A new year is a book with 365 blank pages on which you can write. The outdoors is full of opportunities to create change...maybe take on a new adventure. For some, it may be as simple as spending more time outside...for others, it might perceived to be more complicated - climbing a mountain, for example. Maybe it's physically stimulating...or a mental challenge. Set a goal, give it a try, and you may find a new mindset.
Here some ideas to get you started on those new chapters:
1. Learn an outdoor skill - Open water fishing, ice fishing, bow fishing, hunting, shooting, archery, basic boating skills, using a metal detector, bird watching, animal identification, geocaching, backpacking, nature photography...and that's just some of the ideas. If you know someone who participates in these activities, ask to tag along and learn more. Attend outdoors events sponsored by Bass Pro Shops stores or your local organizations. For example, in the Des Moines area we have the Iowa Outdoors Expo event where you can experience the sport hands-on and learn from experts. Becoming an Outdoors Woman is a program sponsored by the Iowa DNR, which offers women a chance to learn new outdoor skills in a relaxed environment over a long weekend. Your local county conservation office may also offer workshops on various outdoor skill topics throughout the year.
2. Take a hike - Literally, get off your rear and go for a walk. Progress to taking day hikes. Iowa has some fantastic trails to enjoy. Lake Red Rock has a nice trail system to begin with. Take your time, start short distances, but get your heart pumping. You could do it at a gym, but wouldn't you rather enjoy the smell of fresh air and watching wildlife while you work your legs? Take a camera!
3. Garden/Feed the Birds- Again, start small...don't get in over your head. Start with flowers and learn about birds. Plant something simple like tomatoes or peppers. Hummingbirds LOVE flower gardens and help keep the bugs away, so don't forget the hummingbird feeder...put it out May 1, weather permitting.
4. Outdoor cooking - Now, take what you grew in #3 and throw it on a smoker, grill, or other form of outdoor cooking. Smoking, grilling, dutch oven, campfire cooking...anything you make IN the house, can also be made outside the house through one or all of these methods. There are terrific books and online information with recipes, tips and techniques. Explore the many rubs and sauces Bass Pro Shops has, or grab a book and make your own! Take those peppers you just grew in the garden, stuff them with rice and cheese and throw them on the grill! Check out our many Outdoor Cooking blog posts for great recipes!
5. Paddle through life - Kayaking and canoeing have reached new heights of popularity in Iowa. Don't have a kayak or canoe? Again, check with your local county conservation office, state DNRs, and resorts. For example, Honey Creek Resort in the Lake Rathbun area offers free workshops on kayaking and other activities to the public, as well as their guests. Iowa not only has a great land trail system for walking and biking, but we have almost 20,000 miles of water trails for kayaking and canoeing. Make sure you learn proper safety, too!
Last, but not least...teach someone else something you already know about the outdoors. Pull a child away from the Xbox or DS and put a GPS, geocaching, or metal detector in their hand and teach them to find treasurers! Turn off your electronics for a day and invite a friend to fish or hunt. You never know...you may find SEVERAL pages that you'll be able to complete in your Book of 2014.
Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
Ralph Waldo Emerson