For some reason farm work often leads one to crave outdoor adventure. It may be because the physical and mental work on a farm leads to tangible results that everyone can see. Those results are not theoretical; they are as real as crops going to market. Outdoor adventure also has tangible outcomes too … rivers paddled, trails hiked, vistas experienced and nights camped.
Often advertisements for outdoor adventure tout the trip of a lifetime to some exotic place. What often puts such experiences out of reach is the cost of money and time. Many go through years of working believing that the trip of a lifetime is beyond their grasp.
This past fall my wife, Cindy Dillenschneider, our dog, Red, and I spent 21 days paddling our canoe in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada. The park is remote; most days we saw no other people. Remote-wilderness travel for the three of us is a trip of a lifetime. We’re not wealthy people, so we do many things to make our travels affordable.
We watch for sales and purchase secondhand gear. We spend time studying places we visit so we’re ready to perform the skills needed in specific environments. For those who want to paddle a canoe, learn how before a trip. The same is true with camping, backpacking or almost any outdoor endeavor. Learn to read a map and use a compass. Learn to cook on an ultralight camp stove. Learn to treat an injury and save a life in a medical emergency.
Learning how is a big part of the fun of the trip. Classes and books are available. Find a mentor to teach those needed skills. A traveler might be lucky enough to have a family member or friend with those skills on the trip.
Food is a major expense for many people. Prepackaged dehydrated food can be expensive but we dehydrate our own food. We have a simple meal plan based on menus from the National Outdoor Leadership School in Lander, Wyoming. Early in her career my wife was an instructor there. Later she spent several decades as an outdoor-education professor at a college.
Our meals consist of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and wild mushrooms we dry ourselves. We have pasta, hard cheese, nuts and powdered drinks like hot chocolate. We enjoy the sense of wellbeing we have from preparing and packing all our own food for our adventures. Part of that sense of wellbeing is from the money we save.
But the other cost – time – is something many people don’t budget for. Consider how much time can be spared for a trip and when time can be spared. It may be that planning a trip for a less-popular time of the year is a good plan. An additional part of time budgeting is the amount of time needed to travel from home to the adventure. Much has to do with perspective. Wisconsin is an exotic destination. We have thousands of lakes, with two of them Great Lakes. We have thousands of miles of rivers, some world-famous. We have rolling hills and valleys like Europe. We have thousands of acres of public lands and public parks throughout the state.
Our trip to Woodland Caribou was the trip of a lifetime. But I remember my first “trip of a lifetime.” It was years ago, and not in another country. My dad took me camping overnight – in a county park an hour from home.