The Evolution of (My) Adventure by Sid Beck

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Back in the day,

(an example of back in the day) me on the right, my cousin on the left (imagine a plastic bag around my arms)

(an example of back in the day) me on the right, my cousin on the left (imagine a plastic bag around my arms)

when I was still old enough to be playing in a little 5 gallon bucket of water in the front yard of our house (definitely naked), I would strap a grocery bag to my back and jump off a set of three stairs we had in our garage.  I thought the bag would most definitely slow me down and I’m sure I thought it did.  Heights, at this point in life, didn’t seem to scare me too much.  I had dreams.  Big dreams, of flying primarily, (hence the makeshift parachute) and even went out a few times with some family friends who were pilots to try it out myself. 

 

As per usual with puberty (fast forward a few years), you leave behind all that you once knew and loved and were comfortable with.  Within all of these things I left in my preteen years (fire truck underwear, playing in the front yard naked, crying because my mom made me try an artichoke, screaming because dad did nothing, an all around mellow life) was stashed my comfortability with heights.  I stopped wanting to fly, stopped praying I could fly, and started getting really wobbly legs when looking over our rear deck down to the ground (cough 20ft below).  Predictably, I also started skateboarding (because that’s what you do when you are a teenager who wants to push boundaries a little bit, right?) and that fueled my sense of adventure through high school but, as I got to college, I realized four wheels, a piece of wood, some pieces of metal, and the cement weren’t going to get along with my body too well so I needed a new sport to keep me on my toes. 

Climbing in a gym was a healthy first step toward a potentially fun hobby so I started going with a few friends and kept it mellow on those low-ball boulder walls.  As a 19 year old, I had an obligation (because I was 19…why else?) to push my own limits of comfort and to dive into my fear.  I had a friend teach me how to belay in a stairwell, went to the local climbing gym, and passed the test the second try.  Bigger walls started to become more appealing as time went on so I kept moving to higher points on the walls of the gym until eventually, I was out of room in the gym.  Naturally, I took the next step and I worked for my aunt and uncle for two weekends, moved a literal dump truck full of mulch, and made enough coin to buy a rope and some other gear to help me stay safe. 

Outdoor climbing became my new jam.  Back in Santa Barbara there are plenty of delish (good) routes minutes from my house that I frequented and got comfortable with.  Back in Seattle, besides the gym 5 minutes away, outdoor climbs were an hour or more away so I rarely hit the outdoor features the PNW had to offer.  That being said, dreams had always been exchanged of braving some new routes in the North Cascades.  Rumor actually had it there was an 11 pitch (11 rope lengths - 1400ft) route deep in the Cascades that my friends and I talked about for the better part of three years but never actually braved it. 

At least not until Isaiah said his Labor Day was free, he wanted to climb, and this route was calling his name.

Three and a half hours seemed like a pretty easy drive until the engine of my newly purchased (owned it for less than a week) 1984 VW Westfalia started pouring oil out of the engine.  Essentially, Isaiah heard a thumping from the back, we pulled over, oil was spewing out, I put on a rain jacket and my climbing pants, did some tinkering, we pushed the car to a flat surface (I almost threw up…cause I was in terrible shape and that car is heavy), checked the oil and it was full, waited ten minutes and checked the oil, it was full, so I pulled off the rain jacket and declared we would continue to drive to our destination (or until something worse happened), we made it, drove 5 miles up a fire road through mud and tall grass, found a camp site, turned off the engine, woke up at 3am, made food, got to the base of the trail, looked up, and realized we had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.  (photos in order of commas)

Regardless of the 1400ft wall of rock standing above us we powered through (because what else would we do?).  We had multi-pitched before (2 pitches as opposed to the 11 we were looking at) so we were confident in our safety, just not our timeliness.  After searching for the first pitch for over two hours we finally found it and so did the crowds of people.  (So waking up at 3am was worth nothing)  Thankfully we were the second crew to get on the wall and thankfully, you don’t have to read anymore.  I’ll let do the photos do most of the talking… 

After getting absolutely beat after 7 pitches, we decided we just weren't big wall climbers so we turned around, rappelled down, moved the van next to the river, fished, popped the top, kicked our legs up, and enjoyed the sunlight.

A treat on the drive home.

Washington Pass.  Creation, visually tangible.

