Trade war with China to cost American coal producers

first_imgTrade war with China to cost American coal producers FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:At least four cargoes of U.S. coal worth $30 million are headed to China as Beijing prepares to hit imports with hefty 25-percent tariffs, threatening a niche supply of the fuel even as China’s appetite for foreign coal shows no sign of abating.The vessels, carrying a combined 335,000 tonnes of coal, are the only confirmed cargoes in transit from the United States to China, and are scheduled to land in time to avoid the new duties.On Wednesday night, the Ministry of Commerce published its final list of U.S. items worth $16 billion in imports that will incur an additional 25-percent tariff, including coal.The penalties will come into effect on Aug. 23 after Washington plans to start collecting duties on Chinese products of the same value. Coal was also in the draft list issued in June.The new duties are likely to curb exports from the United States, which ramped up shipments in 2017 as its beleaguered coal mining sector has undergone a resurgence under U.S. President Donald Trump.The United States shipped 3.2 million tonnes of coal to China last year, up from less than 700 tonnes in 2016, making it China’s seventh largest supplier, although well behind top supplier Australia with nearly 80 million tonnes.But it takes six weeks for a cargo to travel from the United States – compared with several weeks for Indonesia and Australia – costs more to ship and U.S. coal is of a lower quality than Australian coal.That means replacing U.S. shipments with coal from other places may not be difficult, sources said.“In all aspects, U.S. coal does not have any advantages,” said Zhang Min, coal analyst at China Sublime Information Group.“According to our calculation, after the 25-percent tariff, U.S. coal will cost at least $30 per tonne more, which basically rules it out of the Chinese market.”More: U.S. coal cargoes heading for China as Beijing takes aim with new tariffslast_img read more

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AEP to close two units at Conesville coal plant on May 31

first_imgAEP to close two units at Conesville coal plant on May 31 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):American Electric Power Co. Inc. will shut down units 5 and 6 at its 1,530-MW Conesville coal plant in Coshocton County, Ohio, on May 31, a company spokeswoman confirmed.The units represent 750MW of generating capacity in the PJM Interconnection market.In October 2018, AEP said it notified employees of plans to shut down the plant by May 31, 2020. “There are market conditions that could result in two of the generating units at Conesville (Units 5 and 6) closing as soon as May 2019,” AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry said at the time. On May 13, she said the company had decided to close the units this month. AEP had previously announced that it would close the two units in 2022.McHenry said the company expects the other operating unit at the plant, unit 4, to remain in service until May 2020. This unit has 780 MW of capacity, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.The plant’s primary sources of coal, according to Market Intelligence data, are the CCU Barb Coal Tipple mine in Coshocton County, Ohio, and Buckingham Mine No. 6 in Perry County, Ohio. CCU Coal and Construction LLC took the mines over from Westmoreland Coal Co. earlier this year.More ($): AEP to retire 750 MW of coal capacity at Conesville plantlast_img read more

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Easy does it

first_imgTwo steps forward, one step back. This old saying has much merit in a well-thought training plan for a race. How one achieves the two steps forward progress is predicated upon making sure you have recovery runs built into your weekly running regimen.Recovery runs become even more important if you run high mileage (6-7 days a week), do one or two speed workouts a week and have one long run per week. Most training plans incorporate some or all of these components. Perhaps, what can often be overlooked are the recovery runs, which for me is really an extension of all the harder efforts. The need for some recovery runs usually start 10-12 weeks out from a goal race. The timing of the mileage ramp up, addition of speed and the long run is also determined by your current fitness level and skill level. To get stronger and faster one must do some tearing down (one step back) through the speed work and long runs. Building in recovery runs or cross training days is how you achieve the two steps forward, so you are ready for the next hard effort. Recovery running is not to be confused with rest days. Sometimes you do need to build in a day or two off of no exercise but recovery running is a way to keep your mileage up, while prepping for the next hard effort.I’m speaking about this through my own trial and error and having been coached to understand the importance of recovery running. I have often learned the hard way that each day of running has its own purpose. Recovery runs are just as important as the speed workouts and long runs. Unfortunately they are over looked because they are usually boring and not as glamorous. A recovery run does not make great water cooler talk or Facebook posts. Much too often runners run by feel. If they feel good even the day after running hard, they then push the pace on the next day’s recovery run because everything seems great. This can come back to bite you rather quickly usually though an injury. Once you have incorporated all the necessary core run elements in your training plan, you are walking a balance beam. Once you fall off, it is hard to get back on that beam. Bottom line don’t get suckered into someone else’s pace or think faster recovery runs equals getting in bonus shape.   1 2last_img read more

