Though it sounds (and feels) like a dream, this really happened. The good folks at Columbia Sportswear had a fun idea pop into their heads and somehow it still sounded like something they should actually do when it came out of their mouths.

My Omniten friends and I met up in Chicago a few months back for a quick reunion. We were all together just a few months prior, hanging out on dogsleds in a winter storm near Park City, UT for the Omnigames. If you’ve read that post consider yourself caught up.

A quick hop on Royal Jordanian Airlines landed us in Amman, the capital city of Jordan. What was I expecting? Nothing, honestly. Until a few weeks ago I didn’t even know where Jordan was. I mean, I’ve heard of it, but can you point to it on a map? Didn’t think so.

Columbia wanted to make a movie about real people (that’s me and my nine friends) hanging out and having fun in one of the coolest places in the world. The moment we stepped out of the airport and on to our bus, it began.

Jordan Bus Interview

The unique part of this trip is that none of us outside of the film crew and Columbia reps knew what was happening. By that, I mean for the next 10 days, up to 12 hours before going back to the US, we never found out in advance what was about to happen. At first this was a little scary, but I’ve come to enjoy putting my life in Columbia’s hands and going with the flow. They’re great hosts.

We spent a few days touring the city and local ruins while taking pictures with the locals and adjusting to the middle eastern time difference.

tourist pictures

The 10 of us could only handle so much time in the city before getting the itch to travel to some place wild.

Amman

After a short bus ride past the Dead Sea our bus seemed to be too wide for the road. We hopped out, loaded our gear in the back of a few trucks then jumped in, destination still unknown to us.

Resort trucks

After watching the sunset while surrounded by gorgeous mountains we arrived at the Feynan Ecolodge, lit almost entirely by candlelight.

Feynan Ecolodge

I’ve never experienced an ecolodge before, and I hope this isn’t my last. The people were extremely friendly and while I’m at it I should say that about the entire country. I’ve never been to a country where people have gone so far out of their way to make me feel welcomed.

At breakfast we were told to dress for sun and water. Huh? From what we could see we weren’t even close to a body of water, but we dressed and headed out anyway.

Feynan walk

After a while we found a small stream, crossed it a number of times, and we were eventually swimming. Water never felt so refreshing.

rock jumping

We amused some of the locals with a bit of pass juggling, of course…

canyon juggling

…then learned how to make bread on a river rock.

river bread

All in one of the most beautiful places on earth.

canyon exit

What followed was a lot of fatigue and a cold ride in the back of what felt like a World War II era jeep convoy, but we woke up to this.

camp

I honestly didn’t think I’d see so much green in Jordan. I mean, it’s the Middle East!

green Jordan

The last surprise of the day was a good one: turning the corner of a narrow canyon to see Petra’s treasury lit up by candlelight.

Petra at night

What was impressive at night was equally overwhelming during the day. More than one building, we were told Petra is about the size of Manhattan.

Petra from above

Buildings were everywhere and we explored anything we could reach.

Petra buildings

The next morning the bus dropped us off for another rendezvous with some trucks. As we watched the drivers letting air out of the tires we knew we were in for some adventure. This place was huge!

Wadi Rum

After lunch we found a bridge nearly 1,000′ off the ground. Scary and windy come to mind but you’ll have to watch the movie to see what really happened here.

Wadi Rum Bridge

We found a camp, only to be greeted with more Jordanian hospitality from the Bedouins. Bedouin tea is their speciality. At home brew tea with 1 part water and 40 parts sugar and you’ll come close to replicating it.

Bedouin tea

We ate goat that was cooked underground, walked in the completely silent desert with nothing but moonlight, slept by the fire, then awoke to camels on the horizon. Turns out they’d be our ride to breakfast.

Wadi Rum camels

The Kingdom of Jordan is land of polarizing opposites. Within an hour’s drive of this massive desert lies the tranquility of the Red Sea. We took full advantage of the yacht that showed up to rest, soak of the sun and water, eat fresh seafood, and do some good old fashioned relaxing.

Red Sea Fishing Yacht

Yes, even us hardcore outdoorsy-type people are capable of relaxing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time for that. After one night in an amazing hotel, we were off to an even more amazing hotel at the edge of the Dead Sea.

