Growing up in Utah, we had no shortage of trails and my parents were avid hikers and campers, so I spent most of my childhood somewhere between the red rocks and dirt trails that barely had a voice in the green.
As I grew older, naturally, my experiences developed.
The tents we started in, held up by a few poles, pitched on top of light rubble and debris, became small, pop-up canopy type tents with no walls. They were just large enough for one camping chair—my dad’s—and one cooler. My hiking boots became cleats, and hours of trekking various terrain, unconfined, became hours on grassy fields with limiting white lines and a ball at my feet. Crisp, clean, silent air was now quick blows of whistles and countless voices in every direction.
Our group of four adventurers—my mom, dad, sister and me—was reduced to the duo that would remain for the next few years, and really, for the rest of my life—my dad and me.
Only a few other things carried over to this new chapter of my life: the long drives to different states, the planned meals and moments with my dad under a tent of sorts.
For over 14 years my life was spent on those grassy fields, sharing a tent with my dad before and after games.
It’s not lost on me that I am exceptionally fortunate to have had those 14 years spent so closely with my dad, particularly when some don’t even get one. However, there came a time, about 7 years in, that sitting next to that one chair was no longer something I looked forward to. Tying my cleats and having a ball at my feet was no longer as freeing as climbing rocks, and I began to search for the silence amongst the sound of whistles meshed with voices.
For each of those years my dad suggested I find something else to do—there’s a new adventure to be had and this one’s run its course.
I didn’t believe him.
But as year 15 was coming to a close, I found myself under a tent, next to his one camping chair, waiting to hear the same suggestion he’d given me before.
He started to speak but his tone was slightly different this time, and so were his words.
“What do you say kiddo? Why don’t we pack up the balls, you change your shoes, I’ll close this (tent) down and we walk out of here together.
We find somewhere new to go.”
And so, we did.
For years after I stepped out of that tent a final time, I looked for a new direction to go. Much of this time in exploration was spent out on trails, in the middle of nowhere. On one of these excursions, my dad joined me.
We got in my Jeep, dropped a pin in the middle of a mountain, planned the meal we would pick up on the way, and started on our long drive—this felt familiar.
When we arrived, only one thing was missing: a tent.
In that moment, there was a sort of unspoken agreement: this would be the “somewhere new” we’d go.
Just as my dad did hours of homework to find me the best cleats, the best gear, and even the best ground tents and sleeping bags for my family to use when I was younger, he did the same exhaustive research to find the best rooftop tent. Inevitably, he ended up in Golden, CO, speaking with a “kind fellow” named Jeremy, as he mounted the new EVO V2 on my dad’s RAM TRX.
The following weekend we each got into our own cars, dropped another pin in the middle of another mountain, planned the meal we’d pick up on the way, and started our long drive.
We pulled up adjacent to each other and silently agreed that this was the spot.
We unlatched our tents,
and with no doubt that this would be the next 14 years, and probably the 14 after that—we were back under a tent, together.
While this is a “Father-Daughter” story, this is also a reminder for anyone who might be looking for “somewhere new” to go, that sometimes coming back to the first things that brought you real joy might just be the exact place you, now, need to be.
And if that place happens to be under a tent, in the middle of nowhere, then all of us at Freespirit look forward to the opportunity to support you in that journey.