The Pine Forest Range, in northern Nevada’s Great Basin, is a rare and exceptional area of abundant streams and clear, cold subalpine lakes. Nestled in a cirque and fed by snowmelt and springs, these lakes are not only visually stunning but also possess an excellent trout fishery. The lakes are surrounded by a rare population of white bark and limber pines; stands of aspen and mountain mahogany are also found throughout the area. Fall brings out colors found in few other places in northern Nevada.
Rather than exchanging gifts during Christmastime, we like to take a trip together each year. This year, after celebrating the holiday with our families in San Diego, our trip took us up the coast to the Santa Barbara Mountains to taste some of the best Pinot Noirs around, and then through the Sierra Mountains, up to the beautiful Lake Tahoe. We spent our time in Tahoe going on a beautiful snowy hike to Eagle Falls, exploring the town of South Lake Tahoe, drinking wine and Irish Whiskey, ice skating under holiday lights, and playing in the snow.
Exploring the interaction between night sky and landscapes across the western United States, including: Tumalo Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness, Mount Shasta, Big Bend National Park, Mono Lake, Aurora Borealis over Crater Lake National Park, Texas, Painted Hills, the High Sierra, and the Aurora Borealis over Sparks Lake.
Theory: A Comprehensive Timeline of Stan’s Homeless Years
I’m going to begin by saying that this theory is neither conclusive nor perfect, and there are sure to be plot holes. That being said, I cut it down (a lot) so expect a Part 2 with some secondary evidence. This is already way too many pages (10 without images) and it’s also really late. BUT if at any point you’d like me expand on a point that I made here, let me know in an ask, and I’ll offer a much more comprehensive look at the point you bring up with the evidence that got cut.
There is also a lot of stuff that I guessed at and/or interpreted in my own way, so feel free to disagree.
[Edit/Update: I got a couple questions about why I had Stanley homeless for 13 years instead of 10. I explain it in this timelinehere. Stan said “over 10 years” (which I assumed to be 13-14) and the only way for Ford to be in his 30s when he’s in GF (like his journal says) and for them to still be kids in the 1960s (like Stanley says in ATOTS)and for them to be in highschool during Nixon’s presidency (as his portrait is in the principal’s office), is if Stan is kicked out in 1969.]
For this theory I used historical evidence, the memories from Dreamscapers, quotes from the games and book, podcast/interview quotes, as well as these two maps from ATOTS:
Without further ado, let’s begin:
Stan is thrown out on the streets at the end of May towards the end of his and Ford’s senior year of high school. It couldn’t have been much sooner, as we see them both at their senior prom, and it isn’t snowing like it normally would be in Jersey earlier in the year. This is also around the time other schools might be finishing up their scouting, which explains the West Coast Tech official complaining about “wasting a car trip”. Stanley was 18 at the time.
Stan spends the next few weeks, until mid-June, attempting to treasure hunt on the beaches of Jersey with a metal detector, before he reaches the start of his sales career
It takes a month or two for his first company to get started. Stan’s hair is noticeably longer in the video for the Sham Total than it was when he was first thrown out. He’s also just looks older in general, with a more-filled out jawline. He referenced the moon landing, so we know this occurred after the end of July, as the Apollo landed at that point.
In August, Stanley is chased out of Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Within the time it takes to grow a mustache that big, about four months (assuming the stache is real and not fake). Stan starts his next business venture: The Rip-Off, and is promptly chased to Ohio shortly thereafter.
(Personal Headcanon: According to the map shown on-screen after Stan leaves Pennsylvania, Stanley headed north, towards New York, after he was chased out of Jersey for the Sham Total debacle, maybe even to catch the first Woodstock Festival in August. However, he got caught up in his Rip-Off start-up, and never made it back in time.)
At this point, it is November, and the days are quickly getting colder. Without much to his name, Stanley starts heading south.
Other 1969 Headcanons:
Simon and Garfunkle’s “Boxer” would have been one of his favorites.
In June, the Stonewall riots occurred, and Stanley, a young man who grew up under his tough-guy and Absolute Asshole™ father, would have been awakened to a whole new world of discovering who he is. He is canonically bisexual, if this tweet has anything to say about it.
July-Start of the Vietnam War. Stan may have been secretly happy he was able to avoid the draft by.
