I love being out in nature. I find nature inspiring and the more time I can spend in nature the better, it relaxes me. I am not however, a fan of camping so much. I do it, but the older I get, the more amenities I like to have, like a cot, plenty of blankets, warmth, things like that. I have also found that having the right gear to wear for the weather makes a huge difference in how much fun camping is. If I can stay dry and warm, I am in much better spirits than when I get cold and/or wet. My boys and husband went on a camping trip this past Friday night/Saturday morning for a Young Men’s activity with my Church. The weather this time of year is cool and rainy, this time they got snowed on Saturday morning. The boys had a great time, my husband was glad to be home. This type of activity does not interest me in any way, shape, or form.

I think my dislike of camping however comes from the first 17 years of our marriage. When my husband and I got married he had some property and he had previously built a shop building on it. But the building was just a shell. There was no insulation, a dirt floor, no water, no plumbing, no electricity. We arrived in Alaska in September and were able to get the concrete floor poured. We then spent the winter in a house that his brother owned that wasn’t finished. Our job was to finish that house so that it could be sold. We then went to Alabama to work for several months and came back to Alaska in the spring.

That summer we worked and were able to purchase a foam insulation machine that we insulated our shop with as well as several other people’s attics and shop buildings. We had thought about possibly doing that for a living but once we had done several, decided that wasn’t what we wanted to do all the time. At any rate, we got the shop insulated. We moved our travel trailer inside the shop, which had a wood stove, and we lived in the shop, in the travel trailer for about 6 years working on getting the inside finished while we lived in it.

About 3 years after I arrived in Alaska, we were able to get a well drilled. Having water is something so many people take for granted, but not something I will ever take for granted again. You would not believe how nice it was the first time I was able to flush a toilet in my own house, well shop any way! We moved the travel trailer out of the shop after about 6 years because our family would be growing to 4 people that summer and we needed more space. We set up a temporary kitchen near the front door. The only sink in the building was a laundry sink at the back by the bathroom, so the kitchen didn’t have a sink in it, and we hauled the dishes back to the laundry sink the whole time we lived there.

7 years after I arrived in Alaska, we got electricity. Prior to that we had a generator. We ran the generator for 2-3 hours in the evening so that we could pump water and get the kids bathed and do dishes and things. On Saturday’s I would run it for several hours during the day so that I could do laundry and the deeper cleaning. Electricity is another thing that I have learned to be very grateful for. We continued living in the shop for the next 10 years after electricity as we saved for and built our home so that we could stay out of debt. It was a long process of temporary living in what some might consider substandard housing, but it worked ok for us, and our kids were small.

Since then, I have been quite uninterested in camping. My kids have often asked why. They never had to haul water because by the time they were born we had the well. They don’t remember never having electricity. The youngest of our 4 children doesn’t even really remember living in the shop very well. The older kids didn’t know anything different, looking back they have very fond memories of being in the shop. I too have fond memories, but I also remember the inconveniences of living without water, without electricity, of trying to cram 6 people into a very small space without any walls except the bathroom.

There are many aspects to camping that I really do love. I love sitting around a campfire, but now I have a firepit right here in my yard. I love being able to go hiking, but I have so many hiking trails, some within walking distance of my front door, some I need to drive to, but they’re right here, I don’t really have to go very far. People love camping in the woods, but I live in the woods, I don’t have to go somewhere to get out away from people and into the woods. Lots of people go camping so they can go fishing. Again, some of the best river fishing in Alaska is right here in Willow, less than 5 miles from my home and I can always wander over there if I have a desire to fish.

I really do love nature, but I also love that I can enjoy it from the comfort of my own home. I can be outside by the fire, hiking any number of trails, fishing or whatever, and then I can then go home at night and sleep in my own warm bed at night, getting a great night sleep so that I can wake up the next day mentally and physically prepared for my next adventure. I still camp once in a great while, but 17 years of what felt like camping have cured me of any desire to go do that for “fun” on a regular basis.


We live in a beautiful world.  No matter where I go in this world there is something beautiful.  The world around us was created for us, for our benefit and use.  But the Lord didn’t create it just to be a useful tool, He wanted us to be happy here, to find beauty in the world around us, to see the variety and realize that there are many different kinds of beauty.  This Friday my oldest and youngest child and I went to Whittier and then on to Seward. This has to be one of the most beautiful drives in Alaska. There is ocean and coast line, blue rivers and lakes, mountain passes and forests. We saw so many bald eagles, and a couple of moose. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. I have recently been pondering on my love of nature and some of the things I have experienced and seen, and I thought I would share a few with you.

