Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Few More Thoughts on Adventuring

A scene on the Patuxent River.
I initially focused on adventuring in the summer. There's a good reason for that; it's when the kids are off from school and naturally vacation time. Lots of places are open only in summer. Summer is that time when living in the city can get you down and you want, NEED to get out in the country and breathe in fresh air.

But it's good for other seasons as well. Spring adventuring can be a chance to dispel cabin fever, to see earth reawakening and springing back to life. Winter adventuring gives you a chance to take in snowy scenery, and especially to see some sights and attractions when they're not choked with tourists.

At Sugar Loaf Mountain in Maryland.

Autumn adventuring can be glorious. Taking advantage of one of those golden days when the sun is bright and the colors are blazing can lead to a memorable day's outing. Stuff's still open, farmstands have apples and pears, and the roads beckon. If your plans include wildlife areas, though, be sure to check on hunting season.

Autumn and winter can also be good for overnight trips, as it's the off-season for most places and hotels and motels are often cheaper. The reverse is usually true in ski areas, though, so a weekend away in the mountains during summer can be surprisingly affordable.

Picnics are good for spring, summer, and autumn adventures. Maybe not so much for winter, although I remember a winter picnic with the family in my early teens, in a park pavilion covered with snow. Still, probably best to figure out a place to nosh at, or to keep your eye open for a friendly, cozy cafe. Spring picnics are glorious celebrations of renewing life, but watch out for wet ground or unexpectedly chilly parks. Autumn picnics can be an opportunity to experiment with the picnic formula; perhaps a thermos of hot soup? Or find a place where you can build a fire or even set up a hibachi, and warm up some precooked items? I once saw a recipe for apples, halved and filled with an apple/bread cube/sausage stuffing, baked, then wrapped in foil, taken on a picnic and reheated. Looks reasonable to me.

Adventurers with a scientific bent can go to SciStarter to find out about citizen science projects they can take part in. You can participate in bird counts or insect-spotting or any number of projects that can spice up your hike in the park.
Lighthouse on St. Clement's Island, MD.
 Adventures can be keys to future trips. Always look for signs that grab your interest, and pick up brochures and information when you can for future reference.

Wear clothes that bring out your inner adventurer. Don't be schlubby, but don't go on a hike in high heels, either. Nothing like being a put-together adventurer; in summers I love an outfit of olive cargo shorts and a short-sleeved white linen shirt, with hiking boots and a straw hat that leaves me feeling rather dashing. Scour your closets and hit the thrift shops until you get some season-appropriate outfits that can function for both a museum visit and a walk in the woods.

Music can add to your experience, too. I took a ramble along the lower Chesapeake shores and downloaded a couple albums of historic sea chanties and songs from the Revolution and Colonial era. There's something about driving along the seaside and humming along to an old sea song.

Take your binoculars, camera, iPod, phone, pocket knife, compass, flashlight, and enough cash to keep you going. Pack a cooler, your picnic basket (I got a nice one cheap on Ebay a while ago), a blanket, and an emergency kit (nicely priced ones at Target). Gas up the car and get the oil changed if it's close to being due. Grab your maps, brochures, and guidebooks. Leave room for souvenirs and discoveries.

And that's all for now...