Dead Sea Floating

This is one of the few places where we stayed more than one night and boy was it amazing. The next day we found a canyon that was sure to provide even more fun. People like us tend to ignore signs.

Danger Sign

Did I mention we were making a movie this entire time? It’s true; check out the trailer.

I’m pleased to announce you’ll be able to watch the first public showing right along with me. I’ll be online watching, chatting and answering questions while the video is playing. Mark your calendars for Thursday, September 18 at 7pm ET. Show up, press play on this page and be sure to say hi. I’m looking forward to sharing this with you.

Special thanks to an amazing film crew along with guidance from director Pedro Peraza. Without them this movie would never have happened. These guys lugged backpacks much heavier than mine over more miles than my feet saw and spent less time in bed than I did, just so you could watch this film and I’d have memories for a lifetime.

Jordan film crew

The Tourism Board of Jordan is composed of an amazing group of people who went well out of their way to make sure our group had a good time. Jordan blew away my expectations and I can’t wait to go back and experience it again, next time with my wife and kids. If you’re thinking of a trip, get off the beaten path and devote some time to this country. You’ll be glad you did.

Without the photo skills of Columbia’s Mark Going, this blog post would have been very boring and I wouldn’t have had good Facebook profile pictures for the last 1.5 years.

And without Columbia Sportswear, none of this would have taken place. Columbia believes in fueling adventure and trying stuff. I’ve never been on a trip with them where ideas were shot down, no matter how stupid they were. Remember that hot tub in Oregon, Daniel, Crystal and Aleya? #tryingstuff

If you want your mind blown, give Columbia’s Bahama Vent PFG shoes a try. I’ve worn them in the Middle East and Korea as well as multiple water excursions in the Midwest and mountains of the United States.

My first choice in water shoes is no shoes at all. They get in the way, don’t drain, and give you horrible tan lines. Or so I thought.

Turns out none of this is true, with the exception of the bad tan lines. My first outing in the Bahama Vents turned into a 10 day romp in The Kingdom of Jordan. Columbia took me and nine friends and made a movie so look for that soon.

At home in the desert (they keep your feet cool), on the town, oh, and in a fishing boat, these shoes do it all. I put them through some more testing on another week fishing and living on a lake in Wisconsin. It’s so great, the fish jump right in.

Bahama Vent

The shoe is comfy and sturdy enough for me to wear everywhere, including many mile on foot in Seoul, Korea. It’s classy styling let’s me wear it to the office and not worry about changing to hit the trail or the water.

Links

Columbia’s Bahama Vent PFG

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Picture this, you’re out on a lake and it’s super bright and you are getting a headache because you’ve been squinting all day and all you need right now are sunglasses that work. These sunglasses are it. They are DARK but bring a certain clarity to everything you see. They take away the infamous glare that is every where, all while looking great!

One of the coolest parts about these sunglasses is that they are recyclable and made with a sustainable source, castor beans. There is 44% less Co2 emissions created during production than traditional plastic frame material. So really, you can’t beat these! Great for the environment, stylish and I am pretty sure your ability to catch fish will increase!

Guideline Eyegear Jack

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Guideline Eyegear Jack

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When I first opened the package to see the celery color of the Granite Creek shirt I was apprehensive. I have a tough time wearing shirts whose color is not my favorite. I will say I was surprised at how great this color is! It set really well against my skin tone. I was thrilled!

More importantly, it fit well and it was great for the humid warm of Seoul, Korea. The only issue I have with this shirt is that it is very tight when I try to roll the sleeves up to wear them just above my elbow. The material is stretchy so it eventually worked but it was not as comfortable as I had hoped. Maybe by muscles are just too big, who knows ;)

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Mountain Khakis Women’s Granite Creek Long Sleeve

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Whether you’re at the gym, in the country, or running on high mountainous trails, there are a few essentials that one must have to endure a successful and comfortable run.  I’ve reviewed some great running shoes, which are essential to a pain-free and comfortable run (I’m obviously more into comfort than look, which you’ll definitely notice in some of the provided photos).  Another problem I’ve always had while running is holding things in my hands.  I just get too tense and focus too much energy away from other vital systems.  Holding (/pulling) on a dog leash is way more uncomfortable than holding an iPod and upon having Hank come into my life, I knew I’d want to run with him.

