365 days of intentional outdoor activity for Xmas
December 1, 2015 12:37 PM   Subscribe

My husband really loved the idea of the 365 days of fulfilling the outdoor bucket list in Outside magazine recently and wants to do that next year. For the holidays I'm giving him such a list. So far I have about 200 items, and am need help with a) items for the list and b) figuring out the presentation beyond a simple list hanging on the fridge. Any ideas would be appreciated.

I'm looking for activities that can be added to normal outdoor activities that we already do a lot of (hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, running, and walking); activities that are more every day community oriented (like shoveling a neighbor's walk); are more accessible and/or adaptable (sit on the front porch and read until it gets dark or look for 5 different kinds of trees while walking to the bus stop).

Any amazing life bucket list ideas like diving with great whites are welcome too.

The point is more about being intentional about outdoor activities for 365 days, so it doesn't have to be recreational. FYI: Live in Colorado, already pretty active in orgs like the Sierra Club and the CMC and have done most basic recreation here.

I also don't want to just write out a list to stick on the fridge - I'd love to have both a calendar type of thing but also some kind of random generator for those everyday/weekend activities that don't need scheduling. I've got a couple of ideas already but would welcome suggestions.

So far I have a mix of:
--actual bucket list activities, such as:
*backpacking in Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park
*diving with sharks
*Go to Iceland
*Learn to surf

--Seasonal/specific day activities, like watch a specific meteoroid shower,

--activities with some duration or hit multiple days, for example:
*completing X miles of the Colorado Trail
*Backpack for a week
*River rafting trip
*Climb X number of 14ers, ski/snowshoe so many days

--Lots of weekend type activities like moonlight climb of a 14er, camp out without a tent, run a marathon, go birding, go fishing for specific types of fish, spend a night in a 10th Mountain Hut, take an outdoor first aid class or avalanche awareness course, etc., learn a new fishing technique

-Community/volunteer activities: trail building crew, river clean-up, highway litter clean-up, & volunteer at an outdoor event for kids

Daily activities are where I'm struggling, as I have to have a good mix of things you can do seasonally, any day, aren't so much time and location dependent. So far I have a lot items like:
-shovel a neighbor's walk
-observe 3 different cloud formations
-observe 5 birds & walk until you see a bird you haven't seen in awhile
-plant a vegetable garden
-sit in the grass, close your eyes, and note what you can hear and smell
-look for different kinds of rock on buildings
-while on a hike, stop and sit every 10 minutes to observe your surroundings
-take the dog for a swim, to her favorite park, play ball, etc.

Thanks in advance!
posted by barchan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: What about something like identifying five plant species in your backyard or finding and IDing five different kinds of insects? They'd be nice additions to the bird one, and people tend not to focus on local and native plants and bugs.
posted by sciatrix at 12:47 PM on December 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Take the same woodsy hike in every season, and talk about things that are changing and things that are the same. How the plants change, how the smell changes, which parts of the trail are easier on showshoes than regular hiking, how the air temp affects your body heat and energy levels, etc.
posted by aimedwander at 12:53 PM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Different photography cues - 5 pictures of autumn leaves or flowering trees or spring wildflowers (these would be seasonal but would give you a stretch of time to accomplish), take a picture of the Milky Way, memorialize your favourite hike with photos, take a picture of something your normally overlook.

Two ideas for getting outside at night - star gazing (esp. during a special event like a eclipse or a meteor shower), and listening for owls, coyotes, or wolves.
posted by hydrobatidae at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2015

Best answer: My family growing up did a signs of spring walk where we would take a walk in early spring and try to identify as many signs of spring as possible (i.e. new leaves, animals coming out, buds on trees, etc.)
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2015

Best answer: Sounds awesome. And if he wants a partner for some of this stuff, let me know; I'm in Denver and it's up my alley.

Anyway, onto ideas:

-You could structure a lot of variations on some of these themes by requiring him to expose a newbie to something he's experienced at. It's very different to go on a hike with your usual partner than it is to take someone on their first backpacking trip ever. Similarly, exposing kids to first outdoor experiences is different from exposing adults to the same.

-Daily stuff: combine an outdoor mode of transport with an errand. Rinse and repeat. Bike to the grocery store. Hike to the drycleaner's with a loaded pack. Skateboard to coffee. For more variety, require a different route to the destination that the quickest or most customary one.

-Likewise, combine a "usual" activity like hiking, rafting, or tent camping with an unusual location, particularly an unusual urban location. Camping on the rooftop of a building or rafting through Denver on the South Platte, for example. It allows you to see your usual surroundings in a new light.

-Consider things to build that will lead to other outdoorsey activities, like an indoor climbing wall or a hangboard.

-Social outdoor park things like soccer, bocce ball, pickup basketball, horseshoes. Bonus points for doing them in unusual places; for example, Keystone has horseshoes at the top of the mountain (gondola, hike, or bike access) in the summer.

