Last week, we traded in our suburban lives for the beautiful, coastal camping experience in Big Sur for the first time and it became a great way to do some reflection on life and enjoying the simplicity of life. This was our first time camping on our own; no friends or extended family.
Just the four of us.
As we prepped for our trip I was nervous. It wasn't for lack of outdoor experience as I've climbed Mt Whitney a few times, tent-camped in Yosemite, Mammoth and many other places. But I've always had the luxury of relying on someone to bring the stuff I didn't have. You know, like a camping stove to cook food in order to survive an extra day or so in the woods. No biggie, right?
This time the responsibility was all on me to make sure we had everything (and then some) to come home alive and still look recognizable. Once I triple-checked our necessities, we packed and headed up north. The drive up was awesome and I was quickly reminded of how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful place and our destination was expected be even more beautifuller (yes, it's a word. It was in Frozen.)
Our intention was to get off the grid for a few days and spend some quality time together away from distractions. However, the trip turned into one of the most special trips I've ever been on.
For starters, I stopped the truck on the side of the road to check out the coastal views and I spotted what I thought was a hawk. But as it flew closer to me I noticed there was a tag on its wing and I later found out it was an endangered California Condor. Apparently there are about 67 of these birds flying in the wild in Central California and we were able to see one of them. How freakin' cool is that?!
We also got to see male elephant seals that were molting their fur on the beach and the docent on staff gave the kids a sample of the fur that was recently shed. They were a little grossed out at first, but they kept asking questions about them and wanted to know more.
Don't worry, the seals are not dead but sleeping on the beach. And they sleep, snore, yawn, drool and burp just like we do! Haha!
We also trekked through the redwoods and survived the abundant poison oak up to Pfeiffer Falls. I thought the kids were going to complain the whole 2 miles, but they were pretty good troopers and wanted to play with the walkie-talkies the whole time. Somehow my communication device for survival turned into toys... who knew?
One of the most important things that came out of this trip for me was how happy and carefree Jade and Jarron were. They trusted they would be fed and taken care of the whole time, even if I was internally worrying that something would screw up.
I don't want to be Debbie Downer, but you see as a kid, I endured just about every kind of abuse you can think of along with family issues that no child should have to deal with, let alone think about. Although it's been a long, process to trust and allow my choices, rather than my history to direct my future I'm grateful that I can learn from my own kids to let go and enjoy life as it's meant to be. Everyone has their bag of hammers to deal with and some of us have a bigger burden to deal with, but if the high-flying birds can be fed and the shortest redwoods can receive sunlight why can't we trust that we'll be taken care of no matter who tries to affect us and cut us down?
I believe our lives are a series of seasons and some may be longer than others. But if we learn from them (whether good or bad) to grow stronger and help others to enjoy life there is hope and love in knowing your experience can lighten someone else's load. This is something Jade and Jarron have been teaching me through their positive attitudes and zest for life. I know Father's Day just passed, and I couldn't have asked for a better gift, wrapped in daily ice cream eating bodies and non-stop chatter, than these crazy kiddos.
Jade and Jarron, thank you for all that you've taught me and will continue to teach me. Keep that thirst for life and keep spreading your joy like a dandelion's seed in the wind. You guys are going to definitely leave your impact on the world.
Like I said, this trip was intended to be a relaxing one, which it certainly was. But I got way more out of it without expecting much of anything other than some fresh coastal air a few hundred miles away from home and I'm extremely grateful for it.
I can't guarantee you'll experience Big Sur the same way, but if you're thinking of visiting here are a few places we visited (walkie-talkies not necessary):
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park - campground and hiking trails. Dogs not allowed on trails; we left Buddy at home :(
- Pfeiffer Falls/Valley View - A nice 2 mile hike to a waterfall and a view of the Big Sur Valley
- Big Sur River Inn - you can hang out on adirondack chairs in the middle of the river while eating your burrito from the burrito bar
- McWay Falls - A must see place. One of the most beautiful places on the California Coast. Super short, easy hike anyone can do; even wheelchairs!
- Partington Cove Trail - Hike with a tunnel that leads to the bluest ocean water you'll find in California
- Pacific Valley Bluff Trail - we didn't hike, but the views here are beautiful
- Piedras Blancas - Elephant seals galore!
If I may, allow me to leave you with some of the most powerful words I keep close to me,
"Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams"