January 01, 2009
I have surprised a few people, including myself, at how much I love camping... outside, in a tent. I suppose that I may not look like the camping "type," but I do love it... and before we even arrive home from our outdoor adventure, I am thinking about the next time we can go. I love just getting away... from the day to day routine, from the electronics, from the pressure that sometimes builds up in the four walls of our home... that to-do list that is always running inside my head. Yes, to be away is nice... and to be away with family and friends, and an open agenda is even better.
On this trip, we brought along a new Christmas toy... electronic, yes, but camping friendly! Eric loaded up the new GPS with coordinates for geocaching, which I really think is just treasure-hunting with an earthier name. As our party of eight headed out on the hiking trails, we let the Garmin lead the way... it was an expedition of fun. Does the path turn to the left? Oh, good! Half a mile... quarter mile... 500 feet! We laughed, we trekked, enjoyed, we searched... and the seeking added another level of fun to our hike.
Try as we might, we did not come away with treasure, or even trinkets. There was maybe a little disappointment... but in reality, the treasure was all around us. The treasure was in the air... fresh and clean, and laced with the faintest scent of oranges. The treasure was in the trees... as the sun filtered down through the leaves, creating a spattering of shadow and light. The treasure was in the path... walked by thousands before us, and in the thousands that would recover our own footprints. The treasure was Florida itself... not the palm trees swaying on the beach, or in the theme parks the lay miles north... but in the real Florida... the Florida that some never see, and most never seek.
Most of all, we came away with treasured memories... of a few days when we traded the comforts of home for the comforts of a crackling fire... good food cooked in a cast iron pot... and time. Time with family that is growing up just a little too quickly. Time with friends who love us just the way we are, quirks and all... and friends who we love, just the way they are, quirks and all.
Treasure... more precious than gold.