My relationship with nature is fragile. Some of my most memorable, awe-inspiring, ‘holy-smokes-this-is-so-beautiful’ kind of moments occurred in nature. However, I’ve also felt incredibly uncomfortable, sick, dirty, and nervous while experiencing the great outdoors. I’ve waited sleepy-eyed and shivering in the dark, unable to feel my toes to witness a sunrise. And while hiking in various places around the world, I’ve tripped, fallen, panicked, scraped my knees, ran from spiders, and stepped in horse manure.
Nonetheless, my travels have taught me that the unpleasant experiences are worth it, as they often lead to the most breathtaking moments. I’ve observed “the nation’s first sunrise” from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine; hiked along the immense, emerald cliffs of the Nā Pali Coast in Hawaii; breathed in the earthy, pine-flavored air in a redwood forest in California; and sat awestruck, staring at the coral and gold-painted sky as the sun set over the red rocks in Moab, Utah.
We could spend our whole lives sitting inside watching Netflix because we’re terrified of spiders, or we’re too lazy to get up before the sunrise, or we’re afraid of heights. Giving nature a chance and persisting through uncomfortable moments, though, will reward you. I have been graced with spectacular views, incredible experiences, and albums full of memories.
The idea that experiencing nature is worth it was reinforced on a recent, ‘pinch-me-this-is-so-cool’ kind of trip to the California coast. My husband and I decided to drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, from San Francisco to Mendocino, in northern California. Mendocino sits right on the ocean; it’s picturesque. A city straight out of a “Visit California!” brochure that's almost unreal. Flipping through photos of this stunning place made me feel instantly at ease. We planned to stay at a little inn just off the water, and I could feel the tension leave my body as I imagined feeling the salty mist from the ocean on my face and the warm sun on my skin. The only issue for me, however, was getting there.
I am easily susceptible to motion sickness. And to be clear, it’s not the kind of motion sickness where you feel a bit queasy, but you push through it anyway. It’s the kind that feels like you’re riding in a tilt-a-whirl after a night of no sleep and a few too many glasses of wine. I knew that the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway would trigger my motion sickness, but we decided to go for it anyway.
The drive was exceptionally scenic, boasting views of the ocean, mossy hills, and sandstone cliffs, which were blanketed by wildflowers and succulents. Even with my motion sickness, I knew that I was gazing at something sensational—a vast, seemingly endless body of steel blue water, speckled with white where the waves broke.
It wasn’t until we arrived in Mendocino that my motion sickness dissipated and I felt normal again. Breathing in the cool, clean air helped me appreciate my gorgeous surroundings. As the sun fell lower into the horizon, we walked to a quaint lighthouse with a red roof in an uninhabited part of town. The setting sun cast a warm, fiery glow on our faces, and we stopped to take a couple photos. I closed my eyes, inhaled the crisp, salty air and smiled broadly, realizing how nature continues to mesmerize me.
Lindsay Adam is a writer and marketer based out of Denver, CO. She earned her BSBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, her MBA from the University of Denver (DU) and is in the process of earning her Master’s in Creative Writing from DU. In addition to writing, she enjoys traveling with her husband, eating french fries, reading in the sun and repeatedly whispering “I love you” in her dog’s ear.