The #ColoradoList: One Woman’s Quest to Experience Colorado in 365 Days

In March 2014, I took a leap: With only two weeks notice, I packed up everything I owned and moved from my native state of Florida to Colorado only a few months after returning from a yearlong road trip. I’ve traveled from the grassy prairies in the south to the wild coats of the northwest – but no place captured my heart like Colorado. With endless outdoor opportunities, spirited local culture, and four full seasons for adventure, the Centennial State is the perfect place to explore.

As a new resident of Colorado, I am overwhelmed by how much there is to do – so I’m making it my mission to tick off every experience possible within just one year, from learning how to ice climb in the mountains to getting rowdy at a Nuggets game in downtown Denver. The #ColoradoList is a Colorado bucket list that challenges me to fill my calendar with activities that will push my limits as an adventurer, fill my belly with Colorado’s finest eats, bring me to the state’s most beautiful destinations, and open my eyes to everything the area has to offer.

THECOLORADOLIST 1024x576 The #ColoradoList: One Womans Quest to Experience Colorado in 365 Days

What’s on the list?

You can find the full Colorado List on the official page, broken down in categories like hikes, road trip destinations, and events – but here’s a quick peek at my adventurous to-do list:

1. Summit my first 14-er.
2. Stock up on fresh produce at the Boulder Farmers Market.
3. Visit all four National Parks in Colorado.
4. Go on a hot air balloon ride.
5. Have brunch at Snooze.
6. Stand at Four Corners.
7. Try mountain biking.
8. Backpack to a 10th Mountain Division Hut.
9. Ride the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad.
10. Catch a fish – and eat it.

This year is going to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life on personal and spiritual levels – and I want to make sure that adventure and new experiences are at the forefront of my journey towards becoming a more limit-testing, empowered, independent woman. Bring it on, Colorado!

Want to join me for the adventure? Keep an eye on the blog for posts after every outing, follow the #ColoradoList hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with my bucket list ticks and upcoming plans, or better yet – JOIN ME! Invite yourself along to help me complete my list, or suggest Colorado bucket list to-dos that I don’t have on my list yet (I know I must be missing a ton).

Want to help me complete my list? Can you lend me a pair of snowshoes? Want to equip me with the gear I’ll need to catch myself a fish? Interested in sponsoring a weekend trip to try ice climbing? Whether you’re an outdoor outfitter or local adventure company – I want to work with you to make my bucket list attempt a success and highlight the best brands Colorado has to offer. Please feel free to contact me for information about how to get involved!

Visit the official Colorado List bucket list page here!

2013: The Year I Decided to Live in a Van to Travel, Climb, and Adventure Across America

Last year while looking back at my biggest adventures of 2012, I started the post by saying “I already know that after my yearlong Simply Adventure trip, I’ll be claiming that 2013 was the best year ever” – and I was so right. This year has been the most incredible, outrageous, challenging, inspiring, beautiful year of my entire life.

DSC 9194 1024x475 2013: The Year I Decided to Live in a Van to Travel, Climb, and Adventure Across America

When I started writing this post, I fully intended on it taking the shape of the traditional month-by-month, adventure-by-adventure, mishap-by-mishap retelling of my year. I made it as far as March before I realized how incredibly futile it is to attempt to condense the experience of living “the dream” into a single blog post. For goodness sake, I want to write a book about it – how could I possibly belittle this year into a measly blog post?

I traveled well over 35,000 miles across the country, exploring 26 states (two by plane/train – hello, New York and New Jersey!), and even popping up into Canada for a few weeks. I slept in barren deserts, snowy mountains, forests thick with mossy trees, and on the side of busy streets in big cities. I have seen and done more in this year than many people will accomplish in a lifetime. I am incredibly lucky – and incredibly broke.

But every moment, every victorious climbing send, every piece of all-you-can-eat-sushi in Vancouver, every exploding tire on the interstate, and every I’ve-been-wearing-the-same-shirt-for-a-week realization have been 100% worth it. My savings account might make me cry a little when I look at it, but I have no regrets. I am richer now than I have ever been.

