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When you think of 15 people traveling over 900 miles anywhere, what comes to mind? Now picture 15 college students, traveling over 900 miles to southern California..for spring break! Young and ambitious, we were looking for the time of our lives and when the SoCal coast presented itself, Dana Point became our destination of choice!

As Thursday evening approached, three cars full of amped Boise State students left Boise, drove throughout the night and didn’t look back. After passing through parts of Idaho, Oregon and Nevada and experiencing every type of climate possible we had arrived in southern California, where life is, beautiful! Naturally, prior to arriving at the beach house, we made a stop at Ralph’s; purchasing abundances of pasta, eggs, chicken, taco ingredients and wide varieties of drinks, which would be enough to feed our massive group.

Through the gated entrance and between palm trees we arrived at our beach front vacation home. Like a flood, everyone flew out of the cars and into the house to admire the beautiful home, attempt to claim a bed and admire the coast as the sand came up to the porch, as if the beach was our backyard. By connecting the iPod to the stereo and cracking open the first aluminum can, the spring break week had officially begun.

Bathing suits and towels flew out of suitcases faster than you could say, “beach front tanning”. Throughout the week, the weather was 65-70 degrees, sunny and clear skies. Given that we had been cooped up inside for months in Boise, we were nothing short of pale skinned. Therefore, slight to major burning took place, but not without smiles from ear to ear and happiness that said “this is livin” to accompany the newly acquired tomato look.

When we weren’t soaking up the rays, running along the beach and swimming in the ocean, we made the most out of our trip by taking day trips around southern California. For those who hadn’t previously made it to the happiest place on earth, a trip to Disneyland was a prime bucket list item. With sincere excitement and the opportunity to live the life of a 6 year old, the rides, parade and fireworks made for Disney filled memories.

Another day trip took us to “Saunt Tiago” as the great Bryan Vlok would say. San Diego gave us a taste of the life we all wanted to live. After drooling over a cruise ship the size of a city (that we plan on taking next spring break) we stopped at a delicious mexican restaurant for dinner. As the sun set and the stars came out we noticed the jaw dropping Coronado bridge in the distance. Beautiful in its size and construction we crossed over the water and drove around the secluded island of Mission Beach. While we will return for the night scene once everyone turns 21, the evening festivities took the crew back to Dana Point.

While San Diego couldn’t provide us with a night scene, don’t think we didn’t find a simple solution! Popular in the area were 18 and over clubs and we took full advantage of two local hot spots. The first evening took us to a gay bar by the name of Club Velvet. While a fraction of the group was a bit skeptical at first, they would have regretted not having made the trip. After cramming 13 of us into a Mercedes R300 (three in the front, six in the middle, three in the back and one in the trunk) and raving for 30 miles we had arrived. The night was full of laughing, dancing and karaoke as we made the party our own. Whether certain individuals (Ross) were getting ferociously hit on, ladies were making out with random celebrities (Sydney) or brilliance was taking place on stage through karaoke, we have pictures, videos and memories of Club Velvet that we will always treasure.

On the second night out we made our way to Incahoots in Orange County for country night. To say the least, if you didn’t bring your “A” game and your dancing shoes, it would be tough to keep up. The massive dance floor was occupied shoulder to shoulder for the entire night for synchronized country dancing. Each song played had its own dance; if you knew it you looked like a champ and if you didn’t (like all of us) you attempted to keep up. With a little Idaho country swag we were dancing like it was our job. By the end of the night we were completely exhausted and soaked in sweat. Thank you Toby Keith, Red Solo Cup made country folk out of us!

After days of soaking up the southern California sun, endless late nights of raging, group dinners and day trips, we have all made long-lasting memories and life long friends. The next time you’re thinking twice about taking a 900 mile road trip with 15 people, it should without question be a YES! You never know the wonderful people you’ll meet and the time you’ll share together. Live everyday to its fullest, it’s just more fun that way!

On a final note, be aggressive, find your mystery noddle and love life!

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When year-round recreation meets picturesque views, you’ve arrived in Stanley, Idaho. This is Sawtooth Mountain country, Stanley’s most deserved accolade.

As a last chance opportunity to vacation before the next semester of school began, Stanley was our trip of choice for fresh powder, outdoor recreation and evenings of pleasant relaxation. The roads were perfectly clear as we drove up Highway 21. When a front wheel drive Toyota can make it up to Stanley in mid January, I give my thanks to the local world-class experts in snow plowing (there has to be a 4-year degree for that)!

