Extreme Cammock King: Man Takes Hammocks and Camping to the Extreme

Extreme Cammock King: Man Takes Hammocks and Camping to the Extreme

There’s camping, there’s hammocking, and then there’s cammocking—that is, opting for a hammock while camping. Then, of course, there’s extreme cammocking: suspending a 2,000 square foot hammock of weaved rope over a 400-foot canyon. These woven hammock-like nets are also known as space nets. To Andy Lewis, they’re called thug mansions because, like a 2Pac song, “that’s the only place where thugs get free and you gotta be a G at thug mansion.” And Lewis has every right to call these cammocks “thug mansions”—after all, he invented them. Lewis, known as both “Sketchy Andy” and “Mr. Slackline,” started the unique fringe activity known as “netting.” The “mansions” originally began smaller, starting as backyard hammocks and nets in trees. Lewis describes his invention as a “mix between a treehouse and a spiderweb.” He began with one tree, then two, and has made his way up to weaving nets that span as many as 20 trees. Perfecting this new and unique craft took Lewis about seven years. Since then Lewis has traveled across the world, taking his “thug mansion” to places like Spain, Portugal, and Canada. At one point Lewis took his invention to the Borneo rainforest in Southeast Asia, where he weaved giant rope nets in the trees. “We basically set up the nets like the monkeys set up their nests,” Lewis said. But Lewis didn’t stop with trees; his favorite place to set up the nets, to hang out on “thug mansion,” is Moab, Utah. There, “thug mansion” spans across canyons. Lewis said it’s hard to pinpoint where such a wacky and epic idea came from. He said his...
Leaving to Live

Leaving to Live

A Kurdish refugee boy from Kobani, Syria clings to a fence that surrounds a refugee camp in the border town of Suruc. Traveling is a part of the human existence. We travel to explore, grow, evolve, and appreciate. We travel for adventure, education, and interaction. But there is also a darker side. There are forced travelers: travelers who leave their homes and their countries because they have no other choice. They may be forced out by natural disasters, environmental crises, or poverty. They may fear for their lives because of war, human rights abuses, or terrorism. Leaving to Live Refugees are a part of this group of forced travelers. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a refugee is “a person who has fled his or her country of origin because of past persecution or a fear of future persecution based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, he or she cannot return home or is afraid to do so. War and ethnic, tribal and religious violence are leading causes of refugees fleeing their countries.” Refugees have existed for centuries. However, the surge of refugees fleeing conflict across the globe “reached record numbers and drew widespread attention in 2015,” according to The Borgen Project. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that the population of forcibly displaced people has reached nearly 60 million, up 15 million from 2012. Of this number, they estimate there are 15.1 million refugees of concern, the highest level in 20 years. An additional 5.1 million registered refugees are located in some 60 camps in...

Life in the Sky

For Brooke Jacobson, travel is a way of life. When she was sixteen, she kept track of her travels on a small globe. One day, her mom saw it and expressed amazement at how many places Jacobson had already visited. Jacobson responded sadly, saying, “I know. There are so many places I still haven’t been!” An adventure-seeker through and through, Jacobson has made it her mission to enjoy the beauty and wonder that this world has to offer. After backpacking five continents, singing on cruise ships, and becoming a self-proclaimed “gypsy vagabond,” she decided to pursue an opportunity that would help her travel dreams reach new heights. Literally. Four years ago, a friend tried to convince Jacobson to apply to flight school with her. Despite her love of adventure, Jacobson’s first response was, “Serve peanuts and beverages all day? No, thank you.” Since then, a few things have changed. Jacobson has been serving peanuts and beverages as a flight attendant for 4 years. But she has learned that flight attendant life is not what it initially appeared to be. Her experiences have allowed her to view the world from a new perspective: 10,000 feet above the ground. Mixing Business with Pleasure As an international flight attendant, Jacobson flies to various countries on a regular basis and gets paid to do so. Many flight attendants rave about the perks of being able to travel around the world for the first time. Getting paid to travel is a sweet deal. The airline pays for Jacobson’s hotel, food, and travel expenses in the cities she spends the night in. Instead of having to budget her living expenses, Jacobson only has to budget her time. With only 24 hours in a city at a time, she must be selective with the places that she visits. Most people who visit London spend days...
Rising from Ruins

