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FC Train Trip West: Kickoff in Kansas City

My name is Devin Michael O’Dea. For those that don’t know me, allow me to introduce myself in short. I’m a co-owner in the wonderful little world that is Fayettechill. My main role is to direct creative development and production of Fayettechill’s media, marketing, and digital presence.  That’s the skinny. If we ever meet in person, I’ll buy the first cup of coffee or tea and tell you the taller tale in person.

On Thursday, July 23rd I left Kansas City for a train trip West, eventually ending in Salt Lake City where Fayettechill will show our most radical Spring | Summer ’16 collection to the world. Exciting times, no doubt, the kind of moment that deserves a preamble.  To prime myself the occasion, and to simply set out on a Summer adventure in general, I purchased a train ticket late one night around 2 am. I can’t say for certain exactly why I bought the train ticket West, but I knew I needed to go. More than any single reason, it was an aggregation of occurrences and realizations that made me move. Here a few of them.

I wanted to be uncomfortable.

A few months prior, I had conceived the idea of solo style westward journey to the coast while taking part in the transcendental times at Wakarusa on Mulberry Mountain. During many moments throughout the festival, I was struck by how fortunate I was to have such a large, robust, and full-of-life creative circle of friends around me. I camped with a large community of my closest friends and was more safe, connected, and loved than ever before at a festival. I felt spoiled to be honest. I told myself that sooner than later, I needed to venture out into less comfortable territory, if for nothing else but to balance the good fortune fate had lent me.

The uncomfortable element of my travels has been embedded into many dimensions of the trip. I won’t know the people around me for the majority of the time. I will need put myself out there and make friends with strangers, not the most uncomfortable act in the world, but certainly much different than being surround by friends. Over the 2 1/2 weeks, only four days have been booked with beds. The rest I’ll leave to my hammock and intuition to figure out. I’m carrying quite a bit of luggage as well. I brought a bunch of the new Fayettechill line to see how it shines under the Western sun. I’m working on a razor slim budget, and have almost overstuffed the itinerary to the point that sleep will be sacrificed. I purposely stacked the deck such that periods of consistent comfort will be the exception, not the rule.

One of the most important lessons I have ever learned is never become too comfortable. Stability is nice, but it comes at a price of losing your edge. True progression happens at the edge of uncertainty. Transformational moments most readily occur when faced with challenging obstacles. My favorite Latin proverbs says more than I ever could, “ad astra, per aspera”. To the stars, through difficulty. I very much would rather see what the stars look like from a closer point of view than to lay in comfort in my bed dreaming of them.

I wanted to move slowly and on tracks.

Life at Fayettechill is wild, and I mean this in the most positive sense possible. We are a quickly growing community of entrepreneurs who on a weekly basis work to wrangle the opportunities and challenges of a growing business. The more we grow, the quicker and more varied the projects become. And we like it this way.

The colorful kaleidoscope of daily new challenges, failures, successes, slam-dunks, and face-plants is of our own making. We have all been touched by the spark of pure creation. The energy that comes along with creating a life that is uniquely yours is intoxicating. We all crave to carve out more of our vision and to share it with others. Sometimes to the point of exhaustion, when our passions blind us to our physical limitations of needing sleep and other recuperative experiences.

When I work at the Smokehouse, a constant cascade of high energy, time sensitive, and creatively challenging prompts charge across my desk. I love it, but after a while, a break is in order for balance. My break, I told myself, needed to move as slow as possible. And that’s when I thought it was time to train.

Trains move at a relatively snail’s pace compared to most modern transportation, they are also on tracks. Once you get on a train, you are moving in a single direction. A most distracting part of the 21st century is all the decisions we must make on issues with a variety of options. In a car, I can move in 360º around me, and travel to any city in any country on the continent. On a plane, the whole world is available to me. But on train, things are much more simple. They move in one direction, and stop in only a handful of location. To remove all the options and decision making involved with engaging with them is to free the mind. Removed are the myriad of options and the fear of missing out that accompanies many modern decision makers (if I go with the steak, what if I would have liked the chicken more). All that is left is to do, to be, in the most simple sense. All that is left is to live, in the immediate present, with little to no concern about anything but the tracks in front of me.

I wanted to understand the countryside.

To be certain, Fayettechill is currently on track to have a national presence. What we have tapped into with Fayettechill is much bigger than any one clothing company, brand, or business could ever hope to be. The unique, niche lifestyle that we promote is larger than Fayettechill in itself - the laid back mountain community we represent is an intrinsic component of human culture. We reflect the sensation felt when man first stood in awe in front of mountains, and was humbled because of them.

Mountains culture, and really any culture that is heavily influenced by nature, is inescapably laid back, easy going, and community driven. The reason for this isn’t too complicated. The deeper your relationship becomes with the outdoors, the more you understand the depth, momentum, and rhythm of life. As these experiences accumulate and settle into your mind, the more readily you are able to recognize that there is something much larger than yourself at work in this world, something that brought you here in the first place that should be appreciated as a gift. When we chill, we appreciate the presents and presence of nature.

For Fayettechill, this is embodied in the many recreational forms our society has found to passionately engage with nature - hiking, camping, backpacking, climbing, floating, mountain biking, fishing, longboarding, kayaking, and mindful yoga, mediation, and sustainability effort. These forms are persistent throughout the world and everyone has the same spark in their eyes when involved in them.

As I began to understand the depth of the culture we represent, I soon realized what was needed next. I need to learn as much as possible. I need to see the one million different faces and forms of this culture, each one acting as a pixel to the dynamic picture of the laid back mountain culture that supports Fayettechill and propels it forward. I want the countryside to teach me things. Just as man was struck with awe when he first set eyes on the scale, majesty, and inherent story of the mountain range, I am aiming for my mind to be impressed upon by as many landscape visions, laughs of strangers, and accented experiences as possible. In a world filled with hustle-n-bustle, there is so much chill hidden around the corner and between the nooks of a neosociety brought about by the digital age. I want to find it, learn from it, and embed it into the ever evolving story that is Fayettechill.

There are four legs to this journey:
(1) Kansas City, NM -> Denver, CO
(2) Denver, CO -> San Fransisco, CA 
(3) San Francisco, CA  ->  Los Angeles, CA
(4) Los Angeles, CA -> Salt Lake City, UT
 

The trip ends in Salt Lake City, where Fayettechill will debut at it first national trade show at Venture Out inside of Outdoor Retailer. This very much represents our first push towards a national presence.  I trust with the same confidence that I believe in Fayettechill’s meaning and message that members of the modern Outdoor Industry will appreciate, at least to some minor degree, what we represent. Before I arrive I hope to have an expanded vision of how it appeals to more national audience. For if we can connect with the outdoor industry as a whole, than we can grow more quickly together than we could apart. The more quickly we grow, the more widespread our message to slow down, appreciate the world around us, and enjoy it with other who share a passion for life, is spread. This message, this spark of life, is of one of the few pure positives I found in this life. Everyone benefits from it. We are left happier, healthier, less concerned about the things that separate us, and more aware of all that binds us together.

If you have made it this far into the article, I invite you to join along the digital journey in future blog posts. I will be producing and posting as time and internet service allows. Your feedback is of the highest value. Your passions are the fuel to my fire. You must understand, what I’m doing today is an extension of your support in the past. In this sense, we are very much already on a journey together. Let’s see where it goes.  

Photography by Rush Urschel