Friday, February 20, 2009

Scheduling

I have foregone the winter activities of Vermont for the sun and fun of Los Angeles. It was time to mix it up as I was in one place for nearly two weeks straight. We can’t have that.

It seems that my schedule is coming together for the next several months. Following my stint in LA, I have a friend visiting New York from Bermuda. I also managed to find a round trip plane ticket to Myrtle Beach for $22 (no, that is not a typo and I don’t have to stick my arms out of the windows and flap either), so I am going for a short trip to visit my dad.

I would be remiss if I didn’t catch the end of ski season (at least the end of my ski season) in Vermont , so prior to leaving for Europe, I will again be in the Green Mountain State.

The logistics for Competitours Europe are coming together. As it is the first time the trip is being run, there are some moving parts. Notice I didn’t say planning though, as the only planning I can do is show up at the airport on March 15th. All the rest will be a surprise, unfolding day by day, unbeknownst to me where in Europe it will take me.

Following the Competitours trip I will be sticking around in Europe a bit to visit with some friends and family, both in Germany and Switzerland. I am also planning on heading north to Estonia/Lithuania/Latvia or south to Slovenia/Croatia. Given that it will be warmer down south I would prefer that, but if the competition leaves off further north, I will continue in that direction. It’s going to have to be a game time decision. What else is new?

I have a bit of a gap from mid-April to mid-May, so if anyone has any suggestions, fire away. Mid-May though will find me back on the northern portion of the Appalachian Trail. I can’t wait to get back out in the woods and hike the remaining several hundred miles.

For now, that is about as far ahead as I can plan, but things are finally starting to fall into place. I have to go…surf’s up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

This is What's Next

Since the close of the kayak trip I haven’t been back out on the water in my kayak, but that is just a function of the weather and not my lack of interest. In the interim I have been on the bike and playing hockey to keep active. For the most part though I have been spending the lion’s share of my time in Vermont: snowboarding, cross-country skiing, hitting the climbing gym and trying to get in some ice climbing, though unseasonably warm temperature in VT have precluded it (where were those temperatures on the kayak trip).

The question I have been bombarded with in the past month is, of course, “what’s next?” As to that, well, I will be out in Los Angeles next week, but that’s not what is really next. Next up in March will be a travel competition in Europe. Travel competition? What’s that you ask? I would too.

A new company, Competitours, is starting up an “Amazing Race for regular people”. I don’t need to reinvent the wheel, so this is an excerpt from the Hampton Roads Daily Press Sunday, of February 8:
The company is giving 17 teams and opportunity to turn an ordinary European vacation into a travel game experience. Teams can feature any pairing of people with a serious travel itch. At their own expense, the teams will compete to earn points by accomplishing a series of challenges, documented via video cam for a panel of judges. At stake is a worldwide travel spree grand prize, featuring up to 40 nights at over 115 Starwood Hotels and Resort facilities in 51 countries, plus four international airline tickets and $6500 in spending money. Unlike " The Amazing Race" reality TV show, Competitours is open to anyone willing to pay their own way.

Here is the beauty of it: the folks over at www.flyertalk.com , a web-based community of frequent fliers that I have been active with, is picking up the tab for the entry fee and throwing in some spending cash. It almost feels like a MasterCard commercial. When travel finally starts to pay you back: priceless.

As for the competition, the only information I have is that I need to show up at the airport in New York on March 15th. Other than that, it will all be a mystery until it all unfolds.

The challenges are not physical, but rather based on creativity and involve recording a number of short videos, which need to be uploaded on a daily basis for judging. I have been teamed up with a former air-traffic controller / trial attorney from Chicago to undertake the task.

I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t stick around in Europe afterwards to visits some family & friends as well as do some exploring. It will preclude my finishing the last few hundred miles of the Appalachian Trial by April 25, but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. It will get done though.

I will be posting more information as the trip draws near, so keep checking back and in the mean time visit the website of Competitours at http://www.competitours.com/.