I wish to have an Adventure. I'd like suggestions.
June 27, 2005 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I would like to have a Crazy (or Grand) Adventure, but it seems good adventures are harder to find than in the movies. Anyone know or can think of any good ideas? Difficulty: I'm aiming for a LOW likelihood of getting killed/arrested/maimed/sued, but a HIGH likelihood of Amazing Tales I can bore people with 50 years from now.

A grand expedition and/or something totally half-assed. I guess movies are the best common language here so for half-assed plans, things like "Without a Paddle" or "The Motorcycle Diaries". For grand adventure, think "Indiana Jones", etc.

Location: I don't want to restrict things, so let's say anywhere in this world (or any other :-), but it would be a lot more doable a lot sooner for me the closer it is to Seattle. I have relatives in New Zealand, so stuff close to that end of the planet works better too.

I'm in my late 20's, fairly fit, healthy, have some basic survival skills, but I would take some time to learn the appropriate skills before tackling whatever incredibly stupid (or grand) undertaking(s) I settle on.

Money is currently a limiting factor, but don't let it limit your suggestions. (Something that involves significant investment in equipment, travel, or help, isn't impossible, just not possible in the near-term. There is no rush.) I don't expect to ever break out of the working/middle-class income range though, so ideas involving things like airships are unlikely to ever be feasible. :-)

I have some stout volunteers. (Indeed - stout enough to volunteer for an unknown adventure). So something we can tackle as a team is a plus.

Length: a few days to a few weeks in the field. (Time spent preparing beforehand can take as long as necessary).

Some adventure ideas that I'm already aware of, and not particularly interested in. (They all seem to be a bit of stretch to be described as An Adventure)

- The $1M reward for finding the Tasmanian Tiger. (reason: It's a race, and there is no way I could bootstrap my tracking skills to the level of those who have already spent years searching. And I wouldn't want to spend years on it. It also seems highly likely to prove fruitless).

- The hunt for the treaure trove of narcotics hidden underwater off the coast of Australia by a drug smuggler who is now dead. (reason: don't want to tangle with the drug trade. Underwater searches are costly. Not my forte)

- The hunt for a broken arrow ditched in a bay in the 50's. (reason: Everything will inevitably come down to "What the Airforce says, goes". Something where a small group can achieve something independantly would be better)

You might say that rejecting things like these is being picky, but I think while (mostly) noble endeviours, they're all a little sub-standard compared to the Hollywood-exagerated concept of adventure. So call me unrealistic instead :-)
Now that I think about it, I like mapping, so going and mapping unknown terratory as part of it would appeal to me, but the only unknown terratory I can think of is very very deep caves and undersea. I'm not so interested in re-mapping an area just so I can pretend to be mapping something :)

I thinking something that involves wilderness in some way is likely to be better than something urban. And... that's about it.

Focus the raw power of your pent-up creative energies on this problem. Melt it like butter in a blast furnace.
Much obliged.
posted by -harlequin- to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (23 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Most of my crazy adventure stories involve my time in the military. Have you thought of spending three years in the Foreign Legion?

Having said that. I've always thought that doing the Alaska/Yukon dogsled race would be quite an adventure, as would be hiking the entire Inca trail.
posted by furtive at 4:18 AM on June 27, 2005

A few weeks is hard -

I once went hiking for 8 weeks - went up the length of Vancouver Island (about a nine hour drive). That was pretty cool, and I met some very interesting people (who I really should have kept in touch with). Camped, stayed at hostels, people gave me free bread because they heard me phone into a radio show, met people who buy their groceries once every 6 months with a hugh transport truck for the whole town, watched five guys play D&D in a tiny emergency cabin during a thunder storm, saw more road than anyone in a car. Saw the Pacific Ocean (haven't since). It was far less ambitious than I had planned (I had planned to go for a year and all over the country, but soon realised that would be insane in Canada - hey, I was young). But it was still something which stands out in my mind as one of the most amazing things I've done - and it does suit to impress people at parties.

