A guest post from At The Pool member Timothy Martin. Raised on a Montana ranch, Tim is an avid hunter and outdoorsman who’s prepared for just about any emergency.
Despite the fact that Punxsutawney Phil declared there are six more weeks of winter, it’s time to start thinking about getting your adrenaline flowing on an awesome motorcycle trip. Whether you are planning to tackle one of Adenturebikerider.com’s 13 best roads to ride or cruising the backroads of your state, it’s time to start planning your next great adventure.
It doesn’t matter if you’re headed to Colorado to explore spectacular views at 10,000 feet or looking for some action on the sandy dunes in West Texas, chances are good there won’t be a corner drug store or McDonald’s within eyesight of your camp. Pack right for a great trip.
Make sure you have a reliable GPS. The Garmin zÅ«mo® 390 maps out a course with the rider in mind, leading you to the curviest roads in the area for heightened pleasure. Don’t forget to pack local trail maps — equipment can fail, signals can fade and accidents can happen. Backup maps help you find your way out when unexpected things happen.
Riding and Lounging Supplies
Pack lightweight clothing appropriate for the climate. Include flags, a head lamp, gloves, shades and headgear. Make room for plastic bags to store soiled clothing, shoes for relaxing, and hygiene items, including shampoo, deodorant, soaps, etc.
BikeVirginia.org recommends cyclists consider three main categories when packing: camping supplies, riding supplies and first aid. The detailed list is geared toward bicycle riders, but outfitting your trip for a dirt bike camping trip follows the same principles.
A tarp and a weather-tight tent are both essential for the rainy season. Be sure your dirt bike gear includes a hammock for those clear nights. Nothing compares to ending a full day on the trail with a relaxing view under a canopy of a million stars and the sound of the nature winding down around you.
Also include outdoor cooking gear like a pan, utensils, plastic food containers, small trash bags. Prepackaged-boil-in-the-bag entrees take up less room than groceries for meals. If you’re taking a tow vehicle with room for supplies and coolers, checkout the camp recipes at Scoutorama.com for camp-friendly ideas.
Safety and First Aid
Be prepared for bumps, bruises and things that bite in the night. Pack prescription medications, allergy medicine, topical creams, analgesics and bandages. Stock up on appropriate dirt bike gear before your trip — comfortable boots, helmet and riding pants and jersey can keep you intact during long days in the saddle.
Always explore with a buddy. Don’t ruin the environment for other outdoor enthusiasts — if you pack it in, bring it out. Some of the most amazing areas don’t have access to potable water. When in doubt, carry your own. Before you map out your journey, check with local officials to learn about the laws and regulations regarding dirt bike activities. Always respect the environment and private property boundaries.
University of Chicago Brand Ambassador, Rita Sokolova and friends ditch the comfort of cell phone service for a camping adventure only accessible by kayak. This is her story.
My belly was full of marshmallows. The sleeping bag felt like a marshmallow. My heart was a marshmallow. My feet were warm and wrapped in three pairs of socks. There were three people crammed into a one person tent and at that moment the world was soft and sweet.
A few weeks into fall quarter of my second year at university, a group of friends and I slipped off campus and went canoeing in the middle of Illinois. My college has a student organization called the Outdoor Adventure Club. Adventures are student organized, student led, and often end up being the semi-poetic stuff of movies. On Saturday morning, we piled into two cars, stuffing every corner of car space with sleeping bags and snacks and leaving behind whatever academic commitments we had for that weekend. The campsite we were heading to was only accessible by canoe and there was no cell phone service – we were essentially entering a secret vacuum in the world. I indulge in being unreachable as often as possible and find that too many people are uncomfortable when left alone with their thoughts, or at least digitally disconnected.
There’s something magical about entering a hidden realm in the world with a canoe full of friends and German biscuit cookies. I remember floating along the river, feeling a satisfying exhaustion like what you feel after a long day of being smacked by waves and warmed by the sun at the beach. As two of us rowed, the third played songs on her ukelele (painted to look like a watermelon). At moments like those, I recognize the best part about wilderness adventures: you’re forced to reevaluate what you define as “necessary.” It’s so easy to be happy with so little. Make sure to leave for some extra space in your head and heart though, because you’ll always come back home with a little more than you packed – some perspective and wonderful memories.
Dear Future Love Of My Life, whoever the hell you are;
I believe in you.
Now, I could believe in you like Cupid; that when I’m least expecting it you’ll take a shot at my heart and hit it so dead center I’ll be powerless to stop my adoration of you.
I could believe in you like the Easter Bunny; that one spring morning I’ll wake up, put on a pretty dress, go run outside, and you’ll show up to give me lilies and chocolate.
I could believe in you like the Tooth Fairy; that if I go through the growing pains of giving up the immature parts of myself I’ve outgrown, I’ll wake to a reward for my surrender, and proof that my pain wasn’t for naught.
