Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

One-bright

 

by Nick Bridwell

 

One of my favorite things about my dad is his ability to tell a good story. Take this gem bestowed upon me by Rickey: “When I was a kid, maybe in middle school, we kept having these punk kids drive down the street and run over our mailbox. Well, one day, Papa decides to set up a cedar post, but fill it with cement and anchor it down about four feet in the ground. The next time they tried to run it over, they wrapped the front of their car around the mailbox.” Talk about Dad Justice passed down through the ages. Anyway, here are five of my favorite Father & Son Stories Ever:

 
 

1. Big Fish

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Big Fish by Daniel Wallace is about William Bloom, who has only ever connected to his father through the old man’s outlandish stories. As his father Edward dies in bed, it’s William’s turn to tell the stories. The book was adapted into a film by Tim Burton starring Albery Finney and Ewan McGregor. Watch it. Read it. Live it every day with your dad and your kids. Certain truths are hidden even in the biggest fish stories.

 

2. Road to Perdition

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Road to Perdition might not initially reinforce the “turn the other cheek” perspective, but the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, and the film adaptation directed by Sam Mendes and starring Tom Hanks, both show a dynamic relationship that evolves as father teaches son and the two grow to trust one another. The story also emphasises that not all fathers are perfect, but the best dads always do their best.

 

 

3. The Star Wars Saga

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Star Wars is all about fathers and sons. There are the actual father/son combos (Darth Vader and Luke), surrogate father/sons (Qui-Gon to Obi-Wan; Obi-Wan to Anakin), and the wise mentorship of Yoda to…everyone. Just like our universe, the actions of the fathers in Star Wars often shape the lives of generations to come. Not only does Star Wars impart the importance of a strong father figure, but it embraces the fact that not all great fathers need be biological.

 

 

4. Batman and Robin

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Bruce Wayne/Batman welcomed the first Robin, Dick Grayson, about a year after Batman himself debuted in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939. Since then, Dick grew up into Nightwing, a solo hero, and Bruce has played father figure to two other young men (Jason Todd, Tim Drake) who wore the Robin costume, and one biological son, Damian Wayne, who has recently taken over the role. As much as the Batman saga is about fighting bad guys like the Joker and Two-Face, it’s also about fathers and sons and how to handle life’s challenges, how to communicate, lead, and follow. Bruce Wayne, having lost his own father, has spent the last 75 years shaping fine sons.

 

 

5. Dave and the Chipmunks

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There may never be a more poignant metaphor for the father/son relationship than that of Dave Seville and his three Chipmunk sons. Dave is patient, caring, and often driven mad by the antics of Alvin. We see in Dave the sophistication mirrored in Simon, the quirkiness mirrored in Theodore, and the creativity of Alvin. Dave is an inspiration, because no matter how insane those little buggers make him, he never gives up on them and he always has a kindness in his heart. ALLLLLVIIIIIINNNNNN!

 

Maybe for Father’s Day this year, I’ll mail our own Dave Munson a copy of Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.

 

Those are some of my favorite father and son stories. What are yours?

 

 

If you like this list, check out Nick’s novel, The Ties That Bind, available here in paperback or ebook format. Nick’s book is very much about how fathers impact the lives of their sons, and how sons react to their fathers’ choices.

 

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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

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by Caroline Bengali (Customer Service)

My husband Richard and I are in Bermuda for a much needed vacation.

Our first stop after the tropical drinks bar is the beach.  Sipping on my pineapple-mango nectar,  I walk towards the turquoise water and stake out our spot. Umbrella and beach chairs? Check.  Richard, comes back shortly with an arm full of snorkel gear. A lounging iguana bats his eyelids in approval.

There is something so magical about being under water.  It’s so quiet and the pressure makes it feel like a giant sea hug welcoming you.

We swim out a little.  We point and gurgle at each other when we see an octopus tucked under a rock. I am lost in the beauty of the coral and the fans, all of us swaying with the mild current.

Richard is hard core explorer.  I am happy being in my shallow water heaven. He starts swimming away. I tell myself to not be a baby and to follow my man into the unknown…ugh.

We swim for an eternity, (really like 20 feet out). I stay close behind his fins and the deeper we go the more I look maniacally around  to make sure nothing horrible is near us.  He swims, farther and farther, the bottom is so far away now.  I want my tropical drink, I want to talk to my iguana friend, I want to go back!.  Seriously we’re probably less than 50 yards out. But I may as well be in the middle of the Caribbean.

