This past weekend I did something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. My wife and I packed up a big load of camping gear, grabbed the kids, and headed out to a nearby park to do some car-camping with some friends.
Only, we left the car at home. Yep, we went car-camping without the car.
How does that work? Well, with our Burley laden with just about every plush piece of gear we own, whatever didn’t fit there we put into the panniers of our Xtracycle. The kids rode on top of that as I pedaled, and Vera got the plush and fun ride on our fold-up bike. Just to be clear, this was something altogether different than bike-touring. In bike-touring you carry ultra-lightweight gear. We had none of that. For example, we brought the Mountain Hardwear Corners 6, a Megalamina, and giant inflatable mattresses complete with an air-compressor. We easily would have filled the back of our van with the stuff we took on this short overnight trip. It was deluxe, I tell you.
We headed out onto the Capital City Trail here in Madison. Just five miles south-west along the path is Lake Farm Park, which is nestled on the prairie near Lake Kegonsa. Lake Farm Park is a Dane County Park with excellent amenities. With the kids, we played outside, made s’mores, did some fishing, and listened to the cacophony of cranes, herons, and geese from the nearby wetlands. As the sun set, we realized: This was glorious.
The truth is, you don’t need to be all that far away to be a million miles from Monday. Just one night in a tent changes your perspective on the world, and five miles away on a bike is plenty far enough to get a different view of home.
Those of us in #OIBIZ need to remember this simple lesson every once in awhile. Close-to-home recreation will be increasingly important to us as gas prices climb, time becomes more precious, and as the economy sputters along.
Also, close-to-home recreation is at-risk from a variety of quarters. In spite of record attendance at county and state parks, cash-strapped local governments are gutting services and closing parks across the country. This is not only bad for our businesses, it’s bad for us, as people. Get familiar with your local parks, patronize them, spend money there, and when they come up on the block make sure you’re there to stop the axe.
After our simple overnight, we rode back into Madison during Ride The Drive. We felt like heroes riding in on John Nolan Drive with almost 30,000 other cyclists. It’s certainly something the kids will never forget.
Oh, and we’re definitely going to do it again. It was just too fun.