This episode takes you from a five-year-old little kid crapping in his pants on a canoe trip with his parents to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with my wife over 30 years later and all the camping trips in between it’s mostly laughing, a little bit of cringing, and a Whole Lot of fun, enjoy.
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It’s hard to speak your mind these days. voicing your opinion is tough at a climate where you’re either seen as an ultra conservative or a bleeding heart liberal. But what about our perspective? What about the Gen X perspective? Hi, I’m Tony a latchkey kid from the 80s and 90s. Now I’m in my 40s wearing cargo shorts, collecting Star Wars figures and reminiscing about the days before my first cell phone. The Gen X perspective is for us caught somewhere in between boomers and Millennials are we see things a bit differently? I’m tired of staying silent. It’s time to rant, discuss, unload and debate. Join Tony and his guests as they tackle the topics of Pop Culture, Sports, religion, and yes, even politics. If life’s a Rubik’s Cube, we’ve got the experience to tackle it. Welcome to the Gen X perspective with Tony Randazzo. Hey, how’s everybody doing? Welcome, welcome. Welcome to another episode of the Gen X perspective with your host, myself Tony Randazzo. Thanks for visiting. So I got a lot of feedback on my last episode crashing cars, which was kind of atrip down memory lane, memory lane on well, always getting caught crashing my dad’s cars, mostly my dad’s cars. Anda lot of people, even friends of my dad’s called me and we’re just cracking up listening to it. And remember when I was a punk teenager, getting into all sorts of troublecrashing cars, so to speak. So this week, I wanted totalk about camping and my relationship with the outdoors and the importance of that growing up and how that led toabout a 14 year stint in career and working in the woods and outdoors and what that was all about and, and kind of where we are today. If you are enjoying the podcast, you know please hit that follow or subscribe button wherever you get your podcasts andand, and I’m also on Instagram and Facebook and all that good stuff. And we’d love to have you following me on Facebook as well where you can leave comments and ask questions and all that fun good stuff. I’d love to hear from you andget some more content going there on the on the interweb on Facebook would be great. So let’s get down to it. Let’stalk about camping and my fond memories and some pretty crazy memories as well. We’re gonna go all the way back to probably one of my earliest childhood memories was actually camping. This was back when I was it was before I was six years old. I’m not sure my exact age, but it was camping in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York was with my father and my mother. And it was a canoe trip. and obviously and just to remember I was littleand and so of course it’s not clear memories of the entire camping trip. But I’ll give you the crazy slash horrible highlights that nobody at five years old should be remembering necessarily but hey,thinking back on it now it wasit was pretty wild. SoI rememberthe things I remember specifically about this camping trip so this was a canoe trip. And it was in all theserivers and streams and I don’t remember any lakes but they were I just remember the trees being overgrown kind of over the waterways and and being in this really dense forest. And the crazy thing about it was thathey, I was super super young andand kind of my my highlights on the trip. were one of my first memories was sitting in the canoe I was kind of in the middle with all the stuff and kind of going up the river down the river or whatever.And I remember my dadbehind me and my mom in front, in this canoe.That was this new fancy canoe at the time. And it was made out of Kevlar. And it was this brown color. And in the end, the reason I remember the canoe so well, is because it’s hanging in the shop at the winery.And it’s been repaired a million times, and it’s been hanging up there. Oh, for 10 years or so when we got it out of the way. Finally, my dad’s been carding this canoe around for, like 42 years. And it seemed better days, but it’s still there. It’s this Kevlar, fiberglass, super fancy at the time canoe that was really lightweight. And I, you know, none of that mattered when I was a little kid, I just remember sitting in the middle of it and going up and down these rivers. And then I remember having to walk a really long way, which probably wasn’t very long. But being little, it seemed like it was a million miles it was this, we’d have to get the canoe out. And they’d have to go overland to get to the next stream or river or whatever.And take the canoe out in the my parentswould carry all the stuff. Well, I couldn’t carry anything because I was little. And frankly, my mom may have been carrying me I don’t really remember other thanat one point, I was they went like halfway, set all this stuff down and set me on top of the stuff and said don’t move now. And remember, this was back in the 70s when people left their kids alone all the time. So I’m in the woods on the side of a trail, sitting on top of backpacks and sleeping bags and whatever alone while my parents walked back in to get the canoe, soit seemed like an hour, 10 hours, who knows it was probably only 1015 minutes, but it seemed like a million years at the time. And being that small.I was afraid to go to the bathroom. So I was holding it and ended up crapping my pants, being this little five, six year old kid and then being embarrassed and not wanting to say anything. So it’s the