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The Low Down on Nature’s Sweet Slow Down

July 13, 2013

Last Saturday afternoon, while all of us were lounging on the couch recovering from July 4th celebrations, we talked about how we wanted to spend our Sunday together. After tossing around a few ideas (pool, work around the house, nothing because we’re kinda tired…), camping was thrown out and the conversation was over. Let’s do it – before we overthink it. 

We are definitely not camping gurus. We love it once we’re there, but often the idea of figuring out location, gear, & food combined with sleeping on the ground & the possibility of less than sweet weather leaves us saying “maybe another weekend.” But these impromptu, minimally planned trips hit the sweet spot every time.

By Sunday at 11 am, we had gathered the basics –

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Nothing fancy – tent, sleeping bags, chairs, hot dogs…and boxed wine. Of course.

We chose Golden Gate Canyon State Park because the campground section is fortunate to only be under a Stage I fire ban right now, which meant we could have a campfire in the park provided pits.

Sidenote: When we stopped in Golden to grab wood and ice, we happened to drive by the home the Sweetlife women had worked on with Habitat for Humanity last year. It was so wonderful to see it full of sweet life!

habitat house

Home sweet home.

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Awesome team of volunteers & Habitat for Humanity staff!

Back on the road, we arrived at our beautiful campsite in the Aspen Meadows area of the park. Everyone was assigned a job and by 4 pm, tent was up, fire prepped, and fishing gear organized. We walked the 1/2 mile trail to Dude’s Fishing Hole, sweet with the beauty of columbines, lupine, & other wildflowers working their magic.

Ready to fish.

We spent a few hours casting, reeling, and bobber-watching. Pure beauty and relaxation. The few successful catches were bonus.

Daddy’s happy place.

Quiet QT felt so great.

As the sun set, we walked back to camp, enjoyed a campfire dinner & s’mores, and snugged into our sleeping bags by 9:30 pm. The next morning over coffee & hot chocolate around the fire, Raleigh announced “My favorite thing about camping is it is just our family together.”

fam pic

At our campsite.

Raleigh was spot on. Beyond the surface fun of our quickie trip, the real gift was being completely present. Unplugging from the (mostly sweet) noise of our daily life allowed us to fully plug into one another, ourselves, and the beauty around us.

Mother Nature has a way of making time slow down when you play in her playground. And it’s not just pixie dust.

There’s loads of research exploring the connection between nature and happiness, health, success, & beyond. You can read here about the studies exploring how “nature is essential to the physical, psychological and social well-being of the human animal” and here to see the links experts have discovered “between time spent outdoors and cognitive, physical, and emotional development.”

And then there are the physiological benefits of getting dirty.  Simple Mom captures some of the highlights here including how dirt activates neurons that produce the natural anti-depressant serotonin and it boosts our immune system. While she is talking about little kids, us big kids need a layer of brown grime covering our pedicures much more often than most of us get it.

I definitely wasn’t thinking about the science side while we were there. I was simply enjoying the calm and my heightened senses, marinating in the smells of the campfire while staring up at the brilliant night sky.

On the way home, the kids asked if we could go camping once a week. Might be a bit ambitious (unfortunately), but we are going to be happy campers as often as possible.

The key is keeping it simple. And the boxed wine.

Any big campers out there? Do you have a favorite spot? Or any special tips for how you make it happen? Please share so we can all follow Ralph Waldo Emerson’s advice –

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, and breathe the wild air.”

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Tim Ferriss's 4-Hour Workweek and Lifestyle Design Blog

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