Keeping It Fresh

Finding wonder in a city that you’ve come to know too well

When Halimah Marcus moved to Brooklyn, she took pride in getting to know Prospect Park. Running the park’s 3.5-mile loop over and over, as she trained for half marathons, was a comfort — a way to clear her mind.

But eventually, her little oasis lost its luster. After logging hundreds of miles on the same loop, she knew every twist and turn, every tree. There was nothing new to look forward to.

 
Maybe it would be easier if I was one of those people who truly loved running. But these days, running has become, for me, similar to the way Dorothy Parker described her relationship to writing: ‘I hate writing,’ she said. ‘I love having written.’
— Halimah Marcus
 

On this episode, Halimah shares her story. It’s a story about finding adventure when your only access to nature is city parks — about trying to ward off boredom when the places you play become overly familiar.

 Halimah Marcus discusses an orienteering route (Photo courtesy Halimah Marcus)

Halimah Marcus discusses an orienteering route (Photo courtesy Halimah Marcus)

Want to learn more about orienteering? USA Orienteering has all the info and can point you to clubs near you.

 
 

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Into the Blue

Letting go of the success that’s killing you

 Scuba dive in the Galapagos. (Photo courtesy Tiffany Duong)

Scuba dive in the Galapagos. (Photo courtesy Tiffany Duong)

 

In 2015, Tiffany Duong was living the life: she’d finished law school, moved back to L.A. to join a big law firm, and traveled as much as she could. She worked hard and played harder.

And yet, she was miserable.

Then, on a whim, Tiffany signed up for a scuba diving trip to the Galapagos Islands. At the time, it seemed like just another bandaid — a way to escape her angst for a few days. But what happened on that boat, and in the wild blue ocean currents, ended up changing her life completely.

On this episode, she shares her story.

 
 
Everything in my life up to that point had taught me to value power, positions, spending, and stability. There isn’t time in that kind of life for sunsets and starry nights.
— Tiffany Duong
 
 

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Powerless

How do you help, when there’s nothing you can do to make things better?

 Houston, TX during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Cristina Mandujano)

Houston, TX during Hurricane Harvey. (Photo by Cristina Mandujano)

 

It’s been just over a year since Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas Gulf Coast. The Category Four storm devastated small coastal communities and dumped 51 inches of water in Houston. Harvey flooded over 200,000 homes and nearly burst major dams.

But that’s just the physical impact. Natural disasters can have deep emotional effects for us, too.

On this episode, Houston-based journalist Laura Isensee reflects on how powerless she felt to do anything useful during the storm. It’s a story that gives us an inside look at what it’s like to experience, and report on, a natural disaster, and about what happens when you feel like you’re incapable of helping the situation.

I think we all have an urge to rush to our loved ones when they’re in danger. We want to protect them. Help them. Do something to fix their problems. And that urge was especially strong for me just then. But I was totally at a loss.
— Laura Isensee
 
 
 
 

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Fractured Self

What happens when parenthood threatens to erase your identity?

 Monica Gokey’s son Vern goes fishing at dawn. (Photo by Monica Gokey)

Monica Gokey’s son Vern goes fishing at dawn. (Photo by Monica Gokey)

 

Monica Gokey was an avid whitewater kayaker. Paddling had stolen her heart, shaped her identity, and given her a tribe to belong to.

Then she had kids.

These days, Monica’s kayaking life has been replaced by the routine of caring for three small children. The adventurous side of her has been eclipsed by her new identity as a parent. And some days, that new identity is tough to swallow.

On this episode, Monica shares her story. It’s a story about the parts of ourselves we give up when we choose to become parents. And it’s about attempting to reconcile yourself with a new identity.

 
I let my pre-parent self slide away too easily. ... And it’s left me feeling a bit adrift on who I am anymore.
— Monica Gokey
 
 
 
 

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Selfless Acts

What prompts people to be overly generous?

