City Slicker

April 7, 2009

Baumgarten at Peace in Anza Borrego

Baumgarten at Peace in Anza Borrego

It would be convenient to say that my appreciation for nature was sparked once I moved to New York: landing in the big bad city without a tree or a patch of grass in site, I became nostalgic for a California that I never completely took advantage of when I lived in the Bear State anyway. 

But this narrative isn’t entirely true. I don’t know when I actively started to enjoy the camping. It’s not like I ever had a fear of camping, hiking, or any associated activity. It just wasn’t the first activity to pop up on the Max Baumgarten radar. Yet for some reason I can’t entirely explain why this outlook changed.

And so last week I had my latest one nightstand with the great outdoors. This rendition of slam, bam, thank you sand was spent in Anza Borrego State Park, an ecological dessert wonderland that’s more than just gigantic rock formations and sunburns.

While we are at it, here are a few fun facts about Anza Borrego: it is one of the 55 California State Parks with wi-fi access, it hugs the Mexican-American border, and it’s haunted with ghosts (according to this YouTube gem).

I headed out to Anza Borrego with two friends. While we were only in the park for about 24 hours, we tackled the basics that constitute a successful camping trip: a long beautiful hike where we sort of get lost, sunscreen in the eyes causing temporary blindness, beans, some solid photo ops, and awkward Brokeback Mountain references. Call us team checklist.

By no means do I consider myself a camping virtuoso. In fact, far from it. But I have been camping enough times to know that I am a bona fide fan. Truth is, I am the sort of urban dweller that needs a time out from civilization every once in awhile. As I have come to realize, a night or two under the stars is all about healthy self-reflection.

On this last trip, I arrived at a few major breakthroughs about my professional goals and my current emotional disposition.  We will leave those loaded thoughts for another place and time because, god forbid, I become too touchy-feely with BeingBaumbastic. But take my word for it – breakthroughs happened.

Yet I am willing to share a few fluffier realizations.  Did you know I really like granola bars? I forgot about that until I was chomping down on a Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chip Chewy Coated Granola Bar in the middle of Anza Borrego.  Delish. I also learned that I prefer SPF 48 to SPF 30. Who knew? Not I. Not until recently at least. 

A little rejuvenation on a camping trip goes a long way. I reentered civilization a stronger, healthier, happier person With that, I guess you can say my experience in Anza Borrego is similar to that of Billy Crystal in City Slickers. Which is good because now I know how I am going to handle the inevitable midlife crisis. Phew.

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One Response to “City Slicker”

  1. Mike Says:

    Oh Max, you are missed. This makes me miss California too.

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