This last year our family bought a pop-up camper. Its a used little Coleman but in great shape. The heater is by far its finest luxury, for our cold Colorado nights in the mountains. And I promise there is no TV. We spent our summer taking it on its maiden voyage.
The camping trips were fun and our boys were over the moon for the adventure of it all.
But we really spent the summer developing our camping muscles. We learned how to pack and set up camp. We learned how to endure long drives and enjoy how to enjoy lots of time in the outdoors.
In the car on our last trip, my oldest son said, “Dad, I’m not really a city person. I’m more of a wilderness guy.” I’d like to point out that work as a dad is done.
It should be noted that these camping trips were adventures and not vacations. I promise that didn’t come from the camper brochure. It wasn’t the pit toilets or lack of showers that inspired such poetry either. But somewhere probably sitting on a rock or starting a fire, I realized vacations are a myth I’ve been chasing much of my adult life.
I used to live for my vacations - work really hard knowing that someday soon I’ll be able to rest on my vacation. I used to bring so many books and have such high expectations of relaxation and restoration. And rarely would I get anywhere near that amount of rest.
I kept wanting vacations and getting adventures. Because something always would go wrong. Something always goes wrong.
The night before our second camping excursion. Our youngest son came down with a fever, which I feared would end the trip. But the doctor assured us we could go as long as we took it slow for him. When we were up at 3 am that night giving ibuprofen, I wondered if we’d made the best choice. But then I recalled the 12-inch brown trout my son hooked up earlier in the day, his first time ever catching one all by himself. I remembered his face. And I knew it was all worth it.
While packing firewood for the third trip, I threw my back out. I laid flat on the couch thinking again we might not be going. A little ibuprofen later, I coached my wife taking breaks to wince in agony while she maneuvered the trailer onto the hitch. And we were off. And it was on this drive that my oldest son announced he was officially a mountain man, not made for city life. And that moment along with many others, I will treasure the rest of my life.
That was not a vacation. It wasn’t full of all the rest I imagined. But it was an adventure. I’ve got the memories to prove it. And all that unpredictable taught me that suffering and joy run so close together. And I learned a little more to roll with all that life throws at me.
Let me break it to you now. There are no vacations, only adventures.
A vacation implies time off, a chance to rest, a break from the grind. We imagine relaxation, thoughtless pleasure and joy, and no suffering. Whoever has one of those trips? Not often, or at least never in entirety. Adventures, on the other hand, are risks taken to create joy and life. That’s all of us. That’s every trip I’ve ever had.
I’m guessing that may be true for you. It’s something I hear from most of my friends. From missed flights to scorpion bites in Mexico to the hidden hikes that lead to glorious vistas that change your life to conversations that turn your marriage around. The suffering and joy are all there. Together.
This has changed my whole perspective on trips we take now. We start every trip now talking about the adventures we hope for. It’s our way of channeling a Spirit of Adventure. We fight less. And anticipate more.
Adventure on my friends.