This year has been quite different for us. Mr. SBF and I were able to take an extended sabbatical and spent the last six months of the year road tripping, camping and visiting with family. The break from the stress of the past decade and from our normal routine was definitely needed and we feel so very blessed to have been given the opportunity.
One thing that I became aware of early on in our break was the fact that I am often not “present” in my everyday life. As an Empath, I am almost constantly inundated with the feelings and emotions of others and I think that retreating into my own thoughts is one of the ways I am able to combat the exhaustion that comes from the constant influx of emotion that I am faced with on a daily basis. And because I am often in my own head, I have realized that I miss out on a lot.
Sometimes when the family is reminiscing about something or even during a conversation with someone I’ll suddenly “snap out of it” and realize that I missed out on part of it because I wasn’t “all there”. Yes, really. Ugh.
And don’t get me started on electronic devices and what a huge distraction they can be! Giving a device to people who are in the habit of retreating into their own thoughts only perpetuates the problem, er, issue! And forget about giving them earbuds. I mean…yeah…just don’t! Can any Introverts relate or is it just me? Haha!
Anyway, during our time together, since it was just the two of us and we were traveling in our own car, I was able to sit and enjoy the scenery (and my electronic device) without the “noise” from the outside world. So, when we were around other people, I was able to listen and enjoy it because, during our travel time, I was able to rest and “regroup”.
Becoming more self-aware has been something I’ve been working on for several years now. And I’m grateful that I became aware of this “issue” early on in our sabbatical. I believe that it helped me to focus on making sure the time with my Sweetheart was quality time. And it has definitely made me more mindful of the time I spend with loved ones. I don’t want to miss out on any of the good stuff when my children and grandchildren are home because times well spent make the most treasured memories!
To make sure I’m paying attention to life, follow my social media pages! Let me know if you notice a lack of presence there! Heehee.
In September, just after Labor Day, we went on a camping trip to Twin Lakes in Mammoth, CA. It was our first time camping there and we loved it. The lakes are beautiful, there’s a LOT to do in the surrounding area, and the town is just a couple of miles away. The best part is that it’s only a two and a half hour drive from home! Yes!
Mr. SBF and I went up on Wednesday to secure our spot and set up camp. We got a great spot nestled in the Pines, close to both lakes and even closer to the bathrooms! Our camp host greeted us right away and the first thing Mr. SBF asked her was, “Have there been any bear sightings?” She confidently answered that “No, there hasn’t been any bear sightings reported all Summer.” We were amazed because Mammoth is definitely bear country and we had heard from friends who had camped there before that there was always plenty of bears around. Anyway, we set up camp, took a short hike, made an early dinner and enjoyed our night.
The next day we did some exploring around the lakes, went into town to pick up some firewood and had an all-around good time. ManBoy, his Watermelon, and Girl2 joined us late that night and we all camped out in our tent. We have a three room tent, so everyone was plenty comfortable. The next day ManBoy and Watermelon set up their cozy little tent and we all went about having a grand time.
The one thing about camping, though, that drives me a little nutty is the coolers/ice chests. They get so messy and unorganized! I am still trying to figure out the best way to keep them tidy and the more people you’re camping with, the more challenging it is! Using resealable plastic bags just simply doesn’t work for me. As the ice melts in the cooler, they all fall to the bottom and finding anything is like venturing into a black hole. My favorite way to organize is with glass containers. There are so many styles, sizes, and colors to choose from these days, I just love it! I use glass containers in my refrigerator at home, but for camping, glass just isn’t practical and makes your coolers way too heavy. So, the next best option for me is to use (BPA free) plastic containers. I have a set (or two) that I use just for camping. It makes navigating the coolers far less frustrating. The only downfall is that they take up a lot more room than plastic bags do, so we have to take multiple coolers with us.
Campgrounds that are located in “bear country” usually provide bear boxes in each campsite. The bear boxes are large heavy- gauged metal lockers with fancy handles that lock and are where you should store your coolers/ice chests, dry foods and anything that contains a scent/fragrance (eg. toiletries, etc.) in order to keep the bears from raiding your camp, stealing your food, scaring the you-know-what out of you and from potentially harming anyone.
On this particular camping trip, we had several coolers on our site because everyone brought one and you guessed it, they wouldn’t all fit into our bear box! Our solution to the dilemma was to put the coolers and bags that contained the food and toiletries into the bear box and to put all of the drinks (which were in cans or bottles) into one cooler and to leave it next to the bear box. This worked. Until the last night of our trip.
