On The Page: One Tough Mother

When Season 4 of the #omniten arrived in Park City, we all sat down to watch this video about Columbia Sportswear’s history of #tryingstuff. My favorite part of the video was this little clip from Gert Boyle:

One Tough Mother: Success in Business, Life, and Apple Pies is her story of how she and her son Tim took over Columbia after her husband’s sudden death in 1970. Gert had helped out at the company in her younger years but retreated to life as a mother and homemaker while her husband entered the family business.

One Tough Mother

It was a difficult transition but Gert and Tim eventually sought out the guidance they needed to transform Columbia into a large global scale company. It was cool to read about how asking customers for their input on products has been a part of the company from the very beginning! It’s exciting to be part of the #omniten and that long standing tradition.

The most fun part of the book is probably the section with copy of many of the ads featuring Gert. It was a lot of fun to flip through them: I definitely remember Columbia marketing itself as being “products of an overprotective mother”!

On The Page: Following Atticus

Hiking with Sprocket is one of my favorite things to do: he’s a good listener but doesn’t argue, is willing to go anywhere, and gives me a bit of company on the trail. After we hiked Signal Peak a few weeks ago, I bragged a little bit on Twitter about my awesome hiking pup and Adam responded with a book recommendation: Following Atticus.

Honestly, I wasn’t all that interested in reading about a little tiny pocket dog climbing mountains. Dogs aren’t supposed to be purse sized! Amazon had the Kindle edition on sale for $1.99 though so I decided to give it a try (it’s back to regular price, $5.74, now).

I don’t know why I doubted. Tom Ryan’s Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and An Extraordinary Friendship is about a dog, hiking, finding peace in the outdoors, and even peakbagging.

The story starts with Ryan becoming a pet owner. He and his first dog, Max, bond and Ryan begins to develop a sense of how a dog and his owner can help each other. After Max’s death, he adopts Atticus, a miniature schnauzer.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

Along the lines, Tom was introduced to hiking New Hampshire’s 4,000′ mountains by one of his brothers. Overweight and out of shape, following Atticus to the mountaintop inspired him. Before he knew it, he and Atticus climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4,000′ peaks in a summer.

Futher inspired by a friend’s strength as she battled cancer, Ryan decided to scale the 4,000′ peaks again. In the winter. Twice. The money raised by their attempt would benefit The Jimmy Fund. After their near triump, came the inevitable dog-book crying. F just gave me the “here-she-goes-again” look as I slithered to the floor to pet my own pup.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

 

Fortunately, the book didn’t end there. Instead, Ryan and Tom headed to the mountains again to re-attempt their winter goal: this time to raise money for Angell Memorial Medical Center, the MSPCA’s veterinary clinic.

Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus
Photo The Adventures of Tom and Atticus

Following Atticus is exactly what you would expect: a heartwarming story about a dog and his human learning how truly wonderful and inspiring the outdoors can be. This story made me cry, made me smile, and made me happy to have such a loving, wonderful dog in my own life.

Gear Review: climbOn! Lotion Bar

Although I’m not a climber (yet!), I bought a climbOn! bar last fall when I had dry hands that just wouldn’t heal. I’d tried all sorts of lotions but they just weren’t getting better. Finally, I broke down and ordered climbOn! because I had a sneaking suspension that chemicals and additives weren’t helping my situation. ClimbOn!’s philosophy is “if you can’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin” which totally works for me.

CO_Minibar-Bar_Green_Orange_150DPI_1

The climbOn! bar comes in a small metal tin. The bar comes out, you roll it around on your hands a bit working the beeswax and oils on to your skin and then you put the bar away and work the oils into your hands some more. I was afraid that it would feel a little waxy on my hands but I found that it is absorbed pretty quickly and didn’t bother me at all. After months of battling dry, cracked hands, within just a week or so, my hands were back to being nice and smooth!

At about $10 a bar, climbOn! might seem a bit expensive but I’ve found that it lasts a long time and is totally worth the price. I’ve also heard amazing things about their lip tubes and sunscreen. ClimbOn! is available at many outdoor retails and climbing gyms. You can also order directly from SKINourishment.

Gear Review: Stonewear Designs, Fall 2013

As a Stonewear Ambassador, I received a whole lot of clothing from their Fall 2013 catalog that I’ve been wearing for the last few months. With my wardrobe being constrained by the camper, the clothing has been in fairly heavy rotation and has gotten a fair amount of testing!

