Three years ago, on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011, I clicked “publish” on a blog post on this web site, and then put a link to the post on Twitter, to let my 25 or so Twitter followers know I was publishing some writing. A couple people retweeted it, and the post got a couple “likes” on Facebook (like literally a couple—2). I thought that was pretty OK, so I wrote a post for the next Thursday. And the next one. At the end of the month, my new blog had gotten 646 page views. 646!
As of today, this blog is three years old, and I haven’t missed a Thursday morning yet. I may not be very smart, but I show up. Basically this thing turns three today because I’m too stubborn to not let it turn three. Lots of things have happened because of that, and mostly they are interesting only to me and maybe my mother, who is very proud of me, but of course would be very proud of me even if I never accomplished anything.
Mostly I just click “publish” every Thursday, not really sure what for, besides maybe I hope a few people will read what I’ve written and maybe laugh, maybe relate to something in the words, maybe get a lump in their throat, or maybe get inspired to do something. I watch the social media stats to try to figure out if people liked what I wrote, and then try to figure out why or why not for the next week.
A year into it, my friends Syd and Debi surprised me and stuck two giant “Semi-Rad.com” magnets to the side of my van, and I was kind of embarrassed, but more OK with it than embarrassed, and I kept driving around the West with them on there, figuring it couldn’t hurt, plus I wasn’t that cool anyway, so I really didn’t mind. Then this incredible thing started happening, beginning at the Jiffy Lube in Salem, Oregon, when this guy behind me in line heard me spell my name to the attendant and said “Are you Brendan Leonard?” And then he introduced himself as Spencer, who lived in Salem, and we talked about mountain biking for a while.
It happened a few more times over the course of the year, and I started to realize that through my persistence with this web site and some lucky branding, I got to meet some awesome people who just happened to see the URL on my van and came up to chat. And that’s a privilege.
I usually wrestle quite a bit about writing about my own life, always trying to write about “us,” not “me,” because if it’s just me telling the world about myself, who the hell cares? But if I can write some stories about all of us, that could be a good thing. And maybe the best thing about this blog is all the people I’ve gotten to talk to in person, via e-mail, or social media, who I’d never met if I’d just written for other people’s magazines or web sites.
Just after dusk in the Oak Creek parking lot at Red Rocks, my girlfriend and I shared a box of Girl Scout cookies with Elaina, a climbing guide visiting from West Virginia, after she recognized the web site on the van. A guy came up to me in the Target parking lot in Denver to introduce himself, and I showed him what I was setting up in the parking lot: a Rubbermaid bin with a dish drying rack at the bottom, to let my wet crampons and boots drain without soaking the bed in the van. Scott Bennett came up to introduce himself at the Castleton Tower bivy, saying “I think you know my friend Forest …” Later that day, my friend and I helped rescue a guy named Peter off Castleton after he decked on a ledge next to us. Fourteen months later, my van was parked at the Bozeman Ice Festival, and I found a note on the windshield from one of Peter’s friends, recognizing the web site name and saying he’d like to buy me a beer for helping his friend on Castleton.
Last Saturday, I finished a phone call outside Deep Creek Coffee in Springdale, Utah, and walked back into the shop to my laptop, and this blonde guy sitting at the next table said, “Are you Brendan?” And I said Yep, and he said I saw your van outside and thought you might be. I follow your blog. Right on, I said, and then we started to talk about their trip—Trent and his friend Paul were visiting from Florida and Texas, respectively, and it was Paul’s first visit to Zion. I grabbed my climbing guidebook out of the van and let Trent flip through it for some bouldering beta. And it was great in that way it always is when you meet people with whom you have that one small big thing in common: isn’t this canyon/mountain range/climbing area/trail amazing?
I’d love to say Happy Birthday to this website, but I think it’s more appropriate to say it’s been nice getting to know all of you. Maybe we can do this again next Thursday. Thanks for reading.