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This big wall climb, climbing in general, skateboarding, surfing, biking, and the many other ridiculously enjoyable, adventurous activities I have engaged in have taught me so much about who I am.  For me, the interesting element each one of these shaping activities share is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  

Climbing: what if my gear breaks/what if I die; skateboarding: what if I fall at 50mph/get hit by a car/fly off a cliff (happened to a buddy of mine once; he's all good though); surfing: what if a big wave holds me under/a shark bites my legs off/a sea-lion comes within 200ft of me(hate them); biking: what if I hit a rock on a gravel trail and break my head open on a tree after I've fallen 200ft down a ravine/break the nice bike I am riding?

If I hadn't tried to conquer my fear, "The Evolution of (My) Adventure" wouldn't exist.  I would have almost no sense of adventure.

The climbing trip described above was one of the most bonding, joyful, radical experiences I have ever shared with Isaiah.  If I hadn't stepped into the unknown and pushed through my fear, that would not have happened.  

Think about it the next time you are afraid to do something because it is unknown.  Stepping into that mystery could yield some of the best experiences you will ever know.  Try it.

2015: What a time (To be alive) by Sid Beck

The house I'm currently sitting in...

The house I'm currently sitting in...

I’m currently sitting in a house I share with six other guys.  Adam is on the couch, there is a large cardboard box next to me, and I felt the urge (yesterday) to write about, rather than make a film about, my 2015 year.  Thankfully my mom will read this whole thing so don’t feel bad if you leave to check a snapchat from your ‘friend’ who you’ve had the red heart with since the update back in July.  Mom, thank you for reading this and dad, (who is undoubtedly on his iPad with Bluetooth keyboard) thank you for pushing me to make life more challenging so I can be a better man.

2015, the year Ryan Seacrest landed a movie gig for Christopher Nolan (the new joker, YOU HAVEN’T HERD?!) and the year I learned how to eat meat properly (as of December 27th, thanks Aunt Coleen).

From the week before I started college, I have wanted to drop out, but I didn’t.  The thought came and went a couple times between week 1 of freshman year (August 2013) and the beginning of 2015.  As 2015 started school seemed pretty cool, classes were great… I think...(skiing seemed more fun.  JK mom), and I spent over 900 dollars on ski gear and lift tickets which got me through the deathly short days of the Pacific North West winter. 

In March I drove home to Santa Barbara with Zach and Noah where we were in the car for 24 hours, pushed through the night, got to town at 630 in the morning, slept on top of some bed sheets because my parents were renting our house out for the weekend so we couldn’t get them dirty, woke up at 1030am, went to the beach, then climbed a rock wall and hammocked at the top with our friends, the spiders (they live a couple doors down), the frogs (Alex Prokch), and Nathaniel, Isaiah, and Max.  That entire spring break trip story was irrelevant (but here is the one picture I saved before I dropped my phone in the ocean).  

We came back to school and one of the first weeks I went on craigslist to procrastinate from writing a paper, saw a VW Vanagon for sale, called the guy, and three days later drove three hours to buy it (I had money because I returned a bunch of ski gear to REI, shout out that return policy).  I spent the majority of spring quarter fixing up the van (which was in…quite honestly, terrible condition).  During the season of the Ham Van 1 (we are calling it) I started questioning why the heck I was in college.  I was absolutely convinced that this was the final time I would consider this; I was dropping out.  I called dad and told him I could sleep out of my van and film weddings for a living, he said some choice words, along with Mom and Ross’s help, and I reconsidered.  Then my van blew up (quite literally…ask Jaymie Towne or Taylor Hentchell) so there went my real estate (according to my uncle, the market was supposed to crash around that time so it was inevitable, really).  I sold it, cut my losses, and committed to living in Seattle in the ‘Hamquarters’ on Mercer Island over the summer.  Sort of last minute I landed a bunch of video gigs (shout out Jesus for sending Char Beck and Joe Tobiason my way) and was able to pay rent and buy food.

 

Sometime in June mom and dad drove their van up from California and left it for a week while they went back to work, before returning back up to Seattle for Ross and Emily’s wedding.   They planned on leaving the car in our driveway for a week (yeah?) and I thought I’d see if I could take it on a road trip to…I dunno…Montana?  Mom and Dad (more importantly Dad because it’s his baby) said yes and I left on a ‘road trip’ to go ‘check out’ Glacier National Park.  (quick, rewind a month, I asked a really pretty blonde friend on a date and she said yes (I think more out of shock that a dude with engine grease on his face, rubber gloves on his hands, and pants stained by anti-freeze, grease…and subway mayonnaise I had the day before) so we rode the moped (49cc that takes 15 minutes to warm up) to a sit down (on little mini couches and eat with our hands) restaurant…(dang I need to work on my structure sentence.)  Someone…perhaps the friend I took to dinner, might have been working at Glacier National Park around the same time I was driving out there to ‘check it out.’  Needless to say, it was an amazing trip and we became more than friends or, to put it in Millennial terminology: boyfriend and girlfriend, or to put it in a way that would make sense to my parents (no intention to put you guys on blast) we were ‘going steady’ as you can probably tell from the photos :).

