This is part of the annual review process for 2016. I’m separating out the travel and adventure moments of the year to share more about them. You’ll find the description of events, followed by photos, followed by videos recorded in several of the locations.
One interesting reminder about adventure was made apparent when professional adventurer Dave Cornthwaite (Episode 60) and I were sharing the stage talking about adventure. He is so poetic about his experiences, which is in stark contrast to the scientific and formulaic way I approach adventure and talking about them. The point for me was people can have widely different experiences of an adventure, but the importance is nearly universal.
Previous posts in the review process:
Adventures and Travels in 2016:
- Face to face with a mountain lion on the Santa Rosa Plateau, California. I was running in the Santa Rosa plateau in southern California after a long day on the computer. Santa Rosa is this big nature reserve up about 1000 feet in elevation from Murrieta, CA. The reserve is a big grassy plain like an African savanna, dotted with single trees and little groves and rocky outcrops. I would run there every night at sunset for the month I lived there. I hardly ever saw other people, and on this particular day, I was running for longer (90 minutes or so) and listening to a podcast. The podcast was reminding me how we pick up on the subtle cues from other people about how confident and comfortable they are, and we can improve these cues by learning to be at home in our own skin. I thought it was ironic that I was listening to a podcast instead of my body and so I turned it off. Little did I know how important that would be. I spent the next hour running through the hills, listening to my breathing, the crunch of my feet on the trail, the wind in the grass, and eventually, the coyotes howling as the sun set. As I headed for home, I spied an animal in the trail ahead of me. It slinked off the trail as I got closer, and I couldn’t see it clearly, so I assumed it was one of the coyotes. As I approached the spot where the animal was, I looked over to see if I could see it walking off. To my surprise the animal was just 20 feet off the trail. I was even more surprised when I looked closer and observed that it was not a coyote at all but a MOUNTAIN LION!!!—and it was sitting and staring at me! I stopped dead in my tracks and did a double take. I felt the hair on the back of my neck go up. But I was not afraid. And neither was the lion. It didn’t run away, and it didn’t eat me (thank you!). Why? Well, I’m not a lion, but here’s what I think was going on. Given that we know up to 93% of human communication is nonverbal, animals would highly attuned to any physical cues we give off. And I had just spent the last hour in a moving meditation, becoming one with myself and the environment around me by running. So in that moment, I was so neutral in my presence that the lion was simply curious about me. It was a good minute before either of us moved, and I slowly walked away, keeping an eye on the lion. As I rounded the bend and got out of sight, I started yelling and laughing. I felt like the most powerful man in the world. The next day I talked to the park interpreter about the lion. He has been working at Santa Rosa for 20 years and never encountered one. This story is featured in a new book I Co-authored called the Better Business Book.
- New Countries: Belgium and China. We stopped in China for a day on our way to the US from Bali. highlights include strolling through the gardens, visiting one of the four ancient towers of China, and the Tea Market of the South where we spent hours in tea ceremony and bought lots of amazing Puerh tea cakes. I was in Belgium for a coupe week to Keynote at the first annual Travel Storytelling Festival. I met lots of great adventurers there, many of whom became guests on the podcast.
- Redwoods National Park, California. California is now one of my favorite states – from the coast to the desert and the forest to the canyons, the geography has brilliant variety. We knew we needed to make a pilgrimage to the Redwood forests (after the magic tree experience in Bali), and my parents flew in for a week of camping to meet Heidi. What better way to get to know someone than go camping with them? One day as I sat thinking by myself in the forest I realized that the ugliest tree was the most interesting – I thought this was a great analogy – don’t try to make everything perfect, life is more interesting when you can see the flaws.
- Joshua Tree National Park, California. I had U2 running through my head the whole time I was here. Heidi’s grandmother is a regular Goergia O’keefe – living in the desert and painting and hiking each day. We spent time in the park at sunset (best sunset I’ve ever seen) and again the next morning before sunrise. I had an amazing time climbing the rocks and would be happy to spend weeks here. I’m still undecided whether I like Redwoods or Joshua Tree N.P better.
- Tucson, Arizona. Highlights include hiking among the saguaro cactus and eating cactus fruit, hiking at the top of Mt. Lemon (which has multiple ecosystems as you ascend, from cactus desert to pine forests), and touring indian jewelry shops.
- Gamboling in the Hallerbos, Belgium. One week a year the Bois de Halle or Hallerbos forest floor turns blue with wildflowers and makes for some amazing flolicking and photography. We hitched a car ride out with friends from the Travel Storytelling Festival
- Touristing in Brugges, Belgium. Bruges is a nice 400 year old city and know as the Venice of Belgium due to the canals that run through the city. It’s where I got my hands on some Westvleteren 12, the “best beer in the world”
- AdventureQuest in Bali. We did the first version of AdventureQuest in April, based at Bali Eco Stay. You can read my write up about the experience here. Bali Eco Stay is in the central Kintamani region and one of my favorite places on the Island due to its altitude, which makes everything cooler, and the slower pace of life. We had some great rice terrace, cacao grove, and rainforest hikes, and had some of the best Balinese food we’ve tried
- Uluwatu and the Bukit Peninsula, Bali. This is the southernmost part of the island and the last part of Bali that I had not explored. We drove down in the morning intending to surf, and the waves perfect, just too big. Much better to watch the collection of top international surfers while sipping a coconut.
- Wreck diving, Tulamben, Bali. The USAT Liberty is sunk just of the coast of Tulamben, and makes for easy access to a well preserved ship. There are some confined spaces to explore, making it close to cave diving without the risk.
- Ozark River Canoeing, USA. The Ozark Scenic Riverways are the first US national park system to preserve a wild and free river system. Many of the rivers of the Ozarks are spring fed and flow year round.
- Camping on the slopes of Mt. Shasta. We heard from many hippies and spiritual types that Shasta was a place of special energy. I have no idea what that means other than it is a stunningly massive mountain and beautiful. It had a fresh coat of last summer snow when we arrived and we were able to catch the sunset from Bunny Flats.
- Vision Quest in Montana. I spent three days fasting and camping in the hidden lakes region near Big Sky, Montana. I did some exploring, but mostly meditated and journaled about becoming a father. I did jump in a glacial lake and nearly freeze myself! It felt great for about 30 minutes after, but even though I warmed up with a fire, I was cold for the next 12 hours!
- Battle of the Little Big Horn, MT. On my drive to Colorado from Montana, I made a pilgrimage to the battle of the little big horn, which I read about firsthand in Black Elk Speaks.
- Camping at Hawn state park, just days before Axel was born. My parents went camping the day before I was born back in 1983 and when it became clear that Axel was taking his sweet time, we decided to camping at the exact same campground with the hopes that it would initiate labor. It took a few more days after that for labor to begin, so we had time to visit Cahokia Mounds as well – the largest archeological site in North America, and home to the Mississippian Indian civilization from 800-1400 AD.