The response to my last post encouraging people to road trip alone was encouraging, with a few people asking for ideas. You can fill a book with singular activities, hobbies and recreations to occupy your time. Things like cycling, rowing, archery, fishing, and metal detecting, all require a moderate investment in equipment and some practice to be satisfying. In my opinion everyone should have some sort of hobby that requires proficiency.
I am going to curtail this response to just expeditions that will get you out of the house spontaneously; and even these I will be expanded on later.
My personal map is a bit heavy on thrift and antique shops. I realize my habit isn’t shared by those of a less acquisitional nature. Shopping is my jam. In the pre-internet decades I put together a full trousseau of vintage china, linen and crystal, well before I was married. Since then I have sold off and replaced those items several times with ones more suitable to solo living. There is nothing in this world I really NEED to buy, but I like the hunt and keep a running list of things for myself and other people. . . with a lot of caveats. I’m playing a game: I look for the oldest thing for the lowest money that can replace something modern. I always enjoy looking at antiques and junk, just for the stories they tell. Sometimes I don’t even buy anything, sometimes..
Another layer on my map are Day Hikes; specifically ones I can tackle with my dog, and get rewarded with a nice view of mountains or the sea. Besides appropriate footwear there are only few needs for day hiking, and sometimes nothing if the hikes are short and in populated areas. If you are visiting trail networks, or land preserves alone, printed maps are recommended, if only to keep you from retracing your steps. I always make a point of photographing all the maps and signage at the trail head with my phone. Even with that, I have had to pull out a compass to figure out which way back to the parking lot.
Common book bags make suitable day packs; they aren’t great for distributing heavy loads, but day packs are rarely over few pounds and most of that ends up being water. After fussing with my gear for a few hikes I have finally sculpted it to suit my needs, that mostly that involved eliminating things. Now I carry: a personal first aid kit made up from the dollar store in a pouch; a lightweight rain jacket, men’s rain shells are ridiculously common and cheap in thrift stores, and if it’s big enough it will go over the pack as well; a fleece jacket, paired with the rain jacket and after getting caught in the rain, you will be cozy all the way back to the car; Emergency pouch:, matches, lighter w/cotton balls and vaseline for tinder, mylar emergency blanket, plastic poncho, small stretch of paracord, bit of duct tape, good cheap compass, pencil, paper, and a whistle; I also carry sunglasses, hat, a small flashlight, pocket knife and analog watch but to be fair, I carry these everyday. Usually two 20oz bottles of water are sufficient for me even on a hot day, as long as there is more waiting on ice at the car. I also bring along a good amount of snacks to enjoy when I reach my scenic view; cheese, fruit and chocolate are ideal.
And since you already got your good shoes on, there’s always Geocaching: using the GPS in your phone to find caches of trinkets planted all over the world: you take one, you add one. It’s like hiking with a scavenger hunt aspect to it. Some geocaches are on hiking trails, some are in urban settings, but usually they are in places where they won’t be disturbed by new construction or development or humans going about their humany business. This is very popular activity for people with kids in tow, who appreciate the hunt and the goal oriented aspect.
There is beach combing, if you are lucky enough to live near an ocean or any body of water with an interesting shoreline. Which is just walking along the picking up whatever looks interesting, like a magpie. I never seem to find much beach glass, so I pickup shells, driftwood or pretty rocks; whatever that particular place has to offer. A cheap fanny pack will work just fine, or like me you end up with sand in your pockets. I also have a nail pouch which clips to a belt loop, and a tiny trowel which helps me sort though the rocks looking for tiny shells. Many people make tideline art with their findings, some people just throw the pretty rocks in their garden, if the shells are very tiny, I put them in bottles on the window sill. You don’t have to have a reason to look at what’s there, you don’t even have to bring it home.
The camera in your phone is your greatest tool. Take pictures of the signage where ever you go, the images will carry the date and time on them. Sometimes I can’t remember exactly which trail had a great place to sit by the river, but I have the picture to reference. Taking images of the maps and signs at the trail head, will help you remember the times it is open or closed or restricted as with seasonal attractions or bird nesting areas. I take pictures of plants and flowers and mushrooms, strange trees, rock formations, bridges, etc… some times just to look it up later.
See Part 2 more photography quests.