The Spirit of the Trail
While The Spirit of the Trail primarily describes the life-altering, 2,800-mile bicycling expedition on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR) from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico endured by Carrie Morgridge and her husband, John, during the summer of 2016, it frequently touches on concepts and personal traits that are of vital importance to the Morgridge Family Foundation philanthropic mission. The Foundation strives to open new paths for
children and adults. As bicycling offers a sustainable method of transportation, the Foundation models sustainable philanthropy. And while a cycling adventure is hands-on, so is the Foundation’s search for worthwhile projects to support.
The book serves as an informative (but not too technical) guide for those who are ready to tackle the GDMBR and anyone who is curious about stepping out of their comfort zone and facing a large or difficult challenge. Carrie’s voice throughout is inspiring and uplifting, even on the days when she is tired of eating out of a can, sleeping on the ground and is considering giving up, she finds a meadowlark or a field of gorgeous wildflowers to remind her of all that she is thankful
for, and presses on.
As with her earlier book, Every Gift Matters, their Foundation plans to contribute all proceeds to the Adventure Cycling Association in support of the Foundation’s enduring commitment to health and environmental conservation.
I have not been much of a bike rider or bike enthusiast. However, after reading this book, I have gotten a little more excited about biking and exploring more locations. Yet, I think I will wait on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. Which, the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route goes from Banff, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. By the end of trip you will have traveled a total of 180,000 vertical feet. The equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest six times. This is if you have the physical and mental capabilities to complete the whole trip.
Yet, if you do attempt this journey, you will cross the Continental Divide numerous times. As well as meet many interesting people and sites. This is what I really enjoyed about this book. Not just Carrie's "simple" writing of her and her husband's travels but also the many pictures shared throughout this book. It was like I was with them throughout the journey.
Carrie provides this great piece of advise "Life is quick, and if you don't do it now, you might have regrets. Don't let life pass you by; grab the trail of life and live it. The adventure is waiting for you."
About the Authors
Carrie Morgridge serves as the Vice President and Chief Disruptor of The Morgridge Family Foundation. The mission of
the Foundation is to invest in transformative gifts. Carrie is the award-winning author of Every Gift Matters – How Your
Passion Can Change the World.
Carrie and her husband John created the Student Support Foundation, a national organization that inspires youth
philanthropy. For the past decade, they have celebrated and advanced the educator profession by creating mindSpark
Learning which is focused on empowering educators to tackle the most challenging conditions in their schools through
Design Thinking and other strategies.
Carrie speaks nationally to education advocacy forums, at poverty alleviation conferences, and many convenings,
globally, that are philanthropically focused. She divides her time between Colorado and Florida. She and John have two
children who both reside in Denver.
Carrie and John are avid athletes; they recently mountain biked across the country on the Great Divide Mountain Bike
Route covering 2,774 miles from Canada to New Mexico in 46 days. Carrie has completed nine Ironman competitions.
Author Q&A for The Spirit of the Trail
1. Where did you grow up /live now?
· Born in Santa Barbara, California. Moved to Aspen CO from CA, and then split time between CO and FL. Warm cold thing. Now live in Stuart FL on Hutchinson Island and Steamboat Springs CO.
2. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
· My mom said I could be anything I wanted to be – every night as a child. I met prince charming in San Francisco and lived happily ever after.
3. What is your education/career background?
· I graduated HS by one point. I was totally disengaged, but my parents always told me I was smart. Went to college at 36 and graduated Suma Cum Laude. Timing was everything. I have an Associates in Arts from a VoTech School in Tampa – International Academy of Technology and Design. I graduated as an Interior Designer.
4. Do you have kids and/or pets?
· Yes - A son John – age 26 and a daughter Michelle – married age 25. One loveable dog Nina – Toy Australian Sheppard – who travels with us, on planes and in our RV sprinter.
5. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? Or what first inspired you to write?