 

Back to Seattle, Ross and Emily got married, I took a bunch of Young Life guys I didn’t know at the time to camp in Oregon, went to a family reunion in Idaho, shot 8 weddings, flew to Oklahoma 3 times to film for the Greater Foundation (a non-profit working with college football to promote being a better man outside of the game), hiked a couple peaks, bought a VW Vanagon (turnnn up Ham Van 2), flew to California and drove back three days later, and spent a LOT of late nights with my computer on the kitchen burners (because I like standup desks) editing footage and logging hours making the most ridiculous snap stories (for over age 35: https://support.snapchat.com/ca/stories) I could. (Photos in order of commas)

 

Ali got back from Montana with a month more of summer to spare.  I shot my last wedding and we spent as much time outside as we possible could before the depths of winter crawled in on us like the monsters (mine looked like spiders) we all imagined when we were 5 (admit it) in our dark room after the nightlight got turned off by mom when she thought you were asleep.

The day before school started I fully questioned again whether or not I was going to college.  I was, yet again, fully convinced that I needed to drop out and pursue my creative passions.  I went against everything that I felt was right at the time, followed through to start class the next day, and most importantly, trusted that the Lord would provide in my decision.  Everything rolled out, classes seemed easy until the first week was over and reading the syllabus was no longer an assignment, and Ali, I, and friends tried to get out every weekend we possibly could. 

I joined a discipleship group with a couple of friends and kept leading the group of Young Life guys over on Mercer Island that I had taken to camp earlier in the summer.  I also shot two more weddings, a video for a law firm, and pushed myself artistically to branch out and try video art (yes, I did receive 5 college credits for this class) and actually really dug it.  There were a couple good breaks in there, mom and dad visiting on a whim and Thanksgiving with the Sowers family being an all around highlight (picture on right).  The end of the quarter felt like I was swimming up to my neck in work, both schoolwork and video/photo work.  I have never worked harder and never been more disciplined than those last three weeks of class.  I finished well (big and small) and boosted that GPA high enough to get some breaks on car insurance.

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Winter break hits, I load up all my stuff into my van in the pouring rain as 58,000,000,000 cubic feet of water fell over Seattle within 48 hours. (shout out Ed Smyth, talk to him for fact checking) I drove straight home, with a pit stop in Olympia, WA to say bye to Ali and her fam before not seeing her for a few weeks. 

Winter break was rad (if your still reading……thank you).  I worked for my dad, worked with my dad, under my car, our knuckles bled, I still have a scab, all of our family converged for Christmas, the surf was beautiful, the best Christmas present arrived on the 27th (Ali) and we all lived the dream in Santa Barbara for a week before making the push away from the sun, and back into the depths of winter (kinda like the monster from when you were 5…accept we chose to face the monster because it was time we conquered our fears) via a drive up the 1 and 101 with our good friends Isaiah and Sydney.

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Now here I am…the scene around me has changed a little now.  Adam is gone, there is a ten-dollar bill next to me for a wifi payment, and Max and Zach are hanging glow-in-the-dark stars in our room.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED (hopefully that will grab your attention if you scrolled to the bottom looking for more pictures)

I have learned three things this year: trust, everything is a choice, and the true value of community.

Putting trust in something or someone has always, always disappointed me.  Take my van for example, I started to trust in it to the point of where I started to lack true appreciation for the gift it really was and it broke and cost me 2200 dollars to fix.  Disappointing...a bummer...yeah it really sucked...a lot...  The same thing can happen with people, when I put my trust, my hope fully in them, they will always let me down.  When I put my trust in Jesus, He can handle it because He loves me (us) unconditionally and He asks me (us) to put trust in Him so that I (we) can give our other relationships freedom and grace.  I put my trust in Jesus when I decided to stay in college and finish strong.  Everything was telling me (maybe not everything…perhaps more my sense of adventure) that school was the worse option and I could save money and still have a job working for myself.  I went into the unknown and stayed in school; I trusted.

