Our Mission

On May 12, 2012 Austin Brashears finished what is one of the most epic stories of all time: his life story. He lived colorfully and beautifully during his 21 years and painted pictures all over the world of his kindness, generosity, and positive spirit. We have decided to begin the stage of moving forward to embark on a grand adventure to create new memories with Austin every day. It can be something as little as trying a new flavor of coffee or going underwater go-cart racing in his honor. We invite you to play with us, laugh with us, and take risks with us. We encourage you to put your Austin foot forward and begin to live with Austin and his energetic spirit as your guide.

He needs our help to finish his epic adventure.

We’ll be posting our adventures here for you to read and hopefully be inspired by, but we want to hear from you too! When you do something amazing and incredible or just a little something you know that Austin would LOVE or appreciate, throw on your Austin merch (v-neck, tank, or bracelet) and take a picture! Write up a post and email it to us at doitforaustin@gmail.com and we’ll share it with everyone!

Have a great Austin Adventure Day,

Sage, Brittany, Cole, & Shannon

The Family

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Namm Naa La

Hello! For those of you who we haven’t met, Assalaamalekum! Our names are Stephen and Jenny. We are both students from Boston University who were fortunate to be friends with Austin. This world seems so small sometimes, as we both happened to end up in Senegal. Stephen graduated in May and got a volunteer position in Thies, Senegal with an NGO called Tostan. Jenny is spending the fall semester of her senior year in Dakar, Senegal.

In our overlapping time thus far, we have been lucky enough to meet up a few times. It’s such a strange but wonderful feeling to see someone from home in such a foreign place! This past weekend, we set out to spend a day at one of the beaches here, La Virage. However, we ran into some trouble with the locals harassing us Toubabs (white people) and couldn’t decide what to do. Then we made a spontaneous decision to crash the pool at the hotel nearby…but of course, felt too guilty to actually follow through. We ended up asking if we could pay to swim in their pool, and 5000 cfa later (almost $10, a hefty charge in Senegal!) we were splashing in the pool in true American fashion. Between work and school, we haven’t had any time to truly relax and be amongst friends, and this was the perfect way to spend the day. Austin’s presence was truly felt, with his bracelet on Jenny’s wrist and Stephen’s red Orientation backpack poolside.

When two Wolof-speaking Senegalese people see each other for the first time in a long time, one will typically say to the other Namm naa la which is often translated as ‘I missed you’, but, ask any Senegalese person and they will tell you that its meaning is much deeper than that. It refers to nostalgia, in the strongest sense of the word, nostalgia for times enjoyed together in the past. The response, Maa la raw, or ‘I missed you even more’, is a testament to those good times. Our afternoon at the pool in the immense capital of Senegal not only allowed us to unwind a bit, helped us to reflect on many of these good times we shared together with Austin and our many friends back home in Boston.

Jenny and Stephen 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I walnut stop...with the tree puns

alternative titles:
"Maple we should leaf the puns aside, and get to the root of this post..."
and "Willow you appreciate more ash-tonishing jokes? Oak then"

Bet you can't guess who came up with those titles? Anyways, as you can see in the post before this one (here), my sister recently married her high school sweetheart at a beautiful ceremony in Aurora, OR. The day was an unforgettable celebration for us all and I was lucky to have Sage and Cole with me to experience it. For months the three of us had been talking about getting tattoos together but we struggled to find a time when we could all be together in one place. Lucky for us, Allie and Jeremy's good friend, Joe, is an incredible tattoo artist at a shop in Portland called Artwork Rebels. He worked with us on designs and managed to squeeze us in the morning after the wedding before Cole had to be at the airport to head to Australia.

The tree that Joe designed for me came out exactly like I imagined. Like several other people, I drew inspiration from the song that we sang at the service.

"Take a breath and soon I bet you'll see
Without you I would never be me
You are the leaves of my family tree"

I had never felt as alone as I did in the days immediately following the accident in New Zealand. I was up at school in Washington when I heard and I wanted so badly to be down in HB with family and friends but unfortunately it didn't work out that way. As difficult as the day of the memorial was for all of us, singing that song surrounded by such an incredible group of friends was the first time I felt like things might actually be okay in time and it helped me to realize how strong we all were. This tree was my way of not only keeping Austin with me, but also all of the people who came together to form such an incredible family in the face of such a tragedy.

This tree, to me, represents life. Austin has always had such a positive impact on my life and he continues to with each adventure he inspires me to be a part of. When I think of Austin I want to remember the remarkable way he lived his own life and not its end. It is too easy for me to dwell sometimes on the unfairness of this situation but in those rare moments of clarity, I feel incredibly lucky for having ever been able to call him one of my best friends. 

It seems the scars on my side have healed a lot faster than the scars of losing Austin, but it helps to know that I am a part of this family tree that is not only full of leaves, but an overwhelming amount of love, support, and of course adventure.


For years I watched people get tattoos and wondered if there would ever be anything that I wanted to have on my body for the rest of my life. Until May 12, 2012, there was nothing that even came close. A couple of days after we lost Austin someone mentioned tattoos. I knew right then and there that this was something I could live with forever. In fact, it started to feel like I couldn’t live without it. I didn’t know what exactly yet, but something that would remind me of Austin, the struggle of losing him, and the strength it’s going to take to keep moving forward.
Deciding to sing I Won’t Give Up by Jason Mraz at Austin’s service was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. It was the very first song we listened to and we knew instantly that it was perfect because of the message to stay strong, stay positive, and move forward in every way we can.

