10/8/17

“Yo Cuento Outdoors”~The Stories of Latino Outdoors.

It’s a wondrous thing how the wild calms the spirit within us. The “feels” we get when we know we are right where we are supposed to be. This then turns into what more can I explore, what more can I do and then how can I share this with others. The “feels” become so much more that it becomes part of your existence. For some it leads to a career in the outdoors and for some just a personal joy to share with others. Latino Outdoors has allowed more opportunities for us to experience and share what we love to do and in the process we have become a family. My pleasure to introduce New Mexico Coordinator~Gabe Vasquez.

What is the story of Gabe and the connection you have to the outdoors?

Well, it actually goes back to the story of when I first experienced the outdoors. When my family and I first got to Caballo Lake in New Mexico we threw our lines in the water and it wasn’t long before a Game & Fish officer came to check on our licenses. Because it was our first time fishing and we were from Mexico, we didn’t realize we needed a license. The officer claimed he couldn’t understand what my Dad was saying, so he called Border Patrol. Border Patrol detained my Dad that afternoon at a county jail in Truth or Consequences. They released him several hours later because he had not done anything wrong. Despite that harrasement, my dad told me to stay strong and that the outdoors were a place for everyone. We got our fishing licenses that afternoon and went back to the river. Since then, I’ve tried to spread the same message … the outdoors are for everyone.

How did this connection to the outdoors connect you more with Nature?

Fishing with my Dad and brother. I grew up in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, an industrialized border city. There weren’t many places to play outdoors and we lived in the inner city, so we were mostly surrounded by concrete. So when my Dad took me and my brother fishing as young kids, it meant a lot. My whole world changed. He took us to southern New Mexico, to a place called Caballo Lake, about two hours north of Juarez. We camped by the Rio Grande, fished for catfish and went to sleep counting the stars. I had never seen the stars that bright in my life.

What is it about the outdoors that make it special for you?

It’s a place of healing, a place of reflection, and also the world’s biggest classroom. The outdoors teaches us that we can’t just take, we have to give, it teaches us about balance and equality. We’re all the same on the trail–nature doesn’t judge–it doesn’t matter how much money you have, what color you are, gender or sexuality, we are all having the same experience outdoors.

How do you celebrate the connection between a Latinx identity and the outdoors and how do you see yourself “counting” afuera?

I helped start a youth outdoor recreation and education program in my community to help Latinx youth and people better understand their history on this land, in southern New Mexico. we celebrate our history here, not just as Latino’s but as Mestizos, as people with mixed indigenous blood, roots and beliefs. We count here because we’ve been on this land for thousands of years, we’re not outsiders here.

How do you see it in others and in the community around you?

In the world of outdoor recreation and environmental advocacy, there is a pretty homogeneous community that dominates both spaces. Much of that has to do with wealth, the people most prone to go outdoors or become advocates for their environment are people who have had the time to have the opportunities to experience recreation outdoors. We’re changing that one person at a time every time we get a new young person of color on the trail, we create more balance in those spaces.

Why does what you do matter to you?

Because it helps me find meaning in life and it connects me spiritually to the creation and his creation. Working and volunteering as an outdoor advocate is what makes me happy, and my parents always said to do what makes me happy. They were right … nothing compares!

Describe your perfect day?