 Bill AppeL talks with a traveler at his aid station along the Colorado Trail. (Photo by Willow Belden)

Bill AppeL talks with a traveler at his aid station along the Colorado Trail. (Photo by Willow Belden)

 

Bill Appel has devoted his retirement years to helping strangers.

He’s a “trail angel,” providing support to hikers and mountain bikers on several long-distance trails. He offers food and beverages to travelers, gives them rides into town to resupply, and cheers them on at some of the most demoralizing points in their journeys.

It’s a year-round operation. Appel angels along the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, the Colorado Trail, and the Florida Trail — and he does it all for free.

On this episode, we pay a visit to one of his aid stations, and we explore why people are sometimes so selfless. Where does altruism come from? What makes a person commit repeated acts of kindness?

FYI: the answer is not what you’d expect.

 
 
 

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Save 20% at GossamerGear.com with the promo code “GossamerGearOutThere”

 
 

Moments to Waste

What if you threw your career by the wayside, in favor of goofing off?

 Susan Shain enjoys a powder day in Colorado. (Photo courtesy Susan Shain)

Susan Shain enjoys a powder day in Colorado. (Photo courtesy Susan Shain)

 

Susan Shain was on track to pursue her dream: to live and work in New York City. She had worked hard in college, put in her time with unpaid internships, and had landed interviews with top media companies.

And then, just as she was about to graduate from college, one interview changed everything.

On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story about leaving behind your career ambitions and embracing a life of wasting time. And it's about the unexpected things that can happen when you stop trying to get ahead.

I saw friends getting better jobs and bigger promotions and beautiful houses. I wondered what it would feel like to live without roommates, to eat out whenever I wanted, to own a pet — or at least a houseplant.
— Susan Shain
 
 

Special thanks to Laura McGuinn for help recording Susan's story. Laura hosts a podcast called Columbia Calls, about Columbia, South Carolina.

 
 
 

Intrigued by Susan's lifestyle? Check out her pay-what-you-want ebook below...

 
 
 

Wonder

What if you unlocked your own inner scientist?

 STUDENTS WATCH THE BEGINNING OF THE 2017 SOLAR ECLIPSE ON THE NORTH FORK OF THE PAYETTE RIVER IN IDAHO. (PHOTO COURTESY KAYLA BORDELON)

STUDENTS WATCH THE BEGINNING OF THE 2017 SOLAR ECLIPSE ON THE NORTH FORK OF THE PAYETTE RIVER IN IDAHO. (PHOTO COURTESY KAYLA BORDELON)

 

Kayla Bordelon grew up thinking she didn't have a brain for science. Charts and numbers were indecipherable to her, and Latin names of plants and animals seemed irrelevant to her life. Instead, she was drawn to the humanities, where human experiences were front and center, and emotions had a place in the discussion.

Then, something happened that would unlock a part of her she didn't know existed. 

On this episode, Kayla shares her story. It's a story that takes us from the Oregon coast to a remote river in Idaho, and it explores the boundaries between "science people" and the rest of us. Are we predestined to become one type or the other, or is there more to the equation? And what do we miss out on when we give up on science?

 
I couldn’t understand why everyone else thought science was so fun, so exciting. It was like they were all in on some secret that I would never be a part of.
— Kayla Bordelon
 

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Use the promo code PRO50 for $50 off your Tailgater PRO package.

 

A Different Kind of Love

What happens when our expectations hold us back?

 A Sled Dog named IPA stands in his dog yard in Talkeetna, Alaska. (Photo by Paula Davis)

A Sled Dog named IPA stands in his dog yard in Talkeetna, Alaska. (Photo by Paula Davis)

When Paula Davis went to Alaska to work with sled dogs, she had a storybook vision of what her life there would be like. She'd always been good with dogs, and she pictured herself forming life-long bonds with her new canine companions. There would be fur-filled cuddles, and meaningful gazes, and nonstop dog kisses.

But of course, it wasn't that simple.