 I was so struck by four words that come up repeatedly and are ultimately the last four words of the song: I’m still looking up. To me, these words said it all. In the midst of the worst thing that has ever happened to me, I somberly realized it would probably not be the last tragedy I would endure. I couldn’t fathom feeling any more pain than I had been feeling, but my strongest emotion was somehow still positivity (or at least some contorted form of it). I wanted to be okay. I wanted to keep moving forward with my life and adventuring and more than that, be better at everything. I wanted to make more of an effort to make each day count. I wanted to find a way to remember the happy times with Austin first and try to make the fact that he is gone a second thought.
I decided to put the words on my foot very simply because that is how I move. Whether I’m going backward or forward, it’s my feet doing the moving and now it’s usually my Austin foot propelling me forward.
The words from the second song we sang at the service "Without you I would never be me, you are the leaves of my family tree," were so perfect because we knew that no matter where our lives took us, we would be bound by this pain and this love forever. Undoubtedly, I would not be the same person I am today without the influences of Austin and the other members of my Family Tree. We have all lost one of the leaves ofour tree and while that is something that truly never goes away, it is something we can help each other cope with.
I'm in love with my tattoo and the way it has reminded me that I can do anything I set my mind to because I am strong and because I have the best support system in the world. <3

I am so proud to be a permanent, lifelong member of Team Austin.
Best.Team. EVER.

I've been dragging my feet writing this for a little over a month now. Not because I had nothing to say, or time to write it, but because I'm selfish. When I had Joe etch my wonderful, beautiful, painful tree into my ribs, I knew that forever and always you would be right here with me, and that little piece of you, was mine, and only mine. I could talk to you whenever I wanted, I could show you courage whenever I wanted, I could be scared with you, I could laugh with you, and cry with you: but most of all, it was a constant reminder that you were with me. Anyone who shared the memories we did, the time, the laughs, the adventures, would know that I'd get along just fine without a "reminder" but every time I look down and see my tree, my Morm tree, I love that I have something tangible to touch and feel, something that I can never lose, break, wear out, tear, my tattoo will be with me as long as I'm around. So cheers to you my friend, I think you finally got what you wanted, at least 4 girls, now permanently have a tattoo of you on their body! I know you're getting a kick out of it : )

With lots of love for our amazing family,
Brittany, Sage, & Cole

Wedding Crasher

A little over a year ago, Austin took one for the team and offered to ride with my sister on her road trip back to college after winter break. Volunteering to ride in the car with my sister for 20 hours speaks volumes about Austin's character, but that's another story. On their way from sunny Southern California to gray and chilly Bellingham, they stopped in Portland to recoup over night at the apartment that I shared with my boyfriend Jeremy. Jeremy hadn't spent much time with Austin prior to that visit, but he still talks about how much fun we had that night. You can read Brittany's post on oyster shooters for the whole story (http://doitforaustin.blogspot.com/2012/06/mmmtasty-but-sandy.html), but we all shared a lot of laughter that night over oysters and video game sword fighting.

Fast forward a few months...Jeremy proposed, I said "yes", and the wedding planning began. Brittany was there helping me all along the way, the perfect Maid of Honor. Jeremy and I had told her from the start that, "Of course you can bring Cole as your date" and "Sage is part of our family, you know she's invited". At some point I realized that I had forgotten to tell Britt that Austin was welcome to come. I called her right away to tell her to make sure Austin knew he was invited and that's when Britt said, "He was planning to crash the wedding anyway, but now he doesn't need to bring a lawn chair!".

When I heard about the accident-- among many other emotions--I couldn't help but selfishly think about the loss I would feel at our wedding. I knew that if Austin, Britt, Cole, and Sage were all at the wedding they would be the life of the party and they would have a great time because they were together. On wedding day there were multiple moments when I would suddenly think of Austin and how much I wished he'd been there, but here's the proof that nothing could keep him away.

We miss you Austin and I hope you were watching us from your lawn chair.

- Allison

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bridal Veil Falls- Not your everyday hike!

