My personal narrative did not include camping in the great outdoors until a few years ago. During my elementary school days, I recall going on a class camping trip and sleeping in tent. This memory is faint but I remember feeling damp from the rain.
I grew up in the orderly suburbs of Columbia and Ellicott City, Maryland as a second-generation American of Korean parents. My father had his time climbing the mountains during his youth. Later, he pitched tents with my mother and rode the wild rapids with his Canadian friends during his Ph.D. studies, but as soon as he immigrated to the U.S.A., those pursuits ended and I never had the chance to discover the joys of camping with him.
During my childhood, my father devoted himself to science inside the confines of his laboratory and lecture halls as he researched and taught students at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. There was no time to pack up a tent and go camping with us.
I was introduced to travel at a young age. My first overseas trip was to my parents’ homeland of South Korea on June 23, 1981. I was six years old.
I vividly remember the seemingly endless flight with Korean men smoking, the graceful Korean Air flight attendants kindly giving me snacks in the galley, the overwhelming smells of garlic and the familiar yet strange sounds of the Korean language. I visited Korea seven more times and eventually lived there, where I met my husband.
My husband was the one who introduced me to camping in the spring of 2013. It was the year we finally left Seoul for good and visited the States before moving to Australia later that summer. Our first camping trip was to the Salton Sea and Borrego Springs in California. I was 38 years old.
He, the veteran, and I, the novice, gathered basic gear and equipment for this trip. I learned about my self-imposed limitations and rigidness but became aware of my willingness to be more open.
I had to get loose and trust him and the experience.
Yesterday, we returned from our overnight trip to the Salton Sea. Three years later, we have refined our method and are continually retooling our system. Even now, I am still discovering my self-imposed limitations and willingness to improvise on the road.
I’m just letting it all hang out.