My girlfriend and I arrived at the Sawtooth Hotel around 3:00 pm. Constructed in 1931, this vintage log cabin with a priceless view of the Sawtooth Mountains, had the most harmonious feeling. On the first floor, hand-built tables and chairs set the stage for an authentic getaway. On the second floor, we found small rooms with old fashioned amenities that make you feel like you are spending the night at grandma’s house. During the winter, the Sawtooth Hotel is open Friday through Sunday for meals. Expect to see mountain aficionados bundled up in ski pants, Salomon boots and Patagonia jackets stopping by for hot food and a cold drink after a long day of skiing.

As the sun set, we made our way up Wall Street in downtown Stanley and walked along the groomed cross country ski and snowmobile trails. The sun set behind the Sawtooth Mountains, lighting the white snow caps with a fiery glow,  like a volcano was about to erupt.

The next morning we set our sights on the pristine cross country ski trails at Alturas Lake just 20 short miles south of Stanley. Beautiful blue skies, groomed trails and untouched snow (for the backcountry folk) made for an exemplary time. Multiple maps allow plenty of variety and direction throughout the trail system. Our four-hour, 13 kilometer cross country adventure afforded immaculate views and world class photo opportunities, and won’t soon be forgotten.

On our way back from Alturas Lake we stopped along Highway 75 at Red Fish Lake. The road was closed, but that didn’t stop us. With snowshoes on and a camera across my shoulder, we walked the short mile to Little Red Fish Lake. We cut through what looked like an abandoned campsite (campsites are closed in the winter) and just as we arrived at the lake, the clouds dispersed as the sun illuminated the sky, exposing the mountains as though hidden behind large castle walls for hundreds of years.

Rounding out our perfect day with the perfect evening, we returned to the Sawtooth Hotel for a refreshing brew and signature burger that really hit the spot. The next time you’re looking for a recreational paradise with beautiful sights, stop in Stanley to satisfy your outdoor cravings.

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KetchumSun Valley, a concentrated city full of health enthusiasts and fitness gurus looking for their next hill to climb, mountain to ski or terrain to ride. If I’m speaking to you, listen up! Look no further than the Sawtooth Mountain country for your next adventure to fill your outdoor recreation appetite.
Assuming you’re already fit from the fall season – trail running, road biking and mountain bike riding, it’s time to get your winter fix! Winter in Stanley and the surrounding areas can offer you exactly what you’re looking for and more. Take your skis, snowshoes, and packs for a weekend of exercise and activities that will leave you wanting to soak in the hot springs with a cold one. With hundreds of miles of trails from Smiley Creek to Lowman you will be amazed by the endless opportunities to venture off into the white powder paradise. From perfectly groomed trails for classic cross country, skate and downhill skiing to snowshoeing into untouched backcountry, the Sawtooth Mountain country has it all. Or, if you have an engine revving, adventuresome need for speed then try out the endless first class snowmobiling trails to get the heart rate flowing.
For those who just want a weekend away in the beautiful world of winter, getting your exercise couldn’t be more picturesque. It may be taking a leisurely ski trip into the wilderness of Alturas Lake, walking amongst the Sawtooth Mountains, having a picnic along Little Red Fish Lake, taking pictures of the White Cloud Mountains or sitting in the Stanley hot springs – you’ll find it all within the Sawtooth Mountain country.
What about summer, you ask? Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains means unlimited health wellness and fitness, both for the mind and body. Whether you enjoy hiking, biking, trail running, climbing, rafting, walking through history, camping, listening to live music or birdwatching – you’ve come to the right place. Summer in the Sawtooth Mountains epitomizes what it means to have endless recreational opportunity beginning when the sun rises until the sun sets, and even then the night is young for those creative individuals that strap on the headlamp and head into the wilderness.
Want to learn more about how the Sawtooth Mountains can help you to stay healthy and fit?  Visit www.stanleycc.org and visitidaho.org for all of the details.

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Do you have dreams, goals and ambitions for your 80th birthday? Possibly being around to see your grand-children grow, playing golf five days a week or maybe it’s as simple as being in good health. At 22 years of age I was able to experience a priceless opportunity with my grandpa, 80 years young, that will forever reside in my memory!Grandpa Joel as the grand-kids like to call him has been a stellar athlete and fitness fanatic for his entire life. A nationally ranked track athlete until the age of 35, YMCA lifetime member and avid cyclist, he has made staying fit a way of life. Do you have an 80 year old grandpa that you brag to your friends about? I do, heck, I brag about him so often the Lake Oswego public relations firms should be paying me for boasting his excellence.

