Category Archives: The Outdoors

Nature and Fresh Air, 2 things i love.

When the Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to town

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour made its way to Boone, NC. This Friday and Saturday event brought in families, college students, adults, youth and senior citizens to the Appalachian State Schaffer Center to view some of the best outdoor and adventure documentaries on earth. Banff Mountain, in Canada, puts on a yearly film festival. After the festival, a select group of films are chosen to go on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Throughout the tour these films will be shown to audiences of over 390,000 people, at over 840 screenings and in over 40 countries.

I got to attend the festival on Saturday night, sitting front and center (it pays off to get there an hour early), with a group of High Schoolers that I volunteer with. Oh and did I mention that I also got to launch T-Shirts into the crowd with slingshots?? That was pretty cool.

All of these films grabbed my attention and had that “wow” factor. The kind of thing that just makes your jaw drop. Throughout the films it was not unusual for the crowd to burst into applause, not because the film was over, but because something incredible happened. I was in an auditorium surrounded by almost a thousand people and yet, these films spoke and moved each of us individually. I left the festival so inspired by the people in the films the settings they were located in and the underlying story that each of them told. These weren’t just extreme sports clips, they had a purpose and meaning but, most importantly they had passion.

This film, a 3 minute film about Bruce Kirkby and his journey as he crossed the Pacific from Vancouver to Victoria on a stand-up paddle board, is entitled, The Questions We Ask. Kirkby narrates the film and ponders what adventure means to him and why we partake in adventurous activities. This was one of his final statements-

“What is Adventure? I’m not so sure we know these days. Movies and magazines all scream extreme. Gore Tex suits and vertical routes, foreign trips and big cliff hits but, that’s not the heart of it. Adventure is curiosity, the willingness to embrace uncertainty and wondering about the possibility of just doing one thing differently than before.” -Bruce Kirkby

To me this quote serves as an inspiring reminder. A reminder that I do not always have to be doing an extreme sport or paying a fortune to be adventurous. An adventure can happen anywhere, in any aspect of my life, as long as i am willing to embrace the uncertainty.

What is adventure to you?

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End of the Season

Well folks. The 13-14 snowboarding season has come to an end. Since December, I have spent countless hours strapped into my Burton snowboard cruising down App Ski Mountain. App Ski Mountain ended the season with their annual meltdown games and it was a blast to watch. Not that I am an incredible snowboarder or anything but this weekends closing ceremonies made me reflect not only on these past 4 months, but also but the past 3 seasons. When I first started snowboarding, my freshman year of college I was terrible, afraid of everything and my gear consisted of rentals and family hand-me-downs. I never thought it would become something I did more than a few times a season…but it did. I never thought I would ever attempt a rail or a jump…but I did. I never thought I would own my own gear…but I do. I never thought I would make so many friends out there…but I did. In the midst of frigid temperatures and unbearable downpours of snow, getting to go snowboarding kept my spirits high and gave my friends and me something to look forward to. I am thankful for every fall, every lift ride, every jump, every box hit, every ride and every morning I woke up sore. It was sentimental taking my last ride down the mountain. I took it slow and appreciated the view of the Mountains, the sunshine, the snow and the people surrounding me. Every season of life comes to a close so with that I say… bring on spring!! I’m ready for ya.

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Crowds, Cold and Chaos

This past weekend, a friend and I headed over to a local Ski Resort where we spent the day snowboarding. Well, I went snowboarding and she tried a version of it on the bunny slope. This day was comprised of my least favorite combination of C’s, crowds, cold and chaos. Being in college I have little sense of the public schools academic calendar. Apparently it was presidents weekend and every youth group and family seemed to have a trip planned to the mountains this weekend. I was there for the better part of the day and into the night. The lines for the lifts, rentals, shuttles and tickets were incredibly long. There was not adequate inside space to accommodate people, there was a crowding on the slopes, they ran out of helmets for rent and the parking extended outside of their parking lots and into local businesses parking lots. All of this and the temperature was in the teens.

However, through all of the crowds, cold and chaos I still had a great day. There was hardly a time when I wasn’t having fun and at times I was snowboarding by myself. So, why was i having such a good time despite the C’s? Once I made it to the top of the mountain, after getting off at the last ski lift stop I realized that it was worth it. As I type this it all seems terrible, like a horrible experience but yet, it was incredible. The wind can feel like little needles on your skin but the snow looks majestic as the wind carries it away, almost like ghosts, towering high to the people on the ski lifts. The powdery snow gets stuck inside my gloves but is a dream to ride on. Riding the lifts at night is like a mid-air haunted hayride but, the trees, covered in snow, look better from this angle. The lines can be a pain to stand in but, i’m glad people are here to experience the beauty of where I live.

