Archive | January, 2013

Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!

Seriously, ask us anything about our yearlong Simply Adventure climbing trip! Whenever we talk to folks about our Simply Adventure trip, everyone seems to be bursting with questions about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we decided to spend a year living in a van together to travel the country. We appreciate all the curiosity and support, so we reached out and asked people to send us their questions. Here’s what you wanted to know:

Where do you plan to go?

Everywhere. We plan on hitting up basically every state within the continental United States – except for Kansas and Oklahoma, because really, those states are no fun for climbers who have already driven through them a dozen times.

Here’s a very rough idea of it: on Thursday, we’ll drive until we cross out of Florida – finally! We’ll stop in New Orleans for lunch, since Niko has never been, and then we’ll move on to Houston and Hueco. After a few weeks of climbing in Hueco Tanks, we’ll move on to Taos, then J-Tree, then up to Salt Lake City and Moab in mid-March. After that, the plans are less ironclad, but we’ll pass through Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, travel up the pacific coast from San Fransico to Washington State.

After exploring the pacific northwest, we’ll trek through Montana and Idaho before heading back to Salt Lake City. Then we’ll visit Wyoming, Colorado, and head up to the Dakotas before journeying along the border states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. We’ll be at Red River Gorge in September, North Carolina for the Hound Ears competition in October, and then up the northeast for fall.

Did you ever name the van?

Yes! When we first got the van, we asked readers to come up with some potential names for it; Mike from Mike Off The Map came up with “Craggin’ Wagon,” and we loved the name.

Who drives better?

Niko says, “Obviously, I do.” But really, we’re pretty even. Niko is better at parking, tricky maneuvering, and driving at night (I hate driving in the dark), but he also tends to get a little distracted and fed up with driving. I can go for long hauls and am a bit steadier on the road.

How do you each plan to have your own space (in or out of the van)?

Niko sits proudly atop our new yellow home.

At least once a week, we’ll be taking solo hikes/adventures. To give each other a little breathing room, we’ll take some space for a few hours to do our own thing.

In the van, there isn’t much personal space – but we’ve divided up shelves and drawers. We also have two fabric bins we’ll use as a “catch-all,” so we can dump each other’s junk in our respective boxes when we’re sick of it being strewn all over the van.

It’s going to be a BIG learning experience for our relationship. We definitely want to end this yearlong trip still wanting to be together, so we’re putting a priority on keeping our relationship healthy and balanced.

Are you planning to post inside pictures of the van before and after the trip?

Yes! We’ve been doing before-during-after photos of the van retrofit, but we love the idea of taking a picture of the van on the first day, and another one of it one our last day of the trip.

Where are you going to use the bathroom and shower?

We got this question a lot during our going away party in Miami – some of my Cuban family didn’t quite jive with the whole “living in the woods” concept, haha! The answer? The bathroom is right outside the van door, and the shower is down the trail in the nearest river. The van is stocked with an arsenal of baby wipes and dry shampoo to help keep us clean in between proper showers.

We’ll also be stopping occasionally at truck stops with showers (haven’t tried that yet, we’ll see how it turns out), staying a night or so at campgrounds with showers, etc.

What’s your plan for accessing the internet?

Staying connected is a non-negotiable requirement for me, so I’ve been thinking about wi-fi since the beginning of our planning process. The current plan is to use my iPhone as a tethered hotspot, but if that doesn’t meet my internet needs we’ll invest in an air card.

Bonus: Spending an afternoon holed up at a little coffee shop to use their free wi-fi doubles as a great little escape from van life.

Where do you plan to camp/park each night?

The costs of paying for campgrounds each night would add up astronomically, so we’re planning to minimize our lodging expenses as much as possible by finding free places to spend the evening.

We are seasoned pros at spending evenings camping in Walmart parking lots, but we’re really looking forward to checking out BLM areas once we get out west.

My smelly old coffee container has now been replaced with a sweet new mug from The Crash Pad!

How do you get power to make coffee in the morning?

Our trip is being powered by Goal Zero Solar – and so is Niko’s addiction to coffee. We’ll have a french press to brew coffee each morning, and will use a combination of our solar power and a gas-powered stove to heat up the water.

The only foreseeable coffee-issue is that Niko could down an entire french press of coffee by himself – so it’s a good thing I like to drink tea sometimes!

How did you get the funding to do this? Are you living off savings?

