GrizzlyMan & Black Bear Challenge Adventure Race

Last April, roughly 100 racers assembled in Greenough, MT at the Paws Up Resort to compete in the annual GrizzlyMan and Black Bear Challenge Adventure Race. This year’s race proved to be MUCH harder than any previous version. The race includes trail running, orienteering, mountain biking, and for the GrizzyMan, whitewater navigation.

Racers are given a sheet of coordinates, a map, and a “passport” the night before the race. During the pre-race meeting, organizers stressed the rules, shared the course safety info, and explained the open format of the race. Racers had the evening to plot their points on their maps, and plan their route. At 5:00 a.m. the GrizzlyMan racers started out in the pre-dawn light, and at 9:00 a.m. the Black Bear Racers headed out on their course.

This year I competed in the Black Bear Challenge with my cousin Adam, on team “Just Cuz”. We drove up together Friday afternoon, got registered, and staged our bikes at the bike “Transition Area”. We had just very little clue what to expect. We were told there would be running and biking, but beyond that, we had absolutely no idea what to expect.

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Triathlon training week 2–What am I doing here??!!

In the middle of the timed two-mile test I was running for the Triathlon clinic, a girl next to me asks, “So are you a mountain biker or a road biker?”  Taken aback by the fact that she was able to think of anything other than the burning in her legs AND could muster up enough oxygen to utter a complete sentence, I shook myself out of my running trance and answered, “Not really either.”  Then I thought to myself,  ”Actually, I don’t bike, I never learned how to swim and I’ve never been a distance runner…what am I doing here!”

One week later, as the “Adaptation Phase” of our training comes to a close and we’re finally getting the hang of things, I feel much less out of my element.

You see, the beautiful thing about a multi-event sport like a triathlon is that everyone has a component they are confident with and everyone has a component they struggle with.  For example, someone can be holding their own in the pool workouts, fall behind and hate the run days, but then when you see them in the spin room…they are in their element, in the zone.  Personally, I come out of swim class like a drowned rat, am so-so in a bike workout, and am (to my own surprise) loving the run workouts.

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History-Rich Road Trips For The Entire Family

The next time you’re heading out on a family vacation think about putting aside the ‘get there fast and get home even faster’ mentality we are all guilty of on occasion. This past summer my family and I took a road trip from St. Louis to Orlando Florida.

We traveled to Florida to attend my daughter’s national dance competition event, many of the other families opted to fly but for our family, we decided to drive and make the most of the trip itself. In all honesty, I can say that looking back on our trip the time in the car, seeing the country and laughing with my husband and our kids is my favorite part of the entire vacation. This video was made on our way up North from Tampa.

Seeing the different topography of the country and making spontaneous stops was without a doubt the most fun we had while we were away from home. We used an app called RoadTrippers to plan our trip and help us find places to stay and to eat along the route. We had a few spots we knew we wanted to visit, like Nashville and the American Archeology store there. Otherwise, we were free to stop when and where we wanted to. It was fabulous!

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My Dad and his Bucket List

This came to my mind last night again and I want to share this with you. It isn’t a story about an epic climbing trip or traveling to the far ends of the earth. This isn’t a story about a heroic adventure, or pushing the limits in some daring journey. This is a story about the little things in life. It’s a story about family. It’s a story about helping my dad check off one line from his bucket list.

This story started in August 2016 when my husband and I decided it was time to stop paying rent and start building a home. We found an old 1950’s dilapidated cracker box that we thought had endless “potential”. At least, I could see the potential. My husband, on the other hand, needed A LOT of convincing. The closing day finally came, and the work started immediately.

One little problem with the house led to another and by the end, we had nearly re-built the entire house from the ground up. We replaced most of the plumbing and most of the wiring. We tore walls down and replaced every window in the house. We refinished the floors and re-roofed the house. Nearly every free second of my life was consumed with working on our home.

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Harsh Reality of Adventure Sports

My husband and I love to play in the outdoors – snow or shine.  And although we have had many amazing adventures over the past few years, the numerous avalanche fatalities, hiking accidents, and animal attacks this year have been a constant reminder of the inherent dangers of backcountry adventures. So although I am no expert on ‘adventure safety’ here are some things I keep in mind in hopes of ensuring safe homecomings after any outdoor play date.

Invest in good equipment – My husband is a serious gear-head.  If you have a question on outdoor or technical gear he is your man.  And like true technology early-adaptors (not the people that just want to have the new i-Toy just because it’s new and “cool”) his love of gear stems from a passion to see innovation developed with a purpose.

