Books

#006 Building a Family Nature Club with Jason Sperling

Colorado.FM Interview: Jason Sperling

 

Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Colorado.FM.  In this episode I will be speaking with Jason Sperling about his latest book titled Unplugged: 15 steps to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature, yourself, friends and family.

This is Jason’s 3rd book on the subject of getting your kids outside, and while many of you Coloradoans out there are thinking that you’ve got this outdoor kid thing under control, we all know that this is a real societal challenge that we face right now.

And as someone who is raising kids in Colorado, I can tell you that Jason is committed to getting not only his kids, but all the kids in his neighborhood or circle of influence if if you will, outside.  And his latest book offers a blueprint to making this happen in your community, no matter how big or small.

As always, we get into what brought Jason to Colorado, or in his case, back to Colorado.  And as someone who’s day job is in tech, this conversation really gets into some of the great things going on here economically as well as lifestyle-wise.

We get into how nature as the quote-unquote “third parent” can actually make raising your kids easier.

And as someone who is dedicated to getting the family outside, Jason offers some great tips on where to go here in the Boulder area.  So whether you live here or are visiting, I think you’ll get something useful out of that.

Finally, our first give away.. I’m pretty excited!  Jason has very generously left me 3 copies of his latest book to give to our listeners.  So we’ll have some details on how you can get your hands on that at the end of the podcast.

Online, you can find Jason at JasonRunkelSperling.com and on Instagram @jsperling.

And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to connect with Jason or find the resources he mentions right in the show notes to this episode.

I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jason Sperling, author and pied piper of getting kids dirty.

 


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Selected Links from the Episode

Jason Sperling

Unplugged: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family

Mud Kitchen in a Day

The Backyard Play Revolution

JasonRunkelSperling.com

Instagram: @jsperling

 

Other Books & References

Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv

Children & Nature Network

Playborhood – Mike Lanza

Bobolink Trail Boulder

East Boulder Rec Center

Laughing Coyote Project

 

Boulder Startup Accelerators

Techstars

Boomtown

Unreasonable Group

 


Show Notes

[3:00]  Why Colorado? Boulder to Los Angeles and back to Boulder

[7:00] Making change happen: the power of setting deadlines

[11:00] Tech ecosystem in Boulder and how it made change possible

[11:45] Unplugging and building a family nature club – the inspiration for the book

[20:45] Nature as a ‘Third Parent’ and how being outside makes parenting easier

[23:00] Never saying ‘No’.  Risk vs. Consequence

[25:45] The ‘How’ of creating a family nature club

[27:30] What’s next?  Managing after school time

[32:00] Favorite spot:  Why South Boulder Creek / Bobolink trail rules!

[32:00] Who Jason wants on this podcast:  Neal Ritter from Laughing Coyote Project

 


Transcript

 

Colorado.FM – Colorado Podcast Interview with Jason Sperling

Hello, everyone. Doug Stetzer here, and thanks for tuning into this episode of Colorado FM – The Colorado Podcast. In this episode, I’ll be speaking with Jason Sperling about his latest book titled Unplugged: 15 Steps to Disconnect from Technology and Reconnect with Nature, Yourself, Friends, and Family.

This is Jason’s third book on the subject of getting your kids outside. While many of you Coloradans out there are thinking you’ve got this outdoor kid thing under control, we all know it’s a real challenge that we face in society right now, and as someone who’s raising kids here in Colorado, I can tell you that Jason is committed to getting not only his kids, but all the kids in his neighborhood, school, circle of influence, if you will, outside. His latest book offers a blueprint to making this happen in your community no matter how big or small a group you really want to get involved with.

As always, we get into what brought Jason to Colorado, and in his case, back to Colorado, and as someone whose day job is in tech, the conversation really gets into some of the great things going on here economically as well as lifestyle wise. We get into how nature as the “third parent” can actually make your life or raising kids easier. As someone, like I said, who’s dedicated to getting family outside, Jason offers some great tips on where to go here in the Boulder area. Whether you live here or visiting or thinking about visiting, I think you’ll get something really useful out of that. He’s got some great ideas.

Finally, our first giveaway, and I’m pretty excited about this, Jason has generously left me three copies of his latest book to give to our listeners, so we’ll have some details on how you can get your hands on that at the end of the podcast.

Online, you can find Jason at jasonrunkelsperling.com. That’s Jason Runkel, R-U-N-K-E-L, Sperling dot com, and on Instagram @jsperling. Of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to connect with Jason or find the resources mentioned right in the show notes to this episode.

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Here we go. My conversation with Jason Sperling, author and pied piper getting things dirty.

Thanks for coming to the studio today. I have been looking forward to talking with you about projects you are working on, and in particular, we’re going to get to your latest book Unplugged: How to Build a Family Nature Club, and this is something that we’re kind of involved with personally and through the school and everything, but before we get to that, why Colorado? I know you’re actually from Colorado, but something about the state and what’s going on here, I guess, brought you back. Why don’t we get into that a little bit first, and then we’ll move into what started your interest in these books.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, that’s a great place to start. I’m happy to be here. Very excited. Good to see you again. I grew up and was born and raised here until, I think I was around 20 or so, and then I left after finishing college and lived around the world a couple of different places. By the time I ended up getting married and having children, I was in Los Angeles. Me and my wife lived in a one bedroom condo and didn’t really think about having a kid at that time when we bought the place. When we did, there wasn’t really any place to put her. We had a really big walk-in closet, and for the first two years of her life, Nyla was sleeping in the walk-in closet, which was sort of awkward and a little strange, but it was a big closet.

Doug Stetzer:                       Having the great outdoors in the closet.

Jason Sperling:                   Right. We had a balcony, like a, you know, eight by four balcony with some plants on there. I would go, for the first two years of her life, very frequently to the marina in the mornings because she wasn’t a big sleeper, and she didn’t sleep through the night for years. She would wake up at around 5:00 in the morning and not go back to sleep, and Michelle had been up for most of the night with her, so I would go with Nyla down to the beach, at Marina Del Rey, and we would walk the beach.

Every time I drive back to the condo, I was just like, what am I doing here? I had a great job, great friends, great family nearby, and it was wonderful when we were adults and not parents.

Then my grandpa passed away, and I went to a funeral in New York. On the plane ride back, I was with my brother, and we were talking about life, all those big conversations that you have, and it just struck me that I should be not returning to Los Angeles but going back to Boulder where I grew up so I could be close to my family. My mother and father still live here in Boulder. I took about a year or so thinking about things before we made the move, but the main idea was to come out here to be closer to nature and to raise our children really in the mountains and with nature and close to family and friends.

We made the move, and I remember the first day we were here, we were living near Wonderland Lake and walked to the lake, and it was just this amazing experience. Like wow, we did it, and we’re here, and it’s beautiful, and the waves are sort of lapsing on the shore, and there’s birds flying. Just amazing.

