Celebrating Family Piety In The Church Of The Great Outdoors

Since our children are grown and flown, we count any holiday we can spend together as extra specially blessed. This year we have been basking in this blessing (as much as one can bask, in a Pacific Northwest winter), and celebrating by going to church.

Our version of church, that is: the Church of the Great Outdoors.

While I was raised as a Quaker and still attend Meeting, we did not find Quakerism attractive as a family unit when Sons One and Two were growing up. The Mate was not interested, and I was loathe to leave the kids behind after being away from them at work all week. Also, the Meeting I attended in Tacoma was so small that if I did bring them, I usually ended up having to do my own childcare, which felt silly. Might as well stay at home together…or go for a hike.

And so evolved our family religion. We weren’t that hard-core; after our kids reached the age of two we ceased riding them atop our backpacks–too heavy! And once they got into team sports, our weekend forays became fewer. But still, on holidays, the mountains called, or the ocean, and we always came. Hell, that’s why we became Northwesterners to begin with! (You’re welcome, boys.)

And the only place we all actually enjoy shopping? REI. Going there is like a down payment on beauty.

So, two days after Christmas, here we are, in deep worship:

Easiest liturgy in the world.

A little snow just adds to the reverence.

Amen.

Peace be unto you.

Glory be…

…and all praise.

My Favorite Catalog is the One I Don’t Receive: Do You Know About Catalog Choice?

Do you love receiving unsolicited catalogs in the mail? Then by all means, don’t read this.

You know that scene in “Dead Poets Society” where Robin Williams’ character makes his students rip the intro out of their poetry textbooks?  “Begone, J. Edwin Pritchard!” “I don’t hear enough rrrrip!”

That’s who I think of when I use Catalog Choice to rid myself of the disturbing wasteful downright stupid unwanted catalogs clogging up my mailbox. “Begone, ‘Bed, Bath & Beyond’! Never darken my doorway again, ‘Jockey’! ‘ Walmart’–I said good DAY.”

I LOVE Catalog Choice. I love knowing I DO have a choice, and a method, of reducing the amount of costly junk mail swirling around me–and when I say “costly” I’m referring to the whole process, from cutting down the tree to my fellow citizens having to haul all that recycling off our island.

Never tried it? Here’s all you do: Go to catalogchoice.org and create your profile. It costs nothing. (They do ask for a donation, but again–your choice.) From there, every time you receive an unwanted catalog, all you do is log in, type the name of the catalog you wish to divorce yourself from, enter the codes printed on the back of the catalog, and–hey presto, it’s out of your life. (Catalog Choice even includes a way for you to report bad catalogs who refuse to listen to you the first time and keep showing up, though this hasn’t happened to me yet.)

Of course there are those catalogs with whom I enjoy a happy, lifetime relationship. (Talking to YOU, REI–and thanks again for opting out of Black Friday.) I would never “Catalog Choice” them out of my life. ‘Cabela’s’? No thanks. But ‘King Arthur Flour,’ you can snuggle on over here…

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We probably all have more “losers” than “keepers” when it comes to catalogs. Want to share your top 3 keepers? I’m listening. (But for the rest–tell ’em to get lost.)

 

#OptOutside (Like I Need Another Reason to Love REI): Turning Black Friday Into National Go Outside Day

Except for an old jacket and an even older daypack labeled LL Bean, from back in my former life as an easterner, ALL our outdoor gear is REI, either their own brand or bought there. The Mate and I are faithful citizens of REI Nation. Which is why I’m extra pumped to feel so proud of Recreational Equipment Incorporated for their recent announcement:

REI will close for “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, the most important shopping day on the U.S. calendar. They want us to go outside and play.

I LOVE this. “If only this would catch on,” was my first thought. And guess what: it has! According to King 5 News, Seattle retailers Outdoor Research, Gregory Packs, and Clif Bar, have Opted Outside now too.

The #OptOutside movement speaks for itself, so I don’t feel the need to say more here.

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Except this: how about supporting the idea? Save our shopping urges for another day? Anyone who can, let’s all go outside on Friday, November 27–anywhere outside, just nowhere near a mall– eating our Clif bars and wearing our REI gear proudly.

 

 

Are You Highly Campetent? (Stephen Colbert Would Be, If He Went Camping)

Like my new word? Thanks, so do I.

Since I really will backpack for chocolate, and since I just got home from doing just that, I’ve been making mental lists of the little extras that, over the years, have made ordinary camping trips extraordinary.

Though they’re most effective in backpacking, where luxury is harder to come by, I see no reason why these tips can’t be adapted for car-camping too.

Ready? Here we go:

Campetent campers pack mac & cheese. Highly Campetent campers do that too, but they add a small, chopped-up brick of real, extra-sharp cheddar…and some fresh greens. (Mustard greens are the best!)

Campetent campers pack a sleeping pad. Highly Campetent campers pack a chunk of carpet padding, 4 inches thick, 18 inches wide, long enough to pad a tired body from shoulders to knees, compressed in a sack to the size of a small sleeping bag. (I give all credit to my Mate on this one! Best camping sleep EVER.)

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Campetent campers bring rope to hang their food out of reach of critters. Highly Campetent campers bring bright orange rope, so they don’t trip over it at the edge of their campsite.

Campetent campers stay fully hydrated. Highly Campetent campers stay fully hydrated in the knowledge that they can safely enjoy a small box of Cabernet after dinner and still be ready to hike next morning.

Campetent campers pack biodegradable soap. Highly Campetent campers make sure that soap is lavender, or peppermint, so when they take that icy, delicious creek-or-lake bath at the end of a hot trail day, not only does their body thank them, their fellow campers do too.

Campetent campers pack a change of clean clothes. Highly Campetent campers leave a change of clothes in the car to change into when they arrive, sweaty and dusty (or cold and wet).

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 My dad used to mix Tang into Cream of Wheat to make camp breakfasts more fun. Not necessarily recommending that, but…Got any tips of your own?