“They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” -Romans 1:19-20
I say nearly everyone because what about the bubble boy? Although, I’m sure if he took his bubble outside it would be beneficial. So maybe it’s just nourishing to everyone. But then I don’t have as much alliteration. So let’s just say nearly.
Nature is great. Spending time outside can improve so many aspects of your life. Most obviously, Vitamin D. Studies have show that 75% of Americans are deficient in Vitamin D. Holy wow, that’s a lot! I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since most of us spend our days inside office buildings.
In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, we can get vitamin D from sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone pain and weak muscles. It has also been associated with other problems like cancer, depression, and cardiovascular disease.
Aside from Vitamin D, being outside has also been shown to improve emotional disorders like anxiety and depression.
It can also help prevent cancer, high blood pressure, and a lot of those diseases that are seemingly inevitable with age.
So, yeah…I think it’s safe to say being in nature is pretty great for our health.
Time For a Vay-Cay
After hearing (and experiencing) how awesome nature is, I decided that when I take vacations, as often as possible, I’ll be taking vacations to places where the nature is freaking awesome.
I started last summer with camping trips to Lake Huron and Michigan’s Upper peninsula.
But this summer, I decided to go big or go home. Luckily, I have some awesome friends living in Alaska who showed me all around the state.
However, that was in July. What I really want to tell you about is my extreme road trip west. Starting in Detroit, my roommate, Corri, and I embarked on a ten day road trip with the goal of eventually arriving in Denver.
Our first stop was Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin. This lake was beautiful. It had mountains (or large hills?) all around it with some really cool rock formations.
Corri and I camped there overnight and hiked around the lake the next morning before heading to our next stop.
Palisades State Park in South Dakota
This site started out as simply a place to camp overnight but upon further inspection we quickly realized it was much more than that.
The weird thing is that all around the area, there were no trees or huge rocks. Just big dry fields. Then randomly this river with insane rock formations. It was a great find.
After a crazy rainstorm saved us from having to socialize with some drunk neighboring campers, we packed up the next morning and headed to the Badlands.
Badlands National Park
I had never heard of the badlands before and was pretty skeptical of the park being awesome since it was in South Dakota, (although the day before had me reconsidering my opinion of the state) but wow was I wrong! Once we got in the park, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
The hills were like nothing I had ever seen in my life. Everywhere I looked I was in awe. I’m pretty sure I just laughed and said, “holy crap, look at that!” for about three hours straight.
We drove through the park which was huge and found a picnic area to hang out in. Originally, we had planned to camp there but we decided instead to drive overnight to our next destination.
So we waited for nightfall and once it came, I couldn’t believe how many stars I could see. I could see the entire Milky Way! I kept telling Corri about the Milky Way and she finally told me to shut up about it, haha. I did manage to sort of get a picture of the sky thanks to my trusty tripod.
After seeing a million stars, including a ton of shooting stars, we decided it was time to leave so we headed West.
If you’ve never driven overnight in South Dakota and Wyoming, keep it that way. Driving to Yellowstone in the middle of the night is the single scariest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. First of all, there’s absolutely nothing around, so it’s pitch black. The whole way. Secondly, there’s absolutely nothing around so there are no other cars on the road. Seriously. I saw three cars the entire way. We drove for nine hours straight and I only saw THREE CARS!
The only light around were our car’s headlights which obviously didn’t light up the whole area so I couldn’t see very far in front of me. Which is terrifying when you’re driving on a highway and don’t know in which direction the road might curve. Not to mention, the last leg of our trip involved driving up and then back down a mountain. Thankfully I couldn’t see how steep the drop was or how close my car was to the edge of the mountain, but it was still terrifying.
The good news is, we made it. (duh.) The bad news is, we got there at 9 a.m., having driven all night, SUPER excited to get to our campsite, only to find out that Yellowstone is basically the hugest park ever. It took us an hour and a half to drive to our campsite once we entered the park! We weren’t expecting that, but in the end, we made it there, set up camp in about three minutes, and went to sleep.
We were in Yellowstone for two and a half days and probably only saw about 10% of the park. Our first day, we explored the area around our campsite.
The next day we drove about 20 minutes to see the Grand Canyon. No, not that Grand Canyon. The Yellowstone Grand Canyon! It was indescribable so here’s a picture.
That’s only a fraction of it. We spent a couple hours hiking around the area and checking out some other places before heading back to camp for dinner.
After Dinner, we had to check out Old Faithful. I mean, Old Faithful is a classic American icon, right? So we got back in the car and drove to see it.
I wasn’t really expecting what I saw when we got there. The whole area was surrounded by a couple stores, restaurants, and a hotel. Not your typical commercial looking buildings, more like log cabins…but it was still a weird sight in the middle of a park. Old Faithful was surrounded with wooden platforms you had to stand on since the ground isn’t stable. The edges were lined with benches and people just sitting and waiting for the geyser to erupt.
Luckily, we only had to wait about ten minutes.
After that little piece of Americana, we headed back to the campsite…stopping at some other geysers and hot springs along the way.
That night we made s’mores and tried to eat all of the food we had brought with us because we were done camping. Speaking of which…you may be thinking, “What the heck did she eat when she was camping?” Bratwurst, duh.
I also brought along: canned tuna, hard boiled eggs, eggs for cooking, peppers, zucchini, Epic’s Bison, Bacon, Cranberry Bars, dried fruit and nuts, and some pears.
So I was pretty much never at a loss for food. It actually ended up being too much food. And yeah, I had a s’more and maybe some disgusting fast food mexican on the way home…woops.
The next day we headed to Denver where we would stay with my friend Kim.
Kim was a great tour guide and showed us all around the city. We got to see the downtown as well as something pretty nature-y….Red Rocks Amphitheater. This place was crazy.
The theater had hiking trails all around it so we took a hike around before heading up to see the actual Amphitheater. I can’t imagine seeing a concert there, it must be awesome.
After that, we got some lunch, went to the Denver Art Museum, and then to Kim’s Favorite Brewery. Cause what’s a vacation without at least drinking one local craft beer?
The Home Stretch
The next day, we packed up and started our ridiculously long drive home.
I’d say it was a pretty good trip and I definitely got a good dose of nature throughout those ten days. Now summer is coming to a close and I’m already planning where I want to go next. I’m thinking…Grand Canyon…but who knows.
What about you!? Did you do any cool nature things this summer? Let me know in the comments!