Introducing “Simply Adventure” – Reinventing the art of adventure in 2013

In May 2011, Niko and I embarked on a five-week trip across the country to climb, explore, and gain a new perspective on living. My leg of the journey began along the Atlantic coast in Miami, and together we traveled across mountains, prairies, and forests until reaching the Pacific ocean. After over a month spent living out of my parent’s Pilot, waking up with the rising sun, and spending afternoons splayed out in the sunshine of boulder fields – we returned home entirely changed.

It was quickly realized that we needed more.

We spent the next six months apart, with Niko studying in Tallahassee while I voyaged out on a seven-week solo trip and moved out to Denver for the fall and winter seasons. Upon reuniting, we decided our lives were better spent together – but that togetherness had a purpose.

We were built for a life of adventure.

And so, the plans began to form for a yearlong trip across the entire length America. At first, we dubbed it “The 2013 Trip,” but this epic journey deserved a more proper name – and thus, Simply Adventure was born. 

What are we doing?

We’re two perfectly regular people, proving that adventure is within anyone’s reach – all you have to do is choose a trail and follow it. We’re selling everything we own, buying a used van and building a home on wheels, simplifying our needs, and traveling America to discover everything that the land of the free has to offer. Our strongest passion is climbing, and through our journey we plan to support and advocate for local climbing communities and organizations. We also want to revive a love for living locally, focusing on local eateries and farmers markets.

Why are we doing this?

The common thread in all of our passions? The land.  We’re going to spread an appreciation for the unrivaled nature that sprawls across our country, and we hope to inspire others to embrace the values of land stewardship, conservation, and taking full advantage of what the outdoors has to offer. Whether it’s working to ensure access to a climbing crag in Tennessee, or supporting local farmers in California, we want to give back to communities who love the land.

We also want to demonstrate that what we’re doing isn’t some special journey reserved for a handful of folks daring enough to break free. Simply Adventure is a journey for EVERYONE. This experience is accessible to anyone – and we want you to come along for the ride. We hope to inspire you to forge you own path, dream about your own epic trips, and hit the road towards your adventure.

Where are we going?

Frankly, we want to go everywhere. Our map is still evolving, but we have a rough idea of our seasonal destinations. The adventure begins in January 2013, with a few months of climbing around the southern states to avoid the brutal winter up north. Once spring has sprung, we’ll begin meandering towards the mid-west and Pacific coast. Summertime will be spent in the northwestern region, and across the northernmost states. As the heat resides and the colors of autumn begin to blossom, we’ll follow fall along the northeast, and back down to our beloved southeast. The trip will conclude with a circuit around our favorite southern climbing areas.

For Katie, this trip will be the cherry on top of a lifetime of American travel. With only a handful of state lines left to be crossed, Katie will fulfill her goal of visiting all 50 states by summertime. And Niko? Well, he’s always up for exploring new territory.

So, how can you get involved?

Without you, our trip is meaningless. Simply Adventure is about inspiring, challenging, motivating, and educating others. We want to bring you along during our adventures, and we want to provide everyone with the opportunity to take part in the journey. By sharing our experiences, providing valuable tools and resources, helping local communities, and spreading the good tidings of adventure, we hope to create a new breed of explorers. We want you to adventure.

You can keep up with us through social media, personal contact, the blog, and even joining us during the trip. We’ll be documenting the trip as we go, via The Morning Fresh, and will be collecting material for a series of books, including photography books and a guide for creating your own epic adventure. (Stay tuned for an upcoming Kickstarter to help us fund the dream!)

Check out all the ways to stay in touch with Simply Adventure and The Morning Fresh:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SimplyAdventure
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SimplyAdventure
Instagram: http://statigr.am/themorningfresh
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/themorningfresh/
Yelp: http://simplyadventure.yelp.com

The journey has just begun – and we invite you to travel with us during every step of the way. Updates shall begin flowing, plans will solidify, the dream will inevitably grow, and Simply Adventure will soon come to full fruition. Will you join us for the adventure?

Why I’m dedicating my life to traveling in America and the outdoor lifestyle

Growing up, my parents planted the travel seed in me at a young age with camping trips to Yosemite, excursions to England, and a bevy of outdoor pursuits. During my college days, fellow students regaled me with their experiences studying abroad in places like Florence and Valencia. Recently , mingling with fellow bloggers has exposed me to an industry loaded with hostel hounds, overseas corporate escapees, and every passport-toting persona imaginable.

