Adventure is a Choice

While planning a wedding may not scream adventure to most, I’ve decided that the next fifteen months are going to be just that – an adventure.

We got engaged two months ago and having procrastinated for as long as humanly possibly, we’ve been begrudgingly starting to work on plans little by little. This week we found ourselves in the paint aisle at Home Depot, staring at a rainbow of chips and having a small meltdown. He was holding a fistful of navy blues and grays while I was picking out shades of wine and rose.

We ended up discarding everything in our hands and going to look at power tools, him fed-up and myself overwhelmed. It occurred to me while looking at belt sanders that it was sort of funny. I pointed out how the guy behind the paint counter must be witness to countless divorces and we both laughed and headed back to the paint aisle.

We settled on a joint color scheme (red wine, heather grey, cream, coral and sage for you curious few!) and right then and there I decided that this whole process is going to be an adventure. No matter how many things go wrong, how many stressful plans there are to make I am going to choose to laugh instead of let it affect me. Our feelings are choices each and every day and I choose to live in a spirit of adventure.

Its easy to get caught up in the mindset that adventure is relegated to the weekends, to hikes and camp trips and plane rides to exotic destinations. That adventure can’t occur every day. But to me, adventure is a mindset.

Adventure is choosing a new brand of protein bar at the grocery store. Adventure is stopping on the way home to take a picture of the sunset. Adventure is midnight milkshakes.

This past week some of my favorite adventure buddies agreed to drive two hours to the middle of nowhere in my overheating car on a weeknight, all to find a place I had seen on Instagram. I had let myself get caught in the rut of exciting weekends and mundane weekdays and decided it was time for an adventure.

We took pictures and drove with the windows down and got dinner at ten o’clock at night.

Adventure is a choice and it can happen at any moment of any day.

Don’t get stuck living for the weekends or the vacations. There’s going to be things we have to do like work, or planning weddings and we can choose to let them drag, to be stressed and upset by them, or we can choose adventure and let our whole life be wonderful and wild.

Here’s to your next adventure, whether it be Sprouts or Singapore.

-Xo

How to Be a Tourist in Your Hometown

A step-by-step guide to avoid cabin fever

If you’re a wanderluster at heart like me, you start getting cabin fever within two weeks of getting home from your last trip.

Unless you’re lucky enough to be a permanent adventurer, your heart will never be truly satisfied with the ho-hum of every day life. I can’t take off and travel whenever I get a wild hair and although we do a good job of planning day trips and road trips, sometimes I need a closer-to-home solution.

I give you; how to be a tourist in your hometown, a step-by-step guide to fighting cabin fever.

Step 1: Find adventure buddies. Like your family. They may not be up for driving all night to Moab, but they will certainly be up for a two hour adventure across town.

Step 2: Calendar it so nobody has any excuses. Text your dad the day before because he never accepts calendar appointments.

Step 3: Choose a part of your city or town that you’re not familiar with and do some research (if you live in a small town, find another nearby town)

Step 4: Pick a food venue and an activity that will simultaneously satisfy your wild sister and not send your parents rolling their eyes (your parents are probably up for being more adventurous than you think; mine were surprisingly up for black light yoga and wandering alleys to look at graffiti)

Make sure you pick a really good restaurant or coffee shop so that if your activity totally flops, at least the food will be good.

Step 6: Dress up, take lots of pictures. Let your fiance insult you for being the cause of gentrification when you insult alley stank.

Step 7: Leave as soon as everybody feels over-enlightened and starts to get grumpy. The great thing about stay-cations is that you can go back to your own house and avoid drama that always comes with being too close to your relations for too long!

My current favorite place to be a tourist in Denver is the River North District, aka, RiNO. Last year’s Colorado Crush festival released tons of street artists on the former warehouse district to turn every wall and alley into a masterpiece. Check out RiNO Yoga Social for the coolest black light yoga and Stowaway Coffee and Kitchen for breakfast/brunch that will make you go all heart-eyes emoji.

The Curse of Being a Millennial

Insights from DesertX on why Millennials need to break their stereotypes (expect millennial pink, that one can stay!)

I love being a millennial.

Ask anybody and they’ll roll their eyes and agree.

#vanlife?

Millenial Pink?

Hipster coffee shops?

Twenty somethings making a living BLOGGING AND POSTING PICTURES ON SOCIAL MEDIA!?

When the whole millennial term really started popping up a few years ago, I finally found a stereotype of people I can identify with and, it feels pretty cool.

Like any young generation, millennials are re-defining the world. Our generation is eating healthier and consuming less and traveling more. We’re informed, we’re passionate and I really, truly believe that we have a shot at changing the world.

