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Bridge Day 2009 - 30th Anniversary.
Staring Miles Daisher, Ashley Mead and Alexander Polli.  

This was the 1st and only Traventure Man episode ever shot, but it was never completed it until just now.  I put Traventure Man on the shelf for about 3 years. I’m getting ready to move to California and I want to bring it back and take it up a notch. 

This 1st episode is rough, but I want to thank everyone that made it possible.  Hopefully it will stand as a little memory of a great day.  I know I made some good friends that day.

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Backyard Adventure: Winter Sledding

If you live in the upper Northern Hemisphere that can only mean one thing. SNOW!  Instead of staying indoors all winter, eating comfort food and complaining about the cold, why don’t you take advantage of the white fluffy stuff!

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the snow is to find a hill, any size will do, and go sledding.  Don’t give me the excuse that you are too old to enjoy this sport.  In fact, it’s a great way to bond with your kids and enjoy yourself in the process.  Walking up that hill in full winter garb will also burn off oodles of those Holiday calories.

BG SnowI just went sled riding myself.  I live in Bowling Green, OH, and if you’ve ever been through, you know that it is very flat topography!  There are no natural hills within miles.  However, there is a golf course on campus, and on the last hole there is a 50 foot high man-made hill that is perfect for sledding.

If you’re worried about spending money on a sled, think again.  My friends and I decided to use some unconventional objects that didn’t cost us a dime.  We took 2 large cookie sheets, 1 garbage can lid, and a giant 2’ x 5’ plastic tub out to the hill.  We soon found out that the plastic garbage lid did not work at all.  It just dug into the snow and stopped.  The 2 cookie sheets worked well if you went down the hill on your stomach, but if you sat on them you often ended up going down the hill backwards.

The ultimate sled was the giant tub.  It was big enough to fit two people!  We decided to pretend we were in the classic Jamaican bobsledding film Cool Runnings.  One of us would push the tub down the hill and then jump in the back.  The other sledder would steer with their hands by putting pressure on the ground.  It was similar to steering a kayak.  You just put your hand down on the side that you want to turn toward.

There were plenty of tense moments as we picked up speed on the hill and lost control.  About half of the time we would flip out of the tub near the bottom of the hill and go rolling for 20 feet.  Toward the end of the night we mastered our steering technique and we even managed to steer ourselves through an opening in a fence on the more “dangerous” side of the hill.  It was one heck of an adventure, and it was only 5 minutes away from my house.

So when the snow starts to fall, jump into some warm clothes, find the biggest plastic tub in the house. and run for the hills!  Happy Backyard Adventure!

If you have any Winter Sledding tales, please share them with us in the comment section below.

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Backyard Adventure Intro

Back Yard Adventure

I’m going to start posting a weekly section called, Backyard Adventure.  This will contain ideas for inexpensive ways to dip your toes into the waters of the adventure lifestyle.  Oh yeah, and most of them will be activities you can do in your own back yard.

I realize that not everyone has the time or money to make a lifestyle change as dramatic as becoming a wandering mountain climber.  But you can still experience the same level of excitement and connection to nature through mini-adventures!  Remember, you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy these either.  So break out of your stuffy shell and experience life a little.  Have fun, and who knows, maybe you’ll get hooked and set off on your own world-wide adventure!

Also, if you have any creative ideas for a Backyard Adventure, leave a comment or email me at john@traventureman.com.  Remember, keep it fun, cheap, and close to home.  Who knows, I might just post it in next weeks Backyard Adventure!


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Live at the 40 Watt and the Long Road Home

Day 3 of Our Southern Climbing Trip…

It was early afternoon and the rain was coming down at a steady pace as Nick and I rolled into Athens, Georgia.  The first thing that was on our minds was getting some quality Southern chow!

Weaver D'sAutomatic For The People

So naturally we rolled into the parking lot of a Slimer-green building, and went in to try the famous Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods.  It was a small place with several long tables laid out like you were at a family get-together.  Nick and I both ordered the fried Chicken, with sides of Catfish, mac and cheese, and collards.

