Adventures Looking Local

Adventures in the Age of Covid

Four deer grazing in a field.

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I had plans. I had plans within plans. Travel plans for Spring Break, travel plans for Memorial Day weekend, travel plans for early June, travel plans for late June, and weekend plans in between. 

Not anymore. 

Spring Break curtailed by Shelter in Place, Memorial Day plans canceled due to concerns about coronavirus, postponed early June plans since we might not want/be able to fly, and late June plans are now late June 2021 plans as the conference I was supposed to attend is postponed to next year. All weekend plans between the start of social distancing to the unforeseeable end are canceled for obvious reasons.

This is a tough time for a traveler. 

I keep deleting things off my google calendar. It’s a wasteland of plain empty boxes with an occasional reminder of a virtual meeting. While it’s nice to slow down and get projects done at home (and actually get some writing done), a part of me is bitter about missed travel plans. I want to be exploring St. Louis, visiting friends in North Carolina, finally touring the UK (which is a life long dream), and spending time with fellow adventurers at World Domination Summit, not sitting at home. The most traveling I’ve done is a five-mile walk around the nature center so K could complete a scouts requirement. 

All these missed travel opportunities got me thinking about Alastair Humphrey’s ideas about The Doorstep Mile and Microadventures. I read Humphrey’s newsletter Shouting From the Shed regularly. I love his weekly inspiration and encouragement to live adventurously. In a nutshell, if you dream of adventure, do it. Take the first step and keep going. If you’re hemmed in by fear or lack of time/money, start small. Better to start small than not start at all.

Lockdown has kept us homebound for the most part, but we can still go out to exercise. We have to start small and stay small. It’s time to reframe our ideas of adventures from “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” into “a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first…erm… step.” Well, at least until we reopen the country to travel.

My daughter and I went for a walk when we first started shelter in place. Even though it was a path we’ve taken many times, it was nice to see squirrels frolicking and birds prancing around on the lawns. I had been getting over a head cold (no corona, just a stuffy nosed sneezy head cold), so this was the first time we had been out since the start of the stay at home order. It was also one of the most pleasant days we’d had in weeks. We noticed that plants are starting to peek up through the soil and that the sky looked like it does in Animal Crossing. We took this familiar path because I needed to deposit some checks at the bank but made for a lovely two-mile walk. 

Our next walks weren’t limited to a path we’ve done before. My son and I rode our bikes in parts of the neighborhood we haven’t ridden before. We drove to a nearby nature preserve and walked some paths we had yet to explore. There are other nearby forest preserves we’ve never visited, perhaps now is the time. We can walk, we can talk (or enjoy in mutual silence), and we can take in new surroundings all within a few miles of home. 

We don’t recommend driving more than a short distance from your home so that there is no need to stop for gas or a potty break. Same when you get to your destination. The safest thing you can do is just walk/run/bike and return. No stopping at public bathrooms or water fountains. No sitting on public park benches or picnic tables. Disinfect hands before you touch your vehicle, wash your hand as soon as you get home. Some folks are even leaving their shoes outside and putting their clothes immediately in the wash. Be as stringent with your protocols as you feel you need to be. Just don’t forget to wash your hands, that’s not negotiable. You can take precautions and still get your fill of fresh air, sunlight, and exercise.

You don’t have to have an adventure every day, nor does it need to be tremendously adventurous. It’s enough to look at something new, even if it’s just a short walk through a nearby park you’ve never visited. It’s a tiny morsel to satiate the adventure-hungry monster that lives within us. Or at least to keep it at bay until it is re-released into the wild.

Also, I highly recommend reading Alastair Humphreys’ books The Doorstep Mile and Microadventures. I love how interactive both books are with prompts and questions for the reader. They are a great way to get you out on your next adventure by overcoming your fears and overthinking. 

Stay healthy and stay safe. 

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