The Great Outdoors: Reality VS Expectation

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Dreaming of perfect outdoor opportunities this summer. Will reality match expectation?

As we dance a jig into the glorious days of summer, we tend to have high, albeit rose-colored, expectations about summer break. We envision making the absolute most of Montana’s glorious outdoorsy scene. We’ve scheduled, planned, and created all the summer fun bucket lists to see us through. Visions of stunning waterfalls dance across our mind’s eye; lazy days floating down the river or across the lake drift across our hearts. Imaginings of evenings spent laying under the night sky, searching for shooting stars, dazzle our dreams. We see time spent disconnecting from technology and re-connecting with our families on camping trips unfolding across these summer months.

Beautiful expectations, all of them. It’s just that reality sometimes has something different to add to the story.

That waterfall? The imagination blocked out the five mile hike to get there, and definitely didn’t account for that unexpected downpour. Nor did it mention the whining that would transpire, or the pebble that would constantly wedge in your young one’s shoe. Ah, but the journey is almost always guaranteed to be worth it because that gorgeous waterfall you imagined – magnificent. Ah, shoot, we forgot about the hike back…

The floating, the fishing, the boating? Fabulous, all of it. Except we had record snowfall this winter, which means swollen, fast-flowing waters. Never mind the forgotten re-applications of sunscreen, making for crispy critters in dire need of aloe. Blocking out the whole lack of patience component involved with littles and fishing adventures is a virtual (necessary?) guarantee. Hey…who packed the snacks?

As for those nights under the stars, you would think it would not be such a stretch for reality to match expectation except…Mosquitos, so many mosquitos. And the small matter of staying awake to watch the promised show. Ah, and that revolving matter of patience. Star gazing is best served for the semi older of our broods. In truth, one of my favorite childhood memories is catching a meteor shower in the driveway of my childhood home with my mom. Reality might just surpass expectation in this case…

Finally, the big camping trip (or maybe one of many). Disconnecting? Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Of course then there’s the dirt, so many bugs, probably some wildlife, floppy paper plates, burnt marshmallows, unpredictable weather, and the inevitable mishap or two. And, is that a tick? But the thing is, reality doesn’t have to match the expectation because our memories have a way of softening things, turning every bump along the way into a shared story that gets bigger and funnier and infinitely worse (in the best way possible) with each telling. Comedy gold.

For some of us, outdoor experiences aren’t necessarily a dream come true – those rose-colored glasses are more comfortable alongside the pool, or on the patio. So maybe the expectation doesn’t always (ever?) match reality, but that’s okay, we’ll just be over here making the memories. Good, bad, or hilarious.

Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s June 2018 issue.
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