Adventure #2 – My Permanent Adventure Partner

About 10am in the morning on our second day on the river, I asked Becky if she could name every place we have been for our previous nine anniversaries. The list came out something like this.
1. Tokyo
2. Mexico
3. Washington DC
4. Switzerland
5. Home
6. Costa rica
7. Fisher towers
8. Pregnant
9. Vegas

Ten years ago I was young and in love. So we got married.  Most people cringe and the thought of being married so young, but for Becky and I it was ideal. We had very little commitments (except to each other) at that age and flexible jobs that allowed us to do whatever we wanted. I pretty much had a live in adventure partner. We travelled the world and looked for weekend getaways constantly.

Becky has learned that if I come up with an idea, it is better to let me go with another partner first to test it out. If it is not a complete suffer fest, then she will consider letting me take her.  When I have persuaded her to be the guinea pig and join in on round one, she knows there is a high probability of unexpected hardship, and I know there is a chance of tears. But for me there is the chance of having a complete unique experience with my wife which is 10 times more special then experiencing it with my dirt bag buddies.(sorry guys).

For our 10th anniversary we tried something completely new to us both. We have been on paddle boards a handful of times but never gone much further then a couple of miles on a lake. I concluded that we had sufficient experience to take our skills to a river and rally a self support trip. Why not? What is the worst that can happen? We quickly learned that one of the worst things that can happen is up canyon winds. My torso quickly becomes a sail, posed and ready to destroy all progress.  As I look to check on Becky and how she is doing, I see here kneeling on the board, head down just trying to make any forward progress. I instantly start to worry. I am not worried about our safety. I know winds change and we will be okay. I am worried that my wife, who was so willing to follow me on this adventure because I masked it as an anniversary trip, is deciding that this is the last time she joins me on one of these ideas.

We turn a corner after 2 hours of slow going and see whitecaps coming up river. We push slowly to the sandy beach and assess the situation. Luckily we landed right at a great campsite protected from the wind. We discuss the situation.  “Let’s hang out here for a minute. The wind will die and we can make it to the next camp ground before dark.” I said.  We hop back on the boards after about 15 min and dig in. Becky instantly starts moving upstream while I dig into the river taking the spray in face while not gaining an inch of momentum. Five minutes later we find ourselves back on the beach defeated. “I guess we were meant to sleep here tonight”.

When I wake up in doors it takes at least 20 minutes for me to really open my eyes. But when I wake up outside, my eyes seem to spring open due to the instant smile that forms on my face. Nothing gives me energy like seeing the morning sky from the comfort of my pillow. We were instantly energized by the tall red walls of the canyon and calmness of the water. We quickly broke down camp and started paddling peacefully down river. All my worries about Becky refusing to go on another adventure disappeared with every stroke of the paddle.  There is not one person on this earth that could take in the view of the canyon and feel the stillness  of air and think that it was a bad idea to be there.  I will let the pictures describe the beauty and inspire you.

I took a risk in doing something completely new with probably the only partner that I worry about impressing,  in a place that I knew nothing about.  These aspects of the adventure could have totally sank the success and shut down the momentum and support for this summer long project. That is one of the risks you take when you sacrifice the not so important things to chase what matter most to you. Together with the woman of my dreams, my permanent adventure partner,  we learned that if adventure could have a level of perfection, we were damn near close to it.

 

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Trip details

Gas – $85
Food – $45
Jetboat service – $90
Departed SLC – 6pm Friday
Returned – 9pm Sunday for a total of 51 hours away.
6 hours driving each way
24 hours on the river

Check out my other less lovey stories and share them with your friends. Who know you might convince them to join you.

– Pitt

@pittoman


Adventure #1 Escalante Exploring

Micro adventures really are endless in their possibilities. They work as a catalyst for bigger and better things.
They serve the same purpose as the sample tables at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. A quick jolt of yumminess and a lingering flavor that makes you think about it continuously for days or until you finally return and get a better taste. 

About 6 weeks ago I took off on a solo mission to explore a creek in southern Utah. I bushwhacked, wandered, and spent a lot of time singing to myself. But what I found was an amazing creek in a stunning desert landscape that  I pulled a few brown trout out of. I was convinced I had found something special in the fly fishing world. I came home, pitched the idea of writing a story for some fly fishing magazines and they showed interest. I knew I was about to put my mark on the fly fishing community. So this past weekend I persuaded 2 friends to return with me and help me form the story. Expectations of fishing were high, we were driven to put in a big day on the creek. The results did not mirror our expectations. But our appetite for adventure was fully satisfied.  

