Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Write-Up in the Tobacco Valley News

You may recall from Cycling the Great Parks North & Great Divide Loop that I stayed with a Warm Showers host in Eureka, Montana named Nikki. At the end of my cycling trip, Nikki, who is a journalist with Tobacco Valley News, interviewed me for an article in the paper.

Here is the write-up, reprinted with permission. (Click on the button in the upper right-hand corner to view a larger version of the article.)



How fun to be interviewed for a newspaper -- a first for me! Thanks for a great write-up, Nikki!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

My Interview with "Eyes on the Goal" Blog

I was recently interviewed by Eyes on the Goal blog.

Run by Katerina Apostolova, Eyes on the Goal is about "personal finance for freedom seekers." Katerina has a goal of reaching financial independence within five years, and her blog is all about keeping her eyes on this goal.

In learning about financial independence, Katerina had listened to My Interview for "The Voluntary Life" Podcast. She then reached out to me and asked if I would be willing to provide a guest post for her interview series. Click on the image below to read the interview:


Thanks for the fun interview, Kate. I wish you the best in achieving your financial independence!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Part 1: Where the Magic Happens

The Venn diagram is one of the most beautiful diagrams, for it represents the magic that happens when we combine our interests.

As you may recall, a Venn diagram is a visual way of showing relationships among separate groups of things. Each group of things is represented by a congruent circle. The circles are overlapped to create regions, or "intersections," representing commonalities among the groups. These intersections are powerful; they are where the magic happens. The greater the number of intersections, the greater the magic.1

Where the magic happens.

On February 1, 2012, I attended a talk given by John Scurlock. Called "Heart of the Distant Mountain," John presented aerial photographs he had taken while flying over the Cascade mountains. The photographs in John's presentation were amazing. But more amazing was the story of how John became an aerial photographer.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Backpacking the Beartooths: A Photo Journal

For four days and three nights, my friend (Greg) and I backpacked through the Beartooth Mountains. What's not to love about backpacking in a place where the sunsets look like this?

The sun sets in the Beartooth Mountains.

Located just to the northeast of Yellowstone National Park, the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness straddles the border of south central Montana and northwest Wyoming. The Beartooth Plateau is the largest high elevation plateau in the United States. Exceeding 10,000 feet in elevation, the plateau has more than 300 lakes and more than 25 peaks greater than 12,000 feet in elevation. Can you say "hubba hubba"?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Cycling the Great Parks North & Great Divide Loop

Sandwiched between staffing two Montana-based Adventure Cycling trips, I spent ten days cycling a loop through British Columbia and Alberta. I departed from Eureka, MT (just south of the Canadian border) and travelled north to Banff, AB along the paved Great Parks North route. I then looped back to Eureka via the unpaved Great Divide route. All in all, the trip was just over 500 miles in length.

My loop.
(Red = the Great Parks North route and
Blue = the Great Divide route)

I really enjoyed the route. It provided a great mix of pavement and off-road riding as well as a great mix of nature and rural and urban settings. I had plenty of opportunities to bath in the forest and to relish in the beauty of snow-capped peaks, pristine lakes, and colorful wildflowers. Below is a photo journal of my trip. For those interested in the details on my ride, my trip takeaways, route beta, and itinerary are provided at the bottom of this post.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Adventure Cyclist: Brompton M6R Road Test

An article I wrote about my Brompton was recently published in the July 2017 issue of Adventure Cyclist!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Marriage of Cycle Touring & REI

What do you get when you marry a girl's passion for cycle touring with her love for everything REI?

Me -- a girl who loves cycle touring and REI.
(Photo: REI)

Need a hint? Do you recognize the girl on the right in the screenshot below?

Monday, June 12, 2017

Housesitting in Bellingham: A Photo Journal

I spend a majority of my time alternating between traveling and housesitting. While I greatly enjoy my travels, I look forward to my housesits as an opportunity to hunker down in one place, recharge my batteries, catch up on life logistics, and prepare for my next bout of travels.

I spent the months of April and May housesitting in Bellingham, about 90 miles north of Seattle. I watched over a large property in the country and took care of five kitties who lived on the property. I relished in the solitude, nature, and peace that country living proffers.

I settled into a nice daily routine -- yoga first thing in the morning, followed by a run, a bike ride, or a walk, an afternoon of being either entirely productive or productively leisurely, and a three-mile round-trip walk after dinner merely so I could smell the lilacs (and later the roses) at the end of a nearby road. I also spent a lot of time Bathing in the Forest, noticing the tiny details in nature (the tadpoles growing fatter and fatter each day) as well as the more macro ones (the snow melting on the nearby peaks as green filled in the trees). There were days that passed when I didn't talk to anyone except for myself and the kitties.

Exploring the Country


It was a 20-mile roundtrip bike ride to and from the grocery store.
I didn't mind the ride, especially since I got to see this
dreamy view of Mt Baker every time I approached the property.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Adventure Cycling thru the Black Hills

The Adventure Cycling season is about to kick off for me. I'm thrilled to be staffing three trips this summer. In honor of the season kick-off, I am sharing a post about my August 2016 Adventure Cycling trip through the Black Hills. This post is ten months belated; I had written this post last fall, but apparently neglected to publish it.



Anyone hungry for some pie?

Holly, awesome rider extraordinare,
is excited to dig into a bull pie.

In August 2016, I staffed a fully-supported event for Adventure Cycling through the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had never been to the Black Hills before, and so the territory was all new to me.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Boxes & Boundaries

Boxes and boundaries. We've all got 'em.

Our boxes contain our current capabilities, comfort zones, thoughts, and beliefs. As it is often just outside of our boxes that we grow physically, mentally, and spiritually, we are encouraged to "think outside of the box," "push beyond our comfort zones," or as my yoga teacher says, "play the edge."

