In Praise of Little Adventures Close to Home

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Microadventure 3: Sleep on a Hill from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

Alastair Humphreys recently rowed a boat across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Barbados. He's also ridden his bike around the world, canoed 500 miles of the Yukon River, and all kinds of other wildness. Today, he's training in Greenland for an unsupported expedition to the South Pole. The adventurer, author and motivational speaker did something even more remarkable in 2011 that earned him a nomination for National Geographic's Adventurer of The Year: he didn't leave home. Just kidding. Somewhat. Rather than undertaking a momentous transcontinental trek on a burro named Thunder or Angel or something like that, he launched off on small so-called microadventures right from his doorstep, never more than just a couple of days at a time and always returning home. That's what he did for a full year.

His manifesto includes these words:

Adventure is a loose word, encapsulating a spirit of trying something new . . . Above all it is about energy, enthusiasm, ambition, open-mindedness and curiosity. If all this is true then “adventure” is not only daft things like rowing oceans, climbing mountains, cycling round the world. Adventure is everywhere, every day and it is just up to us to make the effort to seek it out.

And when you don't feel like seeking it out, just load up a 2-year-old child who's in potty training and go to the grocery store. That's enough adventure to satisfy, isn't it? Nevertheless, the way I see it, his microadventures can either be inspiring or yawning. Indeed, about the best many of us suburbanite parents can pull off are microadventures. Going trail running on a Saturday morning or a 30-minute bike ride after work.

But maybe there's something to this, this idea of seeking adventure anywhere you can, no matter how small. If Alastair could take a year off from his usual shenanigans to take on a weekend of mountain biking or, in the case of the video above, finding a grassy hill to sleep on for the night, and then promote these activities not because of what he did so much as why he did it then maybe there's a bit of confirmation for what this little spot on the web is all about. It gives me a small tickle to think that maybe even today's impressive explorers can be caught wishing that they were on a mellow hike in the sunshine with the family.

You can see more videos of Alastair's microadventures at his site:


+4 / 0
# debi 2012-07-13 08:30
I'm a huge fan of microadventures - especially for those of us living in urban places. We spend a lot of our time exploring our own backyard and nearby nature. I figure doing something is definitely better than nothing.
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Bring The Kids
+3 / 0
# Bring The Kids 2012-07-13 14:26
What an awesome idea. However, with kids, sometimes even those microadventures can easily turn into the adventure of a lifetime!
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Big Sexy...or John
+3 / 0
# Big Sexy...or John 2012-07-14 05:50
I agree with #bring the kids some of our greatest moments as a family come when we have the least expectations. Charge life, bring the kids and make the best of what's around!

As always great blog, Mark and stellar photo also :)
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Kate C
+1 / 0
# Kate C 2012-07-15 06:51
Awesome. I grew up in total suburbia, and I always remember my dad being excited for "adventures." Which, for us were things like going to the grocery store on the day before Thanksgiving, or braving the school supplies section of Target the day before school starts. It sounds kind of silly, but at the time it made all of the mundane tasks of suburban life a little more fun.
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Mark Stephens
0 / 0
# Mark Stephens 2012-07-15 22:59
Well, neat! So glad it resonated with you folks.
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