Trusting is a choice.  Just like waking up in the morning and getting your hair cut is a choice, or cooking eggs with chicken broth to add extra nutrients so you don't have to eat a piece of toast...is a choice.  I made a choice, earlier in my life, to follow Jesus.  I thought it was a one time thing.  "Great, I choose to follow Jesus!  I follow Him now."  What I realized this year was, every day I need/want to make the choice to follow Him, to love like He loves, to listen to Him when He is trying to challenge me, to push me out of my comfort zone, when He is telling me to let go and trust Him with my whole life.  I choose to live in or out of my insecurities, I choose to doubt or not to doubt, I choose to be a man or not be a man after God's own heart.

Trust and choices effect a community, because I am a part of a community and my actions, undoubtedly, effect others.  This is where I learned the true value in community.  I want my actions to effect my community in a positive way and ultimately, I want to bring glory to The Kingdom in everything I say, do, and think.  Friends have been here to hold me accountable to these goals, to push me toward these goals, to challenge me, and encourage me more towards Jesus.  Obviously (through both photos and words)I am blow away by how much I have experienced and learned through community this year.  I challenge you: wake up every morning and make a choice to love.  It could blow you away.

Here is a song lyric by Kings Kaleidoscope that will forever be engrained in my mind (hit up Zach Meyers meyersz@spu.edu snapchat: @zacharymeyers for the full story…it’s pretty dope) and that constantly served as a good reminder for me throughout 2015:

 

See the ravens

they can't farm

don't have silos

truck or barns

But our God sees their needs

and He loves them and He feeds them everyday

 

If you took the time to read through this whole thing then dang, I’ll take you out to coffee (or hot chocolate if you vibe on that too…maybe tea but I would suggest just boiling some water and bringing a teabag to the coffee shop).  Actually serious about the coffee thing though….or hot chocolate.

 

-Sid



The Ham Van by Sid Beck

I never, ever look on Craigslist for anything.  In fact, for some reason, it has been a very strong conviction of mine to never look at cars on Craigslist due to the overwhelming amount of hype that high school teenagers would create about their new “whip.”  It always went something like this: “Bro, I’m for sure thinking about buying this car!  Check it out.  Perfect interior, some bruises on the outside but nothing a little wax couldn’t fix…and dude check this.  This is the best part right here: “Aftermarket suspension, air intake, and exhaust.  Mechanic says it adds upwards of 50hp.  $2100 OBO.  Need to sell quick…moving…” Of course, most of these “KILLER DEAL”s fall through and the kid has to end up telling his friends the car that he was “checking out next week” has sold or, in some cases, didn’t have a transmission.  Regardless, with observations like these filling the pool of uncertainty sloshing around inside my relatively thick skull, I took a dive into the unknown, and for what other reason than procrastination.

Isaiah and Pete discussing the best way to travel to Mars.

Isaiah and Pete discussing the best way to travel to Mars.

Pete taking a picture of Mars...

Pete taking a picture of Mars...

I’ve always had a dream of owning a Vanagon because I grew up in one, I sliced my head open in one, I cried in one, I watched my dad fix one, I watched my dad fix one, I watched my dad fix one…  I looked up VW Vanagon with any price range (can’t a college student dream?) and much to my demise I ran into three pages of one dollar ads for used Toyota Corolla’s from “BERNIES CAR DEALER***AFFORDABLE CARS HERE.”  After sifting through the mounds of the same exact add from Bernie I ended up finding a few Vanagons within the $2,000-$10,000 realm within the greater Seattle area.  I scrolled through photo after photo of some mediocre oldies until I reached the “Nearby Areas” section.  For those who are unfamiliar with Craigslist (myself included)…well… these cars were not “nearby.”  The word ‘diesel’ caught my eye in one particular post because I know that, if I’m looking to buy a cheap car, diesel engines are super reliable because Top Gear says so.  I clicked into the post and found an assortment of cars this guy was trying to sell, the 1983 Vanagon included.  Buzzwords that caught my eye in the description were, “Joy to drive…runs great…good fuel economy.”  All things a college student (Def.: someone lacking in money) loves to hear.  I called Cornell up, talked to him about it for a bit, asked a few basic questions, and hung up.  I consulted my dad who said it looked like a rust bucket…and went to bed. 

Isaiah snagging a pic of a lake with near perfect reflections on the way to Forks.

Isaiah snagging a pic of a lake with near perfect reflections on the way to Forks.