In July, when the news of the first man on the moon hit the stands, Stan would have immediately thought of how excited Ford must be.
Stan wouldn’t have gone to any Anti-War demonstrations (stupid hippies) but he definitely would have been against the government sending young, uneducated kids like him to fight in a war
Stanley headed south that winter, and started betting on horses. A photo is shown of him betting in a large derby. My first inclination is to say it’s the Kentucky Derby, which takes place in May. It’s also possible, however, that Stan was betting in the Louisiana Derby, which is run in late March. It’s hard to be sure.
While in Mississippi, he went by Andrew “8-Ball” Alcatraz, according to an ID in his Secret Box of Secret Things™ from NWHS
After the Louisiana derby finished up, when the weather started warming up, Stanley made his way west into Texas, but then quickly veered upwards. East Texas has been known as a patent-friendly area, being more lenient in its patent and start-up regulations, so perhaps Stanley only showed up here for the looser rules. But then why did he leave so quickly? This implies that there was something about this part of Texas he didn’t like, or he was thrown out as soon as he got there. East Texas is closer to the Deep South, and more religious, so that might have been a factor. (Headcanon: Perhaps they were homophobic?) Perhaps he simply hated the culture; McGucket comes from an area very similar in culture to this Cajun-influenced Appalachian-ized folksy portion of Texas, and Stan has shown annoyance at his more hillbilly-esque traits.
(From user the-ford-twin) In this era, the Midwest was targeted by televangelists. Stan (who has been said in an podcast interview with Hirsch to not be above creating entire cults if it meant a profit) probably saw this as an amazing investment opportunity.
It is possible that East Texas is where Stanley got his Stan-Vac patented. Over the next few months, Stanley loops around the Midwest, selling his Stan-Vac door-to-door in middle-class suburban homes. (Fun fact: Stanley’s “It sucks more than anything!” is a play on the slogan blunder of Electrolux in the 1960s: “Nothing sucks like an Electrolux”)
By the end of that year, assumedly when it gets cold again, we see Stanley head sharply south through Texas into Mexico. The image show here is of a rainforest setting, so his Mexican location would have to be near the southern tip (extremely close to Central America, nearer to Columbia where he might have made some future friends or enemies.) In the image, we see Stan running away, carrying a suitcase of cash. This implies a product-cash exchange of some kind happened, meaning Stanley probably got sucked up in drug trafficking circles (or even pug-trafficking, because why not) and a deal went bad. Rainforests in Mexico are spread among the states of Veracruz and Tabasco. Veracruz is among the most dangerous places in Mexico, and is rampant with organized crime and drug cartel influence in its government, which we know for a fact Stanley became tangled with later on (more on that later). With that in mind I’d say he most likely made exchanges between Veracruz and the southwest USA states as a pack mule (with his charismatic nature and persuasive ability, I’m sure he’d be the perfect gringo for the job). This was probably Stanley’s first toe-dip into involvement with organized crime.
Edit: It was really difficult to pinpoint the state Stan was in as Veracruz, but there are also several other tropical states that are great possibilities:
Chiapas, Tabasco, Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, Michoacan, Guerrero, and
Oaxaca. You can get some more of a breakdown on the issues with choosing a specific statehere. Someone who knows much more about the climate in Mexico offered some sound suggestions, which leads me to believe that Chiapas and Quintana Roo actually also really likely contenders for the main state of Stan’s work in Mexico. It’s impossible to know based on the map in the show, though.
Stanley dips back upwards towards Montana, probably to drop off a package, since he quickly veers out of the state and into Idaho. He barely even left the route of the I-90 highway, as though he was eager to get out of there, or at least had no other reason to stay. On that note, he also spent a super small-time in Idaho. Idaho at this time was the holder of the strongest anti-sodomy laws in the country, and it’s possible that the reason Stanley spent so little time here was related to that.
It is now early 1971, and Stanley Pines is in Nevada, where he falls in love with gambling and Las Vegas, and likely falls into debt. He probably started doing sex work to pay the bills. Vegas’s prostitution scene was and is among the highest in the country, and it seems like the easiest and most likely way he could have made a living. It is also where he may have fallen into alcoholism.