Well, I've been looking for something spontaneous and epic enough to post and during my entire stay in Utah i think this one by far takes the cake. Truly an Austin epic experience. Last friday I caught a break from work and i came home to my roommates packing up to hike bridal veil falls and camp at the old abandoned restaurant at the top of the mountain. I looked out the window, saw the clouds looked back at the roommates and they said "we'll be fine" i shrugged my shoulders and then said "why not", packed up my things in 20 min and we were on our way.
15 Minutes up the provo canyon and we were already at the base of the mountain. Its weird to think that I live 15 minutes from what id soon find out to be one of the sketchiest hikes of my life. From the very start in my head i thought it would have been a hike Austin would enjoy a lot. The hike itself was only about 5 miles, but it was 5 miles of straight up hill switchbacks filled with rick climbing up waterfalls hanging on to ropes and wire left from the few previous hikers that have actually hiked bridal veil. 3/4 of the way through the hike we came to a point where we needed to scale a 10 ft rock wall with a 30 lb pack on my back to get to the rope to pull myself up and scale another 35ft straight up to continue on the trail, so gnarly. Right when i though that i had just climbed the sketchiest point of the hike we'd get up another switchback and then there would be another point of the hike where id have to scale something suspended over 700 ft in there air. 
But i know without a shadow of a doubt Austin was there right behind me giving me that little extra push placing my feet and hands on the mountain where they needed to be so that id be able to summit the mountain. Unfortunately all the parts I mentioned i was unable to document due to the sketchiness of the hike i didn't have an extra hand to take a picture haha. We finally get to the end stretch which was a steel cable leading about 100 yards up the mountain at an 68 degree incline, everyone started to put on there repelling gloves but the girl in front of me decided not to so i thought to myself if she will be ok then i should be as well....big mistake. the wire was frayed in numerous places and its not something i could just let go of without rolling down the hill. After we finally get up that incline its about a quarter mile hike and the trail was 3 feet wide with mountain on one side and a sheer drop on the other side, and this was the mellow part of the hike. The destination we hiked to was an old restaurant that burned down and there was just the warped metal scaffolding left and a slab of concrete.
We all hung out hammocks we were going to sleep in crawled into them and tried to sleep because by the time we had got up there the sun had just set. I didnt get more than 30 min of sleep when I heard the first clash of thunder that woke me up. I looked over to my roommates Nolan and David and they both woke up too the lighting was a few miles away so we didnt worry too much that we were 1000 ft up on a mountain surrounded by metal at this point. So we all tried to sleep again while the rain drizzled down. The next time I woke up I was startled by thunder and lightening and this time the rain was POURING! We counted the time between the lighting flash and the sound of thunder to determine how far away it was actually striking, after a few minutes of trying to figure out if we needed to move or not we got down to about half a second in between lighting and the thunder clap well all unanimously hurried to a cave we spotted before setting camp to be sheltered from the rain and hopefully not have to worry about getting struck by lightening surrounded by metal haha. 
So that night in total all of us prob averaged about 1-2 hours of sleep at most. The next morning we woke up to beautiful sunrise over the mountains with partial cloud cover.....Then it started to rain again. So we decided we needed to go now or never because the storm was only about to get worse. We then hiked down what I thought was gnarly before, but now that everything was wet it was even 10 times harder. 
We got to to our first repel and i was soooo pysched there was a beautiful waterfall to the left and 

So we got to repel 200ft down it. It was such an incredible experience something id like to share with you all. I can picture me explaining this to Austin in much greater detail telling him how sketchy and how crazy fun the hike was and i cant imagine his response would be any different than "lets do it". I love you buddy miss you tons and ill keep on going on adventures and trips and anytime i have any doubt that ill be able to do it or if im being lazy or get pysched out ill always think to myself, Austin would go.

 Love Jeff 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

African Adventures!

This is an adventure that was not only eye opening and life changing, but exciting. Almost everyday I journaled about the experiences I was having, the people I was meeting, and the stories I was hearing, and everyday I thought about Austin. I journaled as if I was telling a story to someone and that someone was him. In fact, I know he would be so excited to read it all cause one of the last things we talked about was this trip. He was so happy for me and thankfully this trip was everything I hoped and he assured me it would be.

Rogers, one of the adorable kids at the orphanage
Although don’t be fooled going to Africa is not the easiest of adventures. It took 3,000$, 10 shots, 48 hours of travel (round trip), possible permanent neck damage due to the severely bumpy dirt roads, and a lot of bug spray! But it was completely worth it. Most my days there consisted of working at a children’s home and spending time with lots of kids. I, along with the team I went with, also spoke at a few churches and lead bible studies. For the most part the work was exciting stuff! One day we fixed the playground equipment for the kids, we added a zip line and some swings and just played with them. Other days the work was gardening, helping plant dozens of passion fruit trees or grafting different types of fruit together. But we also spent quite a few days just doing simple stuff like painting dorm rooms for the kids coming home from high school, or fixing the rain gutters. It wasn’t anything too adventurous, but no matter what we did we always talked to people. In Kenya, the people take great pride in community. They look after one another, care for each other, and they listen.  I care for a lot of people in my life, but sometimes in America it’s all just going to fast.

the kids loved my Austin bracelet :)
This country prides itself on productivity and getting there first. Kenya is a little slower. I had meals where we sat and talked for three hours and the other person never once checked their phone or Facebook (yes they do have those). They were genuinely interested to hear your story and your thoughts and I loved it. I think that would have been Austin’s favorite part, to hear people’s stories. Some of the stories I heard were crazy! I met a guy who killed a leopard, got cut by a poisoned arrow and had his leg nearly chopped off with a machete! Talk about epic! I met an Olympic runner who just ran in the marathon in London and took bronze for Kenya! And I talked to kids whose parents died and left them, or were alcoholics and didn’t care about them, but they were smiling and thankful for all they have (two pairs of clothes and one pair of shoes). These people are amazing, their stories are unbelievable, and their hearts are full of love. And the story I got to share was epic because Austin was apart of it. And just how Austin taught me and is teaching me to value relationships and time, so did the Kenyans. A productive day to them is being with people you love and getting to know new people to love.

