Archive for the ‘Traveling’ Category

New Zealand Singer Loving Life on the Road in N. America

08/09/2013

By Lucy Ibbotson
Otago Daily Times

Van Riel On Tour in Bodie California

Van Riel in Bodie California

Lake Hawea, New Zealand singer-songwriter Anna van Riel, between gigs on her sustainable house concert tour across North America, plays with daughter Matilda (2) in Bodie, a ghost town in California.

Two-thirds of the way through her sustainable musical road-trip across Canada and the United States, Lake Hawea, NZ singer-songwriter Anna van Riel says the 15 months spent planning and fundraising for the experience has all been worth it.

”I’m still pinching myself,” Ms van Riel told the Otago Daily Times in an email from Colorado.
”I can’t believe we did it. That we’re here. It’s been so much cooler than I anticipated.”

Accompanied by husband Locky Urquhart and their daughter Matilda (2), Ms van Riel has spent the past two months travelling from British Columbia, through Washington State, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado, performing quirky concerts in private homes, farmers markets, trailer parks and other venues.

This week, the trio have been camping at Read the rest of this story at Otago Daily Times…
lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz

Justifying My Existence

02/11/2012

A case for the hard working travelers & educators

Finally Realizing I Actually Did Make the Best Life Decisions
By R. Richards, Founder
Mountain Spirit Institute
Andrew McCarthy in his book  “The Longest Way Home – One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down “  writes, “Whenever I would tell people that I was going off on some trip or another, I was met with remarks like, “Oh, tough life,” or, “That’s rough.” Even good friends reacted with outright hostile envy-“Must be nice,” they often said. I used to try to explain and justify my travels.  It was pointless.  Travel, especially by people who rarely do it, is often dismissed as a luxury and an indulgence, not a practical or useful way to spend one’s time.
“People complain, “I wish I could afford to go away.” Even when I did the math and showed that I often spent less money while on the road than staying home, they looked at me with skepticism.  The reasons for not traveling are as varied and complex as the justification for any behavior.  Perhaps people feel this way about travel because of how it’s so often perceived and presented.
“They anticipate and expect escape, from jobs and worries, from routines and families, but mostly, I think, from themselves-the sunny beach with life’s burdens left behind.  For me, travel has rarely been about escape; it’s often not even about a particular destination. The motivation is to go, to meet life, and myself, head-on along the road. There’s something in the act of setting out that renews me, that fills me with a feeling of possibility. On the road, I’m forced to rely on instinct and intuition, on the kindness of strangers, in ways that illuminate who I am, ways that shed light on my motivations, my fears. “

The author as a child on Lake Sunapee

My wife, who had been reading McCarthy’s book this week, showed the above passage to me the other day.  Although I’ve done more than my fair share of “inner work”, in one instant, after hearing her read these words, I realized, I too have been carrying a chip on my shoulder about supposedly not working hard enough, about being a mountain guide and facilitator and director of a non-profit organziation. I’ve tried to defend what I do to  family, friends and the fellow community members in my home town. It has not been the work of my imagination – that some have thought I “was on permanent vacation”.

After graduation from University of Utah, I was on a fast track to represent an Austrian ski boot company in the U.S. by taking a Master Boot-maker program in Austria. However, the combination of two main life events,  meeting Erga and Luciano Cappella, (see my earlier post: Reconnecting with a Mentor)  and one day, simply realizing I was on the wrong side of the window in that little mountain workshop where I was learning how to make ski boots, made me have a paradigm shift. I needed to be “out there in the mountains”, in the Alps. Something in me snapped, and I realized at that moment, I was the closest I would ever get to corporate life, (aside from later conducting Outward Bound Professional corporate team-building workshops). I took a left-hand turn out of the corporate ski business, and never looked back.  With that decision, came a shift in perception, and future decisions  led me to international mountain guiding, a long stint with Outward Bound as a lead instructor and staff trainer, and lastly, founder of Mountain Spirit Institute.

Richards rappelling in his twenties, Newbury, NH

I’ve worked hard, as do most people in the outdoor education field. Anyone who has started a  non-profit organization from the ground up also knows program building and organizational management on a small scale takes a lot of energy, more so than punching a timeclock.  It has sometimes felt like pushing a boulder uphill.  That’s not even taking into account the fun, but hard and endless hours of making sure the participants get what they need on any given program.  I’m committed to what I do, and feel I’m  good at it. It has been my passion since I started teaching in the outdoors at age thirteen, and I feel it’s my life’s purpose.

