Ever have one of those cool weekends where everything sort of comes together well for you and makes for a fun and interesting experience? I just had one of those, with a few really great moments, and I thought I’d share.
After Sally’s presentation, we were introduced to the store manager and some of the staff, who talked a bit about how challenging it was to get the store open on time, but that everything came together quite nicely in the end. After that, we were set free again to wander the store, and drool over all the cool products. The new Round Rock store is one of the biggest in the country, so there was a lot to look at and it’s two level design is laid out very well. Unlike other REI stores however, the “Community Center” is not relegated to some back room. In this store, it’s a center piece, suspended halfway between the two floors. This meeting space/learning center has a number of seats for the audience arranged in front of a large screen with a podium, mic, and a projector. This makes for a great multimedia environment for the guest speakers, training sessions, and outdoor group meetings. I left that night very impressed, and happy to have the new store literally just minutes away from my home.
I didn’t stay away for long however, as I returned on Friday night to attend a presentation by “Mr. Everest” himself, Pete Athans. At one point, Pete held the record for the most summits on Everest by a non-Sherpa at 7, and his wealth of climbing experience and knowledge have made him a legend in the mountaineering community. Pete talked about how he first became interested in the mountains, and Everest specifically, as a child, reading about far off places and the adventures that mountaineers went on. Later he would have the opportunity to go to Everest and make his own mark on the mountain, but it took him three attempts before he finally made it up the
As the presentation went on, the discussion moved away from mountaineering and more into his philanthropic endeavors in the Himalaya. He helped to launch The Magic Yeti libraries and worked closely with doctors conducting clinics to repair damaged eyes for the Sherpa people who suffered from cataracts and other vision problems.
After the presentation I got to shake hands with Pete and say hello as well as get an autograph. He was a very cordial and pleasant guy, with a zen like calm about himself that is a result, I’d guess, of spending a lot of time in Nepal and Tibet. It was a great experience, and I feel lucky to have now met Pete, Ed Viesturs and Conrad Anker, three of the greatest American mountaineers around.
The early part of the presentation gave us an introduction to the project and some of the past expeditions that have been a part of the Ocean’s 8. Jon and his crew have explored the planet by kayak in such far flung locations as Tasmania, Croatia, and even the altiplano of South America, one of the driest places on Earth. But Antarctica was the culmination of the project, and the photos and video he had to share were stunning. He also talked about the difficulties of navigating in the Antarctic region, with ice that can tear a ship apart, referencing the sinking of the Explorer last November as an example. Jon was aboard the ship that was fist on the scene to help in the rescue efforts.
As you would probably expect, Jon’s presentation was another fascinating one. He touched on a variety of topics from expedition logistics, adventure tourism, global climate change, and much more. To wrap up his presentation, Jon showed us a preview of the film that will be releasing soon documenting the Antarctic expedition. Shot entirely in HD, the preview had a number of amazing shots, including the collapse of an ice arch right before or eyes. The short teaser helped to underscore the message that climate change is having a direct impact on parts of Antarctica and at an alarming rate.
After the presentation concluded, a few of us approached Jon to ask a few questions and get our books signed. I brought a copy of his new book Descending The Dragon, which recounts Jon’s experiences paddling through Vietnam. When I handed the book over to get is signed, I was surprised to find that Jon not only knew who I was, but also about this blog. He asked me a bit about it, and had some kind words to say. It was a bit of a surreal moment for me, as I’ve written about Jon and his expeditions on a number of occasions, but I had no expectations that he would have a clue who I was. Like Pete Athans the night before, Jon was very approachable and easy to chat with, and as youd expect, an incredibly interesting guy.
So, that’s what I did with my weekend. Hung out with a couple of legends while enjoying a new REI store, and helping to make a major announcement about the next Primal Quest. Just another couple of days in the life of an adventure blogger. 🙂 I also managed to mix in a couple of runs and a very nice long bike ride this morning as well, so the weekend wasn’t completely spent indoors. All in all, a rather busy and fun weekend.
But enough about me, what did you do?
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