VAIL - Stefani Jackenthal has been everywhere, tried everything and has the stories to prove it.
For example, she wrote "Wanderlust Wining: The Outdoorsy Oenophile's Wine Country Companion." She wrote "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Rock Climbing," helped write the New York Time's "Practical Guide to Practically Everything," and is fabulous on television and radio.
She's a world class endurance athlete and coach who won a six-day race across the Kalahari Desert in South Africa. She helped lead six blind Tibetan teenagers to the 23,000 foot summit of Lhakpa Ri in Tibet. That one was made into the movie "Blindsight."
And you'll love this. She collaborated on a gift-giving guide for "Fit Bottom Girls." Somewhere up in heaven, Freddie Mercury is smiling.
Like all great storytellers, the adventure journalist brings these disparate experiences together into a fascinating narrative.
She'll do that tonight for the Vail Symposium's Unlimited Adventure speaker series.
"What she does, in terms of her athletics, writing and wine expertise is such a perfect fit for our audience in Vail that I asked her to come," said Alby Segall, who helped bring Jackenthal to Vail. "She's quite remarkable in her enthusiasm for everything she does."
Segall was enjoying a drink in a bar on New York City's Upper West side, sitting at an outside table, when Jackenthal came speeding up on her bicycle wearing a wetsuit, business attire for an adventure journalist. She'd just finished her morning kayak, she said.
"I come from a drink-enjoying family, so my exposure to adult beverages goes deep," she said.
She was 4 years old when she started licking the whiskey sour off the Maraschino cherries given to her by her mom, grandmother and aunt.
She doesn't drink much and she doesn't drink alone, but she drinks well.
"I suppose my growing up with wine as a 'food group' was somewhat European and has given me my love for the fruit of the vine," she said. "I'm a competitive endurance athlete so I cannot, nor would I want to drink every day. I most enjoy alcohol when I'm sharing it with a friend or boyfriend."
She spent January sipping her way through South India's Nashik wine country and exploring Bangalore and Kerala. She learned you can eat vegetable curry with your hands and a piece of flatbread, and that there are almost 6,000 ares of tea plantations in Munnar that produce nearly 47,000 metric tons of tea every year.
She learned you can bicycle through Colorado's wine country and wrote a dandy New York Times travel piece about it. She's coming back in September to lead the Vail Symposium's bike tour through the area.
Now she's an All-American triathlete, adventure racer, former pro bicycle racer and coaches other elite athletes and those who want to be.
"The Unlimited Adventure series is one of our most popular. We strive to present a wide variety of speakers, and they've accomplished some amazing things," said Liana Moore with the Vail Symposium. "She's a journalist and has had some amazing adventures."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.