The outdoor community must step up and become advocates & activists–NOW.

Yesterday in Salt Lake City, the EPA held a public hearing on the Regional Haze Rule (think: Clean Air Act). You know, the seemingly no-brainer effort to clean up the air around Utah and some of it’s most beautiful outdoor spaces.

It came across my desk from the OIA government affairs team as something we wanted to show some support for (again, no-brainer). When I was doing some social promotion around the event, I pictured a big rally of outdoor advocates all singing the praises of cleaner air and literally thought to myself, “I wonder how much of an impact this will make since it’s basically just going to be a big hoorah all from the outdoor community. Will the opposing side even notice that this hearing is happening?

I was incredibly, profoundly wrong in my assumption.

This is what outdoor athletes Caroline Gleich and Brody Leven experienced yesterday when they attended the meeting. Just hearing their stories digitally was enough for me to wake up and snap to attention. This is not the scene I had envisioned in my head:

On the front lines today with @brodyleven at the EPA public hearing about regional haze in Utah’s national parks. It seems like all of Carbon County fit in two busloads to represent the interests of the coal power plants. We felt like the underdogs. The outdoor/tourism industries were seriously underrepresented. I’ve never been so nervous to speak in front of a group. When I started speaking, I could feel the hostility in the air. But I shared my story and the facts. Utah’s outdoor recreation and tourism industries bring in $12.2 billion dollars per year. It’s important to clean up the air around the parks and reduce the emissions from coal burning power plants. When I was done, hardly anyone clapped. We need to get more young people and outdoor people to come to these things. We need to make signs and speak up. It’s our air and our future. It’s scary and not always fun, but it’s hugely important to protect the quality of life and the Utah we love. At the end, I gave the coal miners a smile and a wave. I came to realize our goals aren’t that different. We are both trying to protect our livelihood- our jobs and the lifestyle we know. It’s just the path to the future that we disagree on. #cleanair4utah @protectourwinters @healutah @sierraclub

A photo posted by Caroline Gleich (@carolinegleich) on

As it turns out, the pro-coal attendance far overwhelmed the presence of outdoor advocates. Folks from Carbon County (yes, that’s really the name of the county) were actually shuttled to Salt Lake City by the busload to make sure the coal industry was heard loud and clear. Inside the building, the hearing was packed with these representatives, and Brody observed that there were hundreds more rallying outside as well. Brody told me they basically had to sneak into the event. He saw signs that said “Fossil fuels are beautiful.” When Caroline finished her testimony about the importance of cleaning up the air around Utah’s beautiful outdoor spaces and protecting the health of the state’s community, she noted that hardly anyone clapped.

That scene is embarrassing. Look at the statistics for the outdoor industry: we generate $646 billion in consumer spending annually, and create 6.1 million direct jobs. That’s 6.1 million people whose livelihood is connected to the health of our outdoor spaces. In Utah, at least 82% of residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. So where were we during yesterday’s hearing? Why wasn’t there a loud and proud standing ovation when Caroline concluded her speech?

And none of this includes the much more obvious fact: this isn’t just about our parks, this is about the air you breathe every single day. In parks, in cities, everywhere. This is about the air you breathe, the air your families breathe, the air that future generations will be breathing.

Image via Unsplash

Do I have you riled up yet? Good. Here’s a place to start taking action: You can submit formal comment on this Clean Air Act until 3/14/16.

The outdoor community needs to do more than just love our outdoor spaces: we need to become strong advocates and activists for the issues that affect our industry. Not just clean air, but on a laundry list of initiatives that need our support, from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to wildfire funding. And don’t even get me started on the public lands heist.

If you truly care about the places you play, you need to do something about it. Posting beautiful Instagrams of Arches National Park won’t mean anything when the air there makes you ill, and saving up for months to buy a new ice axe won’t matter when global warming means your favorite routes never get cold enough to freeze. When your favorite forest burns to a crisp because you didn’t speak up about the importance of wildfire funding–that’s all on you. Sign those petitions, they matter. E-mail, call, and tweet your representatives–they’re listening. Attend community events, share these issues on social media, support organizations like Outdoor Alliance and Protect Our Winters.

The outdoor community has such potential to be so strong and so loud and so impactful–let’s make that happen together.

