Allen Brisson-Smith

Empire, Minnesota 2009

Empire. Minnesota. 2009. Tough times. Pam was pregnant with Eva. We had arrived from the steaming hot Middle East and Oman to a freezing -30, stormy Minnesota. Where should we decide to live? How would we support the family? We ended up in a place called Empire. Just a bunch of buildings in the cross roads of life. Other tenants were unemployed war veterans, retired folks, truckers. And solo teenage kids with babies. Great people, but in mid-Winter, the environment was kind of depressive. In all this I got an interview request from The National in Abu Dhabi. A Guardian like newspaper. It was about my planned journey by camel from Oman to Mauretania. But I needed 650 000 euro. And there, in Empire, I had a few hundred dollars in my wallet. Pam even less. It seemed impossible. the journey. the supporting of family. We had also hired a car without insurance. A mistake would be serious. The National sent a local Minnesotan photographer Allen Brisson-Smith.
Great guy who turned out to be a friend of a friend, National geographic writer Dan Buettner. A former long distance cyclist like myself. Meeting them helped us a lot. And I wrote to travel agency´s who might employ me as a guide. that is how I came across one of mest best friends, jeff Willner at kensington Tours. He certainly saved my life! Even though initially we got into a fight of words. The journey didn´t happen. For two reasons. First, Saudi Arabia. Second, the funding. Pam and me thought first, if it happens, we will bring our new child with us. Now ten years or so on. Life turned out fine. I did the camel journey in Yemen instead. We got the family together.
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