The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Media

Summer Reading: "The Wilderness of Childhood"

I’m fairly new to this whole adventure parenting thing, but I’m lucky to have some great role models. Number one was my dad, who raised my older sister and me to be curious about the wider world around us. A photographer and editor at National Geographic for most of his professional life, Dad wasn’t as much an athlete as an inveterate wanderer and explorer. This was the mid-70s, before the cult of extreme was born and “adventure” became an adjective, and Dad wasn’t in it for the adrenaline rush or bragging rights, but good old fresh-air and inspiration. 

Our backyard playground was the not-so-rad hills and creeks of the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast. Dad took us camping in his musty, mustard-yellow canvas army tent on the Delaware River, road-tripping to Maine each summer in his green VW microbus, and amateur spelunking in ticky-tacky Luray Caverns near his farm in Virginia. His idea of entertainment was long rambling walks through the woods foraging for pine cones and pebbles, which we’d glue onto giant poster boards and make “nature art.” When we got older, the three of us went bike-touring on Prince Edward Island, land of constant head-winds, and kayaking on the Connecticut River, where at the end of each day we’d drag our boats from the water, bushwhack out to some road, and thumb a ride to the nearest B&B. (My sister had put the kibosh on camping.) 

IMG

When my first daughter was born and we began trying to navigate the new territory of newborns without turning into shut-ins, Dad became our sounding board and #1 fan. He thought it both entirely normal and positively thrilling that we would put the baby in a lifejacket and stick her in a canoe so we could paddle around the island or put her on skis shortly after she learned to walk or lug her up this or that mountain. Knowing he approved made the adventure of parenting easier, and his philosophy of exploring for the sake of exploring—to see the world and ourselves in new ways, and what the heck, bring the kid!—became the foundation of my own made-up notion of adventure parenting. You don’t have to get all epic about it. Even a bike ride around town will do the trick. 

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7 Questions with Alan Arnette

Alan Arnette
Outside contributor Alan Arnette discusses his plan to climb the seven summits and raise more than $1 millon for Alzheimer's research—all within a year. To listen to the extended interview click here, or subscribe to our iTunes podcasts.
--Stayton Bonner 

What’s the goal?
I’m trying to raise a million dollars for Alzheimer’s research and awareness of the disease, and to give visibility to the caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients.

Climbing background?
I didn’t live in my car and rock-climb as an 18-year-old. Around my mid-30s, I started climbing. Since my 38th birthday, I’ve been on 25 expeditions around the world, including Broad Peak, K2, and Everest.

What motivated you to use climbing as a means for raising awareness about Alzheimer’s?
My mother Ida died of Alzheimer’s about a year and a half ago. As we watched her going through the stages of Alzheimer’s—losing your short-term memory, your long-term memory, your ability to care for yourself, your identity, and then your life—we felt horribly frustrated. I learned more and came to understand it can hit people in their 50s. It’s not related to diet or exercise. There’s no way to prevent it. And, worst of all, there’s no cure. So I said, “I need to do something to raise awareness.”

What did you do?
I’ve posted videos on my website and Outside to hopefully bring people in. One of the most poignant moments was when I sat down to talk with her about my dad, who was going through some physical problems at the end of his life. I said, “Mom, Dad is in some serious shape.” She said, “I know, I know. But who are you again?” She had no idea who I was.

 

How did that feel?
It was a wake-up call. Mom was always the memory keeper in our family. She could tell you what cousin Bill’s brother’s uncle did yesterday. So for her all of a sudden to not even recognize her own son was frustrating and sad. Later, I just totally broke down. It was a devastating personal moment.

How are the climbs going?          
I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of emails I’ve received from people who have parents going through Alzheimer’s. It’s important to note that I never even touch a penny of the donations. The links on the site go straight to the causes. None of the money supports me or my climbs. I ask people to make a pledge of a penny a foot. Every time I raise another foot higher, it’s another penny in the bank.

But you take donations on the metric system as well?
Metric, imperial, intergalactic, you name it.