Disclaimer: Opinions here are my own and are in no way affiliated with OIA. But if you want to learn more about OIA’s stance on this issue, check out this recreation alert. For more on OIA’s climate change policy, read more here

An Open Letter to Outdoor Women on Independence and Bad Relationships

Ladies, I hope you’re ready to hit with the feels–because I am full of them today. It’s been a while since I curled up to write something raw, but when the lovely Sidni West included me on a list of 65 rad humans to follow, and described me as ‘writer’, it reminded me that I’ve gotten a little too caught up in day-job marketing and neglected my true love: honest, this-is-me writing.

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So, prepare yourselves for a little real talk that’s been brewing for a while–probably about two years–and now is finally being put down into words:

It’s mind-blowing to me that it was three years ago that I started living in a van, but it’s taken me until very recently to recover from a little something I’d like to call “girlfriend to a boy who goes outside” syndrome. In my case, this ‘outside’ was actually climbing–but it can apply to anyone with an ambitious partner. It started out innocently, sharing a strong passion for the same activity, but by the end of our relationship, it was toxic and damaging. Here’s my question to you, ladies:

When is the last time you got outdoors without your partner? A just-for-me, don’t-need-no-man, this-moment-is-mine adventure doing what you love? A trip that’s just yours?

When my ex-boyfriend and I started dating, he truly helped me become a climber. He worked at the local rock gym, so we’d stay up late climbing after-hours and before-hours and all-hours. I still remember the day I fell head over heels for him on our first date. He was rugged, outdoorsy, and seemingly king of a world that I wanted to be a part of. He was there during my first climbing trip (before we started dating), and took me on 99% of any climbing excursions I went on for the next four years.

He was my coach, belay partner, and trusty spotter. He introduced me to everyone I knew in the community, always pitched my tent, drove the tricky dirt roads I was intimated by. He did everything. I didn’t realize it then, but I completely lost myself in the “us” of my relationship. I loved my year exploring the USA in a van, but by the end of it, I just wasn’t having fun anymore. He picked all my climbing projects, pressured me into trying hard–seriously I still resent myself over that one–and no decisions were made based on what I wanted to do. I wasn’t climbing because I loved it, I climbed because I felt like I needed to for him to still love me. I wasn’t stoked on the situation anymore–and he wasn’t either (which is probably why he cheated on me with a younger, more motivated climber, but I digress).

Major pump the brakes, back it up, this doesn’t sound like the Katie Boué we all know, right? I know. My bad ladies, I promise it’ll never happen again.

After he left me, I was devastated and lost. I promptly packed up my bags and hauled ass out to Colorado to lick my wounds and start anew. I felt good about a new beginning–but it still felt like there was something wrong with me, and honestly, I felt ashamed to be ‘over’ climbing. I had forgotten what it was like to follow my passion. I knew I still loved being outdoors and going climbing, but I didn’t know how to do it anymore. I had to start my journey as a climber from scratch. The worst part is: it wasn’t his fault at all, it was mine.

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I thought about all of this last week while I took a solo drive up into the Blue Ridge Mountains to watch the sunrise over Asheville. Looking at that toxic relationship in the rearview mirror, it’s infuriating that I let things get that way. Currently, I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had, and at first I was frustrated that my partner isn’t as stoked on alpine starts and pebble wrestling as I am–but it taught me something crucial: the value of doing things for you.

I am a stronger, healthier, happier person now that I frequently take solo trips and go adventuring without my boyfriend. I adore the trips we do take together, but I also cherish my time outdoors without him. I feel confident when I’m on a trail alone, and stoked when I pull up to a crag to meet friends on my own. When I top-out a project at the rock gym, I don’t look around seeking approval anymore. That moment and satisfaction is mine. If I want to go somewhere, I go. If I’m not feeling it, I don’t.

So here’s my call to you, ladies: ditch your boyfriend more often.

I’m preaching to the choir with a lot of you badass women, but I know more than a few rad females who tend to use ‘we’ more often than ‘me’. You’re not doing yourself or your relationship any favors by losing yourself and becoming dependent on your partner–or anyone else for that matter. If you can’t remember the last time you spent a weekend out in the woods with just your fine self and/or a few fellow female ass-kickers, change that. If your boyfriend always carries the heavy gear and navigates the tricky sections of dirt roads, you’re doing it wrong. Leave your man behind, do exactly whatever it is that gets your blood flowing, don’t ask anyone for permission, live your passion, and always pitch your own damn tent.

