Close your eyes and travel back in time to some of your favourite memories; where were you? When I do this, I see an explosion of colours lining a market in another continent; I smell the swirls of the sea; I breathe in fresh air as I leave a canopy of trees behind to reach an unforgettable viewpoint.
This article will look at some personal snapshots of my favourite memories—and maybe, just maybe, it will inspire you to think back on memories and stories from spending time outside.
Playing in the sea in a rainstorm
This snapshot travels back quite some time, creating a fuzzy image. But, I remember running into the sea with my mom and sister during a torrential downpour on Vancouver Island with our clothes on. And no, we weren’t scared of lightning—this was the 90s, okay? Ever since then, I’ve had no problem running into a body of water with my clothes on. Life lesson: your clothes will dry (and avoid water during a thunderstorm).
Card games with my family while camping
My family loves nothing more than to reflect on how much my dad hated (and still hates) playing cards. We have some great memories playing Scum (or President or Janitor as some like to call it) in the dim lantern light while the fire crackled in the backdrop, unveiling a moody outline of the encircling trees. I can’t shake the image of his sulking face when he had to shuffle from King, the top position, to Scum on the picnic table, where he usually stayed for the remainder of the game. Good times.
Scuba diving and snorkelling
An explosion of colourful fish navigate the Great Barrier Reef below me, and eight-year-old me puts Madeline-related, candy-inspired thoughts on hold for a moment. I’ve entered the mesmerizing underwater world of fish—nothing else matters right now. Fast forward 11 years, and I’m racing turtles near the ocean floor and petting nurse sharks while the boat above looks cartoon and wavy in the sun glitter 50 or so feet above. Skip ahead a couple of months, and I’m in the Philippines with the chance to go scuba diving with my friends. But we don’t go. What did we do instead? We went to the mall. Don’t ask why…
Rafting on the Kootenay River
The golden hour sun illuminates the gentle rapids, mountains block all cell service, and camping gear sprawls between the raft seats while we paddle the river and sip a refreshing beverage as we seek out our waterfront tent spot for the night. There’s something magical about escaping the hustle and bustle of the outside world and revelling in the scenery cloaking your country’s backyard—in our case, it was a wild camping, rafting adventure along the Kootenay River in Kootenay National Park, BC, Canada.
Standing inches away from wildlife
I felt so small and insignificant standing in the shadow of a crazy-foot tall giraffe smoothly galloping among the trees while the Kenyan sun dipped into the horizon. Later, in Malawi, we (partner and I) stayed at a safari camp, and the footsteps of elephants and hippos munching on plants just outside the dorm created a not-so-good-but-epic white noise. The next day, the lion we spotted earlier in the day roared us to sleep while we stayed in our tent. I spent the better part of the night imagining getting ripped apart by the lion, but alas, I live to tell the tale.
Creating-your-own adventures while travelling
It’s Saturday morning in Mbale, Uganda. The market vendors are already in full force and sweeping the streets with a rainbow of colours. My partner and I grab our mangos, bananas, and yogurt from a local shop and fuel up for a day of adventure. A few days earlier, we were sitting on the porch of our hostel and admiring a waterfall tumbling up high in the distance. We made up our minds that we had to reach that waterfall somehow. After breakfast, we made our way through the village to the umbrella of trees. We climbed higher and higher until the roar of the waterfall overshadowed every other natural sound. Then, we surmounted boulders and rocks, basking in the waterfall’s mist before eventually reaching the foot of the waterfall, where we cooled off by standing underneath it.
Afterwards, we escaped the makeshift path to reach a dirt road winding to a viewpoint. As we walked, an angelic, heroic expat stopped and asked if we wanted a ride to the top, which we happily agreed to after hiking for 15km.
On our way down, it was hard to ignore the rumbles in our stomachs. Thankfully, the expat suggested a burger and fries restaurant. Here, we became friends with our waiter, who then introduced us to his family, resulting in meeting and becoming friends with his brother during a Sunday spent sipping millet alcohol from a big pot. We then explored other waterfalls with our new friend and spent time with him in another Ugandan city, Jinja.
I love how our create-your-own adventure resulted in finding a great burger joint (I’m a picky eater, okay)—and meeting some amazing friends and getting the chance to explore more Ugandan culture alongside them was pretty cool too.
The magic of hiking
I’m in Thailand, working as a content writing intern, and the words on my screen start to look warped, so I head out on a waterfall adventure with my fellow writing friends. We take our notebooks, books, climb the steep path, and navigate some rocks until we reach the highest point, away from all other tourists, where a natural infinity-looking pool gives way to a view overlooking the glistening sea below. We spend hours reading, drafting creative ideas, suntanning atop these rocks, creating a chance to return to our screens refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to tackle some writing tasks!
A few weeks later, I come back to this same spot with my boyfriend, and he finally says the big “I love you.” Fast forward (too) many years, and we get engaged at the bottom of a hike, alongside a river in Jasper National Park.
Before I sign off, I want to recognize that I am crazy lucky to have had the privilege to experience incredible outdoor adventures in other countries with fantastic family and friends exploring alongside me. I now realize how important it is to acknowledge the land and research the area you’re adventuring before you go, and then, when you’re there, do whatever you can to treat the beautiful, magical outdoors with lots of love and care—respect the wildlife, the culture, the people, etc.