How to be Spontaneous: Tips for Unexpected Trips…

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden

Spontaneous Road Trip to New Orleans, LouisianaHaving the freedom, and the courage, to say YES when unexpected opportunities present themselves is one of the great joys in life.  Some of the greatest adventures are the unplanned twists, turns and deviations from our chosen path.  So many of us turn a blind eye to these spontaneous opportunities because we are scared or unprepared to take on the unknown.  With a little preparation and confidence, we can more easily approach these forks in the road and take the path less traveled…

Road Trip sign stop "How 'Bout Them Nuts?"On our recent accidental trip to New Orleans, we were fairly unprepared for such a detour.  Ultimately, that didn’t hold us back and we made the trip anyway and had an amazing time.  We were able to stop and grab most of the items that we thought we needed from a common grocery store, but had we packed the items ahead of time the decision would have been even easier.

“Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.” – John McLaughlin

That got me thinking about putting together a simple “Go Bag” that would include some basic essentials for spontaneous trips.  I thought about the things we needed and asked around for more suggestions and came up with a pretty basic list of items that would be easy to keep in a small bag in your car for those unexpected cross-country road trips.

The Go Bag:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tissue
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Water bottle
  • Deodorant (via Beth)
  • Sunscreen (via Jennifer)

Spontaneous Detour to Punxsutawney, PennsylvaniaWe also came up with a list of items that should go with you anytime you head out, just in case you need them.  Sometimes, something as simple as taking spare shoes or an extra jacket will allow you to be better prepared to accept a spontaneous adventure.  It helps knowing that you have some basic items “just in case you need them”.

And again, being prepared will make it easier to be spontaneous and add adventures to your schedule without stress or worry.

Day Trip Essentials:

  • Change of Clothes
  • Layers (jacket, sweater, etc)
  • Snacks
  • Extra Water
  • Cash
  • Camera
  • Multi-Tool
  • Phone Chargers
  • Local Maps
  • Prescription Medications ( via Anthony)
  • Plastic bags (via Jennifer)
  • Pen/Pencil and paper (via Jennifer)

Being prepared for a spontaneous road trip also means keeping your vehicle maintained and ready to cover some miles.  Always start with a full tank, keep basic oils and fluids in the trunk and always carry a roadside emergency kit.  My wife also keeps an emergency bag in the trunk with extra water bottles, blankets, sweater, hat, gloves, and food.

What do you keep in your car for unexpected adventures?  What would you add to these lists?

New Orleans: An Unexpected Journey…

It started out simple enough…

I was in Houston for Christmas and Merelyn had a couple of days off for New Years.  We hadn’t really made plans for anything so we decided to head to Galveston for some quick beach time and then head home for a quiet New Year’s Eve together.  Then, about a half an hour into our drive, Merelyn said, “You know…we could just drive to New Orleans for New Year’s.”

Now, she’s mentioned driving to New Orleans before.  It’s only about 6 hours away and neither of us have been there.  It could be fun, but every time we’ve looked into it we’ve decided not to go.  I knew it was something she wanted to do before leaving Houston.  So when she threw the suggestion out there (half joking I’m sure), I took the bait.

“Is there any reason why we couldn’t go right now?”

We went through the list: No clothes, no toothbrush, the cats didn’t have enough food, etc.  None of those reasons, I argued, would be a problem in the next 24 to 36 hours.  We could drive to New Orleans, be there in time for dinner and hang out for New Year’s, maybe spend the night then drive home.  No problem.  Merelyn seemed a little surprised and scared that I was actually accepting her challenge but I thought it would be FUN!

As quick as that, we changed our plans from a few hours in Galveston to an overnight trip to New Orleans.  We made a quick stop at the Johnson Space Center then headed East.

We were both so excited to be on this spontaneous adventure that the drive was easy.  Merelyn was excited to be exploring and I was excited to get out of Texas and see some of Louisiana.  We usually have a good time on road trips, laughing and talking and exploring the sights.  This was no different and the added excitement of just going, without a plan, made it all that much better.

Action in the French Quarter - New Orleans

beautiful New OrleansAbout an hour outside of New Orleans we started looking for a hotel (we found none for a reasonable price) and a bank so we could grab some cash.  We found a bank next to a grocery store, so we grabbed some cash and did a quick run for some essentials (toothbrushes and beer).  Then we were off to explore the French Quarter!

We parked in the sketchiest of sketchy parking garages where they were packing cars in like it was a contest.  I was convinced they were going to keep piling cars in until the rickety, rust-bucket structure collapsed.  We paid our $20 and high-tailed it to Bourbon Street, right in the heart of the French Quarter, where the action was just picking up steam.

Even through the thick, drunken crowds of Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is charming.  We grabbed a beer and walked up and down the streets and alleyways checking out the architecture and looking through the windows of the shops and galleries.  We got away from the crowds a little bit and took our time sight-seeing.  We walked down to the waterfront and walked along the river for a while.  Then ventured back into the rabble and checked out a few bars and pubs, had a couple more drinks and a snack.