And if we’re going to be honest, nothing is sexier than a strong, independent woman. Don’t worry about hurting your boyfriend’s feelings by leaving him behind–there are few things more attractive to an outdoorsy dude than a woman covered in dirt and radiating from her own adventure.

Need some help on the journey of ditching ‘ours’ in favor of ‘mine’? Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a solo drive. Trust me, I know it isn’t easy going from doing everything as a couple to taking the reigns back on your she-time. Start by picking a new mountain road and exploring it for a few hours. Catch a sunset, or a sunrise.
  • Invite your favorite friends for a girls-only climbing night at your gym. 
  • Plan a ladies’ weekend of camping, hiking, climbing, whatever gets your blood flowing. Bring wine.
  • Start carving out a weekly time when you get out and do something on your own. Go for a run, spend a few hours writing at a cozy coffeeshop, head out on a mission to explore a new trail every week–whatever it takes. Form a habit that’s all yours.
  • Call me and let’s plan a damn adventure! Seriously though, I’m down. Let’s do it.

In case any of you need reminding: You’re a capable, confident, sexy, clever, inspiring, strong, badass woman. And I’m pretty stoked on you, and hope you’re stoked on yourself too.

PS: For the record, you were right Mom. Ladies, always listen to your mother’s opinions of your partners. Or at least listen to my mom, because her success rate is 100% in identifying bad seeds. 

PPS: If you need some no-nonsense female back-up to kick you in your lady parts and remind you that you absolutely do not need no man, go hit up Sidni West. She’s the shit. I strive to be as beautifully bold as she is on a daily basis. Also her dirty humor is the best.

Florida: The USA’s Hidden Outdoor Adventure Gem

Here’s the thing: When I was a young adult living in Florida, I spent every weekend trying to get outside. And for some reason, I thought I had to cross state lines in order to achieve outdoor bliss. I’d spend up to 12 hours driving in a single weekend to go camp.

If only I knew then what I know now.

I went on a two-day camping trip to Ginnie Springs to film an outdoor video for VISIT FLORIDA, and it completely changed my perspective on getting outside in my home state. Spoiler alert: I’m already planning my next adventure down to Florida. It’s that good.

Here are five reasons why Florida is the USA’s untapped, entirely underrated gem for outdoor adventure:

Camping at Ginnie Springs.

 There’s an activity for every outdoorist.

At the Ginnie Springs welcome center, I saw folks hauling personal watercraft, inner tubes, scuba and snorkeling gear, hiking equipment, camping gear, BBQ supplies — the works. In just 24 hours, I managed to canoe up the river, chase fish while snorkeling in the springs, explore trails, eat steak around a campfire, hunt (unsuccessfully) for crawfish, attempt slack-lining, and get a full night’s sleep in my tent perched on a dewy peninsula overlooking the water.

If you look past the notion that Florida is nothing but beaches and retired folks, you’ll see that the Sunshine State is home to an abundance of outdoor opportunity. There are 3 National Parks, 161 State Parks, and more public recreation spaces than I can count. Bike paths stretch for miles, unique ecosystems beg to be explored, and a lack of mountains means you’ll always find a flat spot to pitch your tent.

The wildlife feels like you’re on another planet.

Lizards that can walk on water, birds waking you up with a cacophony of sound, manatees munching on sea grass, bejeweled beetles, and masked raccoons peeking out at you from the mangroves? Yes, please! I’m a sucker for creatures, and Florida knows how to deliver.

During my camping trip to Ginnie Springs, our crew was woken up in the middle of the night by two dueling owls who had taken up a battle of hoots in the trees directly above our tents. Sure, it interrupted my slumber–but it was worth it to get a front row seat to pure nature.

The water temperature in the springs stays at 72º all year.

Swimming at Ginnie Springs.Swimming at Ginnie Springs.

In the summertime, it’s the perfect way to seek relief from the heat–and in the winter, the water actually feels warm when the temperatures drop at night. I was expecting to jump into the spring and immediately want to bail, but I ended up snorkeling for hours.

And this isn’t just Ginnie Springs–I’m talking about every spring in Florida. Find the nearest one, load up your snorkel gear, and get psyched to make a splash off a rope swing–they’re everywhere.

