Ashley Baker
Photography by Daphne Vermeulen

Third-Prize Winner

Ashley Baker
OCCUPATION: Clinical Research Associate, Quintiles
HOME BASE: Chicago

AW: Our office has been talking about this since we first heard about it: Wike N’ Hine — what is it?
ASHLEY BAKER: It’s a trip that includes both hiking and wine exploration — it’s an essential element of all of my personal travels. As of this moment, I’ve done Wike N’ Hines on four continents: North America, South America, Australia and Europe. And this year, I hope to add Africa and Asia to this list. Antarctica may be more difficult.
AW: How was it invented?
AB: The first trip that I took with one of my best friends from college, Liz Cera, was a trip to the San Francisco area. We decided that we would take a long weekend and visit Sonoma County — but then Liz suggested that we take a hike in Muir Woods on our way. Since we’re both athletic and adventurous, I agreed. After getting lost in the woods for five hours and ending up somewhere in Mount Tamalpais State Park, we narrowly made it back to our car before dark. Needless to say, we decided on a guided adventure for our wine tour in Sonoma. After the trip, when Liz and I were reviewing pictures of our travels, the term “Wike N’ Hine” was born.
AW: Why the name twist, though?

LAST BOOK I READ: David and Goliath: ­Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell (three consecutive times)
COCKTAIL OF CHOICE: Ciroc and muddled fresh fruit
BEST AIRPORT: Chicago O’Hare
I JUST RETURNED FROM: Curaçao — one of the most memorable experiences of my life
BEACH OR MOUNTAINS? Mountains! Wike N’ Hine — need I say more?
LAST THREE THINGS I BOUGHT (SIMULTANEOUSLY): AA ticket, Chicago Spring Half Marathon registration, 2014 Oscar Nominee
movie showcase ticket

"I've grown so accustomed to air travel that the sound of the engine puts me to sleep."

AB: Well, since we wouldn’t want one without the other, and due to the fact that our hikes generally turn out to be imperfect experiences — like the time we ended up hip-deep in snow on the San Bernardino Peak trail — the transposed letters are purposeful. Since not all locations are ideal for hiking, though, we have expanded the definition to include any athletic adventure.
AW: Fellow Road Warrior Malcolm Griffiths was quite a fan of the idea. Any chance the two of you will launch a Wike N’ Hine tour company?
AB: I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. Malcolm knows tourism and I know Wike N’ Hine. It would be a perfect match. In April, we are actually going to Australia — and the trip will definitely include a Wike N’ Hine. After he experiences it firsthand, I think we’ll be able to come up with some great marketing ideas.
AW: At the age of 29, you’re one of the youn­gest Road Warriors we’ve ever had, but the fact that you flew 186,096 miles in 2012 proves that age doesn’t matter. How did you become such a Road Warrior?
AB: My Road Warrior lifestyle began when I started my career in 2007. Prior to that, I had been on a plane only four times. Initially, my position required a lot of local Midwest travel, but from that point, I was hooked. I found myself volunteering for any project, regardless of the location. I really enjoyed all of the life experience I was gaining. This caused me to have a thirst for experiencing the rest of the world. Now, when I am not traveling domestically for work, I really like to travel internationally for pleasure. I generally try not to choose the same destination twice. Despite my relatively short duration as a Road Warrior, I have definitely managed to perfect the Road Warrior lifestyle. I look at my youth as an asset.
AW: Tell us about your job as a clinical research associate — what does that entail?
AB: A clinical research associate is responsible for monitoring clinical trials. This includes ensuring that patient safety and privacy is preserved, verifying that ICH/GCP guidelines and Code of Federal Regulations are adhered to and verifying that the clinical protocol is followed. Monitoring clinical trials requires me to travel to the clinic and research sites that are participating in clinical trials, hence my extensive travel.
AW: You have a nephew who is a Road Warrior-in-training. If you could give him one piece of advice, what would it be?
AB: The first and most important piece of advice would be to fly American Airlines. I would also tell him to fully absorb each travel experience. I think the people you meet and the knowledge you gain are as important as the places you travel to. I always make a point to try to see the beauty in each city I travel to: I talk to locals about traditions and customs, and I always try the local cuisine, even if it doesn’t please my palate. Despite the fatigue I sometimes experience as a frequent traveler, I do my best to consume the entire experience.