DSC 6065 1024x678 2013: The Year I Decided to Live in a Van to Travel, Climb, and Adventure Across America

This year has been transformative, both physically and mentally. I used to be a cute girl, with (at least occasionally) matching outfits and make-up and long, well-kempt hair. Today, I am barely above bum status. My mismatched clothing is worn for days on end until it reeks, my hair has been chopped into a short bob that is slowly morphing into a mullet, and I shower once a week. Fortunately, what this trip has ruined of my exterior it has compensated for internally with a renewed adoration for being outdoors, a profound understanding of what I want to do with my life professionally, and a deeper love for Niko than I ever could have imagined.

Seriously, if you ever want to test a relationship, live in a van with that person for an extended period of time. If you can survive that, you can survive anything.

Will 2014 be able to compare to the rollercoaster of ass-kicking adventure that I experienced in 2013? Probably not, and I’m okay with that. I don’t really ever want anything to be like this year – 2013 was special, it was an adventure unlike any other. Even if I do spend another year (or many years) living in a van and traveling again, it will never be anything like my first. And that, is wonderful.

Cheers to all the breathtaking landscapes in America, to the hospitable and generous people we’ve met along the way (Spenser and Vikki, I’m looking at you), to chasing the perfect climbing weather, to giant boxes of TimBits, to my big yellow van, and to many, many more years of adventure. 

Thoughts on Adventure + a $100 Sierra Trading Post Giveaway!

The other morning, I woke up to a rather long message from one of my oldest friends in Florida, Josh. I read it, felt really flattered, then stepped back and realized that he wasn’t talking about me, he was talking about so many other adventurers I know. He was talking about me, and he was talking about you too. With his permission, I thought I’d share what he said:

photo e1384965595171 225x300 Thoughts on Adventure + a $100 Sierra Trading Post Giveaway!Here are my philosophical thoughts for the night:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ That’s pretty much a widely accepted universal truth.

But it got me thinking. I started thinking about what DOES kill you. And when you really break it down, the only thing certain to kill you… is life. Statistically speaking, the more time you spend alive, the closer you are to death.

Then it hit me. The way to really get stronger, the way to beat death, would be to challenge it. Go through life looking for a test. Pass it or fail it, it doesn’t matter – all you have to do is get through it.

So, then I think of you. All the stereotypes you’ve broken; All the doubt you’ve overcome. You’re strong because you’ve had your heart broken. You’re strong because you’ve beaten the odds. You’re strong because you chose to explore, to discover, to go on an adventure. It wasn’t a safe choice… In fact it was the opposite.

It was dangerous. It was a risk. And risks are what separate you from the weak.

So please just remember this: every mile that you travel away from home; every night you spend in van or a tent; every strain in your fingers as they grasp the top of whatever boulder, crag, or mountain that you just climbed – that is what makes you stronger.

You are the strongest person I know. And that’s why I love you.”

Whoa – pretty awesome stuff, right? It’s really great that someone thinks those things about me, but what’s even better is that I instantly associated all those words about strength, taking risks, and adventure with all of YOU. I am constantly surrounded by such strong spirited adventurers – from the climbers I hang out with in southeastern boulder fields and the always-trying-stuff Omniten crew to my fellow #TeamSierra members. You embody everything Josh said. We challenge life on a daily basis, never fearing the consequences – the only thing to be afraid of is a life not lived to the fullest. Keep doing that, keep getting out there, and keep living those words.

To celebrate the spirit of adventure, I’m partnering with Sierra Trading Post to host a $100 giftcard giveaway for one lucky explorer. As you know, I’ve joined the Team Sierra blogging team, writing monthly content for the Sierra Social Hub (like this sweet guide to climbing at Red River Gorge).Team Sierra Crew Thoughts on Adventure + a $100 Sierra Trading Post Giveaway!

How to Enter the $100 Sierra Trading Post Giveaway:

I want you to reflect on that wonderful message about challenging life and being strong and getting out there – and leave a comment on this post telling me how winning a $100 Sierra Trading Post giftcard will help you become the best adventurer you can be. For a bonus entry, tweet about the giveaway (tagging @themorningfresh and @Sierratp) or share this giveaway on your Facebook – then leave a second comment so I know you did that!

The winner will be chosen on November 27th – so check back on the blog for the announcement.

