Stay Warm (And Active) During This Happy New Year!

New Year's Day fireworks
Happy New Year everyone – and good luck staying warm!

Happy New Year!

This might seem like a bit of a questionable greeting for those of us slammed by the stunningly cold polar weather this year (I thought I left behind -40 in Alaska – wasn’t expecting that back in Iowa), but regardless of how the thermometer starts out the year, 2018 is here, and an entire calendar year set before you.

So who’s already planning for some outdoor adventures this year?

I’m not the type to overplan. I’ve always been willing to buy a train ticket to go cross country at a simple invite, book a cheap flight to Florida just to get away for a while, or travel to a random town to just see what’s there. That being said, if you want some large trips or impressive outdoor adventures to mark off the bucket list (like a one month long backpacking trip) then you need to plan ahead.

While some people would argue that having an unrealistically long list of outdoor goals for the year doesn’t make a lot of sense, I’m from the camp that follows the brilliant line from Robert Browning:

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” –Robert Browning

So why not have the full unrealistic list? As long as you still plan, still leave room for those spontaneous adventure, and still actually work towards moving through the list whether that year or continuing, this can be an encouraging practice and a really good thing. A good year can also set the standard for asking “What can I do better this year?” and then make the next one even better until having a great year is just a given because you’ve created the habits, foresight, and drive to make things happen.

blue question markSo why not?

Especially when the wind chill is -40 degrees and the news (or Alexa via your Amazon Echo) is basically telling you if you go outside you can die. And I’ll say this as someone who has lived where -40 is normal in winter…hitting -40 because of wind chill is much, much worse.

Until the polar vortex over Iowa decides to leave for good, or at least return to normal Iowa winter “deal with it” temperatures, this seems like as good a time as any to step back from our long list of product reviews, re-focus on what we want to do with this blog over the next year, and maybe do a little bit of dreaming (and planning?) for 2018 and set the stage for what will be, what might be, and what to start planning for.

A little bit different than other posts…

This isn’t a “Where we want to go next,” post because that will come once we cross post #200 and compare what we have then to what we set out to make after the #101 post of Where do we go from here? Because it makes sense to do that then.

We’re waiting on Jon’s favorite posts of 2017 as of this writing, but we’ve both done that for 2016 and Shane’s favorite posts of 2017 is already up – so no point re-hashing those again.

This isn’t either of those things. It’s not an announcement of a re-direction or breaking big news (yet), but why not take this time to reflect on something different: on what we can actually be doing to enjoy the outdoors we so love this upcoming year, and for me that also goes hand in hand with overcoming past health issues and setbacks to re-claim my happy active life, get back to traveling and adventuring once again, and encourage others to start doing the same.

So here’s the setup for the rest of this post:

  • My goals for outdoor and travel this year, realistic and not
  • Various ideas/links to help encourage you to plan out some outdoor fun, travel, and/or adventures this year and beyond

And if you’re still reading at this point, that’s certainly a good sign! So read on and hopefully you enjoy reading the rest of this post as much as I’m sure I’ll enjoy brainstorming and writing out the rest.

So planning out my 2018 outdoor & travel…

Keeping in mind that a lot can change in a year – new job, new consulting contracts, new freelancing gigs, maybe this blog takes off to an entirely new level, but right now what’s “realistic” versus “not realistic” might be completely different or laughable by the end of this year (let’s hope), but for now I have to make an educated guess.

That also being said, don’t assume me putting something under “not realistic” means I’m writing it off. If anything, those are goals or wishes I’m especially keen on trying to figure out a way to pull off. So here’s a beginning sketch to my 2018 plans in brain vomiting mode – I’m sure a lot more will be added as the year continues!

#1: It’s Happening

  • Family fishing trip to Ohio (Lake Erie)
  • Autumn Las Vegas reunion with lifelong friends I haven’t seen in way too long
  • Lots of weekend hikes with my brother (and taking the nephews to the park)
  • Hike every trail in Palisades-Kepler State Park
  • Out-fish my brother, Jon
  • Fill my new outdoor/nature journal with writing/sketchings

#2: Likely / Very Doable

  • Hike the Effigy Mounds once in all four seasons (and post on it)
  • Explore the great county and back road parks in NE Iowa
  • Finish my first 5K
  • Double my camping time from last year
  • Double my number of hikes from last year
  • Spend some time in Tampa, FL (love that city)
  • Visit the folks in Florida
  • Hike the entire Cedar Valley Nature Trail
  • Hit 10 local hiking trails I haven’t completed before
  • Practice, hone, & re-train old wilderness survival skills
  • Learn some new bushcraft skills
  • Hit the shooting range more often this year

#3: Possible But Bit of a Challenge

  • Ride the Amtrak through the Pacific Northwest
  • Explore a random town off an isolated Amtrak route
  • Spend a week visiting friends in central PA
  • Visit one of the more isolated National Parks in the Lower 48
  • Beat my record for most miles hiked in one day (29.8)
  • Beat my record for most miles biked in one day (55.0)
  • Try an outdoor activity I’ve never done before (putting this here b/c I’ve done a lot, and currently I can’t think of what this would be!)

#4: Not Very Likely (but Would Love to Work in)

  • Thru hike the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska (PCT warm-up, perhaps?)
  • Long overdue reunion with my Alaska friends in the 907
  • Hike a section of the AT
  • Explore the Oregon coastline – camp out on some beaches
  • A good winter campout
  • Explore the Smoky Mountain National Park

#5: As Aerosmith Would Say: Dream On (Until the Dream Comes True)

  • Spend a full month exploring (and enjoying) Belize
  • Thru hike the PCT (even next year would be pushing it – but dang if I ain’t gonna try)
  • Explore Vancouver, as well as Vancouver Island for 3+ weeks
  • Overcome my fear of snakes
  • Run a marathon

Now It’s Your Turn!

Well the brainstorming was not only fun, but I’m actually a bit surprised how nerve wracking it was for me to kind of put myself out there like that. It’s one thing to keep them in your head, but it really is another to out your goals/hopes/dreams into the public like that. I hope you’ll take some time to do the same.

Whatever your outdoor (camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, biking, etc) goals for this year or your travel dreams, hopefully these following blog posts of ours can get you the right equipment or the right type of fired up to get you out and active during this marvelous new year. Plan ahead: it won’t be -40 forever!

Grab a new tent before camping season

Experience new sports & outdoor activities for all seasons

Grab inspiration to plan a new adventure

Some ongoing thoughts…

I didn’t want to go with “final thoughts” or “in conclusion” here because obviously based on my passion for these topics and thinking about the year ahead, this shouldn’t be the end of the discussion but just the very beginning of the thread. The video down below certainly whetted my travel appetite once again, and hopefully this post shows you just how many options are out there and truly possible.

Whatever your thoughts for the next year whether traveling the world or simply getting out for a few more weekends of classic tent camping, I hope this article has helped you to find your inspiration for an amazing year ahead!

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