One of the most common outcomes on an adventure is that our initial expectations are not met.  But rarely does that lead to disappointment. I have the tendency  of thinking up great experiences where I am going to get to my location, ski bottomless powder and then return home without a hitch.  Or maybe I see something on a map and think to myself, “Self, you are fit enough, you can get to X in about 2 hours, and really enjoy some time there”. Four hours into the endeavor, I have slowed to a snail’s pace and am still not even close to my destination. Well, just because my expectations are not met, does not mean that the adventure did not serve its purpose.

I caught no fish this time, Dave caught 2, and Andy didn’t even pull out his fly rod because he could not put his camera down. We hiked 6 miles by the light of the moon and our Petzl headlamps, We spent an amazing night in a location that sees very little visitors. We were able to gaze across a landscape that holds endless possibilities for exploration. It was the best 30 hours of my week. 

If my words are not enough to convince you, check out the beauty of the trip captured by Andy Earl. Follow him on instagram @wasatchandy.

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Hiking in the dark is like Christmas eve. Everything is hidden from sight but when you wake up in the morning, you can’t help but grin from ear to ear.

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No cheesy John Muir quote needed.

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I will take 5 hours of poor sleep under this roof anytime.

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Favorite past time since I was 4 years old. Hopping on rocks!

Here are the details of the trip as promised
Depart SLC – Friday 5pm
Return SLC – Saturday 10pm
Total time away from home – 29 hours
4 hour drive each way
15 miles hiked round trip
6 hours of less than deep sleep
$30/each for gas
$15 in food/supplies

A great start to a summer of adventures.

– Pitt
@pittoman

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You want to do what?

 When I was 18 years old a friend and I loaded our kayaks on my van and headed to Jackson Hole for 5 days to play in the river. We had spent a lot of time there growing up and felt like we knew everything to do. But after 3 days of paddling, the flows were not cooperating and we were ready for a change of activity. We stopped into the local shop to talk to a friend that had been living in Jackson for a few years. The conversation went like this:

ME: “Hey dude, what do you do when no play waves are in on the river?”
FRIEND: “Do you guys have some swim goggles?”
ME: “No. Of course not.”
FRIEND: “Bummer. Cause when I get bored, I like to dive down to the bottom of eddies in the river and then swim out towards the current and let it zoom me off down river like a speeding fish!”
ME: “ Wow! I would never think of that. I don’t want to do it. But way to be creative.”

At the time I was laughing on the inside at my friend. I was so focused on only doing “cool” things that I had seen others do and I knew looked fun. I never took the time to think of something completely out of the box. Over the next 12 years my attitude and focus on adventure would change completely. Today I might consider a trip to Jackson with just my swim goggles and leave my kayak at home.

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A young aspiring artist might go to the Louvre or the MET to stare at the works of masters. While they are there a reoccurring thought about what their potential is and what they will one day be able to create runs through their head.  They are not thinking about ways to copy a master and create a beautiful portrait of women so they can name it the Mona Lucy. They are thinking about their own masterpiece.

Everyday at work I see requests for support from people who are about to embark on an adventure. I am always looking to see if they inspire me and make the gears in my head turn. In my eyes adventures are about creating an unforgettable experience. It is about doing something unique and making people tilt their head in wonder when you explain it to them. It does not have to be big and require a year of planning and preparation. The only requirement for adventure is that it needs to inspire you to get after it.  It will cause your creative juices to flow and your heart rate to increase just thinking about the possibilities. What makes an adventure an adventure is that it is unique to the pursuer. That you cannot google it and find all the answers.  Wikipedia will not tell you how to have an adventure. And you can’t pull your recipe book out of cupboard just to make sure you have all the ingredients. 

Today we can almost find information anywhere we look. I have a question, I ask my phone. I wonder if anyone has ever done something, I google it.  We are an info rich culture. So when I search “Climbing in the Tetons” I am bombarded with ads, offers, and trip reports from people who are willing to sell me on an adventure. I am glad people are able to make money showing people magical places. But I get more excited when I search something and very little pertinent info come up. That tells me there is a blank canvas. An opportunity for my mind to run wild. Whether you hire a guide, or find a trusted friend to show you how, the important thing is that you have the opportunity for your dreams to run wild and your thoughts to wander about all the possibilities. Then you choose to pursue them.  There is a reason why the popular books from my childhood were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and not “Participate in your Prescribed, Mass Produced Activity”

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Of my most memorable adventures over the past decade, some big and some small, they stand out because they were unique and memorable from concept to completion. They required research, creativity, and changing plans in the moment. And at some point in preparing for it, at least one person told me they thought it was crazy, dumb or a waste of time.  Not one of these adventures went totally as planned but everyone of them ended better than expected. To me, they became baby ideas that were conceived and then born, and then became my precious little memories that no one will ever be able to convince me were a bad idea.

