One of Helen Keller’s most famous quotes, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”, doesn’t really tell the whole story. Life is also responsibilities. Family, school, jobs, and even everyday mundane tasks, that hardly seem adventurous, fill great portions of our days. But for me it’s those everyday responsibilities that drive me to look for ways to explore, to learn, to encounter, to experience, to taste, and to feel more of this wonderful world in which we live. Not just as a means of escape, but as a mechanism for growth and understanding. It gives me an appreciation of the unique landscapes of places I visit, but also provides the opportunity to discover different cultures. I have learned that I have more in common with the people I meet in my travels than I might have thought in the past. Adventures close to home with little travel or expense required can be just as rewarding as costly trips abroad. And when we had kids at home and were saving for college, those were they kind of adventures we had most often. Camping trips to state and national parks, visits to the zoos, aquariums and museums, and hiking in the local mountains were how we defined many of our early adventures.
Although our kids are out of college and established in their own homes and careers, my husband and I still value those kinds of local adventures and make a concerted effort to get out at least once a week for a day trip to discover the gems, hidden and known, in our community and state. Most of the time, this requires limited pre-planning and little expense. We usually take day packs with a jacket or sweatshirt, a lunch or snack, and bottle of water or a thermos of hot tea. We keep a couple of trekking poles in the jeep along with some warmer outerwear in case of unexpected changes in the weather. And we always have a “gazetteer” or Maine atlas in the vehicle in case we decide just to wander. Sometimes end up taking a detour if we see a sign for a place or attraction that we are unfamiliar with, or even unaware of, and curiosity gets the better ou us. It is just as likely that we decide to take a different way home just for a change of scenery. In fact, the spontaneity of the adventure makes it all the more appealing.
But I would be less than honest if I didn’t also admit that I love the big adventure as well. A trip across the ocean to a country I have only read about or seen on TV, seeing animals that may soon be extinct, hiking mountains in far off lands, walking across an entire country and stopping in small inns along the way, taking a small cruise ship to the least visited continent in the world, and seeing the Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle are just the few of the big adventures we have been fortunate to experience in the past decade or so. These adventures do take a lot of planning, especially if you have to coordinate all of the details. Thankfully, there are experienced travel professionals that will do most of the work for you, though sometimes this can be quite expensive. But if you are willing to do a bit of research and/or travel at the last-minute, there are some bargains to be had. Not long after we retired, I discovered a website that touted the top 10 travel deals each week. We were in the process of moving to Maine and there was a “last-minute deal” for a three-day, two night stay at an upscale hotel with an in-room hot tub, views of Niagara Falls and a dinner for two for just over $100. So we signed up and had a great trip to the Canadian side of the falls. Since then we have also found bargain trips to Iceland and Machu Picchu on the same website. Taking some of these bargain trips have helped us to afford the more expensive and unique trips.
I have learned to be open to all kinds of adventure. Sometimes that means seeing the adventures possible and close to home, planning ahead and spending whatever is necessary for the trip of a lifetime, or just letting the adventure find you. However you discover your adventure, your life will be richer because of the experience.