Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bob Doucette has worn a lot of hats within the field of journalism. From do-it-all reporter to editor, he has had experience in just about every job a journalists could possibly have. After becoming a reporter "almost by accident" after college, Mr. Doucette worked for a number of small papers before landing a job at The Daily Oklahoman.

He has worked plenty of different beats for the paper, but for the last two years he has also been keeping a blog dedicated to the outdoors. In this video, Bob talks a little bit about what he has had to learn in order to keep a blog and what it takes to make a blog successful.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It is true that this blog is primarily about getting out into nature, but more than that, it is really about just getting outdoors in general and being active. That being said, few things combine being outside with having a great time like a live music festival, and Norman has its very own every year by way of the Norman Music Festival.

The Norman Music Festival just held its third annual event this weekend, and this year's was the biggest yet with an early estimate of upwards of 35,000 people getting out for the two day festival featuring some of the best up and coming bands from around the country, food vendors ranging from healthier vegetarian cuisine to classic fried favorites, and merchants set up selling all of the band memorabilia one could ever hope for. The festival took place right in the heart of downtown Norman on Main Street and was absolutely free to anyone who wanted to attend.

The fest has grown in each of its first three years now, going from just about 13,000 total spectators in its first year to over 25,000 in its second and finally moving from a one day festival to a two day event this year to accommodate the crowds. There is truly something for everybody at this event and not just in the way of music. There is an area showcasing films by local filmmakers, an area for kids complete with rides, and all kinds of giveaways all the way down Main Street. The Norman Music Festival is an awesome event that brings a lot of money, good publicity and above all, a good time to the city of Norman. So, if you have not been able to check one out yet, make sure and get to next year's festival.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Myriad Botanical Gardens

If there is one thing that can hinder any outdoor plans in a hurry, it is the weather. Unfortunately for outdoor lovers in Oklahoma, this state is known for crazy weather that can go from being sunny and 75 degrees one day to having a freak snowstorm the next. So, what happens when a well planned outdoor adventure suddenly gets ruined thanks to an onslaught of inclimate weather? Sure, it is easy to just give in and stay inside watching television all day, but there are other options if one just thinks a little bit outside the box.

One such option is the Myriad Botanical Gardens right in the heart of Oklahoma City. This mini indoor rainforest offers visitors the unique experience of getting to feel like they have just stepped in the middle of a jungle no matter what the weather is like. With thousands of unique plants, and even a little tropical wildlife in the huge glass building, it is easy for one to forget that they are in Oklahoma while visiting the Botanical Gardens. So, next time a sudden downpour ruins your outdoor plans, rather than just sit at home, make the short trip to the Myriad Botanical Gardens to get a little taste of the outdoors while still staying dry.

Friday, April 2, 2010

This is an interview with Sam Tiffany of the Thunderbird Sailing Club. The club holds many races and events throughout the year, and strives to promote sailing education in the community. People of all skill levels are encouraged to check out the club. For more information on the Thunderbird Sailing Club and sailing events in the Norman area, be sure to check out www.thunderbirdsailingclub.org/.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oklahoma, located right in the heart of the great plains, is the last place most people would expect to see mountains. However, the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge tucked away in the southwest corner of the state is home to several of them. The Wichita Mountains may not be as big as the major mountain ranges in the Unites States. In fact, Mount Scott, the tallest peak in the refuge only rises to a height of 2,460 feet. However, what this area lacks in height, it more than makes up for in beauty.

The granite rock that makes up these mountains makes for great cracks and crags in the cliff faces resulting in perfect climbing conditions, and there are currently 250 rated routes for climbers to choose from throughout the refuge. For the less ambitious adventurers out there, the refuge also boasts nine trails that go around the entire 59,020 acre area, and plenty of campsites ranging from full electric hook-ups to backcountry roughing it.

The thing that sets the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge apart from similar areas is not the climbing or nature trails, however. What sets this area apart is the natural beauty. Whereas most refuges have miles of fenced in area, this entire place is wide open. It is not uncommon to have to stop to let bison or mountain elk pass by on a trail. Mitch Wilson, a sophomore at OU, says that this is what keeps him coming back.

"It's nice to get out here, because everything just feels so natural. There are bison and longhorns grazing everywhere, and wide open fields everywhere you see," said Wilson. "It feels like one of the only places left where you can go to really be in nature."

And the best part about this area? It is only about an hour and a half away from Norman. So, the next time you have some free time and want a unique outdoor experience, just head south towards Medicine Park to a place that is sure to keep you coming back for more.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

At first glance, Lake Thunderbird, the 7,000 acre lake located just east of Norman, does not appear to me much more than a small lake used by fishermen and the occasional boater. However, first impressions can be deceiving, and there is certainly much more to this little lake than meets the eye. Several miles of trails surround the lake, ranging from easy nature walks to full mountain biking trails complete with steep drops and jumps. Many locals say this is a great place to go to get away without actually having to get too far away.

