This summer I’m going to be riding a bike from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Why? Well… first off, why not? Second, I want to see the country from a bicycle- – which is to say: I want to really see the country, not just from a TV screen or from an airplane. How much gas is this going to take me? Barring the plane trip to my starting destination and the road trip home… NOT A WHOLE LOT. Can you think of ways to travel that have a relatively small impact on the earth?
To do this bike trip, of course, requires a LOT of gear, so I was thinking about heading to REI this afternoon to look at some pannier bags for my bicycle. While discussing this with my editor, we reflected on how it’s pretty hip to dress like you are a serious outdoor enthusiast, while not actually being an outdoor enthusiast. This fashion style shall henceforth be referred to as “wilderness chic.” I say, if you are sporting your North Face jacket but haven’t gotten out to a local park to do some hiking yet, this spring is your chance to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk.’
Speaking of parks: I love them. In fact, I devoted an
entire undergrad college career to studying national parks, state parks
and other recreation areas. They are great resources that are just
waiting to be utilized– – and some of them are even free! With spring
just around the corner, take advantage of the nice weather and use this
National Park Service (NPS) website to find and visit a park near you.
Also, legendary “wilderness chic” retailer L.L. Bean has a really nice
park location tool embedded in their website.
So parks are fun and parks are great… but if you have kids
or are a kid: parks are AWESOME. I would say that my best childhood
memories involved me playing outside or camping, so bravo to my parents
for taking the initiative to expose me to the wilderness. But
unfortunately, many kids these days have no concept of the outdoors,
and it shows in such statistics as childhood obesity and a lack of
environmental understanding. Our friends over at the Chesapeake Bay
Foundation have set up this site that showcases a powerful new
initiative called No Child Left Inside. I encourage everyone to go
check out the website, and then- – GO PLAY OUTSIDE!
Getting outside can be daunting for first timers, but
luckily there are plenty of programs designed teach you the skills and
confidence you need to be a successful wilderness hero. I’ve already
mentioned REI, which offers free workshops to the public that can teach
you such skills as how to set up a campsite, how to follow “Leave No
Trace” principles, and to how to fix a bike. Organizations such as NOLS
and Outward Bound also lead educational expeditions all over the world.
Can’t afford a trip with those companies? A good thing to do is check
your local university: chances are they have some sort of outdoor
adventure organization affiliated with the school (like this one that I
used to work for) that will offer excellent trips at rock bottom prices.
Cameron for My Wonderful World