The Texas sun has warmed the heart and the pavement and that soft wind a-blowin’ is music to my ears. Or is that actually just a drifting melody from one of the hundreds of Summer 2016 Music Festivals? From Glastonbury to Lollapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival to Telluride, this summer will see a veritable migratory shift as the musically inclined make their way across the world to their festival(s) of choice. If you plan on rocking out this summer, I’d suggest some of the following gear:
Gentleman, may I introduce the Hobo Purse. This is a totally rad bag for the lady that loves to rock out all summer. Trust me, buy your girlfriend/wife this for the summer festival and she’ll forget all about the fact that you just spent $200 to see YOUR favorite band. Relationships are about compromise, and when you point that out make sure to also point out that you didn’t compromise on the leather. This bad boy can hold her keys, her makeup, wallet, and emergency ration of granola.
These guys are hot off of the truck and sporting Scottish canvas that will make you weep tears of adoration. Totes are the perfect festival carry because they aren’t so heavy and they are easy to sling back and forth. Plus, the modern gentleman can carry this one and actually look like MORE of a man. Holds blanket, wallet, Camera, Canteen, couple of real cold beers from the concession stand.
The Indiana Gear Bag is the type of bag that you actually plan a trip around. You were really on the fence about whether to do Utopia Fest, but now you have to because this bag isn’t going to hang out with itself all summer. This one is good for sunscreen, camera, book, flashlight, wallet. Whip and fedora not included.
There’s a reason we named this one the Travel Case. Not only does it hold your normal festival fare (wallets, cameras, book, etc.), but it can actually make for a nice snack box if you have the ability to BYOG (Bring Your Own Grub).
If you’re like me, half of your favorite festivals have included a fairly torrential downpour. The Dry Bag is awesome because it’s designed to keep your gear dry and cool. Also, you can adjust the height, meaning it’s your choice is this one is going to sport a blanket, lunch for you and five friends, or perhaps a pot-bellied pig that loves jamming Father John Misty.
Have fun and be safe this summer. And don’t forget to post pics of your Saddleback and Mountainback gear at your favorite festival.
In the documentary A Story Worth Living, John Eldredge, celebrated author of Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul, posits that, “The human heart is made for an epic story.” And then, he embraces both the capability of man and the mortality of man, by setting out on his own epic, an eight day, 1,000 mile motorcycle trek with his three sons (Sam, Blaine, and Luke) and two friends (Dan Allender and Jon Dale). The journey consists of navigating grueling Colorado mountain passes, coping with wipeouts and cracked ribs, and conquering fears of the spiritual, psychological, and physical variety. All the while, John explores not only his own story, but encourages us all to embrace our role in the story–the big picture, the universal narrative that has gone on and will go on forever. How do we do this? The film seems to argue that we live a grand story by recognizing our suffering and continuing to seek beauty in spite of that suffering.
This film resonates on many levels. First, from an occupational standpoint, my personal understanding of Saddleback Leather is that our mission is to be part of the many stories of our customers’ lives. In doing this, they become part of our story. I joined this company because I believed that Saddleback had the potential to inspire people to live their dreams, and because some proceeds literally change lives in places like Rwanda. I’ve seen pictures of Dave Munson’s bags next to monuments around the world. I can only hope that a message of Christian fellowship and of cultural open-mindedness follows the bags. As a member of Team Saddleback, I embrace John Eldredge’s “epic” philosophy. At every twist and turn on the mountain roads, he encourages his family to push past their doubts and to live a grand life. That’s something that we hope we are doing here at Saddleback. It (life, work, relationships) can be a grind if we dwell on the negative and on the things that inevitably go wrong. Just like John and company, we will face obstacles. Dan takes a pretty nasty fall in the film. He cracks a few ribs, takes a nice poke to the lung. Then, he gets up and rides on for days. This is not because he isn’t in pain, but because life is about embracing the beautiful in spite of the suffering. In fact, it is often out of suffering that we find the most beauty.
On the road, we visit two of the gang’s close friends. We see through their personal stories that sometimes the most beautiful things in life come from revisiting the darkest times in life. First, with Bart Hansen, a plane crash reveals buried emotional wounds. Rather than being haunted by the crash, Bart hangs the plane’s propeller in his workspace as a reminder that there is catharsis in overcoming the fearful. This is the equivalent of fighting a bear to the death and then stuffing him in the corner of the room. Later, we meet a rancher, Jim Winny, who believes God gifted him with a beautiful friendship with horses to see him through his abusive youth. Both men have found serenity despite early suffering in their lives. Both men have done this by pushing themselves to do great things–to build planes and fly high and to tame magnificent beasts.
