Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago I embody and embrace most of the deep dish pizza eating, hard vowel pronouncing, and prairie loving, flatlander stereotypes that exist. However, my connection to city-life ends there, due in large part to childhood family vacations to the lakes, rivers, and forests of the northwoods of Wisconsin and Michigan. These wonderful times were the inspiration for the “happy thoughts” mantra my parents would repeat to me every night as a child. In an effort to ward off bad dreams they would whisper while putting me to bed, “swimming, fishing, boating, vacation.” In addition to providing me with peaceful dreams, these four simple words have influenced much action and direction in my life since.
After high school I left the suburban grid to attend the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse where I studied English Literature and Recreation. Situated on the banks of the Mississippi River, this labyrinth landscape of bluffs, wetlands, and meandering streams became my playground, my inspiration and the physical embodiment of the “happy thoughts” mantra. The words of natural writers like Aldo Leopold, Ernest Hemingway, and Kathleen Norris sang my song as I explored this natural landscape by foot, canoe, and bike. This in combination with a wonderful experience as a trip leader for the University’s outdoor program inspired me continue my outdoor pursuits semi-professionally after graduation. Perhaps in hopes that in time I will have experiences of the natural variety worth filling a book with.
After two years of working various jobs across the northern U.S. from Vermont to Alaska, I am excited for my first lengthy stint in the Southwest. Still a student of literature, I have discovered natural authors of the Southwest well on par with their northern counterparts. The words of Edward Abbey and Willa Cather provide anchor for my interpretation and enjoyment of the technicolor cliffs and the lonely slots that grace this landscape. In my off time you may find me banging out miles on the park trails, slogging through canyons, destroying my legs while biking the slickrock atop Gooseberry Mesa, or asking my friends and co-workers ridiculous hypothetical questions. For example:
If you were to create a triathlon in which the three events favored your greatest abilities, what would your three events be?
• Remembering song lyrics
• Waking up on-time without an alarm
• Riding my bike no-handed