I first heard of REI's #OptOutside initiative back in November.  GUNG HO BIKES, the bike shop at which I work, followed REI's lead and decided to close its doors on Black Friday to host a series of rides.  What a great idea...encouraging more and more people to take a break from the stress of everyday life, disconnect from screen time, and enjoy time outdoors...reconnecting with nature and spending time with family and friends!  

The three inches of snow that fell overnight might keep me off my road bike...but it won't stop me from opting to be outside! -- January 13, 2019

The new year is a time for new resolutions.  Typically, I don't make them...but this year, at the suggestion of my wonderful wife, Robin, the two of us have one.  We are going to try to commit to doing 52 hikes in 2019.  That's at least one a week for the next year...and, as of right now, we are three for three:  three weeks in and three hikes in the book!  I don't want to stop there, though.  This year, I've decided to embrace "Opt Outside" as my theme and spend as much time as possible outdoors doing the things that I love with the people that I love!  So basically, my resolution for the new year isn't necessarily to do something drastically different with my life...it's just to commit to doing the things I love, in the places that I love, with the people I love more often!  For me...that means making it a priority...regardless of whether or not I have to dodge rain drops or face wind chills...to opt outside as much as my schedule will allow.

Opting to start the year off with a hike at Gifford Pinchot State Park.  David Raymond, Robin Raymond, Alex Raymond, and Emma Sadowski. -- January 1, 2019

Despite the rain that fell all morning, Matt and I opted for some mountain biking at Swatara State Park. -- January 5, 2019

Matt riding in Swatara State Park. He shared with me, while riding last Saturday, that this year he plans to be on the bike as much as possible! -- January 5, 2019

Post ride pic of my bike at Swatara State Park.  -- January 5, 2019

Hiking Rocky Ridge County Park.  Alex, Robin, and David Raymond -- January 6, 2019

Alex, Robin, and bundled up and enjoy the sub-freezing temps for a fun hike at Chickies Rock County Park. -- January 12, 2019

David and Alex Raymond at Chickies Rock County Park. -- January 12, 2019

Love this pic of me at Chickies Rock County Park.  You can see the bend in the Susquehanna River as is snakes south between York and Lancaster Counties. -- January 12, 2019

The super cool thing is that I'm not the only person I know who is embracing this mantra.  Just yesterday, I got caught up in a text thread with Matt, Tim, and Glenn...sending each other pics of how we were spending this cold winter day.  Despite the sub-freezing temps we were all outside enjoying nature in our own ways.  My son, Alex, has joined my wife and I on our first three hikes of the year.  My neighbor, Mike Alicea, has set a goal of just getting out as much as possible to ride and enjoy natures best therapy!  Mike Graham, one of my best friends (and partner in crime at NMS) has committed to hitting the ski slopes at least seven times this winter.  He also has expressed interest in doing more and more hiking and exploring with me.  Ben Kelly (a former student and now a co-worker of mine) told me he would love to mountain bike as many different places as he can this year.  Randy Bennett, an old friend (who I haven't seen in a long time) mentioned to me that he has multiple hikes planned for the upcoming year....maybe one of these days we will run into each other in Michaux State Forest.  As long as we all opt outside as much as possible it is bound to happen sooner or later!  So...I'm proud to say that this year...I have a New Year Resolution that I hope will not only benefit me, but inspire others around me to put down their devices, turn off the screens, and make their own stories by simply opting to be outside.

With snow in the forecast, I opted for a quick road ride. -- January 12,  2019

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- January 13, 2019
To learn more about REI's #OptOutside initiative click HERE...feel free to share, in the comments, how you plan to Opt Outside this year.  

Yep...a happy boy.  Nothing beats the milkshakes at the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, PA.  -- January 11, 2018

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Here are the GARMIN maps and data from rides and hikes featured in this post.  #OptOutside

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