In the beginning…

Whitewater day on the Nantahala River, NC, 2012

Whitewater day on the Nantahala River, NC, 2012

… there were just two of us.  Well, we can even start before that.

Matt and Cristen were both kids from the Midwest.  Although surprising, they never knew each other growing up here (despite mutual acquaintances and activities) and their paths in life took them in very different directions for a long time.

Matt eyed a career in aviation, which drastically and suddenly changed when 9-11 struck and the aviation industry was turned on-end.  He became a very young and successful business owner by the age of 23, running and managing a multi-team landscaping and lawncare business.  Throughout this time, a passion for whitewater kayaking and rock climbing grew feverishly inside him and he loved being a kayaking instructor in his limited free time.  Due to an illness in the family, he moved back to his hometown to care for a beloved family member who eventually passed away.  Flash forward several years and you will find Matt as a manager of an outdoor enthusiast’s dream toy shop, working as best he knows how to help others enjoy the outdoors and their passions as much as he does.  Despite working like a dog.

Cristen, antsy to leave her home town, went west before going all the way back east.  Her career as a biologist took her through isolated desert, the surrounding lands of Tampa, and chasing birds in the Everglades.  She loved to travel and had lofty goals involving lots of flights, miles, hiking, paddling, discovery, and adventure.  She journeyed around the country for almost six months looking for something, anything, that felt like her passion and direction.  She decided that life coaching could be combined with a love of the outdoors and nature to help people find their way through life’s rapids, but her business model suffered a rather tired launch into the world and never grew.  Cristen wondered how the persistence and patience she’d had to thrive in remote places or travel to five continents had not been enough to fuel her business, but no answers came.  Around that time, she, too, was summoned back to her hometown to care for a sick family member who died a short time later.  It was unexpected to her, but she stayed.


We met in the store. 

A kind offer of assistance, stories, laughter, and a “pen pal” of sorts during a road trip started it all.  He threatened to quit his job in order to join me for those two weeks on the road – had I known it at the time, I probably wouldn’t have stopped him.  A vagabonding lifestyle suited me just fine most of the time.  The greatest stress in that was when a person would reach the point that it was time to make some money to continue on.  Otherwise, life felt beautiful, simplistic, and very present.  I have always been more likely to heartily congratulate someone on leaving a job than just finding one.  However, after enough time, I always craved a home, a place that was mine where my keys went in the same place every night.

What’s a girl to do, eh?

Our first date was a weekend of lazy rock climbing and lounging in a hammock at the base of the cool stone faces in Arkansas.  I knew I liked Matt when I found that trusting him to hold my life and limb on the end of a rope without knowing him that long wasn’t even a second thought:  the aura around him just felt good, solid.  We swung in the hammock that night and many nights to follow, dreaming and scheming about all the places we were going to travel to and the incredible adventures we were going to have.

Life doesn’t always unfold like we plan, as we all know. 

That ideal thought about “we meet, we date, we fall in love, we travel travel travel, we get married somewhere in there, we travel a little more to get the majority of this bug out of our system, this takes about two years, then we start with a new adventure both of us really want: kids.”

It turns out, ours has now taken a new direction:  “we meet, date, fall in love, travel a tad, talk about marriage, and then… kid??  Followed by….. uh…??”

Surprise!!!  Wait.  Wasn’t I going to travel to all seven continents, take another US road trip to complete the 50 states, trace my family roots in Scotland, see Egypt after things had settled down a bit there, publish a bestseller, build that perfect house on that gorgeous property by the water, make a boat-load of money, then squeeze in a beach vacation, all with Matt, before our first little one hit the scene?  That wasn’t unreasonable, right?!

Very funny, Higher Power who watches and aligns these types of things.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I get really tired of hearing worn-out parents say things like…

“your life is now over,”


“this is my new life now, which is ok… I guess.” 

Don’t get me wrong: I understand that things will drastically change – especially for the first few years.  But it sure as hell doesn’t mean I’m going to be barefoot in the kitchen with spit-up down my back every day, watching TV shows about the dreams I still have, either!

This blog is about adapting.  It’s about creating an adventurous life with the family you’ve always wanted and were perhaps a little surprised to receive.  While international travel will likely be adapted for quite a while, we still crave local trips, rock climbing, kayaking… it can be done, safely, and enjoyably for everyone.  We are anticipating seeing our new addition to the family in the middle of July 2013, so the Adventure + 1 project is already underway.  Obviously, as new Mom undergoes physical and energy level changes, there will be more adaptation.  Our goal is to experiment with what’s possible for ourselves in the hopes that we inspire others to do the same: pursue the dreams, hopes, wishes, and goals that you’ve always had while integrating family.  We’re also excited to try new gear for this adventure and give you our feedback.

Expect frank honesty, humor, some emotions, and even doubts at times.  Hopefully, you will take away some inspiration to bring adventure to your life, your family, or even your future family.

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