But from the outside,  it looks like I’ve been galavanting around since my twenties. “When are you going to get a real job” is what if not said, is implied sometimes. Indeed, even my parents occasionally expressed concerns about my not “biting the bullet” , a nice term. Then, later in her life, my mom was just happy knowing that I was doing what filled me up.

With Dr. Theo Paredes, Peru

I didn’t know this article needed to be written until a few nights ago, but now realize it has been long overdue.  I quoted Eckhart Tolle in an earlier post
“Most people are only peripherally aware of the world that surrounds them,  Especially if their surroundings are familiar. The voice in the head absorbs a greater part of their attention. Some people feel more alive when they travel and visit unfamiliar places or foreign countries because at those times sense perception, experiencing takes up more of their consciousness than thinking. They become more present.”

I never looked back – Guiding in Alaska

It’s almost a cliché, but I think this is what other climbers, outdoor leaders and guides are up against when they encounter the world of the conventional. It’s almost like two worlds intersecting. Many articles and books have been written about this. Of course we’re all connected on one level. On another, there very different lives happening in my small hometown.  Said Oliver Wendall Holmes  “A mind that is stretched to a new idea never returns to its original dimensions.”

Fortunately my mind has been stretched. Now it is up to me, with this new perspective, (thanks to McCarthy), to compassionately nod to those who don’t understand my lifestyle and career choice, and to move on.
For more information on R. Richards’ career choices you can read his short bio at Mountain Spirit Institute’s About Page.
Re-edited on 11/3/12 16:46EST (My motto, post first, edit later)

Some responses from my personal Facebook Page, also see the comment posted below by Jay for additional insight.

  • Peter Canaday Hard to explain unless you come across others of the same mind, and then, no explanation is necessary….
  • Wendy Gilker Randy, I understand living a life different from the norm. Generally, people do question it. How many times have people asked me – “When do you get a life Wendy”. As Joseph Campbell said ” the Journey begins with a” call to adventure in which the He…See More
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  • Wendy Gilker Helen Keller – “Many people admire what I did with my life because I seemed to be at such a disadvantage. But, they’re mistaken. If anything , I was greatly blessed. The danger in my “zone unknown” was great, but so was the treasure since eternal pr…See More
  • Randy Richards Good comments Wendy, I like the quotes.
  • Irene Powell Thank you for sharing….I will be allowing this words to percolate inside and see where they take me in my inner voyage of discovery.
  • Kevin Sleeper Randy, I have to say that it is/was probably jealousy which produces those comments. Be comfortable that it is our loss and your gain. Being outside was always a passion of mine, mostly expressed through scouting. Check out my posting of the Sailors take warning sky last Sunday at 6:15 or so over Lake Sunapee. I am sure you will recognize the place?
  • Randy Richards Thanks Jay Leavitt for the comment and poem (posted on our blog). You bring up some good points I failed to include. Also, I’ve done some re-edits of the blog post – My motto: Post first, edit later.
  • Randy Richards Hey Kevin Thanks for that..Yeah I remember that about you.
  • Dale Morrow I agree with Kevin, Randy. Feel a little sympathy for us who look at you, and feel the need to needle you, because we covet your life. But don’t take it all to heart. They mean no harm. People have to learn to accept the choices they’ve made.
  • Kevin Sleeper Randy, I learned a long time ago if U R going to swim upstream U R going to need a thick skin.

Wildlife’s Overpasses on Today’s Highways

19/07/2012

Wildlife Bridge Overpass – Giving animals a leg up on the auto traffic

Where’s the merge lane and who has right of way when the only traffic are animals such as tigers, wallabies, possums or kangaroos? I suppose whoever is highest on the food chain gets to go first across these overpasses with no roads, and only trees and grasses.

Someone posted the aerial image at right this evening. At first glance it looked like the same bridge under which I passed two years ago on the east coast highway heading north from Sydney, Australia. I dug in my files, and found the snapshot of the bridge and include it here.

I was so taken aback by the site of the strange overpass,  which looked like a neglected highway department lapse in maintenance, that I stopped the car and took a picture. At the time, I didn’t know what it was, and after some discussion with my wife, decided it must a wildlife corridor.

Wildlife Overpass – East Coast Australia

It’s good to see there are others. The Facebook image didn’t have a caption indicating where it was, but looks like it could be another location in Australia. Anyway, “Good on ya” for building this you Aussies! Anybody got an idea how many of these wildlife overpasses there are, and who’s the traffic cop?