A perfect day outside is sitting in silence at the top of a mountain in Mesilla Valley, watching and listening to the wildlife and seeing the clouds roll in. I think about how many other generations before us have sat on the same spot and observed the same beauty?
What has been your favorite hike?
My favorite hike to date was hiking Tonuco Mountains with my girlfriend. Tonuco Mountains is a sacred site dotted with petroglyphs and full of rich, rare earth minerals. We hiked for about nine miles that day in the middle of the fall, bushwhacking through mesquite, devils thorn and cacti to get to the very top, where an old mine shaft exists. After the sixth mile we looked at each other and wanted to turn back every 10 minutes or so, but we kept going, because getting to the top was just as important for both of us. The views of the Organ Mountains at the very top paid off. We will both never forget that hike.
Do you have any traditions outside?
I try and follow in the footsteps of those who came before us, not just indigenous communities and people, but my own father, grandfather, and ancestors. I remember them when I hike, hunt, and fish. It makes the experience sacred for me. Of course, after every hike a need a cold beer to reflect on the outing!
A huge thank you to Gabe for allowing us to share more about what a genuine and legit soul he is. Gabe is that guy you just want to know more about. His kind heart is evident from the moment you meet him. May your journeys be many my friend and keep being an inspiration to many. How lucky is New mexico and Latino Outdoors : ).
For more info about Las Cruces, New Mexico and what is happening afuera check out … Nuestra Tierra.
Josie Gutierrez ~ Southwest Ambassador
 
09/22/17

“Yo Cuento Outdoors”~The Stories of Latino Outdoors.

What is Latino Outdoors?

I asked myself that very question a few years back. Fast-forward to now and I can tell you exactly what Latino Outdoors is and who the community of amazing leaders that help support this beautiful organization are.

José G. González is an educator, environmentalist, artist and the founder of Latino Outdoors.

This organization helps connect Cultura with the outdoors with a growing and inclusive vision for the future in conservation, the environment and often just plain recreation in open spaces.

Latino Outdoors is a Latino-led and volunteer-powered organization which has inspired many to celebrate their culture with the outdoors. Even though we have a focused celebration of the Latinx identity, everyone is welcome regardless of race, language, socio-economic background, and ethnicity! The support of these unique, amazing individuals who are our volunteer leaders and the passion they have for Tierra Madre (Mother Earth) is what I would like to share with you. Their voice, their story and what the outdoors means to them. I myself have been a volunteer for over two years and I can honestly tell you it has been nothing short of amazing.

It is an honor to be a part of sharing what makes us unique in our passion for what we do. During the month of Hispanic Heritage Month I will be highlighting the stories of us. Who is Latino Outdoors … keep reading!!!

“Yo Cuento Outside” Q & A with Carlos Jorge Miranda~Website Coordinator for LO

 

1.What are the earliest memories of you in the outdoors with a connection to Nature?

My earliest memories of being connected outdoors would be driving to Muir Woods in California and going to the beach most summers. Going to camp Mather outside of Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite National Park is another treasured memory. This was a week long camp for families a few miles from the park entrance. During these trips I would spend lots of time with my uncles learning how to hike properly and fish very early in the morning on the Tuolumne River and American River in California.

Yosemite National Park (2005)

2.What is your story in relation to what you do now in the outdoor space?

I mentioned earlier I spent lots of time outdoors as a kid but as a young adult I would lose sight of that passion. In 2007 I went through a traumatic spinal injury that happened on the job, this would make it even more difficult to go outdoors and travel as a whole and as I was going through rehab I learned to modify any outdoor activities to accomodate my disability. I’ve been able yo camp again, hike and do light backpacking despite my injuries. This is one of the reasons I work with disabled students and show them the power of “Modified Dis-Ability”. I am a father of a 5 year old and I see now that education, outdoor conservation and diversity in education but also in our wild and public spaces is crucial to our and generations to come.

3.What makes the outdoors special to you?

It makes it a special place because it brings my thoughts to a neutral place, I am able to slow down and enjoy being on the moment. One of the disadvantages of living in San Francisco is the hustle and bustle, one of the advantages is trails are within miles.

4.How do you celebrate the connections between a Latinx identity and the Outdoors and how do you “count” yourself afuera?

As a current student at The University of San Francisco in the Latino/o/X American Studies department, culture, history and legacy is at the forefront of what drives me as a student, father, spouse and educator. I feel I am able to share outdoor spaces with those that may have not been exposed to it but also don’t have the means of transportation.

Counting as an “Identified” person of Color, also as a larger than average tattooed guy from San Francisco’s Mission district I have come accustomed to the stares and have used that as an ice breaker to educate people on diversity and outdoor equity for those underrepresented in these spaces.

