Checking in by checking out

Last week, I “got off the grid”. No cell or Wifi service.

It was lovely. I needed to “disappear” on a vacation. For 8 days, I travelled with my husband in the truck camper. Just because. No agenda, except to get away.

On our way up to North Ontario, we watched the sun rise as we drove over the Mackinac Bridge…surreal.

The fall colours were remarkable. Tree-lined roads along the eastern shore of Lake Superior displaying leaves with reds, oranges, yellows, browns and greens. It was a multi-coloured spectacle that became even more brilliant as the sun rose in the sky. I didn’t even try to take a picture because it was impossible to capture the scope of what I was seeing.

Other than gas (and food and did I mention beer?), we were pretty self-sufficient. The camper had a flushable toilet, a stove, fridge and heater. We made fires and cooked most meals over charcoal.

Even went skinny-dipping!!!! Yeah, I can’t believe that I’m writing that. Guess I can tick that one off my bucket list. We were hiking in Pukaskwa National Park, along the rocky shoreline and not far from the campground. At one point, I heard voices but they didn’t linger about for long. With absolutely no one else around, the place was perfect. I couldn’t resist. The harbour was calm and clear, with gentle lapping waves. Unusual for Lake Superior in the fall. I dropped everything and went for a quick soak. It was chilly but refreshing.

For part of the drive to Northeastern Ontario, we chose to take a private logging road. It’s used to access remote areas. A handful of locals in their trucks raced along the bumpy gravel lane, passing our hulking vehicle as we lumbered along. Three lynx and one red fox gave us casual glances as we drove by. ¬†We were really in the middle of nowhere.

The rain was chasing us for the last few days. It didn’t matter. The important thing was that we had nowhere to be, at any particular time, for that week. We still took a hike along the cranberry bog in Killarney Provincial Park. We managed to build some roaring campfires. We were “forced” to hang out and sleep or read or just lounge as the rain pounded against the camper (thankfully, the bad weather kept the black bears away!).

I took this time as a chance to be with myself. It’s not easy to do when there is so much going on in everyday life. I needed to check out in order to check in. I found that I still wanted to meditate daily. I liked slowing down. I didn’t miss the phone or the internet. I loved being able to read. I didn’t practice yoga on my mat but felt ok that I was taking a break. I was delighted to spend time with my husband and know that we could still enjoy each other.

It wasn’t until the last day, when we were driving home, that I started to get anxious. Thinking. About cases at the clinic. Finishing construction on our house. Paying bills. Taking time off for a veterinary conference. And then I remembered to breathe. And soften. And notice the thoughts but to remember to let them pass. The monkey mind was forgotten for a little while but it’s always waiting to tease me.

In leaving the city for nature and the outdoors, I was able to be present for a bit. And although I can’t always live like that (away from people, all amenities, my iPhone), I know doing this once in a while is good for me. I need to strip right done to the basics (does that include skinny-dipping?) and focus on the truth, the moment, the things that really matter. Because, in the end…