One Hell of a Paddle

30/04/2012

Expedition 2012: From  Vermont to James Bay by Canoe
Paddling Forward, Giving Back

Expedition 2012's Route

By R.Richards
Family friend, Tom Bloch is one of ten crew members of Expedition 2012, an epic 1,200 mile canoe trip from Lake Dunmore Vermont to James Bay in Northern Canada, which is underway as we post this.

The expedition is an effort to support the Keewaydin Foundation in its ongoing mission to preserve “the Keewaydin Way”, and extend its benefits to an ever-greater range of today’s youth. The Foundation has three summer camps: Keewaydin Temagami (Ontario, Canada), Keewaydin Dunmore (Salisbury, Vermont), and Songadeewin of Keewaydin (Salisbury, Vermont).

To accomplish their goal, Expedition 2012 is committed to establish a new scholarship endowment for the Foundation. Expedition 2012 is using the extended wilderness canoe trip, which is a tradition at Keewaydin’s as a fundraising platform,  . They are paddling the long route over the course of 65 days in wood and canvas boats hand-crafted by the expedition members. During the course of this project, expedition members are additionally dedicated to environmental advocacy towards the preservation of the wilderness we hold dear. To learn more about the progress of the expedition, and to follow the the paddlers go here, or head over to  their blog

Keewaydin states on their website, “To live for a summer in a world largely unstructured and shaped only by nature itself… this is an adventure few are privileged to know.” and adds, “Through these programs, Keewaydin builds strong, independent character while exposing young men and women to a bygone lifestyle. Since 1893, Keewaydin has withstood the temptation of change, holding firm to what is dear of the past and leaving it untouched. Keewaydin’s simplicity and special link to the undisturbed wilderness set our programs apart from traditional camp experiences. This is the Keewaydin Way.” To learn more about the camp, visit their website.

The map, drawn up by Johnny Clore, shows the full itinerary of Expedition 2012 from Lake Dunmore down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain, then down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  From Montreal, we’ll head upstream on the Ottawa River for over three hundred miles and cut west for our resupply at Temagami by following the fabled “Trip In.”  From there the route leads over a swift succession of smaller lakes and rivers to the Abitibi River, where we will restock and head for the bay at Moosonee. Resupply locations are indicated with yellow stars. Click the “Itinerary” tab on the left to get a more detailed look at our itinerary.

Tom Bloch, On Expedition 2012

Tom Bloch has written a personal mission statement and essay, as have the other members of the team), which starts out…”I never went to summer camp.  Instead of big canvas tents and shiny green canoes, my childhood summers were filled with soccer camps and family hiking trips.  Now, here’s the shocker: I turned out just fine.  As of my college graduation last May, I was a reasonably well-adjusted, mild-mannered young man with sensible career aspirations and even a few healthy hobbies.  The world is rife with friendly, successful people who have never paddled a canoe.  In light of this, what is the value of Keewaydin?  Why this grand expedition? Read the rest of Tom’s entry here..

Vanishing Rivers of Ice – Dave Breashears

06/04/2012

Mountaineer and Filmmaker Dave Breashers presents Rivers of Ice, Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya

Before and After Shots..Not Good.

The Greater Himalaya has the largest concentration of glaciers outside the polar ice sheets, providing vital fresh water for almost every major system  of Asia. Over the past five years, Breashears and the team of his nonprofit organization, GlacierWorks, has conducted ten photographic expeditions to the region, to study and document the effects of climate change on this delicate landscape.

Dave Breashears

Breashears presents at the Boston Museum of Science on April 12, but alas, tickets are sold out. Nevertheless we thought it was worth the post here. You might try to try the climber’s move and squeeze in somewhere.

Retracing the steps of pioneering alpine photographers and explorers George Mallory, Vittorio Sella and others, Breashears and the team have captured  high-definition photographs that  match those of the earliest expeditions. By comparing this contemporary imagery with the historic photographs, Breashears and his team are discovering staggering changes to the region—changes with potentially devastating consequences.

