Best 4-week adventure?
July 20, 2011 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to do a full-immersion, semi-planned, somewhat dangerous adventure lasting for 3-4 weeks...Any suggestions?

Some things I'm considering are:
-riding my bike from SF to Seattle
-hiking the John Muir Trail
-renting a motorcycle and going on a long road trip
-training Muay Thai fighting in Thailand
-10 day meditation retreat
-surfing in Costa Rica

Other info:
-I have about $2k to spend
-I'm really looking for a major change of scenery/change of pace that will help me deal with a stressful situation and give me a chance to step back from my life, clear my mind, and approach things from a fresh perspective
-Happening this September

posted by erikvan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (19 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Go and teach ESL in a developing country.
Go and work at the Red Cross (I mean you asked for somewhat dangerous and lasting 3-4 weeks) in any 3rd World country.
Join the French Foreign Legion ;-) (Kidding!)
posted by efrog at 2:26 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Brazil always needs volunteers to help with orphaned children & ESL, and you get a great Holiday to boot. My sister in law did it for a month.
posted by efrog at 2:27 PM on July 20, 2011

A friend of mine did a 10-day mountaineering class in New Zealand and loved it. Something like this, although I don't know who the actual guiding company was.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:28 PM on July 20, 2011

Or this:
Biking in Egypt

Been there, done that - (not same company though, privately) was a blast!
posted by efrog at 2:31 PM on July 20, 2011

cant go wrong with the colorado trail. JMT is too short for that amount of time.
posted by H. Roark at 2:41 PM on July 20, 2011

Well if you're thinking about biking from SF to Seattle, keep going and bike to the San Juans (partly by ferry, of course) and then go over to Vancouver Island. Then set up a short cruise of the Northern Gulf Islands.
posted by jgirl at 2:59 PM on July 20, 2011

Tackle the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
posted by smalls at 3:14 PM on July 20, 2011

In my experience, $2K is a little short for a long motorcycle trip and that period of time, especially if you're trying to rent the motorcycle. If you don't already have your motorcycle school training, license, insurance, and rider safety equipment (helmet, gloves, jacket/leathers, etc.), it is way short. It's just about the refundable rental security deposit required by some SF rental agencies, but perhaps if your credit card has enough headroom, a credit hold in that amount against your card might be arranged (so you'd need something north of $4K, minimum, credit card availability to take a bike out, renting at $95 a day, for a 3 week trip). Plan another $100/day for gas, food and drink, motels/campground fees, and incidentals, if you live really cheaply on the road.
posted by paulsc at 4:03 PM on July 20, 2011

The Mongol Rally. Done and done. My brother did this and had the time of his life, albeit with a bit of a squeaker with the Mongolian police system at the end.
posted by KathrynT at 4:04 PM on July 20, 2011

Oh except for the september part. Whoops.
posted by KathrynT at 4:04 PM on July 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're gonna have to be cooking along pretty good to bang out the Great Divide in 4 weeks. The route is 2500 mi. That's about 90 miles/day with no rest days, with a touring load, off road.

For a bit of perspective, the Tour Divide Race finish times last year ranged from 17 to 28 days, and these are trained endurance racers, riding mostly with very little sleep, and ultra-light minimalist gear.

Having ridden it, I highly recommend the Great Divide. But, unless you're looking for a serious test of endurance, I'd recommend taking a bit more than 4 weeks.

If it were me, I'd go surfing in Costa Rica, but that's just 'cause I'm a frustrated, novice, inland surfer who could really use 3 - 4 weeks solid of daily wave time.

