At the beginning of this year I attended the Texas Outdoor Leadership Conference at Texas A&M Commerce. Despite being so cold and muddy that we all camped in the gym it was a great weekend where people who love the outdoors got together and talked and learned from each other. I took classes on how to plan a long hike (think AT or PCT), how to set climbing routes, how to use a map and compass, identifying Texas flora, and attended a presentation about wild caves. It was fun just to goof around with friends too. Think midnight racquetball free-for-all.

The keynote speaker for the event was Eustace Conway. He is an American Naturalist who has taken a unique life path, making his own adventures as he goes. He crossed the United States on horseback with his brother. Part of the trip was recorded and featured on one of my favorite radio programs, This American Life. He was also the subject of the book, The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I haven't read yet, but is on my reading list! Now he runs Turtle Island Preserve in the Appalachian Mountains, where people of all ages can go and connect with the natural world.

It was quite an experience to get to hear his life stories first hand. Later he taught us how to make rope out of basically anything, we used newspaper. The event's theme was "Make Your Own Path" and Eustace Conway is the embodiment of that idea.

After the event I sketched this portrait, but never got around to finishing it. Now that I have time to focus my energy on my art I will probably be reaching back in time to finish other abandoned ideas. It feels good to finish what you start.