You know what makes a work week twenty million times better? A work with with a camping trip thrown into the middle of it!!
To take advantage of the ridiculously amazing weather earlier this week, my friend Shawn from Urban Adventure League pitched a mid-week trip for his mid-week “weekend”: ride out to Oxbow Regional Park and camp. Unlike Shawn, I do not have Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. But also unlike Shawn, I work not too crazy far away from Oxbow, so it’s feasible to ride out to the park, sleep in the woods, and ride back to work the next morning. Heck, it’s even about 15 minutes faster to bike to work from Oxbow than it is to bike from my house.
Oddly enough, even though I totally know better, I was initially a little deterred by logistics. I work from home on Tuesdays, so I could smoosh that schedule around, but what about Wednesday? Did I really want to wake up in the dark, pack up my tent and entire campsite in the dark, cook myself breakfast in the dark, and bike to work smelling like campfire? If I went running at Oxbow, which of course I did since I can’t resist beautiful trails, and then slept in a tent and didn’t shower, would I be too stinky and gross when I got to work in the morning? How would I pack a containable lunch that I could take out to the field with me on Wednesday with my crew?
They’re all stupid questions that take on disproportionate weight when my brain is trying to convince me that something out of my normal routine is untenable. I know this. I even wrote about it last time I went camping at Oxbow midweek, and I thought about having written it when I was trying to make up my mind this time around. Despite knowing better, I still hemmed and hawed. But, of course, still went camping.
Best. Thing. Ever.
There is something so fricken fantastic about quiet time in the woods. About removing yourself from mechanized space, even if it’s for less than 24 hours. About staying up around a campfire rather than a lightbulb. About cozying down into a down bag, even if I slept for shit. About hearing the constant river, about seeing the stars. (Gosh, the stars were amazing when I got up in the morning.) It is so lovely to sneak in some camping.
And of course, all the logistical hassles I’d imagined turned out to be super surmountable. There are showers at Oxbow, but since it was cold in the morning and I didn’t want to take one after all, I just washed my face and armpits and called it good. I put my hair up at work and called that good too. I didn’t even bring my stove; I just ate a banana and a bunch of nut butter for breakfast. I had a fantastic morning ride and even got to see the sun rise behind Mt Hood as I was biking — something that I never see these days when I ride from home.
I got to work feeling like I’d had a grand adventure, even though all I really did was spend about 16 hours in the woods at Oxbow park. But in large part, it’s the stepping out of routine that gives me that feeling, the fact that I did something sneaky that I hardly ever do. (The fact that it was something like camping, something that makes my soul inherently happy, also helps.)
It might not have happened if not for two things. One, I had a friend who gave me the little extra push to do something I might not have done otherwise. I’m feeling particularly thankful for people like that these days (thanks, Shawn!). Two, I was able to quiet the stupid brain-monkeys telling me that it was too hard, that the work it would take wasn’t worth it for the time I’d be out there.
It’s always worth it. And fundamentally, even though I doubt myself sometimes, I know it’s always going to be. I’m thankful for that, too, that I’ve done the harder-seeming thing enough to know just to take the first step, that it’s not usually as hard as I think it will be. And I will always be glad I did it.
And you? What seems hard to you that is just a first step away from feasible? :)