It was my first time eating collards and I was a little nervous.  They looked a lot like boiled
seaweed to me, and smelled kinda funny.  I decided to taste them first, and after a couple of bites I was hooked.  They reminded me of spinach, of which I’m already a big fan.  Overall the food was pretty good.  It’s not a fancy place by any means, but it’s quick service and filling food.  I also learned that the band R.E.M. took the title of their 1992 album “Automatic for the People” from Weaver D’s motto.  Pretty cool, huh?

Soggy Doggies

Nautical BooksAfter satiating our hunger we moved on to downtown Athens.  The only way to really experience all of the cool shops, cafes and bars was to park the car and walk.  The rain was still coming down hard as we ran down the streets looking for something that piqued our interests.  First we stop into an old looking used book store.  Nick and I have a habit of visiting a bookstore or two in every town we drive through.  What can I say, books rock!

We hit up a great record shop, comic book store, and a cafe / bar.  All the while we were running back and forth through rain and puddles.  About an hour into running around town, I noticed that my feet were completely soaked through.  Yeah, it was wet out, but I didn’t think I stepped in anything deep enough to warrant such soggy sneakers!  I asked Nick if his feet were wet, and he said they were fine.  Well, after we got done doing some shopping and coffee drinking we went back to the car so I could change my shoes before I got trench foot.

When I pulled the shoes off I noticed that their bottoms were not completely covered in rubber like most soles!  The middle of the sole appeared to be woven hemp or some other material.  The water was able to go right up into my socks!  I love these Skecher shoes, but you think they would have come with a warning!  DO NOT WEAR IN THE RAIN!

Soggy Shoe

Live at the 40 Watt

After drying out and cooking another meal in the parking lot of a Sam’s club, we decided to go to the famous 40 Watt and rock out at their Christmas party.  The club was not very big.  There was medium size stage with about 10 round tables in front of it, just enough room for some dancing, and a nice long bar the length of the room.  Surprisingly there were very few people there that night.  I guess it’s because Athens is a college town, and everyone was at home for the break…

Lona at the 40 Watt

Anyway, there were some great southern alt-rock bands playing that night.  I forget the first two names, but the headliner was Lona.  They put on a great show and had a ton of energy.  They even managed to entice some dancers to the floor.  It was so cool standing in the place that the Drive-By Truckers (One of my favorite bands) recorded their live album, aptly named Live at the 40 Watt.

Overall, Athens was a blast.  It’s probably even more exciting when school is in session and thousands of students are roaming the streets.  Rain or shine, you should visit Athens for a good time!

Day 4 and The Long Road Home

The next day we got up late, around 11am.  We slept that night in a tent, for the first time on our trip.  The temperature went down to near freezing, but with a little space heater cranking all night we kept warm and cozy.  Most of the night I didn’t even need a blanket because it got so warm.  In the morning we showered, cooked some eggs, and hit the road by 1pm.

We were hoping to get one last climb in at Rock Town, GA on our way home.  Sadly, with our late start, it began getting dark just as we were nearing Rock Town.  Then to add insult to injury, the sunny skies turned gray and it began raining again.  Nick and I finally resigned to the fact that we would not be climbing anymore on this trip :(

La Fayette to BG MapWe remembered that we needed to get back in Bowling Green, OH by Sunday morning.  At this time it was already 5pm on Saturday and we were still in Georgia!  We had a 10 to 11 hour drive ahead of us!  We decided to grab some food and make the long push for home.

Thank you technology!  If it wasn’t for my iPhone and the ability to stream Pandora radio and Youtube videos into Nick’s car stereo, that would have been one long and monotonous trip home.  I took the wheel in Chatanooga to give Nick a break from his driving duties.  All went well until midway through Kentucky.  That’s when the snow started falling.

