Beds in the Woods


| 5/11/2007 12:00:00 AM


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Contributor Carol Venolia’s essay “Camping Brings Me Home,” in our current May/June 2007 issue, extols the love of living in balance with nature. Her words got me reminiscing about my myriad camping experiences.

A list of my family vacations reads like a guidebook to the National Park system: Acadia, Yellowstone, Cape Hatteras, Mesa Verde, the Everglades, Valley Forge, Grand Canyon, the Redwoods, Isle Royale, Bryce Canyon, Craters of the Moon, Yosemite. We camped everywhere, either in a tent or wedged into our tiny, 8-by-15-foot aluminum trailer.

For spring break when I was a kid, we packed up the tent and headed to destinations closer to our Kentucky home: Daniel Boone National Forest, Mammoth Cave, Cumberland Gap. We’d search for wildflowers—jack-in-the-pulpet, lady’s slipper, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium and ghostly Indian pipe—that popped their heads through the soggy leaves each rainy, chilly spring.

My roots in those lush, mossy forests and rocky hills run deep: I was named for the clusters of pink laurel blossoms that light the forest in early spring—and for a pretty cascade called Laurel Falls in the Smoky Mountains.

Camping isn’t just about taking a vacation—it’s about connecting to nature, and I have to say that all those childhood camping trips taught me more about ecosystems, meteorology, botany, astronomy, geology and wild beauty than book learning.



As an adult, I don’t camp often, but I’m still amazed at how quickly I adapt to getting back to nature. In fact, my favorite trips lately tend to be places in which cell phones, TVs, the Internet and even electricity don’t play a role whatsoever.



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