The Privilege of Being Outside
"The appeal of taking a week off of work to sleep on the ground and cook all your food over an open fire pit isn’t about the experience that gets told to people afterward. It’s not even about me sharing these photos or writing these words; it’s about taking the time to consciously remove oneself from the countless distractions and commotion of everyday life. To camp is to take time to invest in yourself, your relationships with others, and the very space around you.” - The Field Mag
We spent the weekend outdoors in our favorite part of the state and it was beautiful.
The weeks leading up to this little weekend away were kind of stressful for me (and in turn - for us). It's been a bit of a summer of emotions. Anxiousness about loss, mourning and celebrating, praising God for His perfect goodness, the overwhelming task of starting to look for a new apartment (and with that comes eyeing our finances), the sadness of ending my position at work and the nervousness of starting a new one.
And I am not so good at explaining how I am feeling. I know that, but it comes up in a little different context and I forget that about myself. That is a story for another day - I am learning with the help of my great companion :)
We decided to camp at a campsite out in the middle of nowhere (except near great trout streams). As remote as it was, there were a lot of engines and radios from the RV camp that we shared. However, our little tent site was situated between a country general store (actually serving the homesteaders and tiny towns) and a little stream. So, we were in the best situation possible.
We spent the evening setting up camp and went to sleep early! It was nice really, we always end up staying up late when we camp, but we had a goal to get up while the fish are at their prime. We woke up cozy in our sleeping bags at 5:30AM to a quick hot breakfast, cold brew coffee, and we set out to chase the trout.
The morning drive was MAGIC. MAAAAGGGGGIC. Mystic. Quiet. Untouched. A dense fog covered the expanse of the land as we wound through back roads. And it was so quiet and peaceful and there was no one else out fishing (surprisingly).
As the morning went on, Zach caught a few fish and I didn't catch any.
I am sure there a handful of quotes about how fishing shows you your true self and stuff. I was impatient a lot of the morning. I am rusty and forgot how hard it is to cast fly line in the overgrowth of August. I got tangled at the worst times. I also, though, spent time staring into clear water and looking at all of the wildflowers and birds and foreign bugs landing around me. I felt myself letting go of all the things that were hard or tiresome as the day went on.
We took a mid - day break and showered and took naps in our hammock. This was just incredibly beautiful and relaxing.
There was a stream rippling, leaves falling, and a tiny tiny breeze.
We went back out for evening fishing - actually just walked from our camp through some trees down a south stretch of the creek. We didn't catch a single fish. We were there at the right time and place, but didn't seem to be throwing the right thing.
HOWEVER. I wish that everyone could see with their own eyes the spot that we ended the day at. We were walking in this freshly mowed hay field and saw a gap in these huge century old trees and popped into this little slice of princess fairy pool streams. I mean, there were these beautiful shadows on the rock walls and there was light fog settling at one end of the stream by the tiny sliver of sunset and then just slowly moving water leading back toward our camp. And we just decided things couldn't get better than this, so we should call it.
We trekked back and walked past this old building that I was curious about. Its white old steeple was the only thing visible from our camp - through the trees and across the stream. When we walked up to it, I realized it was the old town hall and there were these people setting up for a community dance! AHMAZING. I saw a cello and a piano being rolled into the 1900's (1800's maybe??) hall.
We made camp and ate dinner, drank beers and whiskey, and sat around the campfire for hours. Those quiet moments and thoughts were backed by RAGTIME TUNES and laughter coming through the trees and across the stream. It was truly a few hours I probably won't forget.
The next morning, we woke up even cozier in our sleeping bags - it was chilly! and we got to sleep in :)
We packed up slowly and made our way past the little stream and back out on the roads. We have found our post fishing brunch spot to be McCaffrey's in Decorah. It's this lodge in these woods outside of town - serving garden fresh wood fire brunch pizza and so many other good options (like lemon ricotta pancakes).....
As I was thinking about the weekend - I thought who CARES that I didn't catch any trout?! The headspace that is opened over a weekend like this is refreshing and important. No service, no distractions, being able to focus on one thing at a time - and those things being very simple things like setting up a shelter, chopping wood, and taking care of your wet waders. The hours swinging in our hammocks and then sitting around the fire having the luxury of your thoughts running anywhere are unmatchable.
And that's why we go outside! And opt for a tent or crawl into streams or hike for three days with packs on our backs. I am grateful for these opportunities and am sad for those who are too weighed down to be able to experience this freedom.
That's it! I'll just copy past this for every outdoor experience going forward.....