Veital Travels in Australia

Mo-Town In Australia

Mo-Town Goes to Australia

I was terrified leading up to the trip where I would travel 9,000 miles across the world to spend 3 weeks with people I had never met before. Little did I know, I'd experience some of the best days of my life in this short span.

Traveling to Australia, I went through 2 different states (Queensland and New South Wales) 7 different cities (Brisbane, North Stradbroke Island, Magnetic Island, Townsville, Mission Beach, Cairns, and Sydney), while using 8 planes, 5 ferries, and lots of cars. Each place that I visited was completely different from the last. It was unlike anything I could have experience in the U.S.

Started my trip out in Brisbane. The city reminded me of a mix between London and Nashville, minus the British or country accents. It had old and historically crafted buildings spanning the area of 6,110 square miles. London came to mind, but I could not overlook how hipster and trendy everything had become, just like Nashville. The people there would flood the local markets or outdoor restaurants every day and night to look over the river or reside in the “quay.” Pronounced like “key”. The word “quay” was written on everything in Brisbane, meaning that it was a city along the river.

Learn, adapt, overcome

In North Stradbroke Island, I started to feel culture shock and really get immersed within the culture of Australia. Upon our arrival with 70-degree weather, considering it is winter down under, the first activity we participated in was surfing right in the ocean at Cylinder Beach. Surfing on the waves was something I will never forget, as well as all the peculiar animals which resided on the island. Considering I got bit by a leech and pooped on by a koala, I would say the kangaroos were probably my favorite (and don’t worry, I washed my Veital after sharing my water). “Straddie,” as the locals like to call the island, consisted of many incredible sights. Due to the absence of the big city lights or huge tourist attractions, the milky way was clearly visible at night and created a view unlike any other.

Even though I could have lived forever on Straddie, we moved for the third time to reach Magnetic Island. Our group had the pleasure to work with Reef Ecologic, a reef conservation company, where we got to swim in the Great Barrier Reef and take samples of seaweed right off the coral, where it would later be turned into fertilizer to promote an eco-friendly environment. By working with Dr. Adam Smith, I got to learn and hear all about the initiatives and strategies Australia takes in attempt to preserve the environment. It was incredibly inspiring and pushed me to reevaluate all the actions I take in my life to be more respectful of the world I live in.

Townsville, the next stop, was just as inspiring too. Since most of the staff were volunteers and due to the fact that it was a non-profit organization, each person at Reef HQ genuinely cared for their program and wanted to spread that care to everyone who visited.


More places to see in Australia

Sleeping arrangements eventually became an exciting part to figure out; and the treehouse we stayed in at Mission Beach contributed to that excitement. While in Mission Beach we got to visit Mungulla Station, home of the Nywaigi Aboriginal people. Learning how to throw a boomerang and the culture of the people was life-changing. Those kinds of moments of pure joy did not stop there.

Next on the list of places was Cairns, which is where we would settle a bit for 3 days. Beause of having a port in the city, there were many more people than the past few destinations. Cairns was the spot in which tourists came to see and experience the Great Barrier Reef. We took a two-hour boat ride with sickening waves. Although I had to take multiple Dramamine and go through every phase of questioning whether I was going to be sick multiple times; it was worth it.

All of the things that I saw, including a sea turtle, 3-foot long and bright blue fish which swam right in front of my face, countless species of colorful coral, and lots of ginormous sea cucumbers, account to the fact that the Great Barrier Reef is definitely not dead. That day I had on July 25th, 2017, was one of the best days of my life and I loved every second of it.

Throughout rainforests, gorge walks, waterfalls, city streets and the thousands of steps I took, Australia was an incredible experience. The people, the food, the animals, and the sights were all mind-blowing. All I could say as we departed was, “I’ll be back for you Australia.”


#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Morgan “Mo-town” Batson

VIVA Team Member

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Veital Designs Replacement Water Bottle Lid Nalgene replacement lid Hydroflask replacement lid

Sawtooth Relay

The next adventure, ‘twas a great one, Sawtooth Relay. I got a text from my buddy a few weeks ago saying: “So where’s the adventure this weekend?” 1. I was flattered that he asked me that and 2. What a way to live life! Life is an adventure. Undoubtedly it’s easier than people make it, just get off your butt and make some plans. Netflix can wait. Therefore Blane, if you ever read this, thanks for the inspiring text. It will keep me motivated to continuously find what’s next.

Can Matt Run the Distance?

May 10th: A good friend asked if I wanted to come visit her in Idaho. I said sure. My reward miles were in abundance, and heck, an opportunity to get out West? Absolutely. I had to jump on it. As I was booking the tickets, she informed me of what we would be doing that weekend. Running a 60-mile relay race through the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. Whoa, Matthew is not a runner, and a flat-lander. Queue a fast track training program to get ready.

Fast forward to June 9th, I was sitting at Flying M Coffee House in Boise, , wrapping up the week. The place was pretty hip. Like the hip kinda place where no two chairs are alike. I was a little out of my element, but pressed on. Our schedule for the weekend was set. Cruise up to Stanley, find a place to camp, and be at the starting line by 7am Saturday morning.

With a few hours to kill, I wanted to check out some local shops. I gravitated to the outdoor stores, and with that, landed on a gold mine. ‘Outfitters R US’ is a co-sign shop. For the flat-landers reading this, it’s a Goodwill for outdoor gear. The stop to peruse quickly turned into over an hour long shopping scavenger hunt. There was so much to investigate, what deals could be found? I ended up buying a pair of mountain biking shoes, 3 kits for riding, and a rock climbing helmet. Something I know couldn’t be done at any store in the Midwest. All things I needed, bought at a fraction of the cost. Stoked was a word that came to mind.

