I had only a list of recommended equipment and a set of cryptic instructions: “At 9:00 am on January 30th load your bike, helmet, binoculars, climbing shoes, and a sack lunch into your car and drive to 693 Del Monte Avenue, Monterey. Once parked open Instruction A and begin your journey.” Which is how I found myself over the course of the next seven hours kayaking next to sea lions and otters in the world famous Monterey Bay, investigating ocean life in one of the richest tide pool habitats in California, watching Monarch butterflies cluster together on their annual migration, and snacking on sandwiches on a blissfully sunny promontory above crashing Pacific waves. It ended up being one of the most fun days I’ve had in ages and it started the way all good adventures start: with a leap into the unknown.
I believe there is an adventurer inside all of us, whether we realize it or not. Some part of the human spirit yearns for exploration and discovery. It’s a necessary part of being alive. And yet how often do we actually get out and explore? It’s far more common for us to keep visiting the same places and doing the same things. Why? Because beneath the romantic veneer of adventure, you actually have to get out and make new things happen, and that takes planning, research, and logistics. Ugh.
Although it can be fun and exciting, the behind the scenes planning of an adventure is often a drag. It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, to feel like you have too many options or too few. To let the trepidation and uncertainty of planning discourage you from going in the first place. Or to simply not have the time to plan the trip. “I want to go to the Mendocino coast this weekend, but I don’t know where to stay, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where the best spots are, and I don’t really have time to find out. So meh, maybe I’ll just stay home.” And boom, your explorer spirit dies a little in favor of a routine weekend on the couch.
Enter Ethos Adventures. Ethos specializes in itinerary planning and logistic support for your adventures. In other words, you tell them where you want to go, what kinds of stuff you like to do, and how much you want to spend. Ethos will provide you with a complete itinerary fully tailored to your interests, skills, and fitness level. They take all the work out of planning an adventure so that you just get to have all the fun.
Carving out a niche for itself in the gray area between guidebooks and personal guides, Ethos is the brainchild of Laura Baker, a backpacker, marathon runner, and ex-environmental justice lawyer from Sonora, California (the same town where I grew up). We actually went to high school together and have stayed in touch through the years. When Laura told me she was leaving her job as an attorney to start her own adventure company I had to see what it was all about.
It turns out that Ethos is driven to help people get out and discover the world. To that end they offer three kinds of adventures: Explorations (where the focus is on discovering something new about a place or yourself), Physical Challenges (where the focus is on pushing your physical limits), and Ultimate Adventures (where you have no idea what’s going to happen until it’s happening). I asked Ethos to plan me a full day adventure in a place I’d been a number of times but didn’t know that well: Monterey. I wanted a little physical activity, a little sunshine, a low cost, and most of all I wanted everything to be a secret.
Hence those cryptic instructions. Parking as dictated by my adventure packet, I still had no idea what I was about to do. Then I opened Instruction A: “Grab your sandals, water bottle, and sunblock and head into Monterey Bay Kayaks, and rent a double kayak to explore the harbor and beyond!” I had to take a moment to reflect: at this moment on any other day I’d probably be in front of my computer writing emails or processing photos, and instead here I was about to spend two hours paddling through Monterey Bay, looking for sea lions and whales. Booyah.
The rest of the day took on a similar tone. Once we’d returned to land and changed out of our dashing wet suits, it was time to open Instruction B: a bike ride through historic Cannery Row to Lover’s Point park for lunch and some bouldering. Instruction C: another lovely ride to Point Pinos for tide pooling. After that it was up the hill to the monarch grove. Then back to the car for a short drive to Marina State Beach, where we finished off the day by watching the sun go down over the Bay.
Thanks to Laura B. and Ethos Adventures for a truly remarkable day. If you’d like to have Ethos make you a custom adventure all your own, you can find them on the web here: