“I don’t know where the hell we were—on a bus somewhere,” says Patrick Martin, pro photographer and aging surf dude who by his own account has “done a whole bunch of weird stuff,” but is resolutely not in the business of collecting stamps in his passport. We are sitting at the bar at Nevados, in Mammoth Lakes. “Anywhere in the world you’ll run into those people,” he says, “especially if you go somewhere other people haven’t been.”
He was on one of Bill Altaffer's adventures, on the way to or from Tuva, perhaps, as part of a small cadre of extreme travelers bouncing across a cold, exotic landscape with beautiful women on every corner and no ice for their whiskey. And sure enough, somewhere along the road, a guy got on bearing a U.S. passport fat with ink and border crossings.
“He was some kind of scientist for the government,” Martin recalls, “built an atomic bomb or something, made a lot of money and just started walking.” He had all the stamps: Pakistan. Kazakhstan. Mongolia. “He was like an old dog, wandering. No friends, no life, no nothing—no chicks.”
The dude didn’t talk much. Didn’t want to hook up. Didn’t want to hang out.
And then he was gone.MJ September Style & Design Issue.