Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I have no sense of direction. Neither did my great-grandmother. I learned that I had inherited this lack of an internal compass from her when she died six years ago. My grandfather gave the life-sketch segment at her funeral and at one point he mentioned that she was directionally challenged. She would get lost for long periods of time, but always claim to know exactly where she was and be rather stubborn about it (oh that feisty grandma of mine).

After years of denying my lack of direction sense, I felt endeared to my great-grandmother for our shared weakness and finally accepted it in myself.

And that is where REI comes in. A store of wondrous possibilities. REI teaches outdoor classes of all sorts, this is really so that you will learn a new skill and spend money at their store on equipment for your new hobby. Well, it works, and also I am a sucker for these sorts of things—I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to buy something from an infomercial.

So, if you’ve ever wanted to try something new in the field of outdoors, try a class at REI. Most classes are free but some have a reasonable fee. You can take classes on road biking, mountain biking, photography, outdoor cooking, backpacking, kayaking, and anything in between. These classes are listed on local REI store events pages. This link will take you to the Salt Lake City REI events page.

My sister and I decided to take a map and compass class a couple of weeks ago so that we can use an external compass for lack of an internal one. Embarrassing side note: this does not come easy for us as we once got lost on an orienteering course at a local park. But we will not be discouraged and we took the most basic beginner’s map and compass class at REI.

We learned such things as how to get our bearings, to set the declination, and to figure out where we are on the map by triangulation. Our heads were swimming with information and I can’t wait to try to put this new information to practice. I’m going to try out that orienteering course at the park again. I’ll let you know how it goes. If you don’t hear from me in a few hours, maybe you should come find me.

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