Thursday afternoon approached abruptly as I packed up my car for the 8 hour road trip back to Lake Oswego, Oregon. After a couple of naps, pit stops and leisurely driving I arrived at my grandparents house. Awaiting my arrival was a large bowl pasta topped with my grandmas famous spaghetti sauce and the hospitality that only grandparents could provide. Setting my clothes and gear out I went to bed both anxious and excited for the early morning.

Promptly at 08:00 (as my grandpa would say it) we had our road bikes assembled, equipped and ready to go as we would trek to Salishan, just north of Lincoln City on the Oregon coast. Naturally, as any 80 year old would wish, it was my grandpa Joel’s goal to ride 80 miles on his 80th birthday!

My cousin Alex, 21 years old, also accompanied us on the trip to the coast to complete the grandfather and grandson “trifecta”! For the first 20 miles, where the roads were unfamiliar to my cousin and I, the 80 year old phenom led the way averaging 16-17 mph with ease. From then on, our massive three person peloton switched off lead riders to keep a solid pace – not too slow, not too fast, but to have nice conversation and bonding along the way.

Our first real break was in Grande Ronde after nearly 40 miles of consistent riding. The small town that could nearly be referred to as a ghost town (as are many small towns while heading toward the coast) consisted of a hip and happening convenience store. After doing a small dose of people watching and grabbing a quick carbo-loaded snack from grandmas portable cooler of brilliance we were back on the road.

The beautiful Oregon weather, scenery and ride were enhanced 10 fold once we reached the Van Duzer corridor. Hundred year old Douglas-fir trees shaded the road as we rode with a cool, brisk breeze along the smooth road. All that separated us from sweet downhill riding into Lincoln City were three uphill climbs. While Alex and I thought it would be nice to slightly relax and talk during the ascent, without fail grandpa was cruising in what looked like his big chain ring, stud status! After being partially left in the dust and completing the final hill, we had a mere 15 miles left to Lincoln City.

Flying down hills and passing cars backed up for miles as we entered Lincoln City was priceless, grinning with smiles that couldn’t be slapped off by an angry ex! Cutting through to the back roads right along the coast, the weather turned from sun to the typical Oregon coast cloud cover like night and day. That said, we couldn’t have asked for better riding weather. It was 65 degrees and throughout the entire ride we were blessed with a kind tail wind.

After 6:30 hours, (5:30 hours of riding time) averaging 15.6mph we had arrived in the lush community of Salishan. With a pristine view overlooking miles of Oregon coast it was nothing short of spectacular. The feeling, emotion and tranquility that comes from riding 88 miles, with family, unto a beautiful spectacle was beyond what I’d ever imagined. In regards to this trip, I can only dream that this can continue. There, I said it grandpa, next year 81 miles for your 81st birthday!

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U.S Mountain Biking Championships

By the grace of all that is right in the world, I was honored with the opportunity to travel with a group of Taiwanese journalists to one of my dream events and bucket list items: the U.S. Mountain Bike National Championships.

The atmosphere was nearly out of a story book, my story book so to speak. The racers, sponsors, and crowd electrified the town as Sun Valley would make world class history by hosting this event. Multinational companies including Specialized, Shimano, Subaru Racing, and Scott just to name a few sampled, tested, and showed off their products and expertise.

Specializing in Cross Country and Super D (Downhill) racing, these mountain bike racers were the best in the nation in their age specific categories. Ranging in age from 10-70, and single-speed to multiple speeds, the plethora of racers was remarkable. The events took place on the front River run side of Bald Mountain. Cross Country racers started at the base by River Run Lodge and Super D racers rode up the gondola and fearlessly flew down at excessive speeds, sliding through switch-backs that overlooked 100ft cliffs. Races were extremely fast and efficient with one minute intervals between each heat, allowing for no breaks or flaws from the nation’s top class riders. I was honored with access around the course as a photographer, allowing for great photos and “in your face” riding from these steam engine like racers.

For the next couple days the group of Taiwanese journalists and I epitomized what it meant to spend a summer weekend in Ketchum-Sun Valley. Outside of the unique, high-end mountain bike racing we enjoyed classic dining at the Pioneer Saloon, Kneadery and Sawtooth Club, played on a first class putting course at the Sun Valley Golf Club modeled after the Himalayas at St. Andrews in Scotland, and always finished our evenings off with some epic foothills mountain biking of our own.

Also, in the heat of the biking weekend I had the opportunity to compete in the Fat Tire Criterium, a 30-minute sprint mountain bike race in downtown Ketchum. The exhilaration of racing against experienced riders, zooming around every corner, surrounded by hundreds of screaming spectators made for an outstanding race atmosphere. The Fat Tire Criterium, similar to the Twilight Criterium that was held in Boise a couple days later, brought top tier riders from around the country to compete.