From that point, until we pulled off of the Bowling Green, OH exit ramp, it snowed.  There were a couple of times that I was gripping the steering wheel and hoping that the car wouldn’t lose traction, careening off of the mountainside.  In the end we got home without incident at four in the morning.  We unpacked some of my gear, hauled it up my stairs, I told Nick, “Awesome trip Bro, see ya later,” and within minutes I was out cold.

What a great trip! If any of you have been to Athens, GA or Chattanooga, TN let me hear your stories.  Until next time, Happy Traventures!

Related Posts

Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 1
Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 2

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Day 2: LRC & My First Flash

Well, we got a late start after a late night in Chattanooga.  Nick and I thanked Mark and Cindy for their hospitality, packed our gear back into the car, and headed for a place to eat.

Parking Lot Picnic

John at Bi-Lo'sWe had enough food packed for the week, so we decided to find a big parking lot to setup kitchen.  There was a nice big Bi-Lo’s just outside of downtown that had a quiet loading area.  We parked the Civic there and unloaded our cooking gear.  We had a Coleman PerfectFlow 2-Burner Stove for cooking our egg, cheese and mushroom omelets, and a Coleman 1-Burner Propane Stove for boiling hot water for tea and coffee.  We also slapped together some peanut butter sandwiches.

We had a few passers-by that gave us funny looks, and one group that jokingly asked if they could join us for lunch. This was our first parking lot picnic and it was a success!  No one tried to kick us out, and our fresh cookin’ was quite tasty!  Thanks Bi-Lo.

Back to LRC

It was some time after noon when we finally made it back to Little Rock City.  We hurried up, checked in, and ran back into the boulder field like little kids.  We decided to walk further into the field, knowing that we had a lot more time to explore this time around.  We found a couple of problems that we identified by chalk markings.  We gave them a go, but we were unable to get very far :(  We were still unsure of the problems, and we didn’t know if we were on a V1 or a V16…

We ended up searching around and trying a few other problems.  Eventually we decided to head back to the entrance of the boulder field to retry the problems we worked the night before.  I managed to get three quarters of the way up one of the high problems, but nearing 15ft high and unsure of where to go next I ended up backing down 2 times.  I never realized how high some of the boulders could get.  You never get to top out at the indoor rock wall, and I think the highest you ever get is about 10ft above the mats.

We found another group of climbers and worked a hard problem with them.  The one guy was a local and he nailed this V5 like it was nothing.  It’s amazing to watch the way experienced climbers move.  Their motion is very fluid and purposeful.  I know I catch myself jerking around a lot trying to force moves instead of using my balance.  I guess this will come with practice.

My First Flash

Later in the day we came to a nice high boulder with tons of good holds.  I’m not even sure if there was a set problem.  If there was it was probably a V0, but I was tired of not getting in more than a couple of moves so I gave this bad boy a go.

Big BoulderThe start of the problem was easy.  There were a bunch of sharp jugs that went in a diagonal up the rock face.  About half way up there were some slopers and pinch holds.  When I was about 5 feet from the top most of the obvious holds ran out.  I wasn’t sure where to go next and I was starting to tire out.  I looked down at Nick and realized I was pretty high up.  I didn’t want to jump from where I was, so I thought about down climbing for a second.

Nick encouraged me and I just went for it.  I’m not even sure what I grabbed onto.  I slapped my hands onto some slopers that didn’t look like they were possible to hold onto, but I managed to stick.  Those last few feet gave me a nice adrenaline rush.  If I would have slipped at that point I would have dropped close to 20ft.  Our little crash pad didn’t reassure me that I would have a safe fall.  Well, I managed to pull my self to the top and I was psyched!  I finally topped out my first boulder and flashed a problem.  Like I said, it was probably a V0, but it was a high one :)

Climb On

Nick ended up getting to the top of the same boulder from another route.  But when he got to the top he was worn out.  His arms were on the top of the boulder in front of him and there was nothing to grab onto.  I was doing my best to spot him, but there was not much I could have done if he fell other than try to push his body onto the crash pad.  Nick managed to down climb several feet and he launched off and landed safely on the pad.

