I’m generally not a fan of trying new things.
I’m not a fan of camping either: I love technology, a nice bed with clean sheets, running water, air conditioning, electricity, flushing toilets, and refrigerators. I hate bugs, spiders, snakes, and anything else that can crawl across my face in the middle of the night.
I’ve been camping a few times as a kid when I was in Cub Scouts, but ultimately I’ve done my best to spend most of my nights safely tucked in to a warm comfy bed.
Oh, and I’m also an incredibly picky eater.
Despite all of that, last week I found myself on a three-day camping trip in the Australian Outback, hanging out with all kinds of creatures that crawled, sleeping outside under the stars, and eating random things like kangaroo.
It was f***ing awesome.
Steve goes camping
Last week when I arrived in Alice Springs, a small town in the direct center of Australia, I had planned to do a one-day trip to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock).
I knew it was a big rock, and I figured there wasn’t much else around that would warrant more time in the area.
The objective was simple: take a picture/video of me in front of the rock, cross it off the list on the Epic Quest of Awesome, and move on.
However, the one-day options didn’t seem that great: drive 4+ hours to the rock early in the morning, spend two hours or so at the rock in the sweltering heat, and then drive 4+ hours home. The other, far more popular option was to do a 3-day camping trip that involved trips to Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and King’s Canyon.
At this point I asked myself: “what would make a better story?”
And more importantly: “what would the Nerd Fitness community expect me to do?”
Decision made: I was going camping.
My tour began the next morning at 6AM with WayOutback (get it?) and our guide David, who loved to shout out random quotes from South Park (“back to the pile!”) and Family Guy (“Lois! Mom! Mom! Mumma! Ma!”) whenever the situation warranted it.
I liked him immediately.
After stopping off at a camel farm (seriously), we continued on for a few hours until arriving at our campsite for the day/night. Of course, the first thing I saw was a giant spider hanging out on the mesh wall of our “dining room.”
“Oh don’t worry about that, it won’t hurt ,” said David.
“If you say so. By the way, what’s for dinner tonight?”
It might have been this guy’s brother:
Hmmmm, funky food, spiders, camping. Alllllllllllllllllrighty then!
Our first 24 hous involved hiking around Uluru, watching both sunset and sunrise over the outback, and eating kangaroo (which was absolutely delicious). We slept in these sleeping bag-type things called swags: no tent, no protection from dingos or snakes…just us and the stars.
And HOLY CRAP the stars. Thanks to being so far out in the middle of nowhere, I could see approximately 85 trillion stars in the sky (a rough estimation). Thanks to my obsession with the NES game StarTropics as a kid, it always made me smile to see the Southern Cross constellation in the sky. Every time I woke up in the middle of the night, it was the first thing I looked for.
After watching the sunrise on the second day, we headed off to Kata Tjuta, this impressive rock formation a few miles from Uluru.
Here we hiked on trails through passages with fun names like the “Valley of the Wind” (which HAS to be the name of some land in a video game, right?). After climbing up a difficult hill, we were treated to a view that was ripped straight out of Jurassic Park:
Honestly, if a brontosaurus came walking through the distant field at that point I honestly wouldn’t have batted an eye. Anybody want to photoshop some dinosaurs in there for fun? Have at it!
After another night sleeping under the stars, we hopped back into the van and headed out to King’s Canyon.
It was a four hour hike, with lots of rocks, undulating terrain, and some impressive climbs – the perfect place to test out my Vibram Five Finger KSO’s. I’ve been wearing my Vibrams for exercising and jogging for the past year and a half, but I’ve never tried them out on a challenging hike.
They passed the test with flying colors – I climbed “Heart Attack Hill” with ease, jumped and scampered over loose rocks with no problem, and even went swimming with them in the “Garden of Eden,” this amazing hidden water hole buried deep within the canyon’s walls:
Try it, you might like it.
I am so glad I didn’t just do a one-day Uluru trip and opted to try something outside of my comfort zone. I had a lot of fun camping, made some great friends with my fellow campers, I thoroughly enjoyed eating kangaroo, and had way more fun at Kata Tjuta and King’s Canyon than I did at Uluru.
So, thank you, my dear rebel friend and member of Nerd Fitness community; it was because of you that I went for the better story out in the Outback.
And isn’t that what life is really all about?
Taking chances and coming back with great stories.
When you’re writing the final chapters of your life, are you going to look back and say things like “boy am I glad I saved that fifty bucks back in 2011”? Or will you say things like “remember that time we booked that crazy last minute trip and had ______________ happen to us? I will never forget that.”
I want to try new things, eat new things, and do new things, because that’s how to live a life worth living, and live a life writing about.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to do the same.
I think humans (and nerds in particular) often find it very easy to exist within a tiny bubble where everything is the same and safe. We generally don’t take risks, we don’t try new things because they’re scary and we might not like them, and we like controlled over chaos.
I think we could all use a little bit more chaos in our lives.
Your mission this week is to do two new things:
- Try ONE new food. It can be a new vegetable or fruit, a new recipe, a new snack, whatever. Obviously I’d like it to be a HEALTHY food (think Paleo if you have questions on what qualifies as healthy).
- Try ONE new activity. Sign up for a dance class, go for a run with your office’s running club, or find somebody that teaches a martial arts class you’ve always been interested in.
You might like these new things, or you might hate them. You won’t know until you try though, right? And either way it doesn’t matter. If you find something you love, congratulations – enjoy it. And if you find something you hate, congratulations – that’s one less thing you have to wonder about.
Either way, you’ll learn something about yourself and maybe even come home with a fun story.
So, what are YOUR two new things for the week?
Let me know in the comments!
PS – As it turns out, my flight to Singapore is TOMORROW instead of Thursday. Oops! I know there are a few rebels in Singapore, so email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you want to meet up. I think we might even be doing some sort of formal meet up for one of the nights in town. Expect an update in Thursday’s article.
PPS – Happy Birthday to my sister Em 🙂