I also relate to the themes in the film on a personal level. I am a writer by calling and I feel that this is a divine gift. My life revolves around studying narrative patterns. As the narrator, John points out the parallels between his convoy’s adventure and the story of life itself. When John Eldredge and company take to the road, they are actually giving a physical dimension to the journey every man takes from birth to death. The entire trip is a metaphor, and yet it is real. It is the story and yet it is only one part of another story.
Many reviewers of A Story Worth Living will speak of the physical aspects of this adventure. They will give you motorcycle models and tech specs. Others will write of the film’s beautiful cinematography. It’s true this film is shot in some of Colorado’s most captivating countryside. With the use of drones, director Erik Ticen is able to capture aerials like I’ve never seen in a motorcycle documentary. However, I find the true strength of the film lies in the relationships depicted between John and his sons, and with his friends. Erik works wonders in capturing the poignant moments. Sam, Blaine, and Luke have obviously inherited their father’s zest for life and we see that joy breeds joy. And in Dan Allender, we see a man with an enduring spirit who has turned his own dark youth into a beacon of hope for others.
In a film that is chiefly about continuing to find beauty in life, it is important to know that beauty isn’t all aesthetic. Actually, beauty is in giving and receiving love. That these grown men are able to love one another and coach one another is a fine testament to the joy in their lives. That they are able to conquer fear, as John does when returning to the steadfast mountain that claimed the life of his best friend, is a testament to man’s capacity for courage and grace. I now believe, more than ever, that man should always seek out adventure. It is in these staged journeys that we find the microcosmic journey of our entire lives, and of humanity as a whole. Perhaps that is why these experiences are so transformative to our minds and revitalizing to our souls.
The film debuts this Thursday May 19th at 7:30 local time for one night only. Buy tickets here!
Nick Bridwell is a novelist and journalist living with his wife Jessica in North Texas. His debut novel, The Ties That Bind, is available here: http://amzn.com/0990573702. He is a frequent contributor to the Saddleback Employee Blog and Plano Magazine.
by Johnathan Pierce (Systems Administrator, Automation Geek)
Life is an adventure. When looking for some activities that would be adventurous for a birthday celebration we found tours offered of The Portland Underground.
When we arrived at Hobo’s restaurant in Portland we were taken to the back for an introduction and summary of what we were about to experience. The underground tunnels were very dark, musty and had low ceilings. We were told there could be some anomalous activity such as the feeling of someone tugging on your shirt or pant leg, smelling certain scents such as cigar smoke or perfume, or visually seeing haunting figures. They explained they don’t use trip wires or any entertainment value they are just there to present the history of Portland Underground Tunnels.
The tunnels are said to be one of the most haunted places in Portland.
The tour began at the front of the restaurant where there were metal doors that were opened with a staircase leading down. The guide explained he was doing the tour solo that day so one of the tour participants would have to be the brave one and go down first so that he could be the last one down and close the doors behind us. Looking at each other, I wanted to go but my wife wasn’t enthused by the idea.
The tunnels were discovered by a local Portlander and he’s created a nonprofit to help share the stories of Portland’s past.
We were instructed to walk down the hallway to the open room and wait for the tour guide. On the side of the hallway was a curtain that covered some storage space for the restaurant. Once we got to the end of the hallway and the guide arrived he showed us a room that was used for opium drug sellers. There was a bunk bed. It was explained that the bottom bed was the higher priced bed because it was a shorter fall to the ground. There was a hole in the floor covered by a rug. This was the area they used to hide their drugs. Police Officers would come down the tunnel and chase these patrons to the holding cell where they would be held until the next ship came in and sent on a voyage to Shanghai as slaves.
There was a string with cans on it that was used to alert intruders. It is very dark in the tunnels and noise was used to alert because of the absence of light.
Then we went to the holding cells. This is where the captured victims were held until a ship came in and the captain needed a specified number of people to work the ship. Outside of the holding cells were broken glass pieces. When they captured victims they would take their shoes so they couldn’t escape or if they did they’d leave a trail of blood.
