The following is an unedited, stream-of-consciousness personal journal used to experiment with different subjects outside of assignments and to practice free-writing. It shouldn't (at all) be viewed as a portfolio of polished work.

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Even in Ohio: Go East for an Outdoor Adventure Mecca

Yes, this is Ohio.
Photo: Analogue Kid

"Where are you from?"

It's no longer a standard question that I ask with a half-listening ear. It's a great conversation starter because I've usually been there, or at least nearby, and usually it sparks a connection between myself and a stranger. 

Because most of my travels are in search of outdoor recreation, and because many of the people I meet are in the midst of outdoor fun, we usually chat about the different places to ski, bike and climb in their home towns. 

This time, I was meeting strangers in the waiting room of a chiropractor's office. 

Bouldering in Brecksville, Ohio
Photo: Phillip Lutz
"Columbus, Ohio," he said. His girlfriend was originally from Nelson, British Columbia (where we were both currently sitting), which explained how they ended up in this small town in another country, waiting to be seen by a doctor.

"Oh! I love Columbus!" The words spilled out with true enthusiasm. I really do. It's a beautiful city, there's a vibrant, young population, the most amazing ice cream shop ever is based there (Jeni's), and Red River Gorge is only a few hours away, with its own list: world class climbing, hiking, and Miguel's Pizza. Just beyond a touch further is the New River Gorge: more world-class goodness for climbers and kayakers.

He looked dubious, even after telling him all my valid reasons. 

His girlfriend looked even more perplexed. 

"I feel so caged in," she said. "There's nothing to do." 

Climber on Convicted (5.13a) Red River Gorge, Kentucky
Photo: Jarek Tuszyński
Wow. As a girl who was raised in Florida, I thought back to how I would have loved to have grown up in a place like Columbus. There are a few small ski areas, there are great roads and cross-country trails for biking, they've got snow in the winter and the leaves change color. And the rivers don't have alligators. 

These two had been in Columbus for roughly a year and had never heard of Red River Gorge or New River Gorge. They didn't know there were ski hills nearby (Mad River Mountain). They didn't know about the great places to eat and hang out downtown. To be fair, they did know Jeni's. 

People! Get to know your backyards. So many folks either come from the East or move east—both sides usually have given up, looking West to "the promised land." 

But when I moved back East for a season just to re-evaluate its offerings, good grief, I ended up loving every flipping moment during ski season and beyond. Each place I explored had greatness. 

There were grueling hikes, snow that was deep and dry (read: easy to ski, like out west) or icy and hardpacked (read: you better know how to actually ski—this is way more challenging than powder skiing in the West), rock and ice climbing that knocked my socks off—even in comparison to standards like Utah and Colorado, and the mountain biking and kayaking is rough and tumble. 

From New Hampshire to North Carolina, from Ohio to Florida, there are crazy good things to be had. If you can't name one good outdoor adventure in your region, you haven't built up the right to complain—you haven't done your homework. Go outside and explore, dang it.

And if you're completely at a loss, let's chat. To start, "Where are you from?" 

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