Saving enough money to support this trip has been a yearlong process. We are both planning to live off our life savings, and I moved back to Florida from Denver to save money while I was working with LivingSocial. We have enough money to support our adventure on just the basics, but I plan on using my freelancing work to help us with “luxuries.” Niko will be picking up temporary jobs when he can, like working at Miguel’s in Red River Gorge.

We are also incredibly blessed to have the support of our sponsors, who are supplying us with everything from solar gear to camping food.

How did you decide what was a reasonable amount of money to save?

Honestly, we just saved as much as we could. We calculated some basic costs, gathered support from gear sponsors, and limited our spending (and traveling) during the year before our trip. We won’t be living lavishly during 2013, but we’ll have enough to get by.

A very rough map of our trip outline so far.How long was the planning process?

The Simply Adventure trip has been in the works for over a year. We came up with the idea for a yearlong trip last winter in late 2011, and throughout the year it evolved into a more defined experience with a strong mission. In March of 2012, I left Denver to move back to Florida and begin the saving and preparation for the trip. We bought the van in October 2012, and once we had the van, the trip planning went into major overhaul.

How did you decide what to bring/not to bring?

Niko has always been a minimalist, but I’m admittedly a bit of a hoarder. My purging process has been going on since I moved back to Florida from Denver, but I somehow constantly accumulate stuff. We limited our clothing to last about two weeks in between visits to laundromats, and pre-packed gear for the various seasons to be shipped to us during the trip.

Will you be at summer OR?

We will absolutely be at Summer OR show. We had to miss the winter market due to trip preparations, but we wouldn’t miss the summer gathering at Salt Lake City for anything. See you all there!

Got more questions for us? Leave ’em  in the comments!

 

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Saying Goodbye to my Hometown – My Send-Off Party in Miami

When planning out all the emotional highs I’d experience during a year of outdoor exploration, climbing, and living in a van, I forgot to calculate for one very important factor: the pain of saying goodbye.

I don’t do goodbyes. I often just avoid them, replacing the finality of a farewell with the ambiguity of a more hopeful “see you later!” Let’s face it: Goodbyes just suck. No matter how you slice or dice it, there is nothing fun about leaving what you love.

Last weekend, Niko and I drove down to Miami for one final week of boating, fresh seafood, sleeping in hammocks on my patio, and the best send-off party a gal could ever imagine. Our climber buddies McGoo and Bo joined us for the weekend, and I was surprised by a visit from my not-really-Uncle John, who flew in from New York for the festivities.

As much as I gripe about Miami, its ferocious drivers, and the bad attitude that radiates from the core of the city, I am going to miss my hometown more than I expected. We hit up all my favorite foodie spots during the week, including empanadas and café con leches from Ruben’s Cuban, fresh conch fritters and a Miami Vice (with an extra rum shooter, of course) from Monty’s Raw Bar in Coconut Grove, and divine sushi from Sea Siam.

I bid farewell to my family’s boat with one last outing on the bay. The weather was less than favorable, so we cruised up the Miami River to avoid any gusty winds or rocky seas. We toasted with beer and whiskey, docked along the river for fried calamari and oysters at Casa Blanca’s, and eventually made our way back to Matheson Hammock Marina. The crew sailing along the Miami River during my farewell visit to my hometown.

The highlight of the trip was the enormous going-away party my parents threw the night before we hit the road. An unlikely cacophony of neighbors, family, childhood friends, co-workers, and college cohorts converged upon the Boué abode for a wild evening. There was a lot of gin, beer, wine, and merrymaking.

My favorite FSU ladies, Marisa and Brooke, drove to Miami to surprise me at my going-away party - love them!

Niko gets 100+ boyfriend points for being such a good sport during the party. My entire family came out for the celebration, which means he had the insane experience of meeting 40+ crazy Cubans in one shot. He totally endured multiple “if you don’t take care of her, we will kill you” conversations, haha!

My three best college friends even drove from Key West, Tampa, and Cocoa Beach to come surprise me at my party. It was such a great surprise, I haven’t seen those ladies in years!

We parked the van out in the backyard where we usually store the boat, and I lit it up with a few extra candles – it was totally the star of the show. I felt like a tour guide showing partygoers around in my little mobile home.The van perched out where we keep the boat in MIami. Niko and I clearly feeling the booze buzz at my going-away party in Miami.

