It’s easy to not see your hometown as anything but ordinary. As I settle into a lull between trips, it’s hard to contain the wanderlust. My countdown app tells me that my next adventure doesn’t start for precisely 2 months, 9 days, 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 3 seconds. So what’s an explorer to do?
Enter the microadventure. A quick Google search brings up the master of the microadventure, Alastair Humphreys, who has popularized the idea. There’s a whole culture around microadventuring now, but honestly, it doesn’t need to be any more complicated than this: exploring doesn’t always mean hopping on a plane to an exotic location. Sometimes it’s enough to walk out your front door as if using a different pair of eyes. Microadventure is defined more by attitude than outcome.
If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, maybe microadventuring means strapping on a pair of hiking shoes and walking up to the highest point you can get to in a day (this one wouldn’t work so great here on the prairies). If you’re a coffee lover, maybe this means mapping out all the best coffee shops in the city and spending a weekend going from shop to shop as if you were a newspaper critic. Maybe it means camping in your backyard. Maybe it means pretending you’re a tourist in your hometown, purposefully ‘getting lost’ in a part of town you don’t normally frequent. Maybe it means picking a morning to wake up to watch the sunrise.
Here in Winnipeg, in the middle of winter, it can often be difficult to approach the weather with anything but a grimace and as many layers of clothing as you can manage. My husband swears I’m part reptile who can’t produce any of their own body heat, so I know the struggle all too well. Thankfully, over the past few years, us Winnipeggers, who are notoriously both proud and curmudgeonly about our extreme weather, have begun to embrace the cold. Winter festivals, pop up restaurants on the river, and ice bars have all received a lot of attention here in the past few years.
With that spirit in mind, I spent the last weekend on a winter-themed microadventure. My husband and I woke up that morning with purpose. We bundled up and headed out, ready to face the biting wind. First stop: walking to my favorite coffee shop around the corner for my usual almond milk latte. En route, I discovered a woodpecker hard at work. Now, I’m no bird watcher, but we stopped and watched him drill away for a good five minutes before he finally noticed out presence and flew off. Onward we went.
Once coffee was in hand, we walked down onto the nearby river walk trail. Winding our way along the river, we decided to embark towards the French district of the city, St. Boniface. Walking on the ice, we passed families of ice skaters, hockey players, and even runners who were of a similar mind as us to take advantage of sunshine. After testing a few of the beautiful warming huts, we clambered back up the riverbank to have lunch at a French restaurant, the Promenade Café. My husband was even brave enough to order in French (I also speak it, but am far more embarrassed about it). We were true Franco-Manitobans, eating poutine and French onion soup. After lunch, we headed back down the river, stopping at The Forks, a local tourist hub. Wandering aimlessly, we discovered that someone had built an entire snow living room, including couches, chairs, and even a giant flat screen snow TV! We cuddled up on the snow loveseat, watching the tourists, before heading inside to wander the Forks Market (alas, we were both way too full to partake in anything). Once we had our fill, we walked back to our cozy apartment.
Now, maybe that all sounded pretty mundane. Maybe for you, it’s not an adventure unless you need a GPS and at least an overnight bag. And that’s awesome too! But just think, walking through a new city is often little more than what I’ve described (switching out a few minor details, of course). But when we set out that morning, we did so with the perspective of exploration. It helped cure my winter blues, and helped me get through another week of work, another week towards my next Adventure, capital A.
What will your next microadventure be?