The Reluctant Outdoorsman

My father loved the outdoors.  He hunted, fished, hiked part of the Appalachian Trail.  He raised a small herd of cattle – for fun.  He gave my mother really practical gifts – like a horse.  He loved anything outside and I loved doing any of those things with him.  Unfortunately, my father died unexpectedly when I was almost eight years old.  My mother was then busy trying to keep our little family going.  Except for the occasional Girl Scout camping trip, outdoor hobbies fell by the wayside.

My husband loves the outdoors as well.  He hunts, fishes, hikes, backpacks.  I love tagging along with him.  When we lived in Texas, our hiking opportunities were limited to our vacations.  All of those trips were day hikes.  I’ve never backpacked.  That’s not to say I haven’t gone on long hikes.  I once blew out a knee going 12 miles on our first day of hiking in Banff.  Apparently my knee (which had suffered previous injuries when I danced on the high school drill team) thought 10 miles was plenty.  So all that to say, although I really like the idea of being outdoorsy, I’m very much a novice that really likes to sleep in her own comfy bed at night.

Then we move to Alaska.  We buy a pop-up camper.  My husband buys a raft.  A really, really big, blue, inflatable raft.  We don’t have a trailer for the raft, so we have to disassemble it to transport it.  The raft is deflated and rolled up and put in the back of Todd’s SUV.  The frame is put on top of his SUV.  The camper is pulled behind the SUV.  We look like the Beverly Hillbillies going down the road.

I find myself slightly irritated.  I have to get three kids plus myself packed for camping and rafting.  In Alaska, you don’t just throw on your swimsuit and life jacket to raft.  You have to have many layers of warm clothes and rain gear and boots.  Then I have to shop for the camping trip, figuring out what we’re going to feed our family on the trip.  In other words, it’s a lot of work for me.

But here’s the thing, our kids ADORE camping and rafting.  They squeal with delight when we tell them we’re going.  We’re building family memories that they can look back on long after Todd and I are gone.  And if I’m honest, once we’re out there, I love it too.

That’s the Biggest Black Dog I’ve Ever Seen

I love how the mind works.  When I was doing my teacher training, I thoroughly enjoyed my courses on brain research.  I’m amazed by how the mind sees something it is unfamiliar with and then tries to place it in the familiar.  Today I was driving Audrey, my oldest, to her day camp when I noticed about 150 yards ahead of me on the road the biggest black dog I had ever seen was about to cross the road.  Then I noticed how the dog was moving and the rest went something like this… that’s not a dog, it’s a bear!!

“Bear, bear, bear!! Kids look!  It’s a bear!! Bear up ahead!”

“Where Mom?!”

“Up ahead!  It just crossed the street.  Did you see it?!”

“Yes, yes!!  Where’d it go?”

“It crossed the street.”

Now keep in mind this whole event took about 3.4 seconds to happen.  By this time, we had caught up with where the bear had crossed the road.  I was positive I’d see it on the other side of the road.  No luck.  That black bear was gone.

My mind did the same thing the first time I saw a moose in the neighborhood.  It was night and I had either taken the trash out or walked the dog.  I can’t remember which.  I looked across the street in my neighbor’s yard and thought, why is there a cow in their yard?  Oh, that’s not a cow, that’s a moose!!  I then proceeded to run inside and yell, “Todd, Todd!  Look!  There’s a moose in their yard!!”

Now that I’ve safely seen my first bear, I’m hoping next time I’ll recognize it for what it is.