Summer is all about the outdoors. With sunlight lasting well into the evening, it certainly extends the weekend. These long days bring back memories of when I was a kid in the suburbs of Washington D.C., playing in the backyard or going to the community pool with my girlfriends. I also remember all the gnats flying around my face, which I don’t have here in the high desert of Utah. It seemed like the weekend lasted a lifetime back then. As adults, most of us don’t have the whole summer off so we want to make the most of our weekends and there are plenty of activities we can do that don’t break the bank. We have to start locally since flights out of town and gas to get out of town are expensive and we want to stay within our $100 limit.
Here’s an idea:
Get one of those compasses you had as a kid (probably in 5th or 6th grade) where you had a stubby pencil on one end and a pointer on the other. Place the pointer right at your house on a map (yes a real map – you probably have one in a drawer somewhere or the glove compartment of your car.) Using the pencil, draw a circle representing about an hour’s drive from your house then look inside this circle for some places you’ve never been before and make a list of day trips to take this summer.
Here is what I found when I did it:
Looking west, I see the Great Salt Lake – I’ve driven by but never gone there! I love to kayak so it would be a great day trip to rent kayaks on the lake and cruise the edges of the shoreline and have a picnic. If I brought my own food, the only expense would be gas and a kayak rental, which from experience doesn’t go for much more than $20 a person for a couple hours.
Antelope Island – Who knew there was an island on the Great Salt Lake that is actually inhabited by antelope? Photographers can take pictures of not only antelope but bison and deer on the island. There are an abundance of birds, yes sea gulls, on the lake even though we are certainly inland. We could bring our mountain bikes and take a picnic for a great day trip. I have a feeling we’d be able to gather a group of people who’d love to go. That would be a nice day trip.
Kennecott Bingham Canyon Mine Visitors Center – Their website says, “You had me at ginormous trucks.” As a mother of three boys (now adults) I know the draw of ginormous vehicles. This would be an interesting adventure, having never been to a mine. Five bucks a car load is the entry fee.
Looking east, I see the Uinta Mountain range. Hiking is in order here, for sure, and has a couple of advantages – it’s free and gets the heart rate up. Another idea is to rent ATVs – there are some businesses that outfit you with gloves, helmets, a map and a full tank of gas and drop you off at the edge of the Uinta National Forest with a predetermined time to pick you up. If you are addicted to speed or love crawling over boulders, this could be a great adventure. Motorized vehicles are going to be pricey but at the same time, you’ll cover more ground and get to see more of the terrain. You’ll still be under a hundred dollars including the gas either way.
Evanston Wyoming – This city is on the far reaches of my pencil mark. It is just about sixty miles from where I live so it would make a perfect day trip. Their visitors center’s website boasts of county fairs, a rodeo, and “cowboy days,” which all look like they’d be a lot of fun and something that is not part of my day to day life. But for something quieter, I see the Bear River with pictures of fly fishing and kayaking. That sounds like another great possibility of a great outing.
See where I am going with this? Before doing the compass trick, I’d thought of kayaking on the Great Salt Lake but not the copper mine visitor’s center or Evanston, Wyoming. Granted, I just moved here last fall so I haven’t had too much time to go exploring but even if you’ve lived in a community forever, there are probably plenty of things you’ve never seen. Case in point, I lived in Sacramento – close to downtown, too — for about twenty five years and never took a tour of the State Capital. Can you believe that? I know I probably missed out on a lot of California history by not making that happen.
What special wonder in the corner of your universe are you missing out on? Make a list of the inexpensive ones, pack your picnic and go.
Note*** I’d love to hear about what you find. Let us all know in the comment section.