In the morning, I postponed my true goodbyes for as long as possible, and finally bid a teary “see you later,” to my family, and my pup rusty. No way around it, it sucked. It was hard pulling away from my house, it was hard passing by all my favorite trees on the way out of Miami, it was hard to accept that I’m not coming back for at least a year.

But hell, the big journey is about to begin,
there’s really no time for sadness right now.

Official Results from Tallahassee Rock Gym’s Save The South 2013 Grand Reopening Event

There’s a rare phenomenon amongst writers: It’s that experience that you simply can’t seem to put into proper words. Any description or attempt at retelling the story feels subpar, grazing the surface at best. That’s exactly how I feel about trying to recount the incredible event that was Tallahassee Rock Gym‘s grand reopening and annual Save The South bouldering competition.

I’ve adopted the Save The South fundraiser event as my favorite rock gym project for the past three years, and while we knew that this year would be huge with the unveiling of our enormous new bouldering section, I was entirely unprepared for how incredible the event would turn out. Maybe it was the weeks of building and preparation I had watched unfold in anticipation of the event, or maybe it was the three hours of sleep I was running on, but I definitely choked up while welcoming climbers to our beautiful, hand built, grassroots, constructed-with-love, new bouldering section. I mean, look at it. We MADE this:A first look at the new bouldering section at Tallahassee Rock Gym.

Here’s a few stats to put things in perspective: Last year, we had about 50 climbers, and raised around $1500 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Pretty sweet, right? This year, I wanted to dream big and aim to raise $2000 for the SCC. What really happened is this:

Over 100 climbers came out to the Save The South event,
and together we raised $3160 for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition

In addition, our friends at the SCC started a new effort to boost membership, so each registered climber at our event is now a 2013 member of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition – that’s over 100 new folks joining the family of this grassroots conservation organization. Incredible.A few of the lovely ladies who climb regularly at Tally Rock Gym, and came out to show their love.

We decided to host this year’s Save The South in January instead of the usual March date, largely because Niko and I will be many, many miles away from our home by spring – and this turned out to be the perfect way to kick off our year of Simply Adventure’s mission to spread the love of climbing and conservation within the community. We donated hundreds of dollars of gear to the event raffle, and spent the past few weeks toiling away to prepare for the climbing festivities.

I am still reeling from the unbelievable amount of love and sense of community that was exploding as climbers returned to Tally Rock Gym, some after being gone for many years, and celebrated the hard work and craft put into the new climbing walls. We had folks travel from Colorado, Texas, Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, and beyond. Whether Tally Rock Gym was the first place they learned to climb, or they were veterans of our annual Save The South event, everyone poured into our humble warehouse space with the same eager attitude and unwavering excitement. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who came out to climb, spectate, and cheer – it was a true honor to have been a part of this event, and share it with all of you.
Max Richardson and Shea Nicole share the climbing wall during the Save The South event.

There are still over 1500 photos that I need to sort through and edit, but enjoy a few teaser images while you sort through the official score results. Note: The top three competitors for each category are in bold!  

LADIES

Meagan Martin 3769
Aubrey Wingo 2236
Lexi Toro 2153
Amy McKenna engages interesting beta during the Save The South event at Tallahassee Rock Gym.
Sarah Tepper 2061
Tessa Bullington 1773
Anna Hartzog 1750
Katie Devick 1713
Lauren Buntemeyer 1687

Cassie Newman 1648
Amy McKenna 1574
Nicole Nguyen 1533
Rima Nathan 1482
Jill Smith 1445
Melissa Martin 1390
Kaylee Cubeta 1313
Robyn Weinlauf 1258
Katie Pullen 1217
Candy 1175
Kayla Hibbard 1162
Ingrid Baldeon Passetti 1148
Haley Hyde 1062
Caitlin Marsteller 1013
Becka LaPlant 917
Casey Gray 893
Toni Sturtevant 805Sarah Tepper maneuvers up the arete at the Save The South event.
Tara Bullard 730

