Leave your electronics on dry land and spend the day kayaking.
Tis the season for resolutions and new gym memberships and budgets and paleo diets and pinning the latest bun and thigh and ab challenges on Pinterest. But if you really wish to boost your health, wellness and state of mind this new year, I offer a simple prescription: Spend more time outside.
Whether this means sipping more hot tea on the patio before everyone else wakes up, going for a sunrise and sunset walk around the neighborhood each day, planning a spring break camping trip sans cell phones, playing in the yard longer, taking more naps in the hammock on the porch, strolling the kids down to the park more often, or planning a weekend retreat to a cabin in the woods is really up to you.
Getting outside gives me time and space to slow down and reconnect with what really matters in my life. It makes me feel more grounded. It helps my son seem more relaxed. The busier and more stressed I feel, the more I need to take the time to hit the road and get some fresh air.
Where to Go
The Jackson metro and the state have many great places to breathe in the great outdoors. I get this in early-morning Fondren, I get this at Laurel Street Park in Belhaven, I get this picnicking at the reservoir overlook, and I really get it just about anywhere along the Natchez Trace. For a real wellness boost in the new year, hop on the Trace and drive about four hours northeast, letting the world melt away over the miles, until you begin to see signs for Tishomingo State Park.
Rustic wooded cabins the Civilian Conservative Corps constructed in the 1930s offer the perfect location for an unplugged family weekend of board games and splashing in creeks, a romantic getaway with stone fireplaces in each room, a base camp for all-day hiking among the Appalachian foothills, or a retreat for swinging on the screened porch with great friends.
What to Do
Tishomingo has fields for kicking a ball around, an outdoor pool for swimming (in the summer) and miles of amazing trails. The Bear Creek Loop spans over 4.1 miles. Jump in and wade creeks, balance on fallen trees, climb mossy boulders, examine a wide variety of mushrooms, pause for a snack in an old pioneer cabin, crawl through caves. The two-mile Outcroppings Trail offers some similar sites, with more cliffs to scramble up and waterfalls to climb. Both of these longer park hikes would be perfect for older kids, teens, and adults who are fit and healthy. Some shorter and easier hikes are also available in the park for pretty much any fitness level.
For those of a less athletic bent, the area offers ample windows for gazing out into the woods, porches for rocking, fireplaces for reading beside, giant rocks for painting or photographing, and tables for eating and talking across and playing Monopoly.
What to Pack
• Food and water
• Hiking shoes and socks
• Layers of weather-appropriate clothing
• Soap and shampoo
• Books and board games
• Balls or other outdoor toys
• Newspaper and matches to start a fire
What to Leave at Home
• Sheets and towels (linens provided by the cabins)
• Firewood (firewood bundles can be purchased at the park and delivered to your screen porch for $7 per bundle)
Find Out More
"Hiking Mississippi: A Guide to 50 of the State's Greatest Hiking Adventures" by Johnny Molloy, (State Hiking Guides Series, Falcon Guides, 2009, $16.95).