My family moved to East Boise in September after 15 years in Meridian, in part for easy access to the places that make our community a unique place to live.
The Greenbelt. The Foothills. The Boise River. Lucky Peak. Bogus Basin.
And now I get to call those places my office.
Beginning today, I am the Idaho Statesman’s new outdoors and urban recreation writer and my charge is to re-imagine our coverage in a way that reflects all the ways Treasure Valley residents enjoy the outdoors.
I want to inspire you to try something new, from traditional outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, skiing, camping, boating, hunting and fishing, to urban recreation like running, golf, tennis, cycling and disc golf, and provide useful content about the activities you already enjoy.
The city-mountain mix isn’t as unusual of a combination as you might think.
“We did that in 1977,” our somewhat-retired outdoors writer, Pete Zimowsky, told me last week.
We’re calling the beat “Playing Outdoors” — with the intention of writing about as many active pursuits as we can find outside of team sports. The list of topics to cover is at 30 and growing.
We’ll still have traditional outdoors coverage, too. Jordan Rodriguez will continue his excellent fishing column and report, former outdoors editor Roger Phillips will contribute hunting columns from his new job at Idaho Fish & Game and Zimowsky will chronicle his adventures — including his latest hobby, sailing.
The tentative plan, which will be tweaked as I continue to reach out to community members (feel free to send ideas and feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org):
▪ Playing Outdoors will fill the cover of the Wednesday Explore section beginning Feb. 17. In addition to the main feature story, we’ll have a weekly expert column — usually on fishing or hunting.
▪ The Wednesday package also will include a rotation of elements from this list: photo/video of the week (preferably from a reader), featured activities, a highlighted trail (could be hiking, running, cycling, snowmobiling, skiing, ATV, etc.), a family/kids-centric feature, news and notes and calendar items.
▪ On Sundays, we’ll revisit some of the best outdoors coverage from the previous week and preview the week to come.
▪ Our lineup of five special sections returns, beginning with fishing March 2. We’ll also cover camping (May 25), hunting (Sept. 14) and winter recreation (Nov. 23) and publish results of the annual photo contest (Oct. 26).
▪ And throughout the week, we’ll post timely items, reader submissions and tales from my own experiences in the Playing Outdoors blog, which is at IdahoStatesman.com now. The blog will include the fishing report on Tuesdays and a snow report on Thursdays.
To cover a list of activities this long — conducted over such a vast area — I’m asking for your help.
Have a cool story to tell from your weekend adventure? Email outdoors @idahostatesman.com, and we’ll share it in the Playing Outdoors blog (IdahoStatesman.com/outdoors/outdoors-blog).
Snap a fantastic photo of raft meeting rapid or a stunning sunset? Send it to us, and we’ll share the image through our Facebook (Facebook. com/PlayingOutdoors), Twitter (@IDS_Outdoors) and Instagram (@IDS_PlayingOutdoors) accounts — and run the best photo of the week in the newspaper.
Shoot an amazing video at the terrain park? We’d like to use that, too — send us a YouTube link.
Know someone whose outdoor exploits deserve a little attention? Nominate that person as our Explorer of the Month.
And, of course, we’ll incorporate your story ideas, too.
This will be an adventure for me — and certainly there will be misadventures.
I’ve spent the past 14 years covering Boise State football, attached to a laptop and a phone. Now I have the freedom to explore.
I enjoy many of the activities on our coverage list — golf, running, hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, cycling, tennis, rafting, camping and fishing among them — but have a lot to learn about all of them, not to mention the activities I’ve never tried. We’ll find out soon if I have the balance to stay on a paddle board or the coordination to cross-country ski.
The next few years likely will be filled with “never done that” and “never seen that” moments — and I can’t wait to get started.
I also get to share the journey with my wife, Brandi, 7-year-old son, Oliver, and 3-year-old German shepherd, Greta — a trio who like the outdoors, too. Oliver is a budding explorer and storyteller who no doubt will find his way into some blog posts.
In fact, Oliver is going to help me write a post on the crash earlier this month that finally forced me to retire my 25-year-old skis. It’s quite a story — and he tells me, correctly, that he remembers it better than I do.
Hopefully I’ll remember the rest of my adventures better. And hopefully they don’t involve a couple hundred yards of tumbling down an icy mountain.