Like a morning campfire, brought back from the embers buried beneath the ash of the previous night’s festivities, my passion for the outdoors was rekindled by Darwin’s need to go outside. Sure, it’s because he needs to potty, but then he likes to explore. While he sat in the passenger seat of my 2002 Subaru Outback as we drove across the country, I spent many hours telling him about all the great things he would get to smell in the great outside of the Pacific Northwest.
This lesson from him started with that trip across the country. As it turns out while taking a two-week scenic drive, it’s much cheaper to buy a tent, sleeping bag, and cheap ground pad, than it is to stay in dilapidated motel rooms. So for the first time, Darwin slept outside, curled up on my sleeping bag, tired out from all the adventuring.
From there, I rediscovered all my old, and found some new, passions. I had promised Darwin an adventure-filled life on that drive, and he was going to get it. We started car camping, bringing my mountain bike and letting him run the trails, trying to herd the strange contraption I rode. Hiking trips throughout the Columbia River Gorge, up into the Cascade Mountains, and along the Oregon Coast got us both fit, and ready for bigger challenges. Then Steens Mountain for four days, with its beautiful, glacially-carved gorges. Onto the Wallowas for ten days and 150 miles, where mountain goats dance nimbly on high, stone peaks. Even the winter finds us outside, snowshoeing in its quiet stillness, waxed paws protecting Darwin from ice.
Outside is where I find inspiration, rejuvenation, and connectedness. It’s hard not to feel connected to life when nature’s great glory is spread before you on an endless canvass of shapes, colors, and textures. I went outside for Darwin, and found myself.