Tag Archives: simply adventure

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.

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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.

Simply Adventure Update: Van Renovations and Upcoming Surprises

At first, it seemed like this trip was years away – but we’ve officially surpassed the two-month countdown to our Simply Adventure departure! With the clocking ticking noisily in our minds, Niko and I have kicked preparations and planning into overdrive. Where have we spent most of our energy (and quickly dwindling savings)? Renovating the van, baby! 

 

After painstakingly cutting metal and sawing wood for the past week, Niko has finally finished his handcrafted bed frame for the rear of the Sprinter. He used a metal base to create a strong, reinforced frame, and then spruced up the appearance of the bare metal by adding a layer of blonde wood on top (which also added some rigidity and extra strength to the frame). He shaped wood sheets to create the platform, and voila, we have a bed! All that is missing is the foam topper, and a storage system beneath.

We also completed the staining of the kitchen cabinets (which we snagged for 20% off at Home Depot, score). Niko did the first few coats, and I finished it off with the final layer. We still need to install the countertop, but it felt like a huge victory when we finally hoisted the cabinets back into the van and admired our handiwork. We also very victoriously removed the enormous, and difficult, partition that divided the passenger area from the cargo section of the van. It feels so roomy now!


Here’s a little sneak peak at what the Sprinter is lookin’ like right now (stay tuned for a more detailed photo shoot next week!):

Read More…

Trip Report: Southeastern Climbers Coalition Trail Day and Climbing at Boat Rock

During the planning process of the Simply Adventure trip, Niko and I felt strongly inclined to explore the ways we could make our adventure more than just a climber “vacation” – we wanted to give back to the climbing community. After meeting the two fellas of the Access Fund’s Jeep Conservation Team at Red River Gorge last spring, we realized the most obvious way we could contribute: trail days.

While the Simply Adventure journey will take us across nearly every state in the country, our hearts and souls will forever remain in the southeast – so we wanted to kick off our year of trail days with our local climbing organization, the Southeastern Climbers Coalition. This weekend, we loaded up the van (for its first climbing trip ever!), and headed out to the Atlanta area for a trail day at Boat Rock.

After a night spent sleeping in a Walmart parking lot, we arrived to an empty gravel lot at the base of the Boat Rock crag. Within minutes, the entire lot was filled, and cars overflowed along the streets beside it. I had envisioned a dozen or so dirtbags lined up with shovels, but the scene I was greeted with was far more impressive: Upwards of 30 kids showed up to do their part in preserving Boat Rock.

It was incredibly humbling to witness the community spirit that was demonstrated during the Boat Rock trail day. Young people lined up with buckets to shuttle an enormous pile of mulch up to the boulders, and they eagerly tromped through the woods filling up garbage bags with half-decomposed trash – including two rusty tires, a broken mirror, and heaps of discarded metal.

What had been planned as a lengthy trail day turned into an affair that only lasted a few hours – the dedicated crew of trail day goers managed to accomplish hours’ worth of work in half the time. It’s absolutely amazing what a group of hard-working climbers can accomplish when we rally together and focus on cleaning up our crag.

After running out of mulch to haul into the boulder field, I joined Urban Core Climbing’s Emily Taylor, and her impossibly adorable daughter Milo, for an impromptu tour of the crag – and we were hard-pressed to find even a single piece of litter leftover. With nothing left to pick up, I enjoyed meandering through the woods and snapping way too many photos of adorable little Milo. 

The crew gathered for a gear toss, with swag provided by event sponsors like Access Fund and REI, then we settled down for lunch before the group dispersed into the crag for some much-earned climbing.

Niko and I gave a few folks a little tour of our van, then threw our new Stonelick pads on our back and trekked towards the climbs with a fellow trail day participant, Jordan, who would become our guide for the day.

Let me tell you, Boat Rock is easily one of the most humbling crags I have ever climbed at.

Suddenly, V3s feel like V5s, arêtes lose their edge, and it’s nearly impossible to find a top-out that includes actual holds. And foot holds? What foot holds? Boat Rock don’t need no foot holds. Climbing at Boat Rock is both frustrating and empowering. You don’t ‘get’ sends; you earn them.

Our first stop was the Spiderman boulder, one of the ultra classic climbs at Boat Rock. This hunk of rock also happens to be one of the few with features and deep holds – so don’t let it fool you. After sending every line on the stand-alone boulder, we headed for Paint Can, a V5 climb that flows like butter until you hit the barren, bulging top. I watched a few locals run through the problem, and was quickly discouraged when I attempted to pull myself up on the “crimpers” the fellas had tugged on – there was literally nothing up there.

