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soul searching

General travel, North America, soul searching

Redefining Sexy by Brooke Edwards, Wild World Wanderings

September 15, 2017 • By

This is the first post as part of a new series featuring strong and determined women travelers and guides. Today’s guest author is Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings on “redefining sexy”.

Fantasy aisle, Brooke Edwards in deep snow redefining sexy

Redefining Sexy

Alaska Girls Kick Ass reads the hot pink bumper sticker donning many a vehicle in the 49th State and beyond.  And it’s actually true, Alaska girls DO kick ass.  I truly feel honored to be a woman amongst some of the strongest, most athletic, interesting, hard-core, sexy, feminine, beautiful, talented Renaissance women of Alaska.

Being sexy here is not the curve of your breasts, nor is it what ridiculous amount of money you spent on designer jeans. Alaska Sexy is how a woman skis a more jaw-dropping line than most dudes. It’s how she rows the rapid and pulls over to catch, fillet and cook her salmon over a fire.  It’s how she owns the dance floor with wild confidence, secure in her own skin and extra tufts.  Alaska Sexy is a goggle tan and sunburned lips.

Alaskan women are wilderness guides, hunters, fisherwomen, carpenters, adventurers, endurance athletes and more. They build their own homes, catch their own fish, chainsaw their own firewood and fix their own trucks.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy by Brooke Edwards, Brooke with skis on a mountainside

Photo Courtesy of Heather Thamm. Brooke

In 1998, life presented me a quandary: move to Montana to chase a boy, or embrace the wild unknown of my lifelong dream to go to Alaska and guide.  I chose the wild unknown, and, with what little savings I had, managed to purchase my first home: a small hippie shack dry cabin in a bog on railroad ties with the address Toadstool Turnpike, Girdwood.  Hearing that I would have to heat my cabin with wood and haul my own water, my dad gifted me his 25-year-old Stihl chainsaw with a big red bow on it as an early Christmas that year.  He wanted to provide me with the gift that heats you twice: gathering your own wood and burning it later.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy, The Girls Gone Girwood logo on a t shirt

The Logo as part of Girls Gone Girwood

When I first moved to Girdwood, Alaska, I was expecting to find a bunch of dudes who fit the state saying “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”  I steeled my resolve to keep my independent status while I survived being the fresh meat in town.  Instead, I found an incredible group of inspiring women, from boat captains to bush pilots, heli-ski guides to firefighters.  They took me in, taught me real skills that in 20 years of wilderness guiding in Alaska have proved invaluable.  Namely, skills that are hard to define, such as perseverance, tolerance for adversity and following your passion over money.

Fantasy Aisle, redefining sexy, girls of Girls Gone Girwood in skis on a mountainside, photo courtesy of Ralph Kristopher

Photo courtesy of Ralph Kristopher. Girls Gone Girwood

I am grateful for my Girls Gone Girdwood, the funny name we called ourselves back in the day.  Without the GGG, and other phenomenal women getting after it, I would still be struggling to redefine sexy from what society has stuffed down our throats–the airbrushed, manufactured, far-too-skinny magazine model female–to the different vision I embrace today; of strength, power and inner beauty shining from inside out.

To get a sense of what I’m talking about, check out this short 9 minute film highlighting two of my favorite girlfriends and mentors: Leighan Falley and Kirsten Kremer.

The last two summers, I was lucky enough to guide Colton Smith and Jack Steward with the TV show Rock The Park on ABC Saturday mornings.  One year, I took them on a remote river trip on the Aniakchak River where you fly into a lake in the crater of a volcano and raft it out to the ocean.  The next year, they asked me [to join them] for another adventure and this time we ventured on foot deep into the heart of the brutally rugged Arrigetch Peaks in Gates of The Arctic.

Their show is an educational TV show aimed at families with the mission of inspiring more folks to get out and enjoy our National Parks.  Their motto is “If we can do it, so can you!”  To me, this couldn’t have rung more true as I pondered the impact on little girls nationwide watching me, a woman, guide these young fit men in some of the wildest corners of our planet.  I thought to myself, “pay attention, girls: If I can do it, so can you.”

Here’s to redefining sexy and owning our power in the wilderness and at home, ladies.  Let’s Do This!

–Brooke

Brooke Edwards of Wild World Wanderings hails from the Great Pacific Northwest, where her passion for all things outdoors was born. Alaska has been her home for the last 20 years. You can find her year-round exploring mountains and rivers in both the vast wilderness of Alaska and international wild locales.  Brooke has an M.S. in Environmental Education with a primary focus on Ecotourism from The Audubon Expedition Institute. She’s spent over 2 decades incorporating these principles in her guiding.  Brooke would love to share her passion for all things travel by custom designing the perfect itinerary for you.

 


General travel, soul searching

Am I a nomad?

August 17, 2017 • By

Last fall a childhood friend called me a nomad, and I retorted, “No I am not, I just like to travel. That’s not me.”

