If the title of this month’s column brings to mind scenes of John Candy and Dan Aykroyd creating hilarious chaos in the Wisconsin northwoods, you have an idea of what my own experiences in the great outdoors have been like.
Since I was 8 years old, my extended family has been vacationing together at the same rustic resort and campground in northern Wisconsin. For a full week each June, we convene at Wildwood to fish, swim, roast marshmallows, and catch up with each other; some of my favorite, funniest memories are from this summer getaway.
This year marks the 29th year of our “camping” tradition, the family now expanded to include our partners and kids. We’re not really roughing it, though: We sleep in cabins with running water, electricity, and modern appliances. The resort, while nestled on a lake surrounded by tall pines, features a heated pool and is located five minutes from town, where there’s a grocery store, bakery, and coffee shop (thank goodness).
I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything. And to be honest, this type of camping works for me. I like being in nature and aim to spend time outside every day, but I’ve always been more of a glamping gal. (You can read about my glamping adventure in upstate New York at “Almost Roughing It.”)
Yet I’ve grown more curious about the true great outdoors in recent years. I’ve begun to wonder what it would be like to really get out there — to be in an area that is expansive and remote, disconnected and wild, and where I may not see another human (other than those I’m with) for a day or two.
I credit my husband for this. Brady has been outdoorsy since he was a kid, when his dad began taking him on fishing and bird-hunting trips in Canada. He has since become an avid bow hunter, in addition to partaking in turkey and deer hunting each spring and fall, respectively.
He loves spending full days in his tree stand, keeping an eye out for wildlife, and the reward of sourcing the meat in our freezer. For him, his hunting endeavors are about connecting to the land and knowing exactly where our food comes from.
In the off-season, he reads blogs and magazines and watches shows about these pastimes to prepare for the coming season; it’s how I learned about this month’s cover subject, outdoorsman and chef Eduardo Garcia. (For his incredible story, read “Taking Charge.”)
Inspired by Garcia and other avid sportspeople, Brady has, with increasing regularity, begun bringing up the idea of a trip out West. His pitch: Let’s find a small trailer that we can renovate into a camper and drive to Montana for a week in the backcountry. He’ll do some scouting while we hike and take in the scenery, away from it all.
Historically, I’ve been resistant, largely because of my fear of the unknown. But I’ve come around to the idea of spending time in awe-inspiring areas like Big Sky Country. I’m ready to step outside my comfort zone and see more of this great big world.
However you decide to experience nature, I hope this issue inspires you to get out there. It might be to take a short walk — or even a retreat — in the woods (see “The Benefits of Forest Bathing”). Perhaps it’s getting involved in a citizen-science project (see “How to Be a Citizen Scientist”) or taking your workout outdoors (see “Partner Workouts”).
Or maybe, like John Candy’s character, Chet, in The Great Outdoors, you’ll do something totally unexpected, like waterskiing. Just be sure you trust who’s driving the boat!