Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Q&A: How to Make Every Day an Adventure

We need exposure to the outdoors, every single day. It makes us happier, keeps us active and allows for busy minds to turn-off and find peace.

Sure, come January I like to sit and hash-out trip plans for upcoming weekends or week-trips proposed for months ahead, but I also do everything I can to throw some adventure at my normal weekly routine. It’s not always easy or convenient and sometimes it may feel rushed- but a tiny, quick bit of adventure added into your day or week is better than no adventure at all. After a long, tiring day at work mixed with a disgusting amount of commuting in rush hour, bumper-to-bumper traffic (cue this hilarious opening scene from ‘Office Space’)- I sometimes just crave an escape into the outdoors. Here’s are the four things I do to make it happen:

Have a Go-Bag in Your Car
In the back of my station wagon is a good-size duffel bag that I commonly refer to as my 'Go-Bag'. Inside is a dopt kit with tolietries if I spend the night somewhere, gym clothes and running shoes, an extra uniform for work, a change of clothes for going out and most importantly my hiking boots. Say I want to go hiking quickly after work, or before meeting up with some friends for drinks- anywhere I am, I can just pop the rear hatch, swap some clothes for outdoor adventuring and slip-on my hiking boots. It saves me an extra trip to having to go back to my apartment, just to change for a hike. Inside that actual go bag is a small, probably less than 20L daypack from Gregory that cinches at the top and holds plenty of gear goodies. Relevant outdoorsy things in that lime-green daypack  include a Nalgene water bottle, insulated REI down vest and pretty much everything I have on in the photo above. Flannel shirts for the win. Always. I also keep a small journal and a few pens inside my hiking backpack as well as a headlamp (for those epic, sunset hikes) and even a compass.

Make Time for it and Make it a Priority
Take a look at your schedule for the day and determine, key word, determine a time to get outside. Maybe it's on you commute into work, or in between that doctor's appointment and when you have to drop your car off at the shop. Or maybe your lunch break, where you can trade an office-break room for a picnic spot at a local park.  Or maybe just on your way home from your job. I do the vast majority of my adventuring after work because it's such a good way to unwind after those eight hours of punching-the-clock. There are days where I'll tell myself as soon as I wake up and am pouring a cup of coffee "Today I'm going to go hiking after____ or before____". Make it happen once and then build it into your routine. When I move on Saturday to a new apartment just a few minutes north of downtown Milwaukee in Shorewood, I'm aiming to try and go for a little morning walk, mug of tea in hand, before starting off my day as often as possible.

Know Your Hood
Study-up and do your homework. Figure out where on the map the closest parks are. Maybe there's a state park or forest only ten minutes away from your office? Perhaps there's a super cool county park with some awesome hiking trails by your daily go-to lunch spot. If you're driving somewhere out of the norm, maybe to go pick-up something or run an errand or traveling out-of-town to a wedding or meeting, head to the interwebs and see if there's a park near you. There probably is and it's probably spectacular. I keep a state parks guide book and a few county park maps within reach, in my door pocket of my wagon for those times I get out of work and have some time for a quick adventure. Come up with a list of like, five parks close by to you that you can always rely on getting your nature fix at. Shuffle through those and add a few new ones in every once in a while too.

Always Be Planning for the Next Big Adventure
Focus as much of your attention and excitement on those quick, spontaneous adventures- but don't be shy to dream about the big trips. I constantly daydream at work, in the car commuting to work and elsewhere about grand adventures I hope to one day do, well, scratch the hope...will one day do. Like mentioned earlier, at the start of every new year, I make a list of places I want to try and explore over the course of the next twelve months. Get your rough, brainstormed, bullet-pointed list of spots you're craving to unleash your wanderlust at and go from there. In the midst of all these routine, quick little microadventures I hope you do, try to pick a few big adventures off that yearly bucket list and plot dates on the calendar. It'll give you something to look forward to, work towards financially and train for physically. You can do it at home if you're hanging indoors while a ragging thunderstorm roars above or if you're stuck at work  four-hours past close if you need a break from cramming away at that second-last item on your coffee-stained to-do list on your desk. Do it on your lunch break, that's what I do. Even if it's just ten minutes a day at lunch piecing together details and itinerary ideas for that trip in four months to (insert incredible national park here), that'll keep your motivation sparked and high. And chances are, all that planning will sway you to get outside for more adventures even more until that departure date.

So I hope after reading this you make that strong effort to throw some adventure into your life, every single day. I know I am, today after a meeting at work I plan on lacing-up my Timberland hiking boots and hitting the Scuppernog Trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest: Southern Unit. Ahhh, sixty-degree temps, a bluebird sky and fresh pines await.