Summer is starting…

I spend a lot of time collecting pieces of plans. Ideas for collaboration, e-mails from gear companies, inklings of grand adventures. Inevitably, most of these half-baked notions never come to any sort of fruition – but when they do, it usually happens all at once. Like right now.

It started with unexpectedly with mystery e-mails about a mystery trip that will have to remain a mystery until further notice – but then the (sharable) details of half a dozen more plans started falling into place too.

First, I dotted a few i’s and crossed a few t’s to start a partnership with Merrick Pet Care as ambassadors to celebrate the launch of their newest all-natural dog food line. More details to come, but the jist is this: thanks to Merrick, Amble is coming out to Colorado in May for a climbing adventure, and she’ll be hanging out with me in the west for a few weeks while Niko goes surfing in Peru. Get excited for some rad #amblegrams.

Amblee3 Amblee

Photos by Alex Alchin.

After crushing in Joe’s Valley and around the Front Range with the pooch and lady-friend Alex (who is bringing Amble out here), my parents will fly into Denver for some Boué fam-jam time. While they’re here, I’ll be gearing up to do something I’ve never done before:

I’m running a 10k – the BolderBOULDER to be exact.Running

Despite my honest warning that they’d be supporting a gal who is likely to be the very last person to cross the finish line, the folks at BolderBOULDER invited me to become a “sponsored runner”. It’s slightly amusing since I can barely count myself as a runner, but I am thrilled to be challenging myself to my first race. I have about a month to wrap up my training, which is a little daunting – but I’ve totally fallen in love with the rhythm of running, especially on trails. Stay tuned for more updates as my journey from #couchtocrush takes on a whole new element.

Then there’s that other trip, which may or may not be happening sometime in June. My lips are sealed (and I frankly don’t even know where I’m going yet), but before this adventure begins, I’ll be road tripping with Amble from Denver to Tallahassee – yet another tick on my cross-country list. I never got a chance to stuff my face with corn nuggets on the last trip, so this will be my redemption.

Phew, that’s a lot.

Call me crazy, but I have a strong feeling this summer is going to majorly kick ass.

Chasing Summer: An Ode to Eventual Defeat

The air in Denver was still hot as I drove to the airport on the day of my first flight during my month dedicated to chasing summer. I always wear a sweater when flying, but the moment I stepped off the plane in San Juan, I was assaulted by sweet heat and humidity. I happily stripped off a layer as I waited for a taxi to whisk me away to the shores of Puerto Rico.

You see, I love summer. I love the way the sunshine burns my cheeks, the way my hair feels when its sticky with salt, how refreshing a cold glass of lemonade feels.

Winter terrifies me. Historically speaking, it’s the season in which I disappear. I slip into a deep hibernation where I shun the idea of going outside, rarely change out of my bathrobe, and shudder at the thought of trying to drive through snow. I’m from Miami – I’m just not built for the cold.Further proof that I'm not built for winter.

And so, I started chasing summer. First to Puerto Rico, where I spent five days swimming in the warm sea and following locals to secret street parties. I dug my toes in the sand while eating passion fruit frozen ice, bought a sarong, and cut my toes on sharp rocks along the coast.

When I flew back to Denver, I feared I would feel a chill upon my arrival. Thankfully, summer persevered – I was sweaty as I walked back to my boyfriend’s car at the airport. I was still safe from the impending winter.

Two days later, I flew across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain. I started chasing summer in Barcelona, where I feasted on tapas and explored famous landmarks. I spent an afternoon climbing at La Foixarda, an old tunnel transformed into an urban climbing crag with everything from bouldering traverses to bolted sport lines. It was so hot I could hardly keep my fingertips gripped on the humid holds.

Street art in Barcelona.Climbing at la Foixarda tunnel in Barcelona.

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The Best Part of Spring? It’s Almost Summer!

I’ve been struggling with a case of seasonal blurring lately. A few months ago, the clear lines separating winter and spring began to run together. Weeks of sunshine were littered with days of spontaneous snowstorms that dwindled in frequency until there was nothing left but warmth and wildflowers. It’s easy to distinguish between winter and spring – but where do we draw the lines between spring and summer?

According to the calendar, summer doesn’t start until June 21st this year, but I don’t necessarily agree with that deadline. In my world, a transition period exists between the two defined seasons – and it’s the best part of the entire year. The weekends are full of cookout invitations and outdoor adventures; I got my first sunburn at the Five Points Jazz festival; rooftop patios are the place to be; and farmers markets are coming into season. It’s warm enough to spend a day sunning on a blanket at a park, but not hot to the point where you can’t stop thinking about air conditioning. It’s just perfect.

