Looking out over the Rockies


Man, (insert favorite cliché about the apparent acceleration of time). When I last left you, back in May, I had just celebrated what some might call a semi-significant marker along this adventure we call life; more of a preamble, really, to a relatively more decorated one still to come, but one that nevertheless, according to a friend, earned me the right to say “I’m almost 50”.

And while the whole age thing is a bit of a slippery one—as you no doubt gathered from my previous post—I do dig the ridiculous gift of being this unique expression of an “almost 50” Tony, and finding myself in an ever increasing state of wonderment with every breath I’m fortunate enough to take. In other words, I really like the view.

In that spirit (you know, loving the journey and all that) I want to use this time — here at the edge of everything — to look back at 2013 (and, yes, perhaps even a little bit forward into what’s on the horizon) and bring you up to speed with what’s been flying by the windows of this dizzying ride.


Ski. Ski. Ski.

Tony and Brian score powder

It’s true, with every session I have on the mountain, you find me more and more mind blown, grateful and evangelical about the miracle of being alive. Last February was no different… except for, say, oh, I don’t know, a little thing called the Superpipe. March followed (see how this works?) and, wow — Jesus Marimba — deep storm powder, tracks under bluebird skies, mobbing it with stoked friends, lapping the Pipe like we owned it, and honoring it all over a meal of Mexican food with some of the most beautiful people I am fortunate enough to know. Ridiculous.

Dinner with friends after seeing


Golden years.

Camp Montana 50th anniversary T-shirt

In a way that was befitting the boundless, giving love that radiates from my parents, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary — not by themselves at some romantic hideaway… or more accurately, some romantic hideaway golf course (whatever that might look like), but at Camp Montana (as we affectionately named the house in Big Fork where we stayed), surrounded by 15 of their crazy/beautiful progeny and satellites.

Like all the best camps, Camp Montana had arts and crafts, a talent show, a scavenger hunt, noisy, laugh filled dinners, huckleberry pies, bear sightings (and shit), kickball in the rain, disco volleyball, hours chilling together on a porch in front of the snowcapped northern Rockies and copious amounts of tears shed when it was time to say goodbye, and head off down various interstate highways back to our homes.

The Schmiesing family celebrating 50th wedding anniversary

Befitting, yes, because my folks know their loving relationship continues to be the roots for a wondrous, committed, blossoming family. Getting us all together in the same place these days, with everyone so spread out, is not a common enough occurrence for all of our liking, but when it happens — like this past June, in honor of something so golden, so incredible, for that amount of time — well, sheesh, what can I say, it’s nothing short of paradise.


8000 miles.

Dilapidated and abandoned diner

Let’s see: from Berkeley up through Oregon to Washington and over to Montana; from Montana down to Utah to Nevada and back to Berkeley; from Berkeley to Nevada to Wyoming to Colorado; from Colorado down to New Mexico to Arizona across to Palm Desert and back up to Berkeley. Yep, that’s pretty damn close to the number of miles I traveled by car this past summer.

If the trip to Montana could be called one for the heart, then, I suppose, Colorado could be called one for the ass. An oversimplification, of course, but if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know Colorado is the home of Aspen Seating, and in turn — especially if you know me personally — how amazing this place is, and why I might travel 2000 miles to visit.

Joe Bieganek, the owner and genius shaper of my cushions, has joked about how I came to them backwards; first for my ski and then for my wheelchair. And I like to return it was simply a divine Ouija board-like Google search that brought us together. Whatever the case, backwards and/or semi-randomly, Joe’s outside-the-box creativity, intuition and giving nature has immeasurably changed my world. This past September he outdid even himself, and without hyperbole, made me a cushion that gave me my life back.

So, yes, Colorado was indeed for my skinny ass, but along the way — starting with that first visit, actually — friendships were formed, and it’s now a destination of the heart. 2000 miles? Hell, I’d travel quadruple that for a friend who’s got my back… er… ass.

Skeleton of pelvis sitting in my wheelchair



It’s a funny thing trying to condense life experience down to a few brief paragraphs in a blog, or a video, or even a conversation, but the stupendous wonder and gratitude I feel for simply being part of existence’s grand explosion, well, I guess it’s that that compels me to share — no matter how “just scratches the surface” it may feel.

Because really, despite what I’ve written above, what words even come close to conveying what it feels like to have a friend slap you on the shoulder in congratulations after sharing the accomplishment of a 30 year goal? Or to see tears of love flow from your parents eyes when they talk about the family around them? Or to be carried into a hot spring by a best friend, and to float weightless, naked, surrounded by the electric buzz of cicadas, under a cloudless New Mexican sky?

I don’t know. I honestly don’t.

But rather than getting too hung up on the things I can’t say but wish I could, I will say this; one of the things I dig most about being this unique expression an “almost 50 Tony”, are the people I get to spend time with. It’s kind of a human thing, I know – socialization and all that— but still, I get to hang with some really, really cool folks… and I love it.


I wish you all a very happy 2014. May you love the life you live.


Oh, and here’s a little preview of what’s up next on faster barnacle: *cough* AK powder *cough*

Points north helicopter

Stay tuned!


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