It bothered me to be labeled a nomad. I consider myself a rooted individual not a wanderer.  I live in New York City and own a home in Chicago. I hop from my parents’ house in the Chicagoland suburbs to various dwellings across the globe. I may possess more travel size toiletries than the average person but my bags are not always packed. If I needed to get on a plane or train in a hurry, I could be out the door in 15 minutes, sweating en route, but looking pretty darn fabulous on the other end. That’s normal right?

The idea of a being a nomad rolled around in my head for months.

Am I someone who wanders?

Is it negative?

Why do I care?

This was part of a larger question for me.  Was this the life I wanted to be living?  Was this where I wanted to be in 20 years?  The answer: No.

I worked in government/politics for 18 years.  I am proud of my successes and my accomplishments. It was never dull and changed every day.  It fostered my caffeinated spirit and my thirst for knowledge.  The job changed every cycle.  I moved from city to city, from apartment to apartment.  I thrived on learning every aspect of a campaign and working with smart, driven people.  It was fun.  I traveled.  I met some of my closest friends.  I worked non-stop and when the job ended, I took a hiatus to travel, but then a cycle started again. The players changed but the game remained the same.

FantasyAisle

Christmas Market Nuremberg, Germany

After the 2016 election, I booked a flight to Germany to experience the Christmas markets. I drank Glühwein (mulled), visited with family and friends and walked every corner of the selected markets, but for the first time in my travels something had changed.  I was not present.  I took photos. I smiled. I talked to locals. I shopped for clothes.  I existed in Germany in body and spirit but my mind careened off course.

Fantasyaisle

Sydney Harbour Bridge

I tried again in Australia, my safe place and home away from home.  The coastal walks taunted me and the heat drained my energy.  There were days when I sat watching Netflix Hallmark movies rather than meeting new people.  Upset with myself, I resolved to find “fun.” I shopped (thank you Lorne Jane), devoured oysters, prawns on the barbie and fish and chips, and drank every glass of wine presented to me. Did I mention eat and drink?  I paid homage to the Sydney Bridge daily and I slowly started admitting that I needed to make a change in life.

When I returned to New York City after the New Year, I threw myself into work and politics but I ached for something different, a part of me dying.  I lacked the desire, drive and ambition to be the “old” me.  The fire in my belly dissipated.  I ignored my intuition at my mental and physical expense to make my clients happy. That is until February when a writing course in Montana shook me awake.

Snowshoe

Snowshoeing near Glacier National Park, Montana

In a little place called Whitefish, Montana, my love for travel returned.  My smile shined, the locals were kind and forgiving and I questioned everyone who would listen. The snow drifted from the sky in big chunks and I opened my mouth to capture a taste.  I spun around in dizzy circles like a figure skater on ice.  I conquered snowshoeing for the first time and laughed myself silly as I stomped along the trail like the Abominable Snowman.  A childlike state came over me.  The wheels were turning and I was thinking, thinking, thinking.

I attended Haven’s Writing Retreat with nine dynamic women eager to tell a story.  The pages turned for some but mine were blank. I fought anger, sadness and nothingness.  I didn’t belong there and I wanted to go home.  Where was home?  I didn’t know anymore.  At times, my voice and my pen took me to the Sydney Bridge, my happy place or chasing the past with friends but most of the time it landed on unexplored destinations where daydreams become reality.

One night, I stepped outside into Montana’s “Big Sky” blanketed with twinkling stars.  I stared at the infinite darkness–alone. The air was cold and fresh, the silence calming. I stood entranced. Sadness existed deep inside me.

That night I wrote.  The words flowed from my pen to the notebook like water released from a dam. My mind raced with thoughts about my job, dating life, my parents, brother, a friend. I wrote for eight hours and when my arm cramped and I pushed away the tears, I fell asleep.  I awoke a new person.

“I am done with politics,” I thought. “This is going to be complicated.”

And it was in the quiet moment of a late February morning that I embraced the true definition of a nomad. I enjoy roaming from place to place aimlessly. It’s my passion to discover new people and places. I study travel guide books for fun and attend travel shows to meet the experts I aspire to be. My path is not the path of my friends and family or even my colleagues but it fosters my creativity, my passion and my desire to be out there in the world.

The decision to leave my business and livelihood is not easy and I entertained many flattering offers before cutting the cord. It’s hard to say goodbye and lots of people tried to convince me I was crazy.  People whom I adore and respect. It’s scary to jump off the edge of the cliff not knowing what’s below. My prior attempts at leaving left me dangling for years in no mans land but this time I chose to listen to my gut and leap with my heart. My mind is still processing.

I hope you will join me on my nomadic journey.

My future posts promise to be funny and entertaining and will delve into travel, soul searching, job exploration, rants and for my parents’ sake maybe even love.

Fantasyaisle

Learning horse therapy from Bobbi Hall at Stillwater Horse Whispers Ranch