Step 2: Capturing the “Art of the Possible”

Now comes a step both fun and difficult. A caution here: don’t get ahead of the process — this is not deciding the adventure or determining its “Epic Nature.” However, you do have to consider what you like to do to bring out the enjoyment. If you like to hike or kayak, then maybe focus your research in this step to those two areas. In this post, I will try to come at it with a broad view to capture as many options as possible — difficult.

First, a bit of background to help set the stage. I’ve had a job that has moved me all over the world–some places more exciting than others. However, I decided long ago that I would explore each of those local areas where I found myself–and I’m glad I did! There are exciting things to do everywhere. I also realized that many people don’t think about having a local adventure–I can’t recall how many times I spoke to people who had lived in an area their whole life and hadn’t visited something interesting that was 15 minutes from their home. Like I said, sometimes they just don’t think about it! So my approach on this Step is built on years of experience exploring my local areas. Earlier in my life (pre-internet), it usually consisted of buying a local map and a Michelin Guide. These two items together, with some work, usually allowed me to find items of interest close by. Now, with the internet, I’m able to use different search engines, maps, and webpages to find the items–to include using certain apps on my phone.

Ok — back to the second step … Art of the Possible!

With a quick view around google maps, I found five state parks in the search area. I also found four rivers, twelve lakes/reservoirs, six wildlife refuges, a couple of state recreation areas, several parks (city/regional), a multitude of golf courses (disc and ball), and plenty of country roads.

I see possibilities on the map for hiking, cycling (road/MTB), golf, hunting, fishing, running, kayaking, canoeing, birdwatching, sightseeing, camping, ATV … and more.

Also, there are a couple of larger towns in this area (Grand Island and Kearny, Nebraska)–so there are options for city activities. Just as an example, there are a couple of breweries in Grand Island — I also see some wineries in the surrounding area. Salina, Kansas also has a brewery …

A closer inspection of the map brings out several historical markers around this area — even to emphasize some literary sites. For instance, in Red Cloud, Nebraska is the childhood home of Willa Cather — an early 2oth century novelist.

I also found some caves — Faris Caves.

Switching to a couple of different websites ( and, I’ll find hiking and cycling trails. Zooming in on the alltrails map, I see about 30 curated trails. Trailforks only offers up a couple of entries … there’s a Potter’s Pasture trail system for MTB’ing, but that’s near North Platte (about 140 miles) — outside our zone … but still in the realm of the possible.

Knowing the activities available, I can find other sites/entries that will zoom in on the activities in which I am interested. With just this rough mapping of the “Art of the Possible,” I’m now ready for Step 3: Decide Upon Your Adventure or Experience.

Step 1: Build Your Map.

Today, we’ll look at how to scope your map to start your Local Epic. Since this is a blog, and I assume you are looking at this online, I’m also going to assume that you can look at an online map.

If you are using a physical map, the process is still the same — you’ll just be making the measurements with a pencil and ruler.

For our example, I’m going to use the Geographic Center of the Contiguous United States. The traditional coordinates are: Lat 39.50N, Long 98.35W (approximately).

The first two (on-line) maps I’ll use are Bing maps and Google maps.

Bing Maps.

~100 mile radius from the “Geographic Center of the USA”

First, I would only use Bing Maps on a desktop computer. For the purpose of this planning, using Bing Maps on your phone is not feasible. (If you are using a mobile device, hold on and I’ll explain on Google Maps next).

So, if using a desktop computer (or any computer with a pointing device), hover the pointing device (e.g. mouse) over your central location. Next, use the right button and click once. It will bring up a menu.

Select “Measure distance” and begin to move your mouse 100 miles away. You’ll have to scale your map appropriately so that you can measure out to 100 miles. Once you are 100 miles away, click the left mouse button. This will give you a line on the map. This is an approximation — you don’t have to be completely accurate. Once you have this line, use a pen or pencil as a rough measuring device.

Now, move your mouse either left or right (we will be drawing a “circle” similar to the picture above. Move to a point (measure with your “ruler” [pen or pencil]) ~ 100 miles in another direction and click the left mouse button.

