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AZ Insider: These VIPs' Really 'Cool' Summer Adventures

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Kathy Shayna Shocket has the inside stories on the people making a difference.  bonding 2000 nature jpg

How some Phoenix VIPs bonded with nature during their summer vacations. 

 Among the Arizona influentials who take fantastic summer getaways are two couples who each ventured into the tranquility of the wild in different parts of the world and bonded with nature. Not only do the Barretts and the Mollens have demanding career schedules, but they typically take vacations which challenge their personal growth.  

Over the years I’ve enjoyed getting emails and phone calls from Barbara Barrett, who most recently served as the President of the Thunderbird School of Global Management. Whether she’d call from Finland where she was U.S. Ambassador, or  correspond over email when she was in Russia training to be an astronaut for the space tourism company Space Adventures; her calls would delightfully light up my caller ID.

 One of her calls this summer really took me by surprise when my Caller ID said “Skype”. It was Barbara, calling from a very remote location in the Amazon rainforest. “I’m surprised we were able to get an internet connection here and can use Skype,” she said.  Barbara and her husband Craig Barrett (the former Chairman and CEO of Intel) were in South America for business related to Barbara’s appointment to the 17- member Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institute. The Barretts were taking some personal travel time and Craig was going fly fishing. From one already remote location they travelled 2 more hours on a small plane, another hour by canoe and then another hour by car down an unpaved road.  

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(Barbara and Craig Barrett and Barbara Barrett with Yellowstone)

Prior to the Amazon trip, Barbara spent much of the summer in the quiet of the pine scented forests in the Montana Rockies , bonding with her personal horses. Specifically, her personal goal was to polish the performance and manners of a smart but undisciplined young palomino fox trotter named Yellowstone.   The Barrett’s breathtaking Triple Creek Ranch, in Darby, Montana, was the perfect setting to redirect his rambunctious energy while still retaining his spirit and willingness. They rode through rolling grasslands and rocky forest with cattle, bison and deer grazing near-by, covering about 100 backcountry miles, mostly on the challenging Continental Divide Trail with altitudes of 6000-8000 feet.  His final exam was a high mountain trail including occasional talus slopes, mud and water crossings and steep alpine meadows.  Yellowstone got high marks. “Working with a good horse is like developing a treasured friendship,“ said Barbara. 

Dr. Art Mollen, (KTVK- TV’s medical correspondent  and founder of the 3TV Phoenix 10K & Half Marathon),  and his wife Paige, a health education strategist, “exercised” their  options to escape the heat and travel to the  20 degree temperatures. They cruised into Alaska with Dr. Art’s singer daughter, Samantha Mollen and Paige’s 12 year old son, Chase and tucked away their 100 degree shorts for ski jackets and glacier boots to go dog sledding. The Mollens travelled by helicopter  from Skagway, flying over the magnificent views of the multiple waterfalls. It was snowing as they landed on top of the Denver Glacier, then jumped into a Hummer which chauffeured them to the dog camp. Mushing the sleds through the wonderland of ice and snow, they took turns driving. “ Later we had the wonderful chance to hold the Alaskan Husky puppies,” said Paige.  Art added that, “the entire experience was incomparable to any other.” 

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(Dr. Art Mollen and Paige Mollen cruising in Alaska)

 By the way, these two health and exercise advocates  (who “run” the Mollen Foundation Preventing Childhood Obesity) jogged 2 miles daily on the cruise ship deck. Dr. Art would then ride the stationary bike for an hour and a half, while Paige headed to yoga. 

 So what’s next for Barbara and Craig, who are also steadfastly involved in the Barrett  Honors College at ASU? And for Dr. Art and Paige Mollen? Perhaps some dog sledding at Triple Creek Ranch where guests can experience mushing in the winter with Jesse Royer and her team of dogs who’s  training at the luxury resort for the 2014 Alaskan Iditarod Race. Stay tuned!

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Kathy Shayna Shocket is a freelance Writer, Photographer and TV-Field Producer based in Phoenix, AZ. She's a former TV Reporter who's written for publications such as TIME MagazineMoney Magazine, PEOPLE MagazineThe Hollywood Reporter and The NEW YORK TIMES. You can reach her at   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it