Don’t get sucked into the world’s idea of what an adventure should look like. Look at a way to do it differently and do it.   In the words of Yann Martel “Be excessively reasonable and you risk throwing out the universe with the bathwater”.

Show me your creative side and share some ideas for adventures. If your idea makes my heart skip a beat, I will work with you to make it happen. You just have to promise to take me with you!

– Pitt


Weekend Warrior or Adventurer?

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I have an office job. I have a wife with a job that she loves. I have a son about to start kindergarten. I have a daughter that has more control over my heart then Cupid himself. I have an unquenchable desire to explore and be on an adventure. Where do I find a balance to fulfill all my roles and pursue my desires?   Work and my career are necessary to participate in society but it also is the biggest hurdle. Modern society has put many of us in quite the predicament. Most people complain about how out of whack they feel when they get off schedule. Routine is seen as a savior and not a hinderance. At an early age we get the habit of making excuses because we do not have time. Or that we cannot do something because it does not line up with our normal routine.

The past few years there has been a huge increase of people that are quitting their 9-5, selling all their non essential belongings and hitting the road all in the name of adventure. #vanlife. They cannot handle the daily routine anymore. I understand this. I have thoughts of walking out the door of my office job and never looking back. I would love my life to be one big endless adventure. But I also want my wife and kids to be happy, have a social life, school experiences, a chance to have some roots if they want. It is hard to balance the drive for adventure and the desire to be home with my family.

A few years ago a guy named Alastair Humphreys introduced the idea of micro adventures #microadventure. Asking the question “What do you do with your 5-9?” In modern life, we are all sucked into the idea that the most important part of our day happens between 9-5. 40 hours a week we are required to be at work, school, or giving our time to someone else. That leaves 128 hours a week for us to accomplish other things in life. Yes we have to sleep, but most of us are willing to sacrifice some sleep every week to binge on a Netflix series. Yes we have to run errands, grocery shop, attend to responsibilities, But again most of this falls into the hours close to that 9-5 block.  With a little planning and creativity you have a lot of hours each week to accomplish so many things. How do you break out of the mold of being a working stiff and be an adventurer while still being a working stiff?

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I remember many years ago. I thought the title of “weekend warrior” was a derogatory term. I thought  adventures were not meant to be confined to just weekends. I always wanted to maintain the ability to drop everything mid week and chase a dream. Limited vacation days were something so corporate! My view changed once I landed my first 9-5 job. I came to realize the value of those 2 precious days at the end of the work week and the few weeks each year. They are greater then any paycheck, bonus, stock option or 401k. They are a saving grace, a therapist, a recovery sponsor.  I could not do it without them. Like a kid that has just stepped out of the candy shop with a bag full of loot, there is strategy and planning that goes into ensuring not one drop of sugar is wasted or left unappreciated. I have learned to plan and cherish every moment with my sweet time away from work. Whether that is with the family, or in the woods, or dreaming and creating schemes that I know no one will see the vision of except me. Luckily we all have the ability to find our own way to create adventure. It is quite easy for me. I live in a place where adventure is closer then my office. I do not need to load a van and drive across 6 states to get to where I want to be. I can find six lifetimes of adventures within a half days drive.

So here is my challenge to myself and anyone else that wants to join. I am going to accomplish 12 adventures before Halloween. Most will be micro. Some may be solo. A few may be total failures. Some may be with kids on my back. One will include roller blades.  And all of them hopefully will be unique and inspire you to think up an adventure for yourself. I will describe the pros and cons, the cost, my expectations and my lessons learned from each one.  Documenting the process on this blog each week I will prove to myself, a dad, 9-5er, weekend warrior, partial slave to the corporate world, that my adventurous spirit is alive and well and can be satisfied in-between my daily responsibilities.  Join me as I help to change your definition of adventure and help to recognize the many adventures waiting right outside your door.

