Add Venture #4

For Explorers, Adventurers and Visual Storytellers

Sat Mar 6th, 2021

Close to Home is Perfect

Most of us believe travel needs to take us far away to be thrilling. That adventure can only take place in an exotic - and costly - settings. Thankfully for us, the opposite is often true :)

Instagrammers and mass media would have you believe you need to spend your holidays in a private atoll to enjoy yourself and have anything interesting to write home about. And while that sort of exotic stay is probably relaxing to the extreme, it feels as far from a stimulating adventure as anything I can think of, this side of shopping on Amazon. Perfect to write your memoirs like President Obama did there, terrible to bring about that rejuvenating spark and giggle that keeps so many centenarians going and full of vitality. That's good news, as there's no way I could afford it ;)

Adventure has little to do with destination. It begins when you step gently and deliberately out of your comfort zone for pleasure, wherever you are, whatever you engage in. You might be wondering why anyone with a stressful life would want to add stress to their vacation, but it actually works the other way around. While repeated severe stress makes our pituitary gland produce hormones that raise adrenalin levels, affecting cellular regeneration, causing premature aging, cardiovascular diseases and many other ills, stress in small doses actually enhances longevity and promotes happiness through increased ability to tackle everyday challenges. Stress is a tool and adventure helps you wield it while having fun!

Adventure is a vaccine against boredom and lassitude. Adventure is a cure to stale thinking. And nowhere in the world is it better to get started than close to home. Anything close to home is readily available, pandemic or not. Anything close to home forces us to see the familiar in new ways, which I'm pretty sure is a close relative to mindfulness, bringing about similar benefits.

And in photography and filmmaking, local knowledge is often everything. And the opportunities to return to a local site again and again and again until that perfect shot is in the bag, are priceless. Your best images will often be made in a location you can revisit multiple times to take advantage of special light, a special event, seasonal weather ... Plus, honing your skills on local scenes which might not be the most exciting, is fantastic training for that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, when you do fly far, far away for that exhilarating trip. Also, as the photograph below demonstrates, often times, close to home can be pretty lovely in its own right.

In more ways than one, close to home is perfect.

Live exciting, live happy ;)

Travel, Adventures & Exploring

If you need more convincing that high-profile, remote, adventure isn't as glamorous as it is marketed to be, take a look at 2012 Adventurer of the year Alastair Humpfrey's reality check below. For every grand achievement, commensurate menial misery lies hidden in the shadows ;) Actually, that's not true. The dross days probably outnumber the ecstatic ones tenfold ;) Nor is it always very sustainable, or ethical, when armies literally have to clean up the mess left behind by visitors, as is the case in the Himalayan story below. Would you really enjoy yourself, if you couldn't apply the age-old rule "leave nothing but footprints" to your outdoors adventures? I would hate that. Bonding with nature is what makes us happy. Taking advantage and hurting it leaves you emptier than before you started, which is why people who do so never find satisfaction and always need to push harder in the hope of filling the void.

Compared to this, local mini-adventures can be organised and experienced almost on a daily basis with none of the Faustian backstory to worry about. And they can be every bit as fulfilling. Even near uban centers, see below.

Mini adventures can keep us healthy. One facet of the secret to the longevity of the inhabitants of Okinawa is activity. Permanent activity, right up to a ripe old age which even Bilbo would consider worthy of respect! Rather than being sedentary and engage in extreme sports on occasion, the Okinawans seek gentle exercise at every opportunity, walking up stairs or to work, whenever possible, for instance. I think we should all look at adventure in the same way and get into a rhythm of (quasi) daily small-scale excitement rather than saving it all for the big one while binging on TV with snacks or brewing an ulcer at work.

