The day begins to wane as you watch the vibrant sunset from the comfort of your trusty canoe, allowing the sun’s fleeting rays to warm your soul. As you paddle along you take note of the tiny turtle family sunbathing amidst a floating log on the nearby bank, and the rhythmic lull of the flowing river as the bow of the canoe bisects the current. You begin to comment on the perfection of the pristine panorama you are beholding, but what is that in the distance obstructing your view…a pile of tires? Unfortunately this has happened to me and many others across the world as we face an epidemic of illegally dumped tires in our lovely waterways, parks, roadsides, and just about anywhere imaginable. As un-anesthetically pleasing as this may be, abandoned tires cause far worse problems to our environment and health. With a little education and effort we can eradicate-or take steps to prevent- the tire pile-up by recycling, re-purposing, or reusing these tires in new and innovative ways.
This week’s AdventureBlog post is guest written by Leah Lillios King, owner of Kali Yuga Yoga. Thanks to the ongoing partnership between Kali Yuga Yoga and Lightning 100’s Team Green Adventures, Nashvillians can once again enjoy a season of FREE outdoor yoga with our Yoga in the Park series between June 7th and August 30th.
Each Yoga in the Park session is beginner-friendly. Whether you’re a yogi-master or completely new to the activity, this week’s AdventureBlog explains how to properly do the Sun Salutation, so you can get the most out of your practice!
In honor of President’s Day this Monday, there’s no better time to take a quick look back at the history of one of America’s greatest treasures, our National Park system. Though the first National Park, Yellowstone, was actually established by an act of Congress in 1872, the Oval Office has long made significant impacts on the system as a whole. While parks continued to be established throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, it wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson, at the height of World War I, established the National Park Service to manage and oversee the ever-expanding system of federally-protected lands. Since that time, dozens of National Parks and hundreds of National Monuments have been added to the list of conserved places, with some 401 distinct areas covering more than 84 million acres across the United States and its territories.
Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most-visited National Parks, as well as their year of creation and the President at the time:
1. Great Smoky Mountain National Park (Tennessee, 1926, Calvin Coolidge)
2. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
3. Yosemite National Park (California, 1890, Benjamin Harrison)
4. Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, 1872, Ulysses S. Grant)
5. Olympic National Park (Washington, 1938, Franklin Roosevelt)
6. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado, 1915, Woodrow Wilson)
7. Zion National Park (Utah, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
8. Grand Teton National Park (Utah, 1929, Herbert Hoover)
9. Acadia National Park (Maine, 1919, Woodrow Wilson)
10. Glacier National Park (Montana, 1910, William Howard Taft)
Arguably one of the most interesting things about the National Park system is that it’s never complete. In just the last 35 years, 19 parks have been added to the list, including mainstays like Saguaro National Park in Arizona and Joshua Tree National Park in California (both were upgraded from National Monument status in 1994). In total, 18 different US Presidents have overseen the addition of National Park land to the system, spanning more than 130 years of preservation efforts.
Obviously, no discussion of conservation in the United States would be complete without mention of Teddy Roosevelt, who is widely considered to be America’s most conservation-oriented president. After taking a trip to the Badlands in 1883, Roosevelt became enamored with the beauty of the American frontier while also developing great concern for the damage being done to the land and wildlife through ever-increasing development and hunting patterns. Just over 20 years later, Roosevelt channeled his passion for the great outdoors into the passage of the 1906 American Antiquities Act, which he used to create 18 National Monuments. During the course of his Presidency, “Roosevelt used his authority to protect wildlife and public lands by creating the U.S. Forest Service and establishing 51 Federal Bird Reservations, 4 National Game Preserves, 150 National Forests, [and] 5 National Parks,” conserving some 230 million acres of American wilderness in the process (much of this land was protected under the jurisdiction of the National Forest Service, which was combined with the National Park Service in 1933 through an Executive Order by Franklin D. Roosevelt).
Even to this day, the quest for further conservation continues with President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, which aims to promote a responsible conservation and recreation agenda through the development of closer relationships between outdoors stakeholders at all levels. So on this President’s Day, take some time to appreciate the efforts of those in the White House to protect the incredible natural beauty that exists in all corners of the United States. If you can, head to your nearest National Park, National Monument, National Forest, or any other federally-protected area and enjoy the wonder of the great outdoors! Happy President’s Day, Nashville!
– Matt (Team Green’s Event Coordinator)
Update 2/19/15: President Obama just designated three new National Monuments: Pullman National Monument in Illinois, Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, and Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii. Very cool!