-Pitt

@pittoman

“To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation”  – Yann Martel

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My plunge into the cycling world

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The Team-Libby’s in the middle. I would ride 100 miles for these girls.

So there I was, sitting with my group of girlfriends enjoying eggs benedict for brunch on the weekend. Libby looked at me and said, “you have to join my team.” I really like Libby. She could have told me to join her team to wrestle rabid wild boars and I would have said, yes! sign me up. “Little Red” she said, “We’re all doing it” she motioned to the rest of that gals at the table, all nodding their heads at me. “It’s the best” “So easy” “They have men driving the route begging to change your flat tire” “Diet Coke on tap” “Peanut butter sandwiched with Oreos at the rest stops” “no hills” My head was spinning…and I get to hang out with you girls too?! Sweet, I’m in! I thought I might be saved by not winning the lottery to get in, but Libby assured me that she’s really lucky and ALWAYS gets in. We did and now I’m committed.

Slow ha ha. why didn’t I think about the fact that I have never ridden a bike longer that 20 minutes my entire adult life. or the fact that I don’t even own a bike helmet. No, I didn’t stop and think I may not have time to train for a 100 mile bike race . Nope, I’m on LIbby’s team, The team, and I’m still very excited about the thought of doing a bike ride with my friends.

I’ve always been good at things I’ve tried. Roller skating, stilts…what have you… Road biking, sure, I can do that. Let’s try. Slower ha ha. This is kinda hard. Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

Sometime in 2006 I went to a spinning class. After 60 minutes of the hardest workout my heart has ever managed. I fainted into the instructor’s arms while asking her some questions after class. Mortified after I woke up on the floor with her looking over me, I reassured her that, no, she didn’t have to call my mom to drive me home. I have not stepped into a spin class since. Well, until now. I’m killing it in the spin class. I totally pretend to crank up that resistance and pretend I know WTH she’s talking about when she asks “how my base building is going?” But, hey I get there, I sweat and I smile and I sing to the music only going “breathless” when she instructs us to. Five classes in and I’m an expert.

So I’m borrowing a road bike from my super cool sister-in-law. I’ve got the clips, the shoes, the gloves, and yes the helmet. I hop on the bike to ride to work. First time on a road bike EVER. First turn on a road bike EVER. *WHABAMM* I hit the pavement. Turned too sharp, too fast, not concentrating, gravel, I don’t know what happened except that the yard worker at the post office saw everything. But, I’m fine. A little road rash makes me feel young again and I saved my chin from stitches with my thumb that feels broken most days now. But I rode away unscathed. The adrenaline actually helped me up that darn hill to Huntsman. And I’ve successfully ridden to work 3 times since then without falling, so I’m getting my confidence back.

I live on Sunnyside Ave-one of the most popular biking routes in the city-my training ground. So far I’ve made it 30 minutes up. I am still learning how to ride and the downhill makes me so nervous I’m hear myself Lamaze breathing while I go. But hey, I’m on Libby’s Team and I’m super excited about that! I’ll keep you updated.

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How do I look? (Pre road bike)


Fullness Redefined

Last Fall, Brendan, Mr. Semi-rad, and I were emailing ideas back and forth about adventures that do not meet the definition you would find in Outside magazine. These were adventures that the Ueli Stecks of the world would never consider and your average Joe would think is a waste of time.  Things like a Grand Teton National Park road trip, 2 dudes, 1 Vespa. Or living on an inflatable island in the Great Salt lake for 3 days eating only egg salad sandwiches. Like I said. We were thinking outside the box. Of all the ideas discussed, one struck a chord. The Buffet of Buffets.

Every person that steps foot on the Strip has dreams of doing something BIG!  Some show up to spend thousands in a game of risk. Others arrive believing they are going to have a weekend full of sexual exploits. Some want to overpay to shoot automatic weapons and drive exotic cars. By far the most common dream that is fulfilled is the ability to be in public in the middle of the day, sipping on a beverage of choice from a 36 inch chalice. Mine was to Buffet it.
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Three things draw people to buffets in this country. The value, the quantity, and the variety. In just one place you can eat cupcakes and gelato first and finish with a salad and croissant. Or you can enjoy a feast of sushi, waffles, apple jacks and taquitos all on the same plate. The options are endless. The combinations are infinite. It is the blankest of canvases for the eater.  There is a place in this world where you can compound the greatness of a buffet and multiply the potential of human consumption and digestion.  It is in Vegas. Starting at $59.95 you can purchase a pass for the Buffet of Buffets.  5 all you can eat buffets, all within walking distance, for 24 hours. I do not consider myself a huge eater. In fact, I am not even a buffet connoisseur. But when it comes to getting my money’s worth, a buffet will not beat me.  The house will not win this bet.