Coming from a one bedroom condo in LA to living out here, my commute was 5 or 10 minutes long, and now we’ve been able to do so much stuff out in nature, and it’s really been, I think, profound for the children, whereas if we had stayed in LA, we’d be trying to escape to the mountains, which were 45 minute drive away from our place. The beach, of course, is wonderful, but is also 20, 30 minutes away. I just think that the quantity and the quality of time for the children in nature would’ve been way different. It’s been just pretty amazing being here.

Doug Stetzer:                       You’re actually from Boulder. Did you go to CU right down the road?

Jason Sperling:                   I did go to CU, yep.

Doug Stetzer:                       Oh, okay.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       Like you mention, you still have family here, which is obviously helpful when you’re making these big moves, it’s … We’ve had to move around a lot, and we haven’t really been able to do it with family, so it’s always kind of harder trek.

Just a year to go from that cathartic mindset of, “Hey, I want to make a change,” to actually making it happen is actually pretty short and spectacular. I mean, that’s something that takes people a lot of time to do, sometimes. Is there something about … Were you able to just transfer your job here and work remotely or is what’s going on in Colorado from a business perspective economically part of what allowed that to happen?

Jason Sperling:                   I mean, so I couldn’t transfer the job at the time. What’s happening in Boulder, as you probably know, is the amount of start-up activity and the activity in the technology sector is really vibrant here right now, and so it’s growing quite a bit. It’s way different than when I was growing up here. The cafes are just bustling with people, talking about ideas and making things happen. As part of that, there’s a support ecosystem, and my profession is in the technology sector, and so that did allow the transfer for me really easy because there’s a lot of companies I could work with.

What I did, which was one of those experiences that gave me shivers, is I wrote down the actual date that I wanted to start here in Colorado. The date I was going to move here, and the day I wanted to have my first day of my new job here, which was, I think, the 23rd of may. I wrote that down, and when I started networking in Boulder, I would tell people, “This is the date I’m going to be in Colorado,” which was a year out, which is a weird thing to say.

What’s different than the big cities where I had been working is that people in Boulder just open up their networks. I would talk to one person, and then they would introduce me to three, and so on, and it was just the most welcoming community to come into. I had some 30, 40 conversations with different businesses, and then eventually, I found one that was looking for someone with my background and skillset, and the start date was on that date. It was just a very other worldly experience. I was crazy.

I think that really helped, having a really concrete plan because people also responded to me differently than saying, “Hey I would like to come out there at some point. I don’t know when, but at some point,” instead of emailing and telling people, “I’m going to be there on the 24rd of May,” and … I think that helped make the transition.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, and that really helped make it real in your mind. It helped with your job search. It just helped people respond well to deadlines, obviously-

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       Instead of that kind of up-in-the-air out in outer space, “I want to move one day.”

Jason Sperling:                   Right, right.

Doug Stetzer:                       Now, that’s really interesting. I think it’s just as important about … It’s an important quality of what’s going on here in the sense that, and I didn’t know this about Boulder before I moved here. I had just knew it was a town near the mountains that was popular for its outdoor activities and had the university. I knew that much.

What I didn’t realize was that, that university’s cranking out PhDs, and people here have had good jobs for decades, not just ski-bum jobs. They’re working at NOAA and National Science Laboratories, and they’re working at the big IBM campus north of town. I mean, these people have had what, to me, was like a really great secret.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, yeah.

Doug Stetzer:                       But now the secret’s kind of getting out, obviously, not just for Boulder but for Denver as well, but that idea that you can have this well-balanced lifestyle, be outside, get your kids outside, but that there’s jobs. I mean, that’s part of the magic of what’s going on here and is what’s making these conversations really interesting.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, and like the early stage start-up ecosystem is growing. There’s, I think, three incubators now. You’ve got Techstars, you’ve got Boomtown, and then the Unreasonable Group is doing a bunch of stuff, so there’s a, becoming a really good ecosystem in Boulder, in Denver as well, and everyone is just very, very friendly, and that is attracting bigger companies. Google, of course, is coming in, expanding their campus here. There’s a lot of really great intellectual capital in town, and yeah, it’s a fun place to be with family, and it’s just great all around.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Well, let’s move in the direction since we talked about tech, and we’re going to talk about un-teching. Getting the kids away from it, getting the family and even ourselves. We’re all are battling with our own screen time issues and just trying to unplug.

You have written three books. Mud Kitchen in a Day, The Backyard Revolution, and then the latest one, Unplugged: How to Build a Family Nature Club. Let’s talk about this latest book. Just tell us, what is a family nature club to you? What inspired this idea?

Jason Sperling:                   Sure. The inspiration for the book is from another book, actually, written by Richard Louv, The Last Child in the Woods, and in that book, it’s not a footnote, but it doesn’t have a lot of attention, but that’s where is sort of introduced to the mainstream. I think that’s where the label came from, but the concept of Family Nature Clubs is piping around for forever or for quite a while where basically, it’s a group of people who are committed to going into nature. It’s family oriented, so you have the parents and you have the children organizing to go into nature and to try to really inspire children and parents to make a deep nature connection.

I read his book, and then put it on my bedside table for a couple of years, and then as our children got a little older, decided to try to make it happen. There’s not, at the time, there wasn’t really any good books on here’s how you do it. There was some support from the Children Nature Network, which is the organization that kind of grew out of the work that Richard has been doing. There’s some great support from them.

I started out by asking parents at the school where Nyla goes to if they would be into this idea. I explained it to them and said, “Hey, I’m thinking about doing this thing. We’d organize an event every two weeks to start,” and I just wanted a small group of people. I didn’t want to create something huge. I had no desire to create a thousand-person organization. I just wanted to build something around Nyla’s community so it’s really centered on her community, and now, my son’s community. We basically organize events. Originally, it was every two weeks, now it’s transitioned to every week when we’re in town.

I try to have the events be a combination of just having unstructured time in nature where the idea is to try to recreate the experience that children have more frequently in the past where they could be outside and do whatever they want in nature.

Then the other ones are more adult-guided activities like go skiing or mountain biking or boating. Some of it requires some adult leadership. Because we’re in Colorado, the opportunities for amazing things to do is just so huge, and so we do things from skiing, rock climbing, mountain biking, boating, playing in the streams, just going out on hikes, and the snowshoeing. I mean, the list just goes on. Everything you can think of in snow and in summer except for surfing. You don’t get surfing or scuba diving or snorkeling.

It started off really small with just a few families coming, and it’s grown. I think the biggest event we’ve had is some 27 folks or something. Most of the events are a couple of hours, and then we do some overnight camping trips, backpacking trips. I think my sense of the purpose of it has changed over time. I think I can be more articulate about the outcomes, which is that the children have these really profound experiences that are just what you would expect in a childhood, but you don’t see as much today.