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Sam Lewis Opens Up

first_imgSoulful Sam Lewis is a rising Nashville songwriting force.A few months back, a good friend of mine in Nashville told me that I really needed to hear her roommate sing.  Really.  I did.  Knowing her to be a fantastic judge of music, I did check him out.  And she was right.  I really needed to hear him.  Her roommate turned out to be Sam Lewis, one of the brightest new voices on the Music City’s singer/songwriter circuit.  Sam writes tunes that are both deeply soulful and startlingly honest.  BRO recently caught up with Sam to chat music and his debut record, which released on March 13th.BRO – I’ve always thought that if you stood in the middle of a street in Nashville and tossed a ball in any direction, it would probably be caught by a songwriter. How does a young songwriter like yourself go about getting your voice heard in a place where there are already so many voices?SL –I kind of crept in here through Murfreesboro.  I took a timeout when I moved from Knoxville – I’d been playing a lot and got distracted and took an eight month hiatus in Murfreesboro.  I ended up writing a bunch of stuff and, since I was only 25 minutes from Nashville, I would pop up from time to time to network and play some songwriter rounds.  I learned quickly that those kinds of things were not for me.  I like writing on my own.  I like to sing the tunes.  I am selfish with my crowd.  I am not afraid to share what I do with people, but I really like to build a connection with listeners and I am very leery of who I am passing my songs over to.  With Nashville, you just have to find where you belong.  The whole reason I moved here was because my biggest heroes live and work here.  Maybe I could get to meet them, hear them, play with them, or even record with them.  And when you hang out with people who are better than you, you are going to get better.  That was in the back of my mind. BRO – It’s got to be a nice shot in the arm when one of the best pickers in Nashville – Kenny Vaughan – says he wants to play with you.SL – Yeah.  It is.  Right now, I could call him.  And he might not answer, because it is dinner time, but he’d call me back.  That alone is crazy.   I didn’t meet Kenny until he walked into the studio with his guitars.  I introduced myself and thanked him for coming in – to me it was a huge deal.  To him, it was probably just another day.  He’d probably already done it three times that week.  My producer told me he was going to try to get him and I just laughed.  But he did it.  So we played the tunes and did them all live.  After the session, Kenny stuck around for a bit.  And then he stayed longer.  After the fact, some folks told me that he didn’t usually do that.  But he got involved with what was going on, listening to what was going on at the board.  We ended up chatting about playing some shows and he was interested.  It was truly like meeting someone who was going to become your best friend or someone you were going to know for a really long time.  It made total sense to me.  And it’s humbling.  I don’t know half of the shit he does on the guitar.  But I know I like it a lot.  And I don’t think there are many people who can make a song sound the way he does.BRO – In your songwriting, is there a hesitancy that comes with writing a tune like “A Southern Greek Tragedy,” which is so overtly personal?SL – Oh, yeah.  Definitely.  When I wrote that it was a complete exercise.  I had no intention of sharing it with anyone.  But I worked on it and worked on it.  It was one of the hardest songs I have ever had to write.  I was dealing with some things and trying to sort things out in my brain – that’s why I write songs.  I can only think about things for so long before it has to come out.  While writing it, I didn’t care who heard it, because it wasn’t meant to be shared.  But then I realized, during the writing, that I was sharing these experiences through my mother’s eyes.  That made it easier to test out, so I played it a few times and the feedback was instant.  I even played it for my parents and my sisters – they were totally supportive.  And I can’t imagine being them and hearing that song for the first time – or the hundredth time.  It’s all there.  I had to take this chance to write this song.  I might not write an autobiography, but this song stands for something.BRO – “Equal Love” is another tune that gets pretty personal.SL – That’s another one I wrote in Murfreesboro.  I got to messing around on the piano.  That is probably the first or second tune I figured out on the keyboard.  My dad married my mom when I was about five.  He was happy to have me and it was super cool.  It’s like he has always been there. There are a lot of people out there that have stepparents that actually forget that fact – that they are stepparents.  And that’s awesome.BRO – You mentioned early your musical heroes.  Who are they?SL – Man, I have tons.  I can remember getting into my dad’s records when I was five and finding Little Richard.  And I flipped out over Elvis.  In the early 90s, Michael Jackson.  What an entertainer.  But none of that really stuck with me.  One dude that did stick with me was Roy Orbison.  I can remember being seven and getting my hair cut and singing along to Roy Orbison tunes.  Bob Dylan turned me on when I was eighteen.  I didn’t know what he was talking about, but it was cool.  And Willie Nelson with his crafting of songs.  I still can’t get over Ray Charles – he had a soul you could taste.  I learned a lot from Van Morrison.  Van’s voice let him say whatever he wanted to say.  I got to open for Fred Eaglesmith, a songwriter from Canada.  I bought everything he had ever done.  John Prine – to be able to say things unlike anybody.  He just says what he thinks.  Just being honest.  You’re going to say stupid stuff from time to time, but sometimes you’ll say something profound.  The universe throws you a bone.  I can’t live without these artists.  They are like my books.Sam’s debut record released earlier this month, and he’d love to give one to you to check out, so we are going to do a little trivia contest and give a copy of the record to someone who answers the question below correctly.  Send your answer to [email protected] by 11:00 A.M. on Thursday, March 22nd.  Good Luck!!Question – Kenny Vaughan is the regular lead guitar player for what fabulous country star?last_img read more

