Many of you know that Katie the dog and I went camping last week. What you might not have known is that the State Park where we pitched our tent is only one exit and six miles north of home.
But it’s a world away.
I’ve been thinking the last few days about why we’d go camping so close to home. Why not just pitch the tent in the back yard? (And you know we do that too.) Why go to the trouble of packing up the car with tent and bedroll, pillows, blankets, food, leashes, dog dishes, cameras, tinder, firewood. The dog and her crate.
Why walk almost 1500 steps to the bathroom and back in the middle of the night? Why drench yourself and the dog with bug spray and sunblock, sleep in two (or three) layers of clothes under several blankets, wake up with a start at every snapped branch in the woods.
Why not just take walks in the woods with your dog during the day and sleep in your own bed safe, sound and warm in your own house every night? Why, as soon as you get home, do you immediately want to plan the next trip?
And here’s what I’ve realized. When you’re out in the woods for hours on end, you slow down. You notice that bird you’ve never seen before. You listen to all the birds begin to sing long before the sun comes up. You read a book. You take a walk. You take a nap. Then you read some more, contemplate the campfire, maybe raise a roasted marshmallow in toast to the memories of camping with family all those years ago.
When you camp away from home there is no laundry that should be started, no gardens to weed, no groceries to be found, meals to be cooked. When you camp away from home you find peace and freedom and beauty and quiet joy.
And that’s why Katie and I are already thinking about our next adventure.
Close to home.