middle of the summer in the Adirondacks. It’s probably 95% humidity. There’s freakin bugs everywhere. I crapped myself.And I’m sitting by myself, so I smell horrible.I’m sure that the bugs were loving it. And my parents were gone. Sothe next kind of flash or memory I have in this whole thing was being in in a tent.And so we had obviously traveled and I you know, kind of vague memories, maybe their assumptions, whatever about being in a canoe. But we were at this campsite. And there were otherfriends, family members. I don’t remember exactly, but there were other people around. And I remember sitting in the tent, and I remember my mom specifically saying or complaining about the mosquitoes and I remember the mosquitoes because well, my mother had to help clean me up and get me squared away after they discovered that I had a load my drawers and and I just remember that the heat was just ridiculous. And being a little kid, you know, whatever. It was just this craziness now. However that vacation backpacking canoe trip went, I have no idea. I don’t remember anything else from it. Other thanit was lots of mosquitoes. I crapped myself and there was a canoe that’s still in my life today that is hanging in the rafters at work. So fast forward to California and living out west. My dad,alwaysthe wilderness and being in the woods was always an important part of his life. He was an avid hunter at the time and started hunting when he was very young, and used to go with all of his uncles, and cousins and has these crazy stories about going to this hunting camp in wellsville, New York, and so much so that they had bought a little piece of property there so that they could go there and camp and hunt. And it was it was a trailer on this plot of land in the woods. AndI don’t remember going there myself as a little kid. But that’s about the same time as the canoe trip. My parents own that and they owned it four years later, even when they livedout west. They kept they kept it for a while. And I do remember spending a couple nights there once with my aunt Marlene.We drove up thereWe’re in the middle of the nightin a rainstorm, and her crazy Volkswagen bug in this car was so beat up and old thatevery time we drove over a puddle, you could feel the water splash on your feet, through the rusted out floorboards in this Volkswagen bug in the middle of the night, we got up to the camp. And we spent the night or two or three there. I don’t really remember that either. But even my aunt at the time, my family was really into going up to this camp and camping and being in the woods.And years later, my dad, I believe, had sold hispiece of the camp or sold the camp to my Uncle Steve, who owned it for years after that, and then at some point, sold it and moved on. getting back to camping in California, as we all know, Adirondacks, or maybe we don’t, but so the Adirondack Mountains is this kind of really dense forest. It’s not super high peaks, like the West Coast. But it’s a different kind of mountain range, just as beautiful, just as stunning, but very different.So growing up in California, so fast forward, over six years old. So between seven and 12. We went on multiple camping trips all overthe South, the west southwest, so up in the Sierras andout in the desert and went to some really cool places. And frankly, I can’t remember the name of them other than my dad, it was always important to take me camping, and maybe that was just because of his generation. And he worked all the time. And that was the only time that it really he spent with me.Aside from on the weekends after my parents divorced when he was kind of stuck with me at first, I don’t know if he knew what to do with me necessarily, but we would go camping in the early years. Sothe next kind of camping trip that I have a really vivid memory of I must have been 10/11 years old. And we were withCliff , and he one of his daughters, probably Aaron, I believe. And the only thing I remember about that camping trip where we were in one of those van conversions, and I remember sitting up kind of behind them. This was of course before we had to wear seatbelts all the time. laying up kind of behind the couch in the back of this you know, Chester the molester van,you know, had shag carpeting blue shag carpeting in it, this gray van. And I remember eating m&ms and getting wicked sick. So second trip that I remember camping and getting violently ill essentially from eating way too much chocolate. I think they were feeding me m&ms to keep me occupied because I was a little punk little kid. Who knows.That’s all I remember from that particular camping trip. So we’re not, I’m not doing well here. I should be not wanting to have anything to do with the woods at this point. Another camping trip I remember vividly was we were with my dad and at the time, it was a gentleman that he worked with and his two sons, they were a couple years older than I was and they sent me and we were in a campground so lots of people camping there. There’s a big river with this waterfall that I remember really clearly andI remember having a good time and there’s you know, I’ve seen pictures of it so I you know, do I remember it or I just remember the pictures I have no idea but what I do remember very vividly about that particular trip they sent me to go get water and again campground so you know you walk down the road from your campsite and you turn the spigot on and you have water we’re in a campground I get water in my littleyou know cooking pot and I start walking back and I get lost I mean lost for real lost like my my dad was looking for me his friend the kid other kids were looking for me Yellin