Choose your own outdoor adventure |

Choose your own outdoor adventure

Everyone has Thanksgiving holiday weekend traditions they hold dear.

I’ve always liked to be on the winning end of the Thanksgiving Day turkey wishbone. There’s a 50-50 chance of having good luck all year, and those are my kind of odds. Breaking off the lucky side of the turkey bone is more about physics and less about luck. But I’m a betting kind of woman, so it’s always fun to treat the wishbone breaking tradition like shooting craps in Vegas.

Which I’m terrible at, unfortunately.

For many, football is a huge part of their Thanksgiving tradition. From college to the pros, all bets are on for which team will win.

This weekend my money — well not really, I’m too cheap to wager — was on Detroit, Carolina and Green Bay in the NFL. At a quick glance of the packed collegiate schedule, Alabama, Colorado State and Purdue over Indiana University for a major upset in the Old Oaken Bucket look good to me. I’m a diehard Purdue fan, and as Boilermakers often say, I bleed black and gold. Even if we’re only 2-9 this season.

The Boilers could use the lucky end of a wishbone.

Shopping, especially today on Black Friday, is also a favorite Thanksgiving tradition in the U.S. The deal-hungry masses are motivated to flood retail stores, particularly national chains offering everything from crock pots to flat-screen TVs on the cheap, at the wee hours of the morning. I’ve always appreciated sleep, and that’s especially true these days with an infant in my life. The last place anyone will find me at sunrise on the day after Thanksgiving is shopping or waiting in a line. Black Friday creatively combines those two activities to induce just enough price-slashing hysteria people actually trample each other over toys and laptops.

Another reason to stay home.

Or maybe go outside instead. That’s the thinking behind REI’s #OptOutside viral campaign, with a million people pledging on its website to enjoy the Great Outdoors. The nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer won’t be open on Black Friday at all 143 retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers. The fortunate 12,000 employees can do what they love most — be outside, according to REI, instead of working.

Especially crazy hours.

“Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside,” REI president and CEO Jerry Stritzke said, in a letter to the co-op’s members. “We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to #OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”

This, I love.

On the website, those skipping Black Friday mayhem are encouraged to go walking in the woods, trail running, rock climbing, camping, canoeing, skiing, snowboarding and just about anything that involves being out of the house or away from a mall. Outdoor enthusiasts like myself can plug in their ZIP codes to see areas close by where they can enjoy some fresh air. They can share their plans for Black Friday and photos on the site with the #OptOutside hashtag.

I predict amazing selfies coming out of Colorado.

I’ll surely miss the surplus of outdoor experiences within the Roaring Fork Valley available merely by stepping outside your door. Plugging in the 81601 ZIP code, REI suggests the six closest locations for opting outside. They include the Palisade Rim Trail, the Tabeguache Trail (Lunch Loops Trailhead) and the Trail Through Time in Grand Junction, Sprague Lake in Estes Park, Elk Falls Overlook in Conifer, and Royal Arch Trail in Boulder. There are obviously many, many more. Especially on the Western Slope.

A breathtaking hike up Mushroom Rock outside of Carbondale immediately comes to mind.

Stritzke quoted American naturalist and conservationist John Muir when addressing REI members about today’s outdoor initiative. In 1901, Muir said, “Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.”

Even 114 years later, those words ring true. Especially on Black Friday.

April E. Clark is happy Indiana has some beautiful state parks with trails to explore, too. She can be reached at

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