Joshua Tree National Park, CA

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jackie Fleming


Dirtbag Profiles: Jackie and Kofi

The Cutest Pair on the Outdoor Education Circuit

  • Type of rig: A periwinkle Honda Fit.
  • The name of her car: Kofi, after Kofi Annan, the former Secretary General of the United Nations. The name symbolizes peacekeeping, nonviolent activism, social and political progress, and environmental justice. But don’t be mistaken; Jackie’s periwinkle Kofi is a female.
  • Number of years living out of her car: Since the spring of 2008.
  • Her favorite thing about her car: The back, with the seat folded down. “It’s like a studio apartment,” Jackie says. “It’s my bedroom, kitchen, studio. I can be in the most remote area, freezing cold and lonely, and all I have to do is crawl back there. I can hangout, play the guitar, write in my journal, curl up and be cozy.”
  • Occupations: Raft Guide, Outdoor Educator for the Boojum Institute, Instructor for Wilderness Ventures and Outward Bound, Ski Instructor for Mammoth Mountain
  • In her words, what defines a dirtbag: “A free-spirited person, with the ability to go where the wind takes them, and to be self-contained. A car isn’t required, but it helps.”
  • Why she has chosen this lifestyle: “…the discovery of new places, building friendships, the affirmation of independence, discovering what I’m capable of….”
  •  A saying she lives by: She who is brave is free.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dirtbag Recipes: Introduction to Dirtbag Cooking

Just admit it. You pride yourself on your frugal, dirtbag lifestyle, but you’re still a picky eater. Yes, you eat out of dumpsters, worship road kill (the food left over from the courses you work or the clients you guide), and you will do nearly anything for a free cup of coffee. But when you can—when your bank account is feeling flush after a few weeks of work, when you’re crashing at your parents house (living for a few days off the mother tit, as my friends and I call it), or simply feeling nutrient-starved after a three-week course in the mountains—you gravitate toward higher-quality food products. A jar of almond butter here, a bag of the finest fair-trade coffee there, and all the avocados and organic greens you can muster.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Eurovan: A Love Story (Part II)

DOMESTIC ISSUES. F*** the Sliding Door!

When I open the sliding door the metal cup holding my toothbrush and toothpaste crashes to the pavement. I cuss under my breath, bending over to pick it up. Almost every time I open the sliding door something (usually my toothbrush) falls out of the nook behind the passenger’s seat. Almost every time, I mumble an expletive. With toothbrush and toothpaste in hand, I glance around the dark street. Sleeping in the van crosses my mind, but the late-night traffic of Tacoma convinces me not too. Plus, Julie told me her couch is really comfortable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Dirtbag Beauty Secret: Laundry Day

Back when I lived in an apartment, my roommate and I took great pleasure in stringing our wet laundry up in our small kitchen and living room. Socks and underwear hung on the racks of the dishwasher we never used. Sweatshirts draped over the backs of chairs, and everything else hung from a maze of p-cord tied to one door hinge, clipped to a #4 Black Diamond Camelot stuck between the refrigerator and the wall, then tied again to our bookshelf.

Lake Superior to James Bay By Canoe

A Woman’s Musings on Voyageur Culture, Gangster Rap and 400 Years of Male Shenanigans
Naked and squealing, my three male companions and I emerge from the cold water of Lake Superior, inaugurating our 450-mile-long journey to the arctic waters of James Bay. A brisk, early-autumn breeze empurples our extremities as we slide our two heavy-laden canoes into the water and begin our paddle northeast into the Michipicoten River, the first leg of our expedition. Fishing boats speckle the immediate swathe of silver-blue water behind us. Past the fishing rigs, the lake stretches on uninterrupted, the shore of my home state, Michigan, lying beyond the horizon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Dirtbag Beauty Secret: Gold Bond Foot Powder

Benefits of Gold Bond Foot Powder (or, what Gold Bond does for me):
  • Dry, slime-free feet—every day!
  • Fewer complaints from my climbing partners when I take my shoes off on small belay ledges.
  • An enormous decrease of fowl scents in the Eurovan.
  • After several days—or weeks—without a shower, a little splash of Gold Bond under the arms or down the pants goes a long way. (And if your skin is too sensitive for the medicated foot-specific powder, Gold Bond Body Powder in the yellow bottle is a great alternative.)
Crawling out of our tent last summer, my co-instructor shook his head at the pristine alpine cirque surrounding us, and exclaimed that his world had been consumed by two scents: coffee and the smell of my feet. My secret coffee stash exploded in my backpack recently; my foot odor was a three-year-old life-problem. Our six Outward Bound students giggled from inside their tents, and to the amusement of my co-instructor, I quickly sniffed my crusty wool socks before stuffing my feet inside. All you need is Gold Bond, I heard the voice of one of my climbing partners inside my head.

Follow Your Horoscope: You’ll Find the Perfect Line

Ed, one of my ski partners, sits on a stool next to the potbelly stove, crinkling up pages from the Idaho Mountain Express to start a fire. With each page he pauses: skimming the headlines before slowly forming the paper into a ball and placing it in the stove. When he reaches the horoscope section he clears his throat to get our attention.

“Chase,” he says, “you won’t learn anything if you do it right the first time.” I’m sitting across the yurt from Ed, a mug of tea nestled in my hands. I take a sip, lower my eyelids, and peer at him through the steam rising out of the mug—exaggerating, to his amusement, that I’m thinking deeply about the advice.

“Brian,” Ed continues, beginning to giggle. “Don’t argue with your adversary even if he, or she,” he accentuates the she and shoots a sideways glance at me, “is wrong.”

“Very interesting,” I say, refocusing my glare on Brian, who is lounging on the bench next to me, with his feet resting on a chair and his fingers intertwined on his belly: a confident half-smile on his face. We learned at the beginning of the ski season that our styles occasionally don’t jive: we are both stubborn, competitive, and hate being wrong. He is a more aggressive skier; I am a far superior arguer.

The Eurovan: A Love Story (Part I)

A gust of wind catches the hem of my pink sundress, blowing it high enough to reveal my underwear to the empty street. With a payphone cradled in the crook of my neck I glance up, eyes swollen from holding back tears, at storm clouds growing in the sky. When I woke up this morning it was spring in California: sunshine, blue sky, and the smell of sagebrush. Now a massive, Eastern Sierra snowstorm is moments away from unleashing. For warmth, I have a pair of brown yoga pants and a powder blue sweatshirt in my backpack.

“Hey Dad,” I whimper into the phone. “For some reason they couldn’t finish the windows in the van today. It’s still at the shop. They took the cardboard out, so now I really can’t drive it.”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dirtbag Beauty Secret: Almond Oil for the Mountains

Benefits of Almond Oil (or, what almond oil does for me):
  • Prevents dry, wind-and-sun chapped skin
  • Reduces red, blotchy skin tone
  • My mom says it will prevent aging
  • It's delicious to cook with too!