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The joys of camping

February 1, 2011

Our camp adjacent to Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

For many people, camping is an integral, cherished part of their childhood, when families would head to national parks in the summertime, packed with tents and sleeping bags and marshmallows and hot chocolate, to set up camp under the stars and enjoy themselves in peace amidst nature while warming their cold noses by a jolly campfire. We discovered camping quite late in our lives, but one does not have to be a child to enjoy the thrills of pitching your own tent and sleeping under the open sky, gazing in awe toward the faraway twinkling stars.

Sunrise from our campsite in Death Valley National Park

Our first camping experience was in Death Valley National Park. Being novices at camping, we went with our friend who had camped a gazillion times before, everywhere from California to Africa. It was a cold and blustery night, and I was up most of the time, listening to the wind howling outside and being startled awake by what appeared to be occasional steps on the gravel outside our tent (all in my imagination, of course!). I slept fitfully, silently wishing for daybreak.

I still remember the feeling of happiness and joy when I woke up at dawn, and stepped out of the tent gingerly (all the others were snoring away blissfully in the tent) and stood under the fading stars waiting for the sun to come up and warm me up nice. The sky turned a light pink in the distance and then several different shades of purple and magenta and finally burst into a riot of orange and red. I was completely hooked to the experience!

The rest of our summer went by in several amazing and memorable road trips to various National Parks around the country, and we always camped. We pitched our tent overlooking the snow-covered peaks of the Grand Tetons and in lush green meadows in Yellowstone National Park, all the way to the famed Kalaloch Beach and Lake Crescent campgrounds in Olympic National Park. We experienced the beauty of the parks on a very personal level and it definitely helped to forget the hustle-bustle of our cubicle-centered lives for a while.

Warming ourselves up in the bright morning sunshine outside our tent at Yellowstone National Park

Each experience was unique and lasting. Each taught us more about ourselves. Each made us more self-reliant, and more confident in being able to take care of ourselves with lesser and lesser to get by on. Camping is an experience which teaches you to take a step back and really look at what the most essential things to bring along are, the ultimate goal being to enjoy oneself without having unnecessary things hampering rather than helping.

And this reasoning translates very well to much of our lives. Too often, we live buried under too much of everything, be it real or imagined responsibilities, things we want rather than need, things that we think will make us happy. If sitting in a tent next to a copse of trees with the blue sky above and sunshine on my face makes me feel so very happy, why would I ever want to be anywhere else? It’s not a question to be answered, but a good one to ask time and again to make sure we are really doing things that make us happy NOW.

Camping under the gorgeous trees in Olympic National Park, Washington

Like camping, of course! It is one of the few things left in this world which makes me feel like I’m a kid again. And I can hardly wait for the summer of 2011 to pitch that tent and roll out that sleeping bag and resume counting the stars in my patch of inky blue sky.

 

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