· I don’t consider myself a writer, as I always need help with editing, and grammar. However, I am a story teller, and I have been exposed to so many amazing things being a Morgridge for 27 years. Two men in my life, both from the non profit world believed that I had a story to tell. Every Gift Matters, my first book became an amazon best selling book. Then I won best non fiction from Indie Book Awards and the rest is history. I have toured India twice from the book, and have a third book in me – Courage Money. The stories come easy, and I acknowledge that there are great writers out there who can help me make my books sing.
6. Where/When do you best like to write?
· I am a very early riser, and I like to write first thing when I wake up. Writing is not a push for me, but a pleasure. When I am into a book, I write first thing, then do a really hard work out – shower – and come back to the story. My brain processes through work out and overnight, so I take advantage to both. When I experience something new or worthwhile, I will write about it and bank it in google docs. I already have many stories ripe for book three.
7. Do you have any interesting writing habits or superstitions?
· Yes. see answer 6..
8. When you are struggling to write/have writer’s block, what are some ways that help you find your creative muse again?
· Yes. Since I write about the now, I do two things. I go on site visits and meet people from my favorite charities and interview them. Their energy feeds my soul, and inspires me to write about them, share their stories and share the goodness in the world. We need to know more about what is out there and focus on the good. Secondly, I go for a hard workout, which is probably harder than the normal person. Training for Ironman is hard, and there are many things that one must sacrifice to do finish. As a mom of small children at the time, I had to balance, family, college, and training all at the same time. I made a daily goal, and worked one day at a time to a weekly goal, which lead to a monthly goal. So when I mean a hard workout it is 3-5 hours nonstop. I will go unplugged and let me mind take me where I need to go. From there – I can write about anything. I honestly can feel all my senses and the writing just flows.
9. What do you think makes a good story?
· A good story to me is worth repeating. So when I read, hear or learn of a great story, I immediately try to share in my network. A good story to me is a simple person, doing a heroic thing, yet they don’t even know it, because it is second nature. A good story is someone who was willing to take a change to try something different and succeeded/failed. The point is that they were willing to take a risk – and I like risk taking.
10. What inspired your story?
· My story is about a couple – who celebrated their 25th anniversary by going on an epic adventure. We needed each other more and more each day, and helped each other in ways we hadn’t done in 25 years – with kids, careers, etc. Our trip brought us closer together as if we just met and fell in love. It was incredibly hard. There were hard days, tough nights and scary points – all worth sharing. I hope to inspire others to fall in love again, to adventure cycle, or if anything – unplug for the weekend – take a bike ride and enjoy nature.
11. How does a new story idea come to you? Is it an event that sparks the plot or a character speaking to you?
· My next book came to me right away. When you publish a book, it is like having a baby – “when is the then one coming?” is the general question. So that got me thinking, but I biked across the country first, and it was a fun, inspiring, from the heart book that I had to get out there. It is the 20th anniversary for the Adventure Cycling Association, Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, so my timing is perfect, and I can afford to give 100% of the proceeds to them from the book sales. This will allow them to continue the great work in open space trails and adventure cycling for all.
12. Is there a message/theme in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
· I hope my message inspires others to hit their bucket list and bike across – you fill in the blank – the country, the state, the city, the place. But to go out there and do it. If a small town girl like me can bike across the country – so can you.
13. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
· Writing is the easy part. Editing requires professionals. I spend more time with edits and making it perfect for the reader.. Again, I rely on the professionals, and I welcome edits, I don’t disagree, as I know they are making the book better. I want the book to be 100% perfect for the reader.
14. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?
· I first wrote our bike across the country as a blog. The hardest challenge was reading my scratch from my phone – which we turned into a book. Both John and I had to go back and just look at the photos and re-write the entire trip. The crazy thing is that our memory is sparked by each day of photos and we both could remember crazy details each and every day (46 total) of that summer.
15. On a Friday night, what are you most likely to be doing?
· I love a good glass of red wine. I love to be outside for sunset with John, Nina our dog and many times friends. I work seven days a week, so sometimes I am not sure Friday night from Sunday night.