Travel has always been one of my biggest passions – but it wasn’t until last night that I consciously settled into my own traveler’s nook. Looking back at my recent trips, one thing is clear:

I am in love with America – and the outdoors.

Take me to the sweltering depths of the desert in Moab, the misty morning forests of Sequoia National Park, the swampy Everglades wetlands near my hometown in Miami, the rocky outcrops of climbing crags in Tennessee, the peaks of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains – take me now. Sure, I gladly spent two amazing summers sunning topless on the rocky beaches of the French Mediterranean, and I spent a few years working as a travel writer promoting Caribbean vacations – but when it comes down to it, there is no place in the world I’d rather be than right here in my own backyard.

Think about a round-trip plane ticket to Europe. When I last went, the airfare cost over $1,000.

I could live happily in the United States for over a month with that $1,000.
In fact, I already did.
(And you can too.)

You could spend a lifetime traveling solely throughout America, and you’d never even graze the surface of all that there is to do and see here. The United States is admittedly a young country, but the land is laden with history, heritage, and natural wonders. Think about Yosemite National Park – I spent a week there in May 2011, and only saw a slice of what the area had to offer. Beyond the hikes and picturesque waterfalls, there was an entire community and inspiring history left unexplored. I could easily spend an entire year in Yosemite alone.

Plus, travel in America means you don’t have to deal with pesky exchange rates, being lost without a lick of the local language to help you find your way, unfamiliar driving, tourist-targeting pickpockets, getting caught up in train strikes (literally the story of my life in France). Well, that all sounds pretty adventurous too–to be fair.

I understand why it’s so easy to get caught up in the glamor of the international hostel life, European wine, and young exotic people looking to indulge in the traveler’s lifestyle – but it’s just not my style.

Give me a tent and an open fire to cook my food over, give me a National Parks pass and a handful of trail maps, give me evenings spent downing locally brewed beer, give me tired mornings spent hiking out to climbing areas, give me those long stretches of farmland in Kansas, give me fruitful farmers markets in the southeast, give me America. Hell, I’ll just take it.

I’m not the best spokesperson for the dirtbag lifestyle, especially considering my unwavering need to carry sanitizing wipes with me everywhere I go – nor am I some phenomenal mountaineering survivalist, nor the strongest climber, nor the most savvy camper. But that’s the point. You don’t have to be some untamed wilderness vagabond to live this lifestyle and immerse yourself in America.

If I can do this, anyone can.

So what’s The Morning Fresh’s niche? American travel. I’m dedicating myself to advocating for a revival of the American road trip, the patriotic spirit of appreciating our land, supporting our local businesses, and demonstrating to the entire world what a beautiful, natural nation this is. I’m bringin’ America back baby.

Want to chat more? Drop me a line at [email protected] or find me on twitter @katieboue!

Five reasons to visit a National Park this weekend

America’s National Parks system is one of the greatest institutions ever created by our country – if you ask me, at least. These sacred slices of our nation’s finest ecosystems and delicate environments are critical to American’s ability to access and enjoy the untouched outdoors.

Any day offers a great excuse to visit a nearby National Park, but certain dates hold a particular perk for patrons – which I’ll dive straight into with the first of my top five reasons to visit a National Park:

1. IT’S FREE!

That’s right – admission fees into National Parks around the country are waived during certain times of the year to provide access for those who may not otherwise be able to make it to the parks. That includes everywhere from to Grand Tetons and Rocky Mountains to the Everglades and Kings Canyon, so no matter which outdoor haven is closest to your hometown, you’ll be able to partake in the free fun.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been a proud National Parks annual pass holder since March 2011, but I can still appreciate the gift of complimentary park admission – I can only imagine how expensive my summer road trip would have been if I had paid entrance fees at every park I visited!

2. Fresh air for your lungs.

If you’re confined within city limits during the workweek like me, you likely reach the weekend with a raging thirst to leave the concrete jungle for some natural surroundings. Making a trip to a National Park offers a fantastic way to escape city life for a while. Spend the day trading in traffic lights and steel skyscrapers for towering trees and exhilarating landscapes. You’ll return home with a renewed vigor, and a newfound itch to make a hasty return trip to your National Park of choice.