Two ideas of daily nature-centric fun that immediately come to my mind, drawing from experience, are cycling and birdwatching. Even with modest form, get yourself a bike and you can look anywhere around you and think to yourself : "I can be there in a couple of hours". It's like hiking on steroids and so empowering. Of course, it will hurt your legs as much as it will lift your mood, but isn't that the point ;) ? Put a pack on your back, and you can extend this extravaganza for several days of less-is-more bliss. Welcome to bikepacking

As for birdwatching, well, it's been a passion of mine since my childhood. Not only does it make you look with renewed enthusiasm at old places (or ugly places, such as dumps, don't ask ...) but it makes you work hard for success and the thrill of spotting something you've been looking for for year is hard to describe. I will get back to this in a future issue. A pair of bins and a pair of legs will bring immense pleasure, almost anywhere on Earth. Birding also makes you want to care for nature, to invite new life into your surroundings. It instills in you a wonderful appreciation for every bush or tree, not just as a plant but as a house, food market and cafe terrace for your feathered friends! Plus, this is one of the rare opportunities (with astronomy) for amateurs to help make actual science!! Definitely recommended, particularly in times of lockdown. You'll discover a lot more variety of life where you thought is was only us humans, and our pets.

Definitely give both a try. Two links below tell you how to become a naturalist and how to approach wildlife without being noticed! That is so much fun :)

Cheap snacks in hotels, living out of your car and driving long hours, rarely at home with your family, worrying about financials. That's what.  It's not as pretty as a mountain top, right?

Nepali Army to Clean Trash on Everest, 5 Other Peaks

by Kraig Becker (The Adventure Blog)

In 2019, 14 Sherpas removed over 10 tons of human detritus on the slopes of Mount Everest. This year, 43 Nepali soldiers assisted by sherpas are being sent in to clean not one but 6 peaks including: Pumori, Ama Dablam, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, and Lhotse.

7 Hikes Near Urban Centers to Get Your Nature Fix

by The Outbound Collective (The Outbound)

These may not be close to your urban center, but there's a fair chance a few hikes nearby will be as interesting as those!

What is Bikepacking?

by (YouTube)

Several experts chime in to explain their view of the discipline. Uplifting, humorous and informative 8 minutes.

A lovely article describing the reasons why this spring is the best possible time to embark on a journey of discovery of the life in your backyard. It also tells you how.

Wes Siler teaches you how to sneak up on friends, spook passers-by and, if that's your thing, get close to wildlife! 1 minute of video, weeks of fun practise!

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
Bilbo Baggins

Photo Video & Storytelling

It's not enough to say good times can be had close to home, it helps to show how ;) So here's a post by Grant Collier, of Visual Wilderness, that will show you very useful tips. Plus a post by myself on DearSusan illustrating a 3 hour walk in a pretty location about 30 minutes from home.

Now it's your turn, and please send me the results :)

How to pursue Nature Photography Close to Home 
by Grant Collier (Visual Wilderness)

A solitude-seeking, nature-loving talented photographer explores multiple ideas to make nature photography possible and fun not far from where you live. 

An old sandstone coastline cut up into small fjords lies on the very edge of France's second largest city. In fact some of them are technically with the limits of Marseilles. And they are so beautiful!

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Tech Gear & Mind Gear

Could cameras be making a comeback? With more and more expensive smartphones delivering more and more technical capabilities, the camera industry has been forced to move upwards, spec-wise and price-wise. For the first time in years, some of the main indicators are not in the red! Wouldn't that be marvelous? Because there's nothing wrong with smartphones, but traditional cameras tend to be owned by people who actually care about the process of making photographs as much as the getting the photographs. It's an important distinction between collecting moments and crafting visual memories. 

To conclude, I'll let you in on a secret. I love, adore, long distance travel. This issue of Add Venture is not meant to diss it at all. It merely points to reasons and ideas to love adventure close to home as well. Every decision in life weighs pros and cons. And while I'll go into the pros in a future issue, let me leave you this final con: the undesirable side effects! 

If you've gotten this far, please leave a comment. Tell me what you think, what you agree with and what you don't. What you'd like to see covered in future issues. Let's get talking!

In a sea of financial trouble, mirrorless cameras and full frame lens sales seem to be on the rise! Rejoice everyone :)

It is all in the title. The peer reviewed article published in the National Library of Medicine examines all the nasty side effects experienced by long distance travelers.

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