For example, the last one we went on, we climbed and walked up a stream, and they caught a toad. We found a bunch of feathers. We tried to catch a crawdad but failed. We saw a snake. It’s the kind of things that you would expect and maybe you remember from your own childhood, but that is happening less and less because kids are spending less time outdoors doing nothing.

That’s a big emphasis of what I love is the idea of going out there and doing nothing always turns into something amazing. Going snowshoeing was one of our really fun experiences last year where we go into the woods, it’s snowing, it’s quiet, you’re sort of traipsing through the trees, and then we find this lake.

For the children, it really was this discovery of a lake because they didn’t have the map in their hands, they didn’t know where we were going. They just went over a ridge and dropped down to this lake, and the lake was covered with ice. They were wearing snow shoes, and then when you go on the ice with snowshoes, it makes that creaky sound that sort of is like scratch. We had a sled with us, and we were sailing across the ice in the sled because it was really windy.

That is the kind of stuff that I just love giving those experiences to my children. Part of it is for wanting them to have a connection to nature. The other part is that I really see their behavior a lot differently when they’re inside, indoors versus when they’re outside. I think the indoors is architected for adults very much and not for children.

 


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Children like to fun fast. They like to have big movements. They like to have their volumes at different levels, and they like to manipulate their environment. When you’re outdoors, that’s very possible. When you’re indoors, and that happens, it turns into just, giant mess. Children don’t love cleaning up messes, and it’s very loud. It becomes less, I think, less beneficial to them, whereas outdoors, everything really interoperable. For example, the toys all interact with each other. You can play with a stick with other sticks or a sticks with water, stick with mud, but indoors, the toys tend to be things that you use in a very linear and fixed way.

I just find their behavior outdoors is really, they seem happy, they seem engaged, they’re not frustrated. That’s one piece, and then, I think, maybe a third is I really want them to have a sense of grit, being strong, being able to overcome challenges. A lot of the things that we do, even when it’s unstructured, they tend to find challenges that are appropriate to their age, and they also take risk, which helps them learn things.

I was on this road trip that we just took. We were at my stepbrother’s, or brother-in-law’s place, and I was just saddened to see his children, bright sunny day, cousins visiting, and they’re all indoors, each in their room, each on their own computer. Their house backs up to this amazing woods. They’re up in Washington, so beautiful, dense, thick, lush woods. I went out there with my children because that’s what we do is we go outside and explore. Only the youngest of his children came out with us.

There’s a rickety bridge that went over a little gully, and the gully’s only a foot or two deep, and the rickety bridge was really just two logs with some unsecured crossbeams going across. My children just walked across it like you would, but then their daughter, who I think is, she must be five, five or six, was scared to walk over it. Then when we finally convinced her to walk over it, and it’s maybe two feet of walking, she had very difficult time balancing.

That’s something that we also see. You hear, talking to school administrators and folks at the schools who work with children, is that the development, physical development, motor skills is all happening a lot later with children now because they’re just not doing as much physical stuff anymore.

I think that’s another piece is having the children doing these things outdoors really gives them the opportunity to use their muscles and climb up rocks, climb up trees, all the stuff that was more common in past childhoods.

Doug Stetzer:                       I think, just getting on one of the things you said, and also, one of the things I read in one of your bios or on some bit about you somewhere was that getting into how house play just doesn’t fit like that. It also lends to disciplinary action because they’re just, they’re doing the same stuff they were doing outside, but your house doesn’t fit that. Again, it’s like, “Oh, man, be … Keep it down. Stop jumping off the bed. Stop doing all these things.”

One of the things that really caught my eye was when I was reading this blurb was that you were making the argument that it actually makes parenting easier. I think a lot of people initially, at least, see it the other way. One of the benefits of the club and just interacting with you that we’ve gotten is that when you do get that weekly or bi-weekly email, “Hey, we’re going to go to this river,” even if it’s for unstructured play, it’s like, all right, well, I now have an activity that I didn’t necessarily organize. I know that there’s going to be kids there that my kids know. They’re just going to play, but we’re just going to get them in the right spot.

If we’re probably geared up, then I don’t have to tell them not to go in the creek or not to get wet or not to get dirty or not to … They’re there to do all of those things that “the no machine,” the parenting “no machine”-

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right, that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … is always talking about, and you’re really more worried, at that point, about safety, but not the dirt or the water or things like that. I thought that was an interesting blurb that, you do go there, you relax, you’re less in charge of directing everything, and also less in charge of stopping them to do stuff, as long as it’s safe.

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right. Yeah, I mean, maybe I’m really just a lazy father. I just want to go do something that’s easy for me as a parent, but I there’s also this helpful concept of nature as a third parent, and that there’s so much that children learn from being in that space that’s hard for me, as a parent, to teach them, but nature is doing it seamlessly and effortlessly.

I think when we go out there, there’s this exercise I like to do for myself, which is just to never say no. Of course, you can’t do that all the time, but understand that idea of risk versus consequence where you … Let’s say we go out and we play in the ice, and my son who’s now four, but earlier, would be playing with a hatchet. You think to yourself, well, that hatchet is dull, so if he hits himself, it’s not going to slice his arm. It’s going to hurt a lot, but how’s he going to learn how to use a hatchet if he doesn’t have that opportunity.

The risk is high. I think he’s probably going to hit himself. The consequence is low, versus, let’s say we’re climbing on rocks. It’s really easy to climb up some rocks that you could fall 30 feet down from, especially here. There’s tons of beautiful rock to climb on. That is lower risk, perhaps, because it’s not a very steep incline. It’s not going to be that likely he’s going to fall, but the consequence is he may go to the hospital and not come back in the same shape.

Those kind of things will, I’ll really look and be careful to have low consequence activities, but I’m okay with risk. He’s hit himself a lot with that hatchet, but he also now knows how to use a hatchet. I think that’s probably what I try to express in the book is that my experiences doing this is going outside of the home is much easier parenting.

Also, if you think of having to schedule a play date or something, this is kind of like a play date in that there are other children coming, which is great for the social aspects for the children, but it’s a lot less work for me than trying to coordinate. If I’m trying to coordinate with you, we’re trying to find something on our calendars, something shifts, now the play date’s ruined because I can’t come or you can’t come. Now, I gotta find someone else to do this play date with, whereas the Family Nature Club is organized using Meetup. You could use Facebook, any sort of event management type thing, and I’m inviting 30 people every time, and maybe 5 of those 30 families come, and that’s in a great community for play for my children.

The work for me, I’m not managing schedules with 30 people, I’m just saying, “Here’s what we’re doing. Here’s the time we’re doing. Here’s where. We’d love you to have you join us,” and if we get some, it’s great. It’s also easier from a scheduling perspective, which is huge, so I don’t really do play dates, like the more traditional play date type thing. In a lot of ways, this has become that for the kids. It makes a lot easier parenting.

Doug Stetzer:                       That’s kind of some of the things that you mentioned there that you actually talk about in your book that I thought was interesting when I took a look at it was that not only, it’s not only just a why do Family Nature Club, it’s kind of a how. It actually is a guide to how to set up your own, some of the tools and successes, things that worked and didn’t work.

For example, I thought it was really interesting how you mentioned Meetup, but how it didn’t work for you because you were getting all these requests for invites from people you didn’t know, and you were just interested in keeping it with people you knew from the school and things like that, and you wanted to keep it at that scale. I thought that was really helpful, again, that idea of things that are working for you, but also things that aren’t, and that’s what the book brings you.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, that’s right. I mean, the idea of what the book is to try to demystify how to start a Family Nature Club because there are resources out there, but I feel like I wanted … There wasn’t really this step-by-step guide of like, what do I do on day one? What do I do on day two? What do I do when something doesn’t work as planned?

The book basically chronicles my experience in starting it and offers a lot of tips and advice for how to do it. It’s been really neat to see people read this and then contact me and say, “I’m starting one, and your book helped me feel confident to start one, and it did demystify what I thought was going to be a really hard, complex process into the simple steps to just make it happen.” That’s really neat to see other clubs popping up and people feeling like, from reading this, they’re able to start their own, which is very cool.

Doug Stetzer:                       Well, one thing I’ve learned, also, from writers is that by the time book comes out, you’ve already been working on it for a couple of years, right?

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right, that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       It’s so new to other people so by the time that’s kind of the end of the process for you, where it’s just the beginning of the process for the reader. What are you working on now? What’s the next thing?

Jason Sperling:                   Right, so I think the Family Nature Club is all about the weekend. When I think of the time my children have, there’s the time they’re in school, there’s the after-school time, and then there’s the weekend time. I think that the Family Nature Club has been great for the weekends. Really helps get them out there.

But I’ve been frustrated that, and sorry, just to backtrack into school, also, I think I found a great school where they’re at. It’s a Waldorf school, so they have a similar philosophy of connecting with nature and making sure that children have those kind of experiences, but the after-school time is really challenging. This is a, I think it’s a social problem that we have where it used to be in the past that children could just go outside and there’d be other children outside to play with, and they could play with them for hours. Then you ring the bell and the kids come back for dinner. That’s how I grew up. I think previous generations, my parents and so on had that experience, but children today don’t, and they’re not playing outside.

There’s a book that I’ve just started last night, which is a book called Playborhood by Mike Lanza that addresses this exact problem. He had the same feeling that he wanted to his children to have an outside-the-home experience as they were growing up, playing in their neighborhood. He worked hard at researching it and then testing out different ways to make that happen. I started it last night, literally, and-

Doug Stetzer:                       Nice.

Jason Sperling:                   … but I’m really interested in that and trying to figure out how to do that for my children and our neighborhood so that they can go outside and play with friends during the week. I don’t know. That may not be a writing project, but it’s a project that I’m kind of working on.

Doug Stetzer:                       Well, like you said, it fills in … It’s, when you block your week into times and how you connect all of these things, that’s the next missing piece, and it’s really more of like a mental exercise at this point trying to figure it out, the we’ll have to … If you decode that a little bit, then you’ll have to come back and tell us what’s working for you because it is a, interesting problem. We live in a great neighborhood with lots of kids, but you don’t see them in the front yard, for sure, and so you kind of wonder where they are.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, I mean, that’s been my … I spent the first two books talking about how to make your backyard great, and now, I’ve just realized the kids should be in the front yard, not the backyard.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Yeah, that’s interesting. When we lived out in California before we moved here, we were in kind of your typical little town home. Everything’s really narrow there, but it had a front patio, and at first, you kind of thought the front patio was weird, but you came to realize that the front patio was awesome because you just met all the little people who shuffle by your street. I’m out there with babies and so people stop and talk and other people are pushing carriages around, and old dudes are walking, and it’s super fun to get to know the old dudes in your neighborhood, but spending a lot of time out in the front is what allowed that, so that’s really interesting.

Jason Sperling:                   Just imagine if the design of homes was, instead of having a backyard, move the backyard to the front, and move the homes to the very back of the property, and you do that along all the street, then you have this huge park on the-

Doug Stetzer:                       Basically. Yeah. Every block’s-

Jason Sperling:                   Every block-

Doug Stetzer:                       … a park.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah. That would be amazing.

Doug Stetzer:                       Right, right. Well, I think that’s just a really interesting topic, and it’s just really something that’s obviously that’s, even in a place like Boulder or even in Colorado or whatever, people are still struggling with, not to mention, the well-known problem, societal issues that people are dealing with. Really recommend the book. I think it’s interesting, and I thank you for your efforts with the Family Nature Club, personally, so that’s really awesome.

Before we wrap up, I do like to ask people just a couple of specific things. With your background, I think this is really, will be great information. What’s your favorite spot with all these things? Like what … I know favorite spots are hard, but with all the organizing of these things, what has become maybe a repeat, like a go-to, what’s a real win when you just are out for the day with the kids and everything like that? What’s an example of a really great spot around here?

Jason Sperling:                   In Boulder, there’s a challenge because the Open Space Mountain Parks area gets a lot of visitors, and because they get so many visitors, they really want you to stay on the trail, which makes sense because otherwise, everything would be trampled. Likewise, there’s not tons of water. There’s some creeks. But in the summer time, actually this is really my go to for all seasons, there’s a creek, South Boulder Creek has some access points that the city’s made along the Bubble Lake trailhead, which is off Baseline. You can go there with the kids. There’s about a mile, mile and a half stretch from Baseline going south. What we do is we go into the creek. There’s three or four access points, and we just go in the first one-

Doug Stetzer:                       Nice.

Jason Sperling:                   … and in the summer time, the water’s shallow enough that you can walk in the creek going up, and that’s just an amazing, amazing experience.

In the winter time, it’s frozen, and you can actually do the same exact thing. It’s beautiful walking up a frozen creek with ice on it, and then in the shoulder seasons when the ice is melted partially, you can have the kids going on to shards of ice. They can break and cut through the ice.

Doug Stetzer:                       Okay, breaking ice is like a win every time.

Jason Sperling:                   It’s a huge win. Huge win. It’s kind of like this nice little nature corridor that has just amazing access. It’s really easy to get to in Boulder, and it is really fun for the kids. It’s shaded by trees, so when it’s hot, it’s great. It’s just a all-season, wonderful spot, super close.

Doug Stetzer:                       I think one of the interesting things about that area, that if you were visiting, like whether you’re visiting Boulder or you’re just coming up for a day trip or you’re following this advice and you’re looking for something to do, just go give you a bit more of a picture is that it’s relatively flat out there. You’re not going into Chautauqua. I mean, you go to Chautauqua you have to be ready to just start doing the StairMaster, right?

