The outdoor sportsman can have a wide variety of interests, besides the obvious; hunting, fishing, camping (you will note there are no sports that involve a ball) the less popular outdoor activities might include wild mushroom hunting and identification, rock hounding is a favorite and a sport that can be highly addictive, sigh! Diving, scuba and breath – hold, called free diving. Our coast line is as well-known as our wines among divers. Orienteering is the sport of finding your way using a compass and map although today it is done with a GPS and is far more accurate than the old Boy Scout method.
Many of these outdoor sports have extensive sub-categories, consider Rock hounding, it may include going out on guided trips for just the day or for weeks at a time. The deserts in the winter are a good bet, the oppressive heat is gone and you are free to roam. Your first tool is a guide book, there are two good book series for beginners’ Rock hounding in Ca., Oregon, or Nev., etc. the other is the Falcon Guide series that gives a different set of sights, also sorted by state. Google rock hounding books and start clicking. A miner’s pick is a huge yard buster, rock hounds use a much smaller version available in many hardware stores, from $15 to $20 for the basics and up to $40 for a leather handled version with a matching belt holster. There are many of books on the identification of rocks and books on specific kinds of rocks, like petrified wood, a deep and wide subject that can take a life time to master.
For the new diver or diver want to be, go to the dive shop and talk to the clerks. You can buy lessons, wet suits, masks, snorkels and fins. Also dive trips are good for the more experienced diver, there are books on diving vacations for your perusal. The Bamboo Reef in Rohnert Park is a good start as well as Seals Dive shop in Santa Rosa near the Junior College, winter is a good time to get going on lessons and equipment. The gear options are deep and wide, from a snorkel for $20 to $100 to dive computers to tanks and related gear. The smell of a dive shop is enough to get an old mossback’s heart pumping.
Consider giving the gift of two lessons, his and hers, to make an outdoor sport a family fun activity. If you want to learn to fish or just to share the experience and consider giving a two-person gift certificate. You might consider making that Hawaiian dive adventure gift certificate a double. There is no word you can use to describe the feeling as you take in the alien world so close to ours.
Whatever you put under the tree will be much loved. Trees? Now there is a great outdoor subject as well as identifying native plants. The local native plant societies have been around for a long time and love to welcome new members. Bird watching is another great sport.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.