I would totally do it again - maybe not the same place. I would love to walk around Europe if I could camp randomly like I did in BC, but I know that isn't possible.

Another friend discovered bicycle touring - one trip and he was a fanatic. That's an adventure you can go on every year.
posted by jb at 4:45 AM on June 27, 2005

This is a great question and well-worded.

I'm unsure how practical this would be taking into account all your circumstances but I've always been incredibly enamoured with the Kon Tiki expedition. Now I realize they went from South America to the South Pacific, but building some craft or raft and learning to sail/control it and heading up around the islands NE of where you are would seem to fit the criteria.

It would be research/teamwork/adventure aplenty and you could hone the craft type to suit all your budgets - but I guess that would make it a 'next summer' plan.

Otherwise, I'm taken with the Motorcycle Diaries and even before that, for me it was Tschiffley's Ride - horseback riding trip from Argentina to NYC in the early 1900's - I just mention it in case you're looking for added ideas/motivation. But a motorcycling/camping holiday in any direction from where you are for a couple of months would be an unforgettable adventure for sure.
posted by peacay at 5:01 AM on June 27, 2005

A cross-continent trip like Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman's Long Way Round seems to be your best option. A friend just spent two months travelling from Vientiane to Paris with stops in China, Mongolia, Russia and Poland and she sure went through a lot of interesting experiences.
posted by elgilito at 5:40 AM on June 27, 2005

There's always the Quantum Leap geocache, which involves underground shelters, Nairobi, and a few other things.
posted by unixrat at 5:53 AM on June 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

How to Become a Seasonal Firefighter.
posted by mlis at 6:18 AM on June 27, 2005

I have a feeling that this isn't going to be grand enough for you, but maybe you should give freight hopping a try. You're in Seattle, which I hear is a great place to catch trains going both south and east. Pick a destination some decent distance away (may I recommend Chicago to the east or San Francisco or L.A. to the south) and try to get there. There are recent books written about this, and lots of individuals who still do it. Apparently even in this post-September-11th age, one can get away with this with a minimum of hassle.

If I were doing this, I would probably aim to travel by freight train one way, and fly home the other. Make sure someone can be your "designated worrier," who knows what you're up to. Check in with them as frequently as possible throughout your trip so they know you're alive.

On the web, I would recommend reading the stories and info on North Bank Fred's web site. In print, I would _strongly_ recommend Hopping Freight Trains in America by Duffy Littlejohn. He has just put out a new edition of it, and it is THE definitive guide with everything you need to know. Contact him or buy it either thorugh here, or search for it on here. If you use the latter option, make sure you get the second edition.

As a disclaimer, hopping freight trains is not something I've done personally, but something I plan to try after I move to a more suitable location :-) Good luck!
posted by autojack at 6:29 AM on June 27, 2005

I hopped a freight once, on the west coast. I've hitched all over America, but only one freight. I caught an empty boxcar in Tacoma and rode down to Portland. It was awesome! This was in 1975 (OMG, ancient history!)
posted by Goofyy at 6:43 AM on June 27, 2005

A british guy I met backpacking did a crazy adventure in Alaska a few years back. They (he and a few friends) went in the wintertime to do some camping in one of the national parks in Alaska -- I cannot remember which at this piont. But the story he told was truly grand.

First, they took a tiny plane to a packed-snow airstrip at the edge of the park. Then the ranger drove them about 2 hours into the park (they got backcountry permits, etc., but they were cheap or even free). At some point, the jeep bogged down in the snow banks. So the ranger got out and they dug the jeep out and the ranger said, "that's as far as I'm going... I'll come back at 12 PM on X day [seven days from then] to pick y'all up..." That's it. They did not see any other humans the entire week. They camped and hiked and climbed and rolled in the snow. One day they saw a pack of wolves take an elk (deer?). From about 50 yards.