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Dhani Tackles A Book

Dhani cover Courtesy of Rodale

His middle name, Makalani, is Hawaiian for "skilled at writing," so it's no surprise that Cincinnati Bengals' defensive captain Dhani Jones has a book out this month. In The Sportsman, he chronicles the 2008 off season, during which he traveled around the world for the Travel Channel television show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. For each episode, he spent a week in a foreign country learning an indigenous sport—from tossing the caber at the Scottish Highland Games to running the sand and surf gamut at an Australian lifesaving competition—before getting thrashed by the locals. "I came in last place in the 100-yard sand dash, barely completed the 600-meter swim, and literally fell off the men's double-ski," Jones writes of the Austrailian comp. In the book, each adventure comes packed with fitness advice, travel recommendations, and anecdotes from more than ten years in the NFL. Outside caught up with Jones to talk about his latest endeavor.
--Whitney Dreier

Describe the book-writing experience.
I've always been a writer. I've always been passionate about words and thoughts and how you assemble them together to make something substantial. The hardest part of writing a book is focusing on one theme and getting everything else through that vein. [Co-author] Jonathan Grotenstein and I just hit it off. He got me, he got my voice, he got my vision. He got the whole -- not to be cliche -- he got the whole enchilada. We vibed.

The book describes your sporting adventures, from Muay Thai boxing in Thailand to Schwingen in Switzerland. You must enjoy seeing new places.
Traveling has always been a part of my lifestyle. I want people to know that in the book. I want people to realize that we live in a great country -- the best  country -- however, there is a whole 'nother world out there, and there's nothing wrong with going to check out the rest of the world. Experience it.

Were local people responsive to your show and your attempts to learn their sports?
Most of the time people were accepting, but there were definitely uncomfortable situations at times. I had to understand that different countries have different cultures and different customs. I tried to go into it with a clean head and say look, this is what life is: Life is being a blank canvas and allowing the people around you to add color to it. You can go into a country with a colorful canvas, but don't let the colors on your canvas pollute the ones already there.

Dhani bike "I had never been in a bike race," says Jones, in Italy. "And I knew I wasn't going to win the Gran Fondo del Monte Grappa."

What sport did you find most difficult?
Going to Nepal was one of the hardest trips. All it was was hiking, but it was hiking at 19,000 feet. You don't realize how difficult that is and how challenging, how trying, how unbelievably tired you become.

Can you share some tips from the road?
1. Only pack what you need. And if you run out, wash it in the sink.

2. Always bring something to record your trip, whether that be a camera, a pen and pad, or some type of video recorder.

3. Follow the locals. You know what they look like. They know what you look like. If they don't look like you, follow them! Don't follow the people who look like you, you might as well stay at home.

On travel fitness?
1. There's no good fitness without good nutrition. You're not going to function if you don't eat well. If you eat bad, what's the point of working out? The eating's going to catch up to you. It's not difficult to have good food -- even the restaurants are taking care of you: you can't go to a sushi restaurant and get regular soy sauce, you gotta get low sodium.

2. There's no good fitness without good sleep. If you don't have a good sleep cycle, you're not going to have a sustainable workout; you're going to fight against your body trying to become better. There's so many great jobs and businesses out there that allow for meditation and outdoor activities during the day. There's always an option, it's all about how you divide your time.

3. There's no good fitness without good thoughts. You have to have a positive mindset to create positive energy. If your mind's not in the right place, you're not going to accomplish anything. If you walk into the gym and you're like I hate this place, then leave. Being mentally clear, that's on you. You gotta take a little onus for yourself.

What do you hope readers take away from The Sportsman?
The book is about finding your passion and staying true to that. A lot of times we get distracted and feel compelled to live by another person's standard. It's important that you evaluate what you really believe is important to you -- and live it. Just do it, cause it's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it. [Pause] I wish you could change that somehow -- my mom's trying to get me away from the expletives.

    Dhani wp
Jones attempts water polo in Croatia. "It takes a lot of damn work to beat my legs hard enough to keep my head above water," he wrote.

The Sportsman ($26) is due out June 7, wherever books are sold and at amazon.com.

 

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Dhani Tackles A Book

Dhani cover Courtesy of Rodale

His middle name, Makalani, is Hawaiian for "skilled at writing," so it's no surprise that Cincinnati Bengals' defensive captain Dhani Jones has a book out this month. In The Sportsman, he chronicles the 2008 off season, during which he traveled around the world for the Travel Channel television show, Dhani Tackles the Globe. For each episode, he spent a week in a foreign country learning an indigenous sport—from tossing the caber at the Scottish Highland Games to running the sand and surf gamut at an Australian lifesaving competition—before getting thrashed by the locals. "I came in last place in the 100-yard sand dash, barely completed the 600-meter swim, and literally fell off the men's double-ski," Jones writes of the Austrailian comp. In the book, each adventure comes packed with fitness advice, travel recommendations, and anecdotes from more than ten years in the NFL. Outside caught up with Jones to talk about his latest endeavor.
--Whitney Dreier

Describe the book-writing experience.
I've always been a writer. I've always been passionate about words and thoughts and how you assemble them together to make something substantial. The hardest part of writing a book is focusing on one theme and getting everything else through that vein. [Co-author] Jonathan Grotenstein and I just hit it off. He got me, he got my voice, he got my vision. He got the whole -- not to be cliche -- he got the whole enchilada. We vibed.