Stonewear Designs makes all of their products in America and really strive to make wearable products for real women. Here’s some of my thoughts:

Favorites:

  • Cross Back Top: This bra fits SO WELL. It’s so comfy and is my go-to bra for everything It offers good front coverage and has an adorable (and comfortable cross back). I’m small busted so it offers plenty of support for any activity I throw at it.
  • Dash Performance Pant: The Dash pants are so cozy. I’m 5’10” and I should have bought the long length but I’m still rocking the regulars anyway because they’re awesome: they fit nicely through the hips and the amount of stretch is just right. I haven’t experienced any gaping at the waist either. The fleecy inside means they’re warm though so I don’t get a chance to wear them too often!
  • Cascade Skirt: Although the skirt is a touch long for my taste (floats right around my knees), I forgive it because it is so soft. Seriously, the jersey material is just like silky butter! The soft waist is really comfortable making this a dream to wear.

Family photo with camper

  • Alpha Hoodie: I reviewed the Alpha over on the Live Stonewear blog this fall. I was wearing the lovely “Blue Shadow” one all the time and was totally pumped to get one in “Berry Milkshake” with “Team Stonewear” on the sleeve. These days I often use one for working out/running and the other for wearing around to compensate for my lack of laundry access. The biggest downside of the Alpha is that it has started show some piling where backpack straps rub (waist strap, sternum strap). It seems to fare well against the prickly sticks of the desert though so it’s one of my favorite layers for hiking. The small fits me just right with plenty of length through the torso.

Beth & Sprocket

  • Sprinter Capri: I actually don’t have too much to say about the Sprinter aside from the fact that once I put them on I hardly know I’m wearing them. The very first hike I wore these on involved plenty of brush and plenty of scrambling around rocks boosting a dog and I was sure that I’d do them in since the material feels pretty light…I didn’t. The thread on the seams is showing a little wear but these have been in heavy rotation over the last six months. As it turns out, I didn’t have a photo of me wearing them but I just so happen to be rocking them now so I took a photo:

Beth on Gila Gravity Canal

  • Nimble Knicker: I’m not totally sold on the look of the Nimble Knicker but they’re sooo comfy that I just don’t care. The fabric is really soft, the waist is perfectly fitted, and they’re just right. It turns out that in the right weather they’re even pretty good for running as I discovered in the sand dunes.
Alpha Hoodie & Nimble Knicker
Alpha Hoodie & Nimble Knicker

So-So:

  • Olympia Tank: I’m just not crazy about the Olympia’s fit on me. I’ve had several friends and family members tell me I’m nuts for not liking it. (Although I’ve gotten some to admit that perhaps it just wasn’t designed for my body type, aka flat chested, skinny, broad shoulders. I know that some of the other Ambassadors love this tank so take my fit advice with a grain of salt. It’s a little large for me through the chest and the neckline sort of emphasizes my wide shoulders. It’s also done some serious fading and a little piling in not that many washes.
  • Helix Jacket: I love the coloring on the Helix: the heathered pattern means that you can’t really tell if it’s dirty or not. (And living with the big black love bug named Sprocket means mine’s usually dirty…) From the front I love how it looks on me. The back has a really cute flare that would emphasize someone’s cute butt. Since I’m lacking in that department, it looks just a little…odd. My only other complaint about the Helix is that the pockets are really shallow: phones like to jump out of them.

Beth in snow

  •  Solace Top: I wasn’t crazy about the ladder back of the tank at first but it’s really grown on me. The Solace is really comfortable and has a really flattering fit: it’s not too fitted but not too loose either. The shelf bra provides me with enough support for running (this probably wouldn’t be the case for many ladies).

Running on Sand

  • Hot Yoga Short: Admittedly, I’ve only worn the Hot Yoga short for yoga … once. They make it into hanging out at camp rotation more often! They moved really well and were super comfortable. My only complaint is how high they sat up on the waist—almost like “mom jeans.”

Didn’t like:

  • Momentum Tank: This tank is just way too short on me. The back twist is cute but I just can’t get into the whole 90’s short tank-top look. Maybe they’ll make a long version!

On The Page: Called Again

Called Again

Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph details Jennifer Pharr Davis’s journey to become the fastest person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. Reeling from a breakup, Davis looks to speed hiking to help salve her soul. Immediately, she set her sights on the AT as her goal. A friend convinced her to start with Vermont’s Long Trail where she started her journey. After her Long Trail hike, she started her own hiking company because she was “convinced that the trail was the best and cheapest therapy” possible.