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       It’s hard with, when you have kids of different leg lengths and even for me, like say when my parents come into town. You’re like, “Let’s go for a hike,” but they’re not really up for the big elevation hikes and things like that. So when grandparents are in town, and you’ve got little kids, and you got middle kids, one of the interesting things about that area is that you’re not dealing with steep trails and-

Jason Sperling:                   That’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … a thousand steps and things like that. It’s a nice flat area just to go stomp around.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, and it’s a little less crazy, like parking wise. You can usually find parking. You can access it from the other side, which is at East Boulder Rec Center, so there’s tons of parking there. But yeah, it’s great for different skill levels and all that.

Doug Stetzer:                       Yeah, see, I like that. That’s a great recommendation. Finally, the last question I like to ask people, who would you love to hear on this podcast?

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, I’d love to hear Neil from Laughing Coyote Project. They’re doing some amazing things with children. They’re teaching them primitive skills. They have a beautiful property. I’ve just recently got to know him. He would have a lot to share. That would really be interesting for folks.

Doug Stetzer:                       Yeah, and we were talking about this a little bit. I’ve researched it. I don’t know, there’s … It looks amazing, and they’re out in Longmont-

Jason Sperling:                   I think that’s right.

Doug Stetzer:                       … I believe. They do all sorts of just really cool hands-on type kid stuff.

Jason Sperling:                   Yep, yep.

Doug Stetzer:                       All right. We’ll reach out to him, and if you know him, if you can help make that happen, that’d be awesome.

Jason Sperling:                   Absolutely, absolutely.

Doug Stetzer:                       Awesome. Well, hey man. Thanks for coming in. I think this is just really awesome to learn more about, not only what you’ve done but what you’re up to and the impact it’s having. These are just real societal challenges that people are facing, and it’s … But it’s something that I think people are moving to Colorado to consciously address those things, and so I think it was super relevant to not only me to learn stuff, people who are listening, like people who are moving here, they’re making those types of lifestyle decisions. I think that’ll be really interesting to see how it pans out.

Jason Sperling:                   Yeah, it’s a great place to do it. Really is.

Doug Stetzer:                       Awesome.

All right, everyone. Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Jason Sperling. As we mentioned in the intro, you can find links to connect with him or find resources, books, trails, whatever in the show notes. Also, if you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to this Colorado podcast on iTunes, and leave a review if you have few moments. It really helps get the podcast found, and of course, I learn a lot from your feedback. If you prefer to get our updates via email, you can subscribe at Colorado FM.

As far as the book giveaway is concerned, we’ll keep it simple. The first three people to subscribe for email updates will get the copy, and I’m happy to send it free to anyone here in the US, lower 48 states. Thanks again, and I hope you enjoyed this episode.

 

 

#004 Colorado Camping and Purposeful Traveling with Author and Travel Writer Joshua Berman

Colorado.FM Interview: Joshua Berman

Hey everyone!

Welcome to this episode of the Colorado.FM podcast where I had the pleasure of sitting down with award-winning travel writer, Denver Post columnist and Colorado camping aficionado Joshua Berman.

Josh’s articles and photography have appeared in the likes of The New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Outside Traveler, 5280, and many more.

Josh is a freelance writer specializing in Travel/Adventure, Wilderness Education, and Spanish language education, especially in Central America and Colorado.

In our conversation, Josh tells how he was able to weave a common thread through writing from his time in the Peace Corps to his work for Moon Travel Guides where he is currently tasked with updates to both his Nicaragua Guide and, perhaps more relevantly to this podcast, the Colorado Camping Guide.

Josh has worked as a fixer in Central America for such shows as Bizarre Foods, and brings his love for Central American culture back to both his classrooms and the Colorado community as a whole through what he calls Nicarado events where Nicaraguan artists, writers, poets, come to Colorado.

You can find Josh online at http://joshuaberman.net as well as on twitter @tranquilotravel and on amazon where you can find his catalog of books.

Of course, we’ll be sure to put all of the relevant links from this conversation in the show notes.  So now, here we go.  My conversation with travel writer and columnist Joshua Berman.

 


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Selected Links from the Episode

JoshuaBerman.net

Joshua Berman Denver Post author page

Joshua Berman Amazon page

Moon Colorado Camping

Moon Travel Guides

Valmont Bike Park Boulder

La Choza Mexican Restaurant

Chautauqua Meadow Music

Empowerment International

Peace Corps.

Ryan Van Duzer

 

Campgrounds:

Transfer Camp Ground

Teal Lake Campground

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Pinon Flats Campground

 


Show Notes

[2:30]  Boulder – Nicaragua – Pakistan – Back to Boulder

[6:30] Honeymoon adventure becomes a book

[8:20] Back to Boulder

[9:25] Landing the Colorado Camping Guide

[14:35] Some standout campsites in Colorado

[17:45] Nicarado Connection – Nicaraguan cultural exchange in Colorado

[22:45] Being a ‘Purposeful Traveler’

[27:30] Some local favorite spots – Valmont Bike Park, Chautauqua Meadow Music

[29:30] Who Josh would love to hear on this podcast: Ryan Van Duzer

 


 

Transcript:

Colorado Podcast Interview with Joshua Berman

Josh Berman:                       Hello, everyone. And thanks for tuning into this episode of Colorado.FM – the Colorado podcast – where I had the pleasure of sitting down with award winning travel writer, Denver Post columnist and Colorado camping aficionado Joshua Berman. Josh’s article and photography have appeared in the likes of the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Outside Traveler, 5280 and many more.

Josh is a freelance writer specialing in travel adventure, wilderness education and Spanish language education, especially in Central America and Colorado. In our conversation, he tells how he was able to weave a common thread through writing from his time in the Peace Corps to his work for Moon Travel Guides where he is currently tasked with updates to both his Nicaragua guide and, perhaps more relevantly to this podcast, the Colorado Camping Guide.

Josh has even worked as a fixer in Central America for such shows as Bizarre Foods and he brings his love for Central American culture back to both his classrooms and the Colorado community as a whole through what he calls Nicardo Events. Where Nicaraguan artists, writers, poets, et cetera come to Colorado. You can find Josh online at joshuaberman.net as well as on Twitter at tranquilotravel and on Amazon where you can find his catalog of books. Of course we’ll be sure to put all the relevant links from this conversation in the show notes but for now, here we go … my conversation with travel writer and columnist Joshua Berman.

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Doug:                                         Josh, thanks for being here today on Colorado.FM, The Colorado Podcast. I really appreciate you coming in.

Josh Berman:                       My pleasure, Doug.

Doug:                                         As we let on in the intro, you’ve been a travel writer for over twelve years, or even longer probably.

Joshua Berman:                       I’d say about 20 years.

 

Doug:                                         Okay. Man that’s a long career and you’ve also had a chance to do some of your travel writing right here in Colorado and so that was part of what was really interesting to me. You got in with Moon Handbooks but before we get into that, why don’t we back up and just tell us what led you on your path into writing and how that brought you to Colorado.