I’m beyond grateful for the Roamer Leash by Ruffwear.  I can now run comfortably while having my dog on a leash without compromising my form (my form is poor enough as it is, I need all the help I can get).  The Roamer leash is adjustable so it can be used as a hand held leash or one that straps around the waist.  It’s easy to use (especially with the one-hand-only clasp) and comfortable for both you and your dog—I think.

Out in the country it’s not absolutely necessary that Hank is on a leash but I’m a heli-mom so I put it on him anyways.  Also, just when you start to feel like you’re slowing down, your dog will pull you along.  I can’t wait to run uphill with this leash.

The one thing I will mention about this leash is the fact that if you have a small puppy that you’re training or a dog that doesn’t listen well, the Roamer leash is tough to use.  I used the leash a few times when Hank was 4 months old and decided that he needed to mature a little bit before stepping up to the Roamer.

The Roamer is available in nice colors and is built with the genuine quality that I’ve experienced from Ruffwear products in the past.  At 7.3 feet long (11 ft when stretched completely out) it is the perfect length!  Get outside and get active with your best friend! Ruffwear has a ton of other really great products for your pets so be sure to check them out.

IMG_6358

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The Roamer Leash by Ruffwear

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If you have a GoPro and you have not yet invested in any accessories (separate from the GoPro mounts) please look into GoPole.  They are the “#1 selling third-party GoPro accessory brand worldwide.” And they are this for a reason.  Aside from the highly functional and practical products they have designed and perfected, GoPole products are high quality and affordable.

We were lucky enough to try a few different products from GoPole, highlighting the Evo in the video, and mentioning a few others to follow in the write up.  The Evo is versatile and sleek and while you can gain an extension of 26”, you’re also protecting your GoPro (it floats), and being non-invasive in your shots (the clear design makes this extension less obvious in shots).  If you could only choose one GoPole accessory for your shooting needs, I’d say this should be the one.

But that’s a tough call… the Reach, also an extension mount, will give you 17-40” of extension.  It also has a comfortable hand grip, safety strap, quality build, and easy to use adjustability.  While it is white, it will get you some angles and extensions that wouldn’t be possible with the Evo.

The Grenade Grip, another sweet thing to add to your quiver, comes in handy when you’re packing light or just looking for a less drastic view of yourself and your surroundings. This is basically a hand held mount that is comfortable and simple.  This mount will forever eliminate the finger-ruined corner.  Tyson and I always have the hardest time taking pictures of the two of us because a finger usually ends up in the shot.  We had some glorious photos from dirt biking in Western Colorado and the Utah desert but every single one of them had a little corner of skin.  So frustrating! Not anymore.

GoPole makes an assortment of additional GoPro accessories and I wouldn’t hesitate to purchase any of them.  I often find that third party brands are not made with quality and care but this is the complete opposite of GoPole.  I’ve been impressed with everything I’ve tried and won’t go anywhere without on of my extension poles.

For those of you that are on the fence about some sort of extension device for your GoPro, there are many spectacular reasons why you should try GoPole:

– The angles are phenomenal! Even if you’re not a very creative person, mess around with these and you are bound to find some creativity.  The stability

– The stability in it of itself is worth it.  Even if you don’t want to get super cool, amazing shots with your GoPro, please for the sake of those watching your content, the stability factor is huge!  I found myself making some very stable pans this weekend (when I was on a moving boat/I have shakey hands already/I lose my balance when I’m staring at a screen). I was very impressed to say the least.

– Extra protection… each of the three mounts have a safety strap on the base and the Evo serves also as a flotation device.  If you’re shooting on a boat, it makes sense to have the Evo attached.

If you have a GoPro invest in a GoPole extension mount.  Your viewers will thank you, you’ll have a ton of fun, and you’ll pay for a quality made product (Oh did I forget to mention Free Shipping for all orders and Lifetime Warranty?)! Check them out!

Also, check out this quick little edit, which I shot entirely with the GoPole EVO mount attached!

GoPole Guide

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The EVO

The REACH

The GRENADE GRIP

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