by the river thinking I fell in the river. And basically what I ended up doing, which was what all kids should do is I sat down and started crying. And this very nice woman who, as far as I know, was camping by herself came up to me and asked me my name and why I was crying and she stayed with me and then I just kind of remember being back with my dad at that point. So I’m painting a picture here that’s I should live in New York City or LA and never leave the concrete jungle at this point. ByI’m a glutton for punishment. So, camping continued.And kind of as the years went on, it kind of decreased as my father’s interests changed. So he really got into fishing, saltwater fishing. And we started spending a lot of time on the boat. So we’ll call it RV on a boat, we would spend the night we would go fishing out by Catalina Island and out off the coast of Southern California. And I did that for a number of years. And that kind of supplemented the camping spending time with dad thing. And so I always kind of had camping in my blood. Just never good experiences. I knew how to do it. I had done it multiple times. But I always had some disasters. So fast forwarding a few years to my teens In New York, summertime,got a couple of friends. I’m old enough now 16 ish, where I’m kind of allowed to go off on my own and we go camping. There’s four of us. We went camping in the Adirondacks. Now we didn’t have probably the right gear, we had sleeping bags, we had a tent, we had some canned food, whatever. We’re just going up for the night to probablyunofficially drink beer and hang out. So we ended up going up this trail by the time we got there, it was pitch black, we set up our tent, went to sleep it rained like a freakin bastard all night. woke up the next morning soaking wetand decided that was dumb. We might have cooked breakfast, I don’t remember. We were all soaking wet, drowned rats got back in the car went back to town. And that was the end of that camping trip. and then we’ll fast forward a few years.when I was 18 got shipped off to a wilderness therapy program. As a student, I was a troubled kid had gotten in a lot of trouble. My dad well, being a camping guy and figuring Well, the best thing I can do for my son is send him to the woods. So 90 days later, after hiking in the woods of Montana in the middle of winter,against my will sort of so I was 18 I could have left at any time but leaving meantleaving the middle of nowhere. So I didn’t really have a choice. So again, not the best experience camping from that perspective. But what the shift in that trip was a it was 90 days living in the woods. We lived in snow shelters. We lived in tents at one point. We lived in teepees, and we traveled kind of all over the would be Northwestern Montana, outside of this town called Noxon, Montana. And I learned how to survive in the woods. I mean, survive, survive, like walk out into the woods with a pocket knife and a jacket and come out 90 days later, healthy and happy and had a big old beard. Now,after that,camping becamesomething that was fun and pleasurable. I did another 30 day backpacking trip in the cascade mountain range about a year and a half later, where we climbed the three sisters and three fingered jack and some other mountains.And a year later did another camping trip, etc, etc. So now camping is more pleasurable, I’m older, kind of know what I’m doing. And the days of the miserable camping trips were kind of over.Now fast forward to needing a job after my daughter was born. So I was looking for a job had just moved back to Oregon. I’m skipping some of the details because we’re talking about camping here now. So my soon to be wife and myself moved back to Oregon. And I need a job. And I reply to a job that I saw in the paper saying you know, wilderness therapy instructors needed all positions. So I apply for this working for this companycalled obsidian trails and it was awilderness therapy company and in for those of you who don’t know me or don’t know what whether it’s therapy is or was at the time, which it’s different todayThey were programs that took kids between usually between the ages of14 and 18 are 14 and 17 and a half and they took them in the woods anywhere from 14 days to 120 days or longer. AndThe instructors were with the kids full time. And therapists would come out three, four times a week and meet with the kids and work with the families. And it was just kind of this idea of, unlike boot camps, which a lot of people have heard of, wilderness boot camps, these were therapeutic camps. Soideally, and if things were happening the way they were supposed to,you spent a lot of time hiking, and reflecting and learning some life skills and working with your therapist, and then eventually with your family, and then you would either go home or move out or depending on your age, and etc, etc. So I was working for this company and started working with I was working with 10 to 12 year olds.At the time, these little guys, so it was more ofit was I described it as kind of a summer campfor kids with learning and behavioral behavioral difficulties. So they were those kids that were hard to handle. And so it wasn’t hiking, long miles. And it was you were dealing with younger kids. So it was morenot babysitting, but it was more it was just a kind of a different vibe and feel. And I always worked with the same two instructors, these two, these two women that I’m still friends with in the whole Facebook world.Rainbow and Juniper dawn were their names. And they taught me a whole bunch about how to work with kids. And we spent a lot of time camping and we would do it 14 days at a rip. So we’d go out for 14 