I quickly abandoned any attempts at sending problems at my limit, and refocused my efforts on finding sweet problems that suited my style. This led me to discover my new favorite style of climbing: cracks. Jordan suggested that I hop on a sweet V3 finger crack called “Lost Digits,” and after a frustrated series of attempts, I nailed the most bomber foot jam of all time – and was instantly hooked.

We immediately hiked over to another easier climb called “Blues Crack,” which I may or may not have climbed three times in a row. There’s just something about the methodical nature of climbing a crack, and that satisfying moment when you’ve locked your fingers into a solid section, or jammed your toes perfectly into the wedge of rock. It’s an entirely unique style of climbing; and I’m obsessed. 

Have I mentioned yet how much I love climbing cracks?

Next to Blues Crack sat a funky problem aptly named “Tough Guy.” It was one of Jordan’s projects, so we all got stoked on working out the beta. It’s rated at a V3, but I’d easily give the top-out at least a V4. As with most climbs at Boat Rock, the key is to trust non-existent foot holds, and make hand holds out of nothing. Jordan and Niko made it look easy, while I ended up spending no less than five minutes on the top-out – but it was a send, folks.

We ended the day at Yellow Arete, a towering boulder problem that offers inviting features until you get to the committing top-out. Naturally, Niko crushed it effortlessly, although even he admits that the finish was bleak. It was one of those climbs that’s tall enough to force you to finish the problem, purely because you really, really don’t want to come back down.

Jordan hopped on Yellow Arete next, projected it until his fingers were ready to shred, and then our little trio hiked back to the parking area to conclude our day.

As Niko and I fueled up for the drive home with instant mashed potatoes and avocado, we reflected on the impact of our first trail day. Yes, we had pitched in to help ensure that Boat Rock access is preserved for climbers – but far more importantly, our eyes were opened to the vital future of the climbing community. The kids from Urban Core and Adrenaline Climbing are setting the stage for the next generation of climbers. These young people aren’t just getting into the sport of climbing; they’re fully embracing the lifestyle and responsibilities that accompany the true meaning of being a climber.

I think we all could learn a thing or two from the kids who came out to the Boat Rock trail day – and I hope the Simply Adventure journey can continue to spread the hopefulness and genuine appreciation demonstrated out at that Georgia crag. I had a blast with everyone who came out, and will be posting the complete set of photo on the Simply Adventure Facebook page – so stay tuned!

Did you hear? I’m the new voice of the Southeastern Climbers Coalition’s revived Twitter account! I don’t think it’s rocket science to calculate that Niko is much more helpful during trail days than I am (c’mon, he could carry 10x more mulch up a cliff than I can), so it is truly meaningful to me to be able to use my social media skills to help the SCC. Give @SEClimbers a follow, and send us a Tweet!

Want to help the Simply Adventure team successfully spend a year traveling around the country to spread the good tidings of land conservation, and work with local climbing communities to preserve the future of our crags? 

Donate to the Simply Adventure fundraiser – and help equip us with the tools we need to make our mission a reality. We’re running out of time, and still have over $4000 to raise within the next two weeks. 

The story of how a giant yellow Sprinter van became my home

From the moment Niko and I declared 2013 as our road trip year, we began dreaming of the vehicle that would serve as our home during our adventure. Living in a car is no simple subject, so naturally we explored multiple options.

The first “that’s the one!” idea was a Honda Element equipped with Ursa Minor’s E-Camper pop-up extension. It turned a standard adventure mobile into a livable space – perfect. I was able to play in the Jeep version during Overland Expo, and felt pretty smitten with the concept of turning it into my home for a year. But the price tag proved a bit too reachy.

And more importantly, we realized we needed some space. Niko and I are great at living together and sharing everything, but the idea of residing in a small car for an entire year started to feel a bit suffocating. I quickly realized that the more space we had, the higher the likelihood of us not wanting to throw each other off a cliff within the first two months of our Simply Adventure trip.

After storming up new ideas, being haunted by Niko’s proposal of living in his pick-up truck, and many conversations with Beth from 3Up Adventures, the choice was clear: We needed a Sprinter van.

Big, boxy, and good on gas mileage, the Dodge Sprinter is truly an ideal vehicle for the adventure lifestyle. The cargo set-up allowed us to create a functional space designed for our needs, but the diesel van still drives (relatively) easy. We agreed on the Sprinter, and quickly began our search.

Months of scouring the internet and local dealerships for used Sprinters led to two weeks in Miami to complete the search and purchase. After a handful of disappointing van visits, my father and I hopped on a one-way flight to Tampa, then drove out to Palm Harbor, to check out a big, yellow Sprinter that Niko had discovered in an eBay auction.