But, to every coin there are two sides.

Stereotypes don’t pop up from unicorn emojis and kombucha startups.

Continue reading “The Curse of Being a Millennial”

Get Out and Experience Life.

There’s something almost counter intuitive about it, but I think that the best chance we have of preserving the beautiful, natural places on our planet is to get people out to truly experience them; to really care about them.

In this age of extreme connectivity, we’re exposed to some of the most amazing places on Earth from the comfort of our beds. We can open Instagram waiting for food at a restaurant, on a conference call, in the drive-thru at Starbucks, anywhere and immediately get a glimpse of the wilds of this world.

When we’re faced with the stark beauty of the Arctic or the remote beaches and rain forests of Asia, its easy to fall in love in a passive way. Nobody wants to see the ice caps melt, nobody wants to see forests bulldozed to grow crops or build homes for our exploding population. Its easy to pretend we care.

Its a passive care, though. Its like seeing a shooting on the news. Its horrifying. Its sad. We feel sympathy, but do we really care? Does it really, deeply affect us? What about when that shooting happens at your neighborhood theater, or in your kids’ school? Suddenly it becomes very, very real. Suddenly you really, really care. Because you’re truly experiencing it.

Continue reading “Get Out and Experience Life.”

I’m Afraid Too.

Would you rather die having not lived at all, or take a risk and live life to the fullest?

I don’t think I’m a brave person.

I’m anxious, I over-analyze and spontaneity is usually reserved for late night Waffle House runs.

I constantly kick myself for living life in fear.

My boyfriend and I were recently talking about how we feel were not “that outdoorsy” or “that adventurous” compared to some of the crazies we see on Instagram. But when I really started to think about it, we are pretty outdoorsy and adventurous compared to a lot of people. I’m shocked when I run into somebody who’s lived in Colorado for a couple years and has never made it up to the mountains. I can’t believe it when someone says they’ve never camped or been to the top of a 14er or snowshoed or skiied.

But then, I have to back myself up.

Fear is nothing to be ashamed of.

Continue reading “I’m Afraid Too.”

Take the Road Less Traveled 

Why road tripping is the best way to see the world.

When I turned 16 and go my first car, my life changed.

That maybe-blue-maybe-purple ’98 Jeep Cherokee with the killer sound system was freedom.

I was an angsty teen in the throws of my parents divorcing and having a car meant freedoms I had never experienced before; like going to parties, dating and doing extracurricular activities that sometimes required staying out until one in the morning.

But more than the normal teenage freedoms wheels provided, that Jeep meant total freedom. I was perfectly aware that I could get anywhere I wanted to on two different continents in that leaky chariot. Within months of getting my license, I was driving all over Colorado and southern Wyoming. It was less than a year later that I took my first real road trip and drove from Denver to LA.  I’ve been hooked on road tripping ever since.

Since the day I got my license, I’ve never felt trapped. I’m always the one to offer to drive because I love the feeling of knowing that I can go anywhere at the drop of a hat. Home, the grocery store, Peru. It’s all accessible.

I’m always surprised at how many people think that travel is unattainable. If you have a car, you can get to some pretty amazing places. Between my boyfriend and myself, we’ve had five cars in varying stages of age, mileage and crappiness that have carried us on some of our favorite adventures.

Last summer, our epic 7,500 mile road trip was done in a ’98 Subaru Outback with over 100,000 miles on it and we were patching it up the entire way.

There’s no excuse not to go when you have a car.* Pack a loaf of bread and some peanut butter and jelly, Google Map some WalMarts or National Forests along your route and go have an adventure.

ProTip: Invest the $7 a month your insurance wants to add roadside assistance to your policy. That’s less than two trips to Starbucks and it will save your ass if you get stranded and will give you the peace of mind to enjoy yourself.

I’ve been lucky enough to have gotten to fly a lot in my life and see some pretty incredible places, but honestly? Some of my favorite memories have been made on windy back roads, the destination reached my own hand with the help of a Redbull or two.

So, what are you waiting for? There’s some pretty incredible places within a totally doable driving distance. Here are some suggestions from Denver:

  • Moab – less than 6 hours
  • Las Vegas – a long, but doable, day
  • Grand Canyon – if you leave during a summer sunrise, you can make it there in time for sunset
  • Yellowstone/Grand Tetons – ~6hrs

*Unless you have a car like my ’91 Cherokee that lacked power steering, power brakes, interior lights, heat, took a quart of oil a day, had an alarm that went off every time you opened the door and a shot suspension. That’s probably a valid excuse.

Road trips are Kenzie dog’s favorite.
Take the road less traveled.