Lions lunch instead of me
Masi Warriors!!! And my Austin shirt of course!
I got to experience working hard in Kenya, but I also go to play hard. The last three days I was there we went on a safari in the Masi Mara and let me tell you lion king is a great portrayal, but definitely nothing compared to the real thing. I think I saw literally a million zebra, a pride of lions (mating and hunting included), a baby cheetah and a baby lion, and even a giraffe! But the sounds of safari are probably my favorite. Hearing a lion roar twenty feet from your face gives you goose bumps, and I couldn’t help laugh every time I heard a hippo (which lived in the river literally right outside my luxury tent) give a “satisfied grunt” as our tour guide called it. I tried to squeeze in a few outrageous activities like chasing after a pack of zebra on 

foot, and standing on the roof of the safari vehicle for a picture without the driver knowing…. then he started to drive and I literally almost fell off and became lion’s lunch. I even met some Masi warriors who live there year round, have killed lions with their bare hands, and look fabulous doing it. (They were these shukas, which are like big colorful sheets and have lots of beaded jewelry) All together it was an experience I will never forget and one I couldn’t wait to share with Austin. But I could feel him there then and everyday now teaching me new things and reminding me of the things I sometimes forget.  <3 Chelsea

Friday, August 17, 2012

Utah Outdoor Adventures

So I know this is long overdue but I was putting some blogs up for people that sent us blogs and felt if other people got theres together I just needed to do mine. So here it is!

Alright so a few weeks ago I went to Utah actually for an orientation for the University of Utah (funny because as many of you know I chose Chapman) but more of just an outdoor adventure! I was having a hard time leaving even though it was only for a week because it was my first time being away from my friends and family completely ever since the accident. I debated not going but I knew Austin would love the adventures soon to be in store. So I got on my plane and headed to Salt Lake City. I got in had lunch with a family friend who picked me up and than headed to the University. Boring presentations and things aside, I had chosen the Outdoor orientation. Upon my arrival I was told that my 2 trips were going to be rafting and rock climbing.

Getting ready for the climb!
So  the next day we were split up into our groups and my group for the day was going Rock Climbing! And I mean actually real rocks with not many big cracks or anything to make it an easy climb. Of course this just made me more excited. We set up about 5 lines all ranging in difficulty and even height, up at 120 feet! We got into groups of 3 and all switched off climbing, belaying and being a back up.

 This was really fun and very tiring! Many times I would be climbing and just be completely exhausted or not be able to find a spot for my hands or feet and I would channel Austin to keep me going or I would think to myself "I gotta do it for the story" and so I would take a deep breath and feel as if i was running up a straight wall sometimes but I would find a crack somewhere and make it just a bit higher until I would reach the top!
Half way up the agro-crack!

 After about 5 hours of climbing and a little adventuring we headed up the rode a bit to a campsite where we met up with the other 2 groups and spent the night. The evening was full of cooking, chatting, making smores, playing on a slack line, cards and other fun things. Myself and a few others had talked about boycotting the tents and sleeping under the stars instead. As night came It got colder and there was a chance of rain. I thought maybe we should just sleep in the tents so we dont get rained on but that a few seconds later I realized if it rained(which it did) that would just make it an even better story and Austin was not one going to let a little rain ruin a beautiful night under the stars. And so we did have an awesome night sleeping under the stars.

The next day we got a bit later start but packed up everything and headed for that days adventure. My day was full of rafting! It was a blast. We drove out to the river took out all of the boats and pumped them up than were quickly on our way. The river had several rapid areas that were tons of fun! I only got stuck on one rock(someone pinned me on it) but dont worry I got off of it all by myself and headed back to the rest of the group. about 10 minutes before the end we had caught up to a bunch of tourists on little rafts
floating down. Our guides had us stop so that we didn't hit them coming out of the last rapid since we knew they would fall out haha. We happened to pull over right past a small rapid and we thought it would be an awesome idea to walk up before it and float down it just in our life jackets. It was super fun so me and just a few others kept doing it until it was time to go. We went forward, backwards, spun around and even all made a train down it. We continued down the river with a beautiful view, watched some members of the group fall out, flip there boats, get stuck in the trees and loose paddles, shoes etc. We got back to the ending point had some food and headed back to the school.

After I left the orientation I went to Provo where I spent the weekend with a good friend of mine, Emily. It was really good to see her hang out with all of her friends go to 7-11 on her scooter and go to a indoor trampoline park with foam pits, dodgeball and just lots of trampolines. All in all it was a pretty fun weekend I even got to see my Aunt. It was an adventure Austin would have definitely loved. <3

Love Nicole

Thursday, August 16, 2012

East Coast Love

Hey guys! Just sending some east coast love your way. If anyone doesn't know me I'm one of Austin's BU bffs/faux roommates. My friend reminded me of a great quote from the Shawshank Redemption the other day and I just wanted to share it with y'all because it's so appropriate - “I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up does rejoice. Still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone. I guess I just miss my friend." How perfect right? Missing that crazy kid everyday. Anyway, I hope you guys can make it over to Boston soon! I know the Brashears are tentatively coming out October 6th to retire Austin's water polo cap and we're going to throw a party in his honor so if anyone can make it out then we'd love to have you! I have plenty of pull-out couch & air mattress sleeping space. Also - Nick & I are going sky diving soon and we'll be wearing our Austin gear so I'm sure I'll have a blog post coming your way!
Love, Amy

Girls Camp

There are two pictures of the hike at girls camp. This hike was a killer! We hiked 1000 feet in 2 miles. It was really hard. When we were close to the top the girls were getting discouraged and wanted to quit. I yelled as loud as I could "Do it for the story!" Cammy and I had our Austin shirts on and the girls started yelling "Do it for the story!" It was so fun! I wish you could have been there. Most of the girls were able to make it to the top. A few stayed behind when one new BeeHive had a asthma attach. It was pretty scary! I was so proud of the girls and how they were there for Kailiegh Jackman. In this picture is: Brianna Perez, Kailiegh Jackman, Joselyn Huerta, Bailey Rail, Me, Ema Romberg, Cammy Panek, Jill Rime.