This is also around the time he met Marilyn, who (as confirmed by Hirsch’s stage-time in Russia) was a woman he met at Vegas, and had a spur-of-the-moment marriage with that lasted only 6 hours.
After the divorce, Stanley probably realized he had a problem and left for California. However, he still needed a way to pay the bills. It is likely that he continued hooking, and this led to his first arrest.
But that’s not all—up until the early 70s, people could be forced into treatment at mental institutions. California law allowed such treatment until 1972, and it is likely that if Stanley was arrested and convicted for sex work, he would have been subject to treatment that included shock-aversion therapy. In Dipper and Mabel’s Guide, we found out that Stanley needed to take Rorschach tests during what he called his looney days. Rorschach tests were given to those suspected of being homosexual, as it was assumed they could detect “deviancy.” Another possible explanation for Stanley’s time in an institution would be suicidal tendencies shown in prison. After Stanley left home (back in 1969) we see him drive the wrong way down a one-way street, which leads me to think that if Stanley is upset, all inklings of self-preservation go out the window until he copes. I wouldn’t be surprised if his first time in prison led to him being at the lowest pits of his depression.
As sodomy laws in California weren’t redacted until 1976, it’s very possible that Stanley also had jail time on top of the one year he was most likely sentenced for prostitution, which would only further pressure him to take a plea deal that comes with institutionalization. He may have also plead with insanity (we’ve seen him fake a heart attack to cut in line. I doubt he’s above faking mental illness to get a plea deal.)
So, at this point, we are going mainly by the states Stanley is banned from, and the next logical step from southern California seems to be Arizona, a border state he could have been arrested in for having no sufficient documentation. OR he may have been arrested along the border for more drpug trafficking. The summer heat in Phoenix may have driven him out of the state, back eastward, towards more familiar territory. Along the way, he got himself banned from a few southern states he didn’t run through on his first time through the country, including Florida and North Carolina.
So you might be asking “But why isn’t Jersey marked on this map?” and the only answer I can think of is because Stanley couldn’t bring himself to cross it out. After all, he was still vying for his father’s love and hanging on to false hope of maybe coming home one day. Which brings us to the next point…
It’s been 4 years and Stanley is on the East coast again. We know he traveled to New York before 1974 (more on that later) but to get there, he would first have to have either gone through or around New Jersey. I feel as though Stanley might have gone to try to see his brother, or maybe even to see his father. [Maybe it’s just my angsty little heart, but I can just picture him trying to see Ford, only for his father to open the door and ask if he made those millions, and to slam it when Stan says no.]
While Stan’s in Jersey, he meets up with his old highschool sweetheart, Carla McCorkle. Carla is sure to be glad to see the kid who punched that jerk in the face while in line for the movies all those years ago, and they probably started dating again. Stanley got healthier, got more in shape, got more buff and confident (though I gotta say, he looks like he always skipped leg day). Judging by his wardrobe, he might have started dressing like he was younger, because he felt younger. Once again, he had someone great in his life to depend on, someone to buy flowers for, someone to hold at night, but then… it happens. After Carla leaves Stanley for Thistle Down, Stan probably fell back into depression and self-destructive behavior. Perhaps after a while, he decided he needed to clear his head, start a new adventure on his own, go across the sea just like he always thought he should. Which brings us to our next point.
I’m gonna go on a tangent here, and I promise this is important, but first I need to get this out there. Something always bothered me about Stan in the flashback with Carla McCorkle. For some reason, at this point in his life, Stanley Pines had thin fucking eyebrows and they are NOT a good look for him.
Look at them! At every point in his life, even when he was a child, Stanley has had bushy eyebrows, until this one part of his life, when it’s like he decided to go full 1990s Christina Aguilera with them and all he had were these thin drawn-on arches. Everyone else in the fandom was going on and on about the Hunkle and his dancing, but I can’t watch that scene without getting angry, because there’s no way in hell Stanley didn’t either tweeze or thread his eyebrows at this point in his life and I feel like no one has ever even noticed. He’s not even the only one. I’m looking at you, Ford!
Where was I? Oh yeah. Adventuring. So how do we know that Stan decided to go travelling abroad at this point in his life? Well, we’ve seen his visa for one thing. And it says very plainly that he arrived in London and in Seattle (both of these cities are in countries that only issue entry-stamps and not exit stamps, so we know he went to London, and then traveled back through Washington state). Check it out.