The book describes your sporting adventures, from Muay Thai boxing in Thailand to Schwingen in Switzerland. You must enjoy seeing new places.
Traveling has always been a part of my lifestyle. I want people to know that in the book. I want people to realize that we live in a great country -- the best  country -- however, there is a whole 'nother world out there, and there's nothing wrong with going to check out the rest of the world. Experience it.

Were local people responsive to your show and your attempts to learn their sports?
Most of the time people were accepting, but there were definitely uncomfortable situations at times. I had to understand that different countries have different cultures and different customs. I tried to go into it with a clean head and say look, this is what life is: Life is being a blank canvas and allowing the people around you to add color to it. You can go into a country with a colorful canvas, but don't let the colors on your canvas pollute the ones already there.

Dhani bike "I had never been in a bike race," says Jones, in Italy. "And I knew I wasn't going to win the Gran Fondo del Monte Grappa."

What sport did you find most difficult?
Going to Nepal was one of the hardest trips. All it was was hiking, but it was hiking at 19,000 feet. You don't realize how difficult that is and how challenging, how trying, how unbelievably tired you become.

Can you share some tips from the road?
1. Only pack what you need. And if you run out, wash it in the sink.

2. Always bring something to record your trip, whether that be a camera, a pen and pad, or some type of video recorder.

3. Follow the locals. You know what they look like. They know what you look like. If they don't look like you, follow them! Don't follow the people who look like you, you might as well stay at home.

On travel fitness?
1. There's no good fitness without good nutrition. You're not going to function if you don't eat well. If you eat bad, what's the point of working out? The eating's going to catch up to you. It's not difficult to have good food -- even the restaurants are taking care of you: you can't go to a sushi restaurant and get regular soy sauce, you gotta get low sodium.

2. There's no good fitness without good sleep. If you don't have a good sleep cycle, you're not going to have a sustainable workout; you're going to fight against your body trying to become better. There's so many great jobs and businesses out there that allow for meditation and outdoor activities during the day. There's always an option, it's all about how you divide your time.

3. There's no good fitness without good thoughts. You have to have a positive mindset to create positive energy. If your mind's not in the right place, you're not going to accomplish anything. If you walk into the gym and you're like I hate this place, then leave. Being mentally clear, that's on you. You gotta take a little onus for yourself.

What do you hope readers take away from The Sportsman?
The book is about finding your passion and staying true to that. A lot of times we get distracted and feel compelled to live by another person's standard. It's important that you evaluate what you really believe is important to you -- and live it. Just do it, cause it's your life, right? Fuck it, just do it. [Pause] I wish you could change that somehow -- my mom's trying to get me away from the expletives.

    Dhani wp
Jones attempts water polo in Croatia. "It takes a lot of damn work to beat my legs hard enough to keep my head above water," he wrote.

The Sportsman ($26) is due out June 7, wherever books are sold and at amazon.com.

 

Read More

Mountainfilm: The Winners

Mountainfilm is at once the most refreshing and exhausting event of the year. For four days 2,000 guests do everything they can to watch all 73 films, listen to the 18 panel discussions, and shake the hand of each of the 29 authors at the book signings. Between events everybody jockeys for position to talk to the most inspiring--writer Bill McKibben, musician Prudence Mabhena, activist Tim DeChristopher--of the countless inspirational people who attend Mountainfilm. And I think everybody leaves better for it. This year, Outside sent seven editors and Outside TV sent half a dozen staffers into the fray. Tomorrow, we'll post a list of their favorite films, but today, here are the eight films that won awards. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all the filmmakers. 

Student Choice and Audience Choice Winner
Film: Happy 
Director: Roko Belic

 

Moving Mountains Award

Film:We Still Live Here: As Nutayunean  

Director: Anne Makepeace

 

Festival Director's Award
Film:Undercity
Director: Andrew Wonder
 
Cinematography Award
Film:Into Eternity 
Director: Michael Madsen
 

Charlie Fowler Award

Film: Cold

Director: Anson Fogel
--Kyle Dickman

 

 

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