The Joy of the Micro-Adventure

I grew up in the outdoors.  My Dad used to say that I was an outdoor adventurer before I was born, as he and my Mom were out enjoying the woods, hiking, camping and fishing while she was pregnant with me.  They didn't waste much time after I was born either, they would take me with them every time they would head out into the wilderness.

My Dad's style of getting out was pretty fanatical.  He'd pack up the night before, hit the road before the sun was up, and then spend all day doing what he loved in the woods.  I grew up thinking that to enjoy the outdoors, it had to be an "all-in" experience.  The whole day or "no way".

As I matured, and started having kids of my own, I tried to emulate those days with my Dad and Mom, full day outings, all the time.  It became challenging.  The kids weren't always up for spending a whole day in the woods, sometimes they'd get tired, or cranky.  Sometimes, they would have homework to do, or other plans.  My wife, Gen, wasn't always thrilled about being away from home either, when there were important things needing doing at home.

I began to wonder, is there a better way? Am I doing it wrong? Why are these full day excursions becoming a problem? I started to get out less and less.  My wife took me aside one day while I was lamenting my fate, while I was feeling grumpy that I couldn't be out enjoying nature as I wished to do.  She said something to me that I didn't quite understand at the time, but I have learned to comprehend and even embrace.

She said "you don't always have to go our for the whole day, you know, you could go out for the morning, or the afternoon, or even just a couple of hours."  This was crazy talk!  I was incredulous, she was mad, out of her mind!  Who did she think she was!? If I couldn't be out for the whole day, I just wasn't going to do it! 

Months passed, years passed, my struggle to get out for the whole day, resulting in less and less contact with the mountains and the lakes that I love.  Contact I needed to recharge my batteries and clear my mind.  One Sunday afternoon in August, I was again feeling upset that I was sitting at home when there were beautiful lakes and stunning vistas to explore.  Gen came to me and said those words again "you don't always have to go our for the whole day, you know, you could go out for the morning, or the afternoon, or even just a couple of hours.  In fact, why don't we just throw a picnic lunch together, grab the fishing rods, and see what we can find out there."

I gave in, "Sure, fine, whatever, you'll see, we'll get out there and everyone will be on the lakes, forest roads will be crowded, we won't have any fun, because we won't be out there long enough."  Gen just smiled and said "let's try it, this once, maybe it'll work out OK."  I gave in, we packed up quickly, I was sure we were missing all the things we needed, but we went anyways.

Because our time was limited, I picked a quick route up into the mountains, via the highway, and an easy access point to the forest.  Because we were so close to town, I was sure the woods would be littered with people, and we weren't going to be able to have any space to ourselves.  We took an off shoot road, and another turn, pretty well driving at random, but I was starting to relax.  I'd been here briefly before, I was sure there was a lake around here somewhere. In a few more minutes, we'd found a clear stretch of shore, where we could cast out into a pretty little lake, and have a campfire for some hotdogs.

"Well, I'll be..." I though to myself, Is it true, was Gen right? Is it possible, that we could just go out for the afternoon and still have fun?  I made a little fire for roasting the hotdogs, and while Gen and my little guy, Kyle, started to make supper, I tied on a fly and made a quick cast.  Kaboom! I was so surprised by the big fish that hit my fly so quickly, in the still water, I missed setting the hook, and he got away. Kyle say something surface 8' to the right "Daddy, there he is, get him!", and sure enough, with a quick 2nd cast, I had a beautiful 1 1/2 pound rainbow trout!  Gen grabbed the camera and took a picture, we put the fish in the cooler, and ate our hotdogs as the stars began to poke out of the clear sky and the sun set over the lake.

Soon we were on our way home again, having been out for only a few hours, but having had a wonderful time, enjoying some nature and each other's company.  Feeling content and satisfied, and a little surprised that such a thing as a quick adventure, was actually possible we were carrying along the dirt road heading back to the hightway.  There was still a surprise in store for us. All of a sudden, a cow moose lept out of the bushes ont he side of the road and started running directly ahead of the truck.  She was beautiful, but completely oblivious to the 2 tonnes of metal bearing down on her.  I slammed on the brakes, we skidded for 60 or 70 feet as she carried on loping ahead.  We grabbed the camera, but it was so dark the flash only highlighted our windshield, and we never did get a picture of that wondrous creature.  It was the first time Gen and Kyle had even seen a moose, and they couldn't stop talking about it the whole way home.

I look back now, and realize, that was a changing point in our lives.  I fully acknowledge and accept now, what I could not before.  Any adventure, whether it is grand excursion of multiple days hiking in the mountains, or a micro adventure, a quick afternoon jaunt in the woods, is a good adventure.

Please comment and share, what was your greatest micro-adventure?

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