On this episode, she shares her story. It's about what happens when relationships don't turn out the way we'd hoped — and about how our expectations can hold us back in ways we'd never imagined.


Sometimes, my mom would call me the dog whisperer, and I would roll my eyes and feign embarrassment, but really I was proud. Dogs were something I was good at.
— Paula Davis
 
 

 
 
 

Special thanks to House of Pod for recording Paula's story.

House Of Pod is a podcasting coworking space, production company and education center in Denver, Colorado.

 

 

This episode sponsored by

 
 

Use the promo code PRO50 for $50 off your TailgaterPro bundle!

Denial

Why we all ignore facts — even when they stare us in the face

 Backcountry guide Cindy Gagnon (Photo by Josh Vertucci)

Backcountry guide Cindy Gagnon (Photo by Josh Vertucci)

Cindy Gagnon was backcountry skiing in Canada when she was buried in an avalanche.

Just a few hours later, the people she was skiing with — her friends — acted like nothing had happened. They reveled in the fresh powder, hooting and hollering as they skied home. 

How could that be? And what did it mean?

This is a story about a type of denial we all engage in, whether in the wilderness or in our careers. It's a denial that simultaneously explains — and impedes — our ability for survival. And it might make you think twice about the decisions you make in the future.

Producer Bishop Sand, host of the new podcast Qualia, brings us the story.


In order to do anything really great, we have to go in with our blinders on. Because we wouldn’t start any project if we thought about all the uncertainty and complexity that might be involved.
— Philip Fernbach
 

Bishop Sand is the host and founder of the podcast Qualia, which immerses listeners in science experiments.

 

Support for this episode comes from DISH Outdoors.

Use the promo code PRO50 at checkout to get $50 off your Tailgater Pro and DISH receiver bundle.

 
 

The Instinct to Kill

Instinct to Kill Rerun SQUARE.jpg

Deep down, are we all hunters?

Public Radio News Directors, Inc., a nation-wide association of radio professionals, recently honored Out There with a first-place award for our story The Instinct to Kill, which ran in January 2017. To celebrate, we thought we'd play you the story.

It's about one New Yorker's first experience hunting. And it looks at what it takes to actually pull the trigger. Is it something anyone is capable of? And if we can take a life, what does that say about us? How does it change us?

Sam Anderson brings us the story.

Behind a Pane of Glass

 Olivia Round on her bike trip from Oregon to Florida. (Photo courtesy Olivia Round)

Olivia Round on her bike trip from Oregon to Florida. (Photo courtesy Olivia Round)

Cycling cross country to escape your biggest fear

When Olivia Round set off on a cross-country bicycle trip, she told people she was doing it to have an adventure, or to take a semester off school. But her real reason was more personal, more urgent: she wanted to overcome a paralyzing fear. A fear of men.

On this episode, Olivia shares the story of one particular night on her journey. It's a story about a surprising encounter she had in the mountains of Colorado — and about what's actually possible when it comes to overcoming our deepest fears.

As a young woman, I felt like I’d been born with a neon sign over my head and a bullseye between my legs.
— Olivia Round
 

Solo

Can you be strong, independent and capable — and still need help?

 Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

Jen Kinney on the Mountain To Sea Trail. (Photo by Jen Kinney)

Jen Kinney wanted to be a strong, independent woman. She had just split up with her long-term partner, and she felt a powerful need to prove that she was capable — that she could make it by herself — that she could meet her own needs.

So she decided to take herself backpacking. Alone. 

She picked a 50-mile stretch of the Mountain To Sea Trail in North Carolina, and began planning meticulously. She worked through all the logistics, assembled her gear, packed everything she would need to provide for herself.

But what happened to her out in the mountains did not make her feel strong or capable. At least not right away.

The trip might not have been what she bargained for. But it left her with an important life lesson — a new understanding of what it means to take care of yourself.