You don’t have to be a hardcore adventurer to enjoy Florida’s outdoors.

Camping at Ginnie Springs.

I like to challenge myself outdoors, but I don’t always need every outing to be the kind of trip I need to train six months and buy $1,000 in technical equipment for. Florida’s outdoors is accessible to anyone who wants to experience it. Just want to car camp and spend a weekend under the stars with your family? Easy. Want to go on a multiday cycling and backpacking trip along the coast? Done deal.

When I lived in Colorado, we used to spend hours looking for an open campsite on the weekends–and once had to turn around and drive home after giving up on finding a spot. In Florida, you aren’t battling massive crowds to find your own slice of outdoor heaven, and many sites are easily reserved online.

This is what winter in Florida looks like. Seriously. Cue the mic drop.

Camping, swimming, and exploring at Ginnie Springs.Camping, swimming, and exploring at Ginnie Springs.Camping, swimming, and exploring at Ginnie Springs.

I’ve been around the USA block a few times, and I’ve experienced just about every type of seasonal weather from heat waves to blizzards–but nothing compares to a winter in Florida. While folks are waiting hours in lift lines and scraping ice off their windshields, you can be basking in sunshine and wearing sandals.

Disclaimer: If you’ve been following me on social media, you already know–VISIT FLORIDA sponsored this trip and provided compensation for me to get out and explore Florida’s outdoors. As usual, all thoughts, #LoveFL vibes, and opinions are my own.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of VISIT FLORIDA. The opinions and text are all mine.

Weeks 4 & 5 – Sunburnt: Winter in Miami

I used to love the long haul between Colorado and Florida. I’ve driven it over a dozen times, and it used to enchant me. These days, I’ve become a road trip curmudgeon. How do both Texas and Kansas stretch for so long? Why are southerners such awful drivers? And who the hell put KFC at every highway rest stop instead of the clearly superior Popeyes? 

The drive from Boulder to Miami wasn’t romantic. Mcgoo and I caravanned across the country, stopping only to pee or fuel up. We spent the night crammed in our driver’s seats as we attempted to sleep at a rest area right on the Kentucky/Tennessee border. This is what I looked like in the morning:

The reality of a nomadic lifestyle.

Not cute.

Ultimately, the decision to press through and just drive straight down to Miami was an excellent choice. I pulled into my familiar driveway just before midnight on Sunday evening, was greeted by hugs from my ma and a lit up (fake, ugh) Christmas tree, and quickly collapsed into my old bed.

Being in Miami for the holidays is a bit unconventional. The only white Christmas you’ll get is a sandy one, and on Christmas Eve I was out getting sunburnt while kayaking. One thing is universal though: the joy of being with family. My ‘people’ are a bunch of loud, borderline insane Cubans + Mexicans, so things tend to get a little rowdy when we’re all in the same room.

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In other news, if your pops ever asks you to wake up before the sunrise to go kayaking on the bay with him in hopes of catching a huge flock of birds waking up and taking flight–go with him.

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but hot damn, what an experience. I was groggy and slow dragging my kayak out to the water, but watching the sun crest the horizon and trigger a wave of seabirds to come flying overheard was one hell of a way to wake up.

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Just before New Years, I took a solo road trip up to Ginnie Springs to shoot a camping video–sponsored by Visit Florida (#LoveFL, y’all!), the state’s tourism board. They let me invite two lady friends along, and it ended up being the perfect two days of snorkeling in crystal clear springs, canoeing down a river, eating steak around a campfire, hunting for crawdads, and reconnecting with two friends I can’t believe I went so long without seeing. But there will be another blog post about this trip on the 14th–stay tuned!

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I made it back down to Miami just in time to head out to Coconut Grove for an Indian feast at Bombay Darbar before hitting the water to watch fireworks from the boat. I had a moment while the boat skimmed along the black sea–I couldn’t remember the last time I felt so present. It was one of those heart-swelling, body tingling, shit-eating grin kinda moments.

My peace was quickly interrupted by honking party boats and my attention quickly turned to whiskey gingers, but the good vibes remained. 2016 is going to be one for the books (or rather, one for the blogs?).

