While on active duty, 22-year Navy veteran Jeff had the opportunity to travel the world. Now back at home, he continues to check off his bucket list, working 9-day stretches to earn 3-day weekends. Whether traveling by foot, motorcycle or off-road Jeep, he turns to Mother Nature to experience the present:
When I’m out there with everything I need to survive for the trip on my back or in my camp, there is no past or future, just the moment I’m in.
Jeff started backpacking in 2015, which has taken him to some amazing places, including Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Patagonia, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and more. He has now joined us on two Shoestring Adventures in Big Sur and Havasupai. Once he fully retires, he plans to buy an RV and follow the sun.
Jeff inspires us to waste no time and live life to the fullest. Learn more in our interview below!
Shoestring Warrior: Jeff
Camp Meeker, CA and Stockton, CA
Engineering Technician for Gun Systems on Naval ships
What are your passions outside of work?
Motorcycle riding, muscle cars, off-roading, swimming, scuba diving, camping, hiking, fishing, kayaking, travel, road trips, reading, collecting gig posters, live music, cooking, food, beer, wine, coffee and cultivating my beard.
How would you describe your level of camping experience?
Shoestring Adventures Trips Completed:
Big Sur and Havasupai
Tell us about your yourself:
I am a 22-year Navy veteran who traveled the world while on active duty and am now exploring the states and areas of the world I didn’t get to see while on active duty. I have two adult children, four grandkids and four sisters. My undergrad was at the University of Southern Maine and I went to graduate school at the University of Redlands.
I have always been a fan of outdoor activities — my dad was a teacher with the usual vacations, and we’d spend it camping in Northern California with extended family.
My current job finances outdoor adventures and travel. I work nine days/80 hours, so every other weekend is three days. I have a National Park All Access and California State Park Distinguished Vet Pass which helps keep the costs down. I started backpacking in 2015 and have been to some amazing places, including Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Patagonia, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and many others. Once I fully retire, I’m buying an RV and following the sun.
You have quite a few adventures under your belt. What do you love most about the outdoors?
For me, it’s the immediacy of the present. When I’m out there with everything I need to survive for the trip on my back or in my camp, there is no past or future, just the moment I’m in. If I pay attention, Mother Nature will show me something wondrous, some beauty, a sunrise or sunset, a billion stars in a black sky, all kinds of critters, geologic or water formations formed over billions of years. For me, the outdoors is easier to prepare for than personal relationships and a lot less disappointing. In the words of Henry David Thoreau:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
What advice do you have for other weekend warriors who want to learn how to camp or backpack?
I would advise to join a Meetup group that hosts these types of trips, such as Shoestring Advenutures. Take the Sierra Club Wilderness Travel Course. Read a book — for backpacking, I read Allen and Mike’s Really Cool Backpackin’ Book by Allen O’Bannon. It’s packed full of helpful info with a humorous twist. Get fitted for your gear, and if you go solo, get an emergency beacon!
What’s your favorite outdoor destination (e.g. off-road trail, peak, park or campsite) in California?
Somewhere on the Central (Big Basin Redwoods) or Northern (Humboldt Redwoods) Coast
What is your favorite piece of gear on the trail?
My Jetboil, without it the food and coffee would be cold.
Now that you have been on two Shoestring Adventures, Havasupai and Big Sur, can you tell us your favorite memory from one of those trips?
The gorgeous turquoise water and falls of Havasupai.
Where to next?
Utah, Canyonlands, Moab, Zion next spring. I will be exploring the desert between now and then.
The perfect s’more:
I am not much of a sweet fanatic, but if I had to choose, I’d prefer a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup instead of straight chocolate. Those banana boats that Heather introduced at Big Sur were a delicious alternative!
Follow more of Jeff’s adventures on Instagram!