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Best Mountain Towns Reader Poll 2013

first_imgVoting has WRAPPED for the 2013 Best Mountain Towns poll!Thanks to wall who voted! Winners will be announced in our November issue. The second annual Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine Best Mountain Towns poll is back, but this year we added a twist. We want to know your favorite town in four categories: Best River Town, Best Trail Town, Best Music Town, and Best Beer Town.You can check out the winners from last year’s Best Mountain Towns reader poll here. Is your town tops in the Appalachians? Vote to find out!Best Trail Town[poll id=”42″]Best River Town[poll id=”41″]Best Beer Town[poll id=”43″]Best Music Town[poll id=”44″]last_img

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Beer Blog: Shower Beers

first_imgMy wife thinks I’m a little weird because I like to drink beer in the shower. It’s not like I head to the shower every time I crack open a beer—that would be weird bordering on compulsive. But every once in a while, after a bike ride or a long run, I like to spend an inordinate amount of time in the shower drinking a beer. If it’s winter, and I’m fresh off the slopes, it’s a hot shower. If it’s summer, it’s a cool shower. She doesn’t understand why I can’t just wait until I’m done with the shower to open the beer. I tell her I’ll never understand someone who can’t fathom the joy of drinking a beer, a whole beer, while taking a shower. It’s luxurious. It’s decadent. It’s about as close as I’ll ever get to having a spa day. The only thing better than drinking a beer in the shower after a big ride, is drinking a beer in the middle of a cold river after a big ride. Or hot springs after a powder session. I was at the beach recently and went for a long run in the sand and on the way back to the hotel I found this interesting looking English style IPA, which basically means the malt hits you heavy up front before the hops can sucker punch you on the backend. I believe that’s what beer critics call “balanced.” The beer is called FCA, which is short for F&*ck Corporate America. It’s what the two founders of Railhouse Brewery (Aberdeen, N.C.) decided to name their flagship beer after leaving their corporate gigs to start a brewery. Cue Mel Gibson screaming “freedom” in face paint. It was like 90 degrees that day at the beach. I had sand all over me and a fresh IPA. Naturally, I hit the shower. The beer itself was a force to be reckoned with—7.5% ABV and 74 IBUs—that’s nearing Imperial IPA status, but the beer critics were right—this thing was balanced, all sweet upfront with a big, full mouthfeel. It’s about as far from a West Coast IPA you can find while still staying within the IPA style guidelines, and that’s okay with me. I love variety. So I had two of them there with the water washing away my run. The shower was glorious too, but I’ll spare you those details.last_img read more

