An Ode to National Parks

I love a BIG exotic vacation as much as the next person (I’m still coasting off memories of Buenos Aires from more than a year ago), but when staying closer to home is in order (but not close enough for a nice staycation), then I love nothing better than a National Park.

You can hardly sling a salmon in Washington State without having it land in a National Park, which is fine by me. Over the holiday weekend, we spent four days camping in one of our favorite campgrounds near Mount Rainier, which was lovely despite near-constant rain (last year, it was gorgeous and sunny, but that’s what you get in the Northwest).

It was a perfect healthy minivacation. What’s better than exercising in nature and cooking food over an open fire?(Well, I guess we did use a barbecue.)

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, camping for us, as with many people, meant hot dogs and potato chips and s’mores galore. But not anymore. If you’re car-camping, it is the easiest thing in the world to pack some nice steaks, chicken breasts, pork chops, ground beef in the cooler, along with salad fixings, eggs, yogurt, fruit, cottage cheese, hummus and veggies for snacking. And that’s what we did. Some basic herbs and spices, tea, coffee, mineral water, a touch of wine and beer (which I am really watching now that I’m doing a body transformation challenge). It’s fresh, nutritious, delicious food in the great outdoors!

Speaking of the outdoors, there are few things as restorative for mind and body as a woodland hike. All that fresh air, the sounds of waterfalls and streams. And the colors? Who knew there were so many shades of green. Exercise with benefits, for sure. And National Parks tend to offer something for all fitness levels, from the levelest of nature trails to the most strenuous of hikes.

If you’re really trying to be as healthy as you can, that means not dropping your good habits when you’re “off duty” from you regular daily life. Vacations of all sorts–city, country, beach, forest–offer opportunities to maintain or even expand on healthy habits in delicious and interesting ways. So you can improve your health…while having fun, too!