-Food and drink outside! Cook dinner in the backyard on a campstove. Or cook a steak at the top of a 14'er. Cocktails in the park or in a tree.
posted by craven_morhead at 1:23 PM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am also a huge fan of walking outdoor labyrinths. Here's a list of options in CO: http://labyrinthlocator.com/locate-a-labyrinth?state=CO&simple_results=no&action=locate&offset=0
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:27 PM on December 1, 2015

Best answer: You could set up a phenology monitoring path either on your own or through something like Nature's Notebook, and then keep track of seasonal patterns in fruiting and leaf flushing and flowering (and you can include animal sightings, too) by walking that same path every two weeks or so. Memail me if you want more specifics about how I do my phenologies.
posted by ChuraChura at 1:47 PM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Vermont State Parks does a scorecard contest little thing every summer. Some of it is park-related and some is not. I participated and some stuff that I liked and these are things that remind me of it.

- weather observation, either at specific times (rainwater measurer thing) or over time (draw the clouds for a week)
- novelty - do a sort of exercise or go a place you haven't gone, do a thing outside that you don't do outside (i.e. play your ukulele!)
- buddies - do a thing with another person who hasn't done that thing, bring a kid to a thing or on a thing, give a presentation or slide show of a thing
- take a picture of an outdoor thing and create a postcard and send it to someone telling them about the thing
- some of it is regional or seasonal but things that change with the times of the year (where is the sun now? what do the leaves look like now? what is the temperature now?) are neat ways to mark the passing of time along with just watching things grow
posted by jessamyn at 2:22 PM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

- Ingress (game)
- Create or find or repair a geocache
- set up a trail-camera (triggered to photograph wildlife passing through at night)

I'd also think about some sort of "forfeit" activity system - so if the activity of the day really doesn't appeal for that particular day, there is a way to choose again, but maybe a fun risk or a "cost" to doing so?

For presentation, I like the idea of turning the list items into parts of a physical artifact. Eg a deck of cards, or a carved wood box full of scrolls, or....
posted by anonymisc at 3:03 PM on December 1, 2015

- Look at the sky tonight and decide on (or fabricate) a favorite constellation.
- buy a homeless person a cup of coffee
- write a thank you note to a coworker
- call a friend you haven't talked to in over a year
- count to 100 in a foreign language
- dinner tonight is only made of things you find in the woods

As for random assignment, it may not be glamorous, but excel can do it: http://www.guidingtech.com/28523/pick-random-name-excel/
posted by jander03 at 4:26 PM on December 1, 2015

Oh, for presentation, maybe buy a lot of tiny nature stickers (bugs! leaves!) and each task/challenge has a sticker that you pull off and put on the calendar on the day that you do it.
posted by aimedwander at 5:00 PM on December 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What about things that raise awareness but are not necessarily about being / doing outdoors? E.g., research the headwaters of your water supply, find out where your nearest water storage tank is, find out where the nearest underground creek is, the water that goes down your storm drain: where does it re-enter the ecosystem? All of those could come with optional "now go hike there" weekend options.

Food is a possible category: eat a "locavore" meal, eat only produce that is in season now, start a medicinal herb box, get eggs directly from a hen house.

Clock stuff: Go to bed at sundown, wake up at dawn. Wake up early enough to find out when the earliest birds start chirping.

You could add reduced-impact-on-nature items if you like: buy nothing today, don't drive today, make one aspect of your home more energy or water efficient.
posted by salvia at 5:55 PM on December 1, 2015

Best answer: It takes some care in selecting the right drainage (not too big, needs to be accessible, etc) but it can be interesting to walk the full length of a stream from origination to where it ends at a confluence. Streams that cross through an urban area are especially interesting to follow because of channelization and other changes, as well as seeing how the urban form has been changed by the stream.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:01 PM on December 1, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Eat something that you forage in your town or on a hike. (I make crabapple jelly from ornamental plantings, I know where the blackberry bramble behind the big office park is; I recognize wintergreen and various mints on hikes, as well as roots like sassafras and various edible leaves and flowers)

Also think about indoor "outdoor awareness" activities for when the weather is just too absolutely gross to go out, or you're home sick with the flu, or whatever. Stuff happens.
- study plant/bird/mushroom/etc identification books (Find a ___ that is native to your area, but that you don't recognize, and learn it so you can look for it. Find a ___ that you recognize but never knew the name of.)
- Compare and contrast the hourly weather forecasts from different reporting agencies and compare to the actual weather.
- look at 4 different places that have the same latitude as you, and their current temperatures; repeat for altitude. Look at 4 faraway places that have the same temperature as you; contemplate the planet and thermal air masses.
- Map out 10 different 1-mile (pick your length) routes to walk from your house.
- Design a backyard balance challenge (slack-rope, balance beam, stump-hop, etc) (and build it later) (and you can practice indoors, too, stepping-stone spot jumps across kitchen tiles, etc)
- actually, there are probably several of your larger activities that you could add the planning stages as an explicit rainy-day activity.
posted by aimedwander at 8:42 AM on December 2, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all so much for your ideas! I have an overflowing list now with lots of substitutes.

(Dip Flash, I once made my poor husband do something very similar to that (all the while griping about how Google had, at the time, left off the names of fluvial systems on their maps and how important it is to have those names) and my husband loved it - we're currently on a quest to visit every major water basin and river in Colorado as well as stand on the boundaries between 'em. Anyway, your answer gave me about 10- 15 ideas alone, so thanks in particular.)
posted by barchan at 3:28 PM on December 3, 2015

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