We recently finally took our first family camping trip. Totally weird given my background. I mean I have a degree that involved extensive study of most things living outside of our modern society (and a few things within). One summer I spent the entire summer living out of a tent! It was an amazing summer. Full of great times and memories. I loved it! Except I missed my then boyfriend (now husband) and I totally couldn't leave my kids like that now. The pay wasn't even that much less than I make now, and I've taken several jobs since where I've made less. Heck if you count the food we were provided I probably made more then! That was even the summer we won our tent at the bank.
My camping wasn't limited to that summer. I spent 10 days in the largest continuous wilderness area in the lower 48 states! It was for a class, and we did have structured accommodation for part of it (a research station), but there were several nights of sleeping with nothing but a bag and the stars. Before all that "higher education stuff" there were a myriad of yuppie camping (uh I mean car camping and KOAing) as a kid. I have nothing but good memories! Driving all day, then setting up camp and cooking dinner before the sun set. Mom would bring things like stew we had frozen in advance of the trip (the ultimate camp dinner - well ok, steak is good too). We'd set camp and eat and wash up. Mom would be scared of the threat of bears. My sister and I would share a tent. Sometimes we'd brave the showers. Sometimes there wouldn't be flushies. Usually, we'd be there for the night and after breakfast we'd break camp and be off to the next site!
So you see it is truly remarkable that it wasn't until now that we have finally, as a family, gone camping. In fact it almost didn't happen again this year. Several times we've planned to go with my cousin, partially because he has a boat and we wanted to camp on an island that well you just can't walk to. Sometimes we've planned to go with friends. Some summers there just hasn't been the vacation time to go anywhere! Even though my cousin has disappeared, I guess I'll call him again in a bit, we went. Our campsite was close to home and well, there was supposed to be a high chance for northern lights! I've never seen the northern lights, so I wasn't going to let my MIA cousin stand in my way.
I still haven't seen the northern lights, but that's neither here nor there. What did happen was something I wasn't expecting at all. It wasn't the kids, or my husband, or the fact that we literally pulled stuff out of storage threw it in the car stopped by the grocery store and drove away. It was what happened when we picked our spot (yup yuppied it!) and I got out of the car to walk back to pay. I was walking along the road (still on asphalt even!) and my daughters ran up to join me. There we were walking along the trees and the grass and the crazy under-story, when something just clicked. It was like there was a part of me that had been missing something and that something was snapped back into place. Almost like coming home, but not really. More like when you've been wearing glasses with a prism and they aren't supposed to have a prism and you've been losing vision and having horrendous migraines, and then you go to the optometrist and he takes those hand held lenses out of his box and holds it in front of your eye canceling out the prism and your migraine dies away instantly. Somewhere deep inside of me, I need the woods, and for nearly a decade my contact with the great open of creation has been severely limited.
I wonder how long this latest fix will hold. I wonder if I'll be able to get more. It's just so odd. I mean I hate the heat, I like to stay safe in my home and shun the world. I never get this "click" in town. Even when we are at a park. I fed my need as well as I could for the location we were at. I dragged my kids around the trail, well only one of them needed dragging and that was mostly because she hadn't slept very much. I sat around the campfire until late in the evening. I even enjoyed my husband's ideal camp dinner of roasting sausages on the fire. Although we need to have more discussion about breakfast.
The kids are psyched up to go again. Hopefully, my need won't be so great. Maybe the next time I go walking along the trees in a naturalistic setting I won't feel a snap of comfort, but instead will simply feel pleasure that my family is out doing things together where no cell phones or laptops can reach us.