We had all gone to bed and about an hour later, just as we were about to slumber, we heard some noise outside of the tents. My first thought was that ManBoy had decided that he needed a snack and was getting into the bear box. But then, there was all kinds of racket going on and we knew that it wasn’t ManBoy. Mr. SBF grabbed a flashlight, slowly and quietly unzipped the tent door flap, shined the light toward the bear box and to his, um, surprise (?), he was looking into the eyes of a medium sized black-bear! Shining the flashlight into the bear’s eyes, he yelled, “ARRGH! GET OUT OF HERE! ARRGH!” and the bear promptly sprinted off, through other people’s campsites, and eventually back into the forest.
After waiting several minutes to make sure that there weren’t any other surprise guests on our site, we went out to see what the bear had been up to. Upon inspection, we found that it had started to drag our drink cooler away. It was toppled over on its side with some of its contents strewn about. And then Mr. SBF saw it. An empty bacon wrapper.
It appears that earlier in the day when I had lined up all of the coolers to reorganize them, I had temporarily put the bacon in the drink cooler and had accidentally forgotten about it. Ugh! Now, Park Rangers and Camp Hosts will tell you that bears have a very keen sense of smell and that they recognize coolers and know what we put in them (hence the bear boxes). But we had kept the drink cooler out there for several days without incident. My theory is that the bear smelled the bacon (because, yes, the package had been opened and was stored in a “bleeping” plastic bag) and he was on a mission to get it. And get it he did! Upon further inspection, I realized that he had also run off with a half a quart of milk! The actual container was gone! Picture that; a bear running off with a fist full of bacon and a jug of milk!
I felt like a heel. But the next morning we found out that the bear had raided several other campsites before visiting ours. It made me feel a little better, but not much.
The moral of the story is this: if you are camping, are an A-type personality and have an incessant need for order, when you reorganize your coolers, MAKE SURE THAT ALL OF THE FOOD IS LOCKED AWAY IN THE BEAR BOX! Seriously.
Our bear encounter makes a great story (and look at the fun t-shirt Watermelon got for Mr. SBF) but the danger was real and the adrenaline crash was terrible. I will certainly be more conscientious about this matter when we go camping in the future. And I still haven’t quite solved my cooler storage/organization dilemma. Perhaps a larger, bear-resistant cooler will be this year’s camping gear addition. Hmm.
All-in-all, though, we had a great time. If you’re ever in the Sierra Mountains, we highly recommend the Twin Lakes Campground in Mammoth, CA. It is beautiful. And if you’re ever in Mammoth and want one of the best cups of coffee you’ll ever have, visit Black Velvet Coffee. It really is like velvet in your mouth!
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Mr. SBF and I did some camping this past summer for the first time in years. Our first trip was to Silver Lake in June Lake, California. When we arrived at the campground our camp host informed us that a coyote had recently given birth to a litter of pups on our site and she wasn’t sure if they were still around or not. She also informed us that deer had been seen around the campground and gave us the usual bear warnings and instructions on how to properly make our camp “bear-proof”.
After cautiously poking around for a little while, we deduced that the coyotes were no longer on our site and began to set up camp. When we were nearly finished, a young buck (male deer) nonchalantly walked across our site over to a Juniper tree and began rustling around. To our surprise, a doe (female deer) got up from under the Juniper and moved to the other side (the side closest to us). We were a bit startled at first because we hadn’t even realized that the doe had been there while we were setting up camp! After a moment of studying us, the buck decided that we were alright and made himself comfortable under the Juniper as well. They stayed there until dusk, then quietly went on their way.
The following morning, they returned with a friend. The two young bucks and doe must have known we were good people because they decided to peruse our campsite even more. I was getting ready to make breakfast and I suppose they were curious about what I was going to serve because they made their way right up to the bear box where our ice chest was. After a peek at what I was setting about to do and then they sauntered away. Later, they returned to the shade of the Juniper tree and spent several hours with us. Then once again, left at dusk.
Meeting those deer was the perfect “welcome back to camping” greeting for us and we’re so glad we decided to get back to it. We had a wonderful time.
Here’s a little video for you to enjoy! And don’t forget to check back regularly for more of our camping adventures!