Kirsten Clauser 675
Leigh Fremuth 605
Heather Barry 350
Amy Gregor 310


MEN

Mark Mercer 4061
Usman Bashir 3556
Bryce Van Dam 3552
Brandon Iglesias 3184
Jackson Reynolds 3179
Ross Elliot 3150
Kris Long 2843
Wilkiam McKaba 2823
Johnathan Nilson 2803Finalist Lexi Toro crushes the women's finals route during the Save The South climbing competition.
Max Richardson 2801
Jim Smith 2773
Charles Carbiener 2688
Bryan Brindt 2665
Joe Mason 2631
Garrett Garner 2623
Mark Spottswood 2623
Thomas Sullenberger 2611
Ryan VanDeWater 2601
Nam Phan 2596
Colton Peters 2561
Michael Underwood 2546
Bo Cobb 2501
John Permenter 2491
Phil Harrell 2462
Jerry Polmerski II 2459
G Golding 2453
Eli Wolfe 2446
Marc Akbar 2436Dakota Lundeen eyes a big dyno move on the new roof wall at Tally Rock Gym during the Save the South event.
Kyle Sumner 2432
Dakota Lundeen 2431
Dominic Delgado 2417
Taylor Passetti 2398
Martin Stroh 2356
Mike Harrell 2347
David Lawson 2184
Patrick Bresland 2120
Ryan Abramowitz 2068
Alex Woo 1800
Philip Fralix 1768
Michael Hooten 1959
Asa Emmons 1753
Nick Seale 1723
Adrian Thompson 1509
Hunter Metzger 1427
Kurt Marsman 1349
Hal Fravel 1343
Justin Iseman 1304
Alex Pina 1167
Tyler Scheele 1005
Christian Stowers 813
Gary Fowler 727

Whether you placed first or fourteenth, I am so proud of each and every climber who came out to show their love for Tallahassee Rock Gym and the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. My heart grew about three sizes the morning after the competition, reading all of the statuses and posts from folks who love our rock gym, love our family, and felt welcome into our community. (We love you all too!)

Women's finalist Sarah Tepper shows off her raffle winnings - a sweet new Teton Sports Outfitter Quick Tent!Enormous heaps of gratitude are owed to some of our sponsors. Teton Sports and Geigerrig really stepped up to the plate and made generous donations for our gear raffle – which is a huge source of our fundraising for the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. Climbers were hovering over the swag table in hopes of winning the Teton Sports Outfitter Quick Tents and Geigerrig Hydration Packs, and I’ve already received a rave review from one of the lucky winners.

Thank you all again for coming out – and get ready for Save the South in 2014!

Should You Buy or Rent Skis? – Ski Equipment Tips

Today’s guest post comes from Dale Cooper, who has been blogging professionally for three years. After earning an English degree, he spent a year working as a ski lift operator in Aspen, Colorado. Dale now lives in Cleveland; in his spare time, he enjoys cooking and traveling. Enjoy! 

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get when gliding down a freshly groomed ski trail, or bouncing through powder after a heavy snowfall. And whether you’re an expert skier or are just starting out, you may wonder whether to buy or rent ski equipment. Here are a few things to consider, plus a couple reasons why even advanced skiers may be better off renting.

My resting rental skis from Vail Mountain, proudly delcared as mine!Cost – Skiing is a relatively expensive hobby, so look for ways to save money where you can. A good way to determine whether buying or renting skis will be more cost effective is to know how often you plan to ski that year. According to onthesnow.com, you’ll save more money by renting if you ski fewer than 10 days per season. That’s because rentals usually cost between $25 and $50, and exceeding the cost of 10 rentals should be enough to buy a good pair of skis.

Wear and tear – Skis wear out and need to be replaced more frequently than you might think, which means even expert skiers may save money by renting. Luxist.com explains that skis are not designed for long-term performance, and estimates that typical skis will last through about 20 weeks of use. At that rate, someone who skis 60 days or more a year may need to replace their skis every other year.

Skiers coming down from the slopes at Vail Mountain in Colorado.

New ski technology – Another way advanced skiers may benefit from renting is by staying on top of new ski technologies. Many pro ski shops will offer long term rentals of ‘demo’ skis, which are new, high-end products. Since you don’t own the rental skis, the ski shop will take care of equipment maintenance and repairs, and next season you can get a fresh pair. These demo rentals are much more expensive than typical ski rentals, and should only be considered by advanced skiers.

Transportation – Skis’ long, skinny shape can make them difficult to transport, and renting skis eliminates the need to attach them to a car rack or take them on a plane. Transporting skis also makes them vulnerable to theft. If you typically keep skis in or on your car, remember that automobile insurance will not cover property theft; talk to your insurance agent about covering your ski equipment under a homeowners or renters insurance policy.