There is  debate in the scientific community about the rate and extent to which Himalayan glaciers are shrinking.  Nevertheless, scientists agree that there is a trend of melting beyond what is expected to occur naturally. Although future impacts of glacial melt cannot be known, any disruption to the water supply will inevitably present challenges to the millions of people living  downstream.
Breashears plans on sharing his work in a blend of first-person story telling and imagery.
More info: Mount Washington Observatory

Thursday, April 12, from 6:30 to 9:30 pm
Museum of Science, Boston

Solitaire, A Backcountry Skiing/Riding Film

17/02/2012

We’ve not seen this yet…but it looks good, at least from the trailer:

Solitaire BC Skiiing/Riding Movie

Getting Out – Seeing the World

06/02/2012

Rachael Umbriano is Taking a Big Bite Out of Life
I met Rachael at a recent wilderness emergency medicine refresher course in North Conway, NH where we were both participants. Rachael just finished a year-long stint studying in Italy and traveling to 40 countries in her spare time while in Europe. A rock climber and go-getter, Rachael has some cool ambitions – see her vid below.
Learn how getting out of the U.S. for an extended period can shift your perspective. The Aussie’s and Kiwi’s call it an O.E. (overseas expedition). Most Americans, due to our work and study schedules, plus our limited work reciprocity with other countries only take short visits abroad. Rachael doesn’t fit that stereotype.

Build It & They Will Come

14/01/2012

An Outpost of Sustainability

Robert and Robyn Guyton were determined to start a food forest instead of mowing a front lawn. And a forest did they grow,  when in the mid-’90’s,  they purchased some land and a house in the small coastal town of Riverton, New Zealand. Riverton along with its neighbor, Invercargill rank as one of the southernmost towns in the world, and back then Riverton was an affordable place to buy land. It still is compared to the northern resort towns of Wanaka and Queenstown, the latter which graces its runway with  private jets, rivaling Aspen Colorado.

The Guytons worked  in earnest on their two lots planting trees and plants based on permaculture practices. When they first started, they received some odd looks from the neighbors, as their front yard started to take on the forest look. There were no other like-minded people in Riverton when they arrived, but undeterred, they started a cooperative learning center called the South Coast Environment Society.

Today the organization modestly states on its website it is an umbrella group for a “several” local environmental groups who have information,displays and meetings in the centre. Those several groups include:

Groups working for protection and enhancement of local ecosystems:

  • Riverton Estuary Care Society
  • Aparima Pest Busters
  • Aparima Nursery Enterprise
  • Seed Balls for Restoration projects

Groups working to promote sustainable lifestyles:

  • Riverton Natural Health Group
  • South Coast Permaculture
  • Sustainable Lifestyles project
  • Riverton Organic Food Co-op

Groups promoting sustainable growing methods

  • Riverton Organic Growers Gardeners Group
  • Southland Seed Savers
  • Riverton Organic Farmers Market
  • Riverton Community Orchard
  • Rivertonians for Alternatives to Toxic Substances (RATS)

Robert Guyton

My wife and I met the Guytons when they were giving a presentation on sustainability to the ultra small Garston School, (which deserves its own blog post),  New Zealand. We were intrigued with their presentation, which included a movie (to be posted on this blog) called “Welcome to the Food Forest”. We decided to take our chances and take the hour and half drive from our place and show up unannounced. Even though we had a standing invitation, we happened to miss them, when we stopped by to say hi. Nevertheless, I decided to interview Mark Baily while visiting the centre. You can see the video on my adjacent post.  We’ll have to get down there again when Robert and Robyn are home, so we can get the proper tour of their food forest!

A Restored Mountain Hut Getaway with Good Energy

11/01/2012

A New Zealand Farmer Does Good by Following His Passion

Tom O'Brien of High Country Walks

Tom O’Brien, owner of Blackmore Farm and founder of High Country Walks has followed his passion by offering up a little hut on the back side of his 5000 acre farm. Called the Chinaman’s Hut, it was restored some years ago, by local volunteers, Tom and his father. The hut is situated on the rolling mountains of the Slate Range,  just south of the Remarkables Mountains, on the border of Otago and Southland. Tom took the afternoon to show me his farm, the backcountry and the Chinaman’s Hut. below is a short piece on the hut, and a chat with Tom about his philosophy and passion of sharing this part of the world with others.We’re in hopes, here at Mountain Spirit Institute of collaborating with Tom by running some programs on the Slate Range and Blackmore Farm. We chatted about providing Solo’s and other types of programs.
Thanks for the time you took to show me around Tom!
Note: I’ve met one of the volunteers who helped restore the Chinaman’s Hut, a neighbor of ours here in Kingston named Dusty, who I’ll see if I can get on tape in the next few days. He has an interesting story to tell of not only this restoration project by many others.

How do You Move?

29/11/2011

Andrew Lees - Moves!

3 guys, 44 days, 11 countries, 18 flights, 38 thousand miles, an exploding volcano, 2 cameras and almost a terabyte of footage… all to turn 3 ambitious linear concepts based on movement, learning and food ….into 3 beautiful and hopefully compelling short films….. = a trip of a lifetime.

MOVE from Rick Mereki on Vimeo.