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Weekend Pick: Asheville Hot Chocolate 10K

first_imgThere are very few things that beat warming up with some good hot chocolate on a cold day. Combine that with one of the best 10Ks in the Blue Ridge region? Now that’s a real winner. See for yourself this Saturday at the Asheville Hot Chocolate 10K.The reviews of the Hot Chocolate 10K are simply shining: “The Hot Chocolate 10k in Asheville is a tasty mid-winter treat for runners at a time when good races are few and far between,” says running blogger Richard Hefner. “A great way to start the new year!” another racer claims.Here’s some more good incentive, for those of you who might be a little nervous to take on the 10K challenge: the Hot Chocolate 10K race is widely known as the “flattest 10K” in the Asheville area. No hills, no problem. The course follows a gentle path through the city, perfect for beginner runners or a great chance for more experienced racers to focus on speed and form. The race will begin at 8:55 AM Saturday morning, with a hot chocolate celebration and awards ceremony to follow. In addition to all that delicious cocoa, racers will receive a commemorative long-sleeve shirt at the finish. The race is capped at 750 participants, but there’s still room for more! Online registration has closed, so interested runners should register on-site the morning of the race. Registration costs just $40, and benefits the local Isaac Dickson Elementary School Parent Teacher OrganizationHot Chocolate 10K.Hot chocolate + fun miles + good people = one great event. Get in on the action at the Asheville Hot Chocolate 10K!last_img read more

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5 Favorite Trailheads Accessible Without a Vehicle