Weeks 2 & 3: Boulder Life and Leaving the Office

The last few weeks–err months, arguably the last two years–have been a series of transitions. First there were the purges, then turning in the keys to my house, and now a new phase of kinda-on-the-road but mostly still-in-the-office. My personal life has been completely upheaved, but everything was business as usual at work. I still went into OIA HQ each day, still sat in my cubicle–with a view of the Flatirons, so I can’t complain. Honestly, this was a weird week for me.

I’m ready to go, and somewhat already gone, but also still stuck.

Katie Boué of TheMorningFresh.com

Another big­–and very positive–change came about this week. Mcgoo and I couldn’t handle another night in our fly-ridden, mold-lurking Airbnb, so we bit the bullet and cancelled our reservation. I felt awful leaving the nice fella who owned the property, but we hadn’t slept a full night since arriving and Mcgoo was starting to get sick from the funky smelling air.

Let me tell you, our new Boulder Airbnb was a palace. Beautifully decorated, owned by a young climber couple, and full of everything I love: photographs of Indian Creek, old bones, polaroids from Yosemite, posters from musicians like The Black Keys & TV on the Radio, you name it. I mean, look at this place:

Our Airbnb in Boulder, CO. Another photo from our Airbnb in Boulder, CO.Our Airbnb in Boulder, CO.

We got hit by a huge snowstorm this week, which was the perfect farewell to winter. I’m constantly torn between loving the cozy vibes of a wintry wonderland and just plain ‘ole hating being cold. The struggle is real y’all.

One last photo from the backyard of our Airbnb in Boulder, CO.

On Thursday, the OIA staff did our annual hike up to the Boulder Star, then we all went out for dinner and drinks to celebrate my departure. Friday was a normal day–until 4:00 rolled around. I said my farewells, rode the elevator downstairs, then slid into my car and promptly felt my eyes well up with tears. I wasn’t expecting to get so choked up.

Ultimately, I want nothing more than to never be in a cubicle ever again–but also, I’m going to really miss the camaraderie and damn good vibes the OIA crew has. I still bug them every day with e-mails and video conference calls, but there’s nothing like popping your head into the kitchen and messing around with your colleagues. Plus, now I miss out on all the beer.

Hiking to the Boulder Star on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, CO.

Mcgoo and I had our final Colorado dinner at Under The Sun, the sister restaurant to our beloved Southern Sun brewery. If you’re ever in Boulder, you must go eat at Southern Sun. Best nachos on the planet. Those cheesy, gooey, never-gonna-finish-‘em nachos are probably one of the only things I’ll truly miss about Boulder.

Before the sun rose on Saturday morning, my Scion tC was already on the highway heading east. And so begun the 2090 mile journey down to my hometown, Miami.

Climbing in Boulder Canyon with Women’s Wilderness

I’ll be straight up: I don’t typically label myself as a feminist. I sometimes cringe at the words “women’s empowerment” when overused. So when I say that photographing and tagging along on a Women’s Wilderness climbing course was one of the best experiences I’ve had as a woman, it’s a pretty big deal in my book.

I volunteered for Women’s Wilderness a year ago as they were going through a pretty radical revolution at the organization. I helped them liquidate their enormous gear collection and close up their office as they shut down for a few months to reevaluate what the future of Women’s Wilderness would look like. Honestly, I thought it was the end for this organization–which was a shame. Founded in 1998, Women’s Wilderness is all about offering an “unforgettable experience that will increase your wilderness skills, refresh your spirit, and bring you the joy of a wilderness adventure in the company of women.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

When the next executive director, Emily Isaacs, was announced earlier this year, I squealed with excitement. She’s a real firecracker, unwavering in her dedication to the cause, and I knew that Women’s Wilderness was about to see a rebirth. So I quickly raised my hand and volunteered to join a group of ladies on a climbing course in Boulder Canyon to see if it would live up to my expectations.

Spoiler alert: It did.

I drove out to Boulder Canyon on an unexpectedly blustery morning, totally underdressed but totally stoked. Our group met in a gravel parking lot, exchanging introductions and sorting through gear before hiking across a creek and up into the crag. Our ragtag collection of women was small, with two instructors, three climbers, and myself–and we quickly became friends and made connections through our shared climbing histories.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

Our instructors, Tess and Becca, were phenomenal. They kept things casual, made the group feel comfortable, and were proficient in their work to educate us about the gear and techniques we were to spend the day practicing. Although I was strictly on photographer duty, the energy in the air was infectious and got me so stoked for the women who were roping up. To watch the ladies pull on the routes, charge through sections they weren’t sure about, fight through tricky moves, and lowering down after moments of victory was, well, empowering. We shared the highs and lows that day, cheering each other on and comforting one another when things got tough.

Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.Women's Wilderness climbing course in Boulder Canyon.

I was so impressed by the experience, and can’t sing the praises of the Women’s Wilderness programming enough. If you’re in Colorado, I encourage you to check out their course offering, and sign up for a class or community event. Emily has already brought about so much positive direction to the organization since coming on as executive director, and I know her head is teeming with plans and ideas for the future.

I’ll be running an Instagram takeover on my account today to share some of my favorite photos from the day–so be sure to follow my feed and check out the Women’s Wilderness Instagram too. 

Weeks 0 & 1: Goodbye Denver, Hello Boulder!

It’s been about two weeks since I turned in the keys to my adorable house on Grant Street in Denver. Packing up my entire life and downsizing to accommodate my new mobile lifestyle was a whirlwind. At first, I skimmed my belongings and clung to sentiments, barely making a dent in the massive amount of stuff I had accumulated during my two years living in Colorado. As go-time lurked closer and closer, I quickly converted towards the “Purge all the things!” mind set. On November 30th, I slid the key to 159 S Grant street off my carabiner and locked the door behind me.

My darling old house on historic South Grant Street in Colorado.

Since then, I’ve stayed in two Airbnbs in Boulder while wrapping up work at OIA’s HQ. Why two? Well, the first one turned out to be a major mistake in judgement–I actually don’t even have any pictures of the place. It was a charming property with tons of house plants and a very kind (but super chatty) host, but we eventually had to cancel our reservation after Mcgoo literally became allergic to the funky air and houseflies + a noisy heater rendered us sleepless. It would have been a good spot if we were just staying for a night or two, but we’ve learned our longer stays = being a bit choosier with our Airbnbs.

Thank goodness for a flexible cancellation policy.

Our new Airbnb in Boulder is divine. I can’t wait to show you pictures next week. It’s a gorgeous two-bedroom house owned by a climber couple with impeccable style. The walls are adorned with mountain paintings, polaroids from Yosemite, and concert posters featuring bands like TV On The Radio, The Roots, and The Black Keys. Bookshelves are lined with climbing guidebooks, beautiful animal bones, and tchotchkes from the hosts’ travels. I am seriously kicking myself for not booking this place originally. A fresh coat of snow only makes this place even more flawless. I’m in love.

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While in Boulder we’ve been taking it easy as we adjust to this nomadic lifestyle. There’s a lot to learn. Since I’m still working out of the office, I’ve been horrible about cooking my own meals. My relationship with Whole Foods is getting seriously unhealthy–in an ironically healthy way.

These tofu salad rolls from the Whole Foods sushi bar are addictive. I mean, look at them. Who wouldn’t want that for lunch, every day?

The tofu salad roll from Whole Foods' sushi bar.

I’m also getting a little sentimental about leaving Outdoor Industry Association HQ. I’ll be traveling back to the Front Range frequently for important company events and spending time with my colleagues, but damn, I’m going to miss them. Our team is top notch, and I love spending time with my ragtag crew of co-workers. I mean, how many other marketing departments get together to climb during lunch on a regular basis?

It’ll be sad saying goodbye, but I’m stoked to convince all of them to come meet me out on the road at some point…

The view from Lake Standley in Colorado.

Next week is our last before we hit the road down to Miami for the holidays. Confession: I still have a bit of purging and organizing to do before we’ll be able to fit everything in just two cars (Mcgoo’s Subaru Outback–which is what we’ll be traveling in–and my Scion tC). It’s going to be a tight squeeze, but we’ve got a few things like paintings and family heirlooms that we have to transport back to Florida for storage before we finalize our on-the-go packing situation. Wish me luck!

Want to follow along on my adventures? Get connected on Twitter, FacebookInstagram. For all the action in real-time, make sure to follow me on Snapchat – username: kboue! 

I’m hitting the road (again)

Remember that time I spent a year living in a van while traveling around the USA to climb, explore and discover? That was pretty damn rad, and while I’m glad I traded in the broke dirtbag lifestyle for a salary and health insurance, something has been missing since I settled down in Colorado: the spirit of life on the road.