Kristi made it to the top! She had her Austin bracelet on and the silly band he gave her many years ago. She is with a friend Brianna who is from Texas. She came to camp with us this year.
Cammy and I had never done archery before. Super fun! We both did well. Cammy actually hit the bulls eye! Look out Katniss! You might have some compation at the next Hunger Games! I would LOVE to do this again. Another new adventure for me!


Brett and Nolan with their "Batmobiles". Brett showed up to go to the beach with Nolan and they both had their Austin shirts on. I told them we had to get a picture! Matching shirts with matching cars thinking about their buddy, Austin, who would love this picture!



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tender Mercies

If you know Mama B, you know that whether you want to or not, you're going to soak up some of her wisdom just by standing next to her. I have been incredibly lucky to watch (and experience) her not only be a mother to all her children (biological and otherwise), but a teacher or rather, an educator. Her lessons range from the kitchen to the heartstrings, sometimes are unspoken, and never disappoint to remind me that I am strong and capable. She always has the answer and the right thing to say.

Something Mama B taught me this summer is to appreciate the little things, the small moments of happiness and joy, because sometimes they can be few and far between. These bits of happiness and joy can come in all different forms, sometimes in the form of what she calls Tender Mercies. Those moments when you feel like Austin is standing next to you... giving you a hug, cheering you on in a race, or simply just standing there. It's not paranormal, it's just a sense of Austin. An intense remembrance of sorts... imagining whatever he would be doing if he were able to be there.

Tonight I had a Tender Mercy. I was watching TV and someone in the show I was watching picked up a guitar. A ping of sadness and regret flooded through me because I haven't played my guitar all summer. I just didn't really feel like it I guess. But tonight I couldn't help but want to. I sat down thinking about what to play and was suddenly overwhelmed with the memory of a commercial Austin and I had seen with an acoustic version of Stand By Me in it. It was so gorgeous, we sat literally entranced in the commercial and when it was over we instantly looked at each other and said "We HAVE to learn that!" I started typing into YouTube and came across something I didn't expect.


It starts out...

"This song says no matter who you are, no matter where you go in your life, at some point you're going to need somebody to stand by you."

such a relevant concept to the last few months and the family and community that has kept all of us going, but it becomes an example of people all over the world coming together to achieve a common goal. You should really watch it. Seriously, it's pretty dope.

I have no idea how it happens, but sometimes I feel like Austin twists around the strings of fate to make us giggle or cry or feel comforted in the fact that his love is never gone. How did he know that video is exactly what I needed, but could have never found on my own? Oh those Tender Mercies.

In a sea of doubt about whether I could live out my seemingly ridiculously naive life goal (World Peace... I'm not kidding) it made me realize that there was hope. As cheesy as that may sound and as silly as it may seem I really do think I can help change the world in at least some teeny tiny way. I glanced down at my left foot and read the words I recently drew there forever. I'm still looking up. And I am. Remembering all the people who are standing by me whether I fail or succeed (the Leaves of My Family Tree) made me realize there's no point in holding back. In these last few months I've realized that you have to do what you want to do in order to be happy. So I'm going to do it! ...whether everyone thinks I'm crazy or not!

If you're reading this wondering how this classifies as an adventure... It may not seem like one, but I feel like the next 6-7 years spent getting my Masters and my Ph.D so I can try to educate our college youth will be one. So will the whole educating the college youth thing. So here's to a renewed passion to do what I want to do and live out my dream.

Thank you to the Leaves of My Family Tree, for everything in the past and for everything in advance. ;)


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hand Made Memorial

Today I got done with work a little bit early and decided to stop putting off finding this bead store that I’ve wanted to go to. I’ve LOVED the few people’s memorial tattoos, but that’s something I just don’t think I could ever see myself doing. Since the funeral I’ve thought about wanting to make a bracelet or necklace instead and finally got around to doing it. After a few circles around the shopping center I found the shop tucked into the corner. It was mania, well not really it was just me and a few others with light 80’s music playing in the background, but it was mania in my head. SO MANY CHOICES! After wandering around for a while I finally collected everything I needed to put together the bracelet: leaves, a light blue bead, some beach shell beads, and a heart. It is my hand made memorial, there is meaning behind every part of this. I love you and miss you bud.

Love always,

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Saving Lives and Protecting the Environment

This is very brief blog entry about a very brief adventure, but one that I’ll never forget. This summer I have been working at an internship through the Coast Guard here in Portland. Saving lives and protecting the environment, all in a days work. It has been an adventure in itself trying to figure out all the different ranks, procedures, and formalities of the job but for the most part it has not been too exciting. 