We worked a few more routes before it got dark.  We left exhausted but hungry for more.  I can’t wait to climb outdoors again!

Q: Do any of you climbers out there remember your first time bouldering on real rock?  What was your experience like? Was it what you expected or were you surprised?

Wal-Mart Parking Lot

We ended up avoiding one night in a Wal-Mart parking lot, thanks to Mark and Cindy.  But on our second night in Chattanooga, TN we decided on giving the parking lot a shot.

It turned out to be a good night.  We played some Scrabble Slam and Boggle, and after reading Urban Climber Magazine we wend to bed.  I was a little uncomfortable at first, but after covering my head with a sweat shirt I fell fast asleep.  Thanks Wal-Mart!

And so closes Day 2…

Related Posts

Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 1
Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 3

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Little Rock City and Downtown Chattanooga

Wow!  Chattanooga Rocks!  Nick and I had such a blast on our trip down South.

Day 1

Cincinnati SkylineWe woke up at 4am, ate some food, packed up the car and left Bowling Green, OH for Chattanooga, TN.  It was a good long 9 hour drive.  We went through Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.  I’ve never been to Cinci.  There is an awesome view of downtown when you’re heading north on I-75.  That was enough to convince me to give it a visit in the future.

Hello Chattanooga

We arrived in Chattanooga around 2:30pm.  Our first stop was Tim’s house.  Tim and his wife are both great climbers, but since having 2 kids and some injuries, they have decided to focus on bicycling for the time being.  So Tim sold us one of his nice crash pads and some chalk for our bouldering trip at a really great price.  He also let us borrow some bouldering guidebooks from the Tripple Crown Bouldering Series, that way we could find our way around.  Thanks again Tim!

Little Rock City

After getting the last of our gear we raced to make it to Little Rock City before nightfall.  We arrived at the Montlake Golf Course at 4pm (sunset was 5:30pm).  We rushed to get our gear together, signed in at the club house and ran into the LRC boulder field that borders the course.

Once there, we were both simultaneously excited and at a loss.  Use to little colored tape markings on our routes at the indoor rock wall, we had a hard time locating boulder problems.  Luckily some friendly local climbers showed us the way.

We jumped on a couple of “easy” routes, some V0 / V1’s.  Well the first one was more difficult than expected.  The friction was great with the cool dry air, but it was just so different.  Nick managed to flash the second route that we tried, while I was still having a hard time.  I went back to the first route and made some progress.  We started playing around on another route and then the night quickly settled in.

Downtown Chatta

After our short, but exciting, bouldering experience we decided to go into downtown Chattanooga to get some food and drink.  We took The CragBaby’s advice and decided to check out the Tremont Tavern and it’s famous burgers.  CragBaby was right about the burgers!  They were huge and amazing.  Tremont Tavern also carried a large variety of beer that I never heard of.  There was a tasty Terrapin “Side Project Pumpkinfest” that was on specia, and your first glass was free!

The best part of Chattanooga was the people.  Everyone was friendly and talked to you like you were their long lost brother.  We met Pete, who just graduated with his MBA from the University of Georgia in Athens, GA.  He told us of his hard time trying to find a job in Chattanooga, some of his business ideas, and he helped us find out if the road to Rock Town, GA was repaved after being recently washed out.  We found out that it was, but we never made it. I’ll get to that later.

Then we met Mark and Cindy, two artists and teachers, who recently moved to Chattanooga.  We found out that they were originally from Toledo, OH and Michigan.  Mark new all about Bowling Green so we were quick to hit it off.  We had a few drinks and enjoyed the great company.

At some point Mark asked where we were staying that night.  Due to the lack of good camping sites in the area we decided to sleep in the car in a Wal-Mart parking lot.  Mark and Cindy joked with us about how cold it was going to get that night.  When we were ready to leave they offered us a place to stay at their home a few miles down the road.  After walking through the cold to another bar we decided to take them up on it!