Photo credit-Veronica MIranda

5.How do you see this in others and the communities around you?

One of the things I do see in others in the LatinX community I live in is lack of resources, education and specialist who are of the same ethnic background to bring fourth the opportunity to experience even local outdoor spaces. This is the main reason I was excited to volunteer with Latino Outdoors and continue to work with them and I am now going on two years with them. I see the power in planting the seeds on the molecular level with those that know how to fertilize the soil in their own communities and that is what has made Latino Outdoors successful. They are also a wonderful team of volunteers and leadership roles.

6.Tell me why it is important to you to do what you do?

It matters because as a student, I love to educate and see that spark ignite in people of all ages. I love the memories that also come from hikes and walks from our elders who remind me that we come from the Tierra.

Photo Credit~Veronica Miranda

La Familia Miranda~Carlos Jorge, wife Veronica and son Mayuteo.

Muchas Gracias to Carlos for sharing what makes him and what he does special to his own family and Latino Outdoors. I am so honored to call him my friend and he really is a special soul and stories like his are what we will be sharing with you during Hispanic Heritage Month. Let your story be told and may you be inspired by some of our Outdoor Familia and stay tuned for another story!
Southwest Ambassador for Latino Outdoors~Josie Gutierrez
09/7/17

Verdi’s Macbeth – Opera San Antonio

“So foul and fair a day I have not seen”.

– William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Dress Rehearsal for Verdi’s Macbeth (Photo credit – Karen Almond)

The story of Macbeth, described by Verdi, the composer, as “one of mankind’s greatest creations,” is a classic thriller of power, greed, and the destructive costs of tyrannical ambition. Set to Verdi’s gripping and ferocious music, Macbeth is a spellbinding opera with musical fireworks and stunning drama. Macbeth is Giuseppe Verdi’s tenth opera and his first to be inspired by William Shakespeare.

I was invited as a guest to attend a special dress rehearsal of Macbeth and I felt like the luckiest girl. Opera is not something I have had the pleasure of enjoying but I knew in my heart that it was something I needed. Back in my high school days I enjoyed many years of theatre and can truly appreciate the art of a live performance.

The music, the costumes, the live orchestra pit … WOW! I felt myself feeling the emotions and joining in on the journey with them. It was so vibrant and beautiful, full of characters telling the story of Macbeth by voices that left me speechless. If this is Opera then I shall return. Wonder where I can get a pair of opera glasses, lol.

FYI: Sung in Italian with English subtitles.

Here is a PROMO CODE: MACBETH for 25% off your tickets. You can get your tickets at Tobin Center box office or call (210) 223-8624. You won’t regret it. Sit back and enjoy the show.

TWO PERFORMANCES
September 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM
September 10, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Fitfunand … Opera San Antonio.

 

 

04/22/16

Nature is always in style. Earth Day everyday!

 

Screenshot_2016-04-22-06-52-22-1

Earth Day began in 1970 as a day to celebrate the planet and to encourage people to be more environmentally friendly. The Earth is one thing we all have in common so let’s not just celebrate it today but any day we have a chance.

Recycle. Reuse. Restore. Replenish. Reduce.

Screenshot_2016-04-22-07-07-31-1 (1)

It’s where we live and how could we not want it to stay as pure and if possible even cleaner and more beautiful. Awareness in who we are as humans and passing this message along to our children so that they can continue our work for Mother Nature. I love the Earth for the love it shows me on my nature walks/hikes/runs and how it refuels my soul.

Plant a tree, hug a tree, help clean a local park or river, recycle any chance you can, waste less, NEVER litter! It’s the little things that matter in this big world we live in. Inspire others to be more aware, aware that Earth needs love too : ))!

Screenshot_2016-04-22-07-08-01-1 (1)

Explore and leave your footprint … just keep it small : ).

If you want to know more then head over to Earthday.org for more information.