Sometimes the weather stinks and people can be annoying but, thats the great thing about the outdoors. A beautiful landscape and some fresh air has the power to change your mood, lift your spirits and transform your day.

Have a good day friends and stay warm.

Costa Rica Part Dos: Sarapiqui

Sarapiqui, Costa Rica is the location of my 2nd leg of my trip to costa rica, and probably my favorite. It was a smaller town but offered lots of fun tours and excursions along the sarapiqui river.

La Quinta, Sarapiqui Country Inn and Eco-Lodge (no, not the franchise):

La Quinta is a Country Inn and Eco-lodge that has been nationally certified by the Costa Rican Tourism Board with its Certification for Sustainable Tourism (CST).  La Quinta strives to have little, to no negative impact on its immediate environment and that is evident in every aspect of their property. The local owners have spared no expense to ensure that their quaint lodge is held to the highest sustainable standards. Complete with a butterfly garden, river bank, a pond )that serves as a home to 3 caimans), 2 swimming pools, a small farm, beautiful landscapes, a delicious restaurant and housing for both families, couples and large groups, La Quinta was my favorite Eco-Lodge that I stayed at through-out my trip.

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Activities/ Excursions/ Tours:

Finca Corsicana Pineapple Farm: According to their website, they are the largest organic pineapple farm in the world. We went on a tractor ride through their 3,000 acre pineapple farm and even got the treat of seeing a baby sloth with its mother and a family of howler monkeys (we heard them long before we saw them). Every few feet our tour guide would hop off the tractor, pick a pineapple, cut the pineapple with the machete knife he kept in his pocket and then pass it around to all of us. He did this time and time again, fresh pineapple after fresh pineapple. Coming from the girl that cannot afford fresh pineapple and buys it from the can, this pineapple was incredible. At the end of our tractor ride we were greeted with fresh pina colada, a treat so delicious and fresh it can only be further described by a picture.

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White Water Rafting on the Sarapiqui River: I cannot get enough of white water rafting. This was actually my first time and I was glad that I saved my first time for Costa Rica. Before we even got in the raft we were taken to jump off this little ledge. My friends and I had so much fun doing this while the guides took our pictures. The water was refreshing, the sun was out and the rapids were just adventurous enough. Our raft guide, Carlos, really made the experience for us. He kept things fun and adventurous. He would splash us, throw us out of the boat, let us ride on the front of the raft (he called it cowboying), pointed out the wildlife and told us all about himself. Half-way through the trip we stopped for…guess what…a fruit break. Complete with watermelon and pineapple. After our pineapple farm tour the day before I stuck to watermelon.  Even though some of these pictures make it look like I am disgusted, I was actually having a great time.

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Chocolate Tour: Costa Rica is home to the Cacao Tree which produces the beans that are used to make chocolate. This tour was located in the rainforest, where we trecked across one of the longest suspension bridges in Costa Rica. Even though it was raining on this day, there was something surreal about being in the rain forest while it was raining. The cacao beans that we tasted were bitter, bitter, bitter but it was a good feeling knowing that I was eating the kind of chocolate that was actually good for you. We sat in a small gazebo where we were taken through the start to finish process of how chocolate is made. From the cocoa plant to sipping liquid chocolate we tasted every process in between. Even though I still prefer a hershey bar, I enjoyed tasting and learning about this organic chocolate. I even met a friendly couple from Belgium.

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Thanks for reading friends! Part Tres coming soon!

Costa Rica Part Uno: La Fortuna

Hey Friends and happy tuesday! My day started bright and early this morning as i made my way to my 8am class….in the rain. As many of you know, I just got back from a 10 day journey through Costa Rica. I felt so much support while I was gone and many of my readers have expressed a lot of excitement to read all about it. I visited three primary areas and stayed in 3 different hotels/Eco-lodges so I have decided to break up my posts into 3 parts. My first stop was La Fortuna where we spent 3 nights and 2 full days.

Lodging:

I stayed at Finca Luna Nueva Lodge in La Fortuna. Finca Luna Nueva is both a sustainable rain forest ecolodge and a certified organic biodynamic farm. I had never stayed any place like this before and it was an incredible experience. Over 50% of the food we ate at every meal was from their on-site farm. The owner will even personally give any guest a tour of the farm and show them around their luscious property. My group and I went on a tour and without realizing it, 3 hours had gone by. The owner was so passionate about his farm and his career and it was evident in the way he spoke and educated us. We spend an entire afternoon sitting by the pool and enjoying the property. It was a great feeling knowing that it was in the negatives back home and all of us were in bathing suits! They have many hidden hammocks and opportunities to relax and escape your everyday life.  I would highly recommend this lodge to any traveler that wants to be surrounded by Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity and natural environment. I ate breakfast with sloths every morning and fell asleep to the sounds of the rainforest outside my window. You can’t buy a machine that makes those sounds people!

