We have, quite simply, been really busy lately. Busy at work, busy at the house, busy with friends. Simply busy. While this keeps us, somewhat, out of trouble, it also means we have been able to indulge less often than we prefer in our favorite activity ~ camping and convening with nature.
Recently I had to work a half day shift on, (blasphemous!) a Saturday. Always game to jump at last minute plans, we did a quick camper pack-up on Friday night and as the clock struck noon on that day Saturday I was out of the office and racing across the parking lot to join Jim and the Black Dogs for a single night of fun.
We headed to LL Stub Steward State Park, a fine park, but mainly picked for it’s close proximity to Portland. Although our one previous stay at the park had found a nearly empty campground, an unseasonably warm winter weekend drew the crowds and we got the last campsite available for the night.
We have perfected the art of the “set up” by this time and by 1pm were settled into camp, the first celebratory tequila shot already swallowed. Although anxious to hit the hiking trails, a leisurely lunch was in order. Simply soaking in the sun as we people-watched was enough to instantly lower the blood pressure and remove the hurried pace of life from our memories.
Soon enough we were ready to move and we spent one of the most glorious winter afternoons we have ever experienced hiking the generous network of trails surrounding the park. The dogs, in sniffer heaven, were fully in their element and we spoke only occasionally as we took deep breaths of the, only slightly damp, forest air. We delighted in the sightings of some early wildflowers as well as the lack of muddy spots on the trails.
As expected, with the setting sun the temperatures plummeted. The black dogs first got their coats on before simply being put to bed. Jim and I ate dinner by firelight, awestruck at the incredible star display in the inky night sky. It was a perfect moment to reflect on how incredibly great our life is. While working to be back on the road, we get to spend the interim time in a place of extraordinary natural beauty. We are able to fully appreciate how even a simple one-night mini~adventure is capable of completely soothing our souls and restoring our spirits.
The morning dawned bright and very cold, but nothing could prevent us from hitting the trails, once again, for some more fantastic hiking, ending with the black dogs getting in some off leash time at the fenced dog park on site. By mid-day we reluctantly packed up and headed home for continuing home improvement projects, fully revived and full of life.