Need further convincing? Here’s why is the best time of the year:

Everything is in bloom.

Up in the mountains, the wildflower blooms won’t be in full force until much later in the summer – but down here in the city, blossoms are pushing up from from every garden patch and crack in the sidewalk to bask in the sun. I never knew so many varieties of tulips existed until I took a stroll to my neighborhood coffee shop last week. Bulbs planted long ago have sprung to life, and every sunny morning beckons neighbors to roll up their sleeves and dig into a little urban gardening. I even have my first tomato growing on my little patio plants!The blossoms at Denver Botanic Gardens My sister and I at Denver Botanic Gardens.

Afternoon rain – ’nuff said.

As a southern gal, there is nothing I love more than a good afternoon storm. In Florida, they come like clockwork during the warm seasons. A cloud appears, thunder rolls, lightning strikes, and rain pounds like the pavement – and then an hour later, the sun is shining again. It’s one of the things I miss the most about the south, but Denver has been delivering all sorts of stormy satisfaction lately.

I mean, I could have done without the tornado sirens and quarter-sized hail – but beggars can’t be choosers. (No, seriously, I was taking a very long, relaxing shower last week when my housemate started pounding on my door saying “Uh, I think we need to GO” – trying to plan out your this-is-the-end strategy while running around in a towel is not very relaxing y’all.) Bring it on, Colorado! Puddles. I like stepping in 'em.

Cookouts and Farmers Markets

Here’s a little secret: there is nothing I love on this planet more than food. If my physical being reflected my inner foodie, I would triple in weight immediately – and probably get diabetes. I adore eating, cooking, growing vegetables, and buying fresh produce. As spring collides with summer, the season for outdoor cookouts, spending weekend mornings at farmers markets, and eating lunch out on the stoop is officially upon us.

Food is one of my favorite elements of city adventures. You can tailor an entire day around edible explorations. My favorite food-centric weekend adventure goes a little something like this: wake up, cook a homemade breakfast with all the windows open, stock up on veggies at the local farmers market, invite a herd of cohorts over, spend the afternoon grilling in the backyard. Wham-bam, baby.It's officially the season for backyard barbecues.

Everything is Outside

No, really – everything. This perfectly in-between season is the best time of the year to do everything outside. I don’t work in an office, and turning your kitchen into a cubicle every morning gets pretty monotonous – so when the weather strikes that delicate balance between breezy and warm with sunshine, I like to move my office outdoors.

I am actually sitting outside on my third-story stoop right now – I’ve been doing this for weeks. My yellow snapdragons are exploding with petals, Sylvan Esso and songbirds are making music, and my creative energy is way more inspired than when I was sitting inside. Why would anyone work inside when they could do this instead?

photo4 

Work isn’t the only typically indoor activity you can move outside on sunny days – everything from dinner and boardgames to afternoon naps are better enjoyed out in the fresh air. The key is to make your outdoor space functional, comfortable and inviting. I recently transformed the small, cluttered stoop on my third-story house into a wonderful little nook, and now I am constantly outside. (I’ll be posting a how-to later this week!)

If you aren’t outside at least once a day to soak up this mid-season glory, you’re seriously missing out. Take it outside! It won’t be long until summer settles in, and just the idea of being outside all day makes you start sweating. Take advantage of every opportunity to put a little dash of the outdoors into your day.

* This post is part of my annual series celebrating nature with Nature Valley. Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.  

It’s climb time! – Enter to win climbing swag and a $25 rock gym gift certificate

Climbing is far more than just a sweaty, chalky, finger-shredding sport – it’s a lifestyle. And anyone who loves climbing can attest that this sweltering segment of summertime isn’t exactly the prime season for dedicating yourself to the sport. Crags are rampant with biting insects and melt-your-face-off heat, rock gyms become ghost towns as folks flee towards air conditioned pursuits, and all to often, climbers give-up on their training efforts in favor of lazy afternoons spent curled up on the couch with the latest videos from DeadPoint Mag.

So let’s get the climbing hype happenin’ during this scorching month of July
with The Morning Fresh’s first giveaway!