first_imgIn the age of Uber, it’s easier than ever to get around without your own set of wheels, but reaching some far-flung outdoor destinations still presents a challenge for carless adventurers. With a little research and creativity, however, you can still get out and about. Check out these options for a few regional public lands you can visit without a car.WEST VIRGINIA  |  Harpers Ferry National Historical ParkIt’s no coincidence that this town at the intersection of two rivers also serves as a crossroads of transportation, which makes it super simple to access. Each day, Amtrak’s Capitol Limited route stops at the Harpers Ferry station en route from Washington, D.C. and Chicago, and the train offers walk-on bike service as well as educational opportunities about the region’s natural and cultural heritage through the National Park Service’s Trails & Rails program. On weekdays, the MARC Train’s Brunswick Line stops in Harpers Ferry as it travels between D.C and Martinsburg, West Virginia. A park shuttle bus connects the Lower Town with the park’s Visitor Center. A short walk from these access points will connect you to multiple trails (including the Appalachian Trail) as well as adventure guide companies that offer rafting, tubing, kayaking, zip lining, and mountain biking.MARYLAND  |  Assateague State Park and Assateague Island National SeashoreGreyhound offers bus service to Ocean City, Maryland, and a short Uber or taxi ride from there gets you to either Assateague State Park or Assateague Island National Seashore. Both sections of the island offer campsites, swimming beaches, crabbing and fishing sites, nature trails, and feral horses meander throughout. Consider renting a bike in Ocean City (they’re an expensive hassle to transport by Greyhound) so you can explore more of the island.VIRGINIA  |  The Blue Ridge Parkway and Roanoke’s Mill Mountain Park and Explore ParkRoanoke’s greenways and its placement along the Blue Ridge Parkway make the city an ideal starting point for a variety of outdoor adventures, and since both Amtrak and Greyhound offer bus service to Roanoke, it’s a great option for a weekend getaway from urban centers throughout the region. Several bike shops in town offer rentals, and walkers and bikers alike can take the Mill Mountain Greenway from downtown Roanoke to Mill Mountain Park, which features the city’s iconic star. This 568-acre regional park also offers 10 miles of multiuse trails, a zoo, a wildflower garden, a playground, picnic sites, a discovery center, two overlooks that provide spectacular views of the city.The Roanoke River Greenway hugs the river on the south side of the city and terminates before it reaches Explore Park, but by continuing along neighborhood streets in the city’s Rosewood Park neighborhood, visitors can access Explore Park’s 1,100 acres, 14 miles of trails, and Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor’s Center. The park is located at milepost 115 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, which dedicated cyclists can also access from downtown Roanoke via virtually any major road heading east or south out of the city.SOUTH CAROLINA  |  Sesquicentennial State ParkAmtrak serves downtown Columbia, and citybound nature seekers can then walk a few short blocks to catch the city’s Comet 55x bus toward Sesquicentennial State Park. The bus stops at Wal-Mart on Columbia’s Two Notch Road, and parkgoers can then walk or catch a taxi/Uber for the last two miles into the heart of the park. Sesquicentennial sprawls for more than 1,400 acres under the canopy of a pine forest and features 84 campsites, 12 miles of hiking trails, a six-mile bike loop, a dog park (although dogs are not permitted on Columbia city buses), a sand volleyball court, a softball field, two playgrounds, geocaches, and picnic shelters. Additionally, the park offers kayaks, canoes, fishing boats, pedal boats and stand-up paddleboards for rent.GEORGIA  |  Chattahoochee River National Recreation AreaThe Chattahoochee River meanders just a few miles north and west of downtown Atlanta, creating plenty of access points, but watercraft rentals and shuttles take a bit more planning. Greyhound and Amtrak both have stations in downtown Atlanta, and once there, river runners can take the MARTA’s Red Line train to North Springs, then transfer to Bus 85 and get off at the first stop (Dunwoody Place). From there, a 20-minute walk will get you to Shoot the Hooch, an outfitter and guiding company that offers half- and full-day rentals and guided trips to get you rafting, tubing, kayaking, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding on the Chattahoochee.last_img read more

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If It Scares You, Do It: Rappelling Is Within Reach

