Cascade Lake in Idaho on a summer day
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Exploring Your Own Backyard

How often do you go out exploring your own backyard? This past weekend, we headed to the mountains. Our goal: huckleberries. I am happy to report that we were successful and came home with a nice little haul.

R had family visiting from another state. They opted to postpone their drive home in order to pick some huckleberries because it is not something they can do where they live. In fact, since huckleberries only grow in certain areas of the northwest, very few people actually get the opportunity to go pickin’. Even as a native Idahoan, it was not until last year that I finally got the chance myself (and we found very few berries). It was a fun way to go exploring my own backyard.

Huckleberry picking in Idaho, girl in woods, exploring your own backyard
R pickin’ for the first time.

That’s happening in my backyard?

I have a coworker who has moved to Idaho for a temporary assignment. He is from New Jersey and I have been very impressed with his efforts to explore and experience as much of Idaho as he can while he is here. He recently attended his first rodeo and made a comment about not having anything like that in New Jersey. I begged to differ. They definitely have rodeos in New Jersey—I saw the signs myself. But my coworker’s comment made me wonder how many of us fail to look around and see the adventures we have close at home. How often do you remember to go exploring your own backyard? We can go huckleberry picking in our backyard. What can you do?

Purple huckleberry on the bush, Idaho, exploring your own backyard
Berry goodness.

Research and insider tips go a long way to exploring your own backyard

Sometimes the events or places that are unique to your area are obvious and easy to explore. Sometimes they require a bit more work. Our huckleberry picking adventure fell into the latter category. My one experience last year left our novice group with a distinct lack of knowledge of where to go. I did plenty of research on the old internet, but I only came up with a few vague leads (most pickers like to keep their patches a secret). R decided to get her mom, a very resourceful lady, involved. This was an excellent move since she has a friend local to the area where huckleberries are known to grow. And luckily for us, she was willing to share her knowledge.

So with a hand-drawn map and a lot of enthusiasm, we headed out. After a first failed attempt, we regrouped and found a nice little patch a ways up the mountain. We spent the next hour or so picking to our heart’s content. We could have picked more, but we were all pretty hungry by that point and decided to call it a day. A successful day, in my opinion.

Huckleberry picking purple hands, exploring your own backyard, Idaho
Purple hands = successful berry picking.

The journey can be the reward

The original idea for the day was to pick huckleberries. And with a little help, we succeeded in making that idea a reality. But more importantly, we got outside and explored a little piece of this big, wonderful world we live in. If we had not found a single huckleberry, we still would have enjoyed a beautiful drive along the river and soaked up the sunshine on the mountainside. And we did not have to go far from home in order to do that. Exploring your own backyard is all about the journey, and you do not have to go far to do that.

Cascade Lake in Idaho on a summer day, exploring your own backyard
Not a bad view with or without the berries.

That IS in my backyard!

I sometimes find myself envious of people who get to travel all of the time. Just this week, I was browsing a friend’s Instagram account and had an almost visceral reaction as I looked at his photos and realized how many international adventures he has been on in the time since my last foreign trip. I had to remind myself that that is not my reality and probably never will be. I am lucky to be able to travel as much as I do. And this weekend’s huckleberry picking adventure reminded me that adventure and exploration are not limited to international travel. They can be found all around us if we take the time to search them out.

Purple bowl of purple huckleberries, exploring your own backyard, Idaho
Yum!

A couple of weekends ago, R and I decided to head to Salt Lake at the last minute to attend a concert (Randy Rogers Band anyone?). We decided to stop along the way and visit some National Historic Sites. These were places R has wanted to visit for years now, but they were never really a priority and just never seemed to fit into the schedule. On this particular trip, we made it happen and our time spent at these sites was very much worth it. It was a great example of exploring your own backyard.

Just think about the cultural, historic, geological, etc. sites you have within your area. Are you taking advantage of them? They could make a great girls’ weekend getaway.

R and I have made a list of things we want to see and do right here in our home state. It is posted on our refrigerator and it feels great whenever we cross an item off. Often, we do not have to go far and most are free. We just have to do a little planning and a little research and we are on our way to exploring. We want to encourage you to do the same. Especially if you are in between big trips like we are.

Conclusion

Just because you may not have the time or resources to go on an epic trip whenever you please, there are still plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploring you own backyard. No matter where you live, there are special and unique offerings. You just have to do a little research. So get out and go explore!

Friends, yellow field, selfie, Idaho
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