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The Adventures of Your Life
How to fill all your days with pure excitement. By Claire Antoszewski and The Editors

Your entire life should be an adventure, full of all the surprises, new experiences, and unpredictability that the idea implies. But you can't just wait for the excitement to come to you. You need to go after it, do some planning, even schedule your spontaneity. As paradoxical as it may seem, the best things happen when you put yourself in the right places at the right times with the right people. The possibilities are endless, but with the pages ahead, you'll be off to a running start.

Friends & Family

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST (26-45 Years Old)
Even after graduating from college and heading out into the world, Americans are no longer as eager to settle down and start families as their parents were. "We are at an odd moment in history. Never before have people spent so long outside of marriage and traditional social groups," explains Ethan Watters, author of Urban Tribes, a book that examines the role of friendship in modern society. "Tight circles of friends are performing the functions, including vacations as a group, that previously were the domain of the family." Watters recommends instituting a yearly pilgrimage—regularly renting a houseboat, say, or going to a festival like Burning Man in Nevada. "The ritual will make your trip into a story," he says, "and the group maintains its thread even as individual characters are written in and out." But remember: Going on an annual trip is one thing; planning it is another. The most organized member of your posse should be anointed cruise director and take responsibility for securing reservations, gathering shared payments, and delegating tasks. Not only will group travel be some of the most enjoyable of your life, it will also help build relationships that flourish when you're back at home.

High-Altitude Bluegrass
What better excuse for a road trip with friends than the country's best-loved annual bluegrass festival? The Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 16-19 ($275 includes campsite; www.planetbluegrass.com), has grown every year since the first thousand people grooved to the band Fall Creek in 1974. This year's lineup includes bluegrass legends like Bála Fleck, Gillian Welch, the Sam Bush Band, and Peter Rowan. Make sure to reserve space at the on-site campground, Warner Field, at least five months in advance. After the event, head to the San Juan Valley for some of the country's best mountain biking. Or, stick around town and take bikes up the Telluride Ski Resort gondola to the mid-mountain station. From there, you'll have your pick of dozens of trails for a downhill race; last one to the bottom buys the Colorado-brewed Fat Tire Ale.

Base Chair Bonding
Regardless of whether you're the ski-till-four type or a part of the après-at-noon crowd, there's no buddy trip more classic than the week-long ski vacation. And there's no ski resort better for it than British Columbia's Whistler Blackcomb: It boasts North America's largest skiable area (more than 9,000 acres, or 1,110 hectares), a virtually limitless backcountry, and droves of Vancouver-based singles, each with their own adorable take on "eh?" Assemble a group of eight and book a slope-side chalet near the Magic Chair ($600; www.whistlerblackcomb.com). From there you'll have a base of operations for exploring more than a hundred runs. After a long day of skiing powder bowls and bombing double black chutes, kick back in the hot tub, pop open a few bottles of Molson, and recount the day's most bone-jarring wipeouts.

We Band of Pirates
Not much has changed on North Carolina's Ocracoke Island since Blackbeard and his pirates chose it for a hideout in the early 1700s: It's still isolated (only reachable by ferry or small plane) and a perfect place to hole up with your mates for a week while you take a break from pillaging the corporate world. Make your stronghold a rental cottage with views of Pamlico Sound from Edwards of Ocrakoke ($1,500 for a one-week rental that sleeps eight; www.edwardsofocracoke.com). Ocracoke's 15-mile (24 kilometer) undeveloped beach is nearly always empty and free for flying stunt kites or playing impromptu soccer matches. At night, relax with a barbecue on the beach or head in to one of the island's three grog shops—Howard's Pub, Pelican Lodge, or the Jolly Roger—for a night out that even a buccaneer would envy.

The first law of extended-family dynamics: There will be spats, especially when trying to choose a destination that excites everyone. Our advice: Find a base camp where family members can come and go as they please and where there is something for all. If you rent a villa in Provence, then Granddad will have a tree to read under, Mom can wake early to walk or cycle, Dad can wander to the wine and cheese markets via the beach, and the kids can engage in adrenaline-fueled sports. Or, consider contacting a company like Bozeman-based Off the Beaten Path that's been building customized trips in the American West for decades. Tell them your conflicting needs and they will, like wizards, plan a trip that satisfies them. "When a family comes to us, we interview them over the phone and have each family member fill out a questionnaire," says Bill Bryan, Off the Beaten Path's co-founder. "We get inside their heads. With our knowledge of the destination, customers are not only getting an individual program, they're reducing the trial and error aspect of vacation."

High Society
If someone in your family knows the difference between a jib and mainsail, round up the crew and pull on your boat shoes. The world's largest bareboat charter company, Sunsail ($370 a day; www.sunsail.com), offers alluring cruising in the brilliant blue waters of French Polynesia. You'll pick up your boat in Raiatea before casting off among the Society Islands: 14 islands all within a half-day's sail that feature the best diving, snorkeling, and horseback riding in the South Seas. And even if you're a family of landlubbers, you can still enjoy a private cruise (an extra $150 a day) by bringing one of Sunsail's skippers aboard.

A Summer in Provence
The Var region in the heart of Provence is France's best kept secret: It's almost as if the French sacrificed Peter Mayle country to the rest of the world and saved Var for themselves and their favorite pastime: le camping. Nab a campsite ($32; www.var-provence.com) or rent a villa ($830 a week; www.var-villa-holidays.com) within reach of the Gorges du Verdon—considered the French Grand Canyon. From there, set out to raft the Verdon river or bike vineyard-to-vineyard in central Var.

Custom Kiwi
New Zealand's myriad multisport offerings are enough to overwhelm the most active of families, making it the perfect destination to tap Geographic Expeditions for a custom trip ($3,500; www.geoex.com). Pick up a guidebook, decide where you want to go (we recommend the South Island: Fiordland, Kaikoura, Nelson, and Wanaka), and then consult GeoEx. They'll piece everything together and suggest a few places you've never heard of.

Want to plan an insta-trip without any hassles? Pick up the April 2005 issue of Adventure.

Additional Excerpts
From the print edition, April 2005

The Adventures of Your Life
Friends & Family
Rediscovering Libya: Writer Kira Salak explores the country's wonders
The Tsunami Volunteers: Writer Matthew Power finds a sliver of redemption in the disaster's wake. Plus, how you can lend a hand
Weird Science: Edward Norton talks about hermaphrodite frogs and a new NG TV series on PBS
Pelton's World: Fresh from the Green Zone, Pelton takes a cruise
100th Birthday: Explorer Col. Norman Vaughan's big plans

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April 2005

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