For us, Labor Day weekend always symbolizes the so-called end of summer. It’s hard to believe we are at this point in the year. In some ways, it feels like forever ago when our 2020 travel plans imploded during the first quarter of the year. How can it be that was more than 6 months ago?
Sure, things on the travel scene have been looking somewhat bleak for a few months now. Truth is, none of us know how long this will last or what things will look like when we come out on the other side. But, we didn’t let this completely stop us. For us, this summer’s top adventures were in our own backyard.
The Local Scene
We generally don’t travel a ton over the summer. Not only is it high-season, but it is also my hubby’s busy season at work. Generally, our summers are spent enjoying events around town.
Like most, restrictions prevented us from doing many things around our city. Most events and happenings were canceled. Not too long ago we witnessed the start of an up-and-coming, vibrant local social scene. This year, it fell flat. Years of forward progress and community momentum came grinding to a halt. It has been disheartening to watch.
Frankly, I have always felt like a bit of an outsider here. Or, more appropriately, a “fish out of water”. Experiencing places that fill my heart and make me feel at home are a big part of my deeply rooted love of travel.
As many of the local summer activities we were looking forward to went by the wayside and travel as we had known it was no longer in the picture, it was time to find new ways to enjoy ourselves. I had to change my perspective.
Knowing that things were going to be different this year, we started viewing our surroundings through a fresh set of eyes. No longer were we in a completely limiting geographic space…. instead, we had the opportunity to embrace freedom many others in major metropolitan areas had just lost.
True to form, we decided to make the most of the situation and do things we hadn’t normally done. This summer allowed us to travel a bit and led us to some first time experiences in the place we have lived most of our lives.
Adventures In Our Own Backyard
We are fortunate to live nearby mountains. Oftentimes you can find us hiking the local trails on any given weekend summer morning. In fact, we know one of the most popular trails like the backs of our hands.
This summer, I decided to do something different. I took the opportunity to explore a different, shorter trail nestled inside the loop of the larger trail we are so familiar with. Believe it or not, it was my first time on this shorter trail. Ever. Even though it is said to be easier, I actually got lost a time or two. But, what I loved about this experience is it was new. Something different. I found myself in a different area, reading route maps and following signs to work my way out. Those moments were reminiscent of traveling someplace new and having to use the same skills to navigate our destination.
We also took hiking a step further. Desperate to get out of town for a bit, we made a last minute decision to head a few hours north to another nearby mountain range. One of few rustic lodge cabins served as our base for a much bigger hiking adventure. This was the type of place I normally wouldn’t want to stay in, but this summer I embraced it for what it was.
We spent a Saturday climbing high into the mountains where we rested at the tree line and fished and relaxed near a secluded alpine lake. Here we envisioned all the possibilities of future camping and hiking adventures around our state. We realized these were easy travel opportunities we had been ignoring over the years.
Speaking of fishing, my hubby revitalized this hobby of his during the summer. I decided to tag along a time or two just to get outdoors and enjoy the fresh air. Doing so, we discovered a quiet pond not far outside of town that neither of us knew existed before, as well as several river access points, dams, and blue ribbon waters.
Had it of not been for this hobby, we never would have known these spots were available nearby. Little discoveries like this were key to growing appreciation for the offerings around us.
Venturing together to nearby fishing holes, I couldn’t help but feel at ease, taking in the natural surroundings.
As previously mentioned, we live near the mountains. The nature of this summer allowed us to spend more time exploring this element of our geographic location. Not only did we go hiking and spent a bit more time at our cabin, but we went on many drives.
Each time we climbed higher and higher in elevation, the troubles of 2020 disappeared further behind in our trails of dirt road dust. Perhaps the best part of the mountains is when you totally lose service and leave the noise behind. Trust me, the sound of nothing but the breeze gentle rustling through the leaves of aspen trees is one of the most peaceful sounds.
Our community has an excellent trails system throughout town. When local gyms shut down, I found myself utilizing the trails system more and more. I discovered routes I didn’t know about. I also enjoyed some notable bike rides in newly expanded trail sections, as well as neighborhoods far from home.
It was great seeing some new art installations along the way. Until this summer, I never made the time to go check them out. However, I am certain I would have made it a point to see them if they were in some distance city. Sometimes we forget about the things that are right in front of us. Using the trails this summer was a great way to further explore often overlooked areas of town.
Plenty of times over the last several months, we hopped in our truck to go for a drive. Like many other experiences this summer, these drives took us to regional spots neither of us have ever been before. Whether driving far into the desolate countryside to discover one of our state’s premier fishing areas or high into the mountains, these rides offered the opportunity to see our surrounding area with a different set of eyes.
We also expanded our scenic drives to neighboring states including South Dakota and Colorado. These opportunities to get away on a slightly bigger scale were refreshing.
Our travels have taken us to many far-flung destinations over the last several years. It was nice to experience places closer to home.
We also ventured to a nearby local lake a few different times this summer. We were able to spend some time on the water boating and taking in the summer sun.
Golfing has always been a sport we both enjoy. It is a great way to get outside and get some exercise. We have incorporated this into many of our travels over the years. This year, we took it up a notch. Not only did we golf at our local community course, but we golfed at some great courses in the area.
Interestingly, we also noticed that there are several nice courses in neighboring towns. We could easily drive to them, play a round, and head home. This is an easy activity, as well as a small day trip option.
Closing Out Summer
As I reflect back on the time gone by, I can’t help but laugh a little bit. I’ve spent most of my life wanting to get out of this town. Out of this state. But here I am, with my wings forcefully clipped, finally taking pleasure in things that have been in front of me for years.
I’m still wrestling with having every single ounce of our 2020 travel plans fall through. It has been a bitter pill to swallow. I know many can relate, but some cannot. However, we are always open to different travel experiences. This is something we showcase on our blog. Doing so is crucial to traveling as much as possible. Without this flexibility, we may not have done anything at all over the past few months. I’m glad that we will have a handful of travel memories to look back on this year.
I am so thankful we took the opportunity to explore locally. It is a reminder to me that sometimes, the best adventures are right in front of us. In our own backyard.