Hm, weird title. Allow me to explain. Since we started this blog a few months back, Andre and I have received numerous comments to the effect of, “You guys look like you have so much fun! Wish I could do that!” and “Gee wiz, I’d sure love to get outside more, like you guys!” Well, I’m here to tell you that you can, and it’s easier than you think. All you need is a chunk of time and VOILA, you have the same recipe we do. The biggest misconception about becoming an Outdoorsy-Person is that you have to travel all the way to Yellowstone National Park and see a wolf chase down a bison, or thru-hike the Appalachian Trail for 3 months while eating only rice and twizzlers from strangers. No! You can find fun things to do in nature right in your own back yard, on the next block over, a few stops down the bus line, or a short drive away. Let me tell you how.
VISIT A STATE PARK.
State Parks are your local best kept secret. Surprisingly few folks know the difference between a State Park and a National Park, so I’ll explain. National Parks are operated by the federal government, and are jaw-droppingly gorgeous swaths of pristine landscape, designed to preserve and protect the natural wildlife that lives within. State Parks are run by your state government, and can be absolutely gorgeous areas to visit as well. With more opportunities for a variety of recreation activities, many State Parks allow hunting, fishing for keeps, off-road vehicle use (ATV’s, snowmobiles, etc.) and also have more lenient guidelines regarding when and where you can camp and build campfires. You have to pay fees to get into both, but State Parks are generally more affordable. Here are some prices for a quick one state comparison:
$7/daily pass (all State Parks)
$70/annual pass (all State Parks)
$20/daily pass (just to RMNP)
$50/annual pass (just to just RMNP)
$80/annual pass (to all National Parks)
Each state has dozens of State Parks. They all have really cool events like the one where we learned how to ice fish, many guided hikes and First Day Hikes, and they all have something fabulous to offer scenery-wise, which made them awesome enough to become State Parks in the first place. So get yourself to a State Park.
HEAD TO A PARK DOWN THE STREET
Many folks think that hitting up their local park or open space doesn’t constitute “being outdoorsy”. Oh contraire. You don’t need sprawling vistas or a close encounter with a grizzly to be one with nature. In fact, surprisingly, many people would prefer grizzly-free activities. Unless you live in Alaska, your local city park can provide this for you. Take a few loops around the outside of the park, catch a free soccer match being played by a local meet-up group, or read a book under a tree. It doesn’t matter if there’s a bodega selling caramel spiced lattes 100 yards away, a tree is a tree, grass is grass, and relaxing outdoors is relaxing outdoors.
For me, the main point of getting outside is unplugging from my usual routine and doing something I can’t do inside my apartment. I turn my phone on silent and feel the wind on my face. Well, technically I could do that by muting my phone and sitting next to the air conditioning vent, but you know what I mean. So get yourself to a park down the street.
GOT KIDS? HAND THEM A STICK
Have you ever seen a small child at the top of a mountain stare off into the distance in awe and say, “wow, the views up here are amazing!” No. Chances are, while you’re snapping panos of views so beautiful they make you want to go to church next Sunday, your kid is down on all fours, intently focused on making grasshoppers jump with a stick.
Small children are focused on the immediate: snapping flowers off at their base, catching fireflies, laying face down in streams to get a close up view of tadpoles.
Adolescents focus on a slightly broader zone: building forts, hanging out in tree houses, hitting each other with slightly bigger sticks.
Adults thrive on exposure to the distant: scenic landscapes that extend to the horizon, hiking long distances, getting far away from the noise of the city.
Whereas grown adults are getting away from the hustle and bustle of life by traveling to remote locations and gazing over the edge of a 2,000′ canyon, a five year old can get away from the hustle and bustle by looking at the ground in front of them, where the immediate is able to stimulate their imagination and soothe their racing minds.
So walk outside and hand your kid a stick! Take one for yourself while you’re at it.
There are so many different things you can do to get yourself outside and into nature, and these were just three points to help illustrate that you’re not as limited as you might think. Just like people, nature comes in all shapes and sizes to fit your lifestyle, abilities and means. If you have any out-of-the-box ideas for fitting nature into your life, please let us know in the comments section!
– C. Egli