Living in New York City can often be as brutal and impersonal as a cavity search in a Turkish airport.
That's why, every once in awhile, I feel the need to check myself out and disappear for some peace and quiet. I need to find someplace where I can reconnect with nature and remember that there are far more important things in life than securing the corner office, the best table at the restaurant, or those prime orchestra seats.
For me, that escape has always been camping.
When I tell people who don't know me very well how much I love camping, they always start laughing their asses off. They think I'm kidding them and truth be told, I've got to admit that I don't look like much of an outdoorsman. Not many people in the fashion industry do. Could you imagine Ralph Lauren, David Beckham or Tom Ford pitching a tent and living off hot dogs for a week?
But underneath this polished urbane veneer lies the heart of a true outdoorsman.
Since the beautiful BossLady hates camping (one word: Arachnophobia) and has been in Texas caring for her ailing father the past two weeks, I decided this would be a good time to take Peanut on her very first camping trip. I've been dying to take her camping since she was born and decided that, at the age of 3.5, she was finally ready.
A week before we left, I pitched a tent in our living room and let her take a nap in her new sleeping bag. What's the first thing she does when she gets in the tent? She throws a little tea party for her stuffed animals and then starts doing some redecorating. Girls are fucking funny.
During the weekend, we drove up to a state park in Duchess County. It was in upstate New York, right on the banks of the Hudson River. Together, we spent the weekend going on long nature hikes, building campfires, cooking s'mores, roasting hot dogs, skipping stones in the river, chasing fireflies, and learning how to crap in the woods.
It was great seeing the Peanut have so much fun. Being raised in Manhattan, she's already a true New Yorker and I often worry that she's growing up too fast or too far removed from "normal" life. After all, she's not even four years old yet she knows what to order at an Indian restaurant. She knows how to ask for the check in Chinese. She knows the subway lines that we take on a regular basis. She knows when taxis are off-duty. She knows how much to tip the parking attendants at the garage. Hell, I think she even knows the fastest way to get through midtown during rush hour!
But now, she's totally hooked on camping and I couldn't be happier. I never want to force my interests on her. I much prefer to expose her to everything and let her figure out where her own unique set of interests lie. If she didn't like camping, I would have been fine with her decision. On the other hand, it's just nice to know that sometimes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
This was hilariously reinforced to me when, after seeing all the jeans, flannel shirts, and polar fleece that I had packed for her, the Peanut turned to me and adamantly stated, "Daddy, if we're going camping, I'm not going to wear those clothes. I'm only going to wear dresses, ok?"
What could I say? After all, she is half-fashionista on her daddy's side...
It's no secret that the best campsites are always found by word of mouth. That's why I want to hear about your favorite campsites, both in the US and abroad. Where's your secret spot and what's so great about it? Feel free to share any good camping stories too. If you don't camp, what do you and your family do to "get away from it all?"