3. Watching for wildlife.

National Parks are one of the best places to get in touch with your wild side. Whether you’re an avid birdwatcher, or simply want to spend an afternoon chasing chipmunks after climbing in the Rocky Mountains, America’s National Parks are home to some of the most magnificent creatures on earth. Not to favor fauna over flora, I must also highly recommend that you spend some time getting to know the unique plant-life that thrives in the various terrains at the parks across the nation. Tiny leaves and silky flowers are one of the main reasons a macro-lens is at the top of my must-have list.

4. Bountiful recreation and activities.

While my preferred park activities revolve around climbing, hiking, and photography, there is a bounty of possibilities for active park visitors. Hop aboard a guided tour to better acquaint yourself with a new park, set out on a rafting excursion, or plan a scenic picnic – the options are endless. I always love to stop by park visitor centers to scope out maps and chat with rangers about their favorite things to do and see in the area.

5. Experiencing something new.

Every time I visit a National Park, I am treated to a new and wonderful experience – even if I’ve visited the same spot a dozen times before. Nature is constantly changing, adapting, blooming, and presenting us with gracious chances to appreciate the natural world around us. Some of my favorite moments at National Parks include spending a night at the legendary Camp 4 in Yosemite National Park, watching my crew attempt to summit the Grand Teton in Wyoming, and going on a photographic hunt for alligators in the Everglades.

With so much to be discovered and absorbed right in your own backyard, there’s no excuse not to pay a visit to a National Park this weekend. Free admission fees, recreational activities for every visitor’s lifestyle, and a bevy of outdoor beauty is beckoning for you to come play. Not sure which park to visit? Check out a complete list of all the parks and monuments offering complimentary – and be sure to check out additional dates for 2012 free National Park days.

Want more? Check out these articles about my experiences at National Parks across the country:

– Read about my visit to Gulf Islands National Seashore during a trip to Pensacola, Florida
– Explore my favorite sights and scenes from Yosemite National Park, and check out my favorite all-time climb, Beached Whale (V5) near the Ahwahnee Lodge.
– Discover the vibrant desert hues I photographed during my hike through Arches National Park.

Final thoughts on 2011, and cheers to upcoming adventures in 2012

It’s here once again – my favorite holiday. The best day of the year for reflecting on the best and worst moments from the past, and looking towards the future with hope and an eager resolve to make the upcoming year even better than the last.

This year was the first year where I began to dedicate my life to the art of road tripping. Over the span of two cross-country trips and countless climbing excursions, I traveled to 21 states from Alabama to California. I visited ten National Parks – thanks to my wonderful annual parks pass. From the swamps of the Everglades and camping in Yosemite to the giant towering trees of Sequoia and the sand dunes at Death Valley, my explorations through America’s National Parks were one of the defining aspects of my adventures.

I graduated from Florida State University in April, and quickly sped off on my first road trip of 2011 – a six-week delve into car-dwelling and extended travel with my boyfriend, Niko. As we traveled across over 6,400 miles together, we climbed some of the most beautiful rock formations in the country, sampled amazing grub, and slept beneath the stars.

During our four-month relationship hiatus, I embarked on my own solo road trip. Embracing the idea of solitude for the first time, I traveled alone across 17 states and 6,657 miles. I also made my first ‘adult’ decision, and moved up to Denver, Colorado to get a taste of mountain living.

And now here I am, on the eve of the new year. You’ll currently find me holed up at Tallahassee Rock Gym, the place where it all began. It truly feels like I’ve come full-circle this year, and I couldn’t be most satisfied with where my life has led me. It feels so appropriate to be ringing in the 2012 with a final day spent slaving away setting new routes and cleaning the rock gym, then by the time the clock strikes midnight I’ll be on the road to Rocktown for a climbing trip to start my year right.

So, I propose a toast.

Here’s to 2012.

New adventures, new destinations, new climbing ascents,
and lots of saving up for 2013.

Readers, expect huge things from The Morning Fresh in 2012. My goal for this upcoming year is to position myself as an established travel and adventure blogger, and to begin truly dedicating myself to my photography and other creative projects. Here’s to finally catching up on overdue posts from my cross-country adventures, an increased social media presence, and working to inspire others to join me in the quest for living a simpler life on the road.

