What a summer! Whew…I can barely believe its over when it feels like it just began. My husband, MP, is in public education, so when I say summer I mean the six weeks he has off between Mid June and August first. And in all transparency, he doesn’t really take the summer off. He teaches summer school, but his hours are much shorter and the days much more relaxed.
This is the first year I’ve ever been off with him. In years past I have still gotten up daily and headed to work as if nothing has changed. I always dallied a bit longer on those weeks he was off, often enjoying a little more coffee in the morning and a few extra minutes in the pool at night, but I’ve never not worked while he was off.
This summer was very different. Since I am still in my year off, we spent most mornings on our porch, sipping coffee and sharing things we were reading. We communicate in whispers those first few hours and often found ourselves making plans that started around 10am. It was wonderful and quiet and easy. We spent many hours talking about our future, making plans and running numbers. We both enjoy making sure we aren’t just getting stagnant or accepting the status quo as the only option.
One of the many adventures we had this summer, even in the midst of this pandemic, was camping. In the past we owned a comfortable little camper that we took out a few times each year, complete with a bed, shower, stove and although I never used it, a microwave. This wasn’t exactly roughing it but we enjoyed it for many years and created some great memories in it, including a 10 day trip down the Oregon coast. About three years ago we sold our camper because we thought we were done camping, exchanging our summer activities for warmer winter ones.
But, we changed our minds….again. As the summer was launching this year MP found a really cool tent that fits on the back of our truck along with a high quality air mattress that fits inside and over the wheel wells and our next adventure began. We re-bought what we thought were the minimums and decided we would try remote camping, which we hadn’t done prior. I like this about us. We sometimes take a path or discontinue a direction and then some time later decide we want back on that path. There is no wrong about it and it wasn’t a ‘bad’ decision. It was right at the time, and now it is something we want to try again. There is a lot of latitude given when you live like that. And in that train of thought, we decided this summer we weren’t done camping after all.
And so, off we went, and went and went again and again. We loved it! We didn’t stay anywhere that had hook ups and often went days without seeing another person. We packed in our water, had no power and used coolers for food. For some, this may sound like a typical camping trip but for us, it was all new. Did I mention how much we loved it? We had days where we took our camp chairs and sat in the river, watching eagles fly and fish jump in cool mountain streams. We were never in a rush, never pushed to be somewhere. We intentionally went places where there was no cell service, no phones and no internet. Often we had no contact with the outside world or even another person for the entire time we were gone. And not a day passed that I wasn’t in awe of nature and its beauty and how easy it was to live small.
We woke each morning and looked out the door of our tent to mountain peaks so high they still had snow and to the sound of the river gurgling just a few feet away. There was hardly a day I wasn’t brought to tears at the beauty and solace and peace I felt in those places. I can’t explain the quiet that came over my soul even as I cooked outdoors, did dishes in river water and drank cowboy coffee next to a fire each morning. Its quite an experience to live all of life outside for days. The quietness was intoxicating.
Now, I’m not going to pretend the hot shower didn’t feel like a luxury after four days or that making sure I rotated food based on our ice supply wasn’t nice to not have to worry about on our return. But choosing to live so small gave me an even greater appreciation for the things I often take for granted. There are few things better then the solitude of nature and being there minimally gave me a whole new appreciation for how amazing some of our conveniences are.
MP fly fishing in Stanley Idaho
MP documents his take on our camping adventures here and has some other great take-a-ways you might like along with some fun photos. Plus, he’s a great blogger and I’m sure you’ll enjoy some of his insights as well.
I have my next blog already in the making because camping allowed me the quiet to really think, process and understand how much impact the noise of life can have on a person. For now though, the solitude of ‘roughing it’ was something I will not soon forget. The opportunity to be with MP all summer, to dream and plan and begin to shape our next steps was invaluable and allowed because of the quiet opportunity we took to live off the grid for a bit.
I look forward to sharing my newest adventure soon. I don’t think I’m alone in the pursuit for quiet and I anticipate many of you will relate to my newest insight into minimalism.