Happy Halloween everyone! On Sunday October 28th, I marked the official one year anniversary of launching Mike Off The Map, my project which started as a chronicle of my journeys and now has turned into something so much bigger. It’s been an incredible first year of stories, adventures, and new friends and future travel partners from all over the globe. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on what a wild first year it’s been, and thank above all my readers and fans who are the reason I continue to write.
Mike Off The Map started last October as a way to chronicle and catalogue my trips and adventures while inspiring others to take up a life of discovery and travel, and prove that it’s not difficult to go abroad and see the far corners of the world. My philosophy has been to make my travel writing personal and real, not only to take note of the high points of the trip, but also the trials, tribulations, and emotions of when an adventure goes off course or when things don’t go the way that I meant them to. My inspiration has been from writers like Ernest Hemingway, who chronicled his travels in a gritty and raw style leaving out romantic and idealistic imagery for placing his readers along in a place with him.
In those first three months, I received the openness, warmth, and support of the blogging community. I found an amazing group of writers and travelers, not competing or trying to outdo each other but sharing stories, experiences, and places, each one written in its own unique way. Some explore the charm of a European city, the food, the history, the architecture, some go looking for the spiritual, trying to see what drives a culture’s emotions and customs, and some go looking for the wonders of the natural world, a far off peak, a wild desert, or a lush forest. In the end we’re all explorers, bringing home tales of discovery and adventure and with this endeavor i’ve become the kind of person who first inspired me when I read the dispatches of distant and daring expeditions.
In this first year my writing has inspired my adventures, each one more daring than the last. From a snowboard experience in Tennessee to a wild Everglades river expedition, from a terrifying moment on Mt. Rainier to a tamer climb in West Virginia and culminating with landing a helicopter on an Alaskan glacier, I write to show others that this kind of wild life is possible.
This brings me to the most important part of this adventure: the fans. It’s been my readers and my contributers who have made this possible. There have been a few people in particular who have made a tremendous impact on my writing and have given me incalculable support, you know who you are and I thank you infinitely. I thank everybody from around the globe who read my posts and the travel writer community for being so incredibly accepting of someone who dreams big and then does bigger.
So wheres the future? I already have some hugely exciting plans for 2013 and everything is going towards my move out west. There’s another Everglades trip in the works for early next month and then a short period of planning before heading out to bigger and better experiences. In the meantime i’m working on some great side publications and planning all through the holidays. If anyone has any input on where I should be next year, I would be more than welcome to hear!
So thank you everyone and after looking at the past and the future, I now turn my attention towards the present.
Last Saturday I entered my first climbing competition. A local bouldering competition, a discipline in climbing that i’ve never exactly mastered. Well the competition was an amazing experience. I got to meet and compete with some incredible climbers and in after having flashed every route in my category, I placed fifth out of seven climbers in my group. The points were awarded based on attempts rather than deductions, so even though I finished all my routes on the first try, I was held back by my competitors doing better than me on routes in more difficult categories. Still I had a good friend take first place and I couldn’t be more ecstatic for him and I could still be incredibly proud of my own attempt. The best part of the competition was being cheered on by my family and two best friends who came to lend me their support at the most difficult part of the day. Competing in the future? It was definitely an amazing experience and i’d be more than open to giving it another try.
So that’s my thoughts on this Halloween. Before I close out, I want to send my best wishes to everyone in the Northeast and only hope that you and your families are safe. Thank you everyone for this first year, and here’s to an incredible second one!