I’m going to the Boundary Waters.
Yes, me. The girl who sat in the woods and cried with her friend during church wilderness camp because it “wasn’t fun,” “felt like abuse” and all we wanted was to get home. Susie and I sat on a trail together, scratching our mosquito bites and soaking up our tears with toilet paper. We agreed that camping “felt like the military”… because as eighth graders, we understood what that was like. We simply hadn’t known what we were in for.
But it’s been a few years. I’ve learned a couple of things. I’ve grown stronger, and my entire life has changed since our little meltdown in the deep woods.
And so, I’m going off the grid again, but this time it’s not out of boredom, stupidity or parental pressure. It’s not because I have to, or because I’m dating some insane outdoorsman. Rather, this was something I elected to do because I feel like I need it.
Yes, pretty desperately. Trust me, I’d prefer a trip out to Maine where I could eat fresh seafood every day and stay in decent, comfortable hotels. You know… ones with flushing toilets, WIFI and pillows and blankets that you don’t have to carry for miles.
But I got to thinking, I spend upwards of eight hours per day in front of a computer – probably closer to 10 with work, photo editing, ‘Wit writing, feeding my Facebook addiction, checking email, and staring at the hourly forecast to see how it will dictate the hours I’m not on my electronic devices. I try to limit it (there’s a reason I don’t have a Smartphone), but the times I’m not on my computer, my iPad and phone are nearby, so I can follow up on messages from friends, who are usually upset that I didn’t answer and/or took too long to respond.
This disconnect with nature spreads to other areas of my life, too. Before I run, I shove ear buds in my ears. Every night, I fall asleep to the soothing sound of traffic. During my morning drive to work, I waste an annoying amount of time sitting at the two stoplights I am forced to go through – just enough to get on my nerves.
I’ve also begun to take for granted living 100 yards away from a grocery store, flipping a switch to light up a room, having ice in my water. I’ve also grown increasingly fond of my bed, running water and fresh laundry and towels. And I’ve fallen in love with the privacy four walls and a sturdy, locked door provide.
But I’ve taken these things so far for granted and gotten so used to everything being automatic, that it has begun to put a bit of a damper on my life. My iPad has replaced stepping out to examine the night sky. I swim in a pool instead of a lake, and run on a treadmill instead of exploring new outdoor trails. I commonly eat dinner in front of my computer. I’ve become a bit captive of my amenities. I’ve been living it up within my little comfort zone and, quite honestly, I’m annoyed with myself.
It has gotten out of hand. It’s way too much. I need to disconnect and get away.
So, despite my previous bad experience, I’m packing one very small bag, leaving my electronics, eyeliner and comforting “stuff” at home, and roughing it.
I try to do things that scare me every chance I get, but this trip makes me nervous to say the least.
For starters, it will put my comfort zone out of sight for five days, with no option to turn around and back out.
I’ll also need to completely trust my brother-in-law’s compass and map-reading skills to get us out and back safely and on time. Though, I admit, any guy who made his way into my sister’s heart probably has infallible navigation.
There’s the usual fear of creatures with more than four legs, running out of toilet paper, getting swallowed by a bear, falling into a poison ivy bush, getting rained on for five consecutive days and getting separated from the group and having to fend for myself. But all in all, I recognize the incredible amount of opportunity in this vacation.
For the first time in 10 years, I’ll cast a line in hopes to catch my dinner. Then, if I can find it in me to cut up Nemo and eat him, I’ll happily cross Bucket List Item #16 off my list (learn to fillet a fish). The best part about it? I’ll be learning first hand from my Dad. I even have a chance at crossing off Bucket List Item #17—sleep in a tree fort or igloo — if I can convince my brother-in-law to build me one (a tree fort, in this case, not the igloo).
I’m excited to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of a crackling campfire. To spend entire days under the sun watching birds and catching fish, then watching the moon wane a little more each night. I’m looking forward to pan frying fresh fish over a fire, curling up in a sleeping bag, swimming in a lake, having good ole fashioned conversation 100% free of the distraction of phones, and who knows – maybe facing my fear of spiders at last.
Though the last one is highly doubtful, maybe I should be concerned with how I’ll get back into the grind and “up to speed” when I get back home.
Shootin’ the Wit is a sporadic blog about everyday life that should never, ever be taken too seriously.