It was love at first sight.

Never mind that yellow is my absolutely favorite color of all time, or that I have an unusual tendency to affectionately personify inanimate objects – this Sprinter was the one. The dealership was closed during our initial visit, so we creeped on the van, and eagerly awaited the next day to (hopefully) finalize the purchase.

The waiting, haggling, and inspection process were absolutely agonizing.

We test drove the Sprinter first thing in the morning, and decided we liked what we saw. The next step was taking it to a mechanic at the Jerry Ulm Dodge dealership to get the lowdown on the van. I will forever be grateful for the extraordinary efforts by Brian Cummings to help me with my van buying process. He spent hours talking to us, offering honest advice, and ultimately suggesting that we should go for it and buy the van (even though it wasn’t being sold by his dealership). Brian, thank you a thousand times, you are absolutely wonderful!

Fast forward through some unsuccessful haggling, a “looks like we’ll have to walk away from the van” moment, a phone call saying “come back, we’ll take your offer,” and lots of paperwork – and suddenly I was driving my new yellow van from Tampa to Miami. Ain’t it a beauty?

Since purchasing my new home, we’ve driven from Tampa to Miami, and Miami to Tallahassee. This weekend we’re heading up to the Atlanta area for our first trail day with the Southeastern Climbers Coalition at Boat Rock – our first official Simply Adventure journey.

In the coming weeks, I’ll keep you updated as we outfit the Sprinter and transform it into a veritable home. It may have a shabby paint job, blown speakers, broken AC vents, and a busted headlight – but it’s our first home together, and we’re smitten. We’ve already gutted the interior; next up is tearing down the partition.

Soon, the blank interior space will be filled with a custom built bed, kitchen area, storage, and more. We can’t wait to show you our handiwork, so stay tuned! We’re also going to be holding a van naming contest soon, so start thinkin’ up some snazzy names for our glorious yellow van!

Want to help us make the Simply Adventure dream a reality? Check out our fundraiser, and DONATE to our mission to spread the good tidings of conservation, outdoor recreation, and climbing love across the country! 

Simply Adventure update: Sponsorships, funding, and buying the van!

Wow. At first, Janaury 25th felt like it was a lifetime away, but as our departure date approaches, everything is beginning to feel a lot more real. And by real, I mean a truly overwhelming cacophony of excitement, terror, and pressure.

In 102 days, Niko and I will be officially beginning
the yearlong journey of Simply Adventure.

And, Simply Adventure has a lot of updates to share! So here goes:

Trip Planning: The most exciting item we’re planning to purchase for the trip (besides the van) is a giant map where we’ll start to plan out our route. We already have the first few months outlined: first, a jaunt to Houston to visit our climber friend Teresa and go climb at Reimer’s Ranch – followed by a few weeks in Hueco Tanks. Afterwards, we’ll head south of the border for what promises to be an amazing multi-pitch experience at El Potrero Chico in Mexico.

After Mexico, our plans are very vague – so we want your input! If you’ve got a local crag we must climb at, want to offer us a shower and/or place to park the van for an evening, or just want to meet up for some adventuring, let us know! We’ll be ironing out our plans more solidly over the next month.

Sponsorship: In the past few weeks, we’ve been connecting with a lot of fantastic outdoor brands that have been eager to lend a hand in supporting our mission to spread the word of conservation, outdoor recreation, and land stewardship. We’ve received wonderful gear sponsorships from Teton Sports and Columbia Sportswear, and our climbing lifestyle is being supported by Stonelick crash pads, ClimbOn! products, and Tallahassee Rock Gym. Over the weekend, we secured another sponsor:

The Simply Adventure project is officially
powered by Goal Zero solar energy!

Documenting and sharing a yearlong adventure while living out of a van is going to be no easy task – but thanks to Goal Zero, we’ll never be left in the dark. Our cameras, computers, and all our electronic gear will be kept charged for the entire journey – so you’ll always be able to connect with us! We are beside ourselves with excitement, thank you Goal Zero!

The Van: Our self-imposed deadline for getting our Sprinter is quickly approaching, so I’m headed down to Miami next week to see what I can do about turning my 2009 Scion tC into a Sprinter van. (Anyone want to buy my Scion? But really.) You can expect a huge, excited blog post once we finally have our new home. I can’t believe I’m going to be living in a van for a year – Niko always talked about it when we first started dating, and I told him he was nuts. Now here I am, selling everything I own to move into a Sprinter. Touché, Niko. Read More…

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