A little over a month ago I was in quite a rut. Laser focused on work, but missing a lot at home. I loved my job but something was missing. I wrote about how I had forgotten to have fun at work, that was my assumption for the rut.
Well, I was correct. If you noticed, and thank you if you did, it has been a little bit since I have written.
I’ve been a little busy.
I decided that if I was going to travel the Central States of this Country, then damnit, I was going to make it worth it. I made the following decision: when I visit a town, I will find the nearest State Park and go “explore”. I use the word explore because “going for a brisk walk” doesn’t motivate me.
Let me tell you, my word choice was accurate, I’ve explored, and it’s been fun.
The most diverse state so far has been South Dakota. My account is in the beautiful and welcoming Rapid City. Drive an hour north and you have Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse set in the wooded forest of the Black Hills. Drive an hour east and you have the Badlands. The Badlands are miles of seemingly never ending prehistoric terrain. Nothing but rock, chiseled by erosion, creating awe inspiring peaks stained by time. Watching the sun set over that land was something I’ll never forget.
I’ve had some pretty scary encounters, while the alligator was alarming, my time in Palo Duro Canyon was sobering.
I was in Amarillo with two coworkers, Patrick and Ryan. I asked them if they would want to hike with me on the trip and they both eagerly said yes. This was the first time I would have company on an “exploration”.
We set out to see “The Lighthouse”, a rock formation in the aforementioned shape, created by years of water running through the deep canyon. One of my coworkers, Patrick, is a retired Army Ranger. He apparently is fearless.
About five minutes into our hike, we came up to a stunning rock formation at least two hundred feet tall. Just to the left side of the top was a peaked extension of the rock, standing tall. Patrick said he thought he saw a trail up top and we should climb to the peak. The plan was to take the trail back down the backside.
He took off, Ryan and I had no choice but to follow. We climbed higher and higher as fast as we could. We checked holes for snakes before we put our hands and feet in the crevasses to hold our weight as we thrust higher up the hill.
Out of breath and sweat pouring down our faces, we reached the top. Chasing Patrick up we never took the time to look down. Heart pounding and knees shaking from the climb we stopped to look around.
Three things came to mind.
- We were really, really high up there. The view was unreal. We took unjustified pictures while we caught our breath and celebrated our victory.
- This rock was extremely dangerous, turns out it wasn’t rock at all, it was clay. We had no traction as the loose pieces of dried clay slipped from under our feet like old shingles on a worn roof.
- There was no trail. We were shit out of luck, and I was terrified.
“Uh, Patrick, how are we going to get down from here?” I ask, afraid of the answer.
“The way we came” he replied like this was the obvious answer.
Climbing up was much easier than going back down. It took a while to get down, we had some very close encounters with slipping, but we made it, one very slow foot at a time. Not going to do that again.
I’ve climbed to the top of Quartz Mountain State Park in Oklahoma and ran the path of the Platte River State Park in Nebraska. From the Great River Bluffs State Park in Minnesota to Cypremort Point State Park in the Gulf Coast, one thing has stood out: I’m in your neighborhood.
No matter where I’ve gone, no matter how small the town, or how remote from the “city” I have found somewhere to go. I’ve learned it’s up to me to make this travel situation work, it has been surprisingly simple to find places to go.
Far too often we live our lives going from work to home, to work again the next day. Wishing we did something more with our time as the weeks melt to months. Binge watching Netflix can’t be all there is. I’ve learned no matter where you live, there’s somewhere out there for you.
The problem is we must make the choice to go do more. For me, sometimes this is a very hard choice, more times than not it is after midnight when I finally check into my destination. Tired the following day, it would be easy to just go back to the hotel after work and relax, but every time I have explored, it has been worth it. I fly three days a week so that only leaves me two. I do my best to explore both days, as I am in different cities, but at least one is a must.
Do yourself a favor and search things to do around where you live. It doesn’t have to be State Parks either. Find local breweries or venues with live music. When the weather turns and it’s dark early I will have to find a new plan. I’m thinking local basketball games, college maybe? More on that later.
You’d be surprised what is around you if you make the choice to look. Next time you are tired of the status quo, try to think outside the norm and go explore something.