I heard a Rolf Potts podcast interview with Alastair Humphreys during a long walk around town. I listen to podcasts when walking on loud roads because I can never fully immerse myself in nature when heavy objects traveling at terminal velocity are close enough to know the deodorant of choice of the driver. Of course, I always keep an eye on the driver and the relative distance between their passenger mirror and my rib cage. But a podcast gives me something else to think about during this regular dance on the narrow shoulders of New Hampshire roads.
Potts and Humphreys captured my imagination during my dance with the drivers with a discussion of microadventures. Microadventures is Humphreys’ term, but the pursuit of adventures isn’t a new concept. I’ve been doing many of the things he lists on his site already, and think of them as exclamation points on a day of living on this planet. But impressively he does take it to another level. This well-made video explains the concept, or do a deeper dive on his web site (I felt a bit of web site envy visiting his site, and it once again prompted me to up my alexandersmap.com game. You can see my ongoing progress on the site). There are many microadventures available for the able and willing, I could get in my car and drive to the White Mountains for a hike, or drive to a waterfall for a shower under bracingly cold water, or camp out on a sleepy beach for sunrise. But I wanted something close to home and on a somewhat smaller scale as a nod to the spirit of microadventuring.
And so it was that I found myself getting in my car with a camera and tripod and driving a couple of miles away from home to an entirely different world: the soccer fields my kids once competed on, which last night transformed into a dark and mysterious upside down world with vaguely familiar fences and sheds providing anchors of bearing. I was challenged by three separate people to go out and see the Comet Neowise, dancing just below the Big Dipper just after sunset. It seems people have noticed my affinity for the stars over the years. I’ve silently been plotting a viewing all along, but the weather proved frustratingly unreliable for comet gazing. Last night was a micro adventure of comet hunting, confirming that my Nikon Coolpix B500 camera wasn’t up to the task (or more likely its owner), and learning from the experience. Perhaps I’ll get that evasive picture tonight or in the next few days before Neowise travels on for another thousand generations, or maybe I’ll just bring the binoculars out and just view it. Plenty of better photographers are taking stunning photos of Neowise already. My micro adventure wasn’t for a picture anyway, but for the experience of trying something new right in my own town. It was me alone in a dark field, strange noises in the forest beyond, constellations and planets spinning above and satellites zipping past. Memorable even without a digital image to post on social media.
Here’s the thing: we get caught up in the big bucket list stuff. Hiking the Appalachian Trail, sailing across the ocean, hiking to Machu Picchu, visits to Amsterdam, Paris, London and a hundred other great cities. Heck, even hiking the 48 NH 4000 footers in my home state requires time investment and planning on a larger scale than a simple microadventure. Life should be full of the great exclamation points that a bucket list offers, but lifetimes are made up of a collection of days. Why not downsize the scale of the adventure and do something interesting today? So when someone asks you tomorrow what you did last night, you aren’t replaying the same old soundtrack of streaming Netflix series or watching YouTube videos of other people’s adventures. Yesterday, in between the traditional fare of a random Wednesday, I began my day with a plunge in the pool at 6 AM and ended it with a hunt for Comet Neowise until past my bedtime. So a memorable yesterday, if only for the endcaps. So what shall today bring?