A week later they hiked back to the drop-off and got picked up. Seemed pretty sweet to me. And by sweet I mean totally awesome.
posted by zpousman at 7:00 AM on June 27, 2005

Okay, here's an idea that would be very cool... make an "Accidental Biography" blog, and invite people from anywhere in the world to invite you to come spend a couple days to a week with them (in their homes), wherein you interview them and write up some kind of biographical sketch (you clearly have some skills here) to be posted at your blog, and perhaps eventually included in a book or documentary.

You go, you listen to (and record) their stories and take some photos and/or video and just hang out. It must be agreed that you can write up whatever you want - it could be just one incident in their lives, or it could be a tale from their early years and a tale from their later years as a contrast piece... just whatever and however you decide to present it (this is important). You will travel and do this over a period of years, to places nearby, and far, far away, as you have the time and money to spend on it. This is a grand adventure in the epic sense that will definitely turn up lots of strange, unexpected, serendipitous, lovely, and awful experiences, that can also be woven into the fabric of your real life demands. Not neccessarily an intense, thrill-a-minute escapade, but a rich, nuanced, fascinating, long-term adventure, that will almost certainly also turn up some thrills.
posted by taz at 7:02 AM on June 27, 2005 [1 favorite]

While this isn't exactly grande, and I wouldn't call it life-changing, Burning Man is definitely an interesting experience. I traveled to last year's event for the first time from N.C. by car. I wish I had planned more time on either side of the actual event for travel, as I'd loved to have stopped more along the way.

This trip I took across the country has to be one of my favorite trips so far, but I really enjoy driving, being on the road, taking showers at truck stops and whatnot. That might not be your thing.

So, that doesn't really stand up there with mapping underwater caves, finding lost drugs or nuclear weapons, or hunting tigers, but that's the best I can recommend from personal experience. You could definitely make a trip to Burning Man much more than just attending the event, the surrounding desert is amazingly beautiful, and survival camping along the way to your destination (and back) would really be challenging and rewarding.
posted by odinsdream at 7:04 AM on June 27, 2005

The difference between an adventure and a vacation is that an adventure should bring some tangible rewards: money, national fame, saving the world. I suggest you do this with a view to writing a book about the experience and getting it published.
posted by teleskiving at 7:12 AM on June 27, 2005

I have a feeling that this isn't going to be grand enough for you, but maybe you should give freight hopping a try. You're in Seattle, which I hear is a great place to catch trains going both south and east. Pick a destination some decent distance away (may I recommend Chicago to the east or San Francisco or L.A. to the south) and try to get there. There are recent books written about this, and lots of individuals who still do it. Apparently even in this post-September-11th age, one can get away with this with a minimum of hassle.

That's a good adventure, but steer the fuck clear of the Chicago yard, it's huge and they have heat sensors all over that, when triggered, get railroad bulls on your ass after just a few minutes. Better to hop off a few hours away from Chicago and hitch hike in.

L.A is easier to do, and the route down from Seattle is very pretty, even though you run the risk of being sidelined for up to a week in a shitty town in Southern Oregon that hates tramps.
posted by cmonkey at 7:20 AM on June 27, 2005

You could sail around the world on a tall ship, becoming an able-bodied seaman in the process. The trip takes more than a couple weeks though; it's nearly a year. But people who've gone certainly have interesting stories to tell, because the ship stops in interesting places and isn't a cruise. You must work.
posted by aramaic at 7:25 AM on June 27, 2005

Maybe you could take a plain golden ring to New Zealand and retrace the filming of The Lord of the Rings. When you've finished, toss the ring into an active volcano.

Climb a mountain. I've done two Fourteeners and they are always fresh in my memory.
posted by kc0dxh at 7:33 AM on June 27, 2005

Chef Anthony Bourdain took a great trip from Thailand into Cambodia and up the river into Khmer Rouge territory - to eat, basically. Lots of great food, interesting people, and as long as you hire a good, sturdy, bilingual and knowledgeable guide, I think you'd be just fine. Bring me back some rubies!

