Sometimes I have to go to the wilderness to experience real life, to get away from all things man-made. It is a place where I will likely become a meal for mosquitoes—where the unexpected is to be expected—a place where there are wolves and bears. And once there, I will tackle activities that I don’t always feel completely prepared for. The wilderness answers some of the questions that we have about ourselves.
Can we cope without watches, telephones, running water, and electricity? Do we have the emotional and physical strength to handle severe weather conditions, or long tedious portages, while our bodies are loaded down with heavy packs and canoes? The answers are out there.
The wilderness invites us to cooperate with, and experience all that it has to offer. As we subject ourselves to the possibilities, we are gifted with the knowledge that we can live up to the rigors, and we can live simply, with only the bare necessities, and enjoy it. And we are blessed with the sights and sounds of a place still nearly as pristine as God created it. It is unbelievably refreshing and restful.
The wilderness can sometimes be raw and dangerous, or it can be peaceful and comfortable, allowing us to bask in the pleasure of just being there—but always, always it is beautiful and giving.
I can’t help but believe that our vast array of technological advances and modern conveniences have robbed us of some of life’s simplest pleasures: A small
crackling fire providing us with inspiration and heat to cook delicious meals in the open air. A cup of “cowboy” coffee warming our bodies on a cool morning. A misty sunrise over a dead-calm lake. The scent of the lake water. The aroma of a pine forest. The lonely and mournful howl of wolves across the lake. The haunting song of the loons. The sight of eagles soaring gracefully in the sky.
I go to the wilderness to see a night sky unpolluted by light. A sky where the stars shine brilliantly enough to illuminate my path without a flashlight—where the Milky Way is a broad, shimmering path of silvery specks stretching endlessly from horizon to horizon.
I go to the wilderness to experience real silence. Except for the pleasant sounds of nature — the lapping waves, gentle breezes stirring the pines, bird songs, and crickets — the wilderness is void of man-made sound.
It takes a couple days to decompress. The busyness of our everyday lives has become such a blur of activity and non-stop running, that the shift in activity is at once both a relief and a shock. By day three, the routine of canoeing, fishing, cooking, relaxing, daydreaming, and napping, has become so refreshing, that even the occasional mosquito bite or sudden shower cannot dampen our spirits. We are returning to life out there. And I think that’s what vacation should be about.
For those who are unable to withstand the rigors of such an adventure, there are still places to visit where relaxation can be relearned, and the soul can be refreshed. Amish Country in Ohio is one such place, and a great place to start. The pace is slower, and we are surrounded by a life-style reminiscent of what our grandparents experienced.
Plan to spend a day in Kidron, where you can find everything from Amish hats to 1950’s style dining. The main attraction though, is Lehman’s — a place as good as a museum, where you can take the old-time tools and kitchen wares along home with you. Even those of us who are lucky enough to live here, still enjoy a long relaxing stroll through the aisles of yesteryear. Come for a visit some time. You’ll be glad you did.