More Adventures

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.

The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012

I already know that after my yearlong Simply Adventure trip, I’ll be claiming that 2013 was the best year ever – but there would be no epic future without the unbelievable year of traveling, new friends, and outdoor pursuits experienced during 2012.

The year began with me residing in snowy Denver, Colorado – and now as it comes to a close, I’m saying farewell to house-living in Florida, and preparing for life as a van-dweller. Woah. To wrap my mind around how I’ve ended up where I am today, we have to take a look back at the top 10 adventure moments of 2012. The list keeps getting better as we journey towards #1:

I'll totally admit it, I felt like a bad ass on those bunny slopes in Vail.10. Learning How to Ski in Vail, Colorado

Eager to take advantage of my temporary residence in Colorado, the elder Boués were incredibly amped when the chance arose for them to join me in the mountains for a weekend of adventure. In late February, they flew out to Denver and together we road tripped out to the Vail Ski Area for a few days of snowy bonding.

Having previously failed miserably at snowboarding, I took my first skiing lesson and conquered the bunny slopes – but the real highlight of the Vail trip was spending time with my folks, eating the best breakfast burrito I’ve ever tasted at Pazzo’s Pizzeria, and sharing my newfound love for Colorado with them.

9. Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona

Hanging out with one of Ursa Minor's Ecamper creations during Overland Expo.

Each year of my life now seems to include an epic solo adventure, and this year’s trip was my one-woman journey out to Flagstaff in late May for the annual Overland Expo event. The misadventure began with me tragically killing a young black bear while driving through the middle-of-nowhere in Texas, but quickly took a more pleasant turn as I connected with a group of fine fellas (like Dave Creech, David Croyle, Anthony Sicola, and so many more) who mocked my inability to finish a glass of whiskey, cooked up some mean tacos, and introduced me to the art of overland travel.

I gained valuable insights from the Hackney’s educational seminars, feasted on Overland Gourmet’s outstanding fireside fare, and spent over a week traveling across some of the finer parts of the country. J. Brandon, thank you for taking me under your wing and becoming a true friend.

8. My First Amtrak Train Ride

Niko and I first started dating a few days before Thanksgiving in 2009, which has led to a rather inconvenient occurrence of our anniversary falling on days when we’re typically spread across the state visiting family for the holiday. We were together last year for Thanksgiving in Denver, and this year I was determined to spend our third anniversary together – so I hopped on my very first, and highly anticipated, Amtrak Silver Star train journey from Miami to Tampa. It was an admittedly small step towards fulfilling my dreams of train travel, but I loved every minute of it – and can’t wait to embark on extended railway journeys in the future.

7. Sport Climbing at Red River Gorge in Kentucky

Climbing one of my favorite routes at Red River Gorge, Plate Tectonics (5.10a).Prior to my Arizona road trip, I spent 10 days exploring a lush gorge in the depths of Kentucky with Niko and the owner of Tallahassee Rock Gym, Rich. We met up with a crew of topnotch Floridian climbers for days spent hiking through dense greenery, avoiding pesky campers at Land of The Arches Campground, and gorging on pizza at Miguel’s.

I witnessed my friend Rachel take the scariest whipper I’ve ever seen while climbing a route called Amarillo Sunset, nearly peed on a young copperhead while drunk at The Zoo crag on Cinco de Mayo, and proudly on-sighted my first 5.10a leads. It was one of the most inspiring and motivational climbing trips I’ve ever been on.

6. Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City

Lovin' my experience at my first Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City!The climax of 2012’s integration into the outdoor industry occurred during the festive chaos better known as the OR Show. Thousands of gear junkies, media professionals, and brand representatives converged upon the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City for the ultimate outdoor industry experience.

Swept up in a whirlwind of introductions, meetings, and pitstops for beer, I was entirely overwhelmed as I filled my pack with free gear, brushed elbows with Alex Honnold, and reunited with the wonderful folks at Stonelick and Columbia Sportswear. The trip was completed with a gorgeous day of climbing at American Fork Canyon with the #ClimbChat crew. I’m already planning for next summer’s OR Show.

5. The Triple Crown Bouldering Series at Hound Ears, NC

Proudly showing off my score sheet - it may not have been a 1st place qualifier, but it was my strongest day ever. I’ve never been the competitive type when it comes to climbing, but when I heard about the annual climbing event at Hound Ears in North Carolina a few weeks before my birthday, I instantly registered Niko and I for the competition – this outstanding crag is only open one day a year for the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. Situated atop a ritzy gated community, the Hound Ears boulder field is a mecca for any style of bouldering imaginable. I sent my proudest climbs to date, placed 15th in my category, and celebrated the end of the competition with apple-picking at Stepps Hillcrest Orchard in Hendersonville, NC.

