#OptOutside Ideas for Michigan 2016

Those of us fortunate to be able to spend time with family and friends in a warm house, with a bounty of food on the table this Thanksgiving know how lucky we are.  This year has been an interesting one and those of us who are a certain age, know how quickly time passes. 

For me, nature still is the greatest healer. 

Walking in the woods, kayaking, biking, all give us time to let the powers of nature soak into our bodies and minds and nurture us. We become more reflective, as well as more truly at home.

That is why I think REI's #OptOutside is a great reminder to leave the comforts of our homes and step into the great outdoors. Whether you do it on Friday itself, or some other day soon, here are a few ideas of walks to help you and your family spend great time bonding and taking time away from the frantic pace of our modern lives to savor the preciousness of this wonderful mystery called life. 

1. North Country Trail- Chances are, anywhere you are in Michigan, you are about two hours away from the North Country Trail. This amazing trail stretching from New York to North Dakota, has a wonderful presence in Michigan. Some of the portions I have walked include brief trips from the headquarters in Lowell, Michigan; near Petoskey as well as outside of St. Ignace in the U.P. Our family are proud members of the North Country Trail Association and look to adding more segments to our activities in 2017. 

2. Michigan State Parks- As a special promoter of the #OptOutside "movement" the Michigan DNR is waiving the entrance fee to its State Parks on Black Friday. With over 12,500 miles of trails throughout the entire state, how could you go wrong?!

3. Urban Centers and Small Towns- Sometimes it is a challenge to get to a park or hiking trail, but that is no excuse to stay inside!  Michigan has an abundance of picturesque towns with small shops, quaint neighborhoods, and urban parks. Even downtown areas invite us to open our eyes and see raptors and other birds, trees stripped bare, or the lovely rose in a crystal vase on the white linen table cloth of a favorite bistro-just stretching your legs and breathing the crisp November air can provide its own reward. From the Dequindre Cut in Detroit to Front Street in Marquette you will find satisfaction in getting your steps in and joining us as we #OptOutside in 2016.

Wherever you go, remember to pause, take a deep breath and savor the moment!

A Garden, Fading

A Garden, Fading


Family Questions for Discussion

1. What is the number one walking location for your family?

2. What sort of wildlife or nature have you observed in urban areas? Anything surprise you?

3. Does your family have a favorite State Park? 

4. What role does nature play in your family travel experiences?

5. Of course, what are some of the travel experiences you have been most grateful for in 2016?