Exactly a year ago, I went on my first overnight backpacking trip. Ryan, some friends and I hiked a 13-mile loop in the George Washington National Forest. (As an aside, I should note that I have done my fair share of backpacking to and from youth hostels, but always had a bed and at least a few hours of electricity every night. This kind of backpacking, wilderness backpacking, was completely foreign to me. But, you know how I love foreign adventures - more on this later.)
Anyway, one year ago as we made camp after a day of hiking up and up, I cooked red beans and rice for the crew, and I was smitten. Ryan, our friends and I huddled around the fire sharing stories and whisky, and for the first time in a while, I felt peace and joy. It also helps that my sleeping bag is delightfully cozy. I like camping, in fact, I might even love it! That’s a good thing because we are about camp for six months. Granted, it’s not going to be camping the whole time, we’ll be staying in hotels here and there and crashing with friends along the way (friends, see previous blog post with route map and plan accordingly). Nevertheless six months is still a long time.
I think I know what I’m getting myself into. I already know I have bug issues and am a compulsive face-washer. I also know that I’m more cosmopolitan than I’m willing admit to most people. Fortunately, I’m comfortable with all of this and I have the savvy to be both practical and stylish. More importantly, I have an open heart and mind.
My point is this: As I alluded to earlier, I have always jumped at the opportunity to see and try new things. I have never been to Joshua Tree National Park, so why not?! I have also never felt so connected to another human being. As we prepare to leave on our trip, I prepare myself to enter into Ryan’s universe of traversing tall mountain ridges and sleeping under the stars, just as he prepares to enter into mine of sharing meals and museum wanders with fellow hostel dwellers. Life is a journey, not a destination and I can’t think of a better way to begin our lifelong journey together than with a tent, a camping stove and the open road!