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Activities/ Excursions/ Tours:

Arenal Volcano National Park: This volcano has recently been dormant but, it still provides a beautiful back drop. We hiked through its surrounding national park and got both a view of the volcano and its neighbor, Lake Arenal. It is pretty rare to get a picture of the top of the volcano because it is almost always surrounded by clouds or steam but, it cleared out just in time for us to have the perfect view of the entire volcano.

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Baldi Hot Springs: This place is very commercialized but, we had a really fun time. The hot springs are at the base of the Arenal Volcano and the geothermally heated mineral water is provides numerous hot springs throughout the resort, all different temperatures. Baldi Hot Springs is a Resort, Hotel and Spa but, you can gain entrance, a meal and access to the bar if  you are not staying there. P.S Don’t miss out on the waterside at the top of the highest hot spring. I didn’t bring my camera into the resort because it isn’t waterproof but, i managed to grab this shot before I went inside.

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Arenal Mundo Aventura: This is a local adventure company providing many different excursions around the Arenal Volcano. Through this company we Zip Lined, got a presentation from the Maleku Tribe and rode horses. I worked on my camps climbing tower and zip line for 2 summers but, i had never been on a commercial canopy zip lining tour. I felt pretty confident zip lining…too confident. In fact I got stuck on the second zip of the 12 zip lines and the guides made me get “taxied” for another 2 zips. It was humiliating to say the least but in the end all of the tour guides started to love me. We had incredible views of the luscious canopy of the rain forest, waterfalls and of course the Arenal Volcano. It was one of those moments in life where you feel like you have to pinch yourself because you can’t believe it is real.

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Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 of my Costa Rican Adventure, Hoping that you all are having a great week and staying warm.

Peace Out–  HayUp

Avoiding Winter-Break Boredom

Christmas festivities are winding down, you have finished an entire netflix series, you are out of money from shopping, you have finally caught up on your sleep, your parents have gone back to work and you are home for 2 more weeks. Oh! And my personal favorite…your parents are threatening that if you don’t get off the couch you are going to have to go through all of your old childhood things (avoid that as long as you can).  Yep! I’ve been there and so have all my friends. My friends from home and I  have gotten pretty creative over the years trying keep ourselves entertained, spend time together and get ourselves out of the house, away from the leftovers. We are here to share our wisdom with you! This is to all the college freshman out there who literally have no idea what to do for another 2 weeks and are missing their friends from school.

Try to make a little extra money because, who can’t use an extra $10? Ask your family, grandparents, aunts, uncles or neighbors if they need some extra help getting things done. Bathe dogs, walk dogs, wash some cars, babysit, do some yard work, polish your dad’s “glory days” trophy collection or just go tap dance downtown. I guess you could say i had the “privilege” of bathing  my sister’s dog and now my gas tank has a few extra gallons in it.

Get outdoors! Try doing all the things you used to love to do as a kid. Rally the gang and ride some bikes, climb a tree, jump on a trampoline, ripstik, play tennis at the park, Rollerblade and take back your neighborhood streets from the new generation of munchkins.

Get creative. I would say that this is our specialty. We have made our own music videos, destroyed the kitchen baking cakes, played board games, dedicated a whole day to crafting for our dorm rooms and even tested out at-home kid’s science experiments. Now is the chance to unleash your weirdness and creativity because once college is over you are gonna be wishing for a random Wednesday to whip out the glue guns with your best friends.

Catch a weekday matinee movie…like I said, when is the next time you are going to be free on a Wednesday  afternoon to catch a cheap movie? Not to mention there are just some great movies out right now.

Explore your town! You are a student now so you get all kinds of discounts! Hit the museums, art galleries, local parks and town landmarks. I’m guessing that your local museum has changed a few exhibits since you went on a middle school field trip there. 

Hope this helps! And if none of these things work you can try starting a blog because I love it and it keeps you busy!

How do you Avoid Winter Break Boredom?

Enchanted Airlie Gardens

Airlie Gardens is a Wilmington trademark, featuring a 467 year old live oak, walking trails, wildlife, over 100,000 Azaleas and lakes all overlooking the North Carolina Coast. Every weekend from Thanksgiving till Christmas they host, Enchanted Airlie, one of their Christmas traditions and a huge attraction in Wilmington.They covered the gardens in beautiful and colorful Christmas lights and of course hosted Santa for kids to visit. After going there tonight with my parents and our closest family friends I now know why Enchanted Airlie is sold now for the rest of 2013. I give all the credit to my Dad for planning this and buying the tickets. Hopefully this will be a new family tradition. My Dad’s friend that was with us said, “Jack, you have made 2 good decisions in your life, marrying Beth (my mom) and coming to Enchanted Airlie.”

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what have you guys been up to?? Happy Holidays! — HayUp