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Narratives Worth Exploring

Africa, Charitable Giving, Climbing, Destinations, Ethiopia, Yosemite / 18.09.2010

I turned 44 today. And while I write this I'm sitting on a toilet with my laptop in the lavatory of a dark hotel room in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Don't draw any salacious implications from my current predicament. I needed a quiet place to work so as not to wake my roommate, climber and writer Majka Burhardt. She’s asleep in the next room. And don’t get any funny ideas about that either. I’m on the roll away. For the next several days she’s my friend, guide and traveling companion through not only the wild outback of Ethiopia, but the convoluted path toward fulfilling my wayward dream of  becoming a professional adventure journalist.
Bikes, Charitable Giving, Cycling, Madison, Outdoor Recreation, philanthropy, Podcast / 13.09.2010

An all inclusive adventure for the disabled only

I’m packing my bags and taking this show on the road. And you’re wondering, so what’s new? James you travel all the time. That’s right. I do. The Joy Trip Project is all about venturing out into the wide world and finding those stories about people who are doing what they can to make a difference, to make the world a better place. But this time, it’s just a bit different. This time, I’m going to Africa. You’ll find out why exactly I’m going intercontinental in an upcoming edition. So stay tuned. But yesterday, and I mean while I’m sorting my socks and underwear I get a text message from my friend adventure filmmaker and a true Joy Tripper Dominic Gill. You’ve met him on the show before. Dom’s from the United Kingdom, the UK. He’s riding his bike across the country from LA to New York on a trip he calls The Dom & Ernie Project. And on my iPhone it says: James we just crossed into Wisconsin. We’ll be in Madison tonight. Believe it or not, I dropped everything. Cleared my schedule and made plans, because Dom and I just had to visit. And for you my loyal listeners I just had to bring you his story. Because Dom’s not just riding across the country, that’s been done to death. Just like before in the last story he’s riding a tandem bicycle and all along the way he’s picking up people, random strangers to come along on the ride. Before when he road 20,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina he’d pick up just about anyone. But this time he’s only bringing along people with a disability. "We had Ryan with traumatic brain injury. Then we had Carlos who is visually impaired. The after that we had two brothers, Warren and Chad Woodbury who had muscular dystrophy," Dominic said. "And then 59-year-old Kelly Lane who has Parkinson’s disease, he jumped on. And then he switched out with Rachel who has Cerebral Palsy and she’s just cycled 250-miles from Minneapolis where she lives to here." These are people with profound disabilities, people who under normal circumstances would never have the opportunity to take part in such an amazing adventure. And yet thanks to the Dom & Ernie Project Dominic and his crew Alonzo and Nadia, these disabled cyclists are getting out and experiencing the world. They’re traveling hundreds of miles in a way they may have never dreamed of before.
Commentary / 11.09.2010

Jarrow sat listening to NPR on the verge of tears. I didn’t care. I had a job to do. It was a beautiful fall day in Duluth, Minnesota. Two hours earlier I ran along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The cool breeze and the warm sun felt good on my skin. I was glad to be alive as I bounded up the stairs to my regular hotel room. I called it the Willy Lowman Suite at the Lake View Inn. Dripping with sweat I slammed through the door, grabbed the towel I’d set on a chair, flipped on the radio and headed to the bathroom for a shower. I was just about to turn the water on as sounds of mayhem came peeling through the report on “Morning Edition.” Something horrible had happened.
Assignment Earth, Environmental Journalism, Environmental Protection / 09.09.2010

The Colorado River and its tributaries sustain nearly 30 million people across seven states and Mexico. It is the most controlled river in the world and has created fertile land and large cities where there was once desert. Agriculture, wildlife, local tourism, recreational businesses and big cities all count on water from this coveted river. Hard times however have caught up with the Colorado. Drought coupled with increasing development in the Southwest has created a new reality. In this edition of Assignment Earth we take a look at efforts to save the threatened Colorado River.
Africa, Climbing, Destinations, Ethiopia, Yosemite / 08.09.2010

Don’t expect me to apologize for loving what I do. I’m over feeling guilty about it. “So what kind of journalist are you?” the physical therapist asks as he reads my chart. “I write about outdoor recreation, gear, adventure travel, that kind of thing,” I say. “Really? Like for National Geographic Adventure?” “I wish. Mainly for trade publications, web sites mostly, magazines sometimes.” “Ever go anyplace cool?” he asks? “Going to Yosemite next week, then Africa,” I say. “Ethiopia actually.” “Uh yeah…you suck,” he says with apparent envy. “Roll over.”
Special Events, Stand Up Paddling / 06.09.2010

With a surfboard in one hand and a long paddle in the other seven fierce competitors dashed across the sand and plunged headlong into the breaking waves. Mounting their boards each stand up paddler dug into the churning water with powerful strokes charging pell-mell toward the horizon and a distant buoy for the first turn. The race was on. Along the shoreline a crowd of spectators cheered above a howling wind and the thunderous roar of the crashing tide. On this broad expanse of beach under a deep blue sky you’d never know you were in Wisconsin.