Brendan and I meet at 7:00 am on a Saturday morning at the intersection of Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard. People exiting casinos are surprised that the sun is shining. The first person we see asks us “Have you guys been up all night?”  It is apparent that she has been. We enter the Flamingo hotel.  We pay our minimal fee for what we are about to consume. They give us our wrist bands and find us a table. We decide it is best to sit down and establish the ground rules. “What are we trying to accomplish here?” “What is our goal?” We spitball some ideas and agree that as with any adventure, we need to be flexible and willing to change our strategy as the day goes on. If we get stuck in our ways, we run the risk of failure and sucking the “fun” out of it.  We establish our objectives.
– 3 full plates of food and 1 dessert plate at each buffet.
– Time is on our side. No need to rush. We are here for the buffets so lets spend as much time as possible in buffets
– 1 Mulligan plate allowed if needed.
– We snap a photo of every plate before consuming.

And so we begin.

Flamingo – We were all smiles. Small talk, laughing at our surroundings, and enjoying the people watching. Feeling really good about the day and optimistic we will be able to accomplish our goals.

Harrahs – I think we sat at our table for 25 minutes before even looking at the food. We have a lot of similar thoughts on adventure and content and what makes life worth living. It was easy to get lost in conversation. But I think we kept talking just so we could stall the consumption of more food. On the second plate I find Brendan wandering back and forth in front of the food options trying to figure out what to fill his plate with. Again stalling. It felt good to just move and let the food in our already full bellies settle. We finish with ice cream and hit the streets for a few laps around the intersection to try and burn some calories.

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The Rio- Luckily the Rio is about a 3/4 mile walk away. At this point I was feeling maxed out. Doubting my abilities at less then half way through the challenge. We reach The Rio and feel slightly rejuvenated after our little walk.  I try to boost my energy with a large Coke. Why not add an additional 250 calories to this situation. I jump into prime rib here. I want to make sure I eat the classic buffet items at some point today. Cream pie and ice cream for dessert and we leave the Rio feeling absolutely wrecked.

Planet Hollywood – Realizing it was getting late in the day and our pace was slowing to a lethargic crawl, we go straight to the buffet.  While checking in I try to be friendly with Lynn, the lady running the register. “We are hurting. This is our 4th buffet of the day.”  She responds with bit of a scowl and says “Please don’t get sick here.” We did not heed her request.  Planet Hollywood became our crux, our summit push, the must make move on a class V rapid. And I bonked. I guess the opposite of bonk. I over consumed and under burned.  Two plates in I found myself face down on the table wishing the demon inside of my gut would crawl out and end my suffering.

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Paris – The final stretch. The pinnacle of our gluttony. I focused, kept my head down and powered forward. This was now business. We were long past pleasure. Finished it all off with a macaroon a high five. When it was all over I wanted to let everyone know what we had just accomplished. I just consumed 13,500 calories in one day. I spent 12+ hours in buffets. I set a goal and accomplished it.

As we sat watching the fountains of the Bellagio dance to the tunes of Frank Sinatra I envisioned a giant checkmark on my list of life accomplishments. Not because this is a bucket list item or that I have always wanted to eat way too much mediocre food. It was an accomplishment because it was an idea that became a plan, and then a reality. It happened. We did it.

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Army Birthday Party

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It was Emmett’s 5th Birthday and to celebrate we put together a simple and fun birthday party. The Army theme was super fun and available-camo is everywhere right now! I got some green face make-up on the Halloween aisle, put out our Army paraphernalia (vests, helmets, masks, grenades) and let the kids go to town.

Here’s our Basic Training Obstacle Course: Army crawl under rope, up and over the ladder, across the bridge, hop across the planks and target practice! We had a couple of tunnels to crawl through and boxes to jump over too.

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One activity the boys absolutely loved was flying Paper Airplanes. They each folded and decorated them with stickers and then we had throwing contests. They spent about 20 minutes tossing those things!

We also played “Army Tag” (freeze tag)

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IMG_4876Got these invitations at Target, along with the Duff’s Camouflage Cake Mix. The cake was yummy and looked super cool. I even used frosting from a jar, super easy! We had so much fun! Happy Birthday Emmett!!


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