Sophomore Braden Scott ventures out to Lake Thunderbird often for a variety of activities. “My friends and I like to get out here with our bikes and ride on most weekends when the weather is decent,” Scott said. “It’s just a really good way to blow off steam. The trail is set up so you can ride anywhere from one to about four and a half miles, and it never gets old.”

While the main trail, Clear Bay Trail, does have plenty to keep the mountain biker entertained such as both natural and manmade drops and some impressive downhill turns, the trails are also maintained well enough for hikers or runners to enjoy them.

“I come out to the lake for a lot of different reasons,” said sophomore Rachelle Barteau. “I run the trails whenever I can, and sometimes when the weather’s really nice I do homework by the water. It’s just nice to feel like you’re away from everything for a while, and the lake is the perfect place for that.”

Maybe you have been looking for an adrenaline-fueled mountain bike ride or maybe you just need a more interesting setting for your daily run. Whatever the inkling, the little lake just east of Norman can satisfy any outdoor need.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Kickin' Off the Shoes

One of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to get out and enjoy the world is to go for a run. Going for a run through a park, on an easy hiking trail, or just around town is a great way to get in some exercise and relieve some stress. The one problem some people have with running is the cost of shoes. It is not uncommon for runners to pay well over a hundred dollars for a good pair of shoes. However, more and more people are beginning to see this as a waste of money.

Barefoot running is not a new concept. For years, people have run barefoot both in training and in actual races. In fact, in the 1960 summer Olympics, Ethiopian Abebe Bikila ran the marathon barefoot and won with a world record time. However, it is not until more recently that this trend has gained popularity largely thanks to studies that have shown barefoot running to actually be more beneficial than running with shoes on.

A study released by Harvard Medical School this past January reports that after examining the running style of three groups of runners; one group that had always run barefoot, one group that had always worn shoes, and one group that had recently stopped wearing shoes, the barefoot runners clearly had the safer running style. According to the researchers, when wearing shoes, the heal strikes the ground first causing damaging impact to the body. However, while running barefoot people tend to land on the ball of the foot first with a springy forward step, reducing impact on the body.

Running barefoot through soft grass on a warm day has always been a very freeing experience, and as it turns out, running sans shoes benefits more than just the soul. So, next time you are in the mall trying to decide which hundred dollar pair of running shoes to buy, save some money instead. For a truly unique experience that can benefit your health and running style, simply get out there, kick off your shoes and go for a run.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Little Midwinter Fishing

In the cold, cloudy, and particularly in Oklahoma, windy months of winter, getting outside to spend some time in the little sunlight that is to be found can do wonders for someone’s mood. The problem is finding something to do outside with an inch of snow on the ground. Even the most steel-willed adventurer would think twice about hiking through the woods or scaling a cliff in a 20-degree wind chill. Not only can venturing into the wilderness in the fickle Oklahoma winters be dangerous, but also many camping areas are closed during the winter season.

However, this does not mean that outdoor lovers have to be stuck inside all winter long waiting on the snow to melt. In fact, Oklahomans can find a perfect outdoor winter getaway in a very unexpected place-a river. Just outside the little town of Broken Bow sits the Lower Mountain Fork River, a haven for anglers regardless of the time of year. Whereas the bass and catfish found in Oklahoma lakes are not active in the winter, the rainbow and black trout of this river can be seen jumping in the fast-moving white water year round.

The rapids here are fed by a hydroelectric dam at the beginning of the river, which means that regardless of water level, the river will always be moving fast enough for trout to be very active. During the late spring and summer months, the river becomes a popular destination for kayakers looking to run the rapids. However, once the temperature drops and the tourists subside, people come from miles around to test their luck at fly-fishing.

The beauty of the Lower Mountain Fork is the feeling of seclusion the river provides. While standing in the cold shallow water casting a fly, civilization feels a million miles away; yet, the warmth of a car heater is only a few steps away making this secluded river the perfect place to beat cabin fever during these long cold winter months.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This picture of Gaylord Memorial Stadium was taken for another school project. This is the kind of picture that people expect to see of Norman. A quick google image search turns up countless pictures of local restaurants, clubs and of course, the OU campus.
What people do not associate with Norman, Oklahoma, however, are mountain biking trails, sailboats, or backcountry camping. Yet, these are just a few of the outdoor opportunities in and around Norman.
Oklahoma can be an outdoor enthusiast's paradise. You just have to know where to look. Hopefully, in the weeks to come, this blog can provide a little insight in to just where that is.

The Trial Run

This is a picture for my "portrait without a person" project. Honestly, the picture has nothing to do with what this blog is about, but this post is kind of a trial run of sorts. The good news is, the blog can go only go uphill from here.