Her first AT speed attempt, aided by her husband Brew, landed her the women’s supported speed record. Several years later, she was back on the trail attempting to set the overall AT record.

In just over 46 days of intense effort on her part with help from Brew and a cast of supportive friends, friends of friends, and more, Davis battles shin splints, weather, exhaustion and more in achieving her goal.

If you enjoyed Wild, read this to get a glimpse of an outdoors woman learning how much she can accomplish. If you hated Wild, you’ll probably like Called Again. As a lover of most thru-hiker accounts, especially ones where an experienced hiker has a unique experience, I devoured this book in the space of a couple of hours.

On The Page: River Notes

On the plane up to Salt Lake City for the #omnigames I read Wade Davis’ River Notes: A Natural and Human History of the Colorado River. The timing was great: out the window I looked out to an awesome view of the Grand Canyon. As it turns out, we spend quite a bit of time playing in Colorado River basin states plus after reading The Emerald Mile, I realized there was lots to learn about this massive and unique river.

River Notes

Although River Notes had its share of interesting river tidbits, it was shorter and a lot less comprehensive than I’d hoped for. Davis’ intention seemed to be a plea for better river system policy (a worthy goal!) than documenting the natural and human history of the river.

The Mississippi River is known as “Big Muddy” however historically the Colorado moved a huge amount of sediment to the sea: “The average daily sediment load was five hundred thousand tons, enough to fill a hundred freight trains, each with a hundred cars, with each car bearing a load of two hundred thousand pounds.” Before the construction of the dams, “One hundred seventy million cubic cards of sand and silt” were moved down river—more than “three times the amount of dirt excavated to create the Panama Canal.” The Colorado is not the longest North American river nor does it move the most water but in four hundred miles it drops “some 2,500 feet in elevation, a rate of descent twenty-five times that of the Mississippi.”

I’d read a little bit about the formation of the modern Salton Sea in The Emerald Mile but enjoyed reading more about how in 1905 the flooded Colorado defied the man made structures separating it into its natural channel and the California Development Company’s Alamo Canal. For sixteen months the river flowed into the below sea level depression (an ancient path of the river itself).

As mentioned previously, most of River Notes is a plea to save the Colorado River. Davis discusses the appalling water policy surrounding cattle ranching and meat production (“in California, Arizona, and Nevada, roughly 85 percent of the water allotment goes to agriculture, with roughly half the irrigated land devoted to the raising of meat”). He does note a minor success story in the (very) partial restoration of the Colorado River Delta. “What began in the 1970s as a small island of fertility, fed in part by natural springs, runoff, and storm surges from the sea, has grown a hundredfold to become a lush wetland covering more than forty thousand acres. Land that had been sterile for a half century took but eight years to regenerate.”

On The Page: MotoRaid

MotoRaid

After reading Obsessions Die Hard, I read MotoRaid by Keith Thye. MotoRaid recounts the story of Thye’s adventure riding from Oregon to Chile in the 1960s with his friend Dave. Thye’s writing style is pretty minimalistic (which might be related to the book being published quite after the adventure) but the story of two young men heading out to South America is quite entertaining.

Along their route, the Keith and Dave face bad roads, food poisoning, and rainstorms. They make friends with local residents and visited sites like Machu Pichu. They took a “road” leading from La Paz, Bolivia hoping to end up in Chile but ended up re-entering Peru illegally. They finished their southbound journey in Pucón, Chile where the residents threw a raucous party in their honor.

I was honestly a bit surprised at how hard MotoRaid was to put down. I think it only took me two sittings to finish it. If you’re interested in adventure travel stories (motorized or not!) check this out for a good read.

On The Page: The Man Who Quit Money

Part of why we live on the road is to experience a freedom that working a job, having a mortgage, and living in a house or an apartment just don’t allow. We live in quite a comfortable set up and there are few things that I really miss (besides being close to family and friends). I’m always impressed by those that are more able to sacrifice even more creature comforts to simplify their life.

The Man Who Quit Money

Among the most extreme examples of simplifying life is to quit using currency all together. The Man Who Quit Money by Mark Sundeen is about a man named Daniel Suelo (née Shellabarger) who since 2000 has lived a currency-less existence. Born to a fundamentalist Christian family, Suelo (Spanish for “soil”), began to develop his own ideas of religion and spirituality. During his stint in the the Peace Corps, Suelo came out as a gay man leading to tensions with his family, the religion he loved, and ultimately sending the young man into a deeply depressed state.