Thanks Mark and Cindy!!!

Nick and I ended up staying up late with Mark listening to music we never heard of, checking out his art, and talking about Toledo and Chattanooga.  Thanks for the musical education Mark!  I never knew Jimi Hendrix had a Christmas album, and the Avett Brothers rock!

They offered us blankets, pillows, coffee and much needed showers. Thanks again Mark and Cindy!  Your place really beat the Wal-Mart parking lot :)

You can check out some of Mark’s art at www.mL2001.com.

Day 2 Coming Soon!

Related Links

Little Rock City
The CragBaby
Tremont Tavern
Terrapin Brewery
Marks Art

Related Posts

Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 2
Southern Bouldering Trip: Day 3

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Cooking Breakfast in Bi-Lo’s Parking Lot

Cooking Breakfast in Bi-Lo’s Parking Lot

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Bouldering is a Lifesyle

What is bouldering you ask?  Does it have something to do with rolling rocks down a hillside?  Well no, but that’s kinda half right.  It does have to do with rocks, BIG rocks!

Bouldering

Bouldering 1Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that usually takes place well below 20ft.  It is geared toward hard moves and technique instead of the endurance required for long sports or trad climbs.  Some climbers boulder as a form of practice for higher and longer climbs.  But there is a large group of climbers that choose bouldering as their main style of climbing.

Why Boulder?

Bouldering is one of the most intense and enjoyable workouts that you will ever experience.  You really need to be in tune with your body and mind when you climb.  There is a reason that they call bouldering routes “problems”.  They may be short, but they require very specific and precise movements to complete them.  You become very aware of your body position and your balance.  The success of completing a hard problem keeps you motivated and coming back for more.

Bouldering is great, even for beginners, because it requires little investment in gear and less danger from a high fall than one could experience in other forms of climbing.  It still holds its dangers, of course, like falling from six feet and hitting your head off of a rock.  Ouch!  But with proper safety, these kind of injuries can be avoided.

Bouldering GearMost boulderers only have a chalk bag, a pair of climbing shoes, and a crash pad.

  • The chalk is used for keeping ones hands dry.  When your hands get sweaty or wet, climbing certain types of rock can become very difficult.
  • Climbing shoes are made with special rubber that is durable and sticky in comparison to your everyday kicks.
  • A crash pad is a thick piece of foam that works great for softening your fall.  Even though you may not be very high above the ground, many times your body is horizontal, or even upside-down.  Falling from those positions can be dangerous on rough terrain without a pad.

Bouldering 2Bouldering connects you with nature.  Of course you can boulder indoors at most climbing gyms, there are even huge gyms dedicated specifically to bouldering, but bouldering outdoors is where the magic happens.  It’s a time where you can leave behind technology and your everyday worries.  It’s a time to take in the world around you.  And it’s a great way to connect with the raw physical forces of the universe.  Man, one with rock.

Bouldering is also a great way to meet new and interesting people.  In the short amount of time that I have spent climbing I have found that other climbers are some of the friendliest and most helpful people that I have met.  You could be climbing a new route and someone that you never met will begin giving you encouragement and suggestions.  The passion for climbing is a glue that quickly builds bonds between fellow climbers.

Bouldering Videos!

Believe it or not, there are tons of great bouldering and climbing videos out there.  Most of them are also made using great style and technique.  For bouldering specific videos check out www.modump.com.  For all kinds of climbing videos check out www.ucmag.tv.  You can also search climbing and bouldering on YouTube and Vimeo and find plenty of great videos!

Here is one of my favorite Vimeo videos by sébastien montaz-rosset:

Where to Boulder

There are many places to go bouldering around the country and around the world!  You can start by finding a nearby climbing gym.  It’s a great way to get some climbing experience and meet people that know where good outdoor climbing is available.  This website, www.indoorclimbing.com, is a great reference for indoor gyms.