The job has certain perks like ridiculously cheap meals in the galley, tax-free things sold in the exchange, “area familiarization rides” on boats a.k.a. “let’s see how fast we can go”, and most recently, the chance to take a ride over Portland in a Coast Guard helicopter.

Before I even got near the helicopter this adventure was pretty neat because I got to meet it at a heliport on the top of an old parking structure in downtown Portland. I typed in a super top secret code into the elevator and that took me up to a small glass lobby. I walked out on the helipad and was met with an incredible view of the Willamette River and downtown Portland. As soon as the helicopter landed I was put in a super stylish flight suit, helmet, headset, gloves, etc. and strapped in. Then I got in the helicopter and we were off! I got to sit right by the open door so that I could see everything. We landed on top of OHSU, then flew over downtown and over to the Willamette River. I got a great view of the many bridges that Portland is famous for and saw many, many boats. The adventure only lasted about 30 minutes but it is one I will never forget!
My actual job is dealing with derelict vessels on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers....here is the Sternwheeler Jean (with its sternwheel "modified") and gunboat-12 (which has been converted into a barge). Pretty exciting, right!?!
Not everyone can pull off that outfit, I must be pretty special!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Baldy Mountain

Rick and I on the summit of Baldy Mountain at Philmont Scout Ranch. We didn't have shirts so we made the letter "A" for Austin and told his story to our crew. He will continue to be an inspiration for adventure!


More Than Just Smiling Down On Us

Wanting to get into shape and see more of the beauty around where we live, a few of us decided to take up hiking. We thought that we would start by doing a “little” hike off of Newport Coast, a 2.9 mile hike to be exact. We (Tom, Julie, Mike & Sherri) were so anxious to get started that we ignored the map signs at the trail head and just headed for the top. “Let’s go and do it for the story!” ... Eight and a half miles later, with burning feet, stomachs growling, almost out of water, and a little grumbling under our breaths, we made it back to the car. The joke was on us, Austin, I know that you got a good laugh out of this and at some points along the trail; it was the thought of you that got us to the top of the next hill with no end in sight. The view was lovely and the company was better. We had a lovely day and look forward to our next hike.

Love Ya,

Mama Wilson

Monday, July 30, 2012

Lake Trip

One of the last times I (Amanda) talked to Austin he expressed his frustration that he hadn’t come out to my lake house yet. I agreed that it was ridiculous and that we would plan an immediate trip upon his return from New Zealand and Nicole piped in from the background with a, “I better be invited too!” Well, here we are now sitting in the car on our way home from that lake trip, and he definitely helped to make it a good story.

Amanda: My trip began at noon when I left Chico to drive to go to the bay, got to Travis’ house and headed for the airport. Upon arrival we discovered our flight was 2 hours delayed so our 8:45 pm landing was now schedule for 10:45 pm. Awesome. Well my brother was a trooper and still picked us up and we started on the 4 hours drive to Arizona. 3:30 am we got there and passed out.

Kristin, Nicole & Amanda: The fun began bright and early at 6:30 am on Friday morning. We all woke up, made sandwiches, had a sunscreen party and took off for the lake – except it wasn’t that simple. Less than a mile from the launch ramp Amanda shredded her first tire, and it only took everyone in the car behind her frantically waving our hands out the window, pulling to the other side of the road, and two turns later (because of course her brother’s horn was broken) for her to notice. The tire on the Sea Doo trailer not only popped but shredded (until now I always wondered how chunks of tire got on the side of the road, I now know). A set of tools, spare tire, jack, a rock and muscles later we replaced the tire and were back on our way.

Day one at the lake was awesome. Glassy and warm water, it was perfect for knee-boarding, wakeboarding and tubing. The rest of the day was your typical lake day, got home , ordered pizza and we all passed out by 8:30 pm.

 Day two, we got a much more mild start to our day. Fueled up and headed for the lake free of any shredded tire detours. Even through the water was a little choppier we still filled our day with boarding and tubing. A lot of the day was spent on the back of or driving the Sea Doos…or occasionally in the water after being flipped off while doing a gnarly donut. Later in the day we all headed over to the jumping rock and spend some time there throwing and flipping our bodies of various heights of rocks. Everything was an adventure and we channeled Austin to get up after each face plant on the wakeboard or plummet off a rock. We packed up and headed back towards the launch ramp with the intention to jump off of “hole in the rock”….but obviously it couldn’t be that easy. As we stopped all the vehicles in the cove to jump the sight of lightening was announced and we felt the storm blowing in. We quickly started everything back up hoping to beat the storm, however that didn’t happen. (I think Austin is still a little upset he didn’t get to come to the lake house)
The last half of the ride back was full of stormy waves and choppy water that was slightly terrifying but extremely thrilling. Heading into the ramp we had one sea doo out of gas, another on reserve and in a panic to get all the car keys to shore we ended up with one entirely flipped upside down – and let me tell you those are NOT EASY to flip back over in the water. While the three ran up to grab the cars and wait in the pull out line everyone else was getting whipped around trying to get the sea doos in shallow water, oh and did we mention the sandstorm pelting us in the face…but we all had smiles despite the chaos. We successfully got all the vehicles out of the water just in time to discover that Amanda’s brother had locked his keys in his truck…while it was still running. An hour and AAA later we all were back at the house where we quickly soaped and dried all the toys under the beautiful desert sunset. We then showered and headed to Chili’s for dinner at the ripe time of 9:30 pm.