If you’re a beginner, chances are renting is the best way to go. There’s a smaller upfront cost and no commitment if you decide that skiing isn’t for you. Intermediate and occasional skiers may benefit from buying skis. Read More…

Partnering with TheGearHouse and a sweet Klymit GIVEAWAY!

TheGearHouse is now an official sponsor of Simply Adventure!

It’s been in the works for months, and I am delighted to finally be able to announce:

TheGearHouse is an official sponsor
of the Simply Adventure trip!

Run by gear enthusiast Chris Pund, TheGearHouse.com is what I’d like to think of as the small-town version of Backcountry. His online retail shop helps adventurers outfit themselves with everything from camping cookware to quality climbing ropes – you get the same pristine gear, but with a community-minded attitude and a truly personal customer experience. Niko and I are stoked to have TheGearHouse onboard for our adventure.

To celebrate our new partnership, we’ve got two gear giveaways to get you stoked on new gear for new adventures in the new year. In addition, you can head over to TheGearHouse’s sale section to snag sweet deals on products like the Jet Boil cooking stove, an ultralight Big Agnes Fly Creek tent, Thermarest sleeping pads, and more.

The Klymit Cush Pillow and Seat is a sweet inflatable camping tool. The first giveaway will be running all week long on the blog, with your chance to win a sweet Klymit Cush Ultralight Pillow/Seat! This nifty cushion compresses to a pocket-sized ball, and easily blows up into a customizable seat and/or pillow.

How can you get your hands on this versatile camping product?

First, leave a comment below, telling us what adventure you are most looking forward to in 2013 – it can be anything from summiting Mount Whitney to camping out in your backyard.

To log your entries, head over to the Rafflecopter widget for six different ways to increase your chances of winning this Klymit gear giveaway. The contest ends on Monday, January 14th at midnight, and a winner will be chosen at random, then announced here on the blog!

Click here to enter to win the Kylmit Cush Pillow!

Good luck everyone, and be sure to keep an eye on The Morning Fresh Facebook page for an additional giveaway we’ll be posting on Thursday. Big thanks to TheGearHouse for supporting Simply Adventure through this wonderful sponsorship. 

UPDATE:

Folks, we have ourselves a winner! It was a pleasure to read about all of your wonderful adventures planned for 2013, but Rafflecopter could choose only one winner, and that winner is:

Nicole Dzuba!

Congrats on scoring a sweet new Klymit Cush, Nicole!
Send an e-mail to katieboue (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your winnings.

Packing Up, Leaving Our House, and Embracing The Adventure of “Homelessness”

It’s official: We no longer reside in a proper four-walled home, nor will we until 2014. I’m not sure that the reality of my newfound lifestyle has truly hit me yet, but I’m enjoying this phase of transition to van-dwelling. It’s different, it’s lacking insulation, and it’s quite generous with cold temperatures.

Our van all packed up with climbing gear, camping equipment, and mismatched belongings.We’ve reduced our belongings as much as possible before our final “dump” next week in Miami, and our last few meals have all included canned food – but it ain’t too shabby. This morning was our first day waking up with no kitchen to cook breakfast in, but it turned out to be one of the most pleasant mornings.

After brewing some strong coffee, we baked sliced potatoes in our small toaster oven, and accessorized it with melted cheese, fresh chives, and diced avocados – delicious. Our meager bounty was enjoyed out on a picnic table, where we formulated a game plan for the day.

I could get used to this.

Admittedly, there are a few things about “traditional” living that I miss already. I miss having a big kitchen for cooking meals from scratch, I miss the convenience of warm water to wash my face, and I miss the comfort of knowing a shower is available anytime I feel particularly dirty.

The most difficult change is a sudden lack of proper workspace or daily routine. My need to quickly adapt and catch up on all my beckoning work is undeniable, so I’m looking forward to a few mornings spent holed up at our local coffee shop, All Saints Café.

But other than that, the idea and process of living a drastically simplified life is treating me quite well. In the spirit of sharing my experience and working to inspire others to get out there and do what I’m doing, I wanted to open myself up to a little project:

Seriously, ask us anything about our yearlong Simply Adventure climbing trip! I’ll be posting a Simply Adventure Q&A next week,

so comment/e-mail/tweet me ANY question you have

about my trip, the planning process, my lifestyle, etc.

I’m excited to see what y’all come up with for the Q&A session.
Feel free to ask me (or Niko!) ANYTHING you’ve been wondering about our Simply Adventure trip.

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