Your lines should look like this … make your way around the “circle” in whichever direction you like! Once you’ve completed your circle, you can “right click” again and “Save …” your map (or just capture a “Screen Image”). Either way, you’ve completed your first “Map Build.”

Google Maps

Here’s the example from Google Maps. On a desktop computer, the process is very similar to Bing Maps. Right Click (the right mouse button) with the pointer over your starting position. Choose “Measure Distance.” Next, left click anywhere on the map. You can then grab the “little white circle” that just appeared and move that line ~100 miles away from your starting point (any direction).

Now, the next part is a little trickier. Hover over the line, and using your left button, drag that point to a place ~100 miles from your starting point … use the same rough measurement method as mentioned above. For your next point, simply hover over the line from your starting point to your current point, grab the “white spot” and move it to your next place until you complete your circle (as in the above picture). And, taaa daaa! You have your map built! Congratulations!

If you are using a mobile device, you can measure distance in a similar way using the Google Maps app. First, open the google maps app and hold your finger on the location you want as your center point. Next, if you “swipe up” from the bottom, you will see a “Measure distance” option. It will give you a “target scope” on the map at your original location. Move the map (thus moving your target locator) to your first ~100 mile distance. Then simply click “Add point” at the bottom of the screen. Using your “rough measuring device,” simply move in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction around your central point, creating your Map Circle. The best thing to do in this scenario is then to capture the screen image.

I know this seems like a lot of information–and it is. But if you practice a couple of times, you’ll see that you can easily define an area of the map for use in the follow-on steps! Exciting! The next blog entry will be capturing “The Art of the Possible.”



Planning your first Local Epic

What is a “Local Epic?”

“Local” is defined as relating to, or characteristic of, a particular place: not general or widespread.  For this blog, local is defined as a circle that contains an area within a 4-hour round trip journey by car – assuming a speed of ~50mph on average, it includes a circle with a radius of 100 miles, the center of which is the starting point for the person about to embark upon this “Epic.”

“Epic” used as an adjective means extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope.

For purposes of this blog, we will work on two types of “Local Epics:”

a) Local Epic Adventure – I consider this to be a physical activity of some sort (hiking, walking, biking, boating, etc).  Adventure usually means to encounter some danger or risk.  My use of the term simply means to have a physical activity beyond the usual or ordinary.

b) Local Epic Experience – I consider this to be an activity not necessarily focused on the physical (e.g., a wine tasting, culinary event, historical site visit, etc).

Seven Steps to Enjoying a Local Epic!

I’m just going to lay out the steps here — I will explain them in detail (with how-tos) in the following posts.

1. Build your map. There are several ways you can do this using two different media — a) on-line maps (e.g., Bing maps, Google maps, GaiaGPS, or some other online mapping option); b) off-line maps (either from your local library or maps you own or have purchased).

2. Capture the “Art of the Possible.” Using your map, explore the area within a 100-mile radius and capture any parks, features, landmarks, historical sites, etc that it is possible to visit.

3. Decide upon your Adventure or Experience. Now, using your list of “Possibilities,” decide which of the two Local Epics you want to try … Adventure or Experience.

4. Make it Epic! Now comes the really fun part — decide what makes this Adventure/Experience Epic! You’ll have to think about it in terms of scope (e.g., distance, difficulty, etc).

5. Plan your Local Epic. Once you have the why, where and what, it’s time to decide the When and How!

6. Fund your plan! The obvious penultimate step before embarking upon your Local Epic!

7. Execute, Execute, Execute! The hardest part now … get out there and do it! Take that first step to enjoying your Epic Life … you live in an Epic Area!


Let’s have an Epic Adventure … locally.

I love the magazines that tell me where I should go for an Epic Adventure — except I’d have to take out a loan to get to all of these places. I need a magazine (or blog) to help me pull off an Epic Adventure and still make bill payments.  I’m dedicating this blog to those who want the thrill of Epic with a Local flair!

My definition of Local is within a 4-hour round-trip driving distance. What I mean is 2 hours to get to your adventure, and 2 hours home. This would typically mean 1 tank of gas.

I will be creating some other criteria to help scope what I mean by Local Epic, but it will definitely include a cap on costs too.  Once the criteria are in place, then I’ll post a how-to for planning your adventure. Stumblingpiper