Sam Says

An insider’s view of the outdoors

I have a confession to make. Though I have lived in Bend for almost five years now, I’m more of an inside gal. I’m not what you would call “outdoorsy.”

In my limited experience, outdoorsy types actually enjoy being in the heart of nature. They love dirt and grass and rocks. I love Purell. I don’t mind the heart of nature exactly, but I would prefer it was sanitized with a nice Clorox wipe first.

Also, most outdoorsy types enjoy the sun on their face. I’m so pale I once got sunburned from standing too close to an Itty Bitty Book Light. As a kid, my mom made me wear turtlenecks at the beach. Coppertone doesn’t make an SPF high enough for me.

Not only do they worship the sun, true outdoorsy types aren’t bothered by cold temperatures either. They revel in the extremes of our Central Oregon weather. I get chilly when it drops below 70 and sweat like a linebacker when the thermostat climbs above 72. I revel in central heating and cooling.

Maybe it’s genetic. I come from a long line of “Indoor People.” My grandmother considers the daily walk to the mailbox a nature hike. Whenever my dad stays at a hotel that doesn’t serve a complimentary continental breakfast, he feels like he’s camping. My mom thinks sitting outside at Starbucks is akin to being on safari. She’s afraid the pigeons will pounce on her latte like a lion going after a wounded zebra. I can’t argue with her. Some of those pigeons are ruthless. They’ll do anything for a caramel macchiato.

Still, even an indoor cat like me can be compelled to step outside my comfort zone and—literally—step outside once and a while. Thanks to the help of experienced friends, I’ve hiked the river trail and climbed onto the Newberry obsidian flow. I’ve soaked in the warm waters of Belknap Hot Springs. I’ve even been mushroom hunting! (I don’t want to brag, but this column was written by a licensed mushroom hunter.) Of course it bears mentioning I was the only one on the hunt wearing utility gloves and a full welder’s mask, but this lady can find a morel faster than you can say shiitake.

The truth is I may always be more comfortable with carpet—instead of grass—beneath my bare feet. I may always be the one carrying an endless supply of Wet-Naps on a picnic, or looking for an elevator on the hike up Pilot Butte. But my lack of skill in nature does little to quell my fascination with the hot, cold, messy, unpredictable environment that exists right on the other side of my front door.

Besides, one of the best parts of going outside is the joy of coming back in again.

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