Posts Tagged With: outdoors

Winter Wonderland

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Some of you are probably not going to like this post, and that’s okay. But it seems that Christmas Day is the one day everyone wants to see the scene in the picture above, and most of the time (at least where I am) it doesn’t come. The white stuff seems to be plentiful once the holidays are over. Which isn’t convenient because we are all back at school, work, etc. By now, some of you are depressed from all the snow and the thought of listening to any song praising snow and winter just makes you want to punch something – or someone.

Here in the Great White North, we are accustomed to long, cold and snowy winters. Many decide to head down to the all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean, while others less fortunate opt to hibernate and binge on Netflix and the like. Nothing wrong with that, however, I choose to embrace winter. That’s right, I actually love seeing the snow, though I hate it when I have to drive in it. But I mean winter is part of what makes my country unique. There is something celestial about hearing the snow crunch under my boots, gazing at the white stuff while inhaling the frosty air. And I want to share a few things to help you embrace winter since you can’t always rely on the possibility of an early spring.

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy winter. For those of you living in warmer climates, feel free to laugh or share this with friends in colder climates.

  1. Skiing – my favorite winter pastime since I was eleven. It’s great exercise and it really gets the adrenaline going. You don’t have to go to the Rockies or the Alps to enjoy skiing (unless you want to). Even a local ski hill will do just the trick. I am fortunate to be within 100 miles of at least six ski hills, and I currently have a season pass to one of them.

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2. Skating – another favorite of mine, and often a more economical winter pleasure. There are bound to be lots of indoor and outdoor choices near you, and if you don’t own skates, you can rent a pair for a modest fee. Plus, it is a great thing to do as a couple or a family. You can even indulge in hot chocolate afterward.

3. Snowshoeing – if skating or skiing isn’t your thing, snowshoeing can be a substitute. All you need is a pair of snowshoes and access to a forest or hiking trail. You might even spot a few furry creatures along the way, such as squirrels.

4. A simple walk through the woods – no equipment needed, just simply take a long stroll down your favorite walking trail. I am also fortunate enough to live close to a mile-long trail that cuts through a forested area. It’s good exercise, fresh air and a chance to get in touch with nature. One thing I love about winter hiking is no mosquitoes, which means a relatively peaceful walk.

Now you don’t have to do the following every day. With our daily grind, it is just not possible. But just once a week is better than nothing. It would be a shame to spend all winter cooped up, soaking up screen time.

One way to bring calmness into your life is to appreciate the present moment. We often get so caught up with what lies ahead, we forget to pause and reflect on what is happening right now. Instead of hating winter and wishing it away, it is better to appreciate it while it is here. Spring will eventually come around.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My Hike in the Sonoran Desert

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It’s been over a month since my last blog post, which is the longest streak since my blog was born, so I thought I’d post about my hiking trip in the Sonoran Desert.

I’m an avid hiker. I hike most weekends, whether it’s in the woods or along the riverfront of downtown Cincinnati. It rejuvenates me from the weekly grind, while allowing me to reflect on life’s happenings. I’m inclined to hiking the way many people are to yoga, or just working out at the gym. It’s something I couldn’t do without, and will keep on doing until the day my legs give out.

Last month, I traveled to southern Arizona to hike in the Saguaro National Park. Arizona is one of my favorite states in the country, mostly because of the desert scenery all around. I’ve had a thing for the desert of the southwest U.S. for as long as I can remember. I owe it to my days of watching Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons. I had researched about the Sonoran Desert, which is how I came across the Saguaro Park. After countless days of pondering the idea, I decided to make the trip.

The weather was absolutely perfect for a hike, and there were only local hikers in the park, so I felt like I had the place to myself. I went hiking by myself, might I add, which is likely causing some of you to drop your jaws. This wouldn’t surprise me. I have a unique gift for appreciating solitude, so for me this was just another typical day. Despite the hazards (killer bees, rattlesnakes, gila monsters), everything went smoothly. For miles, all I could see was a sea of green giant cacti, which look more like giant green corn on the cobs from afar. Just being alone with my thoughts and God allowed me to recharge and look back on everything I had accomplished since last September. I would definitely recommend this kind of trip to anyone with a taste for adventure. I would (and plan to) go back and hike in this national park again someday.

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Interested in hiking in the Saguaro National Park? Here’s a few tips that I’ve learned from my experience:

  • bring a gallon of water, sunscreen, a hat, and a whistle (if you’re going alone)
  • the fall and spring is the best time to hike. A local I met told me that the temperatures are pleasant, and the cacti are not in full bloom yet (less likely to run into swarms of killer bees)
  • wear light color clothing and hiking shoes are a must. Parts of the park are rugged and require climbing up hills. Sandals are a no-no.
  • hike in moderation and know your limits. Stop periodically for rest and replenishment
  • bring some snacks for the hike. I brought along beef jerky and granola bars.
  • A word about killer bees: unfortunately, they are present everywhere in the park. They say if you come too close to their colonies, they will repeatedly “bump” into you as a warning. Heed this sign and go the other way. These bees are notorious for swarming you by the thousands. The worst thing you can do is kill one because they release a scent which alerts other bees in the area, which will mean you’re done for.
  • Carry a fully charged phone with you in case of emergency, though coverage is limited in the park.
  • Take a moment to pause in peaceful reflection during your hike. It will help you appreciate the moment.

 

 

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Wonderful Winter

You’re probably flagging this post, or at the least bulging your eyes or turning up your noses. OK, maybe I’m a little crazy and no I haven’t been smoking anything, but winter is perhaps my favorite season of the year. I don’t know why, but I love the white stuff. I always look forward to a heavy snowfall, especially if I don’t have to go anywhere the next day. And let’s not forget about the Christmas season – with all the many hues of green and red, parties and lots of eggnog. But yes, I’ll admit I hate having to drive in it or shoveling it, but c’est la vie! Anyways, what I love about it so much is because I can get out and ski and snowshoe. Since I live in Canada, winter is a part of my life most of the year. Also, it’s what makes Canada stand out so much. Up here, most of us hibernate in our homes or head down to sunny destinations during the winter, while the rest choose to make the most of winter. I hope you will be among ‘the rest’ this winter. So for those of you in Canada and the northern states, I’d like to share a few tips on how to make the most of the winter.

1. Accept winter – it’s here, so get used to it. Unless, you’re a magician it’s not going away anytime soon. So don’t fear it, embrace it.

2. Get outdoors – snowshoeing, skiing, skating, possibilities are almost endless. And if you have children, there’s tobogganing, tubing and making snowmen (likely to bring up some happy childhood memories). Of course, you don’t have to do snow sports; just take a winter stroll around your town, anything to get you out of the house. Sure, you’ll have to endure the cold and put on a few layers, but it’s not going to kill you.

3. Share it with friends – find something wintery that you and your friends can do. The more the merrier. Talk to them, see what they’d like to do. Maybe they know something about snowshoeing, or skiing that you don’t?

So, make the most out of winter. After all, for many of us it’s around most of the year. So this winter, forgo that trip down to the Bahamas or Mexico. Think about the money you could save for something special when the summer comes back again. Whatever you do, try to make the winter your new friend. You’ll feel better if you do, trust me. Happy holidays!

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