Unless you live in the middle of the Great Plains you are probably within a few minutes to a couple of hours of a great outdoor bouldering location.  Do a web search for your area and climbing or bouldering to find information on great locations.  Finding outdoor sites is where those friends you made at the gym can come in handy :)  Oh, yeah, and remember to obey trespassing laws.  Do not climb on private property without written permission!

Traventure Down South

The South East is a great area for winter climbing.  In fact that is where my friend Nick and I are going this week.  The temperature will be in the low 50s during the day and dip into the low 30s at night.  The colder the temperature, the better the friction on the rock.  We are going to go to Little Rock City in Tennessee and Horse Pens 40 in Alabama.  We are super exited to climb outdoors and meet some great people.  We will probably also check out some of the sites in Chattanooga and perhaps Birmingham.  So make sure to check back this week for posts, pictures and maybe some video :)

Call to action!!!

Stop sitting around and plan your first climbing experience!!!  See you on the rocks!

*Note:  The photos of climbers used on this site come from Google Images.  I do not own the rights to them and I’m using them for illustration only.  If you find that I am using your photos and you would like me to take them down, please let me know.  If not, send me your name and website and I’ll give you credit.  Thanks in advance :)

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“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”
— Ad placed by Ernest Shackleton
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Way Down Yonder in Chattanooga…

Okay, those aren’t exactly the lyrics, but that is where I will be going in a couple of weeks.  My good friend Nick and I are driving down I-75 from Bowling Green, Ohio to Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Ever notice how many double letters are in that name???

Our new found indoor wall climbing addiction is what lead us to pick this location.  That and the fact that we have never been to this part of the country.  True we have done all of our climbing to date on fake rock, but we are hoping that the weather holds out so we can do some Southern Outdoor Bouldering.  Right now it’s pretty cold in TN (42°F), so we may have to go souther :)

Triple Crown Bouldering

Triple Crown BoulderingChattanooga is one of the homes of the Triple Crown Bouldering Series.  It’s a rock climbing event hosted by Southeastern Climbers’ Coalition and The Carolina Climbers’ Coalition.  It takes place in 3 locations within 3 months - Hound Ears in Boone, NC, Horse Pens-40 in Steele, AL, and then Stone Fort in Chattanooga, TN.  We will be missing the event by 2 weeks, but we hope to meet some awesome people and experience bouldering on real rock for the 1st time.

New Shoes

5.10 VMileI just got some new 5.10 VMILE climbing shoes in the mail today, and I’m going to break them in on Sunday at the wall.  Actually I’m wearing them right now!  They are pretty tight, but bearable, so hopefully they will break in just right.  It’s scary buying climbing shoes online without being able to try them on.  But there is no one that sells them near me.  A shame, I say!

We are also looking for some used crash pads.  Most of them are really expensive brand new, so if you know anyone that has one or two, let me know ASAP!

The PlansUrban Krag Wall

Our plans are pretty loose (I’m holding back from quoting The Office). If everything works out as planned, we are leaving Wednesday, December 16th.  First up, we are considering hitting up Urban Krag, a climbing gym in Dayton, Ohio.  It looks amazing!  It’s built in a renovated church and blows away the wall at BGSU in terms of size.  We want to scope it out for some future weekends of climbing, and get our blood flowing before the long push south.

Next we are going to continue down I-75 all the way to Chattanooga.  Along the way we may stop to see some sites and grab some food.  We will keep our eyes and iPhones open for exciting side trips.

Once in Chattanooga we will be looking for bouldering locations and people to climb with / interview.  We’re keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that we get some sunny 60 degree weather!  If we can’t make it outside we have two options: Climb at some of the great indoor facilities in Chattanooga, or drive south into Georgia or Alabama to find better weather and dry rocks.

Either way it should be an adventure.  As always I will send you photos, video, and posts along the way.  If there is anything you want to know about climbing or the locations, let me know by commenting or tweeting me here.  If I don’t know the answer, I will find someone in Chattanooga that does!

Related Links

www.chattanoogafun.com
www.triplecrownbouldering.org
www.urbankrag.com

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