Why I Chose To Be Homeless

Last summer, I chose to be homeless.

Last summer, my boyfriend and I quit our well-paying jobs, chose not to renew the lease on our apartment, packed our lives into a 10×10 storage unit and took off across the country with nothing but a Subaru, our dog and a 2 person tent (you can read about our adventures under the Two and a Half BAMFS in Banff tab).

For years, I had scrolled jealously through the feeds of wanderers on Instagram. I had longingly devoured articles with titles like, “Why You Should Quit Your Job and Travel the World.” I saw all these people, these perfect internet people, living the dream, living my dream. I saw that it was possible. For them.

“I could never do that.” I would scoff to myself.

There were a million reasons why I couldn’t. I was a broke college student, a broke young adult, I had a life, a job, family and a dog counting on me, my boyfriend, college to graduate from, careers to start. We were too young, the world was too vast and scary.

As I scrolled through my Instagram feed with my increasingly long list of “can’t”s, I started to see all these beautiful images of Lake Louise in Banff, Alberta.

I had graduated from college and still had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up and was working an unsatisfying job, my boyfriend had decided college wasn’t for him and was working a manual labor job.

Slowly, an idea began to form in my mind.

Maybe quitting our jobs to travel the world was too lofty, but maybe it didn’t have to be the world. Maybe it could just be Canada.

Once I got up the courage to have that first initial thought of “maybe I could”, every “can’t” started to melt away.

If we pinched our pennies and saved, and weren’t paying rent on an apartment, we’d have enough money to spend a few months on the road. We could camp and sleep in our Subaru to avoid paying for lodging. And Canada wasn’t that vast and scary, was it? Even at 21, it seemed attainable.

And what was the worst that could happen? We’d break down, we’d be stranded, we’d have to go live with my parents for awhile.

Once I actually let myself start to believe that I could live my dream, nothing else was that scary. Saving money came easily. Quitting jobs we weren’t passionate about wasn’t hard. There were more apartments we could rent when we came back. Our friends and families understood; we weren’t leaving forever. Just the summer.

So, we packed our 1998 Subaru Outback to the brim and headed North. I don’t think it occurred to me until the first night we were on the road that we were truly homeless. It was a little scary, but also exhilarating.

We were on the road for over 40 days and didn’t pay for a single night of lodging. We slept in our car, pitched our tent or stayed with relatives every night. A couple grand got us through the summer, including unforeseen expenses, and held us over until we found jobs upon our return in August.

Was it all rainbows and butterflies?

Hell, no.

The radiator in our Subaru started to go on the fritz several days into our trip. We ended up having to replace it in a parts store parking lot in the middle-of-nowhere Montana and the car continued to overheat every time we’d go less than 25mph for the rest of the trip.

We found ourselves in a town called Fort McCloud, Alberta and realized our credit cards didn’t work outside the US and that Canada has hardly any free camping. We called my dad in tears in a Tim Horton’s parking lot. After buying donuts and poutine with the last of our Canadian cash, we headed back to America after less than six hours and changed trajectory.

One night, after scouring the Washington and Oregon coasts for hours looking for an open campsite, we ended up sleeping (or at least parking for the night) in a Fred Meyer parking lot and brushing our teeth in their bathroom.

Showers were not plentiful. I did an 11 day stint without bathing and had to get pretty creative with trial passes at gyms to get clean.

Some nights were terrifying. Some nights were cold. Some nights were hot. I was grumpy at times. He was grumpy at times. The dog was grumpy at times.

Our tire went flat on a 4wd road, we almost got stuck more times than I can count. We got eaten alive by mosquitoes and ate hummus for at least 1/3 of our meals.

We found ourselves in Redding, CA in August and the heat was oppressive, even at night, the car was protesting, the dog ran through a burr bush and had thousands of burrs stuck in her fur and we were homesick. We cut our trip a few weeks short and lived with my parents until we found a new place to call home.

The worst happened.

It wasn’t that bad.

The trip was actually the best experience of my life.

We saw amazing things, we bonded, we laughed, we turned our Subaru into a home.

We lived our dream.

I chose to be homeless because it was my dream to cut my ties and just go.

I’m telling you this story, not because I want to be another one of those perfect internet people who are living your dream life. I don’t want to be another “can’t”. I want to motivate you to find your “can”.

Whether your dream is to travel, or to pursue a freelance career, or to publish a book, my advice is this: find your “can” and just do it.

Things will go wrong. It won’t be what you expected. But if you’re living your dream? That’s all any of us can ask for.

Here’s a picture of Lake Louise. This was the start of my “can”. I never made it there, but was that really the point?

Just do it, you won’t regret it. I promise.

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