Five Things Every Adventurer Should Be Thankful For

Adventurers bring a buffet of perspectives to the proverbial mixing pot of people, from folks who live for sunshine and snorkeling to those who count down the days each autumn until the first signs of winter. While some explorations require a harness and others call for kayaks, outdoor enthusiasts share a few things we can all appreciate no matter what our adventure of choice.

image[2]I posed a question on Twitter yesterday, asking adventurers what they were most thankful for, and the answers all fit on the list of things that I’m grateful for too. From backcountry backpackers in Colorado and hikers from Arizona to climbing surfers in Florida and national forest officials in Wyoming, we have so much to be thankful for when it comes to our journeys in the outdoors.

Fresh Air and Sunshine

Not every adventurer is outwardly into hugging trees, but we all deeply respect and appreciate every molecule of nature. From thick pine forests to rocky tidal pools, the outdoors offers so many breath-taking landscapes, recreational opportunities, idyllic moments of pure bliss, and beautiful places where we can create adventure. I’m personally most thankful for all the details of nature: the warmth of sunshine on your skin on a chilly day, tiny little ferns and berries and bugs, how starry the sky gets the deeper you venture into the backcountry, and the prideful feeling you get after caking your boots with mud.

Fellow Adventurers

I love a good solo hike, but most of the time, I really enjoy the company of a good companion when I’m exploring outside. Whether your trail partner is your spouse, best friend, sibling, or random pal you met through social media, give thanks to the people who are always down for shenanigans in the woods and challenging experiences outdoors. Be thankful for everyone in your life who is down to hit the trail even when it’s 90º outside, shiver all night in a tent during snowstorms, share a beer over a campfire, spot you when you’re climbing highballs, and accompany you while you’re pushing your limits and trying new things.

I love what Jillian Bejtlich said about who she’s thankful for: “Corny, but I’m thankful for my husband. In our vows, we promised to be each others outdoor partners. And he’s exactly that!” Seriously, her wedding vows included a promise to always be each other’s belay partners – perfection.

The No-Service Zone

No matter how much you love Instagramming pictures of mountain peaks, there’s something so satisfying about that moment when you’ve ventured so far into the wilderness that you suddenly lose all service and become completely disconnected from everything that doesn’t involve enjoying the moment. You can forget about emails and deadlines and just focus entirely on adventure.

Four Legged Companions

Dogs who get outdoors are my favorite – and I’m not just saying that because I just adopted the cutest pup in the history of pups who is totally going to be the best crag/trail dog ever. I’ve always been a fan of four-legged friends. Dogs make wonderful hiking partners, tent mates, campsite guardians, and all-around awesome companions for adventuring. A dog is always willing to keep trudging to the next peak, grateful when you share a sliver of your beef jerky, worried about your safety while you’re climbing, and generous when it comes to providing body heat in a sleeping bag.

 Rangers and Volunteers

Whenever I visit a national park, my first stop is to the visitors center – I always get a stamp for my collection, and chat for a bit with the folks who help run the park. Rangers have always been a subject of my admiration. They’ve jump-started my car afterhours after getting back from a backpacking trip, scurried outside with me to catch whales, and helped me choose the best trails. My respect extends to everyone who works in the outdoors, whether professionally like Kristie from An Appetite for Adventure, who works in the Shoshone National Forest, or the folks from the Southeaster Climbers Coalition who organize trail days to help maintain access to climbing areas. Amanda Renner said it best – she’s thankful “for the preserved land we have to explore and the people who fight to keep it protected.

This Thanksgiving while you’re stuffing your face with fried turkey and mashed potatoes, take a moment to reflect on everything you have to be thankful for as an adventurer. I appreciate so deeply that no matter what is going on in my life or in the world, I can always make a quick trip to the nearest slice of nature and enjoy the simplicity and purity of the outdoors.

What are YOU most grateful for?

5 Ways to Stay Connected to Nature (Even When You’re Not in Nature)

5 Ways to Stay Connected to Nature (Even When You're Not in Nature)Living in a van on the road for the past eight months has been the ultimate way to immerse myself in nature every moment of the day – but this lifestyle just isn’t a permanent reality. I got my first taste of “being stuck indoors” while Niko spent a month working in Boulder – and quickly learned that I needed to get creative when it came to getting outside. Since we can’t spend every day out in the wild, why not make the most of the fresh air we can easily access on a daily basis?