Tackling Sawtooth Relay

Now that my inner shop-a-haulic was quenched (jk I don’t shop), it was time to head to the mountains. I picked Bailey up and we were on our way north, in search of hot springs and a good campsite to break in her new engineering feat: The Tramper. We took highway 21 which followed the Payette river.

With spring conditions, most of the hot springs were washed out. We did find a spot that got the job done. It’s amazing sitting in a pool of hot water just feet away from a class 4 river. Humbling, to say the least. Many mental pictures were taken, but sadly, none of the digital variety.

Stanley, where our exploit began, is a little town of 63 nestled in the Sawtooth Mountain range. As we were almost in town, Bailey spotted a sign that said Lake Stanley, turn right. Both sharing a love for water, we had to check it out. Coincidently, some camping spots were available. It was a no brainer site to break in her new set-up


Dinner was delicious. Bailey @baileykrstic knocked it out of the park with beef stew, rice and beans. A perfect combination complex carbs to fuel is for tomorrows race.

You know how weathermen are always right? Well, let’s just say they were not calling for snow. This was our view at 5:30 am. Snow. I was set to start the 1st leg of the race at 7am. It was going to be an interesting morning. Did I mention it was June 10th?

Sidebar: Sawtooth Relay - The race is broken up into 10 legs all ranging from 5-6 miles per leg. The starting point was in Stanley, elevation 5,600 ft and ending in Ketchum, elevation 5,200. The race is relatively flat, with the exception of legs 5 and 6; a climb and downhill at the Galena summit. Up 1,500, down 1,500. Start times ranged from 2 am Saturday morning all the way to 10 am.

The Heat is On

With snow falling, the starting bell rang as we started the race. I was nervous and excited. How was the Midwest boy going to handle a distance race, in the mountains? Thankfully, I ended up doing just fine. At this time I think I owe a majority of that to my team: ‘The Team 4mally Known as Prince.’ A real rag-tag group of people thrown together at the last minute. It was awesome. We all came from different backgrounds and stepped up to race because the team needed people. As each runner set off on their leg, we used Bailey’s truck as the rally car. We’d drive by hooting and hollering, roll ahead to the next pull-off, get out of the car, and do it all again. It was an awesome way to pass the time, and fuel our runners!


In just under 8 hours, our team finished in Ketchum, Idaho. Ketchum is home to Sun Valley. In addition it was great to see the town during the summer. Vastly different in the winter.  Greeted with food and beer tickets, it was a great way to end the day. The mountains are crazy. 7 am, 30 degrees and snowy to 65 degrees, sunny, and beautiful.

Sunday was a  rude awakening. My legs were quite sore and needed to get shaken out. We tried to find more hot springs, but were unsuccessful. To get the blood flowing, trying to break up some latic acid, we did a small hike in the foothills of Ketchum. Idaho is stunning.

Cheers to conquering another adventure with a great group, in a beautiful pocket of our country! Sawtooth relay was great! Never stop pushing yourself to the limits, you might be surprised what you find when you get there.

"One extends one's limits only by exceeding them."

- M. Scott Peck, Author 'The Road Less Traveled'

#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Matthew "Matty-K" Kownick

Co-Founder, Veital Designs, LLC.

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The Veital Balance


Both fresh out of school, Matt and I were adjusting to the real world and the unfamiliarity that came with living in a new city. We hadn't know each other before moving to Milwaukee, where we hired onto the same development program. The whole process of how we came to live together felt very 'college.' HR sent a generic email introducing us and I immediately took to social media to find out about this guy.

Digging up dirt

First impressions were good. He seemed active and appeared to be a good water skier. I dug deeper and found the proof that we'd work living together. There the dude was, probably shirtless, holding his jumpers in one hand and a can of Busch Light, 'Blue Smoothies' as I later learned them to be named, in the other. It takes a special individual to imbibe in such a beer, and I can get onboard with a dude like that.

After getting into the swing of things at our first ‘real-life’ jobs, we found that it was easy to let work begin to takeover our lives. Both Matt and I stressed very heavily the work-life balance, ensuring we kept time for ourselves and our countless hobbies. Whether Matt was fitting in a morning ski set before work, or I was fitting in a sunset-lit long ride after leaving, we did not restrict our hobbies to the weekend.

To be clear, we worked very hard, and continue to, but we never let the work all-consume us. Not only did we milk our evenings during the week, we got the absolute most out of our weekends. By Monday at lunch, you could bet, we're already scheming about what lied ahead come Friday. As this trend continued, riding the weekend high as long as we could then to re-up on the good stuff come Friday, it began to wear on us. There had to be another way to for this real life stuff to work.

Addressing the Veital balance

Taking matters into our own hands, Matt and I started Veital Designs late in 2016. Our goal: to facilitate the balance between work and play through our multi-functional products. We believe that gear should be just as at home in the office as in the forest. We understand that without the outdoors to escape to, we have no reason for business. Because of this, we are committed to ensuring our products are manufactured using sustainable practices. We source all our raw materials from the Midwest. This not only cuts down on the environmental impact of long transit, but it also helps to enrich our local communities.

The company name Veital Designs, comes from the lifestyle that Matt and I live. To be Veital is to be “full of life and vigor.” and to embrace the veital balance. We bring this vitality to everything we do, work, sport, our families. We are stoked at your interest in our mission, and invite you to join us. Viva Veital!

#embracethebalance | #vivaveital

Adam "Anvil" Taylor

Co-Founder, Veital Designs, LLC.

For more 3×3 stories and related content visit the trail book.