There are the obvious things...the elements. Earth. Water. Air. Fire.
Waking up each morning to an open agenda, ruled only by the weather.
Days spent on the open water.
Days spent trying to keep dry.
There are surprises, and predictable events that mark the passing of each day. The ice-cream cart that cruised the campground loop after dinner each night provided a little of both--a pleasant surprise as we were struggled to get our tent up in the rain on the evening of our arrival, and something the kids anticipated with glee the following days.
There are always the "good neighbors." People whom you have just met and will probably never meet again, but for two days (or a week) are your best friends--compatriots at nighttime campfires, swappers of stories and lenders of gear, beer, and cheer. This camping trip we had great neighbors--a father and his teenage daughter, with whom we shared stories and tarps, and a wonderful German family whose ten and twelve-year-old daughter and son spent endless time entertaining our girls and with whom we took moonlit walks down to the river to look at the stars.
And the other neighbors as well--the bumpy, the slimy, and the fuzzy...
checking out what's up at the campground nature center,
But mostly it's just us, having uninterrupted time together,
doing the things we normally do, but more of it,
without phones ringing, or alarm clocks going off, or play-dates, or meetings, or houses to be cleaned.
It's just us being silly,
and being free,
and being able to go places that inspire us and make us happy.
And once we get rolling, it's really hard to stop.
As our finale this year--like many years past--we spent our last night having a "real" dinner in a restaurant and a night out on the town. The food was good, as was the entertainment,
but it wasn't as good as this:
When we got home from our trip this year, the girls were hesitant to sleep in their own rooms, in their own beds.
"Can't we set up the tent in the yard?" they asked...because none of us ever wants it to end--that freedom, that togetherness, that making our home as we go.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end, no matter how strongly we resist. But yes, we can put the tent in the yard, and the time will soon come to pack up and take off again.
So much of the world awaits us...