Vegetable gardening is one of my favorite pastimes, partly because it’s a solitary activity that, afterwards, leaves me smelling like fresh Earth. It’s also a source of pride when I watch the fruits of my labor literally grow and multiply before my eyes. When I harvest my tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, basil, and rhubarb, I know exactly where the food came from, how it was cared for, and how it was prepared.
Gardening can also be extremely frustrating! Like most things in life, the more hard work you put into it in the beginning, the easier the project is near the end. But, if you only put a little effort in at a time, that need for more effort never quite goes away. That’s why I start my gardening process in the late fall, when gardening is the last thing on most people’s minds. I start by preparing the soil as though I were getting ready to start planting the next day.
I’m no professional gardener, but I have been enjoying this hobby for several years. I encourage our readers with more knowledge to add additional tips in our comments section! Here’s a quick rundown of my methods:
Camping is the ultimate retreat for outdoor-lovers. Submerge yourself in a weekend of nature before the summer winds down. Camp with family or join Team Green Adventures and meet people who love the outdoors as much as you! On Saturday, August 9, Team Green is heading to Hiwassee River for a weekend of kayaking and camping. For more information, check out our event page.
Even if that trip isn’t your cup of tea, check out our ten best reasons for getting outdoors and camping this summer:
1. Escape the City
A camping trip means you will do almost nothing for a weekend. You won’t have to get ready in the morning, run errands, or clean. Turn off your phone and laptop and just relax. You won’t be relaxing for 30 minutes; you will be relaxing for multiple days. Discover that you don’t need a whole lot to make you happy.
2. Appreciate Nature
When was the last time you laid in the grass to look at a sky full of stars? You will be surprised how much more sky you can see outside of the city. The day’s activities will revolve around nature. The real thing is always better than a picture, so truly soak in your surroundings. Camping lets you take a break from artificial lighting. As it grows darker, you won’t have bright light from your laptop or phone glaring in your eyes.
3. Family Time
Laugh together as your family works together to overcome the struggles of setting up a tent and cooking food over the campfire. Sleeping in the tent and tasting the food will be that much more rewarding if teamwork was required! Camping is a bonding experience where you spend the whole day together without the distractions of electronics or work.
4. Learn Survival Skills
Camping offers the chance to teach your kids how to start a fire and set up a campsite. While weekend camping may be more leisurely, there are still many survival skills that can be practiced. Teach your kids the well-known phrase, “leave your camp cleaner than you came,” and show them why recycling is important in a more hands-on way.
5. It’s Budget-Friendly
Camping is basically a vacation that doesn’t cost money. The small expense that is required is much less than having to pay for gas, taxis, airfare, and going out to eat a bunch. These expenses can add up shockingly fast, but staying at a campsite for two nights could cost as little as $24 total. This will help the trip be even more relaxing!
6. That Campfire Smell
The smell of a campfire in the woods beats most others. When you smell the campfire you can anticipate hot dogs, grilled cheese wrapped in foil, acoustic guitar playing, and unforgettable conversations with close friends and family. The smell of bacon cooking over campfire is reason enough to go camping…
7. Best Breakfast Ever
Speaking of bacon, there is truly nothing better than a breakfast cooked over a fire in the woods. Think skillet scrambled eggs with chopped veggies and breakfast potatoes. And don’t forget the French press! All of the camping food you eat will have a light, smoky flavor, providing you with a constant reminder of the joys of the great outdoors.
8. Sunrise and Sunset
Often times during the sunrise and sunset people are indoors or asleep. City life makes it easy to miss these beautiful scenes. When camping, your clock is the sun. You will wake up to a beautiful sunrise and stay up past sunset.
9. Be Inspired
When you return home you may find yourself using your phone less, spending more time outdoors, or sitting down for dinner with your family every evening. Let your camping trip inspire you to carry some of those practices into your daily life.
10. It’s Good for Your Health
Trees release phytoncides, which reduce stress, lower blood pressure, ease digestion, and boost the immune system. These healthy benefits can last up to 30 days. The woods also provide more oxygen and have many fewer pollutants, helping you breathe more easily outdoors. Vitamin D from the sun allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous. The most obvious health benefit of camping is the exercise. You will be moving all day, but since you’ll also be having a good time, the work won’t feel like exercise. After a day full of activities in the sun, you will sleep more deeply, especially with the sound of your natural surroundings soothing you as you rest.
Don’t take our word for it – get out and experience the outdoors for yourself! We’ve got plenty of great adventures coming up to help get you outside and active before summer’s over:
– Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)
Summer entails outdoor adventures, traveling to new places and trying new activities, but we can’t forget to rest, relax and re-charge. This summer, as you spend some time by a pool or lake, pick up Robert Brandt’s Natural Nashville: A Guide to the Greenways and Nature Parks.
