Well yes, yes there is. And my answer is hockey. Being from MN, hockey is everywhere. And my little town in MN, hockey is everywhere. I would say one out of every two families has a hockey player in it. Every park in the city has a rink, in fact, there are two rinks at every park. One dedicated to hockey and one for skating.
Growing up playing hockey, I played on a team for a few years, then it was one to more recreational hockey at a local park. But as far as team hockey, those where the early mornings or late nights. For me, it was more late nights. I can remember practice as late as 10pm. On an outdoor rink with falling snow. Occasionally we would have to pause practice to take snow shovels to clear snow from the ice, as the Zamboni did not come out of the arena. The temp would average in the single digits. We would be running drills not being bothered by the frigid air. It would be the same as I played hockey for fun at a local park. Growing up in town, I can remember having a “homemade” rink in my backyard most winters. Dad would shovel an area out then throw the garden hose in until we had a rink.
Nowadays you can find me at the local arena here in SATX enjoying hockey with my family. Our AHL team brings me back to my youth. Just sitting in the arena, I get a feeling of nostalgia. Occasionally we get a player from MN, it’s always fun to sit and talk MN and TX hockey with them for a few minutes.
Furthermore, its cool to know a few NHL players actually came from hometown. One of them, his father was my coach for many years. A few others I knew by name only. Never actually got to know them on a personal level.
Yup hockey played a key in my life until later. So hiking probably came more into my life in my teens, after we moved into the country. In the country, I had acres and acres surrounding me. Granted most were farm fields. It probably was the “hike” to town that started me on a lifetime of enjoyment. If I wanted to hang with some of my friends, I would make the 10-mile trek into town. Of course, that only went on until I got a drivers license. I would still, however, enjoying hiking while I spent time in northern WI at my grandparent’s cabin. Up there I would have endless amounts of trails to explore. I would even do some long cross country ski “hikes” with my grandfather. Those were always some of the best. There is nothing more serene then skiing into the northern WI wilderness after a fresh snow. Or even skiing across a lake with a cold breeze. I know it sounds funny and not that much fun. However, the reward for accomplishment was self-gratitude. And of course, spending time in nature with my grandfather.
During my first few years in the Army, it wasn’t hiking, it was road marches and movements. Even though I cursed my hate for everything at the moment, in the end, it head its benefits. In my first unit, I completed 6, 25-mile road marches and one 32. Not to mention all the miles in between the field.
To be continued…