This morning we let everyone sleep in a bit, we all woke up crawling to the IB Profen bottles to relieve some of our sore muscles, cleaned the house and now we’re on our way home. Two full days on the lake was a blast but we’re al feeling it. Thanks for all the detours and bumps in the road Austin, it definitely made for a better story.

Just when we all thought the story was over, we stopped in Barstow on the way home to get some food and some gas. We pulled off the freeway and naturally we stopped at In-N-Out(one of Austin's favs). As we walked into the resturaunt Amanda quickly noticed a "Team Austin" shirt on someone we quickly approached him just asking how he knew Austin and we found out it was Erik who played polo at BU with Austin.  It was crazy to recognize this shirt on someone, especially when we are in the middle of nowhere just driving home from the lake and him driving home from a weekend in Vegas. Crazy how some things work out sometimes.

Love Always,
Nicole, Amanda, and Kristen

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The NZ To Do List

Been meaning to write this for a while now. But, better late than never, yeah?

After only three days together Austin, Stephen, Sam, Anne, Katie,
Melissa and I sat in Albert Park on a gorgeous, sunny day and made a list of 50 things we wanted to do while we were in New Zealand. Sam recorded the list in his journal, and over the following months we often revisited the list to check our progress. Between the seven of us we accomplished most things on our list, with the exception of #6:Get a part as an extra in the Hobbit. During the last couple days before flying back to the states I tried to cross a few things off our list.

“Jump off tall things” was one of the list items that was meant to be done over and over again. The more times the better. The most recent tall thing I jumped off was the Auckland Harbour Bridge, doing the same bungy jump Austin did on his twenty first birthday. I was absolutely freaking out and had to shut my eyes before I jumped, but of course it was amazing. #50: Do it for the Story was another one of these things that was meant to be done over and over again. “Do it for the Story” was that little extra bit of encouragement needed to get us past the point of no return on any potential adventure. I definitely needed that extra push to jump off the bridge.

Always keen to do something that wasn’t on our list, I took Jess up on her invitation to go to Rainbow’s End, a theme park in South Auckland.She warned me that although it was New Zealand’s premiere theme park it would not live up to Disney. But a theme park’s a theme park and it’s always great to run around and just be a kid for the day. We ran around the park for hours and never had to wait in a line. We pretty much rode each ride at least twice in a row. The Fear Fall was the first and the last ride of the day, Jess and I rode it 5 times in all! We knew Austin would have loved running around with us and making the most of the day!

Lying in Albert Park that day, making our list, we couldn’t help but notice the fountain nearby that was just beckoning us to jump into it. We put off the urge to frolic in the fountain then and there and added it to our list, knowing that it would be something to do on some random day. But we never got around to it, not as a group anyway. To start my very last day in New Zealand I enlisted a friend as a photographer and headed off to Albert Park. So cold! So worth it! I was sad we didn’t all do it together but glad that I did it. Jumping in fountains is going to be a thing from now on. This is not a goodbye to New Zealand, for I will return and continue adventuring. And this is definitely not a goodbye to Austin. Austin was on my mind during those last few days in New Zealand, still is now, and will be for days to come.

Love Always,

An Austin Kind Of Week

Monday July 9th seemed to confirm that this month was going to be a rough one. Life’s little and big trials were getting me down. Now normally I would stay in the daily grind until I had a complete melt down, but on May 11th, everything that was normal changed forever. On that day the unthinkable happened. However I quickly observed that no matter how overwhelming the grief was, those of us who had come to know and love Austin were going to be moving forward from that awful day embracing life like never before. We were all going to “do it for the story”.

That’s how I got to where I was Monday night. Since that devastating May evening, I stop and consider my choices now, and consider what I want my story to be. I had a choice because I was going to get a story out of this week either way. I could go back to work Tuesday morning and most likely continue to have a really horrible week. Then my story could have been about how much paperwork I had to shuffle, or how my boss didn’t appreciate me, or how I got my laundry done but was too exhausted to do anything else!

But then I wouldn’t have had a blog worthy story to tell. So Tuesday morning I called in “sick” and decided to have an Austin kind of week. I work with mental health professionals so a mental health day (or two) is never out of the question. Even though my choice was intended to change my attitude for the better, it took me most of the morning for that to happen. I got out of bed slowly and it was early afternoon before I got out of my jammies. Not an epic start, but my intent was to rest my weary self. I think Austin would have approved.

Tuesday afternoon I decided to have a wonderful lunch with a new found friend. What was supposed to be an hour lunch extended into a four hour gab fest! By the time lunch was over it was time for dinner. There are new opportunities on the horizon, and in another decision inspired by Austin’s legacy, my husband and I headed out the door for an exciting evening with friends.

Again not epic, but definitely better than sitting behind a desk all day.

Wednesday I was trying really hard to feel guilty about not going to work the day before, but I just couldn’t seem to get there. I saw that as a sign that I should probably rest my mental health just one more day. Besides I had already decided to go kayaking.

