I like to talk about how in my free time, I love to be outside. But if I’m being honest, here’s where you can find me a big chunk of the time: wistfully browsing breathtaking photos of faraway places on Pinterest, skimming articles on the trendy new travel destination, adding new spots in Sweden or Croatia or Alaska to an ever-growing mental bucket list. I’m daydreaming about the next spot on my list before I’ve even stepped off the return flight from the last one.
Part of this is an inevitable side effect of travel. It’s addictive. Anywhere you go, you’re bound to discover at least 10 more places you want to visit. There’s the local spot that you never knew existed until you visited the tourist destination nearby. And the city you never thought much about…until your hostel roommate gushed over for 20 minutes. Then there’s the places you’ve already been—but you just need to re-visit that tucked-away courtyard to sip the world’s best latte one more time.
Travel has the strange power to make you appreciate the comforts of home…while simultaneously making you itch to discover someplace new. It’s a part of the deal, and it’s fun to imagine where you might go next. Until it’s not.
The truth is, when romantic, exotic, perfectly airbrushed accounts of adventurous travel destinations are sprinkled throughout all of my social media feeds, well…it’s easy to get jealous and impatient.
I’m in an odd season life right now. Call it limbo, call it purgatory, call it what it is: unemployment. Uncertainty. Exactly the type of stress that makes me turn to my travel blogs and dream of escaping somewhere new and different.
A few days ago, in the midst of this strange February spring weather, Chris and I were feeling antsy among the hills and hardwoods of the Piedmont—decidedly un-exotic central North Carolina, the place where we both grew up and the closest thing to home at this phase in our lives. I can guarantee you that Greensboro isn’t on anyone’s adventure checklist.
But that doesn’t mean it has nothing to offer.
Needing a break from job applications and familiar suburban scenery, we drove out to a small network of trails at the edge of the city limits. Just a 10-minute drive away, but an area I had never been to (had never considered going to, honestly).
There, I was reminded that the absence of impressive scenery gives you the space to see the subtler beauty around you. Like the swaths of bright green ferns marking where the runoff flows during heavy rains.
The distinctive and oddly adorable scrapings of beaver teeth.
Clear blue skies punctured by spindly winter skeleton trees.
Fresh air, dappled sunlight, and the low murmur of happy tree frogs.
We all know the cliche that adventure is about the journey, not the destination. But I guess sometimes it’s not even about the journey—it’s about the mindset. Sometimes, it’s just about some fresh air and exercise and quality time with your favorite human and canine on a sunny, 72-degree winter day. And you don’t have to go far at all to find that.
So I’d just like to say a quick thanks to the universe, for the timely reminder that what you’re really looking for is often closer than you think. I won’t stop dreaming about the next big exotic destination (because that is what I do). But in the meantime, I think I’ll spend more time looking for the destinations that are a little closer to home.