Friday, April 7, 2017

Planning a Mini-Adventure

An adventure is defined as "an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity".  When it comes to mini-adventures the goal is to contain it to one day and preferably not be terribly hazardous.

If you have been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I sometimes venture out on mini-adventures, sometimes on a whim.  How do I do it?  How do I know where to go?

1. Get an atlas of your location and get online.
I know you can go to Google Maps, but trust me.  An actual atlas for your local area can be really useful.  Go through it and take notes.  Do the same thing through online searches.  Look for interesting sites, landmarks, historic buildings, ghost towns, hiking trails, local mysteries, etc.  Your current goal is to form a list of 10 interesting locations within a 4-8 hour driving range.

I highly recommend the DeLorme Atlas for your state.  It's also known as "that big red atlas".  You can totally take it with you on your trip!

2. To and Fro
The best thing you can do, before you leave, is knowing how to get to and from the location you want to get to.  Here are some other considerations: Are there places along the way to fill up with gas or should you bring a can with you?  Can you deal with NOT having cellphone access?  Will you need car snacks?  Should you bring additional clothing (i.e. rain coat, boots, hat, sweatshirt, etc)?  Why do I bring up these questions?  If you plan on traveling into the mountains, into deep forest, or out to the middle of nowhere (where few people live), you might not have all of your daily conveniences at your fingertips.  I'm okay with this.  Are you?

I have a pretty good sense of direction, so I don't worry too much about finding my way.  If it seems tricky, I will write down or print out driving directions.

Your goal is to NOT end up lost and without what you need.  This said, I tend to keep a sleeping bag in my truck, along with an emergency kit.  My emergency kit: first aid kit, bottle of water, towel, beanie hat, toilet paper in a ziploc bag (so it doesn't get wet), two extra grocery bags, and something for fire kept in its own ziploc bag (i.e. box of matches, small lighter, etc).  Be prepared for the worst and be relieved when you don't have to deal with the worst.

3. What To Do
You can't just drive to location X and not have something planned.  That would be pretty lame.  Part of having an adventure is the act of doing something.  Here is a list of things you can do: take photos, take video, hike or walk around, search for something to bring back, go fishing, go on a tour (if it's a historical site), write a poem about the area, have a picnic, explore the area, and look for fossils (if applicable).

What you do is going to depend on your location.

One time, I drove up to the Timberline Lodge (in Oregon) which, you might know, was the exterior for the hotel in Stanley Kubrick's version of "The Shining".  I had no interest in skiing, but I did go on the hotel tour, eat lunch, stop in the gift shop, and had a drink in the lounge while perusing my new book on the lodge.

On another trip, I headed out to a ghost town in Oregon named Shaniko.  It took a few hours to drive out there and it was all open flat land.  Through my findings online, I found out that before Pendelton came to Oregon, there was Shaniko.  It used to be the largest wool-producing town in the state.  I took pictures, walked around the town, and talked to a few locals.  I found out that now there's some kind of music festival out there in the summer.  I was also glad that I checked for gas because there was ONE gas station/grocery/pit stop there.

On another trip, in Alaska, I decided that I was going to venture off for a few nights (a long weekend) with my dog.  The first night we stayed at the family cabin.  The second night, we were going to stay out at the end of Nebesna Road, but I had a bad feeling about bears - so we kept driving and ovenighted in Tok.  The next day we went back home.  I had to deal with a REALLY flat tire.  I found out that my truck is a little too small to comfortably sleep in overnight with a small labrador.

One drive I took with my friends landed us in Sleepy Hollow, NY.  It was an accident.  A happy, happy accident.  We missed a turnoff in NJ and ended up in NY.

4. Why Plan A Mini-Adventure?
Mini-adventures break up the monotony of regular life.  It gets you out of your comfort zone for a short little period of time.  You can do this with or without other people.  It makes a great subject to talk about at work come Monday morning!  You get to disconnect for a little spot of time and you will come back with a story and photos (if you take them).  I have found some really cool little trinkets and things while out on my mini-adventures.

You will start to feel different.  It's almost addictive to go on mini-adventures.  After my first two mini-adventures, I started noticing these people around me who were either too scared to venture out of the city or the people who just always did the same thing, slowly becoming stagnant and boring.  You may start to wonder "am I tougher than these other people?" or "was I like that?" or "why was I not more independent?"

Mini-adventures are wonderful.  Just remember to remain positive, remain curious, and allow yourself to do things.  Little museum?  Visit it!  Merry-go-round?  Get on it!  New food you've never tried before?  Taste it!  Biggest ball of twine?  Go take some photos!

Tips for Mini-Adventures:

  • Start small.  Go to little places outside of where you are.  Keep the longer road trips for later dates.
  • If I'm driving, I always take a big knife with me.  I keep it out of sight, yet accessible by me.  I figure it could come in handy.  I bet you're thinking of it as a defensive measure, sure, it could be.  It could also be used to sharpen a stick for roasting marshmallows or cleaning a fish or something.
  • I almost always take a small lunch cooler with me.  I tend to bring: dried fruit, jerky, gummy worms, a fruit-and-veggie bar (health food aisle), and something extra.  I also tend to bring extra water (like 3 20oz bottles or 2 1-liters).
  • $20.  I always bring some spare money.  I might be in desperate need of gas or food or something.  Just keep it tucked away in your vehicle and forget about it.  Don't spend it on drive-thru coffee.
  • Digital camera.  I tend to just take my digital camera with me.  I know my phone can double as a camera.  I don't care.  I often forget my phone because that's how much I care about it.  My digital camera is also waterproof up to however many feet.  My phone is not. 
  • Music.  Bring music.  Form a new playlist or dig out some good cds or cassette tapes (my truck has a cassette player).  If you're traveling with others, give everyone a chance to put in their own music.  If you don't want music, try an audiobook or a podcast.
  • Tell someone where you're going.  When I lived in Oregon, I would either call my aunt (lives on the coast) or my mom (in Alaska) to tell someone where I was going.  I wasn't afraid of running into a dangerous person.  I was more afraid of running into bigfoot or a mountain lion.  Safety first!  Whatever your reasons...

Some photos from previous mini-adventures.
Twin Peaks mini-adventure, Washington state
Sleepy Hollow, NY (I'm on the left)

Black Sand Beach on Island of Hawai'i.  Hiked down, hiked back up.
Lava tunnel outside of Kona, Hawai'i, HI & my mom's finger

London, England - Twice I spent 1 month by myself there.
I don't know where all my pictures are.  I thought I had more up on facebook.  I know they're on my desktop at home.

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