If you call Nashville home, then you’ve probably found your favorite trails to escape the city. Whether you are looking for more secluded places, or you want to expand your knowledge of your cherished parks, Natural Nashville has everything you need to know about outdoor adventure in Nashville, all in one convenient place!
Brandt’s fifth book on the Tennessee outdoors is an extensive guide highlighting everything you can expect to see and experience at each park or Greenway in Nashville. At the end of each section is a personal testimony from a local hiker, giving you a more intimate account of the treasures Nashville has to offer.
Natural Nashville was written in memory of Bob Brown, the founder of Tennessee Trails Association. Brown was also a leader in establishing the Cumberland Trail, the greenways program, Shelby Bottoms, Beaman Park, and Bells Bend Park. Brown passed away in 2007, but Brandt’s book is a place for recognizing and appreciating Brown’s hard work in preserving the natural environment in Tennessee.
In an interview with The Tennessean, Brandt shares his five favorite outdoor activities in Nashville:
- Biking the Natchez Trace Parkway
- Floating along the Harpeth
- Riding the Music City Bikeway
- Looping the Warner Park Trails
- Hiking Beaman Park
If you love Nashville and understand the joy of spending a long time roaming natural parks and trails, then you’ll be glad you opened Brandt’s Natural Nashville. Not only will this guide teach you more about Nashville’s natural environment, but it will also inspire you to continue exploring and spending time in the great outdoors.
Natural Nashville: A Guide to the Greenways and Nature Parks is $14.95 and can be purchased at BookMan BookWoman, Parnassus Books and Amazon.com. All proceeds go toward future Greenways for Nashville projects. Greenways for Nashville is a nonprofit coalition of individuals, groups and businesses that support Metro Parks greenways program, which preserves natural, scenic and cultural areas around Nashville with the help of volunteers.
No plans next weekend? You might want to check out the guided hike being led by Robert Brandt being held at Warner Parks. This event will be a great way to learn more about the book firsthand from the author, while also giving you the opportunity to snag a copy if you want one!
– Kate (Team Green’s Summer Intern)
Just like Confucius’s quote, “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life,” the same can be said about exercise. Find an outdoor sport you love, and you’ll never workout a day in your life. Adventure sports transform people far beyond physical strength. These rewards will make you crave outdoor adventure and never dread physical activity again!
Adventure: an exciting event where you dare to go somewhere unknown
Imagine the first time you finish a trail run without stopping. Accomplishments like this take time and dedication. As you build endurance in any sport, you will gain perseverance to be able to more easily overcome any challenges in your daily life. Outdoor adventures build independence and self-confidence. Lessons learned from adventurous experiences can lead to positivity, selflessness, keeping commitments, self-discipline, and honesty, according to a study on Human Kinetics.
While climbing you have to determine which places have the best foot holding. Paddleboard yoga requires mental focus to keep from falling in the water. Adventure sports foster both physical and mental conditioning. Extreme outdoor activities separate themselves from other sports by requiring keen observation and concentration. The outdoors offers unpredictable elements like wind, rain, or cold temperatures that allow for an adrenaline rush and release of endorphins. An exhilarating degree of risk challenges you to build your mental strength. According to Outside, our senses are improved by spending time outdoors as well as our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be more creative.
Many adventure sports are not accomplished alone. Sharing these activities with people will result in an increased pride in your community. Challenges during an adventure produce group bonding and cooperation by practicing resolving disagreements, appreciating differences, developing new friendships, and getting along with others. Not only will outdoor sports grow togetherness among a group, but they will also reveal leadership skills and the need for some to claim specific responsibilities. We host a ropes course 1-2 times each year with Adventureworks that embodies this type of experience perfectly, challenging each participant to push their individual boundaries and work together as a team. As a member of an adventurous group, you will feel part of something larger than life!
Closeness with Nature
While adventure sports may be thrilling at times, the outdoor setting will reduce stress and your risk for stress-related diseases. Anticipating the difficulty of a double-black diamond slope may cause some fear, but taking a break at the top of a peak reminds you why you love being in the riskier places on a mountain. You will learn to appreciate nature and your connection to the earth. By realizing our responsibility to protect nature, you will experience a stronger sense of belonging and a greater awareness of place. Living in the outdoors will force you to learn more about their place in today’s society.
Beyond the thrill of the outdoors, adventure sports grow self-confidence, your mind, your ability to cooperate with others, and your appreciation for nature. Start having more fun when you exercise and discover new activities you’ll love. Join us by participating in our wide range of outdoor adventures for everyone from beginners to those with more experience, and check out our upcoming events here!
– Kate (Team Green 2014 Summer Intern)