Suddenly, Richard hovers vertically in the water and points.  Alarms of doom ring in my head! Panic creeping in. I’m panting. I raise my eyebrows and decide it’s time to exit stage beach.

The swim back takes less than 1 second, arms flailing wildly, legs furiously kicking.  I crawl onto the sand and lie there, grateful to be alive, sand in my hair and all.

Minutes later, Richard saunters out of the water, pulling off his mask, shaking his head and grinning.  “Are you ok?” he asks. “Why did you run away?” Through sandy teeth I answer, “You stopped on a dime, hovering and pointing!” “That is the sign for giant shark up ahead!” I loudly explain.  Rolling his eyes he says, “I was trying to show you a small angel fish that was floating near us.”  I loudly exhale and lie back down on the sand. “C’mon” he says holding my hands. We walk. “I still can’t believe you thought there was a shark out there!” “Hahahahaha, you looked so funny air swimming like a deranged seagull, hahahahaha.”

This afternoon we went shopping, mostly for me to forget the shark attack incident.  From across the store I show him a gorgeous sarong and shake my head ‘yes’.  He shakes his head ‘yes’.  At the cash register he suddenly gets a wild look in his eyes. His breathing becomes shallow, beads of sweat are forming on his forehead.  “How much?” He asks, giving me a confused look. “You said yes.” I said, “With your head.”  “I thought you were saying you liked it not asking if we could buy it!”  “Hahahahahahahaha.” I say loudly as we walk out of the store, sarong in tow.  “So funny you thought I was just showing this to you, hahahahahaha.”You looked so funny standing there with your face of horror, hahahahaha.”

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Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

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Best Overall/Funniest: Dustin Kopf made us laugh out loud with this SUPER realistic edit of him fighting a grizzly bear. He’s our overall winner and gets a $500 gift certificate.

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Best Pet: Luis Estrada is the winner of our best pet shot! His poodle showed amazing restraint and didn’t chew up any of the leather :)

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Runner Up: Rebecca Turner with her Simple Tote – stunning!

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Runner Up: Berik Undes’ Classic Briefcase and Pouch in Estes Park, Colorado.

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Runner Up: Douglas Hunter’s Satchel with blanket and Kleen Kanteen attached using an Infinity Wrap Bracelet and Convertible Bracelet. Nicely done!

Congratulations to our winners! And for the rest of you…don’t worry! Our photo contest is ongoing. You can read the rules here. You can email in your submission to ihaveaquestion@saddlebackleather.com or use our Contact Us form here. Either way be sure to put “Photo Contest” in the subject line.

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Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

In this twenty-ninth episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

I pull a really good one from the vaults about my bespoke tire sandals and Sela helps with our new table and chairs at the tents.

 

 

 

 

Come see the rest of the Not Dead Yet Series

Subscribe to the Not Dead Yet Show newsletter right now or else be prepared to face the consequences of missing the greatest show ever produced about the Munsons living in tents.
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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

One-bright

 

by Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

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:

1. Saddleback Hobo Purse

 

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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.

2. Mountainback Canvas Tote

 

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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.

3. Mountainback Indiana Gear Bag

 

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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.

4. Saddleback Leather Travel Case

 

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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).

5. Saddleback Leather Dry Bag

 

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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.

 

Peace, Love, Rock & Roll,
Nick Bridwell

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Posted by & filed under NDYS.

In this twenty-seventh episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

I show you how to eat tacos and get the kids shaved ice in Mexico. Back at the tents we have yet another dead mouse.

 


 

Come see the rest of the Not Dead Yet Series

Subscribe to the Not Dead Yet Show newsletter right now or else be prepared to face the consequences of missing the greatest show ever produced about the Munsons living in tents.
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Posted by & filed under Traveling, The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

By Nick Bridwell (Customer Service)

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Posted by & filed under NDYS.

In this twenty-sixth episode of the Not Dead Yet Show:

Suzette gets me the coolest grill in Mexico and then I have to take care of a dead mouse at the tents.

 

Come see the rest of the Not Dead Yet Series

Subscribe to the Not Dead Yet Show newsletter right now or else be prepared to face the consequences of missing the greatest show ever produced about the Munsons living in tents.
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Posted by & filed under The Voice of Saddleback Employees.

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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.

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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.

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