After the holding cells we walked through an area that was used to hold female sex slaves. They would capture women and break their spirit and would remain in captivity for life. If the women had babies while in captivity they would raise the babies on the top floor of a nearby hotel until they were old enough to either become slaves or adopted.
The journey continued as we went through another twisted tunnel and entered a large room. This is where we smelled rose scented perfume. My wife smelled it asked me if I could smell it I said yes. Then the smell went away and returned just a few minutes later.
Then we proceeded and the next area there was an Indian statue. The story behind this statue was fascinating. It was a statue outside of a cigar store. One of the slave traders sold this to a ship captain for a high price. The victims were often unconscious or drugged so they wouldn’t rise until they were out at sea. The captains assumed there would be some casualties but that outnumbered the risk of aggression or escapees. Once out at sea the captain realized he had been sold a statue. He threw it overboard and eventually the statue washed back up to shore and has found its home in the Portland Underground Tunnels.
We were shown trap doors that were used in bars to capture patrons in an underground tunnel. The captured people were held until a ship came in and they were then sent on the ship for 2-3 years. When the voyage(s) were completed they were dropped wherever they were with no resources, many didn’t make it.
I can never look at Portland sidewalks the same. Now we walk by openings covered by metal doors all over the city and wonder what’s underneath.
Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to hit the parks, beaches, and music festivals. Wherever you’re headed, it’s probably a good idea to gather up your Saddleback gear. Here are 5 pieces that are picture perfect for your Spring 2016:
This bad boy is custom designed for the wayfaring soul. Not only do you get the awesome convenience of a comfortable backpack, but you get three exterior pockets that are perfect for compartmentalizing your travels. Headed on a camping trip this spring? You’ll love having the ability to store essentials–clothes, hygiene products, a first aid kit, a reserve of your favorite spirit–all safely and separately in the Front Pocket Backpack’s main pack and pockets. Personally, I think this is great for day-trips into town, too. I can store my chargers, laptop, sketchpad, books, pens, and whatever else I decide to pick up once I get where I’m going.
Holy Moleskine, this thing is smooth. Our world runs on words and if you’re anything like me, your words are your life. If you use Moleskine notebooks, this Moleskine Cover is the one for you. Not only does it protect your musings, but it’s a quality piece of leather for your quality thoughts. Anyway, if I’m out and about in the spring, I like to throw my books in these covers so that a.) I have something a little heartier to write on and b.) I don’t leave the books lying around because, I mean hey, who is going to forget about this cover?
Taking that pup of yours for a nice walk in the park? Look, I’m not going to pussyfoot around here with you. You’re basically your dog’s wingman. He’s looking to meet the ladies and the competition is getting groomed and shampooed and all sorts of fancy stuff. Your alternative? The Saddleback Leather Dog Leash. Let your dog let his lady know that he has a rugged and refined taste. Oh, and if your dog IS a lady, the leash works just as well. She’ll want to look dapper for her walk about town. Just because your dog is a dog doesn’t mean he/she has to dress like some sort of animal.
Hey, the flowers are blooming, the songbirds are chirping, and the whole family is ready to barbeque. That means it’s picture time! For those of you fine folks who opt for the full-fledged camera instead of the cell phone, this bag is perfect. There’s enough room for camera and lens, plus extras. If you’re not a camera person, this makes a great lunchbox! Nom, nom, nom. Leather so nice people can eat out of it!
Some of those spring days are just straight up rainy. For those, you might want to sit back and play a classic game of wit and strategy. This game requires no screens, no batteries, no wires, and does not receive Facebook messages, Tweets, or Snapchats, BUT it’s perfect if you need to tuck under a gazebo to wait out an hour-long spring shower. It’s the simple things in life that sometimes bring us the most satisfaction. This leather chess set is one of those things.
Let us know what Saddleback Gear you love this Spring ‘16 by posting pics to our Twitter account @Saddlebackbags.
Nick is a writer and journalist, whose debut novel, The Ties That Bind, came out in 2014 and is available in paperback and as an eBook here: http://amzn.com/0990573702 .
Life is full of lessons. Some are sweet, and others are hard and raw, but when you see someone make choices to love someone sacrificially, it communicates volumes about that person. I have seen it in parents who feed and dress their 23 year old son day-in, day-out, after his car was broadsided and he suffered extreme brain damage. I have seen it in a faithful young husband who cares for his chronically ill bride. I have seen the loss of parents when they lose a child. Loss wears a lot of different faces.
