For most of us, once you get past the fireworks, BBQs, and American flag t-shirts, today is about freedom. And not just freedom to enjoy a day off from work. Freedom means different things to different people. The Merriam-Webster version is “The quality or state of being free”, which really covers quite a bit. But rather than get into a discussion of history or politics, I’ll take this moment to stand on my soapbox, and give you my interpretation of what freedom means to me today.
Freedom is what I feel when I’m alone on a mountain or in a canyon, with just my camera, and nature. A chance encounter with wildlife reminds me that animals should remain free, and we should respect their world. When I ride my bike, I’m free of the burden of gas, insurance, registration, and most important, emissions. When I take my family camping, we’re free of distractions from the TV, computers, email, and phone calls or texts. We have nothing to do but talk to each other, and enjoy our surroundings. Free to reconnect with nature and each other.
The recurring theme here is that I feel much more free when I am outdoors. And that’s one of the big drivers behind this site. Sure, it’s great to try out all the cool gear. But even more so, it’s great to spend time outdoors, and running this site gives me and our testers and contributors an excuse (not that we really need one) to get outside a little more often. It doesn’t have to be a full-on expedition, weekend, or even an over-nighter. Just a day trip, short hike, or lunch by the lake is time well spent. Despite all the cool gear we share, it doesn’t even take much to enjoy the outdoors. Good shoes, quality socks, a hat, sunblock, water, and a snack is all you need to get started. Unplug, log out, and get outside.
I’ve spent most of my three day weekend outdoors. Today, I’ll be enjoying my freedom with a few good friends, under the giant walnut tree that shades my yard. I hope that wherever you are, you make the most of your freedom as well, hopefully outdoors.