Chris Burkard Completes Bikepacking Traverse of Iceland’s Interior

On August 23, 2020, after cycling 250 miles into the geographical heart of Iceland, Chris Burkard faced the possibility of his first major obstacle in his traverse across one of the most remote stretches of land on Earth.

If he and his four fellow riders stuck to their original route around the north side of Hofsjökull glacier—the third largest glacier and the largest active volcano in the country—they’d have to cross a deep glacial river that was impassable just a week earlier. They could play it safe and use a workaround, but that would add over 60 miles to a ride that was already mapped out to cover around 560 miles in eight days.

Burkard decided to take the risk. “Risk is crucial to everything,” he explains. “Risk is what creates uncertainty; uncertainty is what creates growth. I don’t need something to be super dangerous, but I do need it to have some potential for failure so that I can grow as a person.”

Chris Burkard carrying his bike and gear across a river.
Chris Burkard carrying his bike and gear across a river. Courtesy Image

Finding a New Way to Connect to Iceland

Burkard is no stranger to these kinds of scenarios. As a renowned outdoor, surf, and travel photographer, he’s ridden waves in Iwanai, Japan; scaled Yosemite’s famed Hardman Offwidth Circuit; and scuba dived off the coast of Mallorca—and that’s barely skimming the surface of his adventures. This trip was his 43rd to Iceland, and one he decided to make while competing the previous year in an 850-mile race that circumnavigated the island (he actually holds the fastest known time for cycling the 844-mile ring road: 52 hours, 36 minutes, and 19 seconds).

“Me riding bikes is just trying to get closer to the landscapes I really enjoy,” he explains. “It’s an exercise in feeling small and connected to a place. The whole time I was competing in that race, I kept thinking, I know there’s another route out there that takes you through the heart of this country.”

When he returned home to California, he reached out to a cartographer who could help map a route from the eastern-most point of Iceland, in Dalatangi, to the Bjargtangar, the western-most part of the country. “In my mind, this is the most diverse geological landscape you could ever experience,” says Burkard. “You move from fjords to temperate rainforests to desert-like massive lava flows to sand to rock—every type of surface you could imagine.”

It would be a first ascent, of sorts; the first time anyone bikepacked across Iceland’s interior. “What made this route so terrifying is that it’s never been done on bike,” says Burkard. “There was so much unknown, so much that could change day to day.”

Chris Burkard, Emily Batty, Adam Morka, and Eric Batty biking with glaciers in the background.
Chris Burkard, Emily Batty, Adam Morka, and Eric Batty biking with glaciers in the background. Courtesy Image

What It Takes to Ride Into the Heart of Europe’s Last Great Wilderness

In addition to the challenge of riding where no one has ridden before, Burkard was commited to completing the entire

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Chris Christie tests positive for coronavirus, eighth person who attended Rose Garden event

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has tested positive for the coronavirus. The former New Jersey governor is now at least the eighth person to test positive for COVID-19 after attending a Rose Garden event on September 26 Where President Trump announced the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

“I just received word that I am positive for COVID-19,” Christie tweeted on Saturday. “I want to thank all of my friends and colleagues who have reached out to ask how I was feeling in the last day or two. I will be receiving medical attention today and will keep the necessary folks apprised of my condition.”

Christie also notably helped Mr. Trump with debate preparation, spending hours with him over several days leading up to the first presidential debate on Tuesday.

President Trump Announces His Supreme Court Nominee To Replace Justice Ginsburg
Attorney General William Barr (R) says goodbye to former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and other guests after President Donald Trump introducee 7th U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, 48, as his nominee to the Supreme Court in the Rose Garden at the White House September 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. 

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Several people close to the president have now tested positive for the coronavirus, including longtime aide Hope Hicks, senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, GOP chair Ronna McDaniel, first lady Melania Trump, and campaign manager Bill Stepien. Senators Thom Tillis and Mike Lee, both members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, have also tested positive. 

At least 8 people tested positive within a week after attending the Rose Garden ceremony — where few people wore face masks and social distancing was not practiced. COVID-19 symptoms typically take several days to appear after coronavirus exposure. 

Mr. Trump is currently receiving treatment for COVID-19 at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, after revealing late Thursday that he had tested positive for the virus. The first lady has not been admitted for treatment. 

