College is over. Gone are the days of staying up until 3 am on a week night just because I felt like it. Staying out all night and then working the next day is not something my body could even remotely handle. Heck, It’s taken me two days to recover from a theme park. As a result, it sometimes feels like the adventurous days are gone. Even at 25, still a young adult by many people’s standards, I’ve started to feel fat and tame in my new life.
So today I’m sharing a couple of my adventure go-to’s because I’m one of those people who believes that adventures are more than the things we watch Indiana Jones do. Just because I’m out of college doesn’t mean I have to accept myself as boring and I don’t think you should either. Having adventure in your life is just as necessary as coffee (wait, you do drink coffee right?!).
Spontaneous Road Trips
In my freshman year of college, I attended a school located in the relatively small-town of Cleveland, TN. The town didn’t have much in terms of organized fun and so my friends and I created our own. Spontaneous road trips become our go to. There was something beautiful about getting in a car with two other friends on a Friday night and driving for 4.5 hours into North Carolina just because we wanted to see where the road ended (sure enough, it didn't).
On one particularly interesting evening, the crew piled five deep in a sedan and headed south. After three hours of driving to nowhere we pulled over in a gas station and asked the attendant if there was anything noteworthy around (in hindsight, that was probably rude). She told us there was a place called Helen, Georgia another couple hours away. She described Helen as a German version of Gatlinburg, which for our non Tennessee readers, is a tourist trap of a city in the mountains. The only difference is Gatlinburg is surrounded by endless natural beauty and Helen well… isn’t.
So we drove to Helen.
When we arrived it was close to midnight and there were two large men fighting outside a bar which was the only building with people inside. We spent the next couple hours wandering around the faux German village and sure enough, the gas station attendant was right. It was the cheesiest German inspired tourist trap I’ve ever seen. Full disclosure, it is also the only German inspired tourist trap I’ve seen.
But at that time (2 AM) Helen, Georgia was a magical place because we discovered it. I don’t quite know how to articulate the sort of ownership we felt over Helen or the other places we discovered on those trips other than to say it was like finding new worlds. The roof of the abandoned Bi-Lo, the parking lots along the Occoee River, and the gas stations were our Neverland.
All of a sudden, I had stories to tell.
You should seriously try it.
Honestly, I feel kind of silly telling you to get into outdoor adventure sports because I’ve all but given them up in my post college life. However, getting outside is some of the most fulfilling and accessible version of adventure. The biggest misconceptions here are that adventure sports are super dangerous and that one has to be ultra fit in order to participate. Most times neither of those are true.
For starters, rock climbing is a wonderful outdoor pursuit where the difficulty of the climb can range from slightly harder than climbing a ladder to impossible for mortals. I recommend finding a climbing gym, (if you live in Franklin/Nashville my friend Newton owns a gym where starting is easy and low key) and seeing if you fall in love with it. I did.
Here are my favorite outdoor adventures ranked in terms of how extreme their entry level pursuits are. For instance, mountain biking is in the middle of the list because it can be rather accessible if you pick an easy trail, but it can also be very dangerous.
- whitewater kayaking (pretty extreme)
- rock climbing
- mountain biking
- SUP boarding
- hiking (pretty accessible)
In my 4 years of being an outdoors guide in college, I saw the look in participant’s eyes when they came out of a cave or successfully paddled a whitewater river and that look was straight up, pure giddy. Do yourself a favor and get outside and explore. You won’t regret it.
The whole point of this post is to encourage you (and me) that the adventures aren’t over. Most of my readers are relatively fresh out of college which is a very challenging time for our adventurous spirit. We are currently forging the lives that we’ve spent 18 years preparing for and it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking our most adventurous days are past us. Don’t buy it. Not for a second.