Also, I think crossing the border at Chiang Rai is a great idea. Chaing Rai isn't the lawless west it was 20 years ago, but it's still quite a bit more adventurous than Chiang Mai. The refugee camps are mostly (all?) closed now so there are a lot of displaced folks in the area and still a lot of edginess, but I think it's relatively safe for a westerner. On the other side of the border, though, things are quite different.

Vietnam by motorcycle would be wonderfully fun, too! And quite safe I think - lots of motorbike mechanics throughout the country, pretty much everywhere, who can keep your cheap beater going up and down the highways.
posted by luriete at 8:57 AM on June 27, 2005

Read (seriously) "Into the Wild", by Jon Krakauer and don't make the same mistakes. I think the most satisfying adventures are incidental the project, planning takes a little something out of it. Just because you don't have much money doesn't mean you can't a great experience, in fact, its an asset. People with money fly crosscountry, but there is much more adventure in driving, as an example. I remember camping in our converted school bus in Montana, my wife said "We don't have much money, but we sure have fun". Later that day we hiked up past where the National Forest road was washed out and found some amazing petrified wood.
Some suggestions
1. road trip, maybe photograph some disappearing Ghost Towns
2. Volunteer to deliver something someplace inaccessible. I'm sure some scientific study somewhere needs a piece of heavy equipment hauled up a mountain.
3. Build something you can't (or wouldn't) buy.
4. Criminal investigation. video vigilantism of your most hated crime? industrial polluters, political payoffs, stereo thieves, what ever you hate.
posted by 445supermag at 9:06 AM on June 27, 2005

I have done a few that I'll never forget:

1) Unguided, self-supported sea kayaking trip in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.
2) Sandboarding in the Sahara.
3) Mountan Biking from La Paz (Bolivia) to San Pedro de Atacama (Chile)
4) Santarem-Cuiaba (Brazil) transamazon road trip by Land Rover in the rain season.
5) Sea Shepherd Antarctica Expedition.

Sea Shepherd is currently looking for volunteers for their upcoming Antarctica Expedition.

If this isn't a call to adventure then I don't know what is:

Volunteers Needed. No Pay. Long Hours. Dangerous Conditions. Extreme Weather. Icebergs. Confrontation with Hostile Japanese Whalers.

Christmas in Antarctica - Preference given to Crew who can give the most Time.

Sea Shepherd Provides Bunk, Bedding, Food and Water.

No Whiners, Malcontents, Mattress lovers and Wimps need apply.

Is a Whale Worth Risking Your Life For?

If Not we don't need you.
posted by ig at 10:19 AM on June 27, 2005

There's also a previously listed trip mentioned on MeFi - Voyage to our hollow earth

There are some fab ideas on here and it's good to see that my upcoming holiday experiences this year have already been mentioned - I'm going on a road trip, via ghost towns on the way to burning man!
posted by floanna at 12:01 PM on June 27, 2005

Pick a theme. Photograph the tallest point in every US state or Canadian province, etc. Or visit the home, birthplace or grave of your 10 favorite artists - writers, musicians, etc. Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Broke? Go to every National Park and work there for at least a month. In-season or Off-season. Visit a MeFite everywhere you go, and blog it.

What makes an adventure is the open -heart, -mind, and -spirit you bring to it. Ask people about themselves and really listen. Try new things. Opportunity is often knocking, and many people just never hear it.
posted by theora55 at 12:55 PM on June 27, 2005

Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods" is about an effort he made to hike the entirety of the Appalachian Trail. He failed, but it's very entertaining reading.
posted by ikkyu2 at 1:01 PM on June 27, 2005

445supermag writes "I think the most satisfying adventures are incidental the project, planning takes a little something out of it. "

This is key I think, one of my best trips was to california for christmas from BC on 3 days notice. The only time your going to have true adventure on a planned to the hour trip is if something goes horribly wrong.
posted by Mitheral at 2:21 PM on June 27, 2005

One thing I'd like to try myself, maybe someday, is this roadtrip I read about at Lonely Planet - Deadhorse, Alaska to Puerto Montt, Chile.
posted by paisley at 9:57 PM on June 27, 2005

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