I’ve learned that I’m just not very good at staying still.Hiking in the South Platte area of Colorado's Front Range, pre-Airbnb life.

Restlessness and wanderlust started gnawing at me over summer, escalating in intensity after spending 10 days in Costa Rica and road-tripping across the country. On those trips, I felt alive again. I didn’t wake up tired and dreading commutes; I awoke earlier, brighter, eager to write and take photos and work. My mind was filled once again with creative notions and passion for travel + the outdoors. It was clear: this lady is made to be on the road. So when Mcgoo declared “I’m leaving Colorado, you coming?” – there wasn’t really a choice to be made. The only answer was yes.

But here’s the thing: I love my day job. The thought of having to choose between my work that I love and a lifestyle that fulfills me was agonizing. So I came up with a crazy idea, and pitched it to my employer, Outdoor Industry Association. I spent weeks putting together a presentation that first highlighted my accomplishments, then paused with an ‘intermission’ slide before launching into my announcement that I had decided to leave Colorado but really, really didn’t want that to mean the end of my work with OIA (real talk: my eyes teared up immediately when it was time to drop the “I’m hitting the road, please let me keep my job” bomb–that meeting was full of the feels).

My plan outlined the idea of turning me into a mobile advocate for OIA. Building relationships with our brand and retail members all across the country, bringing the outdoor industry community together, and documenting it all through social media and content creation. And for some crazy reason, they supported my vision. It was–and still is–a lot of work to bring to fruition, but all the pieces are coming together.

Here’s the other thing: I’m over van life. My year spent living in a Sprinter was phenomenal, life-changing, and beautiful–but I’ve realized that isn’t the way for me to travel this time. Vans are a blast, but they’re not always a sustainable way to live on the road. Mcgoo and I are both working full-time during our explorations, so we need proper work spaces, wi-fi, and a small bit of stability. I’m not operating on a dirtbag budget anymore, so there’s no reason not to jazz up the on-the-go lifestyle.

So how will this nomadic couple travel full-time while maintaining our professional lives?  Airbnb.My big announcement: I'm hitting the road full time. Hello, Airbnb life!

Katie & Matt, traveling and working full-time while exploring the USA and living in Airbnbs.

Our plan is really quite simple: We’ll be spending 3-8 weeks in each destination as we make our way around the USA for the next few years. We’re already in our second Airbnb property since giving up the keys to my house on November 30th–and I couldn’t be happier. Currently, you can find us in Boulder. As I type this, I’m peeking out the window of our gorgeous two-bedroom house, watching snowflakes sprinkle down on the backyard like powdered sugar on french toast. I don’t have a home anymore–but I have many homes.

I owe you much more about the plot of my life’s next chapter, and I’ll deliver all the details over the next week, but for now, it’s time to lace up my boots and go tromp around in the snow. I’m heading down to Miami next week, so I’m soaking up as much winter as possible before turning to the land of endless summer.

Got questions about my big announcement? Want to chat about Airbnb life or learn more about where I’m heading next? Hit me up on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook, and connect with me on Instagram! Shameless plug: If you’ve haven’t signed up with Airbnb yet (seriously?!), check it out using my referral link. 

Gear Round-up: Winter Essentials

Here’s the thing: I hate winter. Yes, I think snow is magical and I love waking up to a wintry world full of icicles and frost–but as soon as I’m out of my heated nook and actually existing in the cold, I’m miserable. Maybe it’s my Florida blood, maybe it’s my Raynaud’s syndrome, but the fact is indisputable: I’m really bad at winter.

Unfortunately, my pursuit of mountainous landscapes and exploring new places has led me to be insufferably stuck with winter. Living in Denver for a few seasons has helped thicken my skin, but finding the right gear to survive winter was the real key to keeping my sanity while everyone else is all “woo, I love snow, let’s go skiing!” (I’m awful at skiing, for the record.)

Whether you’re a winter-hater like me, or a full-fledged fan of the worst season ever, this gear is my go-to for staying warm and making the most out of these next few months of winter. It’s a collection of products I’ve fallen in love with during my travels, gear I’ve been testing, and things that will make excellent gifts during the holiday season–wink wink.