first_imgWhy limit your outdoor experiences to the familiar hiking trails and hanging in a hammock? The stunts you see outdoor pros pull off on TV are within your reach once you make the decision to attack a new experience.For those who want some on the edge fun, nothing quite compares to the experience of making your way down a tall cliff or rock face while depending on the rope, carabiners, and your own inner strength. Rappelling is a rite of passage within the climbing community and is a great way to return to the base of a mountain after a climb or hiking experience that involves a descent elevation gain and can be enjoyed by people of all skill sets.Petit Dru, the peak where rappelling was first attempted.Photo by camptocamp.orgThe creation of the adrenaline filled experience is credited to Jean Estéril Charlet, a French climber based in Chamonix. Rappelling or abseiling (as it is know in the rest of the world), was first practiced while Charles made his descent from the Petit Dru, a sharp peak in the French Alps in 1876. By the turn of the century, rappelling gained in popularity throughout the climbing world. Climbers from all over the world tried taking the idea and developing it even further. Successfully doing so, Otto Herzog, a German climber and inventor first introduced the use of carabiners to the sport in 1911.Since that time, rappelling has transformed the outdoor recreation world with many different variations of knots, harnesses, and techniques tailored for different types of terrain. Three main types of rappelling practiced today are the standard rappel where a person’s back faces the ground with face up while descending a ledge. A free rappel is a technique often practiced by covers where a person’s body is suspended in open space while they slide down the rope to solid ground. Lastly and certainly not least is the Australian rappel that puts a climber to the ultimate test of facing downward while making their descent.Rapelling is now used as a military training technique, a means to rescue people, and amongst many other purposes it is also a recreational pursuit for thrill seekers and those wanting to branch out a bit, putting their fears and limits to the test.Defying your brain’s normalized laws of gravity, rappelling successfully and with much control can involve putting your body at a 90 degree angle and walking down a massive steep rock backwards. Scary as it may seem, many who have tried it can only seen to boast on how exhilarating the adventure is from start to finish. Like many outdoor pursuits, rappelling can happen just about anywhere from the side of a building to a mountaintop. A specific location that is popular in many guided rappelling and climbing adventures is waterfalls both as their waters are rushing in the warmer months and while frozen in the winter.For an immersive adventure on the edge without the costs of buying your own gear, you can give it a try on a guided trip on your next vacation or right near your home within the Blue Ridge Mountains. Many guided trips will assist you in your journey by providing gear, transportation, instruction, guides and sometimes even meals for a pretty fair price. An excursion of climbing and rappelling beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. for an individual who is a beginner and over the age of 10 near Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina goes for $129. When factoring in the thrills with the views you would have combined with the comfort of knowing you are with practiced professionals that will keep you entirely safe, that’s not too bad!The saying goes, “If it scares you, do it.” So maybe this summer is the summer of chasing after a new adventure like rappelling. If there’s one guarantee in going after an experience like it, it’s that you won’t go home unchanged. For some tips and techniques to get started off in the world of rappelling, check out this article from Climbing Magazine and view the video below produced by REI.last_img read more

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The Marriage Boat: On Reconciling Love and Adventure