4. The Last Rocky Mountain Adventures and Leaving Colorado

Farewell, Colorado. At the end of 2011, I experienced a few career hiccups, and realized that in order to live my dreams of a life of adventure, I needed to leave Colorado and return to Florida to save up for the Simply Adventure trip. Before departing from the mile-high city, Niko and a few buddies flew out to Denver to spend their spring break climbing, hiking, and exploring. We traveled out to Horsetooth Resevoir near Fort Collins, made one last visit to my favorite sushi spot in Boulder, and ended my time in Denver with an excellent week of adventure.

During the first week of March, Niko and I packed up my little Scion hatchback, and drove me back down to Florida. It was a bittersweet moment, and I’ve been dreaming of the Flat Irons ever since.

3. Building, Renovating, and Expanding at Tallahassee Rock Gym

A panoramic view of all the construction work on the new climbing walls at Tallahassee Rock Gym. If you follow me on Twitter, gander at my Instagrams, or read my Facebook statuses, you know that one of the most important things in my life is the Tallahassee Rock Gym. It’s my home, the birthplace of my climbing lifestyle, and the spot where Niko and I first met. I’ve laughed, cried, and crushed there – and this year, we bought the warehouse space next door and began construction on an epic expansion effort. Everything was paid for out of pocket, every piece of wood was put up during long hours of volunteer work, and every inch of the new climbing area is loaded with love and dedication.

We’ve nearly completed the renovations, and on January 12th, we’ll host a grand reopening celebration. It’s the proudest project I’ve ever been a part of, and it breaks my heart to think about leaving this place for an entire year.

2. Joining Columbia Sportwear’s Inaugural Omniten Ambassador Team

The inaugural Omniten crew from Columbia Sportswear at Havasu Falls.One of the first shots from my GoPro - taken during a hike down a waterfall near Mooney Falls in Arizona.I still remember the day Adam from Columbia Sportswear sent me the first e-mail; he nonchalantly asked for my shipping address, claiming to be interested in sending me a few pieces from the new spring line. Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was speeding back to Florida to open up a mysterious package – which I quickly discovered was my invitation to join a group of ten outdoor influencers selected to become a team of gear-testers and adventurers. During my six-month Omniten experience, I was introduced to nine people who I now think of on a daily basis.

We met in Phoenix, Arizona for a press trip as complete strangers, and by the time we left Havasu Falls five days later, we all cried upon departure. During our Arizona adventure together, we were spoiled in Sedona with prickly pear margaritas and vortex yoga on Bell Rock, spent three days exploring the Grand Canyon and jumping from the waterfalls around Havasupai, and grew into an unforgettable little family. I can’t thank Columbia Sportswear enough for blessing me with the Omniten opportunity – it truly changed my life forever.

1. Buying The Big Yellow Van

The Simply Adventure duo at our finest; shovels in hand, climbing gear ready, and our big yellow van!Niko and I dreamed of it all year, and finally in October, our fantasies came to fruition – we took the biggest plunge of our lives thus far, and bought a used 2005 Sprinter cargo van. We gutted the interior and built ourselves a little home within the cozy cargo area. Niko crafted an amazing bed built entirely by hand, and we installed a kitchen cabinet and countertops. In a few days, we’ll officially move into the van – and our ultimate treasure from 2012 will guide us towards unbelievable journeys in 2013.

The BEST Part of 2012: The People

Even harder than trying to condense this year into just ten stand-out moments was attempting to somehow address each person who came into my life during 2012 – and it’s impossible, so my top moment isn’t so much a moment as an overall experience. From the Omniten crew and the folks in the outdoor industry to growing closer with my sister, the ultimate gift of 2012 didn’t come in the form of mountains or climbing gear – it’s all about you.

A poorly positioned self-timer shot of the ClimbChat group at American Fork Canyon!The whole Havasu Falls hiking crew gathers before we head out on our grand three-day adventure. I connected with, met, and traveled the country with strangers who quickly became family. We passed a bottle of whiskey around the campfire (in a can) at Overland Expo, led climbs in American Fork Canyon, hiked up and down the Grand Canyon and slaved over the renovation of Tallahassee Rock Gym. My adventures would have been incomplete without the people who helped create moments that I’ll carry for the rest of my life. Thank you, I love you all, miss those of you who are far, and can’t wait to adventure with you in 2013!