days work with the kids, and then you’re off for 14 days. And it was a great experience. Andat some point, obsidian trails closed or merged with another company called Sage walk. And I continued my work with them.And started managing the field instructors and going in the woods, and working with the staff and training them in how to work with the kids. And this went on for you know, almost 12 years, it was this really crazy, unexpected career path that I found myself on,which was centered around backpacking, hiking and camping. Andand it led to some really great friendships and really cool stuff, totally unplanned deal.That led to a television show that I ended up on called brat camp that was associated or affiliated with Sage walk the wilderness school. And it was on ABC 10 episodes, millions of people every week watched. But it was pretty controversial. So if you think kids therapy being held against their will, I mean, it’s kind of how the TV show kind of spun it.I thought they did a great job of not interacting with the kids. We were really like the first reality TV show where nobody got voted off. And nobody won a million bucks.Really, the end game was graduating whenever it was time to graduate. And part of the deal with the production companies were that they didn’t interfere with the kids, they weren’t actually even allowed to talk to them. They just got to film them. And they kept everything pretty much in order of how it happened in the woods, Nate did a really good job of kind of honoring what we were doing out there working with these kids in a really difficult time in the kids lives. And it was a really great experience. For me. I think for the kids, for the most part, I keep in touch with a couple of them. And it was really this crazy wild thing. Where now I was camping with a whole production crew in the woods with me. I it was well over 150 people around there, it was nuts. There were people all over and they weren’t allowed to talk around the kids at all. So everything that we saw on camera, the the film crew weren’t allowed, the only time they were allowed to interact with the kids was these interview sessions. And, and it was away from the staff. So of course, that’s when you would get them talking about the staff, etc, etc. But part of the deal was is everything that the kids said had to be monitored by a staff member, which meant that I always had a radio in my ear and I could listen to the conversations the kids were havingwith the production managers when they were doing their little outtakes and they’re filming to make sure that the kids were safe and they weren’t being coursed. And everything was everybody was safe and happy and healthy.That’s a totally other episode about BRAC camp that I can go into for a wholeHalf Hour, a crazy life experience and my 15 minutes of fame on ABC, super controversial, again, ABC, owned by Disney, or Disney owns them, whatever working with kids, you know, it kind of just, they didn’t pick us up for a second season. Although our ratings were through the roof. I mean, it was a super successful thing. And I really wish it could have carried on at the time. But hey, it is what it is. And I’m still friends with a couple of folks that were involved with that when they’re great people, But that leads me to my next camping trip. So my next big camping trip wasand now in between I had taken weekend trips with my wife in car camping around Oregon. I mean, Oregon is an amazing Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, it’s all right there and some of the most amazing backpacking and camping literally, in my opinion in the world, just absolutely stunning. So every once in a while my wifewould come with me or we would go camping together and it was more car camping. It wasn’t backpacking or long term stuff. It was more just to hang out, get out of town have a good time. And, and that led tothis chance,encounter or availability to go on a two week plus camping, slash Safari in Africa.I was presented with the opportunity with a doctor that I was working with that I’d gotten to know really well to go to Tanzania and climb Mount Kilimanjaro,the largest freestanding mountain on the African continent. And I got to go do that.The opportunity to do it well, I wanted my wife to go and and she wasn’t again, not big backpacking person. But she kind of grew up the same way I did her dad, you know, they’d go camping on the weekends andboating and RV and she was accustomed to it. You know, she was outdoor girl, for sure isn’t outdoor girl, still,although we haven’t been camping in a long time, but that’s a different discussion. So we got this opportunity to go to Africa. So we went to Africa. And we did this.This guided trip now this was the first time that I had been on something that that was that organized with Sherpas and people carrying stuff and people cooking for you and all the things that went along with these long range,high altitude climbing experiences. And in in there’s two routes, basically on Kilimanjaro that you can go up, there’s what they call the Coca Cola route. Because every you know, half mile, there’s somebody selling bottles of Coca Cola along the trail, and you can do it in about two days, you go up quick, you hit the summit, and you come right back down this really well worn trail that’s super safe, super easy to walk, it just takes a lot of time. And then there is more of a technical route, where there’s some rope work, meaning you’re tied with a harness and ropes and you’re bouldering and climbing and it’s more of a seven day, not a two day trip up the mountain, which is more technical in nature. And we chose to do that. Now