Fitfunand … Happy Earth day!

01/9/16

2015 … So Last Year

Happy New Year! 

The year was 2015 and I didn’t give myself any resolutions or shall I say restrictions. 

I do what I want, if I want, when I want, with who I want, in moderation : ).

A new year, a new me? Not so much. I want to be the same me, just an upgraded version of the me from 2015. Last year was a fabulous one. I definitely put myself out on a ledge and challenged myself as a person in more ways that I had anticipated. “Who am I”, I asked myself this a lot last year and when I answered (because I always do) I was pretty impressed with the results : ). I wasn’t afraid to fail and if I did it was OK because at least I tried. I took on the role as Southwest Ambassador for Latino OutdoorsA beautiful platform where we come together to share our love for the Outdoors. I consider myself a lucky girl and may I continue to inspire and be inspired.

Biking & Blogging were 2 of the highlights for me in 2015. I put many miles on my bike last year exploring my city and making some amazing “rider” friends along the way. We rode for fun, we rode for charity, we rode for sanity, we rode because we could. The biking community in San Antonio is great for the soul. Fitness and fun at it’s finest.

Blogging was quite the adventure for me last year. There is a story in all of us, how and when we choose to share it can be a bit intimidating. Insecurities can easily run away with us. “I’m just me” will this be good enough? The question should have never been asked. I am good enough! We all are!  I have decided that there is no hurry in building my blog just like there is no hurry in going through life. What does matter to me is developing one where the foundation is strong. I will work on being fearless to become limitless!

Bye Bye 2015!

 

 

 

12/20/15

The Birthday Girl … ME! #FelizCumpleaños

photo 1 (29)

 

One, two, three, four, five …  (fast forward) 2015 : )). Keep calm, it’s the birthday girl!

I keep telling myself that I am only as young as my heart tells me and that special number appears to have fixated itself in the 20’s. I will never let a silly number dictate what I can or cannot do. I do what makes my soul happy and this year in particular I wished for a horse ride.

 

When I was a little girl my dad bought me a horse. I asked him years later, WHY? My dad had the perfect answer…because you wanted one : )).  photo 1 (35)

I ended up falling off my horse one time and never rode her again. Her name was Big Red and my granddad ended up taking care of her. I felt that it was time to conquer my fear and giddy up!

December 3rd every year was a big deal. The coolest cakes, themes, presents and the most important, familia. The day of my birth reminds me of birthdays past and the love that was put into them. Every year now is a day to live just a little extra. I am happy to be alive and yes I am reminded that time goes by so quickly. I don’t want to live fearful, I want to live fearlessly : ). 

 

I decided to try Hollow Tree Ranch  in New Braunfels, Tx. Their motto is “Horses training riders”. Jeff Oliver is the founder and owner of Hollow Tree Ranch. I spoke with Jeff when making my reservation and he was so sweet and easy to work with. He answered all of my questions and when we arrived took care of more concerns from my group. I feed off positive energy and that is all I ever felt from the moment I called. My daughter hadn’t gone on a horse ride in years and mentioned that she was a little scared. His response, “what in particular scared you so I can make it better for you”? The one hour ride was just enough to get our giddy on but left us wanting more.

20151203_124203-1-1 (1)

Was it what I hoped for…YES! Will I be back…YES! Next up, the Moonlight ride and I can hardly wait : ).

The day was not just for me but for me to share this special adventure with the people I love. Life is better with family and friends. Thank you Jeff for being a part in making this memory memorable for all of us. Words cannot describe the what the ride meant to us individually. Empowered we became as we conquered our fears.

josie

We left the ranch on such a high and discovering that right down the rode was Dry Comal Creek Winery was an even bigger surprise, could my birthday get any better?

This would be my daughter and her best friends first wine tasting and who better to share this with than with her MOM. The girls had a blast and we were even treated to a special tour of the place.

20151203_143528

 

The sangria was delicious and the wine tasting was a huge success for the girls.