Can’t wait to order a new pair of climbing shoes or a cozy winter sleeping bag? Sierra Trading Post is offering my readers a special 30% discount from today until November 26th by clicking here to shop for outdoor gear, or using the code SHUBTS0413 when checking out.

Now get out there and explore, y’all!

UPDATE: And the winner is: Melissa Martin!

I was torn between three potential winners, one who wanted to use the gift card for his children, one who vowed to spend the money on dog gear, and one who was inspired by a climbing trip to get outdoors more – so I randomized the number using random.org, and Melissa was chosen as the winner! Melissa, send me an e-mail at katieboue(at)gmail(dot)com to claim your prize!

Didn’t win this giveaway? No worries, I’ll have another giveaway coming up soon – stay tuned!

Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!

 Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!Whenever we talk to folks about our Simply Adventure trip, everyone seems to be bursting with questions about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and why we decided to spend a year living in a van together to travel the country. We appreciate all the curiosity and support, so we reached out and asked people to send us their questions. Here’s what you wanted to know:

Where do you plan to go?

Everywhere. We plan on hitting up basically every state within the continental United States – except for Kansas and Oklahoma, because really, those states are no fun for climbers who have already driven through them a dozen times.

Here’s a very rough idea of it: on Thursday, we’ll drive until we cross out of Florida – finally! We’ll stop in New Orleans for lunch, since Niko has never been, and then we’ll move on to Houston and Hueco. After a few weeks of climbing in Hueco Tanks, we’ll move on to Taos, then J-Tree, then up to Salt Lake City and Moab in mid-March. After that, the plans are less ironclad, but we’ll pass through Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, travel up the pacific coast from San Fransico to Washington State.

After exploring the pacific northwest, we’ll trek through Montana and Idaho before heading back to Salt Lake City. Then we’ll visit Wyoming, Colorado, and head up to the Dakotas before journeying along the border states like Wisconsin and Minnesota. We’ll be at Red River Gorge in September, North Carolina for the Hound Ears competition in October, and then up the northeast for fall.

Did you ever name the van?

Yes! When we first got the van, we asked readers to come up with some potential names for it; Mike from Mike Off The Map came up with “Craggin’ Wagon,” and we loved the name.

Who drives better?

Niko says, “Obviously, I do.” But really, we’re pretty even. Niko is better at parking, tricky maneuvering, and driving at night (I hate driving in the dark), but he also tends to get a little distracted and fed up with driving. I can go for long hauls and am a bit steadier on the road.

How do you each plan to have your own space (in or out of the van)?

 Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!

At least once a week, we’ll be taking solo hikes/adventures. To give each other a little breathing room, we’ll take some space for a few hours to do our own thing.

In the van, there isn’t much personal space – but we’ve divided up shelves and drawers. We also have two fabric bins we’ll use as a “catch-all,” so we can dump each other’s junk in our respective boxes when we’re sick of it being strewn all over the van.

It’s going to be a BIG learning experience for our relationship. We definitely want to end this yearlong trip still wanting to be together, so we’re putting a priority on keeping our relationship healthy and balanced.

Are you planning to post inside pictures of the van before and after the trip?

Yes! We’ve been doing before-during-after photos of the van retrofit, but we love the idea of taking a picture of the van on the first day, and another one of it one our last day of the trip.

Where are you going to use the bathroom and shower?

We got this question a lot during our going away party in Miami – some of my Cuban family didn’t quite jive with the whole “living in the woods” concept, haha! The answer? The bathroom is right outside the van door, and the shower is down the trail in the nearest river. The van is stocked with an arsenal of baby wipes and dry shampoo to help keep us clean in between proper showers.

We’ll also be stopping occasionally at truck stops with showers (haven’t tried that yet, we’ll see how it turns out), staying a night or so at campgrounds with showers, etc.

What’s your plan for accessing the internet?

Staying connected is a non-negotiable requirement for me, so I’ve been thinking about wi-fi since the beginning of our planning process. The current plan is to use my iPhone as a tethered hotspot, but if that doesn’t meet my internet needs we’ll invest in an air card.

Bonus: Spending an afternoon holed up at a little coffee shop to use their free wi-fi doubles as a great little escape from van life.

Where do you plan to camp/park each night?