I grew up in the desert southwest, in Southern Utah.  Not much water, it seemed like we were always having a drought and having to conserve water.  This year is extremely dry. But the sage brush, I love the smell and color.  The rocks and mountains, I love the red and orange, sometimes yellow and even white rocks found in that area, along with the white trunks of the aspen, the green leaves in the summer, and where I lived, it snowed in the winter.  I loved every season.  It was amazing what would grow there as well.  We had a garden, as well as fruit trees, and my mom always has beautiful flowers around the house and yard.  There is so much inspiration and peace there.

Now I live in Alaska, and there is beauty.  Usually there is no worry about drought here, although we have had a few wildfires rip through our community on dry years.  The trees are green all summer, so many trees.  It rains regularly, and I don’t know if it’s from growing up in the desert or what, but I love the rain, I love the sound of rain, and I love the smell of rain, it smells fresh.  In the winter, the snow is almost always fresh, clean and white, because it snows a lot.  When it gets really cold, the hoar frost is the most beautiful thing you have seen, it’s like God dumped glitter, the perfect amount everywhere, and it just glistens.  Looking out the windows during the day, there is always some sort of animal to see, whether it’s birds, fox, moose, on rare occasion a bear.  It is beautiful!

Growing up in the desert, everywhere was dry, so water is a premium, and any free-flowing water is fun to find and play in.  In Southern Utah there is a place called Red Cliffs.  It’s not a huge tourist attraction like Zion or Arches National Park.  Maybe that’s why I loved it so much, not as many people.  But it was a great place to hike and picnic.  There was a small stream that ran through the area, down through the cliffs and across the road.  I remember going there so many times as a family, playing in the water, and hiking through the cliff areas and waterfalls.  As a teenager, that is the first place that I went rappelling.  I love the pace of life that is associated with slowing down and seeing nature, seeing beauty. This place is pretty dry, but that little bit of water added a depth of beauty and a variety of plants that only exists in the desert where there is water.

When our kids were young, we went for a vacation down to visit family in Utah, and we went on a hike to Cascade Falls.  I was hiking by my brother and we were talking about the trees.  He told me to go smell one of the large pine trees.  I thought he was being funny, but he said no, it smells like cinnamon.  I didn’t believe him, so I smelled the tree, and sure enough, the bark smelled like cinnamon.  We always hear that we should stop and smell the roses, but how often do we stop and smell the trees?  I am grateful for his invitation to smell the tree, and have done so on many occasions since then, not just in Utah.  Most trees don’t smell like cinnamon, but they do smell wonderful.  I am grateful for the scent of nature and that he had taken the time to smell the trees and that he would share that information/experience with me.

My husband doesn’t really like to hike.  Plus, his job is more of a seasonal job, so he works all summer.  But one summer I convinced him to go hiking with us.  We went to Girdwood and hiked the Winner Creek Trail to a hand tram, and then back again.  There was a lot of people at the hand tram when we got there, but we were basically alone on the trail.  It was a wooded trail, peaceful and quiet most of the way.  We listened to the birds and enjoyed all the old man’s beard hanging from the trees.  It felt like we had been transported to a different time.  It had been raining earlier, and was misty and cool, but not raining when we started. The sun eventually come out part way through our hike and the water glistened off all the fresh green foliage.  Everything was fresh and clean from the rain earlier and it was beautiful.  I was grateful that day for the fresh green color that was so vibrant from the recent cleaning from the rain.  As I have learned to paint, I see color differently, and I loved the color that day.

One year we went on a Fjords tour out of Seward.  It was windy and raining when we were waiting for our boat, but when we got on the water, the rain stopped, and the ocean was calm.  I have been on whale watching tours before, when we never saw anything.  But not this trip.  We saw whales, there were sea lions out sunning themselves near the shoreline.  We saw puffins on the cliffs, flying around, and diving under the water.  There was so much life out there.  I was so grateful to be on that particular cruise (especially since I didn’t get motion sick), and I am so grateful for the variety of animals that populate our earth.  There is so much variety and beauty the Lord has blessed us with on this earth.  I am grateful for the sea animals and birds that we saw that day.

I love taking time to get out in nature. I have never regretted being outside. It doesn’t matter where I’ve been there is something beautiful to be seen and experienced. What do you love about nature?