When our trip allowed for some down time you could find me riding the popular mountain biking trails that Ketchum-Sun Valley has to offer in the summer months. One of the Taiwanese journalists and I, who writes for Bicycling Lohas in Taiwan, had the opportunity to ride the pristine trails. Ranging from a relatively easy course in Corral Creek, to an 8-mile descent down Cold Springs from the peak of Bald Mountain was an outstanding experience. With over 450 miles of mountain biking trails, and new trails consistently created, you’d spend your entire life trying to duplicate a trail in Sun Valley.

Since Sun Valley plans on hosting this exquisite event next July as well, be sure to plan ahead for an experience of a lifetime with the U.S. Mountain Biking National Championships in the first class town of Ketchum-Sun Valley.

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Gratification is defined as the pleasurable emotional reaction of happiness in response to a fulfillment of a desire or goal.

On July 16th at around 5:30pm I departed from my Boise home to my triathlon destination in Bend, Oregon. At just over 300 miles, and nearly 6 hours of driving, parts of the drive are truly exquisite. Boise to Ontario and leading into Vale, Oregon is nothing to call home about besides the 75 mph highway (something an Oregonian can appreciate). Then, out of the woodwork, the start of Central Oregon bliss shined its light. From Vale to Burns I was surrounded by gorgeous mountain terrain on the Central Oregon Hwy – Hwy 20, with continuous streams of water for nearly 100 miles by my side and a new, smooth, recently paved highway. Once I reached Burns, the sun was going down and the red glow beamed off the clouds making for a calming and scenic drive as I cruised into Bend during the night. I arrived in Bend around 10:30pm after the hour time change where I would stay with Denise Green and her brother, a good friend and fellow triathlete.

With the race starting at 8:00am the following morning, my eyes were forced open before the sun had awoken. To keep a light load prior to the race, I had two bananas and a Clif gel pack with caffeine two hours before the race and another Clif gel pack about 30 minutes before the race.

Naturally, we were running late and with very little direction and insight in regards to the race process it doesn’t help that this is my FIRST triathlon. After making two jogging trips back to the car, trekking over to the registration table to pick up my number and timing chip, setting out my gear in the transition area, putting on my wetsuit, and walking over to the swimming start area I arrive with about 5 minutes before my wave takes off. The water is a scorching 60 degrees and I’m immediately grateful to have a wetsuit for this portion of the race. Equipped with a full body wetsuit, orange swim cap and clear goggles, the swim-race-starter-guy counts down “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, GO!” and were off! Given that I’m very new to swimming I pace myself relatively slowly to ensure that I can swim the entire distance and be somewhat fresh as the bike portion approaches.

After 1300yds of swimming through ice water and patches of seaweed, I jump out of the water in just over 16 minutes – 3rd in my age class at 48th overall. Jogging to the transition stage I try my best to calm my breathing, strip off the wetsuit and efficiently put on my socks, cycling shoes, jersey, sun-glasses, helmet, and race belt. With adrenaline pumping and fit legs I storm out of the transition area like a bat out of hell. I know this will be a key stage in making up time as it is my best event. Flying by riders up and down the hill, 6 miles up and 6 miles down, I complete the biking portion in 34:58 – 1st in my age class and 12th overall. Changing to a smaller gear allows me to spin my legs quicker making for an easier transition into running (from what I’ve read and heard). As I enter the transition area I sit down and realize my hands are shaking too much to even tie my shoes. Thankfully, they already had a knot in them, so I pulled the laces tight, tucked them in the side and I was off. Prior to running the triathlon I had done a “mock” triathlon in Boise to test out how it would feel, and I’m glad I did. During both my mock and actual triathlon I immediately had a side ache starting the running portion, but from my mock triathlon I learned that I could overcome it after about 5 minutes of running. Therefore, after my side ache had passed, I felt very confident as I finished the rest of the running portion with 7 minute miles and the total 5K in 21:54 – 2nd in my age class and 14th overall.

My goal for the race was to finish in 1:30 and my actual time easily trumped it with 1:15:49. Throughout the race I felt pretty strong, there was never a time where I said I couldn’t go any longer – I had trained hard, pushed myself and it definitely paid off. My family was also in town, they made the trip from Keizer, OR bright and early which gave me extra motivation as I was competing. As far as finishing is concerned, I placed 2nd in my age class, 17th overall and 14th in my gender. My goals for my next triathlon will be to shave a minute or two off my swim time, ideally a minute off my run time and 30 seconds to a minute off of my bike time. Simply by dropping a minute in my swim would have put me in 1st place in my age class and right around the top 10 overall.