What was your best adventure from 2012?
What are you looking forward to in 2013?

Happy Holidays from TheMorningFresh.com

Things have been rather quiet around here for a few days – and I’m proud to admit that I’ve been enjoying some time disconnected from the digital realm and fully focused on connecting with friends and family down in Miami. I hope all you adventurers are enjoying the holidays as well, whether you’ve traveled back to your hometown to reconnect with family, or are spending Christmas out in Arizona with some fellow van-dwellers, like Beth and Forrest of 3 Up Adventures.

From myself, Niko, and the entire Boué family,

Happy Holidays!

Happy climber Christmas!

May your holiday be filled with lots of cheer and love, plenty of hot cocoas spiked with Baileys, homemade feasts, and outdoor adventures.
If you’re up north enjoying some snow this Christmas, eat a snowball in my honor!

A Beginner’s Guide to Car-Camping

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a reader who had some questions about camping in a car. I’m not talking decked-out Sprinter van camping; I’m talking about the nitty gritty, sleeping in your sedan car-camping. For most of us van-dwellers and seasoned road-trippers, car-camping is how it all began.

A shot of the Jeep from my 2010 road trip adventure.My first big adventure was a nearly month-long journey in the summer of 2010 – traveling from Florida to Utah in a cramped two-door Jeep with three of my male climbing buddies. To call it an adventure would be an understatement. It was one of the dirtiest, haphazard, ill-planned journeys I have ever embarked on – and it also sparked a lifetime of road travel (and began the adventure-driven purpose of this blog).

Here are my top four car-camping tips learned from that trip:

  1. Less is more. Whether you’re traveling alone, or with friends, you’ll quickly discover that less is more. When packing for any road trip adventure, try to minimize from the get-go. After my first car-camping road trip, I came home and realized that I hadn’t worn half of the clothes I brought, or even touched most of the gear and food I packed. Downsize, downsize, downsize. Trust me, you’ll savor those extra few inches of space.
  2. Do some pre-trip planning. During this inaugural road trip, I basically just jumped in the car and let the boys take the lead – another mistake. We spent almost an entire month on the road, yet climbed for less than five days total. Why? Because we didn’t plan ahead. We traveled out to Arkansas to climb at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, but didn’t realize that the summertime renders this crag a nightmare of overgrown vegetation and intolerable swarms of insects. We were totally unprepared, and it took a big toll on our trip’s overall success.
  3. You can (usually) sleep in National Forests for free! The majority of our nights were spent sleeping in National Forests, which we learned are for the taking for overnight stays. For bonus karma points, explore the area around you when you wake up, and do some litter pick-up to show some appreciation for your free nights stay.
  4. Beware the wind in Kansas. Seriously, beware the wind. We had a giant canvas storage container strapped to the top of the Jeep, and during a stretch of particularly nasty gusts, the wind tore the canvas apart – and we lost nearly everything that was inside. I escaped the situation missing only my sleeping pad, but our buddy Jeff lost all of his clothes and camping gear. Major bummer. (You can read more about it in this post.)

The second road trip I embarked on was a five-week coast-to-coast excursion in the summer of 2011 with Niko – a post-graduation celebration spent exploring climbing areas, meeting new lifelong friends, and living out of my parent’s Honda Pilot (which they claim still has a faint residual odor of dirtbag, oops).

Niko sets up a makeshift kitchen atop a rock during our 2011 car-camping adventure.

Here’s what I learned during that life-changing trip:

  1. Wal-Marts are a lifesaver for late-night pit stops. If you haven’t already, check out my guide to car-camping at Wal-Mart. ‘Nuff said.
  2. Organization is key. Living out of a small space requires diligent organization to maintain your sanity. I am a huge fan of plastic tub containers, in varying sizes. I have two smaller containers for gear/random stuff, and one of those standard large ones where I keep all my cooking supplies/food. I prefer the clear containers so you can always see where things are inside without having to dig around.
  3. Crack a window. While sleeping in your car, you may feel slightly uneasy about the idea of leaving your window open – but trust me, you need some fresh air. Otherwise, you’ll fog up your interior and wake up in a pool of humid, sweaty misery. I’m paranoid, and always make sure my windows are closed enough that a wrist wouldn’t be able to fit inside.
  4. Crash pads make excellent beds. If you’re a climber, this should be a no-brainer. Crash pads aren’t just for bouldering – they make fantastic beds. My Stonelick pad fits perfectly into the hatchback of my old Scion tC, and it created the ultimate little nest. Otherwise, sleeping pads or other mats will add some comfort to sleeping in your car.
  5. Always keep extra plastic bags handy. Frequent trips to Wal-Marts during trips inevitably leaves you with a supply of seemingly useless plastic bags – but don’t toss those horrible pollutants into the trash just yet!  They make fantastic mini-trash bags, serve as makeshift gloves for scooping leftover mash potatoes out of your pot (and, you know, picking up poop and the like).

