Justin Chatwin: Border Run

JustinChatwin_BorderRunJustin Chatwin is a Canadian actor with the heart of an American adventurer.  He took time off from the set of Shameless and embarked on a Southwestern road trip with little more than a motorcycle, a good friend, some Filson and a pair of long johns. Below, his road letter from north of the border…

Dear Filson,

Thank you for defining and redefining the Adventurous American man. Not only do I wear your jacket and carry your duffel, but I have also slept, swam, and rolled in the dirt of east Texas in your jacket. And your garment gets even better looking.

Filson is strictly for the man who’s okay with wearing the same thing for 10 days straight.  We did four.

My friend and I, ruffians at heart, threw some long johns and baby powder (don’t ask) into our Filson rucksacks, saddled up on our metal steeds (named Charlie Crowe and Bobby Valentine) to cover 1,800 miles in 3 days. In our matching trucker jackets, we set forth from LA on highway 8 to Tuscon, AZ. Within 4 hours,  we had passed black smoke burning from bizarre Salton Sea canyons, my rear light had melted off from the heat, and my friend had baby barfed in his helmet.  We were free at last.  God’s Country. The western States border run.

The next day and 600 miles later, we awoke from the grueling ride feeling more like we had spent the night in Tucson prison rather than the Congress hotel.  And so began to charge across America playing outlaw in our heads with Charlie and Bobby as we rode through golden fields and the historical towns of Tombstone, AZ (Don’t stop, justrent the movie) and Bisbee, AZ (stop there, no movie, and it’s the best town in AZ). We passed through the site where Geronimo surrendered and into Mexican Border Patrol territory.  We hung a right onto a little road called HWY 9 near the New Mexico border to get gas. A little woman was closing the gas station:

“What you boys doing on this road?”
“Just getting some gas”
“Glad you caught me because we close early here.”

It was 4:45.

“Nothing but trouble on this road boys.”
“How far is it to El Paso?”
“Bout 3 hours.  Nothing but border patrol and drug cartels on this road after dusk”.

JustinChatwin_BorderRun_5We sobered up from playing outlaw real quick at sundown in a little town called Columbus.  Not only was the town’s water tank matte black, but so was the Chevy Yukon with shiny rims that began to do laps around the block, eyeing both Charlie and Bobby.  We escaped out of there so fast, our bikes began to spit up oil.  Fear, the great motivator.  Hell Paso, the black stain of America.

The next day in Marfa a tiny cactus thorn and a flat tire set us back. But a goat farmer named Alan McLain and an old bearded Harley enthusiast named Moondog (need I say more) set us forward.  Two great men with a few missing teeth who are dedicating their later years to the service of others. Not only did they have a spare tube that fit Bobby Valentine’s tire, but we also got three cans of goat cheese, a lesson in changing a motorcycle tire, and a 45 minute ride in Moondog’s F-350 where he blasted his new Tiesto record.  Very unexpected.

Our last day, we took the advice of two Mexican Harley owners named Pedro by following the low road into Austin.  Although the flat slowed us down, a 30 mile patch out-running a highway patrol sped us up.  No need to say more.

JustinChatwin_Filson_BorderRun_12On a four day trip from Los Angeles to Austin, I had one of my two waxed jackets, a couple long johns and a few pair of undies.  All in one small duffel.  We felt like we were truly living. Truly present.  Felt free.  Felt like men.   Outlaws on the run from nothing at all except our own personal responsibilities.

In the end, my girlfriend wouldn’t touch me with my jacket on because of the things I had caught in it along the way.  A jacket’s like a bike: Every trip, every tear, every dent has a story.

JustinChatwin_Filson_BorderRun_26Nick barfed again this time for five minutes and this time from sheer exhaustion.  But we were alive as we rolled into South by Southwest and raved to Justin Timberlake till 5am.  Moondog would have been proud.

Filson’s a brand with history. American made, with a story, an adventure. Whether it’s fishing, camping, or motorcycling, Filson defines the American man for me. I’ve ran over my waxed Filson jacket with my motorcycle, slept on it in Africa, Denver, Alaska, and many strange women’s houses.  From the black smoke of the Salton Sea to the vast skies of Marfa and and the back seat of Moondog’s truck, Filson is along for the ride.


Justin Chatwin