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Chasing Cougars (Valentines Special)

Completely exhausted .... but she pushed herself hard on the entire safari

This has to be one of the most memorable trips of all the memorable trips with my wife.

You have to first understand that I am the most difficult person to be married to. I switch obsessions on a moment by moment basis…and when I get locked on one I am going to master it and probably drag you with me. Yes…I am an OCD pain in the @$$.

So this trip was special. At the time I was into mountain biking. Serious mountain biking. We took vacations based on the sport, had special diets for certain events. Mountain bike racing, extended multi-day trips, riding to work, crossing Big Bend National Park (through the back-country of course) and well…100 mile rides in August…in West Texas on a mountain bike. I even worked as a wilderness medic and search and rescue coordinator on a mountain bike patrol.

I introduced Melissa to mountain biking on Mother’s Day 2001. On the same day I introduced her to her first mountain biking injury…a broken clavicle. A broken clavicle in two places. A broken clavicle that launched her watch 10 feet from the crash site…but that is a minor point in this adventure. A break that kept her out of biking for 8- 10 months. It was awesome, I hiked her and the bike out of a canyon. I secured her wounded collar bone with a frozen water bottle, an inner-tube, and a bandanna. I had two bikes strapped to my back. She failed to be impressed.

Some how I got suckered into this as an adventure vehicle...

A few years later though,  I was able to secret my bride away for an awesome bike trip without her knowing the destination. She loves animals and its only now we are beginning to see her gift and desires fulfilled as she transitions into her new career. Melissa only had instructions to pack travel clothes, bike clothes, and nice clothes. We loaded up our Hyundai Elantra (a nice car I still regret buying) and drove overnight to Glen Rose, Texas where I showed her a new world of mountain biking…an African Safari via bicycle!

Don't let the fence fool you. When this thing runs along the fence as you ride you all but soil your shorts

I had always wanted to do a Safari in Africa, but the means to do it just never came together. So the closest substitution was a day trip to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center. Located in Glen Rose the animal preserve host several samples of African wildlife including Rhinos, Giraffes, and yes….Cheetahs. Sorry, no cougars, those are North American not African.  The Fossil Rim Ranch has other endangered species including  Addax Wolves,  Prairie Chickens, and Oryx.

The most unnerving part was first hearing the oddly “innocent” meows of the cheetahs. Then as we rode our mountain bikes past their “enclosures” being stalked and then chased!

More dirt than anthing else...not even a limp

For Melissa it was a great return to adventure biking. She was actually reintroduced on a trip to Big Bend where we rode 30+ miles a day in some the most horrendous road conditions. Imagine washboard and baby-head rocks 8-10 hours a day. That is for a different journal entry though. This trip was all about pursuing the things she loved and getting her (at the time limited) access to things very few people got to see. She made it out with only one bruise. (From a brutal and scary crash!)

Cleans up well

The rest of the weekend was spent in tranquility and relaxation. I have learned that she does really well in my adventure world, as long as at the end of it she gets to clean up, eat in a civilized place, and get pampered. We also try not to impress each other with broken bones.

Rob and Melissa do lots of exciting adventures…check them out at AdventureIQ.com

Taking Flight

This last week I have been pursuing an adventure that began over 20 years ago. This last Sunday I started private pilot training.
I want to share these experiences with you- at the same time I don’t want the podcast to be focused on only one type of adventure… my flying adventure… my challenge is going to be balancing the podcast because I know I will want to share this with you- but you will want to hear about other adventures as well… so lets see how this goes.
Since I was very young I wanted to learn to fly. I remember my dad taking me out to watch airplanes land at Sky Harbor Airport when I was growing up in the valley in the early 1970’s.
I also had a brief stint with the Civil Air Patrol and then in my military service brought me closer to aircraft.
Ironically- I tried to join an Aero club at McGuire AFB, NJ in 1994. At the time I was a single SSG assigned to Ft Dix and was in need of something to keep me occupied. I had some money that was burning a hole in my pocket and was looking for adventure. The pilots there were complete jerks to me. I walked out of hager and drove about a mile to a dive shop where I signed up for lessons. 18 months later and with over 500 dives under my belt I became a dive master and then in 1999 I became a dive instructor…
Again I attempted to undergo pilot training in 2005 when we moved to Boise- but again I could not get any one to return my calls or came across overly arrogant when looking for lessons.
The past few weeks I have been working as an advisor for some general aviation pilots and once again the opportunity to get my license came up again. Now contractually I cannot discuss the details- but I am again pursuing my flight career.
This last week I joined a local aero-club and Sunday morning my new flight instructor and I checked out a Cessna 152 and began my lessons.

The take off was incredible. Since it was overcast skies in the valley, the was very little traffic. We pretty much had the entire sky to ourselves. I had a chance to practice turns, descents, and accents. My instructor and I agreed that I would take care of “Take – off” and he in turn would take care of the landings…for now.

This next week I will fly on Thursday and Sunday if weather permits. We have been getting lots of rain and low-level cloud cover. I also have some ground-work to do prior to class. I was getting mixed advise on how much ground work to do prior to the class- but for me- I like to have a little knowledge before going into a situation. I purchased the Sporty’s on-line tutorial and bought a set of books recommended by another instructor. In addition I purchased a flying manual put out by the FAA. Surprisingly it is a great resource.

So thanks for listening, I will keep you updated on my new aeronautical adventures and the direction we are heading—you and I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

BTW- please check out my podcast at http://www.adventureiq.libsyn.com or subscribe through itunes