I think of myself as an independent person. In fact, if you asked my ex, he might say it was actually a problem in our relationship. He would try to help me out with some simple task, and I would tell him, ‘No, I can do that myself.’
— Jen Kinney
 

My Big Fat Greek Breakup

 A beach in Sarti. (Photo by Maya Kroth)

A beach in Sarti. (Photo by Maya Kroth)

When Type A meets Plan B

Maya Kroth had her future all planned out: she and her boyfriend would move to Greece, where his family was from, they'd settle down in a beautiful village, lead an idyllic expat existence, maybe grow artichokes.

But that vision was shattered when the couple split up. No matter how good her life was, Maya just couldn't shake the breakup, or the loneliness she was left with.

Then, she took a trip to a small town in Greece. Alone. 

What happened there would change her perspective on the breakup — and on how to find happiness.


What good was living the dream if I was destined to do it alone?
— Maya Kroth
 

Hear other stories by Maya Kroth on Out There...

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The Same Humanity

When disaster brings out the best in us

Another Channel 1.jpg

Another Channel

What if the lines between science and religion aren't so clear?

Thank You To My Mom

Searching for the woman you never truly knew

 A photo of Nicole Jacot von Kaenel, Camille's mother, shared by her Ecuadorian friends to Camille in Quito. Unknown location and date - most likely Switzerland. (Courtesy Camille von Kaenel)

A photo of Nicole Jacot von Kaenel, Camille's mother, shared by her Ecuadorian friends to Camille in Quito. Unknown location and date - most likely Switzerland. (Courtesy Camille von Kaenel)

It wasn't until after her mother died that Camille von Kaenel realized just how little she knew about her. The mother she knew -- or thought she knew -- was a stereotypical homemaker, a mom who drove her kids to soccer games and occupied her free time with cooking shows.

But after her untimely death, Camille would learn about a very different side to her mother. She would come to meet a woman she had never known — and through that process, she gained a whole new admiration for the parent she had lost. 

On this episode, Camille shares her story. It's a story that takes us from the Swiss Alps to a volcano in Ecuador. And it shows us just how much we can learn about -- and gain from -- our loved ones, even in their absence. 


What was her childhood like? Why had she decided to become a mother? Was she happy? ... Those questions about my mom continued to haunt me.
— Camille von Kaenel
 

The Right to Complain

If you have a problem, but others are worse off, should you shut up?

India AQ Horz-1.jpg

In 2015, Australian journalist James Bennett moved to India, to take up a long-coveted role as a foreign correspondent.

James was an outdoorsy type: he liked to cycle, surf, camp, and fish. So he knew the move to India's crowded capital city was going to be hard. But what he didn’t realize was how the experience would change his perspective on speaking up about your problems.

On this episode, he shares his story. 

 
I went into mansplaining mode. I told her she didn’t know pollution at all. The way I saw it was, ‘What could you possibly be worried about in New York!? Surely it can’t be anywhere near as bad as what I put up with!’
— James Bennett

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A Little Too Late

What dreams can show us about our loved ones — and ourselves

Sangre de Cristos.jpg

When Mary Roberts went on a backpacking trip in New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains, she was looking for an epiphany — a vision that would help her sort out her troubled marriage and pull her back into happiness.

What happened out in the wilderness wasn't at all what she'd expected or hoped. The "vision" she got (if that's what you'd call it) was as perplexing as it was disturbing, and it seemed to have nothing to do with the problems she was trying to solve.

But as she would come to learn, sometimes it's the most perplexing events that affect us most profoundly.

On this episode, Mary shares her story.

 
 
 
I told people that I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday in a big way, but the truth was I was living a huge lie concerning my marriage.
— Mary Roberts
 

A version of this story was first told at a live storytelling event hosted by KUNC in Fort Collins, Colorado in 2017.

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We Followed Our Hearts

Is it better to listen to reason, or defy your own better judgement?