Here are five easy ways to stay connected to nature any day:

1. Go for a walk.

Seriously. It’s that easy.  So many readers complain about how hard it is to get outdoors when you live in suburbia – but after a week of house-sitting in Westminster, CO, I am here to debunk that myth. All you have to do is find a plot of greenery within walking (or a short drive) distance, and you’ve got yourself potential for mini adventures. In Colorado, I found myself exploring Lake Standley each morning while walking the dog I was sitting. Every excursion introduced me to new flowers, little creatures, and more fresh air than my lungs could handle – and it was all within a stone’s throw of the house.

And it’s not just because I was in Colorado, the land of epic adventures. In my hometown of Miami, there are a number of destinations waiting to be explored. There’s the neighborhood park full of canals and climb-able trees, the mangrove hammock and marina where crabs litter the bike paths, and even a historic bayfront estate – all within a five minute drive of my house.

2. Take your work outside.

When folks sit in a four-walled room staring at nothing but concrete and computer screens all day, it’s no wonder they get stir crazy. Just because you have a dozen deadlines to complete by next week doesn’t mean you’re confined to the clutches of a cubicle – pick up your work, and bring it outdoors. Move your home office to the back porch for an afternoon, or add sunshine to the agenda with an extended working lunch break at an outdoor café.

If all else fails, and you absolutely must stay indoors – open up a window, and take a break every hour to gaze outside and refresh your senses.

Ditch your dining room, and take your meals outside!3. Ditch your dining room.

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, mealtime provides a perfect opportunity to inject a little outdoor time into your schedule. If the weather is welcoming, there’s no reason to eat cooped up indoors – relocate your plate to the patio, or set up a blanket on the lawn for a picnic-style feast. I’ve found that food tends to taste better when it’s enjoyed with a nice view. Bonus points if you’ve got a garden nearby: fresh basil is a readily available condiment!

While I eat most of my meals outdoors these days, I actually miss mornings spent sitting outside on the little porch of my old house in Tallahassee – it was such a pleasant way to start the day, chowing down on hot oatmeal while the crisp air woke up my body. Make it a goal to eat at least one meal a week outside, and soon you’ll find that it becomes an everyday habit.

4. Trade TV for stargazing.

After a long day of work, it’s absolutely excusable to want to do nothing more than sit around and let your mind unwind – but that doesn’t mean you should head straight to the television. Instead of ending your day staring at yet another screen flashing with mindless media, turn off the boob-tube and go outside to enjoy the evening.

Stargazing is obviously ideal with a clear night sky, but there’s more to be had than just an eyeful of twinkling lights. Relax to the sounds of crickets in the grass and wind blowing through trees while the crisp nighttime air breezes over you. Bonus points if you have a hammock! For Niko and I, sprawling out on a patio was a great way to have some “together” time – it’s pretty romantic to sit out under the stars, instead of zonking out next to each other on a couch watching reruns.

Our little hammock camp at my house in Miami.

5. Pitch a tent (or hammock) in your backyard.

We all get a little cabin fever when we’ve spent too much time residing indoors – but few people seem to embrace the quickest cure: go camping in your own backyard. Especially great if you need to break in some new gear before heading out into the backcountry, setting up camp in your yard is a fantastic way to “get away” without having to really get away.

Pitch your tent (or hammock), haul out some sleeping bags, get a little fire pit blazing, and bask in all the fun of camping – any day of the week. For the full experience, try to avoid going indoors for any reason. Cook your meal over a fire, roast some marshmallows, fill up water jugs, and if your backyard permits, do your business in a bush too!

While it’s all too easy to feel like your outdoorsy style is being cramped by your day-to-day life, it’s just as simple to inject a dose of adventure into your week. Try out each of these five methods of getting “outdoors” without straying too far from home, and figure out what works best for your lifestyle. Maybe it’s spending one night a week in your backyard campground, or maybe you’ll find that eating dinner outside quickly becomes a nightly ritual. Anything to keep your adventurous spirit alive in between big trips!

How do YOU stave off cabin fever when during long periods of time between outdoor adventures? Share your best tips in the comments! And for more outdoor inspiration, check out the Nature Project Tumblr powered by Nature Valley.

 * Compensation for this content was provided by Nature Valley. Opinions expressed here are strictly my own.