Camping is a yearly tradition among our group of friends. Every July, we head up to Bear Canyon Lake. We even use the same campsite, and we joke about murdering anyone who tries to take our spot. After all, we do have guns and shovels.
This year, we arrived safely. Our campsite was empty, so no murder necessary. Jake and I delayed in setting up our tent. Instead, we worked to set up the tarp shelters we like to prepare, just in case it rains. We string up huge pieces of blue tarp between trees. We secure them with bungee cords. Then, we open our first beers—no matter that it’s only noon.
This year, as soon as the tarps were secure, the first beers opened, the sky turned black. Puffy, white clouds were shoved to the side, and the sky opened. The rain poured. We were … unprepared. Certainly, the tarps were set up, but we didn’t do the best job with them—especially when you consider the rain was coming in sideways.
I stood on a cooler and used my head to lift the tarps higher. This became a problem when dime-sized hail threatened to knock me out cold. I rolled up my jeans to try to keep them dry. I kept my beer safe by chugging. I watched my friends, who still looked hopeful the storm would pass. Meanwhile, the dogs and children looked miserable. We put Ripley on suicide watch.
I’d like to tell you the rain stopped and the rest of the weekend was dry, but I’d be lying. It rained all weekend. We never went swimming in Bear Canyon Lake. We spent Saturday afternoon locked in our cars watching movies on computers. And yet … I had an absolutely amazing time.
I don’t know what it was. The rain? The constant alcohol consumption? Perhaps peeing in the woods? Whatever the reason, the despair of the past few weeks was literally washed away.
This past weekend, soaked to the bone, freezing, I laughed harder than I have in the past month. I adored every thunderclap. I wallowed in the sound of rain on our tent at night. And the smell—like wet moss and autumn in Ohio—brought even more peace than the overabundance of whiskey.
I’m not suggesting you go to Seattle when you’re depressed. I’m not suggesting twenty beers per day. However, there’s something about getting the hell away from your computer, getting away from the business of life, that inspires joy. It helps to have a pal try to shotgun a beer and pour it all over himself instead. It helps to have friends who have made shit-talking an art. It helps to have puppies keep you warm at night.
Sometimes, all we need is nature and literally nothing to do for two days, to make everything okay again.