The costs of paying for campgrounds each night would add up astronomically, so we’re planning to minimize our lodging expenses as much as possible by finding free places to spend the evening.

We are seasoned pros at spending evenings camping in Walmart parking lots, but we’re really looking forward to checking out BLM areas once we get out west.

 Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!

How do you get power to make coffee in the morning?

Our trip is being powered by Goal Zero Solar – and so is Niko’s addiction to coffee. We’ll have a french press to brew coffee each morning, and will use a combination of our solar power and a gas-powered stove to heat up the water.

The only foreseeable coffee-issue is that Niko could down an entire french press of coffee by himself – so it’s a good thing I like to drink tea sometimes!

How did you get the funding to do this? Are you living off savings?

Saving enough money to support this trip has been a yearlong process. We are both planning to live off our life savings, and I moved back to Florida from Denver to save money while I was working with LivingSocial. We have enough money to support our adventure on just the basics, but I plan on using my freelancing work to help us with “luxuries.” Niko will be picking up temporary jobs when he can, like working at Miguel’s in Red River Gorge.

We are also incredibly blessed to have the support of our sponsors, who are supplying us with everything from solar gear to camping food.

How did you decide what was a reasonable amount of money to save?

Honestly, we just saved as much as we could. We calculated some basic costs, gathered support from gear sponsors, and limited our spending (and traveling) during the year before our trip. We won’t be living lavishly during 2013, but we’ll have enough to get by.

 Your questions about the Simply Adventure trip, answered!How long was the planning process?

The Simply Adventure trip has been in the works for over a year. We came up with the idea for a yearlong trip last winter in late 2011, and throughout the year it evolved into a more defined experience with a strong mission. In March of 2012, I left Denver to move back to Florida and begin the saving and preparation for the trip. We bought the van in October 2012, and once we had the van, the trip planning went into major overhaul.

How did you decide what to bring/not to bring?

Niko has always been a minimalist, but I’m admittedly a bit of a hoarder. My purging process has been going on since I moved back to Florida from Denver, but I somehow constantly accumulate stuff. We limited our clothing to last about two weeks in between visits to laundromats, and pre-packed gear for the various seasons to be shipped to us during the trip.

Will you be at summer OR?

We will absolutely be at Summer OR show. We had to miss the winter market due to trip preparations, but we wouldn’t miss the summer gathering at Salt Lake City for anything. See you all there!

Got more questions for us? Leave ‘em  in the comments!

 

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

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

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

 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 201210. Learning How to Ski in Vail, Colorado

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

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

9. Overland Expo in Flagstaff, Arizona

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

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

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

8. My First Amtrak Train Ride

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

7. Sport Climbing at Red River Gorge in Kentucky

dsc 0108 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012Prior to my Arizona road trip, I spent 10 days exploring a lush gorge in the depths of Kentucky with Niko and the owner of Tallahassee Rock Gym, Rich. We met up with a crew of topnotch Floridian climbers for days spent hiking through dense greenery, avoiding pesky campers at Land of The Arches Campground, and gorging on pizza at Miguel’s.

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

6. Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City

 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012The climax of 2012’s integration into the outdoor industry occurred during the festive chaos better known as the OR Show. Thousands of gear junkies, media professionals, and brand representatives converged upon the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City for the ultimate outdoor industry experience.

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

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

 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012I’ve never been the competitive type when it comes to climbing, but when I heard about the annual climbing event at Hound Ears in North Carolina a few weeks before my birthday, I instantly registered Niko and I for the competition – this outstanding crag is only open one day a year for the Triple Crown Bouldering Series. Situated atop a ritzy gated community, the Hound Ears boulder field is a mecca for any style of bouldering imaginable. I sent my proudest climbs to date, placed 15th in my category, and celebrated the end of the competition with apple-picking at Stepps Hillcrest Orchard in Hendersonville, NC.

4. The Last Rocky Mountain Adventures and Leaving Colorado

dsc 7808 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012At the end of 2011, I experienced a few career hiccups, and realized that in order to live my dreams of a life of adventure, I needed to leave Colorado and return to Florida to save up for the Simply Adventure trip. Before departing from the mile-high city, Niko and a few buddies flew out to Denver to spend their spring break climbing, hiking, and exploring. We traveled out to Horsetooth Resevoir near Fort Collins, made one last visit to my favorite sushi spot in Boulder, and ended my time in Denver with an excellent week of adventure.

