Last week Buster Wants To Fish and Way Upstream both wrote posts about a recent study that reveals Americans are spending less and less time participating in outdoor activities such as fishing, camping and hiking. Needless to say this news strikes a sad chord.
Now since I was an English major who managed to get through four years of college without reading any books cover-to-cover, I chose not to click-through and read about the actual study. I trust these bloggers so I’m just going to adopt their take on the findings. And both posts agree that we all have a vital role in exposing our children to the outdoors as well as the concept of conservation. Not just to improve our scores on the next study, but because (as we all know) it will make them better, happier people.
I’m lucky that my Little Chick loves to do anything al fresca — fishing, camping, horseback riding, rafting – so that makes it easy to get her out and about. But there’s always room for more. Given the results of the study I wondered what else I could be doing with her…for her. What else can I do to seal her natural love for the outdoors so it doesn’t start to seep away over time.
I started thinking about what my parents did with me when I was a kid, and almost immediately my mind was traveling down memory lane. Because our family vacations were always outdoor vacations.
We lived in Texas and used to roadtrip to Colorado every summer in my dad’s burnt orange Bronco. Usually we’d sleep in a matching orange tent, but sometimes we’d splurge on a campy cabin. My dad had a collapsible combination spinning-reel-flyrod that often delivered dinner. We’d fish and hike and pan for gold. And no one would confuse one of our picnics with one of those fancy spreads in Martha Stewart Living.
But this was living. These trips were fueled by good Texas outlaw songs — all of which live on my ipod and in my soul to this very day. One of the albums I associate with these Colorado vacations is Willie Nelson’s ‘The Troublemaker’ — ironically a collection of gospel songs. Listening to Willie Nelson sing gospel is like giving a dog his pill all wrapped-up in a slice of cheese. It tastes so good going down, that you don’t mind doing something that’s actually good for you.
With our windows rolled down and the Rocky Mountains as our unwavering audience, we’d barrel down life’s highway singing loudly (and badly) to Willie’s versions of Uncloudy Day, and Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Sweet Bye & Bye.
I don’t have scientific proof that these vacations directly influenced my love for the outdoors, but I do have wonderful memories and some hysterical family photos that prove we had a hell-of-a-good time. Mea culpa for this self-indulgent post, but I had a ball seeing these pictures again, so I had to share a few of them here.
And just like my parents did with me, I’m going to teach my daughter that in order to appreciate the true beauty of an uncloudy day, you have to be outside.
A picnic just isn’t a picnic without the tangy zip of Miracle Whip and Marlboro Reds.
I really don’t know what to say about the socks. But you have to appreciate my bold combination of stripes & tye-dye.
Trout. It’s What’s For Dinner.
(Don’t worry, we’re all catch-and-release these days.)
My parents don’t seem into this family portrait quite like I am.
I was just a Fly Fish Chicklette, ready for my rafting adventure…and apparently some construction work.
Colorado. Speaks for itself.
Did I mention we lived in Texas and listened to a lot of Willie?