Thank you for your readership, comments, tweets, and unwavering support. I appreciate each and every one of you, and can’t express my gratitude enough. Have a wonderful new year, and keep your spirit high on adventures.

Twenty hours of exploration and gelato in Kansas City, Missouri

After at evening spent in a tent in Kentucky, I eagerly accepted an offer for some hospitality in Kansas City, MO. To be frank, I wasn’t expecting much from this town, namely because my previous experiences with anything Kansas-related could best be described as mundane, prolonged, and torturous. Instead, I was met with a metropolis haven with a New England suburban flare.

I arrived in town just before my gracious host left work for the day, so I idled my time by exploring the area by car and by foot. I leisured along a large lakefront area that sat along the road I was traveling on, and enjoyed the brisk air until a fleet of whistling old men summoned my retreat back to my car. Afterwards, I took a short drive down to an area called the plazas, which was an enormous waterway that sat beneath two main streets with a walking path and gondolas perched along the water’s edge – not to mention the wonderful bloated rat carcass I found floating merrily along the current. I later discovered that Kansas City has the fifth most abundant amount of fountains in the world – who knew?

After wandering through the area and harassing a flock of geese whom I was determined to make friends with, I finally met up with my lovely Kansas City host, Sheila. An old family friend my father met during his MBA program with Vanderbilt, Sheila is like an aunt – and her beautiful daughter is like my little cousin. They graciously offered to feed my vagabond belly with anything I wanted, so I suggested that we get something local.

My quest for local Kansas City eats brought us to two excellent grub stops. The first was Governor Stumpy’s, a delicious pub-style restaurant that served up heaps of American food that stuffed me silly before I could even clear half my plate. In some insane attempt to stretch my stomach a few sizes, Sheila treated me to a frozen dessert from Glacé Artisian Ice Cream. This tiny gelato joint offered tasty and unusual flavors like wildflower goat cheese and Venezuelan dark chocolate – you can guess which option I went with. The selection of handmade varieties reminded me of Sweet Action Ice Cream in Denver.

I only spent a quick evening in Kansas City, hurrying off the next morning towards Colorado, but I was charmed and curious about this city. I never thought I’d carry  these sentiments, but I’d like to return to the area one day with proper time to explore everything there is to discover about this truly American town. I owe a gracious ‘thank you’ to Sheila for welcoming me into her beautiful home, and for changing the blankets so my nose didn’t itch from the cat – and of course an enormous amount of gratitude for the carrot banana walnut mini muffins she baked for me. Those muffins saved my belly while I was starving in the middle of Kansas prairie land.

Another city, another day.

Road Trip America – Welcome to YOSEMITE, baby.

Every climber shares a united dream: climbing at Yosemite National Park in California. After ditching Moab a few days early due to relentless rain, our crew shifted gears and headed out to the land of El Capitain — with a new addition in tow, our new British buddy Paul, who traveled with us from the Lazy Lizard Hostel in Utah throughout our entire time spent in Yosemite.

We were a few weeks shy of the seasonal opening of the Tioga Pass, so we were forced to scoot north, then west before entering the park. From the moment you pass through the Ranger’s Entrance Station into the great land of Yosemite, there is a deep, undeniable connection to everything around you. The gushing Merced River, the curled baby fern blossoms, the snarky blue Stellar’s Jays that tended to cock their heads in apparent disapproval of everything we did.

Not a bad first impression, eh? As eager as we all were to get our hands on some Yosemite granite, we couldn’t help but pull off at a scenic overlook to admire the stunning valley. Check out iconic landmarks El Capitan and Half Dome off in the distance. Believe it or not, that group shot was entirely candid – Paul’s hand on hip and all. On our way back to the car I made friends with a little mammal buddy, who kindly posed for a few shots.

Whether you’re a climber, hiker, photographer, or simply enjoy the natural wonders that our country has to offer (and has graciously protected thanks to fellows like John Muir), Yosemite National Park is truly a destination that you absolutely must visit within your lifetime. My parents took me on a few weekend trips to the park while we lived in San Jose, California, and I regret not taking full advantage of my blessed situation. I could have been climbing these sweet spots a decade ago, instead my twelve year-old self complained all weekend about how I would have rather been hanging out with friends – ugh.