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

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

457748 4267721806873 193789797 o The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012If you follow me on Twitter, gander at my Instagrams, or read my Facebook statuses, you know that one of the most important things in my life is the Tallahassee Rock Gym. It’s my home, the birthplace of my climbing lifestyle, and the spot where Niko and I first met. I’ve laughed, cried, and crushed there – and this year, we bought the warehouse space next door and began construction on an epic expansion effort. Everything was paid for out of pocket, every piece of wood was put up during long hours of volunteer work, and every inch of the new climbing area is loaded with love and dedication.

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

2. Joining Columbia Sportwear’s Inaugural Omniten Ambassador Team

dsc 1035 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012I still remember the day Adam from Columbia Sportswear sent me the first e-mail; he nonchalantly asked for my shipping address, claiming to be interested in sending me a few pieces from the new spring line. Fast-forward a few weeks, and I was speeding back to Florida to open up a mysterious package – which I quickly discovered was my invitation to join a group of ten outdoor influencers selected to become a team of gear-testers and adventurers. During my six-month Omniten experience, I was introduced to nine people who I now think of on a daily basis.

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

1. Buying The Big Yellow Van

dsc 3643 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012Niko and I dreamed of it all year, and finally in October, our fantasies came to fruition – we took the biggest plunge of our lives thus far, and bought a used 2005 Sprinter cargo van. We gutted the interior and built ourselves a little home within the cozy cargo area. Niko crafted an amazing bed built entirely by hand, and we installed a kitchen cabinet and countertops. In a few days, we’ll officially move into the van – and our ultimate treasure from 2012 will guide us towards unbelievable journeys in 2013.

The BEST Part of 2012: The People

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

dsc 14452 The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012576699 10100593805770275 1661281679 n The Year that Inspired a Lifetime of Travel: Top 10 Adventures of 2012I connected with, met, and traveled the country with strangers who quickly became family. We passed a bottle of whiskey around the campfire (in a can) at Overland Expo, led climbs in American Fork Canyon, hiked up and down the Grand Canyon and slaved over the renovation of Tallahassee Rock Gym. My adventures would have been incomplete without the people who helped create moments that I’ll carry for the rest of my life. Thank you, I love you all, miss those of you who are far, and can’t wait to adventure with you in 2013!

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

Revisiting 6,657 miles of solitude, and looking forward to an autumn of personal adventure

This time last year, I was waking up in a deep, soft bed perched inside a home sitting on a little hill in Hendersonville, North Carolina. It was the first day of my bold solo adventure, and I woke up groggy from the previous night’s drive from Tallahassee.

It was the first of many mornings (33 to be exact) that I would spend waking up in an unfamiliar place – but to call my journey one of total isolation would be a lie.

My adventures were aided by many wonderful people who helped transform my trip into a lifestyle. Revisiting 6,657 miles of solitude, and looking forward to an autumn of personal adventure

There were Dena and Marie in North Carolina, who took me out for my first apple picking experience. The night I spent with Sheila, noshing on Venezuelan chocolate gelato in the heart of Kansas City. Most notably, there were the Denver boys, and that little blue house on Emerson Street. By the end of my journey, I had found a new home. The location ended up in Colorado, but the concept was much more difficult to pin down.

My home is adventure.

At the end of my roadside traversing, I settled down on a fat leather couch in a living room sitting in Denver’s Washington Park neighborhood. The first few days felt odd; I felt like I needed to be going somewhere. I felt anxiety about not being on the move, and I grew homesick for a life without a ‘home’. [Read more...]

I’m adventuring north to Georgia and Tennessee for some climbing and Chattanooga lovin’

If you know me, you know one thing: I don’t like to stay put for too long. After two weeks of recovering from my adventures in (and around) Salt Lake City, I’m once again packing my bags –

I’m off on a climbing trip to Rocktown and Stone Fort! Im adventuring north to Georgia and Tennessee for some climbing and Chattanooga lovin’

Niko and I visited Stone Fort (more lovingly known as Little Rock City) earlier this summer, and nearly melted in the swelter while I sent my ultimate project, Super Mario. It’s still August, but the temperatures have leveled off considerably, and I’m looking forward to highs in the mid-80s, and a gorgeous low of 61°. Top off that forecast with a mere 0-10% chance of rain, and you’ve got my ideal summer climbing conditions.

