I Watched the Internet Grow Up…

Kristine with a K in Portland

I forget sometimes how I have watched the Internet grow up live, first hand. Right in front of me. Blogging since 2000 — well, my first dip in the blogging pool was actually after watching Faith and other designers create things similar to blogs in 1999, but I really got going with blogging in 2000 — means I have seen a lot. I forget that sometimes.

Then I’m at my friend Stephanie’s house and I pick up the First 20 Years issue of Wired Magazine.

Looking at the list of the influencers, the things, the events, the websites … I realize that there are people I’ve met among that list. People that if you asked me, I’d even dare to call friends.

It is strangely fascinating to me. There are people on the list that I wouldn’t have included. People that I feel have dramatically changed the way the world interacts with the internet (Matt of WordPress for example) that are not included on the list.

As I logged in to my blog to write this post, I saw that I had traffic today from this post that Matt wrote back in 2004. He came *to my house* to do my MovableType to WordPress migration, personally. I asked him a few years ago about why, and he said it was the largest blog to migrate that he was aware of at that point in time.

It is just fascinating to think of it all. Back in 1987 as I started college, my mom asked me why I didn’t consider majoring in Computer Science because I seemed to like it so much in high school. I laughed, and asked what I do with THAT???

I’d say the joke was on me, but in reality I still ended up where I belonged. Thanks to a law firm where I worked in IT needing to get online, I had early access to the internet. I hand-coded the HTML after teaching myself how and built my first GeoCities site. I was given stock in GeoCities, and later sold it to fund the down payment on a car. I eventually found the Digital Divas (I think that is what they were called?) and started to blog. I went to South by Southwest Interactive in 2002, back when it was so small that the whole thing maybe took up 10 rooms in the convention center, there were no big corporations at the trade show (Microsoft, etc), and the after-party was at Bruce Sterling’s house — and there I met some of the very people on this Wired Magazine cover.

I have always written from the heart. I have always been myself, vulnerably and authentic. I have always shared freely, both on my blogs and on forums in various places. It is incredible to look back at what that has brought me in return in my life. Not just the people on the magazine cover, but deep friendships that have been forged as well. Friends that it may have taken me years to meet up with in person (like Kristine, in the photograph above, who I was able to meet up with after 12 years in Portland this summer), but that changed my life none the less. My entire job focuses around the internet now, and while I never thought that would be a reality 15 years ago, now it feels perfectly natural to me.

I’m so grateful for all of the friends in my life that the internet has brought me. I’ve learned over the years that there are people behind the keyboards, and most of them are pretty accessible. We are all often linked together in some way. I’m lucky that I watched the internet grow up, because it has changed my life in so many ways.

Life Is Too Short – Travel Now!

Saint Mary Lake - Glacier National Park

As I sat on the side of a mountain overlooking Saint Mary Lake in Glacier National Park, I couldn’t help but stop and think about how I think it is wrong to wait until retirement to travel. The time to take a month or two off to go out and see the world shouldn’t be when you are over 65. It should be NOW.

Travel enriches your life. Helps you to see the world from a WHOLE perspective. Not a new perspective, but a compete one. See how other people live. Understand their beliefs. How the geography and weather has shaped them. How the world impacts them – and to feel the impact yourself.

I believe it gives us a greater understanding and appreciation of our impact on the Earth. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is throughout Glacier National Park, I understand why the tribes native to this region consider it a scar across the mountains. I’m glad the road is here, but I couldn’t help but think as I stood at the exhibit at the visitor’s center just how devastating it must have been to them to see their land changed as a road was created to transport thousands of visitors a year through the park. What changes that road has brought to the land. For example, I know that the invention of plastic has brought many advances and conveniences, but I also see the damage that it does. Litter on our highways, in our fields.

I believe travel, and especially camping and hiking, have sparked a passion in me to change. To respect the Earth more. Being among the mountains gives me a sense of strength and peace. In return, I want to take care of nature. Recycle. Reuse things. Be mindful of my impact on the world.

There are no guarantees that we will live to see retirement age. There are no guarantees that once you hit 65, you can stop working. I expect that by the time I reach 65, people will have to work well past that age. I would much rather structure my life so I can enjoy the good things throughout the years, savoring them now instead of waiting for a day that might not come. I think that facing your mortality can bring about the most beautiful things in life because it creates gratitude for the present moment. A mindful presence in this world. (My friend Tracy wrote an amazing post recently on Magnificent Mortality, and if you haven’t read it – you should. She sums up everything I have been thinking so well!)

Life is SHORT. Leave an impact on the world. Get out there. Enjoy your parks, your scenic drives. Don’t wait for the future. Do it NOW. Go!!!

A Journey of 10,000 Miles – a Roadtrip in my Mini Cooper…

Mini Cooper Road Trip

I left Houston on June 30th for this roadtrip adventure with the mileage count on my Mini Cooper at 4272 miles. Beyond the set dates of events that were planned — World Domination Summit, BlogHer and Team-X Fight Club — I didn’t have a specific route set since my gallbladder surgery messed up my original plan.

Yesterday, near Butte, Montana, I hit 14,272 miles on my Mini Cooper. 10,000 miles since I’ve left home. The photo above is from when I pulled over as soon as it rolled to that number, so I could photograph exactly where I was at the time.

