When I got divorced, I knew to emotionally survive the devastation of the ending of my 32-year relationship, I would have to be intentional about recreating my life.
One of the crazier things I tried was backpacking. My children were shocked because I had given up tent camping years prior for a cheap R.V. I thought,” I’m not a turtle. I don’t need to carry my house on my back.” Yet, a good friend inspired me to try a new adventure. Luckily, she was a pro and showed me all the tricks. After 7 miles with 35 pounds on my back, I felt pretty tired and sore, but I also felt so proud of myself that in my late 40s, with very little prep, my body could do that!
I was hooked after that. Mostly with my Sweetie, our backpacking trips now are a bit more rigorous. A few times, I’ve told him that although I was proud of myself and my body, once was enough.
Last summer, my adult daughter asked to join. I was so excited! She is an adventurer like her Momma, however, I never thought that would be something she would be interested in. She, my Sweetie, and I did our first trip, which was terrific.
She asked me to go again this summer, so we got to planning. It was supposed to be a group of 5, and the day before, three of the hikers bailed, leaving Hayley and me.
I had never led a backpacking trip, but I was determined. I did all the shopping, brought all the gear, and planned the route. Plus, Hayley needed to borrow gear – an added complication. My natural desire for comfort had me leaning towards rescheduling. I knew she would understand. But what would this say to my daughter? I need someone else to plan my fun because this is harder? What about the message to me? When something gets complicated, just quit. Well, if anyone knows me, they know that is not my norm.
So I pulled a few lemons out of my basket and got busy planning our trip. After gathering all of our gear, our turtle shells, aka 35lbs backpacks, we headed out. Following the G.P.S. map and the recommendations of a guidebook and internet search, we drove an hour, turned down a dirt road, and managed our way through ridiculous, huge, deep potholes to the trailhead. Rolling up, we were ready to get our legs working, burn some calories, and carry ourselves to a secluded, quiet night. The deeper we got on the worn-out road, the more excited we got. However, as we rolled up, the sign at the trailhead said “No Overnight Camping.” What?! We gripped a little with disappointment.
Now what? We were close enough to the coast, we thought, let’s pick up a trail there! It will be beautiful on the beach. Grab another lemon and move on down the road.
Continuing to appreciate the beautiful weather and adventuring down roads we had never traveled, we made it to the coast – 4 hours into our trip, the sun was beginning to move down the Western sky. We would have just enough time to catch a trail, hike for about an hour, and make camp. Mile after mile, we saw sign after sign: “No Overnight Parking.” Who knew that all along the coast, there are no parking overnight signs? We didn’t. Now what?
We rolled into Cannon Beach, and because it was now getting dark and there was no chance of finding a trailhead, we desperately took the last tent spot in a private RV park….not exactly the serenity we were looking for. We set up camp, attempted a fire that never got going, and sipped a glass of wine in the light of our headlamps. Our neighbors were two rambunctious little guys who enjoyed squealing and climbing the log outside our two-person backpacking tent. With the determination to try again tomorrow, we were lulled to sleep to the sound of cars speeding by and generators running on R.V.s.
One of the places I feel I can feel the most peace and connection with God is the beach. So we decided to go for a stroll, enjoy the beach, and grab some breakfast before we took off to find a new trailhead.
We laughed and made this video while sitting at a crowded town bakery. The food and coffee were better than the dehydrated options we would have had on the trail.
The stroll on the beach was beautiful, and we stopped to chat with this incredible sandcastle artist! An opportunity we would have missed. I was starting to slice my lemons and squeeze the juicy bits out.
Fully refreshed by the ocean breezes, off we went in search of “the” trailhead that would welcome us. We finally arrived at another option about 1.5 hours later and sheepishly checked with the park host. Can we backpack? Yes. Will we find a camp spot? Yes. Are there mosquitos? No. Thinking third times a charm, we loaded our shells, and off we went up the trail.
After a nice 4 hour hike, and a scramble down to the creekside, we found the perfect camp spot. Right along a lovely creek, secluded. Peaceful. Add a little sugar and ice to my fresh squeezed lemons!
With our arrival at our perfect campsite, I thought I’d give one more attempt at building a fire. I don’t think I have ever been successful in building a campfire. It’s one task that I quickly give up on, but I thought, “Why not give it one more try?” Considering we had just rolled with all the changes in our trip along the way and ultimately were having a great time, maybe this would be the time that it would pay off.
With a bit of time and patience, I did build a fire, which I sat beside and drank my imaginary lemonade.
Events don’t always turn out the way we planned. We had lemons: ideas of what we wanted to have happened (A.K.A. expectations). Even though our lemons kept having problems, we didn’t give up. It’s our ability to make lemonade that matters, because I bet we spend a lot more time in life drinking lemonade than eating lemons.
Bonus point: people often worry about their relationship with their children post-divorce. With sensitivity, apologies when needed, and nurturing, you can have an amazing relationship with your adult children post-divorce. They may even join you on your crazy adventures.