I could believe in you like Santa; that if I’m good and I do everything right this year, and I don’t do anything bad, you’ll show up this winter after hearing my wishes, present me with everything on my list, and eat all my cookies.
I could believe in you like Mermaids; that I simply haven’t swum out deep enough to find you, but if I keep exploring different waters, just when I think I can’t swim any further, you’ll save me from drowning and be my hero.
I could believe in you like Werewolves; that one night at random you could turn on me and present claws, so I should be cautious about getting too close.
I could believe in you like Leprechauns; that you’ll scamper in one day with too much gold and I should be wary of things that are short and green and always chasing the next rainbow.
I could believe in you like Monsters in my closet. That you hide. And you won’t really show yourself to me and that scares me more than seeing you in the light, no mater how beastly.
I could believe in you like Vampires, that if I let you drain even a sip of life out of me now, no matter how hard I try tomorrow my cheeks will look less rosy to you, and the more appealing a new fresh victim will become.
I could believe in you like unicorns or ghosts or fairies or goblins or all sorts of other fantasy things I have yet to see or ever shake hands with.
But I won’t.
I will believe in you like rainstorms. That being real wont make you less spectacular. That being non-fiction won’t make you any less magical. That you may not arrive exactly when I thought you would, or where I thought you would, but I will be grateful nonetheless when you do. I will keep aware that if I allow too much of you to wash over me, I could get swept away, so please understand when I keep a few roots anchored. Yes, I will believe in you like rainstorms. I won’t build dams to contain you out of fear of drought; I’ve long since learned how to dig my own wells. But I’ll build up my thirst to appreciate you, and -okay, I’ll keep a few cisterns in my heart to hold what you decide to gift to me for safekeeping, because I’ll also accept the fact that you will have seasons, and many other parts of your life to water. And I will be grateful for that.
I will believe in you like rainstorms; so one day you will believe in me like land and let yourself fall.
I have been trying to stop checking the weather first thing in the morning. If I put my zip code into the search bar of Accuweather.com on any given day these past few weeks, I get a low number, an even lower real feel temperature, and some choice adjectives describing the weather as “frigid,” which is meteorologist code for “It’s miserable. Don’t even bother leaving bed.” If I let this be the first thing I see every morning, I lose all desire to step outside, let alone venture off campus and explore Chicago. When the mercury dips, there are two ways I try to save myself from apathy: a warm coat, and memories of warmer times.
I was fortunate enough to be able to travel a bit this summer, and coming home after a month-long adventure left me a bit bummed. I thought Chicago had nothing to offer and ended up wasting a too many days in the infinite abyss of the interwebs. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that somewhere out there was a wonderful adventure and that I had no way of getting there. If not for a friend with a knack for gardening, I would have stayed that way through summer, autumn, and winter.
One morning, we decided it would be a good idea to bike to Promontory Point before sunrise with a makeshift picnic breakfast and a book of poetry. We wanted to get there before sunrise and have a surreal experience that is the stuff of novels and epiphanies. I remember biking in the warm morning darkness with a basket full of bagels and a tub of cream cheese as my friend biked ahead of me with the carrots practically overflowing from his backpack. When we got to the Point, the sky looked like cotton candy on steroids. The sun was just starting to peek out from behind Lake Michigan, and at that moment, I felt so ridiculous for doubting the fact that beauty can exist right outside your door. That’s a lesson that can be even harder to remember when the world is cold and dreary, but don’t let the things you can’t quite change get in the way of living magic. Put a coat on and get out there.
A guest post from our University of Chicago Brand Ambassador, Rita Sokolova
1) The Adler Planetarium
1300 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605
M-F 9:30am – 4pm, Sat & Sun 9:30am – 4:30pm
When was the last time you saw a constellation with all of this light pollution? There’s something magical about being in a dark room and staring at a digital representation of the galaxies and stars. Bonus points for making Star War references while you’re there.
This Wicker Park bookstore is a place to get lost in. All of the books are used but in impeccable condition, so you could snag a pretty good discount. Stop by Glazed and Infused a few doors down for the best doughnut you’ll ever have (I’m partial to the Old Fashioned).
3) Pierogi Heaven
169 N Wells St, Chicago, IL 60606
M-F 10am – 7pm, Sat 11am – 5pm. Closed Sunday
The pierogis are heavenly and cheap. Get the potato ones with extra sour cream and bacon. Are you drooling yet?
4) Lincoln Park Conservatory
2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614
Daily from 9am – 5pm
It’s nice to see thriving plants and greenery in the dead of winter (and studies say that just a glimpse of nature can have a great effect on your mood). Head over to the conservatory for some hope – it’ll remind you that the trees are bare for only a few months of the year.
Don’t let the weather make you stir crazy and leave you cooped up at home for the next few months. Grab a thermos of your favorite hot beverage, layer a few sweaters, put on your warmest boots, and just GO. You’ll feel a lot better at the end of the day than if you spent it in bed watching 74 YouTube videos.