Getting ready for Midnight -  New OrleansCloser to midnight we headed back down to the riverfront park and waited for the big fireworks show.  It was cold and I had offered up my jacket to keep my wife from getting chilled.  We hung out on a grassy rise, looking out over the Mississippi, holding each other close to stay warm.  It’s been difficult these past couple years spending so much time apart.  So when midnight came, there was a sweet and simple triumph in getting to kiss my wife at the ringing in of the New Year while fireworks painted the night sky…in New Orleans.

Spur of the moment adventures can be full of magic and excitement.  There’s nothing better than ending your day in a totally unexpected and amazing way.  That morning, we had a modest plan and no expectations and we ended our night with a magical moment in a new city.  I can only hope that throughout our marriage we make time for many more spontaneous adventures together.

New Year's Fireworks - New Orleans

I loved our New Orleans adventure, does anyone else have any awesome, unexpected, spontaneous adventures they can share?

Gear Review: Zamberlan Boots…

My name is Jabon and I am a wilderness explorer and photographer now living in the Phoenix area. I have spent my entire life exploring.  Starting as a child camping with my family in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, I later relocated to Colorado Springs. Colorado is filled with epic adventures and I quickly got hooked on climbing 14’ers (14,000 foot tall plus mountains). I was deeply bitten by the summit bug and have climbed the highest mountains in Colorado, California, and Arizona. Now living in the warm desert of southern Arizona, I have discovered the mystique of Indian Ruins and petroglyphs left behind by the native tribes of the Hohokahm, Salado, and Sinagua to name a few. I spend hours investigating images and leads to hidden gems of the southwest then plan excursions in to the wilderness to find them.

Zamberlan Boots in ColoradoWhile in Colorado I worked as a fireman and assisted in search and rescue cases.  I also worked a few major wild land fires including the biggest in Colorado’s history. I relied heavily on very diverse and specialized equipment to perform my job with confidence and to explore in comfort. Having used a wide array of outdoor gear, I have learned to become especially critical of my choices before each purchase. This is what led me to the Italian footwear company, Zamberlan.

The first premium hiking boot I ever purchased was a pair of leather Zamberlan boots. I had previously avoided slushy spring time hiking to avoid inevitably cold, soggy boots.  When I was ready to make my purchase, I walked into a local sporting goods store in Colorado Springs and reached to the top shelf for a rugged looking boot named Zamberlan Civetta. This began my love affair with Zamberlan boots.  Over the next ten years, climbing and hiking more than 1000 miles in the Colorado Rockies, these boots always did what I pushed them to do allowing me to focus on the trip and destination. This suddenly changed when I realized I had worn my boots out! The Vibram lugs were worn smooth. The leather uppers, which I had religiously waterproofed every season, had become paper thin from countless scuffs and abrasions. I was in denial and tried to keep these old boots alive with glue but they had finally succumbed to the abuse.

Zamberlan Boots hikingI then began the quest to replace my favorite boots and was impressed with the new features and advances Zamberlan had made. There are many new models to suit any footwear need.  I laid my eyes on the Vioz GT and read through the specs.  The Zamberlan Vioz GT represents cutting edge technology carefully crafted with age old techniques dating back to just after World War I. Giuseppe Zamberlan began shoe production in 1929 after a short time as a shoe repairman and the design and manufacture of these products reflects his love of the mountains. Zamberlan was an early adopter of Vibram soles for his footwear and these technologies come together with time tested synergy. The full grain leather upper treated with HydroBloc and the Gore-Tex lining make these a truly waterproof boot.

True to form, my second pair of Zamberlan boots has carried me to high mountain peaks and scrambled down red sandstone to splash in the rivers bellow. The Zamberlan Vioz GT’s are equipped with the toothy Zamberlan Vibram 3D soles which are made of a softer rubber than the old style Vibram sole, therefore they grip with more assurance.   These new soles bite into any surface allowing me to climb virtually anything that stands in my way, fulfilling my childhood comic book superhero fantasies.

Each and every Zamberlan product is made entirely in Italy and are designed and tested by the Zamberlan family. The modern technology such as Gore-tex membranes, Hydrobloc leathers, and Vibram 3D rubber soles are on the long list of features Zamberlan incorporates in their footwear. User comfort is ensured by minimal torsional flex and a solid heel cup. This is noticeable when walking on grapefruit sized rocks as the stability of the boot reduces stress on the ankle. I have found the factory laces have to be double knotted or they loosen up.  However when replaced with a simple flat lace, they stopped creeping on me.

Zamberlan Boots in snow and waterEven after 14 hours of pounding feet along a trail, these comfortable boots are the last thing I take off before zipping up the sleeping bag. I have now owned the Vioz GT for 3 years and have worn them in 115 degree desert heat, summited Arizona’s Humphrey’s Peak in the rain, and hiked in cold, snowy canyons all in perfect comfort. Every time I lace up my Zamberlan boots and point them towards the next adventure, I can’t help but feel a bit nostalgic, walking on more than 80 years of Italian tradition and quality.