming together…

Perspective is a funny thing.  We all have what we think we understand and opinions about pretty much everything run rampant through all of us.  

I stood on top of a cliff the other day with a waterfall gushing below me.  The pool and current 6 meters down.  My heart raced and my body shook from the cold.  From below, that waterfall looked like a small trickle of water not too far from the ground level.  It was not.  It was daunting and terrifying.  After climbing up the cliff with our new friend Geiri we waded across the river to the edge.  Geiri stood next to me as I tried to warm my body.  The cold affects your brain and you begin to make irrational decisions about just how far you need to jump or if turning back is a better option.  And then we waited…

Ring Road Day 4

I could’ve turned back a long time ago.  After everything I knew suddenly changed and what I thought was my future disappeared.  I could have turned back.  Instead I am wading across Iceland in a car waste deep in opportunities.  Before the waterfall we made our way to the petrol station to meet our Geiri.  A thirty-six year old marketing manager for Arctic Adventures who has a knack for chasing adventures around this tiny island.  Before we knew it we were sitting in his kitchen having coffee and playing with his three children.  We happen to be intruding on their nap time which they didn’t seem to mind.  Adorable, all three of them.  After a bit we went upstairs and had what I would consider the best and most fulfilling conversation I’ve ever had.  My brain was a flurry with new ideas and a certain amount of “reason” for a lot of things.  Those things will certainly find their way into the final film.  To have two strangers show up on your doorstep and to invite them in as family is exactly what we needed.  It’s exactly the reason we hauled ourselves across the Atlantic.  

Geiri and Family

I’ll never forget those moments that changed me.  The moments when my heart has been broken or the pain I felt overwhelmed me.  Something as simple as leaving a job to set out on a new adventure certainly qualifies as change.  Forgetting them would be a disservice to myself and the time spent acquiring each little slice of time.  Memories are of course what allow us to grow and become something better than we were before.  Like I said, perspective is a funny thing.  From down below or far away the problem is too small to understand.  It’s too far out of focus.  But when standing on the edge you either leap or you turn back.

One of these days I won’t be so cold and my body will make rational decisions.  The heart will always preserve itself first.  The extremities can survive far longer than the heart can without blood.  One of these days I’ll stand on the edge of that cliff again and step forward.  If ever there was an analogy it just slapped me square across the face.

-Justin

The Descent...

Normally in a post like this I would make an attempt at writing something poetic.  In this particular case I have no words for what we just accomplished.  Descending 120 meters into the belly of a volcano at first glance seems like something you shouldn't do.  And that's exactly why we did it!  It's the reason for this entire adventure.  When logic and reason get in the way you bypass them and set yourself on a trip that changes your perspective.  Rather than go on and try to evoke some Keats poem I'll just let you watch!  This is just a short snippet of the trip.  Of course the entire trek will find its way into the film.  

Next up... something incredible.   Keep up to date on Twitter and Instagram.  

 



Take-offs and Landings

Take-off and Landings

Today we set sail for Iceland.  Actually we took a plane seeing as how a boat might take a proportionally long time.  Currently at 35,000 feet working away on what day one has in store for us.  Which is likely the inside of a volcano, but I’ll wait to talk about that for a bit.  

A slight case of anxiety has me keeping myself busy while “cool, calm, and collected” Ivan reads his novel.  War and Peace I think it is.

We’ve been in pre-production mode for the last week or so.  Wrangling all of the gear and making sure it’s working properly.  The fun part was trying to see if  it actually fit in the bags which was rather questionable until last night at 2 a.m.  But after some serious effort it turns out that our skills playing Tetris actually have a practical application.  If our math is accurate we are bringing two humans (approx. 165 lbs each), 5 bags (approx. 300 lbs total) for a grand total of a lot!  

Joking aside… This entire process has been one that I can’t quite wrap my head around just yet.  Maybe it’s because my entire knowledge of Iceland is from google searches and Skype calls with strangers thousands of miles away.  It’s been a wonderful and exhilarating process.  However, putting my finger down on a map two years ago to it finally culminating with getting on a plane and setting off for our own version of the “unknown” is admittedly daunting.  

I should explain exactly how this trip took root.  Years ago I wanted to journey somewhere I could create art for the sake of creating it.  I needed to be lost somewhere and forget the daily grind of my world.  It’s a cliche explanation, but I needed time to myself.  So after years of toiling with the idea of leaving my job, I did, and I set out to go to Iceland.  For real this time.  No more pipe dreams or wanderlusting from my desktop screen.  I decide it was time to go, but there was no way to do this alone.  So I asked Ivan to come along and be our cinematographer.  Didn’t take much convincing.  

And there you have it… we are gone! 

From two years ago and a lot of planning later we have set off on what is an escape from what we know.  I can’t speak for Ivan, but I can say this about myself…  We leave with the understanding that nothing will ever be the same for us when we return.  The people we meet and the places we go will be catalogued in our heads forever.  The project is well beyond anything we’ve ever done before, and far North of what we currently know.  

That’s why it’s called North of Everything.

-Justin