Media Life: 1981’s Placer High class president rides road less traveled

Author, motivator Shawn Anderson bikes coast-to-coast; National Geographic zeroes in on hot Sierra Nevada geotourism spots
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The journey continues for Placer High School’s Class of 1981 student body president – both spiritually and on two wheels. Shawn Anderson, now 46, has taken the road few travel in life. From Placer High, his journey took him to U.C. Berkeley. After graduating, he moved to San Diego with, as he tells it, about $300 in the bank and no car. He took a job at a convenience store on a graveyard shift but the wheels were turning on something bigger. He was developing a survival system called SOAR (Seeing, Organizing, Acting and Rejecting) that became a personal life changer and the basis for a book – “SOAR to the Top” – that has sold more than 40,000 copies. ENERGIZER HUMAN He has now written three more books and bills himself as a “battery charger of the human spirit.” His life mission is to empower one million people to lead a more passionate and purposeful existence. Now living in Sacramento, Anderson embarked on a two-wheeled journey July 21 from San Francisco, destination Boston. He arrived there Oct. 23, staying off freeways for all but less than 100 miles of the route . Along the way, he interviewed 200 people with inspirational stories on what he calls “The Extra Mile Tour.” Sponsors included Clif Bar, Best Western and Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The cross-country trek wasn’t about Anderson though. His goal was to inspire people to go the extra mile in jobs, relationship, finances and other areas of their lives. Anderson is now looking back on those interviews and choosing 10 people with the most inspirational stories for awards of $1,000 each. The money’s coming from his own pocket. GEOTOURISM LOCATION CALL What do you think of when you’re asked about the best the Auburn area has to offer visitors? Is it a walk across the Foresthill Bridge to drink in that awesome view of the American River confluence? Is it a visit to Old Town Auburn to revel in the history of a Gold Rush business district tucked into the shadows of a landmark courthouse building? With an eye on geotourism, National Geographic is looking for help in identifying the area’s best natural, historic and cultural assets and has enlisted the Auburn-based Sierra Nevada Conservancy and Sierra Business Council to help. The project is called the Sierra Nevada MapGuide and nominations – the Auburn State Recreation Area and Loomis Eggplant Festival are early ones – can be made to the Web site. MAP PLANNED Geotourism is big these days and the map should provide tourists with the tools they need to make choices for visits to places or events that sustain or enhance the geographical character of a place. It’s all about environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of residents rolled into one. On an Auburn level, Protect American River Canyon’s Fall Rendezvous will include a presentation from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy’s Bob Kingman on the Sierra Nevada MapGuide. The full Rendezvous event, including slides, music and stories, runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at the Sierra Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church, 190 Finley St., in Auburn. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or 530-852-0232.