OUT OF OFFICE: Unwinding Outside of Urology

By: Jennifer Lewis, DNP, APRN, CNP, CUNP | Posted on: 02 Feb 2023

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity."
John Muir

In 2017, my husband and I, along with our then 6-year-old son and 3-month-old daughter, decided that we were going to explore the great outdoors to escape the day-to-day grind. My husband works for the Department of Defense as a computer scientist, and I work in an academic urology office setting with several talented physicians and a pair of lovely nurse practitioners whom I adore having the privilege to work alongside. But let’s be honest, no matter how great our work/family life is, we still need to get away from it all.

We bought our first travel trailer and were determined to be “glampers.” Being that I wasn’t quite sure I could handle traditional “roughing it” camping with a 3-month-old, we opted for a travel trailer that has amenities…. like a toilet and shower! We ventured from Oklahoma City on a 10-hour trip to Colorado for a weeklong adventure. After this excursion we were hooked! Little did we know how refreshing, relaxing, and recharging the great outdoors can be. I did not have the opportunity as a child to travel and this newfound camping hobby tapped into an unknown desire and longing to become one with nature and to see where that our RV could take us (Figure 1). Since our journey began, our little family has traveled to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Zion, Great Smoky Mountains, Arches, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain (Figure 2), Mesa Verde, Badlands, Crater Lake, Redwood National Forest, Great Sand Dunes (Figure 3), Mammoth Cave, Death Valley, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mount Rainer, Carlsbad, Petrified Forest, Lassen Volcano, Hot Springs, Mount Rushmore, Mount St Helens, and so many other national parks, landmarks, and monuments. We have been to every state west of the Mississippi River, aside from Alaska and Hawaii. The stark beauty and diversity of these places is indescribable without experiencing them for yourself. We are now camping nomadically in a Winnebago van (Figure 4). This has allowed us the flexibility to see more with less effort in our mobile hotel room on wheels. We have no agenda, no reservations, we have just a basic idea of what direction we want to go, and a few dropped pins on the map of places we want to visit. The journey is just as wonderous as the destination.

Today’s reality is that adults and children alike are so involved with work, school, and technology, ie, television, smartphones, computers, social media, etc, that our lives are passing by without acknowledgment of the world that is waiting to be seen. The intimate personal connection with the world and with others is lost behind screens. I want my kids to know a life without dependency on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram to give them an opinion of the world. I want them to see and experience life as well as these magnificent places for themselves and not through someone’s YouTube channel. Seeing a video of 400,000 bats leaving Carlsbad every evening to hunt is nothing compared to witnessing the sounds, smells, and experience of this event in real life.

When my family is at work and school, we crave and look forward to our next adventure to be together in the great outdoors. We have yet to see the eastern U.S. or Alaska, both of which are on our bucket list. My son is now 11 and my daughter 5 (Figure 5), and they have seen and visited more places than most people have in an entire lifetime. Our travels have not only strengthened our family unit but have also given my children an appreciation and respect to take care of our world and all of nature’s splendor. Our precious time together is brief until my kids grow up and we are trying to take full advantage of our life together! (Figure 6).

Figure 1. San Lorenzo Canyon, Socorro, New Mexico.
Figure 2. Rocky Mountains, near Fairplay, Colorado.
Figure 3. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
Figure 4. Winnebago Travato aka Vandalorian.
Figure 5. Red River, New Mexico.
Figure 6. Monument Lake, near Cuchara, Colorado.