Sunil Jain

December 23, 2023

Nature's bounty

Every year I take camping trips throughout the summer.  
Wonderful thing about camping is that you get to spend time in nature, watch stars in the night, have light or deep conversations over campfire with like minded people. There is fair bit of work involved in preparing for the trip, then setting up and packing tents. Good amount hiking is involved as well. Thus only people truly  interested in nature and camping persist with camping beyond childhood.  Organically you end up with folks who are like mended and enjoy nature.

All this makes conversation during campfire or long hikes very interesting and enjoyable.

Experience of having food cooked over wood fire, eaten with like minded folks with sky filled with stars above you, is magical.

I am lucky enough to be able to  secure campsite to some of the most breath taking and hard to reserve place in US every year. And this year was not any different. Yosemite, Sequoia, Death Valley and Big Sur are my favorite destinations. I have been camping in Yosemite twice a year, for past 20 years, and still look forward to it every year. Scenic beauty of these places is at par or better than Swiss Alps, Himalayas and Hawaii.

My favorite travel destination is not an exotic place in India or South America, nor a fancy European city. It is a state of mind, which I can tap into everyday. That connects me back to something bigger than all of us. On a clear night laying in meadow in Yosemite valley, watching millions of stars on a moonless night, makes you realize how tiny a part of universe you are. Momentarily it makes you get out of your  "I" and connects to something big.

I no longer chase bucket list items but how many sunsets I get to enjoy with my dog every day.

More than going to a  fancy restaurants with biggest waitlist for dinners, I long for a campfire  fire meal amongst the  stars. If you have never seen a star filled night sky at Yosemite valley or Death valley or from Mauna Kia mountain top in Hawaii, you probably want to consider adding these to your list.

I no longer yearn to travel as tourist to next exotic city but take up any chance to see and experience trees that are 2000 years old and bigger than any building human has built. They have seen so many revolutions come and go - still standing tall and living.

Having stayed in Four Season resorts by the beaches  I have come to realize that it does not even close to staying in tent with stars above you, with sound of Merced river flowing by your site in the night. 

I came to realize that there is  utility of creating new memories and experiencing different cultures. More important than that is  this: Are you experiencing  that which is beyond us, bigger than us, everyday. Not waiting till weekends or once a year on vacation. Our ability to stay in the moment and learn new skills every years is more important than visiting new countries/cities year after year. Nothing builds your attention muscle like a walk in the woods..or on the beach, without your phone, day after day.

Most of the time, even the most novel of the objects of desire, be a fancy car or dinner at fancy restaurant, sooner or later they lose their novelty. In contrast nature is ever young and you never get tired of.  You  never get tired of watching sunsets. Every time you spend time amongst trees and water, you come back charged.

Here are some of the pictures from my weekend camping trips this year 2023:

Yosemite September 2023:

Serrano Big Bear June 2023:

Sequoia June 2023:

Yosemite June 2023:

Yosemite May 2023:

Death Valley April  2023:

Joshua Tree March 2023: