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“The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Christopher McCandless
Adventure doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes it thrusts itself onto your path and other times you have to work at tracking it down. Adventure can also come in many different forms. Moving to a new location, starting a new job, having kids, these are all adventures in their own right. The kind I’m specifically talking about is exploring the unknown, the wild, the great outdoors.
Some of you are lucky and live in places that are within driving distance to sprawling national parks, museums or other landmarks. If that’s the case, adventure can be quite easy. Don’t worry if you’re not in that group though because there are plenty of other options out there. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you are, adventure is all around you if you know what you’re looking for and are open to trying new things. By seeking adventure, you’re able to be rewarded with a remarkable experience.
Unsure of how to get started? A trick that works for me is to just take a drive somewhere I haven’t been before, even if it’s not very far away. Just start driving. Feel free to turn or go any direction you feel led, but make sure it’s somewhere unfamiliar. Sometimes there are places you’ve never seen before that are just 30 minutes away and even a two hour drive can open a whole new world. Don’t have a car? Take the bus and see where it goes. Just be sure to have some cash for the bus ride home.
This is less than 30 minutes from our nation’s capital. Photo © Leo Leung
This is within two hours of our nation’s capital.
Start Even Smaller
When my mind is in a particularly “foggy” state or I feel a case of cabin fever coming on, I know that staying at home or the office won’t help. I need to move, physically move. The simplest way to scratch that itch and also find adventure at the same time, is to go for a walk. Brett McKay of Art of Manliness wrote a piece titled “Solvitur Ambulando” which means “It Is Solved by Walking.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone for a walk to clear my head and it’s really done the trick.
By not having your nose in your phone, computer or just your regular routine in general, a whole new world can be opened up. You’ll start to notice little things everywhere that you probably didn’t pay much attention to before. It’s best to carry some water and maybe a snack though, because you don’t always know where you’ll end up. I once found myself about 9 miles from my apartment in Alexandria, Virginia in downtown Washington D.C. on one of these walks. No need to rush or anything either, just enjoy the view. Stop walking when you feel you’re done.
About a year ago I went to California for a one day trip to NASA. It was originally supposed to be a simple overnight visit, but after I got to looking at a map, I saw that I was “close” to Yosemite Valley. I’ve never been before and have always wanted to go. Just before flying out, I changed my flight and rental car schedule and ended up sleeping in Yosemite Valley for two nights before driving to San Francisco (for a one hour tour of the city) and then back to Los Angeles for my flight home. That effectively turned a simple one day trip into a three day, 1,100 mile adventure and it was incredible. I hardly slept at all but it was completely worth it.
There’s a reason generations of thinkers have been drawn to the outdoors. Solitude with nature can truly work wonders for many. If hiking and backcountry camping isn’t your thing, you can drive to many amazing sites around the country and still get a good view.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” – John Muir
If you’re thinking that you don’t have the money to go on a “big” adventure, do some digging. There’s probably some things you can cut out to save up $1,000 this next year and make your dream a reality. Alastair Humphreys has come up with some great tips on doing just that. Be sure to read his post on how to make your adventure happen.
Think Outside the Box
Exploring leads to adventure. The word “explore” comes from Latin meaning “search out.” Another word for it could be “examine” or “investigate,” but you get the idea.
Exploration doesn’t have be just physical. Go for a virtual road trip.
While you’re waiting to decide where to go or what to see or saving up some money, enjoy the virtual adventure of Google Street View. It’s more than just a useful tool to use when running errands in town, as they’ve now expanded their photographic reach into the ocean, the Grand Canyon, the Canadian Arctic and a host of other natural and historical highlights.
You can also take exploration in a different direction by learning something new. If you’ve ever felt bored, I highly recommend you read this post. While there’s so much out there to do, that we should never ever become “bored,” it’s still a trap many fall into, myself included.
Pay it Forward
Take photos, take notes, send postcards. Share your exploits and inspire others to get out there! A lot of people have said that it’s important to disconnect from the electronic world completely to actually connect with the real world, but I think there’s a fine line. Brendan Leonard put it best in his post, “Please Continue Instagramming Your Amazing Life.”
Go on an adventure and when you do, tell us about it.
Title photo © Kit Klein
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Another easy way to get outdoors for a few minutes is to take up geocaching. I have learned so much about my city that I never knew existed by going and looking for caches. I live in a small city and there are hundreds of caches here. Some are hidden downtown, some are out in the woods, on trails, at the lake, art galleries, museums, civil war graveyards ....
And feel free to place your own around your area.
The whole point of caching it to introduce you to places you would never think of going.
There are a few caching sites, but the main one is the first result when you Google geocaching. It's easy to register, check out the map of hides in your area, download the app, and cache while you're out and killing time between errands.
Great article. I work as an engineer sitting in a cubicle all day. I've always wanted to add some adventure into my work week. Last year I started walking or biking to work. I live very close to work and its all in the country. I have my choice of a 4 mile trek on the road or a 3 mile trek through the woods. After a tough winter here in PA I am slow to get back into it. This article is reminding me that adventure is literally just outside the door. Time to start hiking to work again.
@Irelander Glad you liked it! That 3-4 mile trek can really help you think. I know how hard the weather can make things though. On the other hand, a walk through the woods is almost always nice.
Thank you Mike, that was a good, insightful, and motivating article. It's easy to forget how close adventure really is and to forget that adventure does not have to be a trip to the other side of the world but even a trip to the state park that is only 30 mins away. Thank you for sharing.
Excellent article, Mike! Thank you for the gentle reminder to get out and live better, even with small steps.