How does this new piece of equipment make my life easier and/or how does it make my adventures safer? When you plan your outdoor adventures. do your research on your equipment and make good investments based on features such as durability and safety.  If it looks good – consider it a bonus, not your primary purchasing point.

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How to Travel 50 Days a Year With a Full Time Job

A couple of days ago, I was interviewed by the Bestgedclasses website on how to how to be successful, without a degree and be able to travel even with a full-time job. When the interviewer asked me how many vacation days I have taken in 2017, including weekends and any days the office was closed for holidays, I realized it was 50.

50 days! In one year I traveled 50 days while holding down a full-time job, freelance projects as a travel writer, and still had a social life at the same time. Had someone presented this idea to me, I would have thought it was impossible in regards to both time and money. But I did it. Take also a look at this great video about how to be smart and work full-time and still find the time to travel the world:

Here’s how the days broke out:

  • 3 days in January to see my in-laws (well, actually my fiance’s parents) in Cleveland over Martin Luther King Day weekend. No time off work needed.
  • 3 day weekend in April for our engagement anniversary in Lake Placid, 1 vacation day taken.
  • 3 day weekend in April to go to Boston, 1 personal day taken.
  • 11 days at the end of May and beginning of June for Iceland and Norway. I used 6 days vacation days and received 1 day off for Memorial Day Weekend, plus 4 weekend days.
  • 2 day weekend in Maine, no time taken off from work.

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Travel with Meaning

My friend, Matt Madeiro over at Three New Leaves asked me what my favorite moments during travel are. Since I believe creativity is a point-of-view and thus everyone on the planet is creative, I was intrigued by this question. Because there are few other things in life that evoke such a profound shift in viewpoint than meaningful travel.

What I discovered while unraveling my answering is that what I love most about travel and the moments I treasure are the same ones that teach me who I am and who I want to be in everyday life.

Being Completely in the Moment
Unless I’m confined to a creepy resort where there’s nothing to do but stuff my face and sit on the beach (something I could do anywhere and have no idea if I were in Florida or South America) I am stimulated when I travel.

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Three Destinations for Vacation in Australia

Even the most dedicated and caring mom needs a break once in a while. Taking a weekend vacation with other moms is a great way to unwind and de-stress. I’m glad I completed my GED and became independent. Great help for me was offered by online GED Social Studies prep from BestGEDClasses.org.

World-class shopping, unique bars and some of Australia’s best spas are all included on the following list of vacation destinations.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne has many great bars and nightclubs to choose from, but Curve Bar is one that should not be missed. This sophisticated wine bar is uniquely decorated in a blend of retro and futuristic styles. Groups will love sharing a large canape plate with their drinks.

Melbourne is also home to some of Australia’s best shops. Groups that love department stores will want to check out the Bourke Street Mall.

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Why Taking Nature Hikes Through The City Inspires Creativity

I love combining two or three unlike things into one experience. When you see the world through one lens, it’s harder to feel inspired by it. Or discover creative solutions for it. Let’s say you work in an office and manage spreadsheets and projects. Do you:

  • Simply follow along with routine and ignoring the fact that no one is communicating with each other.
  • Pretend like you don’t notice the server where the project files are is a mess and everyone loses 15% of their day looking for stuff.
  • Never create a one-sheet of how the project was completed and how it relates to your other projects thus providing insight and future time-saving methods.
  • Don’t bother learning to learn how to speak in the creative language the designers use versus the more technical nature the interactive team uses.

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What Would You Create If It Was Your Last Day?

I’ve been wondering why I even want to create anyway. Aside from the fact, it won’t leave me alone at night and it consumes me. Why else? I love it. It’s fun. It’s interesting. But why else? What’s beneath the surface?

Over the years, I ’ve learned I keep setting goals and cresting the mountaintop of those goals only to find I haven’t reached my goal at all. Instead, there’s a dense jungle with jangled footing and a hazy mist. Why am I here? What am I looking for? I was in the office kitchen staring blankly at the teas when it struck me that creativity is so important to me because I want to see the world in a different way. A better way.

I don’t want to see it full of thick unease, glazed expression, lack of fulfillment, void of color, and strewn with pain. I want to see vivid, sparkling evidence that we’re all in control of our own destinies. That we can design our life any way we want.

Without creativity, there’s none of that. Without creativity, we just reach out to the first thing that comes our way that can offer some kind of answer. Whether that answer is comfort or stability or fulfillment.

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