Mountain FOMO (*fear of missing out*) <– it’s oh so very real! Please welcome Team Member, Stephanie, who understands this all-too-well AND has some tips we can all learn from.
I knew I loved growing up in the mountains but what I did not know was how much I would miss them when I moved away. I spent my childhood and early adult life in the snake river valley of Idaho with Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Park a hop, skip and jump away. I had quick access to numerous trails, lakes, rivers, scenic drives etc. From the time I was young I loved to snow ski and hike and as I grew older I took a greater interest in backpacking, mountaineering and mountain biking. Being outside was my “happy place” during the day and my favorite way to sleep soundly at night. Fast forward a few years, I found my handsome prince and we lived happily…wait…we moved smack dab to the middle of the flat, sprawling and incredibly awesome J concrete jungle of Houston, TX.
I would love to say that I jumped into that move with two feet, excited and ready to conquer city life. Instead I felt stuck. I was overwhelmingly nostalgic and I was homesick for stars that filled the night sky and elevation change that wasn’t a freeway overpass. I have since left the south and now find myself in the heartland of America in Mid-Missouri. Our family has grown from 2 to 5 and I am still far from mountains. I am uncertain of where our life’s journey will take us next. In the process of several moves I’ve learned a few things that have helped me overcome my “Mountain ‘FOMO’”. I hope the following list helps others who may struggle with a similar diagnosis ;).
- Get Outside Anyway. At our first camping experience at a state park near Houston we were warned that our campsite was in a very “primitive” area because there was running water but no flush toilets (only an outhouse). I could not keep back my smile. An outhouse sounded like a camping luxury compared to digging holes in the dirt in the back country. I easily could have said at that point “this is not my style”; instead we went on to camp at almost every state park within a 200 mile radius of where we lived.
- Try a New Outdoor Hobby– Leaving the mountains and adding kids to the mix has meant that some hobbies (e.g. snowshoeing to yurts) are on pause but it’s also opened the door to recreational activities that I didn’t know existed. Who knew there’s a 240 mile bike trail that spans the state of Missouri? That Bentonville, Arkansas is a mountain biking mecca or that you can kayak in the middle of downtown Houston? Not I (that is until I had the chance to experience it first hand). From archery to crawdad fishing and from birding to wind surfing a new environment is the perfect time to explore your new terrain and try a new activity.
- Find Your Sanctuary Spot– I remember well a time when I was in a group with a bunch of Texan transplants reminiscing about all the beauty to be found in the red rock in southern Utah, the grand canyon, and the Salmon river of Idaho . A native Texan, probably annoyed with all our yearning talk, said “Have you ever seen the blue bonnets in Texas in April? Now that is beautiful”. That was a good reminder for me to open up my heart to let my new surroundings in. Hermann Park in Houston, Texas and the MKT trail in Columbia, MO have become my outdoor sanctuary spots. They are places that will always have a piece of my heart. And he was right, the blue bonnets in Texas are magnificent.
- Bring on the Road Trips. When I’m ready for a mountain escape I load up the car with camping gear, hiking boots, snacks for every “100 mile” mark and we hit the road. Road trips have allowed us to explore the Smoky Mountains, the Ozarks, and the Rockies. Our favorite family memories have been made on these trips and they are food for my soul.
I thought leaving my mountain home in the west would be the end to a huge part of my identity and a huge disservice to my future children. Instead I’ve learned that escaping to the outdoors requires only the turn of a knob or handle. Moving has afforded me the opportunity to explore new surroundings and make memories outdoors wherever I am. Opportunities my kids may have lost in seeing bison in Yellowstone are made up by seeing alligators in Brazos Bend and seeing baby cardinals learn to fly in our front yard in Missouri. Opportunities to snow ski at Grand Targhee are made up by playing in the warm ocean waves of Galveston beach and biking and birding on the MKT trail. The first line of our family mission statement states: “We Climb Mountains”. One day I’ll go back and edit it to read “We Climb Mountains, Overpasses, and Rolling Hills”. I’m forever grateful for the lessons that “mountain climbing” has taught me—that I can do hard things, that perspective changes everything, and that the journey is as fun as the destination.
Stephanie is a South Idaho native but currently lives in Columbia, MO with her husband, Jayson, and gang of girls—Clara (6), Mckinlay (4), and Ruth (1). As a family of 5 they enjoy biking, hiking, skiing, camping, traveling, backpacking and being silly. Like many others they’re trying to balance the complexities of work and family life. They’ve found that time slows down when they’re outside adventuring together and appreciate the simplicity and beauty they find there. Find them on their brand new Instagram: @switchbacksandsingletrack
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