Monday, October 19, 2015

Spontaneous Adventures: Pros, Cons, and Tips

A friend and I were just laughing earlier this week about being spontaneous when it comes to planning outings.  Instead of specifically setting aside a time in the future to do a specific thing I’ve researched and want to do, I tend to just be going along with life and happen across a patch of time.  Time that maybe should be used doing something productive, but, sometimes we just need to get out there and adventure!  So I’ll say, “Hey!  Let’s go somewhere!” And I’ll either quickly google what’s close or pile the kids in the car and just see where the road takes us.
Usually this ends up with awesomeness.  But sometimes we strike out.

We had several strike outs this week as we traveled the central section of the Oregon Coast.  But also had a whole lot of awesome!  While my husband was working out there, we got to join up with him and at least share evenings together.  My parents came down for those couple days, too, and we had such a great time just being together, despite any surrounding circumstances. 

1.       Unexpected Treasures: this is how I felt the first day of our trip when we had a little extra time and randomly pulled off at a botanical area.  It turned out that right off the highway was a cobra-lilly (pitcher plant) bog!  The concept of an insect-eating plant was so foreign to the little ones and our eldest thought these gorgeous plants a highlight of our trip!  We also accidently found a great rocky beach, Whale and marine life museum, and pirate village!

2.       Save time planning

3.       No pressure to keep a rigid schedule (Unless that’s your thing.  Then this might be a con!  =))
Eaten by a shark at the Whale Museum in Depoe Bay


1.       Really, the main down-side and that is that sometimes things don’t work out.  We drove for miles down a road for there to be nothing there.  My parents nearly couldn’t find a campsite one night. The map apps for phones are great, but often have inaccurate information.  We didn’t make it to a couple places until after they had closed or simply ran out of time to cram all the sights in.
What was down that path?

2.       Wondering what you might have possibly missed

My advice from our experiences would be to plan out where you will be sleeping each night and make reservations if possible for multiple-day trips.  That takes the pressure off so you can just explore the day away.  Look for the brown signs (parks, natural or cultural areas) or quirky shops for a more unique experience.  If you have time, look up what might be around, or grab a tourist map once there.  If there’s something that’s really important for you to see, plan how and when it will fit into your adventures. Veer off the main highways as much as possible.  Don’t stress about what you might have missed and focus on all the good things that you got to experience as well as just the time together.  Even on our dud detours we saw things we’d never seen before and traveled roads we’d never been on before! 

In some ways I feel that spontaneous adventures are more difficult than in the past.  So much has been regulated with specific hours and tolls.  Certain places have become so popular you have to fight the crowds.  As far as camping, you can’t just pull off any old place to stop, it has to be designated and paid for.  But then, there are many benefits to exploring today.  Especially having the internet at our fingertips (so long as you have signal!) and well-marked interest areas.
Hollow log slide at the falls

Can I just share with you what we did end up doing?  Then if you ever get a chance to visit the area, you might remember some things you might want to check out!

1.       Sweet Creek Falls: about 10 miles off the highway on an ever narrowing road.  Perhaps a mile hike in to a lovely little falls.  There are many more surrounding, but we chose to only go to the one. 

2.       Darlingtonia Botanical Area: This was right off 101 and was a very short walk to the carnivorous plant bog.

3.       Bob Creek: small, sandy beach I loved because of how misty it was.  Rocky tide pools to the south were void of much sea life.

4.       Newport Pirate Village: We arrived in town too late for the aquarium, but this pirate village next door was right up our little ones’ alley.

5.       Newport Docks: Our son had been asking to see boats, and I knew we’d find some when I saw the docks sign past the aquarium.  So fun to explore, read ship names, and learn about the different types of boats.  Once (on a past adventure) the captain of a fishing boat let my husband and son on board to explore!  There are often many marine birds around, too.

6.       Echo Falls Detour: this was our major strike out.  Even when we circled back a couple times to see if we could find what the map was trying to show us, the falls (or any type of trailhead) was nowhere to be found.  So we just followed to road to 10 miles to see what was there.  Lovely drive in the fog.

7.       Depoe Bay Whale Museum:  I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed this!  We were the only ones there and the hostess totally catered to the little ones, asked them questions and really got them involved.

8.       Yaquina Head Light House and Tide Pool Beach: this is the only place we ended up going to that had a fee ($7 for a vehicle) to get in.  They have a nice interpretive center, but we moved through there rather quickly since it was nearing nap time.  Before we explored, we parked where we could look out over the ocean while we ate a quick lunch.  While we were sitting there, a pod of grey whales swam past! It was so amazing and the kids were so excited!  Our little guy was trying to tell everyone and exclaimed to me incredulously, “Mom!  All those people over there don’t even see the whales!  They’re not looking around!  They don’t even know what a wonderful thing they’re missing!”  I love it when he just gets it like that!

All this to say, I highly recommend the spontaneous exploration mentality!  I hope this will encourage you to give it a try sometime and take a chance that might result in you discovering a hidden treasure of a location!

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