16. What do you like to do when you are not writing?
· I love to work out. I play tennis, go to the gym, snow ski, SUP, swim, snorkel, and at the very end of the day – get a massage.
17. Who are some of your favorite authors?
· Adam Grant, Thomas Friedman, Walter Isaacson, Jim Collins, Malcom Gladwell, Sheryl Sandburg, E.L. James, J.K. Rowling, Peter Reynolds, Bill Peet
18. Do you have a bucket list? What are some of the things on it?
· Be a great grandma – I have 4 grand puppies and 2 grand kittens
· Inspire women to be whatever they want to be.
· To be a great wife
· To visit Mully and President Kugama in Africa
· To laugh each day
· To love more each day than the past day
19. Have you won any awards or honors (not just for writing)?
· Several -
· Arthur B Lorber Award for Distinguished Service from National Jewish Health – where they never say never and our foundation supports a school for medically frail children, and residences for up and coming doctors for all of America.
· Frances Wisebart Jacobs award – United Way Denver (back in the day Frances was not allowed to serve on boards, yet built the bus system so that medically frail people could get to National Jewish Health. Frances started United Way – in Denver Colorado with a rabbi and a priest.
· Urban Legend Award – for our work with homeless teens and young adults
· Hope Award – from Tony LaRussa for our work in rescue animals
· Josef Korbel Humanitarian Award – from the University of Denver for our work in our community and around the US.
20. What person(s) has/have helped you the most in your career?
· My husband, John is my rock. He put me through college, believed in me as my parents did, and 150% supports me every day
· My in-laws – John and Tashia Morgridge – they are the BEST in-laws ever.
· My parents – they still think I am amazing and I love them dearly.
· John Farnam – my consultant, best friend, and colleague of 6 plus years
· Kellie Lauth – The CEO of a non profit that we spun off from Morgridge Family Foundation – but she is the inventor, the creator and just uber smart. Someone I look up to.
· Dr. Bridget Coughlin – CEO Shedd Aquarium – Has taught me so much about business, science, evolution. Smartest woman I know, and one of the kindest.
· George Sparks – CEO of Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Taught me how to connect with people better, to work crazy hard, and to never give up.
· Dr. Michael Salem – CEO of National Jewish Health. So smart, so driven and willing to talk with me as an intellectual about all subjects.
· Arthur Brooks – CEO of American Enterprise Institute. Arthur can share his intellectual thoughts to the point where you can understand what he his saying, yet his words seem to be my words. He pushes me to be better.
· Jo Kwong – Director of Economic Development at The Philanthropy Roundtable. Jo never stops. Her passion to make America self-reliant is contagious. Our best projects in our foundation is because of Jo’s introductions and I am a better philanthropist because of her.
· Robert Wolgemuth – He was my agent for my first book, Every Gift Matters – How Your Passion can Change the World. He and his late wife Bobbie, brought me closer to God, and each day since magical things have happened in my life that I would have never dreamt possible.
21. What’s the best writing advice you have ever received?
· Edits are great! Go with it.
22. What was your favorite book as a child?
· Dr. Seuss – Green Eggs and Ham
23. What is the one book no writer should be without?
· Their first book that makes them fall in love with reading. This is very individual and each of us can remember our first book, that we just couldn’t put down and pulled an all nighter to finish. This is the book to hold on to forever.
24. How do your spouse/significant other/friends/family feel about your writing career?
· If you knew my background deeper you would understand that my family is pleasantly surprised. However, I am a hard worker, so my husband was not surprised when I asked him if I could write my third book, even though I am just finishing book 2. I am getting better, and it is coming much easier, and as Malcom Gladwell says, when you have 10,000 hours you too, will become an expert. No writer is ever an expert, but we do get into our groove.
25. If your book was turned into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
· Reese Witherspoon
· Patrick Dempsey
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