After the triathlon, and being nearly dry for two months, it was relieving that they were serving delicious Deschutes Brewery beer for the racers. Nearing lunch time we headed over the Greg’s Grill for food and to watch the women’s world cup final against Japan. After another drink and repetitively yelling at the TV screen, unfortunately the women’s team lost but not without a great run to get as far as they did. Next stop was 30 miles away to Prineville, a small quaint town northeast of Bend. By combining relaxation, food and great weather the evening was exactly what we all needed after the big race.

The following morning I jumped out of bed at 9:00am, consumed a large, filling breakfast and I was on the road again back to Boise. After taking Hwy 20 into Bend I was delighted that Hwy 26 from Prineville was a faster route home, allowing for new beautiful scenery along the way. Included on this trip were towns on the brink of being Ghost Towns, an Oregon Scenic Byway, wildlife, canyons, and forests as far as the eye could see. With it being Monday, early in the afternoon, with work off, I took pictures and stop frequently as I drove unrushed back to Boise.

An overall great experience in my first triathlon and it definitely excites and motivates me to compete again in the near future. I would recommend a triathlon to anyone, training for it will put you in outstanding shape and the sense of accomplishment and gratification can only be expressed through its completion.

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This year, the question wasn’t where are we going, but rather when are we leaving? As the clock inched closer to 3:00pm on Friday afternoon, loads of college students with grinning faces entered the “check point” location where our trip would begin. Piling luggage and people into every spare inch of each vehicle signified the start to when priceless memories would be captured through high resolution megapixels.

Per the advice of a few seasoned McCall veterans, we chose the longer route through Payette instead of the insanely congested, police entrenched Cascade route. After nearly three hours of slamming energy drinks, bathroom breaks in small sketchy towns and blaring music with the windows down we had arrived in the mile high city of McCall. Filled with tank tops, swim trunks and a partier’s mentality, Paul’s Market was the next location as a college student’s haven for dream food and a bottomless beverage menu. After filling our carts with burgers, dogs and “watered down” drinks, our 15 person cabin ( which was only suppose to accommodate 8 ) awaited our arrival just two miles from downtown McCall.

With fresh minds away from the stresses of work and school, the 4th of July weekend in McCall had commenced. After indulging in melodies of chicken, burgers, hot dogs, and face cringing drinks, we made our way downtown to the Yacht Club. With 103.3FM hosting for the weekend, the finest new jams were playing for the techno-raving, hip-hop swaggin’ party animals of the evening. With the anticipation of very late nights, the bars closing at 2am came far more quickly than anyone had expected. Whether by taxi, friendly stranger, buddy for the weekend or walking the seemingly never ending two miles back, the shenanigans continued as endless numbers of people stumbled back to the party cabin.

As the sunlight rose before our very eyes, a rock-solid three or so hour nap was necessary for the long day ahead of us at the North Beach. North Beach, the small Florida type beach vacation spot approximately 7 miles from McCall, is an area consumed excessively by boats, half clothed college students, aluminum cans and overly approachable police offers willing to have a good time. While the Payette Lake was nothing short of an ice bath it was clear, blue, and refreshing after hours under the beaming sun. Whether you were drinking from the mouth of a plastic flamingo, the nozzle of a Las Vegas guitar souvenir or playing “who has the skimpiest bathing suit” the bliss of North Beach was clearly apparent. Despite the fact that the beach was packed shoulder to shoulder, stunning guys and gals were flaunting their stuff like a runway in New York. After about six hours of continuously getting toasted by the sun’s rays and meeting hundreds of outgoing people, the quest to find a lawful driver back into town makes for quite the adventure. Whether you’re packing 10 people into a five seater or 15 people into the bed of an F-250, the windy dirt road combined with people you’re meeting for the first time can make for a wild experience in itself.

The first real sunny weekend of the year in McCall delighted us with its presence, in turn draining every last bit of energy we had. So, each evening from about 7:00pm – 8:30pm was rest and recovery time before the long evening approached with full force. As the sun went down the reverse effect took place on the cabin as college students awoke from their short-term self inflicted comas. And with an all encompassing quote used throughout the weekend everyone yells, “Time to make memories through megapixels!” The following brilliant behaviors, activities and adventures continued almost identically but with higher intensity and less intelligent intuition for the next two days. We came, we consumed, we fell over, but not without getting up consistently and having an unforgettable weekend in McCall, ID that everyone will forever remember in some form or another!

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