first_imgIf you’ve ever paddled in a tandem canoe with your significant other, you know why it’s called the “divorce boat.” Adventures of any kind in the outdoors can either make or break a relationship, so we sat down with three active couples to learn how they navigate the turbulent waters of married life.There’s no better analogy for marriage than sailing the open sea. To quote the 1973 classic hit “Rock the Boat” by Hues Corporation, “Our love is like a ship on the ocean. We’ve been sailing with a cargo full of love and devotion.” But sometimes, the sea, like life, can be a capricious thing, and no matter the amount of love and devotion in the hold of that ship, a little adversity can be all it takes to rock the boat.Early on in their relationship, Harrisonburg, Va., locals Anna and David Landis, were exposed to many a stormy sea. Just a few months after the two started dating, they packed their bags and moved to the Middle East, where they spent nearly a decade living as expats in Israel and Palestine.Anna and David Landis.“When you’re living abroad for that long, your friends cycle in and out, and it can be really refreshing and helpful to have a partner there with you, but that also makes it harder when you have a conflict,” says Anna Landis, “because then, you’re each other’s only steady companion.”Still, living thousands of miles and seven time zones away from family didn’t keep the Landis’ from pushing their limits, both individually and as a couple. In 2009, they each hiked the Camino de Santiago separately, and later returned to hike it together in 2011 and the Camino del Norte route in 2012. They’ve since hiked the Annapurna Circuit, toured cross-country by bike, road tripped throughout Europe and Alaska, and self-published two guidebooks on the Jesus Trail and the Camino de Santiago under their publishing company Village to Village Press. Landis has done more than 20,000 miles of bike touring and has developed a number of long-distance hiking trails in the Middle East, including the Jesus Trail and the Jordan Trail.While they each have fond memories of these adventures together, there was no doubt there were trying times. On that cross-country bike tour, for example, which the couple took just a week after being married and with David’s two sisters and their husbands in tow, Landis remembers feeling self-conscious about her pace.“We were loaded down and averaging 80 miles a day for seven weeks and I was just exhausted,” she says. “This was my first huge tour, and a lot of the times, I would be straggling in after everyone else. I was always the slowest one. It’s already kinda stressful to do those big long days, but to feel like you’re letting people down, that was tough sometimes.”Lydia Wing of Saluda, N.C., remembers that feeling of insecurity, which is why she didn’t paddle with her then-boyfriend Chris, an experienced kayaking instructor and Wave Sport sponsored freestyle competitor, when she was first learning to kayak. She paddled with her parents instead.Lydia and Chris Wing“The beginner progression can be challenging and frustrating and sometimes you feel embarrassed holding the group back,” she says. “I tended to funnel those frustrations into anger, so I started paddling with my parents a lot because my mom couldn’t break up with me if I got mad at her while we were kayaking.”Once Lydia felt confident on the water, she and Chris started paddling harder whitewater together, but even then, the two encountered a different set of challenges, namely, how to continue giving Lydia the room to develop herself as a competent paddler.“Whether it’s in the eddy above the rapid or picking up the pieces at the bottom, being able to sort through what you’re feeling and have your counterpart listen and not just tell you what you want to hear but empower you and validate how you’re feeling, that’s really important,” says Lydia. “We weren’t good at that for a long time and there were times on the river that were stressful and heated.”“There is no hiding your emotions while kayaking,” says Chris. “All of your insecurities and fears surface, no matter what, and it comes out in different ways. Sometimes I’m too empathetic because I coach and teach so much. I have to be able to turn off that coach and be a husband as well, and that’s my biggest challenge.”In 2012, Chris and Lydia started H2o Dreams, a kayak instruction school offering everything from beginner roll clinics to international paddling trips. All of a sudden, the couple wasn’t just living and playing together—they were now working together, too. Not long after the two embarked on this entrepreneurial enterprise, Lydia started having doubts.“A lot of people will laugh when I say this but I really experienced a quarter-life crisis,” Lydia says. “I freaked out because I went to college and then I met this guy and this job working with him totally fell into my lap. I started to wonder what I would do if it weren’t for Chris, like who would I be and what would I be doing?”[nextpage title=”READ ON!”]The All-or-Nothing MarriageWhat Lydia experienced is something an increasing number of modern day couples are having to confront, and that is the question of whether or not your significant other should help you achieve self-actualization. Last year, Northwestern University social psychologist Eli Finkle published a book called The All-or-Nothing Marriage. In it, Finkle compares the history of marriage to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.Up until 1850, a successful marriage was defined by the meeting of basic needs such as “food production, shelter and protection from violence,” writes Finkle in a 2014 New York Times op-ed. From 1850 until 1965, “marriage increasingly centered around intimate needs such as to love, to be loved and to experience a fulfilling sex life.”But from 1965 until today, Americans, who more or less had those fundamental needs met, looked to marriage for self-discovery, the pinnacle of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. That, according to Finkle, is leading to either record-high levels of marital quality, or marriages that fall drastically short of a partner’s expectations.Lydia, recognizing that Chris couldn’t possibly answer those questions for her, made a leap. She started working for a non-profit, and although she didn’t work there long, it returned that sense of sovereignty over her life that had been missing.