four simple ways to explore more

This time of year is rough up here in the great North. We woke up to snow on the ground the other morning. Don’t get me wrong, I love the snow. I’ve said it once, I’m saying it again. But I feel like its so rude of Winter to creep on Spring. I’m big on manners. We’ve also all been dealing with this lingering flu-turned runny nose and cough that just won’t quit. We’re prepping for a big move coming up. And, we have chosen this week to potty train. Clearly I’m a glutton for punishment.  I’m very much looking forward to getting out to explore more once everyone is healthy, the undies are consistently dry and the wind stops cutting like a knife. I’m especially excited for the weather to warm up because I have a new little one to introduce to Spring. I love this year of “firsts” and the changing seasons are so special to see through the fresh eyes of your child.

If you follow my Instagram, you maybe saw our choose-your-own-adventure walk I shared on Insta stories yesterday. Here’s how it works: I have a few destinations in mind, and at each corner I give Miles two directions to choose from that will (eventually) get us there. Its simple, he loves it, and we see a few things along the way (ie. garbage trucks #boymom). Exploring doesn’t have to be crazy adventures or travel plans. Most often its not. Here are several simple ways I like to get out and explore in the day-to-day.

  1. Get out your map. On your phone, on google, an actual paper map, whatever you like to use. I am extremely prone to looking at a map, seeing a point of interest, thinking “hmm…” and then going to that place. Sometimes this works out wonderfully and I’m rewarded with a view, a cool trail to hike or bike, somewhere to swim, a neat neighborhood or little downtown to wander through. Sometimes this does not work out at all and there’s nothing but a dead end. True story. But at least then I know and can cross it off the list. I especially like to look for green spaces on the map. A state or city park, a wildlife preserve, etc. These are usually safe bets that there’s something there that will make it worth your while. Once, I left my debit card at a restaurant a few towns away. Instead of going back the way I came, I looked at the map and discovered that if I took the long way home, I could drive along the Hood Canal. I drove along the canal with the windows down, as the sun was setting and stopped at a tree-lined rocky beach in a state park that summoned me with the smell of campfires through the open car windows. I returned there often, and it became a really special place to me.
  2. Visit your town’s farmer’s market when it opens for the season. We have about five weeks left until ours does. I’m counting. When its open, we look forward to it as part of our weekly routine. We always get some sort of fruit or veggie to have as a snack in the stroller while mommy wanders. Then a cookie from the Amish vendor to balance that out, a pickle from the pickle stand (or maybe that was just when I was pregnant last summer. . . ) and take home whatever fresh produce looks good and is in season. Seasonal fruits and vegetables make me happy. As a bonus, I sometimes treat myself to a bouquet of flowers, or a loaf of challah from my favorite baker. Our farmer’s market has a little bit of everything and its the best way to sample local flavors. Or just enjoy the free sights and smells.
  3. Hop on a bike! From the time I was little, until now when I bring my own little ones in the seat on the back. I have always, always used my bike to explore. When I was a kid, that meant riding to the overlook by the river, less than a mile away. At the time, this was a big adventure. At home in Michigan the path system is extensive and I liked to circumnavigate Spring Lake, and ride to the beach to avoid traffic. When I was car-less in Chicago and DC it meant using the city’s extensive bike paths and lanes to get from A to B without having to use the “L” or the Metro, and even better, having fast access to places public transit didn’t go. When I lived in Washington I would ride for miles and miles, exploring, following the path systems in Olympia and around Seattle. I’d take scissors in a pack under the seat and cut wildflowers to bring home. In Georgia, I gave up. It was too humid for my northern blood and I’d get bugs stuck in my sweat and there were always snakes on the paths and warning signs about alligators. I couldn’t handle it. Do you have bike paths nearby? Or a quiet country road to discover? There’s always something to see on a bike!
  4. Take yourself out to lunch or coffee. Meet a friend, go by yourself, bring your child(ren), make a date of it. Sit and enjoy a book and a coffee and people watch. Take it to go and let your kids run around a park. Yelp is a good place to start to find a new favorite place for lunch or a latte. Make it a point to go somewhere new. Culinary adventures are some of my favorite adventures. Because, food. We lived near Kansas City for about a year, and while we were there we made it a point to hit as many BBQ places as we could. By the end of the year, we had a list of our favorite spots. Which one had the best ribs, which one we preferred for pulled pork, burnt ends, baked beans, brisket and the best original dishes. Even if your town isn’t known for any particular cuisine, much like the farmer’s market, you can taste local flavors. Or at the very least, get out of the house for a few hours, and come back smelling like a coffee shop.


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