The first time Naturalist Services Director Diane Valen did one of these programs, a slideshow on Alaska, it drew a record-breaking 90 people.
But that was back in the beginning, in the winter of 2006, before the popular Armchair Adventure Travelogue Series became a staple on so many calendars and a known means to avoid cabin fever. Now the average crowd is 100; audiences are known to brave blizzard-like conditions; and this season one presenter will even come all the way from Arizona to share her story.
“People sometimes feel like there isn’t anything for them during the wintertime because they’re not skiers and they just aren’t equipped to be outside,” Diane said. “This has filled this niche.”
In addition to a variety of photos and storytelling techniques, many presenters also bring maps, souvenirs or the backpacks right off their backs so people can see what it takes to take such a trip – what do you have to take with you? These items are set up in the back of the room for pre- and post- meeting examination and questions.
The following programs run 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Hiking Sedona: Red Rocks – Blue Sky – White Snow – Sunday, December 26
Described by USA Today as “the most beautiful place in America,” Sedona’s beauty has made it a mecca for photographers, nature lovers and travelers to the West. Explore the culture, history and natural features of this spectacular area with Nelson and Marty Kirsch, who for the last 10 years have trekked hundreds of trails and thousands of miles while enjoying winters in Sedona.
The Yukon by Canoe – Sunday, January 16
Details: Paddling 250 miles on the Yukon River along the route of 1898 Gold Rush prospectors, then camping under the “midnight sun,” was the journey of a lifetime for Susan and Bruce Bennett. Now inhabited mainly by wildlife and First People, the Yukon has  spectacular scenery and abandoned 1900s vintage log cabins abound.
Wales & the Isle of Man – Sunday, January 23
Returning by popular demand with a new destination, Sue and Bill Berger invite you to explore the Welsh culture and landscape with stops including the zoo on the Isle of Man and the wind farms in the Irish Sea.
O Brasil (Brazil) – Sunday, February 6
A falls with 26 cataracts, a school of fish that devours a cow in two minutes, water lilies with six-foot leaves and more awesome discoveries are presented in this composite of Doby Green’s two trips to the biggest country in South America.
Ontario Park Primer – Sunday, February 13
Share the wonder of Niagara by night, Algonquin by canoe, trail explorations in Killarny & Killbear and fossil hunting at Stony Point in this sampler of what our neighbors to the North offer for outdoor enthusiasts within a two- to three-day drive of home with Naturalist Services Director Diane Valen.
You, Too, Can Hike the A.T! – Sunday, February 20
Not ready to tackle the entire Appalachian Trail? Chuck Warfield will provide tips and suggestions for day trips and tamer stretches with great views for any hiking level.
Have Tent, Will Travel: 1 Woman’s Solo Odyssey – Sunday, February 27
Mary Jane Skala set off on a cross-country journey with no GPS and no man, woman or dog…just a tent, sleeping bag, 7-year-old car and love of adventure. Follow her 8,000 miles encompassing 15 states, nine national parks, a Nebraska ranch, a snowstorm in the Colorado mountains and a Hopi Reservation.
“People who attend have either taken the trip themselves and want to re-live the experience, have always wanted to go and want to learn more, or have an impending trip,” said Diane. “For my program I had always wanted to do Algonquin, so it’s pretty much a hiking/wilderness experience – backcountry hiking and things. Some of them are more tame.”
Diane added that presenter Chuck Warfield enjoyed several of the series’ previous Appalachian Trail programs before crafting his own: “He said, ‘I don’t have three months to spend on the trail, so I’m doing little segments or I’m day hiking, and I’d like to put together a program to show what you can access and what you can do for short-term hiking if you’re not a hardcore backpacker.”
Registration is not required for these free programs, all fully wheelchair / stroller accessible. Call 440-286-9516 with questions or visit the Park District online at or on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.