When the right person hears a story, they want that story to impact others the way it impacted them. That’s where Joe comes in. Whatever story he sees, he tells in his own way. I have had people ask why Saddleback has a filmmaker-in-residence and why a leather company feels the need to tell stories. The truth is, stories shape us and cause us to evaluate what we hold as important. By telling stories, we are sharing a bit of what we value, and letting that shape our thinking.. Telling a story is something unique to humans and letting those stories move us and reevaluate what we hold dear is a significant part of their value.
Joe met Kwasa Liste and told his story in a film called Life After Death. Kwasa was on his mother’s back when she was killed in Rwanda’s genocide and his life has been a journey of figuring out his own response to that horror. It impacts the man he has become, all these years later. It’s a hard story, but there is beauty in it, too.
Later Joe tells the story of Grace and Patricia, who daily navigate life with Type 1 diabetes in Midnight,Three and Six. Patricia is Dave’s sister and Grace is his niece. It’s a story we know well here, but one thousands of people have to live with daily as diabetics. It’s an important story about a mother’s ferocious love.
Most recently, Joe got to know his fiancé’s grandparents. After being married for 63 years the husband faithfully goes to see his wife at an Alzheimer’s care facility and comb her hair. Because sometimes following through on a commitment of “til death do us part” looks like this, and it’s beautiful.
“My goal in making this film was to capture this simple act of love at the end of life, “ Joe said. “I believe one of the most basic acts of love is just to keep showing up, always and unconditionally. Sometimes the best you can do is to let somebody know they are loved, not alone, and not forgotten.” Check out Late December as featured by The New York Times.
Stories help us look at the world through someone else’s eyes. I think that’s part of why we love a good story– it moves us and stirs us in our core. Looking at all that is broken in the world today, maybe that’s something we could use a bit more of.
Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law. My kid brother will soon be having his second son. That’s TWO for him and ZERO for me. This got me thinking: What would a real Saddleback Leather aficionado want to name his/her baby? Here are 3 boy names and 3 girl names inspired by the people that inspire Saddleback Leather: Also, feel free to use them to name your SBL gear, too.
Barnes – My favorite Ernest Hemingway protagonist is Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises. The character, like the author, is an adventurer and a fellow who has been to war (Spoiler: he makes a very noble sacrifice). A smooth sip of the book takes place in Spain and has to do with bullfighting and drinking wine and walking down the street to where two men are standing, as men who are friends often stand, so that each holds in account the other as a third man takes in the vista of the mountains and the cattle at the foothill grazing on grass the color of absinthe. That’s my best Hemingway impression there.
Redford – Robert Redford is an American icon. He is constantly classy, he carries himself like a champion, and I’ve never seen him in a role he didn’t take seriously. When he took a role in the last Captain America movie, I kept thinking, “Robert Redford is Captain America.” Check out his role in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, his work in the Sundance Film Festival, and anything else you can find on the internet and you’ll see why he’s a celeb I admire.
Teddy – Teddy Roosevelt was a man’s man. He actually rounded up his friends to go fight a war (real hobbyist that one), delivered a speech after he was shot, and still managed to make huge contributions to the field of conservation in between his other extracurricular activities (Oh, just becoming the President of the USA and presumably wrestling lions for fun every morning before breakfast).
Amelia – Amelia Earhart was a pioneer of aviation and a real icon for women of the early 20th century. Her accomplishments and her disappearance have left an eternal impression on the American psyche.
Ada – Ada Lovelace was Lord Byron’s daughter. Not content to be the unappreciated daughter of the world’s favorite dead poet, she focused on her own interests, chiefly mathematics. Ada was able to pioneer one of the earliest models for a modern computer…Over 100 years before Steve Jobs was born.
Robyn – Robyn Davidson was the lady who made a solo trek across Australia. See the movie Tracks for more on her. Her tenacity and free spirit should inspire all younglings to carry on despite obstacles and to stay steadfast in their convictions.
When my wife and I get around to having some little ones of our own, I know I’ll be doing a lot of soul searching. There’s a lot in a name. I might gift my son with the strength of Clark Kent, the poetic genius of Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas, the soulful conviction of Atticus Finch. I might bestow upon my daughter the pedigree of Eleanor of Aquitaine, or the class and allure of Audrey Hepburn. There are plenty of options, but we are given one name by our parents and it should probably be a good one.