“Montee” as we like to call him, is the mysterious man of the neighborhood who comes baring gifts and goes before you’ve had time to say thank you. He’s like a hologram, appearing just when you need him. He appeared one cold night at burning man and placed a Spirit Hood on my head making me feel both cool and warm at the same time, he appeared bedside after I got in a bad car accident with the best post surgery healers, he appeared the day of the Bon Iver show with 1 last ticket. He’s great to have around and when he’s not around you know he’s making the most of this big beautiful life we’ve all been given. I’m super grateful for my friends who remind me to stop every once in awhile and “trip out” on what this world has to offer and how amazing the people are who live in it. Meet Montee….
My name is Matthew Montee. I was born on February 3, 1977 in Ventura, CA. I was raised in Ojai & Ventura, California. Got my formal education at Westmont College in Santa Barbara and masters & PhD at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
2. What do you do (as a job or from day to day )?
I’m a physician specializing in reconstructive surgery currently working & residing in both LA & San Luis Obispo.
3. Where are you right now?
Right now I’m in the sierras splitting time at a couple buddies’ mountain homes in Confidence and Strawberry, CA. I’m taking a leave of absence from the medical practice to focus on a couple of ventures that have been brewing for a few years now.
Sailed through French Polynesia with my dear friends aboard “Va Nu Pieds.”
5. Next place you’re going/want to go?
I leave for Peru in about a week with a great family of friends. We’ll all be together along a swath of savannah on the beach for solstice, the finish line on the Mayan calendar, and Christmas. Good waves abound.
6. Three things you take with you on every trip?
Headlamp, boardshorts, black outback hat
7. Do you book your own travel? If so, what websites do you most use or airlines do you frequently fly?
I book my own travel and kayak.com is my usual go-getter.
8. What’s your favorite foreign custom or tradition?
My favorite foreign custom is drinking cold Hinanos with friends in Tahiti after sliding into perfect reef kegs all day. I love the New Zealand All Blacks haka and the spirit of ceremonies rooted in mother nature.
9. Where’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
My friends are some of the best cooks I know. Every home-cooked meal at Matt & V’s gets better every time. So the last one I had there was the best. I have been learning heaps from my good bud Mick up here in the sierras. He is my new favorite chef. Last night he made the best duck confit and always nails it with the wine.
10. Where’s the longest you’ve lived or visited outside of your home country?
I lived in Australia for 4 months.
I am constantly volunteering my services and they are frequently reciprocated. What you give is what you get and it’s that balance that keeps us tuned-in to how we can best contribute to the community. This past June I had a very profound experience while volunteering with the Peruvian Health Outreach Program run by a rotating medical director and medical students from the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. My good buddy Dr. Judson Krosney was the medical director and we all saw patients and I shot a documentary for a week in the some of villages of the Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu. The people and the land are so impressive and inspiring. The mutual gratification from the healing that was happening in the makeshift clinics is a model of service I will take with me forever.
12. If someone came to your town what would you want to show them?
The ocean is a huge source of happiness for me so we’d either go to the beach or sailing aboard my boat. I also enjoy getting out of town and revealing magical kingdoms in California such as Big Sur, Yosemite, and the multitude of hidden gems.
13. What is something that you’ve always wanted to do within 50 miles of your house?
Go skydiving or tow into some mutant slab.
14. What’s the best thing that’s happened to you on a trip that you didn’t plan for?
There have been so many best things that have happened to me on a trip that I didn’t plan for. There was that time I was surfing, drinking the best wine, and doing yoga through Western Australia and my number came up to be surf camp doc at G Land just when I thought it couldn’t get any better. Or the time I was traveling through South Africa and I was given the best dental care by a sweet friend in J Bay, and the next day going on safari with my dream brother, Dane. Each friend I meet along the journey is cherished as the “best thing.”
15. What’s your favorite trip you’ve taken by yourself?
I have a “power spot” akin to my personal ashram in a biologically intense place in Central America. I’ve promised not to tell where it is, but I will take you there if you’d like. It’s my absolute favorite, but most recently, my trip to the Galapagos was the best trip I’ve taken by myself.
16. What would you say to someone that wants to travel, but struggles with time or money?
I’ve been that person many times and beyond any of the hard work or determination to make it happen is TRUST. Everything happens in perfect timing.
17. Where would you travel to a second time?
I’m about to make my way to Peru for the second time this year and I’m excited to go back to Tahiti and New Zealand.
18. What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done on a trip?
If I could pick just one thing that was most adventurous it would have to be hiking to this wave on that was breaking in front of a landslide at the tip of a cape on the pacific side of Central America. We were 5 strong, the central coast boys, of course, but missing one key tool. After a few hours of hiking we arrived at the spot and it was as good as it gets. I rigged the camera in the water housing and grabbed my fins to shoot the boys for the first half of the session. Within 15 mins of paddling out someone had spotted a bull shark and the strong cape current was giving me a run for my money. But I stuck it out for another hour and got some great shots before grabbing my board and wrangling a few roping rights into dusk. We paddled in after witnessing a magnificent sunset and stood on the beach admiring the experience as the colors changed at sea & sky. We turned to the dark rainforest to start our trek back to camp. “Who brought a headlamp?” asked Huey. No one replied. So, barefoot and in boardshorts with boards under our arms we ventured into the rainforest at night. We navigated our way about half the way back when suddenly we found ourselves split into 3 separate groups. To this day, no one can explain how it happened. Survival mode switched on and we were on our own journeys, homeward bound. Jeff & I made our way up the mountain in the slippery mud of the rainforest. We came to a switchback where I could make out an outline of a giant marine toad (Bufo marinus). It hopped in front of me as I moved forward only to step on a snake that was hunting the toad and I obviously didn’t see. I took a step with my other foot and somehow landed on the body, my other foot on it’s head. It was the dreaded Fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), the most venomous pit viper in Central America. I somehow kept my head on straight and my feet followed suit, bounding of the beast and onward up the trail. I had heard a jaguar (Panthera onca) the night before and my mind started playing tricks on me. Another hour of trekking up the muddy slope and we were at camp never to forget our headlamps again. The Fleet Foxes tune “Mykonos” will always be the anthem of that trip.
19. What’s the biggest travel mistake you’ve ever made?
Forgetting my headlamp in the previous story.
20. Where’s the furthest you’ve FELT from home?
The furthest I’ve ever felt from home, hmmmm… Dubai.
21. What has traveling taught you about yourself?
That I am capable of great things by treating others and myself with compassion.
22. What has traveling taught you about the world?
To respect all life and earth and all of its constituents.
23. What does it mean to you to Live Like You’re On Vacation?
Do what you love and love what you do.