Review of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on TheMorningFresh.com

Cotopaxi Bengal Jacket

I’m honestly not even sure if I can find the words to describe my undying love for this jacket. I first saw the Cotopaxi Bengal jacket at Outdoor Retailer this summer, and it was love at first site. The color, the waxed canvas, the pockets, and the feel-good that comes with supporting Cotopaxi–this jacket has it all. The longer length is exactly what I needed to balance out my closet (err, suitcase?) full of shorter puffies. The cut is exactly what every lady wishes for when on the hunt for a jacket–it’s sturdy and keeps you warm, but fits my body in a flattering way that doesn’t drown my shape in fabric.

Review of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on TheMorningFresh.comReview of the Cotopaxi Bengal waxed jacket on TheMorningFresh.com

And the pockets! There are so many damn pockets, and I can hardly contain how excited I am about it. It seems like men always win the pocket jackpot with apparel, but Cotopaxi did us ladies justice with more pockets than I know what to do with. There are simple open flap pockets, interior zippered pockets, button-clasp pockets, pockets-on-pockets, so many pockets. I’ve stopped having to carry a purse with me when I wear this jacket–which is fabulous since I don’t actually own a purse anymore.

As if this jacket needed anymore praise: I’ve had it for months and still haven’t had to wash it yet. I’ve been romping around the desert in Utah, city slicking around town in Denver, exploring Jackson Hole, hopping planes around Seattle, you name it.

Edgevale North Coast Shirt Jacket

Review of the Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket on TheMorningFresh.com

I am such a sucker for button-downs with rolled up sleeves. I would wear ‘em every single day if I could get away with it. Problem is: even my thickest flannels are still pretty weak when it comes to truly battling winter. Cue the Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket. I’m a tiny gal, and even their smallest size was admittedly a tad big on my frame–but I love this garment. Edgevale describes it as a “soft shell technology and classic styling to create a wind and water resistant garment that’s ultra versatile.” Spot on. It’s thick, much heavier than your normal button-down/flannel, and it’s so damn cozy. The garment wears in a way that combines tomboy style with feminine layering options.

Edgevale North Coast shirt jacket review on TheMorningFresh.com

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Celebrating 27 – City to Creek to Camp to Climb

The week approaching my 27th birthday was, frankly, a bit humdrum. I had been so busy with ‘life‘ and work that I hardly even registered it was my birthday week until someone else pointed it out. “Oh well, 27 isn’t a big deal–let’s just go with the flow on this one,” I figured, and decided to not sign myself up for any crazy climbing birthday challenges or big trips. We had a fly-fishing clinic scheduled as a work outing on my actual birthday, and that was groovy enough for me.

Every outdoorist should have an ‘adventure bug out bag’. You know, that one pack that always has your outside playtime essentials ready to go at a moments notice. In my evrgrn Kickback pack, you’ll find a Hydro Flask, my trusty notebook + pen, my Nikon D7000, an extra scarf–because autumn is upon us, chapstick, and a spare $20 in case I find a taco stand in the middle of the woods. You never know.

Photo: Mehri Russo

Photo: Mehri Russo

As it turns out, I’m a much better photographer than I am fisherman. The time I spent along Boulder Creek with a rod in my hand primarily consisted of me trying to perfect the flick of my wrist and then spending 10 minutes untangling the line. I did catch something though: a rock. The lack of freshly caught fish for dinner didn’t deter me though–I tossed my pack into the car, hauled from Boulder to Denver, and caught up with some of my favorite people for a latin feast at Cuba Cuba.

The next morning, I realized that a birthday weekend can’t just go to waste–so Mcgoo and I grabbed our packs, tossed our down comforter into the back of his Subaru, loaded up on cheese and kabob ingredients at Whole Foods, and headed towards the mountains. We ended up at West Magnolia Trailhead near Nederland, miraculously finding the perfect campsite at 3:00 PM on a Saturday. There were rolling mountain views, sprawling fields for Amble to plow through, and plenty of forest to explore. We played, relaxed by the fire, and I even got a jumpstart on my birthday resolution to start writing more snail mail. I’ll let the photos tell the story:

20151017-DSC_363920151017-DSC_367020151017-DSC_370720151018-DSC0358920151017-DSC_376520151017-DSC_377720151017-DSC_381520151017-DSC_3822 [Read more…]