It’s not every camping excursion that I arrive with plenty of daylight to spare for setting up camp and enjoying my scenery. Times where it didn’t happen: Straights State Park in the Upper Peninsula and Congaree National Park. I love it when I do get to enjoy my surroundings for an hour or more, like at Icelandic State Park or Great Sand Dunes National Park (see Sand, Water, Snow, Deer, and the Last Blueberry Muffin from January 2019). The tent popped and the daylight available, I get the opportunity to see my surroundings and then get a good night sleep. I don’t ignore all the sights of these bucolic scenes when I arrive late, I usually just save the highlights for the following morning, like when I awoke to discover the bison of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Keep in mind, it’s not that I don’t plan to arrive during daylight, it’s just that I happen to stumble upon some place (or several places) wonderful before I get to my evening destination. Case and point, the reason I arrived late to Congaree National Park harked back to my arrival time at Shenandoah National Park the previous night. Based on my camping location on Skyline Drive, I finished my cruise through the busiest national park the following morning putting me behind schedule for a timely arrival at Congaree. It’s really a domino effect, but I just cannot help myself when I coast through the backwoods of pretty much anywhere. I ought to make an effort to avoid being late to my campsite, but I just hate to plan anything beyond where I end my day. Everything in between is pliable.
Traversing, Hiking, and Basking
Now my tent is secured, and my blankets and bottles of water and pillows and pajamas are placed, and the sun has yet to set, so I am going towards the dunes in search of beauty. Of course, I find it just on the other side of the creek, a trickling flow that, with the right shoes, tickles my feet and tingles my senses. If I want to get enchanted by nature, this mildly chilly sensation would be enough to spark my appreciation of the late spring weather, yet I continue onward. Next, I reach the densely packed sand of the dunes smoothed by the slough of water cascading even slower than the creek. Regardless of its presence between the polished rocks or the sculpted sand, every droplet begins in the mountains above me, sustained by the last of the late winter snowfall, being teased downhill by the warming spring sunshine. This view captures nearly exactly, the reason why I camp.
I’m not a selfie kind of girl. I usually don’t need pictures of me out in nature because in comparison to my surroundings, I’m mediocre. Additionally, when I get home, I can always look in the mirror and see me, but I may never again glimpse the elements and textures ahead of me. I know which looks better. Mostly because I am standing here, surrounded by all of the majesty and magic of water meandering downhill over surfaces that welcome the moisture, I realize my planning to arrive at this exact point after the four preceding days of driving, with three more days ahead of me, that this might be the climax of this week’s outing. I triumph that not only have I arrived here, but the adventure ahead of me gets suspended for one evening while I immerse myself in the mixture of snow and sand and water and wonderment, all of which come together as a result of my nose to the steering wheel as I plow across the country. I’ve earned this moment of bliss, and I’m going to savor it and take a picture of me in it.