Sunday, April 23, 2023
Welcome to Spring friends, thank you for stopping by my Self-care Sundays B.R.E.A.T.H.S. blog where I share a variety of self-care strategies that bring me joy. The first week, I shared some Spring-time self-care strategies. The second week, Sunday fell on Easter, so I shared some Family fun. Last week, I was a bit down in the dumps and wrote about ways I can pick myself back up. This fourth week I am celebrating Earth Day and thought I would share some of my most enjoyable outdoor activities from some of my favorite states.
After visiting 49 of the 50 United States (Alaska is the only state left to see), I am often asked what state surprised me the most, and my answer is always, Arkansas. I would have never thought of Arkansas as it was probably the furthest off my radar of outdoor fun when traveling across the country until my visit during February of 2021. My first day there, I stopped at Crater of Diamonds State Park just outside Murfreesboro, AR. On average, one diamond a day is found there! I trekked all day long in the mud looking for diamonds but had no luck, however, it was really fun.
The second day I was in Arkansas, I visited Hot Springs National Park and hiked around the thermal hill along the bathhouse row. Then I spent the afternoon soaking my sore legs in the thermal baths. Two very different outdoor Arkansas experiences that were exceptionally memorable!
A couple of my friends live in the land of many lakes, Minnesota. On the two trips I took to Minnesota, my friends and I visited every corner of the state, even crossing a few borders for some outdoor fun. We would end up on epic outdoor adventures like tubing down a river (actually it was in Apple River, WI), paddle boarding at Lake Calhoun (aka BDE Maka Ska) in Minneapolis, hiking in the National Parks, and walking around a town with my last name, Brainerd. It was also my first time seeing the Mississippi River, definitely not my last.
My favorite memory was when we were visiting Grand Portage, we hiked up to the Canadian/USA border along the Pigeon River. I thought it would be fun to toss rocks across the river to hit the other side. Just as one rock hit, I saw two people walking near the area and I called over to them to throw a rock back. They both threw rocks that landed in the river, I threw one more rock and it hit land right between the two guys. This was especially hilarious because both countries were restricted from visiting one another due to Covid, but we managed to have a memorable encounter at healthy distances. (2-0 USA, lol see video above at 3:18).
National Parks Visited while in the Midwest:
- Grand Portage National Monument
- Mississippi River National River & Recreation Area Minneapolis
- North Country National Scenic Trail (MN, WI)
- Pipestone National Monument (MN)
- Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (MN/WI)
- Voyageurs National Park (MN)
- Effigy Mounds National Monument (IA)
Hands-down, Hawaii is my most favorite state for outdoor excursions, let’s see if I can remember them all. I will break it down to each of the three islands I have visited: Oahu, Kauai, and The Big Island.
2017 Summer – My first time visiting Hawaii was Oahu:
- I learned to snorkel
- Become PADI certified and did scuba diving
- Wading at white sand beaches in Kaneohe
- Hiking lighthouses
- Danced the hula at an evening luau dinner
- Walking tours through pineapple, macadamia nut, and coffee plantations
2018 Winter – My second trip to Oahu:
- I experienced several outdoor activities at Kualoa Ranch, such as:
- A jungle jeep tour of Jurassic Park
- Boat rides at the Secret Island
- Beach activities: kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming
- Beach sports: soccer, volleyball, horseshoes, table tennis
- Just lounging on hammocks, towels, or beach chairs.
- Waimea Valley at North Shore:
- Surfing the coast
- Walking through botanical gardens
- Hiking the trails
- Kayaking the river
- Swimming in Waimea Falls
- Touring the Byodo-In Temple gardens
- Visiting the Polynesian Culture Center to learn about culture and history
- My friend and I took a catamaran sunset dinner cruise in Waikiki Bay
- I also went to SkyDive Hawaii for tandem jump with a photographer to record the experience.
2021 Summer – My third trip to Oahu:
- My friend and I did arts and crafts on the beach at North Shore making:
- Seashell pendants
- Palm weaved baskets
- I hiked to pill boxes to watch the sunset
- Rode an eBike around Waikiki
- Hiked to the top of Diamond Head
- Visited a nude beach
- Rafted and waded at the Kaneohe Sandbar
- Went back to the Secret Beach at Kualoa Ranch
- Did another catamaran sunset cruise in Waikiki Bay
Kauai Spring 2018
- Tubing down old irrigation tunnels
- Guided kayaking tour of the Waimea River
- Guided hiking tour to a secret waterfall
- Waterfall chasing in the Waimea Canyon
- Swimming at the Salt Pond State Beach with friends
- Helicopter tour of the NaPali Coast and Jurassic Waterfall
The Big Island Summer of 2021
Visiting the National Parks
Pohoiki Bay and Hot Spring
- Soaking in the hot springs
- Cooling off in the ocean on black sand beaches
The Southernmost Point
- Seeing the Southernmost Point in the USA
- Walking along the volcanic coastline
- ATV ride or hike to green sand beach
- Wave surfing at Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
- Recreational sandy beaches
- Most of the National and State Parks
- The Peace Garden
- Rocky, cliffside beaches
- Hilo Bay boating
- Wildlife Reserves
- Sunrise hike to Kohala Lighthouse
- Farmers markets
- Historical landmarks
- Swimming holes
Conclusion on Joyous Outdoor Activities
While there are plenty of exciting outdoor activities in every state, I narrowed down my choices to three states that had some interesting and memorable outdoor excursions: Arkansas, Minnesota, and Hawaiian Islands. The states offered everything from mining, hiking, tubing, boating, biking, walking, swimming, and lounging. I was able to find the best outdoor activities each state had to offer. Looking forward to finding even more outdoor adventures for every place I visit.
Thank you for reading and viewing,
Dr. Jaime Brainerd, E.d.D.