Isn't September in Costa Rica the rainy season though?
posted by zen_spider at 4:59 PM on July 20, 2011

Go fishing in the wilderness of Canada or Alaska.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:37 PM on July 20, 2011

In four weeks, you could bike from Seattle to LA (or the whole length of the USA if you don't mind longer days). I'd budget $1000-$1200 for this trip. It is a nice ride and you'll get lots of time by yourself. North to south is the way to go - the prevailing winds are with you this way.
posted by ssg at 5:41 PM on July 20, 2011

To be clear, I didn't mean to do the WHOLE Great Divide. Just a portion. Sort of like how people section hike the Appalachian Trail bit by bit each year, you know? There's slightly more information on sections and planning here.
posted by smalls at 5:52 PM on July 20, 2011

Hike the Lycian Way in lovely Mediterranean Turkey. September would be a good time for this.
posted by Winnemac at 6:46 PM on July 20, 2011

Best answer: a full-immersion, semi-planned, somewhat dangerous adventure

Hop a freight train. I rode a lumber car from Eugene, OR to Sacramento, CA when I was 18. It still ranks as the greatest experience of my life.

Your destination is unpredictable. You could get beaten up by the bulldogs (train bouncers). But the scenery, the air, the ride... indescribable.

Try to get on a centerbeam flatcar loaded with dimensional lumber. If it isn't full to capacity, the lumber will be stacked to varying heights - providing wind breaks, hiding spots, and a jungle gym. There will also be room to hang your hammock (you DID bring a hammock, right?) from the centerbeam... and brother, let me tell you, there is nothing like watching the natural world go by in a hammock.

There are three good ways to hop a train:
1) Find a goods station and catch an outbound train while it picks up speed.
2) Find a bend in the track where the train is forced to reduce speed.
3) Find a train parked on a sidetrack.

I happened upon option number 3 after following the tracks for a couple days. The train had no engine but had a rolled up destination manifest in the link of the furthest car, so I knew the engine would arrive soon. I didn't even plan on trainhopping, but I couldn't pass on the opportunity.

When you get to a major city and feel like your adventure is through, simply buy an Amtrack ticket home.

Oh yeah, bring a water purifier, a book, and a pipe filled with your smoke of choice. These things are essential to the experience.

Memail me if you want more specific advice.
posted by troll at 7:49 PM on July 20, 2011 [5 favorites]

Instead of JMT (which is too short) you could do a longer section of the Pacific Crest Trail (although the whole thing is too long).
posted by nat at 7:51 PM on July 20, 2011

You could easily spend a month on the JMT - just don't walk as far along the trail every day. Stop and do side trips.

Although I have to say, you would really need to have planned this previously - you need permits and resupply shipments planned . . . maybe next year?

I don't think anybody has said "Raft the grand canyon" yet. It's a perfect time of year. I hear about a lot of semi-private trips where someone gets the permit, and people back out at the last minute, and they're scrambling for bodies right around this time. I bet you could find a group. Or, maybe the guided trips have discounts for last minute signups. Rafting the GC is a truly spectacular, fun, relaxing, exciting, a little bit dangerous (at least it seems a little dangerous on the rapids), overall great time, that gets you away from all the sh*t in your real life for awhile, just clears out your mind completely.

For affordable surfing in Costa Rica, try the town of Dominical. Great great great little down. So-so surfing, when I was there (October, stormy).

A friend's son is currently hitchhiking - he went from Kentucky (or somwhere) to CA, and now he's in Seattle. Apparently having a spectacular time.

When is Burning Man? Maybe September? I can't remember. That would definitely satisfy your criteria!

Go to Roatan, Honduras and learn to scuba dive and hang out for a month.

Same in Thailand (gulf side, that season). Not too dangerous/thrilling though. But scuba is super fun.

Ride a freighter across the ocean?
posted by bluesky78987 at 9:20 PM on July 20, 2011

Ooh, fun! Looks like the upcoming retreat schedule doesn't fit your September schedule, but for future adventures, I can recommend the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA. I did a 10 day retreat there and it was a great experience. I don't know how old you are, but they have retreats specifically geared to younger people (18-32) a few times a year.
posted by aka burlap at 9:55 AM on July 21, 2011

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