“I recognized pretty early on that John couldn’t be my everything, which is probably why I’ve survived being a weekend bike widow for so long,” says Rebecca. “Before, because I was so profoundly unhappy in my career choices, I was resentful of this great joy that John had. But if you stop thinking about the things that take your partner away from you and start thinking about the space that that gives you to find your passions, you’ll come much closer together.”Rebecca Herod of Morgantown, W.Va., had a harder time making that dive. She and her husband John had, by all appearances, a successful life. She was the Director of Marketing and Communications at West Virginia University. John had his own lucrative contracting business. The two owned a house and doted on their two dogs. Despite the unquestionable love they had for each other, John had another love, too—mountain biking. The sport was part of John’s very essence, an activity he’d been doing since he was just a child. He’d been a competitive downhill racer for years, traveling almost every weekend during the season, but even now as co-founder of the West Virginia Enduro Series, he was out of town a lot.“Early on in the relationship he was out having a good time [mountain biking] and I was working all of the time and not having fun,” says Rebecca. “That wasn’t his problem though. That was my problem. His happiness didn’t need to get smaller. Mine needed to get bigger.”When the stress of her work started to negatively impact her physical and mental well-being, Rebecca turned to yoga. At first, yoga was purely a personal pursuit, but she felt such fulfillment from her practice that she decided to quit her job and begin teaching yoga.“I left a very lucrative position at the university to be a yoga teacher which, contrary to popular belief, is not a money-making venture,” she says. “I was worried when I did that because we had a certain lifestyle and that was going to change. I was afraid that would put strain on our marriage and our finances.”As a self-employed entrepreneur and downhill mountain biker, John was no stranger to risk. He understood Rebecca’s fear of the unknown and her simultaneous need to confront that uncertainty head-on. Much like mountain biking served as an outlet for stress relief and purpose in his life, he recognized that yoga played a similar role in Rebecca’s.“Although we don’t do those two things together, it works for us,” he says. “Everyone needs mind-cleansing activities. You can’t always rely on your partner to make your world perfect.”Shifting the ParadigmWhether you’re in a relationship like John and Rebecca, who maintain separate passions, or like Chris and Lydia, who live, work, and play together, time spent outdoors shouldn’t cause stress on the relationship. If it does, the first thing you should do is set a regular date night.According to a 2012 study released by the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, date nights can improve the overall quality and stability of relationships and marriages. Spouses who spent deliberate “time alone, talking, or sharing an activity” at least once a week “were approximately 3.5 times more likely to report being ‘very happy’ in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.”Life for Anna and David has changed dramatically in recent years. For starters, the couple now has two kids under the age of three, which make scheduling date nights seemingly impossible. And while David decided all of those years ago during his first thru-hike of the Camino de Santiago that he preferred to adventure with his wife by his side, he’s had to adapt the activities that give him such fulfillment to be more inclusive for his family. This past summer, the four-person tribe headed West so that David could bike the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in the company of Anna and their two kids, who met up with him along the way.“I like going hard and going fast, there’s no doubt,” he says, “but I think the greater value is being outside and being together.”John and Rebecca make a point of designating Thursday nights as date night. The evening’s activities must be “neutral ground,” which means no yoga and no mountain biking. The two typically go out to dinner, see a concert, or simply stay at home and binge watch Stranger Things and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.Chris (right) and Lydia Wing live, work, and play together, which makes time for date nights more important than ever.Chris and Lydia admit that date nights are few and far between. “We’re married and we kayak together and we started our own business together. There are a lot of blurred lines,” says Lydia. But when they first started dating, and before Lydia began kayaking, the couple went on really cool dates and shared new experiences, which they say they’d like to return to.“It’s systemic in our culture that that sacred time is one of the first things that falls to the wayside,” says Chris. “We’re so motivated and so driven and so career-oriented that we forget about the things that bring real joy in our lives.”Additionally, social psychologist Eli Finkle argues that it’s perfectly acceptable for couples to look to each other for support in achieving self-actualization, if those expectations are clearly communicated and the couples are willing to put in the hard work (read “more date nights”) to make that happen. But, says Finkle, “if couples lack the time and energy, they might consider adjusting their expectations, perhaps by focusing on cultivating an affectionate bond without trying to facilitate each other’s self-actualization.”“I recognized pretty early on that John couldn’t be my everything, which is probably why I’ve survived being a weekend bike widow for so long,” says Rebecca. “Before, because I was so profoundly unhappy in my career choices, I was resentful of this great joy that John had. But if you stop thinking about the things that take your partner away from you and start thinking about the space that that gives you to find your passions, you’ll come much closer together. You don’t have to share the same love affair with biking, but you do have to recognize how that love affair enhances the soul. You want to be with somebody who’s got a soulful love. It just makes us whole people.”last_img read more

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