This trip, I vowed to make up for lost time and took full advantage of the park. We hiked, climbed, ate, conversed and explored our way through the valley for a week. All the important stops were made: splashing around Yosemite Falls, climbing and sleeping at Camp Four, spotting bears in meadows, traversing no-trespassing areas in Curry Village, spotting Half Dome, hiking to the base of El Capitan, bouldering in front of the Awhwanee Lodge – and everything was documented for your viewing pleasure.

I must have taken about a million shots of the waterfalls, but can you blame me? From hundreds of vantage points throughout the park, the falls kept peeking out from the treeline, just waiting to be photographed. I’ll share more when I give you a full post about wading through the frigid streams fed by the falls, but for now enjoy two photos from Curry Village. The first is of a dogwood blossom, which quickly became one of my favorite trees. The white ‘petals’ are actually modified leaves, which house the true tiny yellow flowers in the center. The second photo is just two ladybugs doin’ the dirty – couldn’t help myself.

There you have it: an introduction to Yosemite National Park. Didn’t get your fix of granite, creatures, climbing and nature? Fear not, this entire week will be filled with tales and photos from our time at Yosemite. Enjoy!

Road Trip America Day 1 – Five states, three heaping plates of barbeque, one sunrise, and too many cheez-its

As I write you, it’s 9:33 PM on May 9, 2011, and we’re trudging through Texas towards the outskirts of New Mexico after a tasty pit stop at Taco Bueno just outside of Dallas. The bulk of our day has been spent in the Pilot, which has already proven itself to be a worthy road trip vessel.

The morning began with a blur; I was too caught up in my residual freelance work to catch any sleep before our 5:30 AM departure from Tallahassee. Niko promised me bacon for breakfast, but all I got were two soggy hash browns from McDonalds – yuck. Every time we eat fast food, we vow never to touch it again, and yet somehow convenience always sucks us back in. Fortunately, the scenic sights on the road offered an easy distraction from my greasy belly.

Our route today was an exhausting maze. We started west on I-10, meeting Steve at the DeFuniak Springs exit to snag some ropes and draws. After that we popped through Alabama, traversed Mississippi, skirted past Louisiana and rode towards the pink hued sun as it set over Texas. Have I mentioned how amazing this Texas air is right now? It’s warm, but dry, and breezy and cool, but not chilly. It’s perfect.

For this trip, I decided to dedicate myself to two little projects to help preserve thus experience: First, I am diligently tracking our route on the enormous atlas my dad donated to the trip. Our path is brightly highlighted on both state pages and the big country map. Second, each blog post will have a short list of 5 daily experiences (sights, sounds, tastes, random billboard quotes, etc.) – hell, the entire post for some days may just be a list like this.

Here’s your first top 5 of the day:

  1. The crazed wild dog sitting in the thick thistle and wildflower patches between the east and west bound lanes on the interstate in Texas. His patchy-colored fur complimented his wicked eyes that pierced the lanes of traffic in defiance, “yeah, I crossed all those lanes, and I’ll do it again!”
  2. Lunch at Goldie’s Trail Bar-B-Que in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Quite possibly the best baked beans I’ve ever had, this place will be getting its own blog post next week!
  3. Niko spotted an enormous 13-foot Santa figurine peeking out of the woods off the interstate in Texas. – Who put him there?
  4. Little fields, patches and sprouts of skinny golden sunflowers and bushy purple blossoms lining the edges of the roadways throughout the southeast. It’s the floral personification of Brooke and I, and it made me miss my roommate terribly.
  5. The quirky cashier from Taco Bueno near Dallas, who chatted up every single customer and walked around the dining area to continue conversations left discarded at the register. She has a bright future in sales if she ever ditches the taco biz.

Next up: We’ll be finishing this first big haul through the tip of New Mexico and up southern Colorado, then we’ll time in Denver with old Tally Rock Gym friends, for a few days of bouldering, microbreweries and delivering the huge wooden wine cellar we drove up from Tallahassee.

Roadtripping across America in search of climbing, beer, adventure and glory – Three Days Until Departure!