Joshua Berman:                       When I was 22, so recently out of college, I ended up in Boulder for a year and I got a job at a new startup magazine called Gravity where I was an intern. First an unpaid intern and then got on and learned the business of making magazines here, basically. And there was doing a whole bunch of other thing too. I was waiting for my Peace Corps application to go through and I ended up going to Nicaragua in the Peace Corps which eventually, 10 years later, was gonna lead me back to Colorado when I met my wife. But at first it was … yeah, went to Nicaragua with the idea that I wanted to keep writing. So I did my Peace Corps experience but also edited the Peace Corps publication with a buddy of mine.

While we were down there, this was 1998-2000, we realized there was no complete guidebook to Nicaragua. At all. And he and I worked together on the volunteer publication. So we wrote it and that got me into writing guidebooks, writing about travel, writing about Nicaragua. And what had happend was I had a niche all of the sudden put in my lap. I was the Nicaragua guy. I knew about travel there and that, to this day almost 20 years later, that’s one of my expertises, is travel in Nicaragua. So it was all pretty serendipitous. And ended up there and ended up writing this book and getting into guidebook writing and working for Moon. We wanted to write for them because they’re books are very thorough. So now I’ve written five titles for them and it’s about 19 years later and I’ve got three kids and I’m in Colorado and still figuring out away, yeah, to keep with this freelance travel writing thread through my life as I do other things.

Doug:                                         Yeah. That’s amazing. When you were going into the Peace Corps, were you already writing a lot at that point? Were you thinking, “Man, I’m definitely gonna get a good story out of this.” Or, did you go in for different volunteering reasons and travel reasons and then thought, “Man, I should start writing this down.”

Josh Berman:                       The writing was secondary probably. Although, because while I was waiting for the application to go through and was working at Sport & Fitness Publishing and learning about magazines and realizing, actually, it’s not … this is something I want to do. I actually put off Peace Corps for four months or so because it was going so well at the magazine. But I figured out a way to support it pretty much immediately, by doing this volunteer publication. So, yeah, my primary reason, I wanted to learn another language. I wanted to live abroad. I wanted to experience that. I worked in environmental education so I was working with teachers down there. And some disaster relief. We were there for Hurricane Mitch, 1998.

I also just knew if you throw yourself into these incredible scenarios then the story’s gonna be there and that was a big theme of it. Putting myself out there in situations where I knew there was gonna be some kind of great story to tell.

Doug:                                         Sure. And that became that common thread that you were starting to develop, kind of became a part of your marriage as well. Right? When you took off on another adventure on your honeymoon … and I learned this through you and I also saw some of these videos on your website, including your Boulder TEDx talk which we’ll be sure to link to and things like that. So you took off on a honeymoon and ended up with an amazing story and wrote a book on that as well.

Joshua Berman:                       Yeah. I met my wife … I met her in Baltimore of all places. She was from Colorado and we met through our mutual Peace Corps friends. She had done Peace Corps in The Gambia in West Africa. And we met, it was all pretty quick. We got married pretty quickly and decided that … we had each been in the Peace Corps. We had each had this transformative experience abroad but we knew that to have that experience together somewhere would really help us make up for lost time. We met when we were both 31 years old so we did it as a way to pressurize our new relationship. We went abroad. We signed up to volunteer in India and Sri Lank and Ghana. We connected those volunteer stints with several months of travel so we really kind of milked out … and did some freelancing while we were going along as well.

So we ended up traveling 16 countries in 16 months and came back and there’s the answer to your first question. That’s when we landed and Colorado. We wanted to come back and be here, we love the mountains … be near her family and accessible to my family back east and we landed where my wife got a job at the hospital. She’s a registered nurse who works with childbirth. The first job she got was Boulder and here we are. It’s been about 12 years now that we’ve been in Boulder and three daughters later.

Doug:                                         Gotcha. Did you have much experience with Colorado before you got together with your wife?

Joshua Berman:                       A little bit. Yeah. Growing up I had an uncle and aunt and cousins in New York, growing up in New York. And they would take me to Colorado and that’s … I did learn to ski. We came on some vacations here. But it really was that year before the Peace Corps where I lived in Boulder. I slung bagels at Moe’s on Broadway. I was a security guard at the Boulder Theater. And, oh yeah, I had this magazine job. And then amidst all that going up and going hiking and backpacking and snowboarding.

Doug:                                         Right.

Josh Berman:                       It was a little bit hard to give up when the Peace Corps invite finally came. It was definitely a fun year.

Doug:                                         That’s interesting. So you’ve done your 16 months of travel. You’re back in Colorado and you already at that point have this experience with Moon writing the first Nicaragua book. Is that correct?

Josh Berman:                       Yeah.


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The Colorado Camping Guide

Doug:                                         Bring us to getting in charge of the Colorado camping book.

Josh Berman:                       I wrote the first four editions of Moon Nicaragua with my co author Randy Wood. And then we gave that up and some other people continued it and I’ve recently taken it back. So I’m going to Nicaragua next week to update the seventh edition of that book. Randy and I also wrote Moon Living Abroad in Nicaragua. I wrote the Moon Belize book for ten years for four editions of that. I did a regional book for them that was called Maya 2012 that was about the Maya calendar and the whole Maya region.

Then, a couple of years ago, I heard that the author of the Moon Colorado camping book could no longer continue the book. The way these work is somebody has to update these guidebooks every two or three years and that person’s name, with Moon, still goes on the cover and they get to update the text and take it over and make it theirs and I had that opportunity. I’ve been camping for years. Growing up, back east, going Outward Bound as a student and then as an instructor. I worked for a few years for them. I’ve done quite a bit of wilderness education and worked as a Wildland Firefighter one year. Managed to find jobs that paid me to sleep on the ground and go camping.

And as I travel around Colorado and get to know more places, and take my kids camping and try to get them into it, it just seemed the perfect timing for this. To take it over. Because updating the book forces you to get out there and do it. There’s no … real no excuses. You have a deadline and you have to literally visit as many campgrounds as possible. Which we did and I’ll get to update that next year as well.

Doug:                                         Bring us into what that was like when you first took over the Colorado camping book and what that meant for your time as far as having the family. When did you do this and how did you get out there and see as much as you could of Colorado? There’s gotta be thousands of camp sites in this state.

Josh Berman:                       There are. There’s 480 campgrounds that are listed in my book. I knew I had to hit as many as I could and otherwise I had to find out has the price changed? Has the number of sites changed? Are reservations accepted now? There’s not that much that changes at a campground but sometimes they do get closed and new ones open. So you really do have to take a pretty thorough approach to sweeping the whole state and for me it’s all about balancing act with my schedule as a Spanish teacher and being able to work on my breaks and take on these bigger writing projects during the summer breaks, basically.

