From an early age, I never had a problem with leaving home. I even based my college choice in part- ok, a large part – on my study abroad options, choosing Miami of Ohio after learning that their architecture students had the opportunity to spend a semester in Florence, Italy. I didn’t think twice or worry about how I was going to afford it – I just signed up, flew across the ocean, and soaked up every minute of it. I took long walks in foreign cities, just me, a camera, and a journal, discovering tiny corners of this entirely different world. I loved the freedom and the ability to just be somewhere. Each new place was like a secret, and I treasured them all in my heart.

Now that the college bubble has popped and bills need to be paid, flying to Florence isn’t so easy, nor do I have three months of summer vacation for camping, hiking, concert-going, roller-coaster-riding, and beach-sitting. Despite the real-life struggles of adjusting to adulthood, however, I’ve found that there is always an opportunity for adventure.

I am blessed to have found someone with the same spark of adventure, and we hit the road any chance we get. Sometimes, we save up and go all out – like our 28-day epic cross country road trip two years ago. And sometimes we surprise each other with smaller adventures, like a trip to McConnelsville to see a film in their renovated Opera House. Either way, we get the same sense of excitement as we jump in the car and head somewhere new. My atlas (The National Geographic, “Adventure Edition”) is permanently parked in the back seat of my car, just in case.

While I know that not everyone is able to take off a month of work to gallivant across the continental U.S., I do believe that we all have the ability to take a cruise down an unfamiliar road and discover something new – about the Mid-Ohio Valley, sure, but also about ourselves.

Adventuring is good for the soul. It gives us the chance to experience the world from a new perspective, even if it’s just a street in your neighborhood that you’ve never been down before. It ignites that child-like curiosity within us that yearns for the far-far-away we dreamed of every time we read a storybook as a kid. Not knowing what is going to happen next is a wonderful thing.

We are fortunate to live in an area where there are plenty of corners to explore, both in our downtowns and in the surrounding wilderness. Perhaps you’ve never ventured over into Harmar Village, or have yet to hike the trails at Fort Boreman. Within an hour and a half radius, we are surrounded by State Parks, National Forests, historic landmarks, and endless hiking trails. There are caves, waterfalls, scenic byways, creeks, covered bridges, stunning views, rocky cliffs, and wooded islands. Whether you prefer to travel by car, bike, kayak or on foot, adventure is calling.

So while yes, I do crave snow-capped mountains and Italian cobblestone streets, my spark for adventure is also satisfied by a sunset cruise along the river, a picnic at Wayne National Forest or a stroll through Parkersburg’s historic district. No matter how near or far you go, the key is to  just go.