A look at recreation's gateway drug.
The Sunday before July 4, we stocked the cooler, packed up the gear box, loaded up the car, and headed out of town. We had a plan, and we thought it was a good one—camp our way to an Independence Day celebration with the family. Camping over the holidays seems like a good idea on paper, but the reality is often nightmarish. Crowded campgrounds, noisy children, road-clogging RVs, and overrun trails. Because it's such a good idea, everyone seems to have it. We thought we'd avoid the crowds by staying off the beaten path, visiting lesser-known national parks and out-of-the-way forests. While the extra work paid off in spades, quiet campgrounds weren't the only joy we experienced; somewhere along the way, right around the time we'd perfected steaks in a cast-iron pan, we reconnected to the roots of outdoor recreation: camping.