First time camping sober!!
Updated: Nov 20, 2019
This weekend I had a girlfriend of mine fly in from Ft. Lauderdale spontaneously for a 3 day visit. We had no real plans except to spend time together and experience the beauty that Utah has to offer. After brainstorming ideas we finally came to the conclusion that she wanted to experience the "red stuff" (aka Southern Utah), so Friday evening when I got off work we picked up a rental car, packed up the tent and sleeping bags and hit the road.
This was the first camping trip I've had since beginning my journey with sobriety. I am currently on day 84 of being sober and would like to share with you a few key takeaways from my trip.
It was memorable.
Camping for me in the past would consist of at least one bottle of whiskey and a 6 pack of 9% ABV beer.
I've loved camping since I was a kid. I love when the sun goes down and the air becomes a bit chilly. Starting a fire and spending time with friends sharing stories and laughter. Snuggling up in the tent with a sleeping bag and pillows and being able to hear the movement of the forest around you as you sleep. Waking up with the sun and putting on an oversized sweatshirt until it begins to warm up. No makeup and bed-head drinking coffee by a beautiful lake or out in the desert.
These are the things I absolutely love about camping.
Unfortunately, the past 4 years or so of camping have been a different experience when fueled by alcohol.
It was memorable.
I have memories of throwing up outside of my tent for 4+ hours due to over consumption and then continuing to drinking when the sun came up to combat the hangover that was setting in. I have memories of sitting around the campfire with friends which always seemed to start out enjoyable and end in heated debates fueled by alcohol. I remember crying myself to sleep in my tent because I was so drunk, and so unhappy and so miserable with where my life and alcohol had taken me. I hated that I felt I needed alcohol to enjoy things like camping. The once innocent, enjoyable and relaxing activity I thoroughly enjoyed as a kid became something I needed another few days following to recover from both mentally and physically.
Camping sober gave me the opportunity to experience it again the way I once had before alcohol took over my life.
It was extremely productive.
I used to plan camping trips and have a list of all these grand ideas and activities I wanted to experience while there. Out of a list of 5 things, I'd usually only follow through on about 1 due to being drunk or hungover (or both). I would get home from a trip and feel so disappointed that I didn't get to do any of the things I actually wanted to do.
Being sober gave me the opportunity to knock out more activities in just a few days than I had in nearly 4 years of living in Utah. My friend and I headed out of Salt Lake City at 5 PM when I got off work and headed about 4 hours south to a campsite near Dead Horse point. We got in late, pitched our tent, laid under the stars, and woke up before sunrise to experience it at the Dead Horse Point lookout.
After the sun had rose we drove 40 minutes into Moab for breakfast, coffee and local jewelry shopping! We met the cutest girl working at one of the jewelry shops and she led us in the direction of a nearby hike that consisted of gorgeous views and a waterfall. We did a few hikes in Moab, saw some arches, and then journeyed 3 hours back home to SLC (and found my new favorite rock/crystal shop on the way). Then Sunday we drove out to the Salt Flats and got to check another thing off my bucket list! We took some amazing photos, explored, climbed on top of a train, and enjoyed our freakin time together!
(EklecticCafe, Moab, UT)
(Utah's Treasures, Helper, UT.)
(Bonneville Salt Flats, UT)
In the past, I would not have had the motivation, physical ability, or energy to get this much done in such a short amount of time when alcohol was involved.
I didn't need alcohol.
Camping for me is about taking a break from the chaotic day to day lives we live. Disconnecting and taking time in silence with nature and good company. It's meant to be a recharge, not something we need to recover from afterwards. Over the past 4 or so years I had not been experiencing camping the way I had always envisioned it in my head, and this time around it was everything I always felt that I was missing.
Being sober is giving me the chance to re-experience the things I love in a new, positive and healthy way. I now get to be in control of my experiences and actually get to remember all of the magical moments.
This journey is an interesting one, but one thing is for sure- I wouldn't have it any other way. Being sober makes me feel like I can now be the person I was always meant to be and be in control of the life I want to experience.
As always, if you have any questions or would just like to chat about life & sobriety, feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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I hope you have a wonderful and sober week my friends!
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