Have you ever had one of those whirlwind trips that leaves you exhausted yet thrilled at the end? Hike Like A Woman’s Chief Adventure Officer Annie traveled across the country and pack a lot of adventure in. So much, in fact that she’s split it into three parts. Here is “One Crazy Trip – Part I.”
It’s been a few weeks since Summer Outdoor Retailer (OR), the Hike Like A Woman Staff/Ambassador Reunion & my whirlwind of almost 3,000 miles across 8 states in 10 days and things are finally starting to return to normal. Well a new normal, anyways.
I’m not even sure of where to start, there’s so many things to explain, so much to tell and how do I fit this all into one little blog post to share with our community? This may take more than one blog, I’ll try to keep it simple but my main goal is to convey not just what was done or accomplished but the roller coaster of emotions that came with this journey.
Just days before I departed for Denver it had been decided I would be the new Chief Adventure Officer (CAO) for Hike Like A Woman. I was anxious to get prepared for my role but with appointments still being scheduled for OR with my role as Brand Relations Manager also, I could already feel the heft of everything coming down on my shoulders, like an overloaded backpack it weighed me down, slumping my shoulders and putting a crick in my neck. “One thing at a time, one step at a time & one foot in front of the other” I coached myself and simply bore the weight as I steered myself from the quiet lake life I live in Kentucky and into the bright lights of Denver.
Yup, country mouse goes to the big city is the best way to describe my feelings of being in Denver for OR. My eyes had to look like a deer’s, caught in the bright lights of a head on truck. The anxiety of just navigating the city was enough to make me want to turn tail and run but I couldn’t. This was my job, I had signed on for it, and I was going to do it. We needed gear to review for the new class of ambassadors, we needed money to keep operating and we needed to make it all work, not just for ourselves but for our community.
Steeled with determination, I swallowed my fears and navigated my way through lanes of traffic, countless stoplights and a general sensory overload to the Colorado Convention Center. I could go into how terrifying I found entering the parking garage, the concrete ramp that spiraled its way up with barely a foot of room on either side of my SUV, but this is a norm for a lot of people….while I found it absolutely horrifying!
This would be my day….for the next three full days, I was not looking forward to it. Countless footsteps back, forth, across, from one floor to another, and around the convention center, jetting from one appointment to the next, no time for lunch or even a bathroom break unless you happened to be near one and have time before an appointment started or once it ended.
We make our own schedules when setting appointments with brands and vendors. The thing is trying to get into everyone’s schedule you want to meet with and trying to manage some time for yourself. This year, I failed miserably at that, not realizing that even though I had left nearly 15 min between every meeting, it would take all that and more most times just to get where you were going. That doesn’t include the added frustration of actually locating the booth you’re scheduled to be at. The struggle there is, even though each booth is numbered and set in sequential order some booths are larger than others, aisles cut off, then begin again, zig and zagging. Picture a mouse with a thick southern accent in a city maze, trying to find the cheese.
On the last day of meeting with various outdoor brands & companies, I had managed to leave an opening for a break. It also just so happened my last meeting before this break was near a restroom & food vendor! Score!!! The altitude had rendered me unable to eat the last couple days and food was actually starting to smell good again at this point.
I jetted to the bathroom for a quick pit stop and then to the closest food vendor I could find. Once I plunked down $10.00 for a cheeseburger with a bag of chips, I found a spot to roost while I noshed and as I reached for my phone, I realized I left it in the bathroom!!! I had pulled it from my back jean pocket, placed it on top of the toilet paper dispenser to avoid dropping it in the toilet and left it!
Racing back inside to the bathroom, I passed a lady talking to an event worker. She was asking where lost and found was, low and behold it was my phone in her hand!! I recognized the pink case and Hike Like A Woman sticker immediately! I exclaimed “That’s my phone!” and showed them my media pass with site name which matched the sticker on my phone. When it was all said and done, I hugged the lovely lady that found my phone and marched back out to finish my lunch feeling thankful.
I perched myself upon my roost again, set my lunch down to check my phone and boom! My lunch slides off its perch and onto the dirty, disgusting concrete, cheese side down. In the process of cleaning up my mess, I managed to cover my fingers in mustard. I wiped them off, best I could with the napkin I had, ate the few chips I had left and was more thankful now, more than ever, this was the last day of OR for me. Yes, I did return to bathroom to finish washing my mustard covered fingers and did not leave my phone again.
When the last meeting of the last day arrived I couldn’t have been more happy! I wouldn’t be out of Denver till the next morning but when I left that hotel the next morning, I left the city behind. No more lane after lane of traffic, no more navigating through throngs of pedestrians, and no more walking for miles a day!
The things that got me through this portion of my journey were simple things, those are typically the most that mean a lot. The timing of my commute every morning meant I didn’t have the full onslaught of rush hour traffic, the pace was slower, most people were laid back and would let you merge if needed.
When the end of the first day arrived, I didn’t know if I could make it back to my car in the parking garage. My body & feet ached terribly from being on them all day but during my walk a convention center worker was attempting to back a golf cart out of a storage area. Despite everything I had kept my disposition pleasant and this time was no different. I politely stopped and offered to let him proceed and he countered offered the same. I went on my way, grateful I didn’t have much further while still feeling like it was miles to go, when the worker pulled up behind me on the golf cart and offered me a ride to my car. I typically don’t accept rides from strangers but that day, I was desperate for every little bit I could get. I accepted, we made small talk along the short drive and I arrived saving my feet a few steps & some pain. I couldn’t have been more thankful to see a Texan that day in Denver, I definitely see why the state motto is friendship.
When your in a place like Denver and have an accent like I do, you kind of stick out like a sore thumb and I could certainly feel it. Most everyone I initially encountered lacked any type of accent, let alone a thick southern drawl. Imagine my delight when I finally started meeting people from South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama!! I finally felt more at home in the melting pot of OR, I began to realize and notice all the different people that surrounded me. It was amazing to be apart of and see everyone from all walks of life converge on one place with multiple goals.
I also had the opportunity to finally meet in person many people I had been working with and corresponding with only through emails or social media for some, several years. Meeting these amazing, hard working people, face to face, was worth every bit of anxiety and fears I faced getting there. Each one was everything I expected them to be in person, friendly warm and welcoming.
I had Meg, HLAW Ambassador Meg Atterberry was nice enough to attend OR again, helping out HLAW and besides being a tremendous help, she was a huge comfort to me. Having an amazing badass woman to not only meet with brands, but help me navigate the madness and teach me the ropes was unmeasurable. HLAW love comes in all forms, from taking on workload to simply being a friend to a country bumpkin in a madhouse.
All in all it wasn’t that horrible, it was definitely overwhelming at first but I’m also very glad I got the opportunity to experience it and all that went with it. It has definitely provided me growth in my adventure and explorations but also I like to think me as a person too. Personally I like stepping outside my comfort zone, I love to see and experience new places and things. It may bring me anxiety and be overwhelming but I like a challenge, not just on the trail either.
Hopefully I achieved the main goal, connecting Hike Like A Woman not only to the brands that make the gear that our community uses but connecting the brand to the love we have for our community and our passion for supporting, encouraging, & inspiring all women who enjoy the outdoors.
P.S. To whomever put the sign up along the entrance the parking garage at the Colorado Convention Center, “Hang in there, Almost there” THANK YOU! The first day it was needed encouragement to make it to the top and each day there after my marker telling me it was almost over!