Perhaps my most powerful car-camping experience was the seven-week solo trip I took in autumn of 2011. I learned a lifetime’s worth of car-camping techniques and wisdom, and had nothing but positive interactions with fellow travelers and adventurers during my one-woman trek from Florida to North Carolina, Kentucky, Colorado, and the south.

Here’s what I discovered during my 6,657 mile solo trip:

  1. Always keep your keys within reach while sleeping in your car. Let’s face it, sleeping in your car leaves you slightly exposed, and there’s no way around that. No matter where you are, or how safe you feel, it’s always a good idea to keep your keys within reach. Don’t ever leave them in the ignition, and it’s smart if you can keep them tucked somewhere out of sight from anyone who might be peeking in your windows.
  2. Similarly, when rearranging your gear to make room in your car for sleeping, always try to keep the driver’s area clear in case you need to make a quick getaway. Especially when traveling in a smaller car, you may find that you need to rearrange your supplies to make proper room for a sleeping area. My rule of thumb is to always keep the driver’s area clear in the event that I need to jump into action and drive away quickly.
  3. Hoarding napkins is always a good idea. This goes hand-in-hand with the plastic bag idea. Inevitable visits to fast food restaurants will leave you with a mound of un-used napkins, and tucking them into that cubby on the side of your door will arm you with an arsenal of clean-up supplies. Blowing your nose, cleaning up spills, wiping down cookware, you name it.
  4. Rest stops are not as scary as you think. This is one stigma that I quickly overcame while road tripping. Do not fear pulling off at an interstate rest stop to snag a few hours of sleep – everyone else there is doing the same thing as you. Major gas stations like Loves and Flying J’s also welcome weary travelers to spend the night in their parking lots, and I’ve never had a bad experience snoozing at any of those places. Be confident, be aware, and you’ll be a-okay.

One of the most joyous occasions of my life, finally seeing the mountains as I passed through the flatlands for one last time before settling in Denver.Additional advice includes concepts like spending one hour a week to clean out and re-organize your car, make sure all your registration and tags are always up to date, keep a real map handy for those times when your GPS fails you, and always follow your urges to pull off at random places along your adventure.

Once I depart on a yearlong adventure of living out of a car, I’m sure I’ll collect a novel’s worth of advice for car-camping, but until then, heed this advice and feel free to add your own tips and tricks in the comments section – and if you have any additional questions about car-camping, feel free to leave comments or shoot me an e-mail directly at katieboue (at) gmail (dot) com!

The One Thing College Doesn’t Teach You: How To REALLY Live

Friday marks a huge milestone for my little climbing family – many of them are finally graduating from Florida State University. Having graduated nearly two years ago, I’ve been eagerly awaiting this day for months – and as the topic of graduating into the “real” world has been floating around for the past few weeks, I’ve spent a lot of time mulling on this idea of shifting from “college” life to “real” life.

What will you do today that will make you proud in a year?And I’m pretty sure most folks are doing it wrong.

There’s this horrible stigma that many of my collegiate peers fall for: this idea that after you graduate, you’re supposed to start settling (down, but mostly just settling). It’s touted as that time where you finally get a real house with non-beer-stained furniture, work 9-5 at an “entry level” salary, and focus entirely on things like weddings, babies, and car payments.

That’s all gravy, and are admittedly things I look forward to in the future – but where’s the rush? Where’s the balance? What about all those other things that are supposed to make life worth living?

So, graduates, here’s my send-off advice for you: Make sure you’re REALLY living now that you’re being freed into the “real” world. Make sure you head down a path of realness, not a path of pre-packaged so-called satisfaction that includes a handful of stock options.

You are young. You are free. You have time, and most importantly, you’re still in the phase of your life where eating cheap tacos is acceptable. So use this period of your life to do as much youthful, spontaneous, outrageous living as you can before you finally settle down and have a garage filled with holiday ornaments (yeah, I plan on having a massive collection of seasonal décor one day, so what?).

The number one thing I hear from my older colleagues and peers while talking about my big 2013 trip is this:

“I wish I had taken the time to do this when I was your age, it would be impossible for me to drop everything and travel for a year now.”

SO DO IT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE. Read More…