 Grace and Tom on a beach in Maine (Photo courtesy Grace Henes)

Grace and Tom on a beach in Maine (Photo courtesy Grace Henes)

When it comes to making decisions, we often know what we should do. But then there's that little voice, urging you to throw caution to the wind. What happens when we give into that voice - when we make a decision that's clearly irrational - that everyone tells us is a mistake?

This is a story about young love, a cross-country road trip, and a tough question: whether you should follow your head or your heart.

 
 
We both knew how hard it was, struggling through a long-distance relationship. And then what? Another year, miles apart, only to find out we still couldn’t live in the same place?
— Grace Henes
 
 

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My Inner Teenager

Discovering the line between confidence and arrogance

 Mt. Adams, the second peak on the Presidential Traverse, was engulfed in fog and raging winds when Bassam Tarazi attempted it. (Photo by Bassam Tarazi)

Mt. Adams, the second peak on the Presidential Traverse, was engulfed in fog and raging winds when Bassam Tarazi attempted it. (Photo by Bassam Tarazi)

When Bassam Tarazi set out to hike the 23-mile Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire, he wasn't worried. It was a nice summer day, he had a lifetime of mountaineering experience behind him, and compared to his other outdoor conquests, this would be easy.

But over the course of the next few hours, he would come to realize what a dangerous miscalculation he had made. It was a miscalculation that would scare him to the point of tears and would cause him question the value of his own confidence.

On this episode, he shares his story. It's a story about what happens when your inner teenager takes over -- when you cross the invisible line between confidence and cockiness.

 
 
 
 
 
I thrived off of the momentary discomfort that comes from putting yourself out there and taking risks, because the rewards were so fulfilling.
— Bassam Tarazi

Bassam Tarazi is an explorer and author based in Portland, Oregon. His latest book is called Borders, Bandits and Baby Wipes: A Big Adventure in a Tiny Car.

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Nothing Left to Give

A homeless man, a lost cat, and a relationship that healed the scars of a broken past

Michael King was homeless, depressed, and drinking. Tabor was a lost, injured and hungry. One rainy night in Portland, Oregon, the two found each other.

Even though Michael had nothing to offer -- no money, no shelter -- he rescued the little cat. And she adopted him. 

On this episode, we talk with writer Britt Collins, who wrote a book chronicling their story.

It's a story of love and tenderness, and of the surprising things that can happen when those who have nothing left to give, decide to give anyway.

 
 
She gave him someone to love and care for. ... Michael craves that; he’s a nurturer.
— Britt Collins
 
 
 
 Michael and Tabor. (Photo courtesy Britt Collins)

Michael and Tabor. (Photo courtesy Britt Collins)

Britt Collins' book is called Strays. It's available in hardcover on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, and in other bookstores now, and it comes out in paperback in June.

Britt is also launching a cat festival in London this summer. Yes, a cat festival.


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With My Toes in the Sand

Breaking free of the urge to run when the going gets rough

 Susan Conrad in her kayak on the inside passage. (Photo courtesy Susan Conrad)

Susan Conrad in her kayak on the inside passage. (Photo courtesy Susan Conrad)

Throughout her whole life, whenever things weren't going well, Susan Conrad's tendency was to run. She ran from one problem to the next, one job to the next, one man to the next. 

But seven years ago, she embarked on a trip that would change all that. She decided to kayak the Inside Passage, a 1,200-mile coastal route from Washington State to Alaska -- by herself.

On this episode, she shares her story. It's a story of a troubled past (#MeToo), and of a journey that changed the way she approaches life -- a journey that taught her patience, and showed her how to appreciate where she is -- right here, and right now.

 
 
 
I knew I was going down the wrong path when I found myself rummaging through my backcountry first-aid kit for pain pills that were prescribed years ago for emergencies.
— Susan Conrad
 

Special thanks to Steve Jahn and Ben Wells for recording Susan's story. Steve and Ben are part of Burnt Breakfast, a 5-piece band specializing in "mud blues" in the Puget Sound area of Washington State.

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