We got a little nostalgic on Saturday and spent time looking through old photos. It didn't take long for us to realize how adventurous we've been this year even though we haven't taken any exotic or expensive trips.
It reminded me that you don't have to go far to travel. There's a concept in Zen Buddhism called "beginner's mind." It's about approaching life and experiences with a sense of openness.
I like to think this applies to "traveler's mind," too. If you only consider travel something that takes you far away, or requires vacation days, or a packed bag, or reservations, or whatever restriction, maybe it's time to shake things up.
Sometimes it's about putting your preconceived ideas away and looking at your surroundings with a beginner's mind. Do the stuff that you always say you're going to do "someday." Maybe it's a museum you keep putting off. Or that tourist site you secretly love but only see when you have out-of-town guests. Start exploring some of the more obscure, smaller attractions in your area. Take a drive. It doesn't really matter what it is, because the point is to be open to everyday adventure and see a place with a fresh set of eyes.
So with all of that rolling around in my mind, we drove an hour out of the city to Scotsdale Farm on Sunday to have our engagement photos taken. We almost drove right past it. The sign is small and it doesn't look like much from the road. I don't think it's one anyones top sites in Ontario (except the other couples who were there having their photos taken, maybe). But a long tree-lined driveway brings you to over 500 acres of beautiful farmland and woods to explore. The Bruce Trail and Bennett Heritage Trail run through the property and connect it to Silver Creek Conservation Area.
We met up with our photographer and investigated the interesting nooks and crannies next to old farm buildings, ran through tall grass in golden fields (yes, it was ridiculous and fun), and wandered a forest path. It was warm, the sun was shining, and the trees were showing some fall color. We saw older couples hand-in-hand and families with happy kids and dogs. I don't think we could have asked for a nicer day or a nicer slice of Ontario to spend it in.
After we finished the photos and were pulling out of that long, tree-lined driveway, I told S that it felt like we already had a collection of special little places on Ontario. I love that we can visit them easily and that they mean as much to us as the cities and sites we love abroad.
I truly believe that travel is part mindset. It can be so easy to get caught up in aspirational pictures (I'm looking at you, Pinterest) or friends' Facebook posts of beautiful, exciting places to see. But a "traveler's mind," a sense of adventure, and some curiosity can make any trip, near or far, special.
So, I challenge you to be a tourist in your own town. Go see that place. Take a hike (heh heh). Eat at that restaurant. Go back to that museum you loved as a kid. Whatever it is, try to see it for the first time all over again.