This Monday is a federal holiday in the US, Labor Day. Labor Day weekend typically marks the end of the summer season, with many schools starting classes just as the weather also starts to show signs that autumn will soon be upon us. As much as I would love to go into the history and origins of the holiday, typically ignored while we celebrate the outdoors or friends and family barbecue parties, I know someone who has already done a fabulous job. My friend Wendy Conrad has a lovely podcast and her latest episode speaks to this exact topic. Go take a listen here.
My husband and I have a regular Labor Day tradition, a group camping trip with a selection of our closest friends. We typically book a group tent site at a campground within a 4-5 hour drive (to make the trip worth it), near a lake or other body of water and invite all our friends who have expressed interest and/or would enjoy the area. This year, we went east of the Cascades to a spot we’ve been to many times in the past, Paulina Lake, located inside a volcano known as Newberry Crater.
Starting last Thursday night, we began to amass, around half of us showed up that night with the rest arriving Friday afternoon/evening. While there were forest fires in the area, not uncommon this time of year, and it was very dry, we received confirmation that having a campfire was OK in the site’s oversized fire pit. Hot dogs and marshmallows abounded. We even went swimming Friday afternoon, when it was nice and hot outside. The cool water took some time to get used to, but it was a great way to cool off.
By Saturday morning, the winds had shifted and the smoke from a nearby forest fire had settled all around us. Some in the party still made it out to hike around the lake, or to the obsidian flow up the road, but I felt awful. The air quality was pretty unhealthy and some folks in the party decided they were gonna head home early. Most of the group had planned to stay at least through Sunday and my folks, who usually come along in their camper and had planned to extend their road trip through the rest of the week, bailed out completely and went home instead.
The rest of us stuck it out, but laid low to avoid breathing in too much of the bad air. Instead we stayed around camp, played some games and enjoyed some drinks and each other’s company. By Sunday morning, the wind had shifted again and the air was clear, but most everyone was packing up to go home, so we decided to do the same. Usually, we would spend the last evening with my parents and make another of our famed camping meals. But since they were gone, we decided to pack up early and head home as well. We stopped at my folks’ place on our way home to eat the burritos for dinner we didn’t get to make out in the volcano. They were still delicious inside the house.
And now we have the holiday… instead of breaking down camp, driving home and unpacking, all in one day, exacerbating our exhaustion, we only had to unpack the cooler last night and had a whole day for slowly putting away our dry food, dishes, camping gear, watercraft, and clothes AFTER a good night’s rest. The dogs were so happy to get home they can hardly be moved from the couches or the bed last night.
I have always found nature to be incredibly restorative. Spending time outdoors, even in my backyard in the city, can reset my entire mood, given enough time. I could’ve stayed out at the lake for another 3 or 4 days, easily. But in lieu of camping though, I took the remainder of the week off and will continue my soaking up the outdoors, in the backyard and elsewhere in the city. And likely sleeping in as well. There’s a lot going on and I feel like I need to rest up for things that are just on the horizon. Stay tuned!
Oh, and just a little P.S. One of my other favorite podcasters, Scott Mason gave me a shout out the other day and said I was his favorite blogger (!?!). Now I don’t know if that’s true; I certainly don’t think I write very profoundly (or even regularly, of late), but I was touched when I read his note and that brought me back to write this post. Hopefully I will get back into a groove soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t taken a trip on the Purpose Highway yet, I highly recommend it. Catch up soon before the next season drops. Personally, I can’t wait!