Sunset at the Fairyland lookout at Bryce Canyon National Park.
We arrived in Salt Lake City after a long day of plane travel, having schlepped our ten (ten!) checked bags from the baggage claim to the rental car agency, only to realize that said bags would not fit in the car. Unless we strapped a child to the roof. We shelled out the cash for a minivan and headed to the grocery store to stock up for ten nights of camping. Check. On to REI, where we needed to purchase some propane and sun hats. It was here that all three of our dear little children lost their minds. Us parents made a mental note never to travel with them again, and we made it to the hotel before they fell asleep in two minutes flat, hours after their normal east coast bedtime.
"Are we making a big mistake?" Patrick said, with eyebrows raised in annoyance and exhaustion.
"Maybe," I answered. We again discussed plans to postpone all future travel until they turned 8, 11, and 13. "It is a bit easier to camp twenty minutes from home."
Thank goodness we slept well, because there was a four-hour car ride to Bryce Canyon ahead of us the next morning. Dude. What were we thinking?
Choruses of "are we there yet?" and "I don't want that music!" and "but I want that music!" were heard from the back seats. At least we had rare snack foods on hand. Never underestimate the power of cheddar bunny crackers to assuage the masses.
Setting up camp in Bryce was filled with more whines.
But then ... then the big cousins arrived. And everything was all better.
Calf Creek Falls in Utah. A very hot, six-mile hike in full sun, with a very beautiful waterfall destination. Bring lots of water. More than we did (ahem.)
Aside from a few nights of coughing for Lachlan (hello, high elevation!) and sub-par sleep, we started to hit our camping groove. From Bryce, we headed to Zion, then on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (which is very different from the South Rim, so I hear. Sparsely visited, nestled among pine, aspen, and lupine - our camp site was a quick walk from the edge. Stunning.)
I had lots of time to think about some things on this trip. With no internet access, I spent my evenings in quiet contemplation. There were no hobbies to busy my hands (I brought the wrong knitting needles, drat!) I did get out to hike as much as possible. And while that isn't always easy to do with little children, who are more interested in small things and less interested in the grandeur of canyons, I did squeeze in a few hard hikes with a toddler on my back, and a handful of solo explorations. And what I realized was this: challenging my body in Nature is my jam.
I hear so much about how important it is to set aside time to exercise. How I need to move for so many reasons. Exercise is an obligation if I am to reach my full energy quota, my optimum body function. How many of us view exercise as an obligation, not a joyful experience that we look forward to? Hiking, for me, is pure joy. Pure fulfillment. I could hike to the top of a mountain and not think about how much longer I had to go. I could go on for miles without wondering when I could stop.
Finn and I hiked The Narrows at Zion, and this is the only picture I got. Despite being out of focus, I love it!
The first thing I did when I got home was sign up for my local hiking meet-up. If I'm going to invest in personal rejuvenation and health, this is how I'm going to do it. There needs to be a balance in my "me time." Too much time spent hunched over a sewing machine can be good for my mind but bad for the body. Equilibrium can be reached by balancing quiet, crafting time with joyful movement. Starting now, I'm going to explore how to honor that body/mind balance in my free time, looking at both as a pleasurable respite rather than an obligation.
And yes, I would take my three kids on another crazy camping adventure. In fact, I recommend it. As long as you add big cousins or friends to the mix! Nature takes the drudgery out of movement for people of all ages.