Preparing for the Off Season

For pretty much the top half of the United States, the camping season is coming to a close.  The days are getting shorter, the temperature is dropping, and the leaves are falling.  And as much as I hate to admit it, the snow will soon be here.  It’s time to store my gear for the winter and start planning my winter activities.

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I find as I get older that the winters in Wisconsin have a stronger effect on me.  I don’t mind the cold so much, for me it’s the darkness.  Right now, it is light for a couple of hours before I got to work, but dark by 5:00 pm, when I am going home.  And eventually it will be dark when I go to work and dark when I come home.  In the past this has caused the winters to feel very long (even with all the holidays) and in some cases even cause a little seasonal depression and cabin fever.  I think part of the reason I feel this way is because I don’t spend as much time outside as I do during the other seasons.  This year I have decided that I am going to plan more structured activities to keep myself more active and spending more time outside.  Here are a few projects I am looking into.

Cross country skiing – When I was young we lived in the country and I used to go cross country skiing across fields and along trails.  I remember it felt great to be outside moving and it wouldn’t take long for my body to warm up with all the movement I was doing.  I am currently doing research to find out what my options are for starting this up again.  I am finding that there is quite a bit more to it than I thought.  As I get started doing this again, I will be sure make a post regarding the details and the resources that I found helpful.

Ice skating – If anyone is reading this that actually knows me, they would be very surprised to see this on my list of outdoor winter activities.  Mainly because of my lack of balance when I am on mobile footwear.  Believe it or not, I do own a pair of skates, even if they are barely ever used.  My current level of skill on skates is that I can go forward and turn.  So why would I want to continue to skate if I’m not very good at it?  Well, it’s fun.  Falling on my back isn’t fun, but when I get the hang of it, it is actually quite fun.  Another reason is that my wife enjoys it.  If we go skating together, I’m much more likely to get out and do it .  And I know as I practice it more, I will get better at it.  In the meantime, if anyone has any tips on how to improve my skating skills, I’m open to suggestions.

Could have used snow shoes on this day.

Could have used snow shoes on this day.

The snow shoes project – Snow shoeing is one of those sports that has always looked cool to me, but I have never tried.  As I was discussing my winter activity options with one of my brothers we got on the topic of snow shoeing and decided to make a project of it.  We decided that not only do we want to learn to snow shoe, we are going to learn how to make our own pair of snow shoes!  This will be a great opportunity to have a project to research, build, and then try out.  For anyone else interested in this I will be posting the results of our research and finished project.

GeocachingGeocaching can be done year round, but in areas of snow it can be a bit more challenging.  My wife and I have geocached during the winter before, but I would like to do it even more this winter.  Some of the advantages are that there is less tree coverage which makes it easier to get through a forest and makes it easier to get satellite reception, and there are less people around due to the cold.  Of course, there are plenty of challenges as well.  The cold and snow cause most of them, but also the short days can make it tough to find a geocache in the dark.  I remember one geocache that we found in a forest next to a log.  It was covered in snow and frozen to the log!  Overall, it is tougher to geocache in the winter, but it still gets me outside.  So, my plan is to stop using the snow and darkness as an excuse to not go geocaching and just plan to get out and get one or two geocaches and accept the fact that it will take me longer to find than in the summer.

This blog will also help keep me occupied during this winter.  It has been a fun project to work on already.  I am curious to know if anyone has any other projects that they plan to work on over the winter.  The goal of my projects are to get me outdoors more, but feel free to post any organized activity, even if it is indoors.

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4 Responses to “Preparing for the Off Season”

  1. Ritsumei says:

    I’m definitely going to have to take note of the things you’re doing, as I’m also planning to try to get out more in the winter and I’m a huge wimp about being cold. So the first gear on MY list is some longjohns and maybe some snowpants. And some ice skates for Monkey would be a lot of fun, if I can find them at a reasonable price.

  2. Rob says:

    Nope, you’re right. I can’t picture you with ice skates. Granted you’re better than my walrus-like grace, but still….

    You’ve got me excited about the snow shoes. I’m also thinking about trying some geocaching this winter. But first, I’ve got to upgrade my winter gear. Somehow, my 12 year-old gloves aren’t going to make it another winter.

    But, if it does get cold and I get wimpy, I’ve got a chainmail shirt that is half done sitting in my basement. It might be time to pull that out again.

  3. Chrystal says:

    I am going to enjoy your winter activities – from the warmth of Texas. :) Better you than me!

    You have, however, inspired me to try geocaching. I have been curious about that ever since it was featured on CSI:. :)

  4. Ritsumei says:

    Mmmmm…. chainmail. We’ve been kicking around the idea of doing some of that for quite some time. That also sounds like an enjoyable winter activity. Though I did find out today that Play It Again Sports has munchkin size skates for pretty cheap. And that there are several parks around here that flood areas to create rinks. Hmmmm.

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