Monday, May 27, 2013

Home Sweet RV

You guys have probably figured out we do a lot of driving with our new gig with BP ... we have logged 6,500 miles in the first month!!

This whole tour came together quickly and there were a few details that were unknown until the last minute, including what vehicle we would be traversing the country in. Well, one of our sponsors, Now Energy Bar, came through for us and offered for us to drive around their converted Dodge Sprinter van. We didn't really know what a "converted Sprinter van" meant and when you google it, you get lots of different possibilities. But when we showed up in Colorado to pick it up, this is what we saw:

It has a couch that turns into a queen-sized bed, a TV (we have yet to try to use that), a microwave, a fridge, a 2-burner stovetop, a shower, a toilet, a sink, surround sound radio, AC/heat and a generator ... holy macaroni. We definitely scored on this one. Too bad we have to give it back in October!

Oh, in case you are wondering what happened to our other vehicles. The Malibu is tucked away in storage and we turned the Trailblazer into this ...

Friday, May 24, 2013

It's Not Your 9 to 5 Job

10 days since my last post, but it feels more like 20 days because of everything we packed in! Sorry folks, I can't just blog about one thing anymore, it's going to be a package deal for awhile. Who would have thought being a professional backpacker was this busy??

We have now given our 3rd presentation (in Greensboro, NC) and feel really good about the whole tour. I feel so invigorated when standing up in front of the audience. 

Last weekend, we were at Trail Days in Damascus, VA. Yes, the Trail Days where an older gentleman plowed through the hiker parade. I was actually driving the BP vehicle to lead the hikers and the parade went on for awhile knowing there was some sort of emergency at the back of the parade, but not knowing how serious it was. But then the chaos ensued and the parade ended early. Trail Days is an incredibly happy go-lucky event, so the mood inevitably changed. BP does a HUGE giveaway on Saturday evening, so we tried to bounce back, but it was hard. 

Despite the events, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We were there helping the other BP Ambassador team (Get Out More) and it was oodles of fun. We learn from Shandy (beloved nickname for them) every moment we spend with them and it is a natural friendship to boot! 

It was also great to be on the "giving" side. You all know J & I have entered a fair share of gear giveaway contests, but it is a more amazing feeling to be able to give out. The added bonus was seeing all our hiker friends, especially those we met at the hostel!!!! 

Straight from Trail Days, we headed into the mountains of North Carolina to meet up with BP writer Peter Rives for a "guided" hike up Mount Mitchell, the highest peak in the East (6,684 feet & high point #29 for us!!). You can drive up to the summit of Mt. Mitchell, but we took the road less taken of course and did a 12.5-mile overnight trek to get there. We lucked out for weather … a thunderstorm rolled through as soon as we hit camp, so we set up just in time to stay somewhat dry. The next day, it stayed clear enough to catch most of the sick views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Definitely a rewarding hike. 

After conquering Mitchell, we headed to Danville to prep for our next presentation and of course got to visit with a bunch of friends! Always a good homecoming there. But, the coolest thing was that the local TV station decided to do a short segment on US!! Click here to watch!

We are now headed to Virginia Beach for a little R&R. We have a lot of work to catch up on, but we will mix in some visiting with family!

Oh, and I'm still saving the unveiling of our ride for its very own post … so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Coast to Coast Celebrations

We are now 2 presentations in with 6,000+ miles driven across 16 states, all in 2 weeks. To say it's been busy is an understatement! But we are happy.

I have lots of updates, but a few take precedence over others.

As we mentioned, we are going to see a lot of friends as we traverse the country. Sometimes, it will be for 5 minutes, so don't get too excited.

But in these past 2 weeks, we got to be a part of 2 important life events in our travels.

In Colorado, Jamie, aka SILAdventure, and Rachel, aka DocDoc, got unionized! They were the 210th couple in CO to enter into a civil union. They will have a more formal celebration in August with friends and family, but we were happy to be able to be there to witness their commitment. 

In Connecticut, Sarah, our niece who looks like the daughter I won't have, made her First Communion! It was nice to be able to check in with family, even if it was for less than 24 hours. 

We also hit our 28th high point! We were driving along and realized we were very close to Iowa's Hawkeye Point (elevation 1,670 feet). Yes, we still use maps people. So off we went. Iowa definitely takes pride in their high point and have created a whole little park area for it! What's even cooler is they have signs posted for all the high points showing how far they are!

As for our new BP role, we are settling in and embracing life on the road. Don't worry, I will do a whole separate post at some point to describe what it's like to wake up and not know what time zone you are in. Oh, and to show you our ride/new home; that is WAY cool. 

I think the most ironic thing about our BP role is that social media is a HUGE part of it. J was forced to break his streak of not jumping on the book of Face, as he calls it. Although, he inevitably had a presence because of me all along, whether he liked it or not. But, we are now fully emerged in all things social media. Let's ignore the fact that my 19-year-old cousin had to give us a tutorial on how to set up a twitter account … so maybe fully emerged is not the right word. 

In any case, you can find us on our website, on the book of Face (aka Facebook), on Twitter, on YouTube. Find us anywhere basically. 

We are now on our way to Trail Days and will stay in one place for more than 24 hours. Can't wait to interact with all our beloved AT hikers and spread the good word of the outdoors!!!!!

Friday, May 3, 2013

On the road again ...

We gave our very first Gear & Go presentation for BP in Minneapolis and it was a success! We had about 25 people there, which was a perfect-sized crowd for our first event. People laughed at our jokes and stories and came up to us afterwards to thank us for the information. And, of course, they loved the free gear we gave out! It was an exhilarating feeling and we look forward to the 19 other stops we are making on the tour. 

 We were so thankful to have our mentors and other team (Get Out More) with us this week to guide us along and get us int the groove. They have already become great friends!!

Of course J & I are still pinching ourselves that we work for BP and are, essentially, professional backpackers. But I think what strikes me more than anything is that I am a public speaker for a living. 

When I was younger, I used to think I wanted to be a broadcast journalist. I took steps to try to get me there. For example, I was in a forensics club somewhere around 5th to 7th grade. This club wrote short stories and got together and gave mock presentations by memorization. One time, I was giving my presentation on "If I Were a Raisin" (my creativity has since improved) and I froze like a prune (this is where you LOL). I was so paralyzed with nerves that I had to take a moment out of the room to regroup (thankfully my mom was with me and helped me). I came back and did a fabulous job.

But I never forgot that moment and sometimes when I am going to speak in front of an audience, I wonder what will happen if I freeze. I have done so much public speaking since then. I used to teach life skills to a room full of male prisoners for goodness sake's! There is no easy answer to overcoming nerves, but I do believe that after this summer, I will be able to say my comfort level has skyrocketed. 

Another awesome part of our job is the constant road trip we will be on. This means we will get to see friends and family at almost every stop!!! The visits may short, but they will definitely be sweet!

Bye bye Minneapolis, next stop Colorado! Are we coming to a city near you??? Check out our Facebook page ( to like us and find out!