The Cotopaxi Challenge: Eleven Favorite Adventure Stories (+ Lessons From Each)

Cotopaxi banner

Original photo courtesy of Tim Kressin and the Wondercamp Team (seen here:

You may have heard of Cotopaxi before if you’re a fan of camping and outdoor activities. This backpack and apparel company based in Salt Lake City, Utah creates innovative products that fund health, education, and livelihood initiatives to help alleviate poverty in underdeveloped countries. And for their customers, Cotopaxi hopes to inspire adventure. Take a look at their blog The Llama Chronicles, and you’ll see what I mean. The company shares travelogues, tips on outdoor sports and activities, recipes for campsite meals – even American road-trip routes inspired by adventure novels.

I confess that I’m not an “outdoorsy” person, though I relish walking and spending time outside. But when I recently came across a special blog project by Cotopaxi, I knew I wanted to take part in it. Here was their challenge:

Share in a post on your blog your favorite adventure story, along with what lessons you’ve learned and you continue to carry those lessons with you since.

Now, I thought it wouldn’t be hard to pick an adventure story to write about. But then I reviewed my bookshelf, and realized I’ve read a LOT of adventure stories over the years. (No wonder I’m currently writing one of my own.) This led to me hemming and hawing over the usual novels I talk about here and other choices I love but aren’t highlighted as often… and finally decided, “You know what? I’ll write about ALL of them.” 🙂

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Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin at the 2014 National Book Awards

I’ve been searching for days for a video with both of their speeches together – and now I’ve found it! 😀

Last week, Neil Gaiman presented Ursula K. Le Guin with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters at the 2014 National Book Awards. Like Neil, Ursula is one of my favorite writers of all time, for both her poetic yet precise writing style and her thought-provoking ideas she explored through fantasy and science fiction. I also enjoyed Neil’s The Ocean At The End Of The Lane and plan to catch up on his earlier works.

What I love most about this video, though, are the speeches themselves. Neil is a fantastic speaker; he’s intelligent, thoughtful, and at times wonderfully funny. Ursula is also well-spoken in her own unique way. She’s like a force to be reckoned with: wise, witty, daringly insightful, and unabashedly honest. She’s not afraid to say what the publishing and writing industries truly need to hear.

What do you think about their speeches? Have you read any of Neil Gaiman’s or Ursula Le Guin’s works?

Final Trailer for “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”

I couldn’t resist. The final Hobbit film trailer was released yesterday, and since it’s the film I’ve been looking forward to most this year… well, I’m going to be brief in my fangirliness:

It’s so darkly, epicly (or epically?), heartbreakingly AWESOME. Makes me so excited for what’s in store and seeing it all play out. Can’t wait for December 17th! 😀

What do you think of the trailer? Are you planning to see the final Hobbit film next month?