Al James | A Continuous Lean.

Parked | Foster Puts Down Roots…Sort Of.

Aug 27th, 2014 | Categories: Adventure, Al James, Americana, Oregon | by Al James

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After a few non-stop years on the road searching for clean breaks and untouched powder A Restless Transplant photographer and adventurer (and friend of ACL) Foster Huntington finally hit the brakes. The Spring of this year saw his second photo book published – Home Is Where You Park It -  and the summer brought him home to his family property in the Columbia River Gorge where he has begun constructing a life-long dream.

He and his group of friends have gathered on top of a long-dormant cinder cone in Skamania County, Washington to build a three-platformed treehouse connected by suspension bridges forty feet up in the air and a skatepark formed and poured into the top of the hillside. There’s a real community that has developed at the Cinder Cone – friends from around the country are camping for weeks, months at a time, sleeping in their trucks and in tents, pitching in to help realize Foster’s vision – an idea he’s had since he was a young boy growing up on the property. While a cynic might see a Tom Sawyer who has rallied his pals to help white wash a fence, something much bigger, much more substantial is happening.

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Final Destination | Tudor Heritage Ranger

Jul 2nd, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Watches | by Al James

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A little over a year ago I started thinking about watches. I know I wasn’t the only one. Fine timepieces were popping up all over – magazines, newspapers, blog posts and photo shoots – they were inescapable. My interest also grew because I was consciously moving away from being tied to my cell phone. I wanted to know the time, but not necessarily who was emailing, calling or texting while I was out for dinner with friends or fishing for steelhead before work. I bought an L.L. Bean Field Watch and a couple NATO straps and I was good to go. My time-keeping issue was more or less solved, but my curiosity with watches wasn’t going away.

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The ACL Fishing Report.

Jun 8th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Fishing, Outdoors | by Al James

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The weather is warming, the bugs are hatching and it’s time to air out those clammy waders that have been in the basement. It’s fishing season and it’s time to go stand in some water and wave around a stick with a bug tied to the end of it. The start of the season is also the right time to reassess your rod and tackle, so here’s the latest.





Frances May | One Step Ahead

Apr 18th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Portland Oregon, Retail | by Al James

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In the last two years Portland has seen an influx of established shops from around the country (Jack Spade, Steven Alan, Imogene + Willie) pop up next to some of the city’s home-grown Northwest retailers (Tanner Goods, Danner Boots, Poler, Nau, Filson). This combination of new and old, local and out-of-town, has created a mix that has finally started to give the city a bit of its own unique and diverse shopping scene. Yet even with all these new faces, one retailer continues to stand out in the crowd as a favorite – Frances May.

For the past six years, under the guidance of owner Pamela Baker-Miller and her Grandmother (and co-owner) Connie Codding, Frances May has been Portland’s most reliable shop for high quality mens offerings. Their selection is always evolving, always ahead of the curve and always classic. While they were early supporters of American labels like Gitman Vintage and Pendelton’s Portland Collection, they’ve continued to add to that base with more hand-picked clothing lines from across Europe and Canada (Common Projects, Our Legacy, Monitaly, Folk). The unifying theme being that each piece is extremely well made, wearable day in and day out and effortlessly timeless. These are the pieces that you wear for years, not just a season or a few months.

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Willy Vlautin Tells It Like It Is.

Mar 20th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Americana, Books | by Al James

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Has the recent finale of HBO’s True Detective left you jonesing for more pulpy American grit? Do you like your heroes broken-hearted yet courageous, desperate but loyal? Does your hard luck story require just the thinnest beam of light to pierce the looming darkness? Then author Willy Vlautin is your guy.

A Reno, Nevada native, Vlautin moved North to Portland, Oregon in the nineties to paint houses. When he wasn’t up on the ladder he wrote and played in bands. He founded, and still fronts, Richmond Fontaine, one the most-loved rock bands to come out of the Northwest. Starting with The Motel Life in 2007, he has published four novels that fit on the shelf next to Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son and Larry Brown’s Big Bad Love. Immensely talented company, but Vlautin’s work is at home with these greats.

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Yucatán Escape | Warm Weather Packing Ideas

Feb 24th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Gear, Travel | by Al James

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I’ve always viewed a winter get-away to warmer weather as a bit of a luxury, but this year with the exceptionally harsh and unrelenting cold, it feels more like a life line. With a ten day trip to the Yucatán Peninsula (Cancún, Isla Cozumel, Tulum) planned and booked at the end of last year, anticipating the vacation became almost as important as actually getting there. With the extra time to prepare, my packing became more thoughtful, more streamlined and more precise. This trip I got a few things right for once and I’m happy to share what I learned. —AJ

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Mystery Ranch | The Apex of Packs

Jan 9th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Bags, Made in the USA | by Al James

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His name has been mentioned on this site before, but it bears repeating: Dana Gleason. He founded Kletterwerks in the 70s, then created (and eventually sold) the infamous backpack behemoth Dana Design. Since 2000 he’s been designing and hand-building backpacks in Bozeman, Montana under the name Mystery Ranch. They are the best packs he’s ever made and arguably some of the best packs available for purchase. Decades of research and experience go into each model and they are all absolute workhorses. Every Mystery Ranch pack is designed specifically for the unique tasks required of soldiers, firefighters, rescue professionals, hunters and mountain climbers.

This winter I bought a Mystery Ranch ASAP daypack for steelhead fishing in the Northwest. I stared into my closet full of canvas totes, weekend duffels and clever work briefcases and realized I had nothing that was suitable for hiking and bushwhacking into coastal steelhead streams with enough room for a day’s worth of extra layers, a lunch, a first aid kit, fly boxes and other fishing tackle. After a bit of research I landed at Mystery Ranch. What sold me on the ASAP was not only the waterproof 3-Zip design, but also the internal pocket configuration that takes the guess work out of accessing gear when it’s open. It has a built-in large hydration port, a grid of PAL webbing for lashing on an additional rod case and comes in 3 standard sizes and 4 colors options – multicam, black, coyote and foliage.