Gone Campin'

I remember camping during the summers with my parents in the high deserts of the Southwest as a child. I remember hiking the Grand Canyon, sleeping in the back of my dad's pickup truck, stargazing at the expansive displays overhead, and waking to do things like explore ruins of ancient civilizations or picnic at nearby rivers. I remember the awe those contexts provided me.

As a teen I experienced camping in a variety of scenarios, from living in tents in the woods and sleeping in cars to spending time with the Rainbow Family at a gathering outside of Fort Collins, CO.

And finally, as a young adult, I met the man I would marry and he just happens to be one helluva camper. I've been told he was even an Eagle Scout, and though I tease him about it, I totally love that about him (not to mention I was a Girl Scout).
I fell in love with him camping in the month of March on the Oregon Coast. I married him next to a shining lake while our friends took over the campground nearby; our son Birch was born from fire embers next to that same lake years later. We have taken our tent to the Redwoods, packed full of boys and babies and beautiful memories. I have slept next to rivers, oceans, lakes, waterfalls, inside rainforests, at music festivals, on logging roads, and in backyards in that tent. I have come to love that tent because it is a physical manifestation of the life I am living with a person I love dearly. We are raising our children to understand the importance of sleeping outside now and again, and to feel the ways in which the earth on their feet propels them toward deeper understandings of themselves.

So now, in my thirties, I can comfortably take four children camping on a solo trip over the Pass. I can set up and take down my own tent, hang a hammock, cook delectable dutch oven food, comfortably go days without a proper shower, hike packing a 35lb child/pack combo, chop wood and build a raging fire, build a cooler in a river, dig my own holes, pack light, hang a straight shot on ladder ball, stop my own bleeding... you know, camp stuff. Here's to my first camping trip of the season, one which I happened to tackle alone because Brian had some serious work to crank out. Four boys, three days, two nights, one Mama... We joined a circle of friends (thank heavens, because seriously, that whole "it takes a village" thing is real as daylight), set up for the long haul, and never even had to be cold or break out the super-glue.
 I think everyone, but especially women and their children, should go camping. Get out there. Get dirty. Explore. Feel the dirt, the water, the leaves of the trees. Watch for new birds, fish, squirrels. Find bugs, talk to other campers, make a meal in tinfoil. Curl up in comfy feathered sleeping bags, tell stories in the woods, stare at the stars, take a deep breath. Remember that you are made of stardust, too. And then, when it's time to come back home, shine with the rejuvenation communing with nature provides.
If you are in the Pacific NorthWest and looking for a choice spot, allow me to share a few of my favorites:

Silver Lake: This is where we were hitched. It is approximately 1hr outside of Bellingham, WA, down the infamous Highway 542. Paddleboat and canoe rentals, fishing, swimming, and abundant grass fields are some key features.

Rasar State Park: Just outside of Conrete, WA, this park boasts rivers, kid-friendly hikes, warm sandbars you can walk onto, two large and fulfilling playground areas... Need I say more?

Deception Pass: Gorgeous, lots of hiking, best sunsets around. Easily accessed, though surrounded by water.

Fort Ebey: Saltwater shoreline for miles, old battery forts to explore, and the best place imaginable to fly a kite.

Are you a camper? Where do you go to commune with nature? Bonus points if the spots are in the PNW, because proximity, obviously.

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