We’re also spending a day climbing at Rocktown, one of Georgia’s best crags – but honestly, what I’m most excited for this trip isdownloadedfile Im adventuring north to Georgia and Tennessee for some climbing and Chattanooga lovin’  finally getting the chance to stay at The Crash Pad in Chattanooga. This hostel caught my attention when it was a mere concept and a patch of neglected land; it now proudly stands as one of the most innovative and inviting hubs for adventurers visiting Tennessee. I won second place in their Ultimate Adventure contest a few months ago, and after multiple failed attempts at booking my two free nights (seriously, these folks are killin’ it; they’re always booked solid), I finally snagged myself a private room! It’s going to be way snazzy, and certainly beats the hell out of camping in a Walmart parking lot.

Stay tuned for lots of updates on my experience at The Crash Pad!

Naturally, I’ve got my eye on a few boulder problems at these two classic crags. I’m keen on a repeat of Super Mario, but really want to send my first V5. At Stone Fort, I’m hoping to crush the juggy underclings and allegedly smooth mantle on Steam Roller – and if I have enough steam left in me, I might hop on a sweet roof problem called Bonesaw. My main project at Rocktown will be a V5 named Police Brutality, but I might also give Double Trouble a chance. Both Rocktown routes have been calling my attention since my first trip out there years agos, and now I’m finally strong enough to actually give ‘em a go.

We’ll see how it goes!

While I’m out romping around in the woods, you ought to keep yourself busy by entering my giveaway for a Rig 500 hydration pack system from GeigerRig! Check out the contest – all you have to do is submit your best summer adventure photo for a chance to win! (Giveaway ends August 31st.)

Psssst... You should also keep your eye out for some really exciting announcements from me and Niko’s yearlong 2013 Simply Adventure trip – we’ve got some awesome sponsors we’re partnering with, and we can’t wait to introduce ‘em! 

On taking big risks, embarking on new adventures, and getting out there

So there is this guy I’ve known since high school. Handsome kid, hardworking college graduate pursuing a career as an investment banking analyst. I’m always flattered to see comments and ‘likes’ from him as I document all my adventures, but he recently surprised me with the biggest compliment I have ever received.

Yesterday morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see a declaration from him in my news feed. It read:

“Holy crap! I just told my boss that I’m quitting my job to go travel the world. I’m either insane or just made the best decision of my life…I’m gonna say the latter! Wow, It’s all happening.”

Naturally, I jumped to congratulate him on his bold decision. I told him the truth: He had just made the best decision of his life. His response?

He told me that I was a part of his inspiration to quit his job and head out on a journey of worldly adventures. 

That, folks, is what this is all about. Maybe it’s the obscenely early morning and the lack of coffee flowing through my body at the moment, but I’m admittedly a bit misty-eyed to think that I contributed even the tiniest fraction of motivation for him to take such a daring leap into the world. Inspiring others to embrace life as an adventure is the reason I document my trips, spend endless unpaid hours writing, and take photos of every glorious little moment that enchants my life. And apparently, it worked.

there is no certainty On taking big risks, embarking on new adventures, and getting out there

Readers, consider this a call to arms. I dare you to leave your comfort zones, ditch the doldrums you’ve resigned yourself to, and get out into the world. Evan is choosing a truly courageous journey to experience destinations far beyond our country’s borders, but any adventure will do.

Can’t quit your job? Take a sabbatical. Take a long weekend – hell, just take the afternoon off. Drive outside of city limits, head towards the mountains, and get some dirt on your boots. Life is calling, and you can either sit around and let it pass you by – or you can take advantage of the adventure that awaits you. Go. Be bold. Take big risks, they tend to reap big rewards.

Seriously, you can do this.

Evan, congratulations again on following your intuition and seeking a journey that will ultimately change your life forever. I wish you all the best of luck and fortune during your travels – and can’t wait for you to unveil your own travel blog so I can keep up with all your worldly adventures. I am beyond honored to have been even the slightest inspiration for your decision to get out into the world. Cheers, buddy!

