IN SEPTEMBER, SUBARU OF AMERICA, Inc. INVITED ME TO JOIN A GROUP OF JOURNALISTS FOR THE SUBARU RESPONSIBLE RECREATION EXCURSION CAMPING EVENT IN GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK. TAKING TIME OFF FROM MY HECTIC URBAN EXISTENCE TO GO TENTING IN THE PINE-SCENTED MOUNTAINS OF WYOMING SOUNDED PRETTY GOOD AT FIRST. THEN IT DAWNED ON ME. THE CLOSEST I'D EVER COME TO BEING A CAMPER WAS BUYING A RIDICULOUSLY LARGE TUB OF TRAIL MIX FROM COSTCO®.
I am a freelance journalist and happily married mother of four. I am a girlie girl to my very core and enjoy the comforts of modern life – a roof overhead, my warm bed, appliances, and fixtures of the residential sort. What surprises lay waiting in the wilderness for this city kitty?
Face pressed against the window, I held my breath as the plane lumbered low over brilliant, colossal mountains toward the impossibly short landing strip of the Jackson Airport. The beauty of the landscape was overwhelming. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the Subaru public relations team and introduced to two journalists who would ride the last leg of the journey with me. We were handed keys to a 2010 Subaru Outback 3.6R Limited and a map. Game on!
After navigating several wrong turns, we eventually made it to our campsite. That's when two realities hit me: I'd never experienced such profound, natural beauty; and I really didn't need to pack my hair straightener.
The first order of business was distribution of our camping gear and a talk about bear safety. No need to worry, we were told, as there had been no bear activity in the area in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. I put on my brave face and listened to a presentation by the folks from Leave No Trace, a Subaru-sponsored organization dedicated to teaching responsible enjoyment and active stewardship of the outdoors.
Tentative friendships solidified to BFF status as we helped each other pitch individual dome tents and compared our astonishing levels of inexperience. I actually learned how to set up my tent twice – the second time at an angle that didn't have my head pointing downhill.
Dining under the stars was magical, and warm drinks by the fire lulled me to a relaxed and happy state. I drifted off to sleep nestled in my Marmot® mummy-style sleeping bag thinking this camping business wasn't half bad.