Cotopaxi combines gear for good, social missions, and a llove of llamas in Salt Lake City's 2016 Questival Race.
To participate in Cotopaxi's Questival you need to form a team of four-six people willing to rack up points by cramming disparate social, environmental, cultural, quirky, and adventurous activities into 24 hours. A llove of llamas is also helpful.
Though this is the 3rd year Cotopaxi has held Questival in Salt Lake City, this was our first time time participating in the socially and environmentally conscious outdoor gear company's race where everyone starts at the same location and chooses their own finish line.
While the prizes for winning the most points in the race include service trips to South America, gear, and bragging rights, the Llam-A-Ramas' goal was 150 points. Armed with our Cotopaxi packs (well worth the $30 early llama entry fee) the Questify app downloaded on our phone to record points, our team totem (which must appear in every uploaded photo or video), and a list of over 150 challenges to complete over the next 24 hours, we set off.
Dan and I with our two daughters (9 and 15) were up for the challenge which kicked off Friday evening with music and pre-race challenges at humanitarian and sponsor booths. Llamas were featured majestically in the middle of this gala at the Sandy Promenade.Admittedly, our team, the Llam-A-Ramas, were both older and younger than the college-age target crowd. But after the check in with well over 2800 people in attendance, our adventure was ours.
Our first stop was to my parents house to hug their blue spruce (3 points). Off-handedly, I asked my dad if he happened to have a bristle cone pine. Just our luck: he'd planted one last year (just a photo, no hugging: 6 points). Then we were off to Grantsville Reservoir, probably the closest campground in the SL area not covered in snow, to camp in a tent (6 points) and to hopefully catch a crawdad and a fish (6 and 9 points that were not to be).
In his novella The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote:
Grown-ups like numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask questions about what really matters. They never ask: 'What does his voice sound like?' 'What games does he like best?' 'Does he collect butterflies?' They ask: 'How old is he?' 'How many brothers does he have?' 'How much does he weigh?' 'How much money does his father make?' Only then do they think they know him.
If you tell grown-ups, 'I saw a beautiful red brick house, with geraniums at the windows and doves on the roof,' they won't be able to imagine such a house. You have to tell them, 'I saw a house worth a hundred thousand dollars.' Then they exclaim, 'What a pretty house!' That's the way they are. You must not hold it against them. Children should be very understanding of grown ups.
In defense of grown-ups and their love of numbers, numbers seem to be our most objective way to measure, quantify, and recount experience.
I thought of this quote as we sat churning butter (6 points) in the wind at Grantsville Reservoir, cooking tin foil dinners (6 points) and a dehydrated dish (6 points) while waiting for the charcoal to cool so we could draw a charcoal picture of a llama (3 points), and for the crawdad to take the bait Dan set (no points, the trap broke).
It's easy to get caught up in the points of Questival but it's impossible to forget the overall lessons. As Saint-Exupery writes,
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. The essential is invisible to the eye."
We packed a lot into 24 hours: rapping with my 85-year-old Grandma (6 points), having Kinsee dunk a basketball while standing on Dan's shoulders (3 points), throwing donut holes at Dan (1 point), planting flowers in our park (3 points), walking like zombies across a crosswalk (3 points), making an informational video about educategirls.in (6 points) and interviewing the soon-to-be retired owner of Larry's Burgers in Fillmore, Utah (6 points), exchanging books at a Little Library in Cedar City (6 points), and eventually visiting Zion National Park (6 points).
We ended up with a respectable 181 points and in 513th place out of 748 teams. But numbers aside, we learned that Questival--no, life really, is about going outside of your comfort zone and to stuff as many experiences into it as you can. While Cotopaxi's race is a once-in-a-year event, treat every day as a new collection of challenges where you can snack on the state vegetable (3 points), learn to tie a bowline (3 points), volunteer with a non-profit (6 points), or take time to watch the sunset (3 points). Even if there's not an app to track the numbers. --Stacie Weatbrook
This post is first appeared on justwritegroup.com
by Dan Weatbrook, Sr.
The weather was 45 degrees,18 mile hour wind out of the south and raining hard. It was our monthly family get together and the grandchildren wanted to fire up a rocket stove. We took a vote and ended up deciding to try to make rice on the rocket stove. Because of the stiff wind, rain and cold it took us eight minutes to get fire in each rocket stove. It then took twenty minutes to get it up to temperature where it would boil water for the rice. We decided to put on a teapot full of water so we could warm up a cup of hot chocolate.
After thirty minutes we opened the lid and had perfectly done rice. The hot chocolate was delicious and welcomed. The grandchildren then roasted marshmallows in the rocket stoves and at the top of the chimneys. The rocket stove marshmallows came out burned on one end and raw on the other. The chimney marshmallows came out with just a tinge of brown and completely melted on the inside. They were the GREATEST.
We learned that when faced with a strong wind, build or find a shelter where you can get out of the wind. The rain as it went through a phase change and turned into steam it stole a tremendous amount of heat from the stove. If you can't get out of the wind, face the end of the stove with the two rocket stoves into the wind to help with draft. Covering the pot with the rice in it and the tea kettle with a dutch oven cover helped the water boil more quickly. The rice was not burned at all and was light and flaky. Even in these harsh conditions we were able to put out a great meal.
Dan, Sr. is the designer and owner of Bear River Rocket Stoves. He is passionate about teaching others to be prepared.
We had the opportunity to show our stoves in real life a few weekends ago at the Shelley Ready preparedness fair. On our way back from Shelly Ready, we had our own real-life emergency: our truck broke down.
We sat on the side of the road waiting for it to cool down, but realized overheating was not the problem. About an hour passed and a man driving with his family pulled his truck over by us to see if he could help. After trying everything he could think of to start the truck, he towed our truck with the trailer still attached off the freeway. We were only about 200 yards from the exit but he didn’t just pull it off the freeway but all the way to the parking lot of a hotel with a couple of restaurants nearby. This would be a convenient spot for us to wait for a tow truck.
When we discussed options for the night (the next day was Easter) he insisted on giving us a ride home. After taking his family home, he moved our broken truck to a spot out of the way and hooked up to our trailer and pulled it all the way to Garland Utah which was almost 100 miles one way. He spent more than 3 hours and 200 miles to get us where we needed to be and couldn’t have arrived at his own home before 10pm that night.
He didn’t have to help us, but he did and that selfless act impressed me. I now understand what it means to go the extra mile. May God bless the good Samaritan from Chubbuck, Idaho.
By day Dan is the Product Management Director for a software company. By night, he enjoys reading to his children (they're on the sixth Harry Potter book) and making pizza in the brick oven he built. On the weekends, he is a Rocket Stove evangelist.