Our boundaries, on the other hand, are limits we set for ourselves. They are established as a means of self-protection and should be reverently respected.

Boxes & boundaries.

I've spent a lot of my time focusing on my boxes -- growing them, and, in turn, growing me. It's only in the last few years I've turned my attention towards my boundaries.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bathing in the Forest

How is your Japanese? Mine is pretty lousy. I only know two terms:

yama gāru (山ガール)
shinrin-yoku (森林浴)

The first term translates to "mountain girl." It refers to a trend in Japan in which it is fashionable for young women to dress in functional and colorful outdoorsy clothing. I was told I looked like a yama gāru when I traveled to Japan for work a few years back. I was sporting my I-work-for-a-Seattle-tech-company "uniform" -- jeans, trail shoes, a merino wool sweater, and my bright red Gore-Tex jacket. I was flattered; for the first time in my life, I was fashionable.

The second term describes something I love to do: "take a forest bath." This isn't the strip-down-to-your-bare-skin-and-bathe-in-a-forest-stream kind of bath. No siree. This term refers to the medicinal qualities of being amongst trees.

I love bathing in forests.
(Photo: Ferit Fındık)

As an avid reader, I'm often surprised how certain books seem to magically appear in my life at just the right times. For the last little while, I had been grappling with the take-aways from my Baja trip: I didn't enjoy being in the desert landscape, and I didn't enjoy mountain biking. But I like nature, and I like biking. So what gives?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

On Quitting Versus Adjusting Sails

I was called a quitter for bowing out early on my Baja trip. (As you may recall, from Reflections on My Baja Trip, I left Baja a month early, after having pedaled only 600 of the route's 1700 miles.) I felt ashamed for quitting, for not sticking with the ride. After all, I had invested quite a bit of time and energy planning the trip. Plus, I had spent a good chunk of change outfitting myself with the appropriate bike and gear. Fortunately, the feelings of guilt lasted only a few short seconds.

I hadn't quit; I had adjusted my sails.

Sailing with Jake on Bonne Vie in March 2014.

The word "quitting" carries with it a deeply negative connotation. A quitter gives up easily because he or she doesn't have the strength, courage, or determination to keep pushing on and seeing a task through to completion.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Sailing Trip to Catalina Island

Having returned to The States a month early from the Baja trip, El Mecánico and I spent the next few weeks slowly meandering our way back home. After all, there was no reason to rush back to the cold and wet winter in the Pacific Northwest.

For two years, I had been trying to arrange a sailing trip with a friend who lives in Los Angeles. As we'd be passing through LA, this was the perfect opportunity to make the trip happen. We decided to take a five-day sailing trip to Catalina Island. We ended up having such a grand time that we extended our trip from five days to nine.

Sailing to Catalina, with Salem on my lap.
(Photo: Jake Brownson)

First up...the island.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reflections on My Baja Trip

As was alluded to in my last post, Biking the Baja Divide: A Photo Journal, my trip to Baja was less-than-inspiring. In fact, it was so lackluster that I returned to The States a month earlier than expected, having only biked 600 of the route's 1700 miles. As is the case for all my travels, the venture resulted in significant reflections and a handful of lessons learned.

I Prefer Certain Types of Nature 


Walking the beach at Los Frailes.
(Photo: El Mecánico)

The principal reason I travel is to immerse myself in nature. I love being in temperate forests -- majestic trees, babbling creeks, the sounds of forest life. I love being near alpine lakes -- shimmery aquamarine waters and craggy snow-capped peaks. I love being on the shorelines of The Sound -- the rich orange bark of madrona perched high atop the tides.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Biking the Baja Divide: A Photo Journal

At the end of January, I traveled to Mexico to bike the new Baja Divide route. This a photo journal of my trip.

Part I: Biking from Tecate to San Quintin with Ronaldo


I rode the first ~270 miles from Tecate to San Quintin with Ronaldo. We covered this section in just over a week. 

Due to recent heavy rains, the desert in the north was unusually lush.
(Photo: Ron Norton)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Meet Duke Muir

Meet my new bicycle, Duke Muir.

Me & Duke Muir.

The story of how Duke Muir came to be is a fusion of three separate stories: Vowing to Get the Hell Out of Dodge, Applying for Lael's Scholarship, and Choosing the Hayduke.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Housesitting on Salt Spring Island

For thirty two days in December and January, I lived in a magical place. A place where arbutus and Garry oaks hold a steadfast stance on salty shores. A place where thick mossy rugs are like opium on hilltops, coaxing you to sit down for just a moment -- no, rather lie down for an entire afternoon snooze. A place where cormorants gather by the dozens to roost in treetops, noisily chattering as the sun sets. A place where time is measured only by the ferries that enter and leave the harbours.

An eagle eye's view of the magical place, looking north from Reginald Hill.
The Fulford-Burgoyne Valley, straight ahead, is nestled between
Mt Bruce (2,326 ft / 709 m) and Mt Maxwell (1,946 ft / 593 m).
If I were to turn towards the south, I would see the San Juan Islands.

If I were to turn so that the water was at my back,
I would see this soft, sunny spot,
begging for a picnic or a nose to be buried in a book. 

This magical place is Salt Spring Island. One of the southern Gulf Islands, Salt Spring is located in the Strait of Georgia, snuggled between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. The Gulf Islands are close relatives to Washington state's San Juan Islands. They are separated only by an international border and distinguished by citizens who look the same but end their sentences with "eh." With 10,000 year-round residents, many of them "artist-types," Salt Spring is the most populous of the Gulf Islands. But it certainly doesn't feel that way; nature and solitude are abundant.