Rising from Ruins

In the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake, ripples from the tragedy shook Nepali citizens living outside of Nepal. Samyak Shertok felt the weight of the tragedy fall heavy on his shoulders, and turned to poetry for solace. Studying for his master’s degree in creative writing at Arizona State University, Samyak had used poetry for the purpose of healing as a visiting poet at the nearby Mayo Clinic. He decided to turn his gift for poetry into a project that would help his fellow countrymen heal from the trauma caused by the horrific quake. Samyak’s project, entitled “Healing Through Poetry: Nepal Earthquake Relief” was funded through Kickstarter, a popular online crowdsourcing site. Samyak’s belief in the power of words, coupled with his passion for his country, inspires many. Tell me the basics of your project. What inspired you to create it? Healing Through Poetry: Nepal Earthquake Relief strives to help Nepal heal and rebuild through poetry that at once embraces, documents, and transcends this historic tragedy as it is happening. I will go from house to house and talk to the earthquake survivors and write poems for them. I’ll also run several poetry workshops for the young people in the hope that it will help them confront the tremors that will be felt for years to come. On your Kickstarter page, you talk about the people you helped at the Mayo Clinic as a Visiting Poet. How did you get that position? How did that experience change you? It was an internship. It’s a collaborative effort of the ASU Creative Writing Program and the Mayo Clinic called Poesia del Sol....
One-Wheel Wanderings

One-Wheel Wanderings

“If you want to get good at writing, you write. If you want to get good at camping, you camp. If you want to get good at life, you go on a unicycle tour.” “I want to thank the person who stole my passport and valuables in Colombia, South America, three months ago today. Technically, you changed my life,” says Cary Gray, a cross-country unicyclist. As you might suspect, Gray is not your average 25-year-old. He currently holds the world record for the longest unicycle trip, which took him across North and South America. But he’s not done—he plans to return to South America and continue riding across other continents in the future. His motivation doesn’t come from breaking records, however—it comes from his pure love of travel. “A lot of people say, ‘Why the unicycle? You must really like unicycling.’ It’s not the unicycle; it’s the traveling I wanted to do first.” A Crazy Idea When Gray was ten, he was given his uncle’s unicycle. Over the next few years, Gray’s interest—and skill—in unicycling grew, and he started riding the unicycle almost a mile to school every day. But he didn’t consider taking his unicycling to the next level until after graduating from college, when he decided to take a trip to South America. He remembers thinking, “I can take a few [airplane] flights here and there, but that’s a little bit expensive. . . . I could backpack like everyone else, but that’s pretty standard.” Next he considered going on a bike, but as he puts it, “That’s not very interesting. Why don’t I do it on...

Megan Nelson: Dreaming to Africa

For Megan Nelson, tourism alone wasn’t enough; her dreams included truly getting to know places by working and volunteering there. Soon after graduating from college, she had the opportunity to work with Jane Goodall through the Tanzania branch of the Roots and Shoots program. This program aids young people all over the world in making positive changes for their own communities, whether by helping people, animals, or the environment. Nelson jumped at the chance to talk about, teach about, and interact with animals in Africa. Now, nearly twenty years later, she is still involved in ventures in Africa and still dreaming about how she can make a positive impact on the world. Stowaway managed to catch Nelson before she headed off for another trip to Uganda. What have you learned about the African culture? Well, that is a big question! Every country is very different. Tanzanians and East Africans are very polite; they’re very, very welcoming; they invite you into their home; they want to feed you. They live life at a much slower pace than we do, which I really like. Family is definitely at the heart of their culture. Things don’t operate or work as well there, so on a day-to-day basis, if you have ten things on your list that you need to get done, and you get two of them done, that is a good day; you just never know what will happen. I mostly just love how welcoming people are and how much they’ll just sit and talk with you; it’s a nice place to be. What have you learned by working with Jane...