The goal was, two summers ago, the kids were ages two, five and eight. The youngest still in diapers. And we decided to go on a thirty day trip around the state. Pretty much anchored in the main national parks and national monuments and camped at almost a different place every single night. Tent camping. Setting it up, taking it down. Making sure that the little one didn’t fall in the fire or off a cliff. And it was exhausting. It’s not relaxing to camp with your family. It’s like there would be the little moments, a beautiful moment of sitting next to the camp fire and everyone’s relaxed and not fighting and safe. And then it’s … all mayhem breaks loose. And it’s just finding those moments and not turning the kids off to it. They enjoyed it. They saw a lot.

Doug:                                         Yeah, I would imagine.

Josh Berman:                       My wife grew up in Colorado and she said in that summer our kids saw more of Colorado than she had growing up there.

Doug:                                         I would imagine that would be a feat that’s hard to replicate. Until, maybe, I guess next summer if you update that book again. I don’t know what you’re committed to on that but, yeah … I just did a couple of days of camping at the Sand Dunes a couple of weeks ago and by the end of the second night everyone was pretty much ready to pack it in. So I can imagine what day 30 looked like of the camping caravan.

Josh Berman:                       Yeah. Hot springs help. We would break up the camping by staying in a few … and that’s what we did last summer, was do the similar loop anchored to the hot springs. And there was just enough to do and see around the state. It really is amazing how much is there.

Doug:                                         Yeah. And so, out of 480 … I’m sure it’s difficult and I’m sure you get this question a lot. If you could get away for … I guess a couple of things. Like the weekend or versus, you had a little extra time. What places just stick out in your mind as being those places that were just super special where everbody seemed to be happy and entertained? And, I don’t know, something … maybe there was a nice river there or something. But whatever it was that just brought it together that really made it a great spot.

Josh Berman:                       I’d say there’s a lot of amazing ones. And the tricky thing is, the biggest question we always get too, is the reservations on the weekends thing. It really is hard to go out on the weekends. And you either are the kind of person that makes the reservations five, six months in advance or you can adapt if you don’t get into the campground you want and you’re kind of ready for that. But just about every campground we went to in the San Juan National Forest in the southwest of the state blew us away. Always in a different way. Transfer Campground is north of Mancos and that was in a beautiful aspen grove with this view of some sacred mountains.

The Teal Campground was one of our favorites. That was 22 miles north of Pagosa Springs and we ended up … it’s a first come first serve place and two years in a row we ended up at site 12 where you can walk your tent down this hill and just be in the middle of this huge meadow, looking out over this lake. So we started developing some little traditions. Hopefully, I’d like to make it back there. And Sand Dunes, too is one of our favorites. If you get a site on one of the outer loops in the Pinon Flats campground there, the one inside the park, that’s just spectacular.

Doug:                                         Yeah. And that’s the reward you get, right, with camping? We were just there, like I mentioned, and it’s a little gritty in your teeth and maybe you didn’t sleep all that great. But when you walk out the view is just spectacular. It’s so … I mean, as soon as you walk out of your tent it’s just one of the most amazing things that you can see. And it almost doesn’t make sense, right? All that sand in the middle of the mountains. And so your mind’s just really working pretty hard on that. But those are great suggestions. I appreciate it. And, of course, like I said we’ll make sure we put links to any resources we mention in the show notes so that people can find these places. Because if something like Teal sticks out in your head, that’s probably pretty special amongst that month of traveling. And if you get there and spot 12 is taken it’s not my fault.

So that’s really interesting how you’ve been able to tie that experience … and I’m sure if I asked you the same thing for Nicaragua you would be able to go off, but that’s a different conversation, I think. But one of the things that is really interesting that you’re doing is bringing your love of Nicaragua and it’s culture right back here. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about some of the cultural things you’re doing to help bring awareness and bring some of that Nicaraguan culture right here back to Boulder and Denver and Colorado.

Joshua Berman:                       Sure, yeah. I feel really lucky to stay really connected with Nicaragua. It’s a very special country in Central America by itself, but also to me personally and I’m able to travel back there once or twice a year doing different work. And just stay connected to my friends and adopted family down there. And I discovered very soon after we moved here 12 years ago I discovered, I call it the Nicarado connection. There are … sometimes it’s official. One of Boulder’s official sister cities is [00:18:52] in Northern Nicaragua and there are several delegations that travel regularly from Boulder to Nicaragua. Several at CU Boulder who do that. There’s a lot of work, there’s a lot of international work that’s based in Colorado that does work in Nicaragua. Whether that’s bringing groups down there or supporting water projects down there. There’s NGOs that are based here and I just found that there’s a strong connection and I wanted to take advantage of it.

 


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Over the years I’ve invited Nicaragua friends, musicians and writers and people to come visit. And they’ve come. Visited my Spanish classrooms. We’ve done radio shows. We’ve done live concerts and fundraising efforts. There’s a group called Empowerment International who just had … one of their graduates came up and visited some or our schools. They’re based in Grenada, Nicaragua and Boulder. And it just doesn’t feel like it’s a coincidence that that’s happening so I just feel really lucky to be able to keep that up and to bring that … just to share some of it.

In Peace Corps it’s called the third goad. The third goal is bringing knowledge of your host country back home and teaching people about that experience and what you learned there. So for me to have that alive in my classroom and in my community and in my city is … I feel pretty lucky to do that.

Doug:                                         And like you said, as a teacher, that’s gotta be really special. Any time you get a chance to make it real, right? And if there is one thing that people knock Colorado and the front range for is kind of a lack of diversity. It’s always interesting to me though that there are all these opportunities out there to engage in the world that you just need to go look for them. And then, on top of that, people like you who are bringing the world to us … our kids benefit so immensely because in the classroom they’re learning Spanish and they’re doing some of these activities, but it makes it real when you bring in a poet from Nicaragua and they can talk and they can listen in their language and still understand what’s going on. It’s just like a really special moment and I’m sure they remember those days more than all the other ones combined, probably. I’m sure you can get a good sense for what the classroom’s like when you’re able to do that.

Joshua Berman:                       Yeah. There’s more opportunity than we realize. Even literally just down the … in front of our noses. Right across the street from the school where I teach there’s a taqueria called La Choza and that’s my standard field trip. I’ll take the 8th graders there, the high school students there, and we sit down and we eat tacos. They’re like Mexico City style street tacos but they have to … I make them talk with the people there and say how are you and what’s your name and where are you from. And how interesting is it that everyone we meet in North Boulder is from Zacatecas, the same state in Mexico? There’s some interesting community there and it’s just a matter of not only knowing that language but just knowing the cultural … what’s accepted to be able to approach somebody and talk to them. That’s the big thing that I learned in Nicaragua was you just talk to people all the time. So trying to keep that going here.

Doug:                                         I think that really ties in. I mean, not all of us had that intense experience of being in the Peace Corps even if we have traveled pretty extensively. And you just don’t get that real tie in to the community when you’re a traveler. And so I was looking at your TEDx video on your website and you talk about being a purposeful traveler and I thought that was kind of interesting. And one of the things you said was that travel is not supposed to be easy. What does being a purposeful traveler mean to you?