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No One Will Buy the ‘American Murder’ House Where Chris Watts Killed His Wife

The Colorado home where Chris Watts strangled his pregnant wife, Shanann Watts, back in 2018 is currently in “limbo” after no one’s tried to buy it.

a person holding a baby posing for the camera: Shanann Watts (L) and daughters Bella and Celeste were murdered by father Chris Watts (R) in 2018.

© Shanann Watts
Shanann Watts (L) and daughters Bella and Celeste were murdered by father Chris Watts (R) in 2018.

Featured in Netflix’s new documentary American Murder: The Family Next Door, the Watts home housed the couple and their two young daughters, Celeste (3) and Bella (4), until Watts killed his wife and children. Now, Watts still legally owns the property, which sits empty, even though he’s currently imprisoned in Wisconsin serving three consecutive life sentences.

Immediately after Watts’ sentencing, the five-bedroom house went into foreclosure. That means because Watts wasn’t making mortgage payments, the home became the property of the mortgage lender. But they didn’t keep hold of the foreclosure, according to After many failed auctions, in which no one wanted to buy the Watts home (understandably so), it was taken out of foreclosure. This means, legally, Watts is still the owner of the family home.

American Murder: The Family Next Door | Official Trailer | Netflix



So can you buy the Watts home? Not right now, it appears. The home is currently listed as “off the market,” apparently because it’s in such an odd place legally. A listing from says the home, located in Frederick, Colorado, is worth an estimated $648,100. Zillow has a lower estimate of $595,349. Both of these seemingly aren’t accounting for the murder—rather, they’re going off of the general prices in the neighborhood.


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What’s next for the property? Well, Watts’ home will sit vacant until another creditor attempts to put the home into foreclosure, according to bankruptcy attorney Clark Dray, who works out of Denver.

But in the close-knit community where the Watts family lived, it seems very unlikely that anyone will step in to buy the property, knowing the full story. spoke to an appraiser, Orell Anderson, who suggested the house will only sell with a 15- to 25-percent discount, given the horrendous crimes.

For those who don’t know the story or haven’t seen Netflix’s American Murder: The Family Next Door, Watts was having an affair before he decided to murder his pregnant wife. In his retelling of the night, he claims that he told her he didn’t love her anymore before he strangled her. Watts then drove the body of his wife, along with his two living daughters, to a remote oil field. He then suffocated the children. Their bodies were placed inside an oil tank, while Shanann was buried in a shallow grave nearby.

Watts originally denied involvement in the killings. Then, he changed his story to state that Shanann had killed her daughters. The truth later came out, that Watts was responsible for all of their deaths, and he’s serving consecutive life sentences in prison without parole.

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In 35th Farm Aid Preview, Brandi Carlile Tours Her Garden & Chris Vos Gets Emotional About His Farming Family: Exclusive

The festival’s online format will highlight Farm Aid’s real superstars—the family farmers who grow the nation’s food.

When Willie Nelson’s Farm Aid stages its 35th anniversary festival on Sept. 26, the all-star event will be unlike any virtual concert yet seen during the pandemic.

Farm Aid 2020 On The Road will stream can’t-miss performances from its most expansive and diverse artist lineup in years.

The organization’s guiding foursome of Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Dave Matthews will be joined by Norah Jones, Black Pumas, Bonnie Raitt and Boz Scaggs, Brandi Carlile, Chris Stapleton, Edie Brickell with Charlie Sexton, Jack Johnson, Jamey Johnson, Jon Batiste, Kelsey Waldon, Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, Margo Price, Nathaniel Rateliff, Particle Kid, The Record Company, Valerie June and The War And Treaty.

But the festival’s online format also will highlight Farm Aid’s real superstars—the family farmers who grow the nation’s food, the men and women whom Nelson sought to help when he launched Farm Aid with its first concert in Champaign, Ill., on Sept. 22, 1985. Since then, Farm Aid—the longest-running concert for a cause— has raised nearly $60 million to support family farmers and a sustainable agriculture system.