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Get ready to kick off “The Summer of Adventure”

From a week of sport climbing at Red River Gorge in Kentucky to an epic journey to Flagstaff for Overland Expo, my summer has been exploding with seemingly non-stop adventures. It’s been quite a task trying to keep up with all the excitement, so I’ve devised a plan – I call it, “The Summer of Adventure.

Behold, a weekly schedule of thrilling posts that revolve around road trips, climbing excursions, edible adventures, my favorite gear, and more. Constantly being on the road has muddled my preferred system of operating on a routine, so I’ve created this weekly agenda to keep the content flowing.

Monday: Monday Morning Ascents

Keeping true to the strongest motivation for my adventures, each week will begin with a climbing conquest. From my latest outdoor pursuits and training at Tallahassee Rock Gym to favorite routes I’ve climbed (and photographed) around the country – let’s start each new week with some inspiration to get out into the boulder fields and crush some rock.

Tuesday: Tasty Tuesdays

Second only to climbing, one of my most beloved activities in life is stuffing my face. Tuesday posts promise to get your mouth watering with stories and photos highlighting my favorite eateries throughout the nation. I’ll go through a buffet of destinations and dishes, including the outrageous doughy concoctions served at Miguel’s Pizza at Red River Gorge in Kentucky, messy Mexican grub in Merced, and a local Tallahassee mini-bakery that cooks up some of the tastiest sweets I’ve ever munched on. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Thursday: #ATQA Adventure Travel Chat Recap

You’ve been asking for it, and now we’re ready to deliver. After weeks of faithful #ATQA chatters asking about a way to revisit any questions or answers they may have missed, we’ve decided it’s time to start giving you what you want. Check back every Thursday at noon for a recap of all the best tweets from #ATQA Adventure Travel chat, the latest and greatest outdoor Twitter chat created by the wonderful J. Brandon of American Sahara. Don’t want to wait for the Thursday recap? Join us Wednesdays at 5:00 PM (EST) for our weekly discussion about all things outdoors.

Friday: Outdoor Adventure Fridays

The weekend is finally upon us, and it’s time to get inspired to get outside with a grand tale of adventure. From tromping through the towering trees in Sequoia National Park to kayaking down the Wakulla River in Florida, every weekend will be kicked off with a story aimed at getting you motivated to get out into the great outdoors to do some exploring.

Sunday: Get Your Gear On

While you spend the afternoon lazily lounging around in your skivvies, I’ll be using the last day of the fleeting weekend to put outdoor and climbing gear to the test. I may even double up with Sunday two-fers on occasion; the tiny room I share with Niko is currently overflowing with packs, reparative balm, outdoor apparel, and loads of gear that deserves some true attention.

BONUS: My Co-Pilot Becomes My Co-Blogger

Since the inception of The Morning Fresh, readers, fans, and friends have been begging to get more of Niko. After nearly three years of traveling and climbing together, Niko is gearing up to become a much larger part of The Morning Fresh as we prepare for our big 2013 trip. Since he attempts to lay claim on every package of gear that gets delivered to me, he’ll have his own section in nearly all of my gear reviews. Additionally, keep an eye out for his own breed of posts – he’s calling it “The Morning Dirt,” and I’m looking forward to seeing what my beau cooks up.

My life has transformed into one giant adventure, and as always, I am so grateful to be taking you along for the ride. Between The Morning Fresh’s epic summer schedule and my other seasonal projects, this season is promising to be one for the books. Today marks the official start of the Hydration Summit, an excellent campaign I’m working with to raise awareness about the importance of staying hydrated while adventuring. On Friday, I’ll be whisked away to Sedona for an outrageous event with Columbia Sportswear and my OmniTen crew – we’ll be testing out exclusive gear all weekend, and hiking out to Havasu Falls! Stay tuned for all the updates and excitement!

Can’t bear to wait for the official posts? You can keep up with my adventures in realtime by following me on Twitter (@themorningfresh). 

It’s official – I AM WEARING SHORTS TODAY. Get outside, folks!

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to spring. I may be jumping the gun by a few weeks, but it’s hitting 70 today – so the shorts are on. This is the first time since October that my twiggy legs have felt the freedom of bare sunshine.

If you’re inside right now, you need to peel yourself away from the interwebs, put on some shorts, and get yourself outside! My housemate and I are headin’ out after class to soak up some sunshine – we’re on a mission to regain our pre-winter skin hues.

Also, let’s try to ignore how ridiculous I look in that photo. I just needed to capture the moment, people. Come join me out at the Rez for some warm sandy playtime. Climbing later is always in the cards.