Black people don’t camp. Black people don’t hike. Black people don’t kayak. Black people don’t hang glide. Black people don’t enjoy the great outdoors. You get the idea. There’s a never ending list of what we are told at one point or another that black people don’t do. As a young girl, raised in South Dallas and later in Tampa, my entire life has been punctuated with those kinds of limiting stereotypes. Yet here I am, a living breathing example of a black woman that does all of those things even though they haven’t been a part of my upbringing. Not only is this my lifestyle, I’m raising a teenage son who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors and loves adventure as much as I do. In my travels, I incorporate something outdoorsy and adventurous as much as I can. I’m often asked what I love most about travel. I’m sure most people say things like, experiencing a different culture, \trying new foods, or learning about history. While I certainly do enjoy that aspect of travel, what I love most is the opportunity to see the natural beautyof the world.
I live for views that take your breath away, but I also seek out seclusion and quiet time for introspection and meditation. I call it my God time. That moment of quiet and stillness, where the only sounds are nature’s soundtrack of a chorus of birds and rushing water, is when I feel most connected and closest to the Creator. Whether it’s standing on the edge of the Giant’s Causeway in North Ireland, or paddling down the crystal clear waters of the Weeki Wachee River in Florida, or doing yoga on the banks of a volcanic crater lake inside of a caldera in the Azores, if it’s scenic, secluded, and outdoors I’m in my happy place. I started the blog, Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva (www.outdoorsydiva. com) in 2013 as a way to share about my adventures with friends and family.
It was also a way to try \ and connect with others who like to explore the great outdoors. I fully understood that if people could see someone they can identify with doing those things that we don’t normally see people like me doing, like chasing waterfalls, kayaking springs, or traveling, they would be inspired to push themselves beyond their own comfort zones. I also understood how intimidating it can be as a single mom to set out on adventures on your own with your children. I wanted to show people that if I could find ways to live more adventurously, they certainly could too.
Though I started the blog to inspire others, I have been the one to be in spired and motivated to push myself to do things I never dreamed I would do. This journey has connected me with an amazing community of other people of color that share my passion. It has also taken me on epic voyages I never saw on my horizon. In just the last three years I’ve taken my first solo international travel trip to the Azores, traveled internationally with my son throughout the Caribbean, gone hang gliding, snorkeled with manatees, fallen in love with glamping at locations all over the country, stayed in a castle Wales, and swam in an underground prehistoric spring in a cavern.
It’s been amazing to watch the Outdoorsy Diva brand grow and expand. I’ve been featured on Huffington Post Travel and Outdoor Families Magazine and voted the best local blogger in Tampa in 2016. It’s so humbling to be appreciated and recognized for simply sharing my passion and pursuing personal growth. In answer to requests from subscribers, I have now started the Facebook community Adventure Is A Lifestyle, where people who are not necessarily the outdoorsy or adventurous type have joined to get daily inspiration and motivation and learn how to incorporate more adventure into their everyday lives. We have quarterly events like waterbikes, kayaking, zip lining, and an upcoming corn maze field trip. I hope to expand to planning our first group trip in 2017. Additionally on the horizon is a new line of apparel that speaks to the outdoors and adventure life in a witty and fashionable way.
I’m excited for what’s to come for Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva in the very near future. I hope to do more work to encourage visits to our National Parks and State Parks. Diverse representation in the outdoor space is so crucial to cultivating a generation that will enjoy all that nature has to offer and work to conserve our precious natural resources. I will also continue to seek out more black businesses to highlight throughout my travels. Recommendations can be submitted via the website. I love the community I’ve started and the connections I’ve made along the way. Stay tuned to see where this journey will take me.
Lauren Gay is the creator of the Misadventures of an Outdoorsy Diva blog, sharing adventures in travel, the great outdoors, and food. Her mission is to inspire other women and moms just like her to live adventurously, step out of their comfort zones, and explore the world around them. Read about her adventures on www.OutdoorsyDiva.com.