And for Farm Aid’s performers, this is personal. In videos provided exclusively to Billboard in advance of the festival, Brandi Carlile offers a tour of her garden as she harvests late-season vegetables—and Chris Vos, lead singer of The Record Company, offers an emotional tribute to his dairy-farming father and his grandfather, who worked the land before him.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color, and amid another season of severe weather, driven by climate change, Farm Aid warns that thousands of family farmers may be driven out of business. The sustainable agricultural methods of family farmers, meanwhile, are viewed as essential to addressing climate change.

“This pandemic and so many other challenges have revealed how essential family farmers and ranchers are to the future of our planet,” says Nelson. “Farm Aid 2020 is going to give the whole country a chance to learn about the important work of farmers and how they’re contributing to our well-being, beyond bringing us good food.”

Farm Aid’s videos of family farmers help illustrate the organization’s intersecting causes of sustainable food, economic recovery from the pandemic, and the call for racial justice.

“This year has been challenging for us all,” says Black farmer Angie Provost, speaking beside her husband June, in front of a tractor at the Provost Farm, which raises sugarcane in Louisiana. In its videos, Farm Aid challenges the image most may still have of the independent American farmer. In the three-plus-decades since Farm Aid helped launch the Good Food movement, a new generation—young, diverse, committed to sustainability—has turned to farming.

The farmers get an emotional boost from Farm Aid and the personal perspective of artists like Brandi Carlile. “This is my garden,” says Carlile in a Farm Aid video, climbing down from an off-road vehicle beside the plot she

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The shifting interior: Chris Smith’s ‘Second Hand Smoke’

The shifting interior: Chris Smith’s ‘Second Hand Smoke’

The home-recording Melbourne guitarist’s first album in more than a decade is free-ranging yet ruminative

Chris Smith works at his own pace, in his own inscrutable style. The Melbourne guitarist and songwriter’s new album Second Hand Smoke (It Records) is his first since 2006’s Bad Orchestra, which came six years after the previous one. Smith continues to revel in contrast and fragmentation, with the new LP emerging only after Smith had brought around 50 hours of primarily home recordings to producer John Lee. Even after being distilled into a 12-song album, it plays like outsider art, snaking along disparate paths while looking stubbornly inward.

That’s fitting for someone who cut his teeth playing alternately frenzied and lethargic noise-rock in Geelong’s The Golden Lifestyle Band in the mid 1990s, yet also collaborated with New Zealand experimental musician Peter Jefferies. Smith’s solo work began as mostly textural, droning instrumentals (see 1998’s Cabin Fever and 2000’s Replacement), before Bad Orchestra edged closer to underground rock again (especially on the scorching stand-out “Living Dead Blues”). Bad Orchestra was reissued in 2014 on Hermit Hut, the small US label run by another cult guitarist: Ben Chasny of Six Organs of Admittance.

Second Hand Smoke takes cues from all of those phases, mingling windblown instrumental dirges with surprising melodicism and even folky balladry. Smith sings as well, though his vocals are often heavily distorted and sometimes layered, producing a sort of disembodied harmonising. Such askew juxtapositions materialise right from the opening track, “The Journalist”, on which an oddly sombre news report about actress Heather Locklear plays over Smith’s blown-out acoustic guitar, leisurely whistling and lyrics we can’t quite make out.

The vocal overlapping continues on the bluesy title track, pairing muddied sung and spoken parts against scratchy slide guitar in a way that recalls both Bill Callahan’s earliest work as Smog and Chris Knox’s contributions to Tall Dwarfs. Then comes a sandblasted squall of noise and distortion in the not-quite-minute-long “Damage”, a volatile turn that then bleeds into the soft bliss of “New Blossom”, a hazy narcotic ballad à la Mazzy Star. Smith’s voice is again distorted and mirrored by another set of his vocals, but this time it conveys a slower, sweeter mood that carries into lead single “Animal”, which, with its lonesome harmonica and chiming guitar twang, is the most traditional song here.

Smith even borrows the phrase “bright blessed day / dark sacred night” from that eternally hopeful standard “What a Wonderful World”, teasing at an inner peace that would have felt impossible during the onslaught of “Damage”. But with “New Blossom” in between, it actually makes sense. As on Bad Orchestra, these gradual shifts in mood allow Smith to range from roughly abrasive to whisper soft without losing the listener. That also means Second Hand Smoke should be listened to in order, in a single setting, especially since five of the seven songs after “Animal” are somewhat amorphous instrumentals that work

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