After returning to the States, Suelo moved to Moab where he worked several jobs, had his first romantic relationships, and began his migration away from money. During his evolution toward his moneyless state Suelo’s goal was to test two hypotheses: “Thoreau’s premise that living in nature made you stronger, and St. Francis’ belief that following chance brought you closer to God.”

I read this book in one sitting, absolutely riveted by Suelo’s spiritual journey and his ability to live entirely without money. (Suelo also avoids bartering.) Suelo is able to make piece with his faith while keeping his distance from religion he explained, “Yes, I decided I’d rather be in hell with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Mother Teresa, Budda, Kabir, Rumi, Peace Pilgrim, and, yes, with Jesus Himself, than to be in heaven with the tortuous fundamentalist mentality that thinks itself right and everybody else wrong. I decided I’d rather be in hell for love than to be in heaven for bigotry.” Although I am not a religious person, I deeply respected Suelo’s candidness about his faith.

The actual logistics of living without cash—dumpster-diving, foraging, asking for rides, and more—were also really interesting although Sundeen chose to focus more on other parts of Suelo’s journey. This was probably a good choice for the book. Mark Boyle is an Irish activist who published his first book The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living in 2010 (which I plan to read next) which promises to talk more about the how of living without money.

Skipping out on currency isn’t anything I plan to do, however I do hope to live with only what I need:

“I don’t expect everybody to live in a cave and dumpster-dive,” he says. “I do implore everybody to take only what they know in their own hearts that they need, and give up excess to those who have less than they need. If this happened, I certainly wouldn’t have to dumpster-dive.”

I highly recommend The Man Who Quit Money as a fascinating and thought provoking read. I found myself very inspired by Suelo’s story and have added his blog Moneyless World — Free World — Priceless World to my blog reader. If you read The Man Who Quit Money, come back and tell me what you think of it!

Adventure Vehicles: Box Truck with Garage

No, don’t worry, we haven’t switched vehicles again! Instead, we’ve been talking about the many different versions of vehicle dwelling we’ve tried in the last couple of years and remembered F’s old box truck. This is what he was driving when I met him, filled with toys! I suppose I should have known what I was getting into…

Way back in 2008, F bought a partially converted UHaul truck and turned it into a total bachelor pad box truck, complete with roof top driving range and a shifter cart on the wall.

UHaul exterior

When he purchased the box truck, the garage/living space wall and bathroom were already installed. The walls were also insulated and wired. F purchased the cabinets at a thrift store. (The trophy was earned by F at a motorcycle trials event.)

UHaul interior

Prior to the Mom’s Attic days, this UHaul’s cabover only had room for a twin bed; perfect for a confirmed bachelor. Ottomans formed the seats for the “dinette.” Not pictured is the couch that was opposite the dinette.

UHaul interior

The garage had enough space for his adventure bike, trials bike, shifter cart, and a mountain bike. I wish he still had the Easy Rider poster.

UHaul garage

Immediately behind the curtain is an RV toilet. To the right of the toilet is a 3×3 shower stall. This kept the toilet segregated from the living space to cut down on any possible smells from the black water tank. On top of the shower is a small “under sink” propane hot water heater.

UHaul garage

And of course, the roof top driving range:

Roof top driving range

On The Page: Obessions Die Hard

Obsessions Die HArd

Last summer, the thrift store in Ridgway received a donation of several motorcycle travel books. I think most of them came home with us… Among the books was Obsessions Die Hard: Motorcycling the Pan American Highway’s Jungle Gap by Ed Culberson. Stationed at the Panama Canal zone in the 1970s, Culberson purchased a Honda 125 which he rode throughout Panama, eventually trading up to larger bikes and riding large portions of the Pan-American Highway. Although he wished to ride the entire Highway from Prudhoe Bay to Ushuaia, however, he was award of how harrowing crossing the Darién Gap could be.

Despite the challenges associated with traversing 80 miles of swamp, jungle, and rivers, Culberson decided to give it a try… or two. His vivid account of making his way though the Gap (including traveling in the company of the colorful Loren Upton) combined with some of his difficulties in crossing borders (his connections formed as an Army officer certainly helped) make for very interesting adventure reading.

I enjoyed this book a little better than MotoRaid (review coming soon), mostly because Culberson was able to relate his story in a very readable way.