The Jetta rolled to a stop near the curb just outside of baggage claim at Dane County Regional Airport. Through the salt stained windshield my wife’s beaming smile shined bright as the sun. After a week of travel I couldn’t have been happier to see her as suddenly a song from my childhood came streaming through my mind.
“Whenever I see your smiling face, I have to smile myself because I love you, yes, I do.”
The James Taylor tune put a bounce in my step as I tossed my bags into the back seat. So grateful for her support and encouragement I felt a little pang of guilt as I leaned over the gear shift to give her a kiss hello.
“I’m sorry we’re going to be right back here in less than 24 hours,” I said.
Shamane rolled her eyes, still smiling as she pulled into traffic. “It’s OK,” she said. “I can handle it. This is your dream.”
I don’t think anyone dreams of living out of a suitcase. After more than a decade as a traveling salesman I really thought I had put that part of my life behind me. But now as a published author I’m back on the road again working to build awareness for the issues of diversity in outdoor recreation and environmental conservation detailed in my new book “The Adventure Gap: Changing the Face of the Outdoors”. Instead of tents, sleeping bags and hiking boots I’m selling an idea. Regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status or political inclination the outdoors is for everyone to enjoy.
So here I am in Denver, Colorado on the next stop of a tour of college campuses across the U.S. I have presentations lined up to tell the story of African-American explorers and adventurers who have played critical roles in the protection and preservation of wilderness. Connecting with high school kids and college students it’s my hope to both inform and inspire the interest of young people to embrace and explore the outdoors. And even though I’ll spend most of my time on this trip in airports, behind the wheel of a rental car and scrounging for free WiFi in coffee shops my purpose in all of this is to get everyone that I encounter to experience nature in whatever way they can.
Leading by poor example I’m most eager to connect with people whose schedules and priorities, like mine lately, limit their abilities to spend time outside. As much as I hate having these blog posts be about me I think it’s important to communicate to aspiring writers some of the realities they’ll encounter when on their first book tour. This is my experience and I’m curious to know what others do to make the most of their time on the road.
Regardless of your profession or where you work low temperatures on these cold winter days make it hard to get motivated. Long hours on the job or time spent in school take precedence over moments playing at games in the snow, hiking wooded trails or skiing over powdery slopes. Even though wild places can be found right out your backdoor the expense of financial resources or physical energy often seems too high a price to pay. But through my years of life I’ve learned that when it comes to our health and wellness as human beings it is critical to take at least a few minutes every day to experience nature and hopefully get a little exercise.
To practice at least some of what I preach I bought myself a FitBit. The tiny device straps to my wrist and monitors my daily activity. While on the road I’m using this technology to get in at least 10,000 steps a day, restrict my calorie intake to only as many as I’m prepared to burn and drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water. It’s a modest effort to stay healthy while encouraging others to do the same. Little did I realize when I started this effort that I would be in the inspiration business, but here I am. I hope those who follow this blog and my work in general will help me stay motivated with their questions, comments and suggestions. We’re all in this together and working as a team we just might me a difference.
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