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Welcome to the Wonder Outside blog! Let’s dive in!

The goal of this blog is to help you and your loved ones to GO OUTSIDE MORE and connect to your sense of WONDER. Twice a week I will provide you with:

for EASY, FUN, SIMPLE, CHALLENGING, HEALTHY things you can do outside RIGHT NOW.


    Wisdom Tree hike, Los Angeles

    Daddy and daughter hike, Los Angeles

I’m Ranger Ted and I’m your Wonder Guide.

I’ve spent most of my 52 years in the great outdoors hiking, paddling, camping, skiing, skating, swimming, and exploring. From the Boundary Waters of Minnesota to Denali National Park in Alaska to the Cascade Mountains of Washington and the Sierras and deserts of California, the power of wonder in nature has shaped me every step of the way.

Now as a hiking guide, nature walk leader, educator and certified California Naturalist, I help people of all ages, abilities and experience to get outside and engage their sense of wonder as much as possible.


    One of the over 10,000 lakes in Minnesota, 1977

    Duncan Lake, North Cascades, Washington 1980

But here’s a secret: YOU are a Wonder Guide too! And so is your spouse, co-worker, partner, child, parent, friend, teacher and friendly barista. This blog will help you use those guides within you and around you to get outside and experience wonder, awe and adventure more.

WHY Go Outside?


    Joshua Tree National Park, California

    Aurora Borealis. Northern Lights in Minnesota

    Puddle Stomping, Oakland, California

In a word: WONDER

Connecting people of all ages and abilities to their sense of wonder and adventure is my mission. The best way I know to do that is to go outside.


In as many fun, immersive and adventurous ways as possible.

Going outside makes you happier, healthier, more creative, more confident, less stressed and more excited to share the great outdoors with others. It also gives you better stories for that dinner party or play date ;-)!


Franklin Canyon, Los Angeles, California

WHO Should Go Outside?

  • People who have families, friends or loved ones.
  • People who have kids or used to be a kid.
  • People who have phones.
  • People who are feeling down, anxious or stressed.
  • People who work a lot.
  • People who want to be healthy.
  • People who in live in the city, country or in between.
  • People looking for the next challenge.
  • People who care about the planet.

Yes, I mean everyone! All of us benefit in infinite ways by going outside regularly.


JUMPING on the same Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, 6 months later

HOW Should I Go Outside?

Step one. Step you know…OUT.  SIDE.

Ask yourself: what’s the weather?

DON’T check your phone!  Take your finger off the buttons! Maybe even set the phone down inside first!  Now that you are outside, just stand there and then ask, ‘What do I notice?’

Perhaps you notice you feel naked without your phone, That’s okay.

We really don’t need this app just now

Most of us these days, including me, look at an app to check the weather. Or we ask our so called “smart speaker.” The next chance you get, I want you to try an experiment. Let Siri and Alexa stay asleep, step outside and observe the weather.


Cumulus Nimbus cloud over Balsam Lake, Wisconsin. Approximate height over 60,000 feet.

“Hmmm, I’d say about 57 degrees.”

Good guess! Now check in with your other senses. Is there any wind? How does the sky look? Might it snow or rain later based on what you are observing right now? Are you with someone? What do they notice? Ask them!

Step back in and decide what to wear then check in with your inner wonder guide.

Do you feel different? Do you feel more alive? Do you feel like you are more a part of the natural world? Do you feel a bit untethered? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those, then we’re on to something.

I know it’s driving you crazy so now go ahead and check your phone. How close were you to the temperature? Close or way off, doesn’t matter! The act of observing all of this on your own without a computer was the key thing.


Solstice Canyon, Malibu, California

Seriously though, how?

The next HOW of going outside can go in any number of directions. Much of that will depend on your feedback, but a few of the first questions we’ll address will include:

  • How to choose a trail or activity that’s right for you, your loved ones and your fitness level?
  • How to feel safe and prepared?
  • How to easily find a nearby natural area?
  • How to chose the right clothing and gear?
  • How to observe, interact with and respect wildlife?
  • How to have FUN and keep the desire for more exploration?

We Need You on this Wonder Journey

Your participation is vital to the wonder journey we are all on together. You are part of the network that others will rely on to get outside and wonder more! Tell us about those moments. Share your insights, advice and plans to the Facebook Group.


    Wisdom Tree, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA

    Hollywood Sign, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA

There was a beach you sat on that caused you to lose all sense of time. There was a rainbow that appeared that stopped you in your tracks. There was a hike you took that was so incredibly hard that you thought you’d never make it home, but when you did, you started planning your next hike.

Where Are You Exploring Next?

It can be as simple as the ravine just down the road hoping you may see some frogs. It can be as elaborate as a month long tour of glaciers in Patagonia. What do you usually pack, wear, prepare ahead of time? When you tell us about your adventures, we listen!


    Female Elephant Seal, San Simeon, California

    Upper Sierra Nevada Mountains, California

Keep It Simple

For now, please know this: IT’S EASY to go outside and connect to wonder. You don’t need more gear! You don’t need crampons, bivy sacks or caribeeners. You don’t have to know what those words mean at all! You don’t need new shoes, better underwear, a new helmet or the latest fashionable tights.

What Do You Notice?

Nope. All you need to do is ask one question: “What do I notice?” That’s it! Go outside and do your thing. Walk, hike, bike, run, paddle or just sit. And while you’re doing that, open up your wonder sense and see if you can notice something.

Perhaps it’s the behavior of that one bird that you don’t know the name of. That’s great! Maybe you’ll notice that most of the trees point kinda to the south. Or maybe you’ll notice that it’s starting to rain and you forgot to look at your app!

Wiki Less – Wonder More

Whatever it is that you notice anew, is the trail back to wonder. Keep following that trail. And share it with us. You can share where you go here on the Facebook Group.


I wonder how old that tree is? Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

The power of wonder has shaped my life for over 50 years.

Now I’m sharing what I’ve lived, experienced, learned and noticed with you. I hope you’ll come along on this journey and do likewise.


Ted Mattison, also known as Ranger Ted, is a Certified California Naturalist, trained in Wilderness First Aid, and has explored, hiked, canoed and kayaked extensively from his home state of Minnesota to Alaska, Washington and California. He’s a graduate of Oberlin College and a former Social Studies teacher. Ted has been a working actor, director, producer and acting teacher in Los Angeles for 25 years. He is the founder of Wonder Outside with Ranger Ted and lives in Huntington Beach with his wife and two daughters. For more info please visit

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