Josh Berman:                       It’s a couple of things. One thing is it’s just traveling with a mission. With a job to do. Whether that’s I need to go visit as many campgrounds as I can in the next 30 days or whether it’s I’m going to Nicaragua next month and I’m going through this book and systematically checking it hotel by hotel and looking at all the prices and everything and just making sure that’s up to date. So knowing that you wake up in the morning and, yes, I’m in this beautiful place with these incredible people, but my job is to walk the grid of the city. Of this beautiful colonial city and duck in and out of cathedrals but really look at it systematically. And I like having that direction and that drive when I’m traveling. Sometimes.

When I’m with my family I like it also. And they often are with me when it’s on assignment. For my column in the Denver Post which is around Colorado, where everything outside of Denver is … we’re technically researching it when we go there. But it’s always a different pace when it’s with the family. But I like the idea of having a goal when you’re traveling. Or a theme. When < and I began our honeymoon, that extended honeymoon, we started in Pakistan. And the reason we did that is because her great grandfather had spent 50 years of his life there. He was a Presbyterian from New York and a scientist and a biologist and he had spent so much time there that we knew that if we went with the mission of looking up his past that doors would open for us. And they did. Immediately. Amazing doors opened for us there just because we mentioned his name and we went there … that whole family origin quest and I’ve hear of people doing that kind of trip and that’s fascinating to me.

So it’s really available to anyone, not just travel writers on assignment. But, make a reason for your trip or set a theme to it or make a research project out of it just for yourself or for your blog or whatever it is. And I think that that’s … it makes it easier to find something that you’re passionate about. It’ll bring it to life for you and it gives you a different lens to see each day through when you wake up in that colonial city.

Doug:                                         Sure. And you get to bring that home once you get back. On your website it also mentions you had a gig as the fixer for Bizarre Foods show with Andrew Zimmerman.

Joshua Berman:                       Yeah. Yeah.

Doug:                                         So, speaking of purposeful travel … did you have to eat anything weird when you did that with him?

Joshua Berman:                       I did. My job was to research and come up with the menu that he was gonna eat. It’s an hour long show. So the Travel Channel came to me in 2009, I had been writing the guidebook for about eight years and I had this network of people all over Nicaragua that I needed to do the guidebooks. And I was like, “What else can I use this network for?” And then the Travel Channel came asking questions about researching the show and I said oh, there it is. And I started calling all my friends that I knew down there and the chefs and the guides and I pulled together six stories for them. And I flew down there with them and then they ended up using me in one of the scenes as taking Andrew back to my Peace Corps site, to my village and treating them to some dishes there.

Doug:                                         Oh, nice. It’s amazing that you have been able to keep that common thread going from that experience through to your current life. Including, like you said, leaving in a week or so to go to redo that book again. I like to start wrapping these things up by asking people some of their favorite spots and activities to do. You already mentioned obviously from your camping trips some great spots. What about just right here in Boulder? When you have a Saturday, whether it’s just to yourself or with the kids, what’s a can’t lose kind of day for you?

Joshua Berman:                       When it’s with the kids and the weather is perfect, which it usually is here except for the couple handful of hot days and the handful of cold days, but my kids love going to the Valmont Bike Park. It’s free. It’s active. We try to go early. The other day when we went the four year old face planted on the very first little hill-

Doug:                                         Nice.

Joshua Berman:                       … down into the skills loop so that ended that trip early. The kids are now … they’re still pretty young but they’re getting out there. So bike park and the library … make it to the library for story time, and that’s the morning. But it’s just so easy. They’re not big hikers yet but we’re trying to edge them toward that way and there’s so many places to do it. And tonight there’s a free concert down at Chautauqua, out in the meadows there, and there’s just no shortage of things to do here. Whether it’s just going downtown and hanging out next to the creek.

Doug:                                         Yeah, the bike park is a great one. That place is amazing. It’s a really great, local resource. And then the Chautauqua concerts, what do they call those again? [crosstalk 00:29:13]

Joshua Berman:                       Music in the Meadow, I think.

Doug:                                         Music in the Meadow, okay.

Joshua Berman:                       The Jeff & Paige concert that’s sponsored by the city and Open Spaces.

Doug:                                         Okay. Right.

Joshua Berman:                       So, pretty classic Boulder scene. A lot of kids running around.

Doug:                                         Right. Yeah. So that’s a good one even if you’re just coming in town just to look up.

Joshua Berman:                       Every Monday evening during the summer, 5:30. The show starts at 6, there’s a family hike right before that so …

Doug:                                         Oh, there you go. And then the last thing I like to ask is, who would you love to hear on this podcast? You got any ideas for that?

Joshua Berman:                       You know, there’s so many great characters around the state and around Boulder. But one of my favorite is Ryan Van Duzer … is a Boulder boy who I first met him because he was in the Peace Corps in Honduras and we had some common Peace Corps friends. Exc pet when he finished his Peace Corps he got on his mountain bike and rode it home to Boulder from Honduras.

Doug:                                         Stop!

Joshua Berman:                       So he’s kind of a long distance cycling adventure guy. Travels the world but is based right up the road here. So he and I check in, every few months we’ll see each other and sit down and catch up. He films shows for Nat Geo and Travel Channel and Discovery all around the world but he’s just based in his little place up there.

Doug:                                         Oh, no way. Wow. Well, that’s a conversation I would love to have.

Joshua Berman:                       Bicycle Missionary, I think, would be part of his title.

Doug:                                         Okay. Nice. I’ll have to look him up and, again, put any links and maybe with your help I can get in touch with this guy. That would be fantastic.

Joshua Berman:                      We can nail him down.

Doug:                                         Yeah, if he’s not riding around somewhere, right?

Joshua Berman:                       Yep.

Doug:                                         Awesome. Well, I gotta say it’s just really interesting to hear some of the backstory on how you’ve ended up here and, again, this common thread that you’ve been able to weave through your personal and professional life is just fascinating. And so thanks for sharing the story with us and thanks for all those great recommendations. That’s the kind of information I think we can all use.

Joshua Berman:                       Well, thanks for having me Doug. Yeah, just keep … we’re exploring whether we’re doing it down the block in Boulder or around the world or down Nicaragua. So [crosstalk 00:31:37]

Doug:                                         Right. Just explore, every day of your life, right? Just keep exploring. Awesome. All right. Thanks again.

Joshua Berman:                       Thank you.

Doug:                                         Hey, everyone. Again, thanks for listening. As we mentioned in the intro, you’ll be able to find all of the relevant links and resources from this podcast in the show notes. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, or however you like to consume podcasts. And you can also join our e-mail list for updates. If you can, please leave a review on iTunes. It really helps us get the word out on the great folks we were talking to here at Colorado.FM. So again, thanks a lot and we will talk to you soon.