And what’s that?
THIN FUCKING EYEBROWS.
So there you have it. Conclusive proof that immediately after his break-up with Carla, Stanley traveled to London, and (thankfully) grew his brows back.
(Note: after a conversation with the-ford-twin, it came to my attention that thin eyebrows were common fashion in the 70s, but only for women. As for men, it was only much more common for those who were drag queens. But THAT’s a theory for another time. As for Ford’s weird-ass brows, he probably burned them off shaving or experimenting or something. What a dork.)
I also predict that at this point in his life, after coming back from London, Stan might have decided to see if he could find Shermy.
(Note: No, I don’t think that baby is Shermy. I think Shermy is an older sibling who probably bailed from life with Filbrick and fled to as far away as he could get from Jersey and his toxic father)
After seeing his brother and letting him know he was still alive, Stanley may have stayed with him for a small amount of time. I imagine they had a falling out, or maybe Stanley was still attempting to make millions to win his father’s approval. This is purely speculation, but I feel like Shermie would be disappointed in Stanley for being so hung up on his dad’s demands.
Update: I imagine he would have started running with Jimmy Snakes somewhere between California and his phonecall to Ford, but there will be more info on that in Part 2, because I haven’t decided on where or when exactly.
Stan is losing money gambling on horseraces in Kansas and Oklahoma, recently banned from yet another state, and with what Shermie said still fresh in his head, Stanley calls Ford but hangs up before they could talk. This event is important to this theory. Because we are able to deduce that this happened in 1974 (which I did here), and we also get the chance to see a full-scale map of where he’s been, with several states crossed out, this map gives us the idea of a few more states Stanley must have traveled through in between returning to the states via Seattle and calling Ford after being banned from Oklahoma (we know he was just recently banned at this point, as he’s crossing out the state from the map right before making the call).
After the phonecall, Stanley travels southward to Colombia. He can make money there, at least, and he has a few prison connections who could hook him up with work.
So, at this point, Stanley probably spent a long chunk of his life focusing on work for the cartel. There’s lots of need for a white inconspicuous guy who’s good at evading law enforcement, so I picture he got picked up really quick. He probably moved up in the ranks as well, from pack-mule gringo, to look-out man, to getaway car driver, to tough muscle who stands by during negotiations. (For all you Stanchez lovers out there, being a mid-level guy in a drug operation would be the prime time in Stan’s life to meet Rick, but that’s a theory for another time.)
In 1978, in Colombia, Stanley was caught as an accessory to a heist. We know this was what landed him in Colombian prison, from the episode “Soos and the Real Girl”, when Stan’s putting on those heisting gloves and muttering to himself about being careful because “No more Colombian nights.” Being an accessory to a robbery gives a minimum sentence of 3 years.
Stanley meets Rico in prison. He would regret this for the rest of his life.
It’s 1981, and Rico wants his money. Stanley spends the 6-8 months in hiding, jumping from motel to motel, and probably reverting back to hooking to get the cash to feed himself. He’s terrified of Rico, and doesn’t want to be found.
Stanley gets the postcard. Ford needs him. He leaves immediately.
Bierstadt was a German-born American painter best known for his dramatic landscapes
of the American West. To paint the scenes, Bierstadt joined several
journeys of the Westward Expansion. Though not the first artist to
record these sites, Bierstadt was the foremost painter of these scenes
for the remainder of the 19th century.
in Germany, Bierstadt was brought to the United States at the age of
one by his parents. He later returned to study painting for several
years in Düsseldorf. He became part of the Hudson River School
in New York, an informal group of like-minded painters who started
painting along this scenic river. Their style was based on carefully
detailed paintings with romantic, almost glowing lighting, sometimes
called luminism. An important interpreter of the western landscape,
Bierstadt, along with Thomas Moran, is also grouped with the Rocky
Check out how the trees in this part of Nevada follow the availability of water so closely, and how uniform the fall colors are - probably only a single ancestor of trees led to all those, so they all change colors simultaneously.
This time lapse video is a journey through the Nevada desert. It includes glimpses into the dramatic weather and lighting at Pyramid Lake, a small part of what remains of the once mighty ancient Lake Lahontan.