 

 

 

My beautiful evening ended with a family dinner at The Little Red Barn, my granddaughters favorite steak house. I believe it’s because the waitresses dress up in cowboy hats and boots. My Madelyn loves a great themed anything and I adore this. Do more than just exist, when you can and while you can!!

20151203_190440

For more information here are the links on Hollow Tree Ranch & Dry Comal Creek Winery. The trip took less than an hour from San Antonio and we all know any hill country road will lead to an awesome adventure.

CHEERS to finding the Giddy up in your step : ). Grab your boots and just go!!

PicsArt_1450719950736

Fitfunand … Happy Birthday to me!!

 

11/27/15

#OPTOUTSIDE … any day you can!

rei-optoutside

When I heard that REI decided to shut it’s doors and pay their employees on the biggest shopping day of the year and encourage people to go OUTDOORS the day after Thanksgiving, my only thought was … BRILLIANT!

PicsArt_1448672421437

I know where to go and fuel my soul : ). I am thankful that I grew up in a time that encouraged the outdoors and I am so happy to hear and see more people getting out to the local and state parks, may the movement continue.

20140927_165509-1

Hike. Bike. Swim. Ski. Camp. Run. Walk. Explore the Extraordinary and there is no better place than Outside.

FullSizeRender (35)

A baby me with my Mom & Dad

I am honored to be part of the Latino Outdoors family as a Southwest Ambassador. Celebrating our Cultura and the outdoors while sharing and supporting each other from all over the world.

Screenshot_2015-10-03-21-57-35-1

Happy Holidays and any day your your heart desires may you #OPTOUTSIDE

20151121_114342-1

Links to outdoor adventures in and around San Antonio, Texas : ).

Screenshot_2015-11-09-07-13-45_wm-1

Guadalupe River State Park (Texas)

Fitfunand … Pa Fuera!

 

 

08/30/15

Keep Calm & Road Trip.

IMG_2522

I love spending time in the outdoors and this summer I took a week off to do random day trip’s. Summer’s in Texas tend to get a little heated so I decided to head to some watering holes that I hadn’t been to.

Krause Springs in Spicewood,Tx is about 95 miles from San Antonio,Tx. The honey was my travel partner for the day and with our destination picked out all we had to do was hit the road.

I knew my day would be full of adventure so my heart was full of happiness.

Krause Springs is a well-known camping & swimming site located in the beautiful Hill Country of Texas. The 115 acre property is listed on the National Registry of Historical Sites and has been privately owned by the Krause Family for over 50 years and has many natural sites to explore. There are 32 springs on the property, and several feed the man-made pool and the natural pool which flows into Lake Travis. There is primitive camping & RV site’s w/electricity & water.

A nice little surprise was the Butterfly Garden filled with beautiful flowers,chimes and a hammock big enough for two.

The place is perfect for families with younger children and is filled with many places to picnic with the bathrooms within walking distance.

My favorite part was driving in. A sign saying be careful of cattle was the first thing I noticed and I thought of course, it’s Texas! We kept driving and we went right past a herd of cows : )).

The honey and I hiked for about an hour and we came across a couple of gorgeous waterfalls.  A pool is located not too far from the watering hole. I felt as  a whole that his place had just a little bit of everything but not too much. We went on a weekday in July and we still had plenty of space to be alone on the trails. The pool and watering hole were full but not packed. It is not a huge park so just be picky in deciding when to visit. We left happy and I would definitely come back. The reviews were mixed when I did my research but I would say that my experience as a whole was a good one. I feel that with the right people and the right attitude your day will be great no matter what you find.

 (things to know before you go) Krause Springs

  • Cash only
  • No pets allowed
  • Bathroom w/shower stalls
  • You can fish on lower parts of their property
  • Open year round
  • No glass containers
  • No life guard on duty
  • $7.00 per adult (12 + years) Day fee
  • $5.00 per child (5-11 years) Day fee

 

Fitfunand ….. JUST GO!