Above: Morning can be exciting and different with these suggestions from Road Scholar. Photos courtesy of Road Scholar
By JoAnn Bell, Senior Vice President of Program Development at Road Scholar
As the alarm rings its intrusive greeting, you open one eye and look at the clock — the numbers confirm that it’s time to start the day. There are many things to be said for the comfort of a daily routine, but what if you could start off your morning in a very non-typical way?
If you’re looking to freshen up your morning routine, check out our suggestions for nine exciting ways to start your day.
Be the first to watch the sun rise
As the first pinpoints of sunlight begin to make their way to the United States, there is one state that is guaranteed to be the first to welcome in the new dawn: Maine. From October until early March, Cadillac Mountain — standing at 1,528 feet in Arcadia National Park— is privy to the first sunrise sightings in the country. This distinction is then passed on in the summer months to Mars Hill, located approximately 150 miles northeast from Acadia. During the in-between times of the equinoxes, West Quoddy Head in Lubec — the easternmost point in the U.S. — shares this unique sunrise honor.
Enjoy a morning cup of coffee
For many coffee enthusiasts, the quality of one’s morning brew can make or break the day. There’s no better place to take that first sip than in Seattle, a city that has built a reputation and culture on the ultimate coffee experience. Home to coffee giant Starbucks, the Emerald City is also a haven for myriad independent roasters, coffee shops and coffeehouses. Espressos, lattes, cappuccinos and regular joe take on the flavors and styles of their purveyors — and rarely are they served without an atmosphere filled with art, music or poetry.
Reel in the first catch of the day
At dawn, rivers and streams become a hotbed of activity as fish dine on a breakfast of insects landing on the water — a pattern that many avid fly fishermen hope will lead to a bite on their own fly lines. Hours of fly tying and perfecting one’s casting techniques prepare anglers for their dreams of catching “the big one.” For those dreaming of the monster catch, few other locations offer fly fishing enthusiasts a bounty like that of the streams in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. Crystal-clear rivers and lakes are alive with activity and sizable species, including rainbow, brown, speckled and bull trout.
Go to class
Reading, writing and arithmetic commence school days around the world, leaving students and teachers with much to do in the early hours of the day. For some, attending school is much more difficult than for others — family hardships, poverty and daily life prove to be significant challenges in obtaining a quality education. Begin your next school day by helping to tutor Navajo schoolchildren in their reservation classrooms, aiding teachers with classroom activities and mentoring students one-on-one. In turn, you’ll gain a privileged look into Navajo culture and history as you meet students and learn about their daily lives. A love of learning and of sharing is all you will need to make this school experience one that you’ll never forget.
Hit the links
Mornings are often the best time to head out to the fairway — the temperatures are cool, energy is high and few others have made their way to the green. But golfers everywhere know that there is far more to the game than a local country club or driving range can offer; the game of golf is one of distinction, and certain courses have earned their levels of prestige. The state of California proudly boasts a number of excellent golf courses, most notably located in Pebble Beach and Palm Springs. With the legendary Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods frequenting these courses — and tournaments such as the U.S. Open being held on their grounds — a golfing enthusiast could do no better than to play 18 holes on some of the most famous greens in the world.
Take a hot bath
The water that awakens you doesn’t have to be part of your daily bath. Iceland’s breathtaking landscape offers an array of water forms to invigorate your senses. The beauty of its fjords will awaken your imagination, while the spray of its geysers and waterfalls will revitalize your perspective. A swim in Iceland’s hot springs— courtesy of the island’s volcanic activity — offers a warm bath like no other while the springs such as the Blue Lagoon also provide heat and water to surrounding residents.
A popular discipline of relaxation, exercise and meditation, the practice of yoga has spanned the world since its early Hindu origins in India. But where better to focus on one’s chakra than in the land where it continues to be a part of everyday life and culture? In a country where ancient Sanskrit retains use as a literary and liturgical language, the estimated 3,000-year-old practice of yoga remains a staple in the daily routine of India’s citizens. Sacred sites such as the Statue of Shiva in Bangalore and the Lotus Temple in Delhi offer ample inspiration for the meditative soul, while celebrated landmarks such as the Taj Mahal offer an insightful look into the nation’s fascinating history.
See the early bird
An early morning birding expedition in Costa Rica reveals some of the most exotic and beautiful species in the world. Scarlet Macaws make a stunning appearance, while mangrove-lined waterways host hummingbirds, Yellow-billed Cotingas and Tiger Herons. Though Costa Rica is a relatively small country, more than 850 bird species have been recorded within its borders. An estimated 600 species are resident, while the remaining species migrate from North America. Among the 19 Costa Rican species that are endangered is the Great Green Macaw, a species whose conservation has been a key element in the formation of Maquenque National Park.
Go for a walk
A brisk morning walk can invigorate you and offer a fresh start to the day. But instead of walking your daily route, imagine that you are meandering along the Swiss countryside, lush with green hills and quaint villages nestled into the valleys. The imposing and magnificent Alps standing proudly around you, boasting breathtaking views that can be seen for miles — providing a prime opportunity to try Nordic walking. Distinctly marked footpaths lead visitors through the beautiful hills and valleys of Switzerland, while mountain paths offer an adventure for those seeking higher altitudes. Maps are readily available at visitor centers and mountain “huts” offer respite for adventurers who may need a rest along their journey. Combined, the stunning vistas and convenient trails help to make Switzerland a walker’s paradise.
Road Scholar calls itself the nation’s largest educational travel organization for adults – a true university of the world. This not-for-profit educational organization offers 5,500 extraordinary learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. Road Scholars are immersed in a variety of educational activities, enlisting renowned faculty and experts who offer insider access not available to most individuals. Dedicated to making educational travel available to everyone, Road Scholar offers financial aid for those who otherwise could not participate in its programs.
Road Scholar educational adventures are created by Elderhostel, the not-for-profit world leader in educational travel for adults since 1975. Learn more at RoadScholar.org.