The Goonies Guide to Hometown Adventure

“Heyyyyy youuuuuu guuuuuuuys!”

If you were born at any point from 1970 to 1990, you’ve probably seen The Goonies a million times.  Just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick breakdown of the plot: a group of unpopular misfit kids, in a sleepy town with nothing to do, discover a treasure map in their attic and go on a crazy treasure-hunting, mob-chasing, pirate-finding adventure.

As a short, skinny kid growing up in a sleepy town in Massachusetts (Sandwich, MA. Yes, I’m serious), the idea of a group of underdogs finding adventure and taking control in a less-than-ideal situation sounded pretty swell to me.

Hmmm…sounds like another group of people I know!

Here’s the awesomely 80’s trailer:

The Goonies Trailer

Today, I want to pay homage to Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgee, as he is now known) and the rest of the Goonies by learning some valuable lessons on how to better improve our own lives in our home towns!

[feel free to listen to the Goonies-inspired “So long, Astoria” by the Ataris while reading]

Explore your own town

The goonies sat around feeling sorry for themselves because their town was about to be bulldozed and turned into a golf course (can that actually happen, by the way?).  Fortunately, they discovered a treasure map and found out that their home town was in fact WAY MORE AWESOME than they realized.  Full of history, caves, pirate ships, and mobsters.  It turns out these things were right under their nose the whole time – they just didn’t know it.

How well do you know your own town?  

I was at a wedding this past weekend in Atlanta where I had recently lived for three years.  One of my friends took his fiance to explore Atlanta, visiting places like the Coke Museum and the famous Georgia Aquarium.  I have NEVER been to either place, and there are probably dozens and dozens of other things I never did in Atlanta either…simply because they were deemed “touristy” and I was a “local.”

When living in San Diego, the ONLY reason I went to the world-famous zoo was because I had friends in town!

It’s easy to get sucked into a boring routine in your own town because everything is so familiar = go to work, come home, eat dinner, play Diablo III or watch TV, go to bed.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

You are better than that.

It’s time to explore your own home town:

  • Drive around until you find a new unexplored park or hiking trail.  Go there on an early Saturday morning, bring a healthy lunch, and hike for the day!
  • Be a tourist!  If you’re in a city, take a bus tour.  If you’re in a big city, try finding a walking tour.  I took one in each city I went to in Europe and it was a great way to learn about the history of the city and it was also great exercise.
  • Walk.  Walk out of your neighborhood, and pick left or right.  As soon as you come to a new street, walk down it.  I aim to walk for at least thirty minutes to an hour every day – why not use that time to explore your city and discover what’s down each street?
  • Stuck on a college campus during the summer? Do what Thomas did and try to get into every building.

Use technology to your advantage

Data, from the goonies

My favorite character in the Goonies crew is probably Data.  

This inventor of (usually nonfunctional) gadgets helped keep the Goonies one step ahead of the Fratellis, the evil mobsters hunting them.   From flying down zip-lines through screen doors to using slick shoes to foil any pursuers, Data utilized his brain and technology to make his life better…usually.

I definitely tried to rig up my own bully buster when I was a kid…Didn’t work out too well.

…but that’s neither here nor there.

Back to Data!  You need to be acting like him, utilizing your brain and technology to improve YOUR situation:

  • There’s this great thing called the “Internet” that’s on the verge of taking off.  From using it to find things to do in your town, to plotting out your next hike or the tallest mountain nearest you, there’s no limit to the amount of great things you can discover in your own back yard.
  • How about Geocaching? Although I’ve never done it, I hear Geocaching is a ridiculously fun time.  Download a GoeCaching application for your phone (or use your GPS and get the coordinates), and go on a hunt for treasure!  Who knows what you’ll find!
  • Read the wikipedia entry for your town/city.  You’ll be surprised what you’ll learn.  Tourists come to your town (yeah, even YOUR town) for a reason. Find out what they do, and go do it.
  • Google “things to do in [city], [state], [country].”  I bet some travel blogger has blogged about your town and created a “Top 10 list of things to do in ________.”

Make everything epic

pirate ship

Life is only as boring as you make it.  

As Chris Guillebeau taught us, “Forget about what you can’t do and take responsibility for what you can.”

Stuck in a boring town with a boring life?  You have two options:

  • Complain and do nothing about it.  This is what 95% of people do.  This is NOT what Nerd Fitness Rebels do.
  • Change your latitude or attitude.  Don’t like your home town?  Get out of there.  Can’t change your living situation? Then quit feeling sorry for yourself and find a way to make life there more exciting!

This is only limited by your imagination.

Now, you probably won’t have caves filled with booby traps, mobsters racing you to ancient pirate ships, and chests of gold doubloons, but you can still find great adventures and make things way cooler than they really are.

Pick five things in your town and set a goal to accomplish them within six months. Here are five examples:

  • Meet the Mayor of the city – find out who your mayor is, figure out the schedule, and get that photo op.  Buy a comically oversized key or giant check and use it as a prop in the picture.  You can tell your kids you were given the key to the city some day.  By the time you’re a grandparent, you’re probably forget why you had the key in the first place and actually believe you were given it for a reason!
  • Discover “buried treasure” – if you live on a beach or near a pond, rent a metal detector, and start walking.  Find a watch or necklace, and you can cross “buried treasure” off the list.
  • Climb the tallest mountain – depending on where you live, this could be VERY easy or VERY difficult.
  • Walk from one side of town to the other.  Yup, might take you ALLLLL day, or a few days.  Have your buddy droop you off 20 miles from your place and you have to find the most creative way home.  If Nate can walk across America, I think you can walk across your town.
  • Swim in every lake – Find your lakes on a map, get your swim trunks and flippy floppies, and start knocking them off the list.
  • Find a secret beach/hiking spot/location – Hike through the woods and see if you can track down a cool remote spot that you can call your own.  Bring a book and a lunch and have an afternoon dedicated just to you.  Or bring your boyfriend/girlfriend and have a really unique (and free) picnic.
  • Come up with your own ideas – this is your homework for the day.  See below!

Goonies never say die!

The Goonies were a group of normal kids that never said “die!”

They were dealt a crappy hand, lived in a “boring” town, and found a way to make life more exciting.

Are you a complainer?

Or are you a Goonie?

Your challenge for this weekend Identify something awesome to do in your own home town, leave a comment about what you’re going to do, and then DO IT.  Not next weekend, not next month.  But this weekend!

Here’s mine:  I’m still technically homeless at this point, but I’ll be moving to Portland, OR on June 1st for three months.  My plan is to visit Cannon Beach and take my picture in front of the three rocks from The Goonies.

Your turn.




photo source: never say die, astoria rocks, data, map

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