Going through photos from the past 7 weeks, it is incredible to think of all of the things that I have seen so far. I’ve been so fortunate to visit family, friends, previous clients that are now friends, and new people that I’ve met. To see the prairie, the mountain ranges, the canyons, the ocean, the grasslands, rainbows, waterfalls, and sunsets.

I could not possibly be more grateful for it all.

When will I be returning home? I don’t know yet. I’m heading to Glacier National Park today in northern Montana, and then up in to Canada. I’ll be meeting up with Mike again in Calgary. From there, I still have to map it out. I’ve got inquiries for some photo shoots, so I hope to do those as I make my way back south. Beyond that? I don’t know. My answer when anyone asks is, “Eventually.”

No matter what happens, or where I go – I know it is going to be nothing short of amazing.

States seen so far: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, (flew over to Illinois), Colorado, Wyoming, Montana. Plus Canada – British Columbia, and soon Alberta.

Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park

The Mini Cooper view on Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mini Cooper at Colorado National Monument

The Mini Cooper at Colorado National Monument

Camping at Crater Lake, Oregon

Our first car camping campground at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Camping at Mount Rainier with a Mini Cooper

My first “solo” campground at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mini Cooper Under the Milky Way at Yellowstone

My Mini Cooper under the Milky Way at Yellowstone National Park

Beartooth Pass in a Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper at Beartooth Pass Highway, near the Wyoming & Montana border

Look Over the Edge… Beartooth Highway, Montana & Wyoming

Beartooth Highway Lakes - Over the Edge

This photo sums up what is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while driving on this road trip. Matter of fact, taking this photo was the moment that it all hit home.

Slow down.
Don’t fly past everything.
Look around.
Pull over.
Walk.
Look over the edge.

I drove the Beartooth Highway on Friday (and again on Saturday on my way to Big Sky), and it was a thrilling drive. A little crazy, as it is full of crazy curves as you climb up the mountains to the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.

It was overcast. Raining. 54 degrees, versus the 100 degrees in Billings when I left. I didn’t have a jacket on. I wanted to get to the campsite before dark. Storms were starting in the distance, and minutes later I saw lightening.

I had EVERY reason to not stop.

But I did. I stopped to photograph the mountains. 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation in the area, the skyline is amazing. I stood next to the car, planning to hop right back in because I was cold. I was getting the railing in my posts, so I decided to walk to the edge to get it out of the shot.

Once I did, I looked down. There were lakes down there that I would have never seen if I didn’t stop and look.

It is so tempting in life to just fly by everything. To not look at the other points of view. I’ve learned over and over on this trip that when you do stop & look, you’re rewarded with a lot of new discoveries. I knew that before, logically, but the moment I stepped to the edge and saw those lakes, it hit me hard.

Off today now to drive from Big Sky to Glacier National Park, here in Montana. I can’t wait to see what lessons are ahead!

Kayaking on the North Platte River – Casper, Wyoming

North Platte River in Casper, WyomingAs this road trip adventure began Michelle, one of my past clients, contacted me about doing a photo shoot while I was in Denver. Then her plans got changed, and my plans got changed, and we moved the photo shoot to her house in Casper, Wyoming. She graciously hosted me for two nights, let me play with her adorable, cute baby, and then we did her session while I was here.

After dinner out in Casper, we went back to the house and were sitting on their back deck, overlooking the North Platte River. Suddenly, her husband interrupted the conversation. “Do you like water?” I answered, hesitantly, that yes — I like to drink water? He went on to ask if I knew how to swim. Yes, but I don’t want to go swimming in the river. (It was already a bit of a chill in the air, and I figured the water would be cold and somewhat silty – just not my thing.) No, no – did I want to go KAYAKING on the river. We had to go right away if I did, because the sun was starting to set.

Heck yeah, I wanted to go kayaking!

I had been watching the river all day – I could tell that it had a bit of a current so we could float, but not so much current that it was choppy and whitewater adventure. Michelle told me that it is a rather shallow river in most spots too – you could probably touch the bottom if you tried. Colby & I went in the tandem kayak, and a baby sitter came over at the last minute so that Michelle could join us in her smaller kayak.

I was reminded again what the point of this trip is – to say YES to things I might otherwise say no to, and to get past feeling so broken. Between my wonky shoulder, a bad knee, my thyroid & paratoid gland drama earlier this year, and emergency gallbladder surgery 6 weeks ago, it has been a hell of a year.

I’m OVER IT. I just want to be well. To be fit. To be able to go and do things.

Kayaking was amazing – I loved floating on the water, and I earned my participation badge for paddling as well. Unlike a canoe, paddling was easier on my shoulder than I expected. We only heard a beaver while we were out there, and didn’t see any deer or anything else. Colby blamed it on us talking all the time … oops.

It was incredible. I’m glad I said yes. I need to do that more often.

Now I’m off to the Grand Tetons to camp. I can’t wait to be back in the outdoors – it has been too long. The river reminded me of how much I love nature — just how amazing it is. I can’t wait to see what is next on the road!

Photo of the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming taken from the deck just before we took off on our adventure. Click to view larger.