When I woke up (Sunday morning) I realized that (with some friends telling me “This is just something you have to do…”) this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.  I called Cornell three times throughout the day each in two hour intervals, because I didn’t want to seem like I was super desperate…That probably didn’t work due to the message I left on his phone telling him how I had thought about it more and I “…REALLY, REALLY hope you didn’t sell it yet…” He answered on the third time.  I asked him about electronics, rust, leaks, and then proceeded to tell him that I couldn’t pay full price (He was looking for $1800; my current bank balance was at $913).  I asked what was the lowest he would go and he said $1200 so I said, “I can guarantee I will buy it if it functions properly,” he said, “Sounds good to me,” and I took my $400 ski boots back to REI, got enough to buy the car and some gas, and hit the road to Forks, WA (or better known as the filming location of Twilight, or even better known as nowhere) with Isaiah and Pete 3 days later.  After an overly priced Ferry ride, some stupidly beautiful views, and 3 hours we made it to Cornell’s house. 

Throughout this journey to Cornell’s house I had my phone on airplane mode to save battery (RIP the IPhone 6 I lost at sea) and wasn’t receiving any calls.  When we showed up I knocked on the door, he came out, we shook hands and he lead me over to the van where he proceeded too tell me that, “I tried to call you to save you a trip out here…” Fortunately that statement went in one ear and out the due to my utter infatuation with the beauty, full of potential, standing in front of me.  It turns out Cornell had stored a drum of water in the car and before we came, while he was moving it, the drum had rolled and smashed the slider door, rendering the door relatively useless, and spilling tens of gallons of water into the car.  All of this was the least of my worries.  It drove, as my 30-second spin around his neighborhood had showed me, and that was all that I cared about.  Oh, I forgot to mention that, before I test drove it he said he thought I was a pretty straight up guy who was going to treat the car with care and give it a good home (truth be told) and he would sell it to me for $600.  At that point nothing mattered, I was buying it.  Even if it went up in flames on the way home (which it almost did thanks to a stuck break) it would be one heck of a story.  I told Cornell everything sounded swell and I would love to purchase it off of him.  We settled up and drove out. 

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Isaiah and Pete being more productive than the car's owner in the break 'fixing' process.

Isaiah and Pete being more productive than the car's owner in the break 'fixing' process.

About 3 minutes into the journey we came to find just how underpowered this car really was (68hp brand new).  I decided to pull over at a gas station and pump up the tires, throw a quart of oil in, grabed some fuses at (Oh-Oh-Oh!)O'Reilly's and to see if that did anything.  The ride felt better and it was slightly faster but it still seemed just too slow.  It was only about 15 minutes down the road that we realized the cloud of smoke coming out the back wasn’t just exhaust but it was from the breaks as well.  We turned around, I called my dad who gave us some insight as to what the problem was, and we found a mechanic who packed so much chew in his lower lip I could hardly see his nose.  He offered his wisdom which was, “There is nothing much I can do,” and then told us we could use a path of gravel behind his shop to take off a tire and see if we could fix it ourselves.  We tried, and we couldn’t.  There were three options, the one that involved spending money I immediately ruled out and the other two were to drive the car back to Cornell’s and ask for the money back OR to drive the car until it spontaneously combusts.  We chose to brave the elements (feeling like Dora the Explor--no) and prayed over the front right break, multiple times as we powered down the road at a top speed, downhill, of 60mph. 

Thankfully, from the heat, or God’s grace, or both, the caliper slowly released and the disk was able to cool down as we drove.  While ‘zooming’ down the road we came to the conclusion that if the breaks were used, they would seize up like they had done earlier, and the car still had the potential to burn.  We quickly deemed the breaks as 'useless' and only had to tap them 4 times from 30 minutes outside of Cornell’s house to the “Ham Van’s” current resting place, outside my dorm in Seattle, WA (a four hour drive). 

Waking up the next morning I realized how much potential this car really has and how unbelievably lucky I am to be able to call it my own.  It is an absolute dream.  I am beyond thankful for Cornell and his generosity along with friends who wanted to join me on this treck into the unknown.

What’s next?  Well…the breaks are the first to get fixed, then the muffler that constantly leaks and spews fumes into the cabin, and then I’ll probably replace some belts, a couple wheel bearings, suspension bushings, transmission (at some point, right?) slider door mount, shift nob, engine… 

In the words of Bill Murray from What About Bob?  "Baby steps." 

If you want to keep following the story and progression of the car, feel free!  Check out @thehamvanagon on Instagram!

Happy Driving! (hopefully)