my wife, total trooperwants to do this.We go,oh, man, it was probably two days, maybe before we summited the mountain. She sprained her ankle pretty good. And she really wanted to get to the summit. And it was her mission. Now we had all made an agreement. And there was, I think, seven of us in the group, maybeabout seven of us, and that the spouses all kind of made a deal with each other as if one because we were going up so high, you know, there was a good opportunity or a good possibility that you would have to descend before you got to the summit because of getting sick from altitude sickness. So we kind of all made this agreement with our spouses that have one got sick, the other would still go with able and safe. Andand that’s easy to say that but it’s really hard in the moment becauseone of the couples in our group, the wife got sick and had to descend pretty quickly. The morning of our ascent. She went down and we went up. And she got really sick and of course immediately got better when she started dropping altitude. Butmy wife again, sprained ankle, so part of it is we’re with a bunch of doctors, so I’m not too worried about her from that perspective. And climbing going up was really easy, but walking downhill was excruciatingly painful. So we kind ofkept on the down low. We ended up summitting got our pictures, everything was wonderful. And literally from on the morning of summit, you summit, and then you are going south, you go down that hill, you go all the way down until you’re out of the State Park, you go back down, and you’re out. You don’t stay up there, you don’t spend the night up there, none of that stuff. So going down was when her ankle really kicked into high gear, pain wise, and they ended up sending a truck once we got down far enough that could get up one of these mountain roads for sent a truck up to come get us because we were so far behind the main group after we did it. But it was this really life changing, amazing experience that we got to share together. So I’m going now from being six years old, and crapping in my pants, and hating the woods and the mosquitoes and everything about it to this life changing experience with my wife, being on the top of one of the highest mountain peaks, literally in the world, for sure on the continent of Africa. pretty damn cool.So we have this great experience, then we go on a safari for a week. And then we come home and have this great story for the rest of our lives. And literally two days ago, my wife reminded me that it was our anniversary from our summit day, on Kilimanjaro, it was last week. And it’s kind of where I started thinking about camping again and get my brain back into it a little bit and,and started kind of thinking of his crazy memories, fond memories, horrible memories, but memories nonetheless, of my camping experiences. Anbeing kind of I’ll call it a Gen X or it was, I think my dad coming from the baby boomer generation, and was so driven in his pursuit of success. And in all things that went with that. It was the only way that we really ever connected when I was younger, it was really hard for him. And I think for me, for us tohave anything in common. And camping was one of those things that kind of brought us together and continued on through our lives. And he totally supported our trip to Africa and all that fun stuff. Now the vineyard is on a 400 acre farm. And most of it is wooded. we’re developing trails now for it so people can go out there and experience it for the day, more than anything, but now we’re talking about putting yurts in, and teepees and allowing people to spend the night out there so that they can experience not only being in the woods, and being in nature, but also being at the winery and being at this really cool place and really great energy andbeing on the farm and being able to experience that with us. And it’s some of the stuff that we’re striving for and working towards as kind of we progress in our business on that end. Butit all stems back to one fateful canoe trip in the Adirondacks, when I was a little ankle biter, being miserable, and again, led to like a 12 year career working in the woods, etc, etc, which led to a really amazingtrip to Africa, climbing Kilimanjaro, and here I am today telling the story about it. I won’t keep embellishing you’re getting into any more details about the any of the other camping trips that kind of wove in and out in between those highlights, but I just wanted to share that kind of fun moment in, in our history. And what that was kind of all about so if you like what you hear, you know, please follow me and, and listen to my other podcast crashing cars, which was the episode that I didlast week. I got a lot of reviews on it, people really enjoyed it. So if you haven’t listened to that one yet, please give that a listen. Andand always remember, hey, it’s a it’s not just my perspective. It’s my Gen X perspective. And I hope to hear from you guys soon. And look me up on Facebook or Instagram, Twitter, and I look forward to hearing from you guys soon. You guys have a wonderful evening, and enjoy yourselves. Peace. Thanks for listening to the Gen X perspective with Tony Randazzo.Where we see things a bit differently. Let’s get social. Find us on Facebook by searching Gen X perspective Twitter at Gen X underscore podcast and on Instagram at Gen X perspective, you can also find us online at Gen X perspective.com. And reach out to Tony directly at Tony at Gen X perspective.com. to maybe you can talk strategy on how to beat Super Mario Brothers three. Don’t forget to subscribe to the Gen X perspective wherever you get your podcast. Thanks for listening