I’ve spent months saving, planning and daydreaming about my trip across America, and in three very short days, Road Trip 2011 will begin with a bang – well, more of a 24 hour haul towards Colorado, but a bang nonetheless.

Naturally, the plan is to take you along for the ride. I’ll make plenty of updates on the road, and will do my best to post pictures as I go. To get you acquainted with the plan, here’s a map of our route, compliments of my AAA.com road trip planner:

We’ll start the trip off with a grueling 24-hour haul to Denver, Colorado, where we’ll be spending a few days hanging out with McGoo and the boys. After Denver, it’s off to Aspen for a beautiful 8.5 mile hike to Conundrum Springs. Next we’ll spend some time in Moab, Utah, climbing and rafting with our buddies Jeff and Ryan. The climax of our trip will be our week spent in Yosemite and Bishop, California. Once we’ve climbed ourselves raw, we’ll relax for a few days in San Francisco. We’ll end the trip with a few days exploring Chattanooga, looking for some houses and job opportunities for me.

Basically, I could ooze my excitement for hours. The packing shall begin tomorrow, and then on Monday morning at 5:00 AM — we’re off. Hell yeah.

It Keeps Getting Worse

I owe you an update about our day of climbing at The Garden of the Gods, but first I have to share something that rattled me to the core. After getting rained out during a bouldering session, we headed to Golden Corral for some all-you-can-eat goodness.

I was enjoying my gluttony, until a family of seven of the most severely obese people I have ever seen in my life came and sat next to us. The father was confined to a wheelchair, and had to be hooked up to oxygen due to his excessive weight. His youngest daughter was literally a sphere; she weighed at least twice as much as I do. That means that an eight year old child doubled the weight of a twenty-one year old woman. I know that America has an obesity problem, but I hadn’t quite realized that it was such a dire issue. Nearly every person at the buffet was overweight.

I watched in horror as the father delegated his order for his children to fetch – he was too large to navigate the buffet himself. As the family started pigging out on their feasts, I recollected my sense of manners and tried to politely ignore the scene.

I thought the situation was over, until I went to the restroom before we left. As I stepped out of my stall, one of the older daughters came rushing into the bathroom and proceeded to vomit up the contents of her stomach. I was disgusted, and hurried back to the table. As I recounted the story to the boys, my horror was amplified – the woman returned to her table with a teeming plate of food. How do you throw up so much, and then continue to consume what you just expelled from your body?

On the verge of tears from witnessing such a vile display of ‘America’, I asked the boys if we could leave before I grew any more upset. We headed to the car and sat in the parking lot for a short while to plan the remainder of our trip. As we waited at a stop light to hit the road, I was given one final spurt of ridiculousness: while the rest of the obese family drove away in their mini van, the father drove his wheelchair beside the car, because he was too big to fit inside the vehicle.

Take my experience as a reminder to take care of yourself. It really is not difficult. Eat well, and get outside to enjoy what your body can do for you. It takes years to become like the family I witnessed, and there is no excuse to let that happen.

Hittin’ the Road!

Today is the day! As I type, the boys are loading up the Jeep with tents, climbing gear, and a giant tub full of munchies. Baby Cap is all nestled into his mason jar – did I mention that he’s coming along for the ride? I can’t wait for the moment when he finally emerges from his chrysalis so I can release him into the beautiful wilderness that is about to be my home for the next two weeks.

Expect frequent updates, though they may not be as wordy as I typically am. We’re headed towards Tulsa, OK, as our first stop, then it’s off to meet our good friend Dan Cardenas out in the Grand Tetons of Wyoming. From there we’ll trickle back down towards Florida, making stops to climb in Colorado and Utah. I cannot begin to express my excitement for all of the photography opportunities and story-telling material I am bound to come across during this adventure.

I developed my first roll of AE-1 film today, and even though it is slightly messed up because I didn’t realize my aperture is broken until after I took all the pictures, here’s my favorite shot from the roll. It is a great image to start my epic road trip, and it captures the spirit of this adventure perfectly. – And who doesn’t want to oogle at my gorgeous boyfriend?

Keep in touch, comrades. Leave me lots of comments to keep me occupied during the long stretches of driving. Send me suggestions on places to stop, travel tips, anything. If you’re in Tallahassee, make sure my housemates don’t burn the house down while I’m gone! Farewell civilization, hello America.