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

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

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

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.

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

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?

A Guide to Car-Camping – in Walmart Parking Lots

As any experienced road tripper, climber, or long-term traveler can attest, one of the biggest issues with life on the road is finding a place to rest every night. Between tight budgets, uncertain routes, and evenings spent driving at ungodly hours, there is often a need to find a makeshift place to catch a few hours of sleep.

One of the tried and true traditions of my climbing trips and cross-country excursions is the practice of spending a night (or two) in a Walmart parking lot. I was extremely reluctant and nervous my first time, during which I hardly achieved a few moments of rest. However, after nothing but positive experiences, the sight of a glowing Walmart sign on the side of a highway has become a welcoming landmark.

While Walmart founder Sam Walton has allegedly been quoted in feeling strongly that all travelers should reverie his stores as a destination for safe rest and refuge, there has been a lot of debate surrounding the practice of overnight camping in the parking lots. While I have never been approached during my brief stays, I have heard plenty of stories of people being asked to leave, or told they couldn’t stay.

So, should you spend the night in a Walmart parking lot? I’d say sure, but first, educate yourself on the do’s and don’ts of overnighting at one of these fine American institutions (ha). A Guide to Car Camping – in Walmart Parking Lots

What You Should Do:

Depending on your attitude, calling ahead to inquire about a specific location’s overnight policies is the safest course of action. However, if you’ve pulled into a random store in the middle of the night, desperate for sleep – you will likely be fine. Always be discrete. While large campers and RVs are sitting ducks in the parking lot pond, sedans and smaller vehicles have the advantage of blending in fairly well.

A few crucial elements of discretion include parking away from store entrances where shoppers should have priority, keeping your ‘space’ clean, and leaving as early as possible in the morning. Additionally, you should make an effort to give patronage to the place that is giving you a safe place to sleep – buy something. If you just grab a protein shake and cheese stick in the morning, fine. Need to stock up on some camping supplies? Even better – you’ll make the entire car-camping community look good.

Just because Walmarts are generally a secure place to stop for the night doesn’t mean that every location stands equal when it comes to safety. Always be aware of the surrounding neighborhood – a sketchy area equates to a sketchy Walmart parking lot. Be smart. Always keep your keys within reach. I prefer to keep the driver’s seat open and easy accessible, in case there is a need to make a quick getaway.

What You Shouldn’t Do:

carcampingatwalmart A Guide to Car Camping – in Walmart Parking Lots

*Note: Niko wasn’t actually in a Walmart parking lot in this photo, no worries.

Basically, don’t be that guy. If you roll up to a Walmart at 11 PM, pop open the hatchback, and set up a few chairs around your parking spot while throwing back a few beers – don’t be surprised when you get the boot. Anyone traveling in a non-car rig is should never set-up camp in any conspicuous manner. If security or management approaches you, don’t be disrespectful. It is a privilege to have access to staying overnight, and travelers must remain understanding that some locations have had bad experiences with long-term or disruptive ‘campers.’

Don’t leave a mess. You should be practicing this in all aspects of your adventures, but littering free accommodations is especially offensive. Nothing leaves a bad taste in a manager’s mouth than rude overnighters.

Despite the usually relaxed overnight regulations at most locations, there are some stores that are actively against travelers shacking up in their parking lots. Check out this listing of Walmarts that do not allow overnight stays.

Niko says: “I’ve been crashing in Walmart parking lots ever since I was able to drive — it’s a “simple comfort” for dirtbags. On long nights, you know that just down the road there’s a parking lot where you can grab some munchies, clean up in the 24-hour bathrooms, and shut your eyes for a couple hours. I always crack a window in my car to get some fresh air, and like to stop in the store to grab breakfast before heading out – think of the cost of your milk and cereal as a camping fee.”

If you aren’t bothered by the unavoidable florescent lighting and likelihood of waking up in a sea of cars from Walmart’s morning floods of blue collar customers, pulling into one of their many parking lots provides a great venue for catching some rest before embarking on your next day of adventuring.

Have you ever spent the night in a Walmart parking lot?
Got good any experiences to share? Any bad experiences?
Sound off in the comments and contribute to the conversation!