By 10:30 AM I was at Sherri’s house. Sherri had already kidnapped Julie so that she could rest her mental health from work also. And we all waited patiently for Janet to arrive so our little adventure could begin. Now let me just say that middle aged women do not just dive into an adventure, even spontaneity requires that we take some care. What has almost become ritualistic, we first spend a few minutes or more (usually more) discussing our hormones. Hormones have absolutely nothing to do with kayaking, or anything else for that matter, but when you are on the verge of menopause, hormones work their way into just about every conversation. Hormone talk provides a natural segue into a discussion of the latest aches and pains, which reminded Sherri that she has tennis elbow from not playing tennis. Her injury was sustained from pulling her suitcase through the airport on a recent adventure to Japan. Don’t laugh! I hurt my knee putting the cover over our EZ up. And crossing our legs can lead to some serious muscle cramps. Be very afraid young people, getting old is not for wimps!

As Sherri strapped her elbow up tight with a piece of fuchsia duct tape the rest of decided to pop some ibuprofen before heading out, just in case. At our ages you never know what you are going to pull or strain next, getting out of the car could lead to hip replacement surgery!

Eventually we got to Sunset Beach, parked the car in a few different locations (street sweeping day is the pits) made a quick payment to the nice kayak rental man, and off we went. Janet and I, verses Sherri and Julie. Well it wasn’t supposed to be that way, and not that I am competitive or anything, but Janet and I did win.
We paddled up one side of Huntington Harbor and down the other. We talked about the old days at Mother’s Beach with our babies; we talked about Austin and our other kids and how fast life is moving and how quickly things change. We hit a few nasty head winds, the kind that make you want to stop paddling, but when you do the wind and current send you backwards and thwarts all your progress. So then we talked about how sore we would probably be tomorrow. Best of all, we talked about our next adventure. Normally we would just talk, normally we are only talk. But as I said before, life isn’t normal anymore. We have some fun things planned and I can’t wait because I have no doubt now that we will do them….. “for the story” of course!

Kayaking ended with us all starving so we headed to a friend’s shop for a yummy acacia bowl of heaven. We parted ways after that. I headed to Burke Williams for a massage, and then ended this perfect day with my daughter and some of our friends on the beach roasting marshmallows and watching the sun set. Now I know this was a day Austin would have approved of.

Thankfully I was on a roll now, so even though I couldn’t find any good reason to miss work on Thursday, by the evening I was back to making more memories. Julie and Cammy, along with Janet and I and our two daughters headed to a local theater to watch our favorite musical. Singin’ In the Rain, the original movie with Gene Kelly, was being shown on the big screen to a sold out audience. It was so much fun! The light, warm rain that fell from a tropical storm just added to the specialness of the evening.

Friday a staff retreat at the state beach was the perfect way to end the perfect week. No matter that Monday wasn’t a great day, in the end it turned out to be an Austin kind of week!

Mary, Sherri, Julie,& Janet


At first glance this may seem like a trivial "adventure", but over the past week what began as a decision to take the time to be more artsy has quickly turned into an epic battle against spray paint. When Chelsea and I hiked to the "top" of Mount Baldy (see previous post) we vowed that instead of spending days this summer laying on the couch watching One Tree Hill, which is what we both seem to find ourselves doing quite frequently, we would spend more time with the people we love, doing things we love. One of these things that neither of us had really spent any time on recently was crafting, so we decided to have a crafting party at my house. 

Chelsea had this great idea to make "bucket list boards" by glueing chicken wire behind empty picture frames and clipping on papers with our "dreams" written on them with mini closepins. Sage and Nicole came over and after some minor struggles with hot glue we got our frames down pat. Our "dreams" for our bucket lists were very telling of our individual characters... mine were more realistic (Run a marathon, Drive across the country, Pass Chemistry) while Nicole's were very adventurous (Go on a real-life safari, Go Zorbing), and Sage's were a little eccentric (Float around in space). It only seemed fitting that we each titled our Austin-inspired dream boards with "Do It For The Story."

Chelsea and I also made crayon art! We hot-glued crayons to canvasses and melted them with a hairdryer. We had to deal with rebel crayons that decided to splatter all over the place and cause minor 3rd degree burns, but the result was totally worth it!
Finally, Chelsea's internship for a wedding planner has been keeping her extremely busy, so the other day Shannon and I decided to help out. We each learned the valuable lesson of NEVER EVER USING SPRAY PAINT when it took us hours and hours (and hours) to paint wood boards on Shannon's front lawn. Our artistic journey ended with an epic paint fight, which was so much fun it was totally worth the time it took to get paint out of our hair....

All this carpe-ing the diem has got me thinking about the incredible, adventurous life Austin lived, and I stumbled upon this quote which (though a bit long) is amazingly applicable to both Austin's point of view on life and the attitude that we're trying to adopt now: "The fulfilling life, the distinctive life, the relevant life, is an achievement, not something that will fall into your lap because you’re a nice person or mommy ordered it from the caterer. You’ll note the founding fathers took pains to secure your inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—quite an active verb, “pursuit”—which leaves, I should think, little time for lying around watching parrots rollerskate on Youtube. The first President Roosevelt, the old rough rider, advocated the strenuous life. Mr. Thoreau wanted to drive life into a corner, to live deep and suck out all the marrow. The poet Mary Oliver tells us to row, row into the swirl and roil. The point is the same: get busy, have at it. Don’t wait for inspiration or passion to find you. Get up, get out, explore, find it yourself, and grab hold with both hands." -David McCullough 

Sarah, Chelsea, Nicole, & Sage