I never thought I’d be writing a blog post for outdoor enthusiasts. Don’t get me wrong, I love the outdoors! I surf as often as possible, I hike and run, and living in Southern California I make it a point to stop and smell the rosemary everyday; it’s everywhere, so that's what I call going for a walk: “going to smell the rosemary.” I love the outdoors ... but I also like to shower and sleep in my own bed and flush the not-so-public toilet. So when it comes to camping, I’m more of a glamper, if I’m being honest.
But, as life would have it, I fell in love with an Alaskan mountain man who’s love language is camping. I’ve had to learn to step out of my comfort zone and experience the simplicity of nature, not just the convenience of it.
In April of this year, Josh said he wanted to take me to Iceland where we would be caravanning with friends around the country in camper vans. Well, they’d be in camper vans, we’d be in a car with a tent on the top. Oh, and we’d also be eating freeze-dried food for the entirety of our time there. He had already ordered a container of it.
I wanted to be a trooper, but I was also skeptical of sleeping in a tent in Iceland, which doesn’t exactly sound warm, and traveling around the world just to eat freeze-dried food from a bag. Upon arriving in Iceland we stopped at KFC, our first and last “Icelandic” meal before venturing off into God-knows-where. After shelling out $40 for two people to eat at KFC I got on board with the freeze-dried food idea. And truth be told, after our first Mountain House meal I was hooked.
Ok, so he was right about the food, but I still wasn’t looking forward to the cold night’s sleep in the tent on top of the car. In fact I was ready to win an argument. I was ready to wake up the next morning and say “See, I told you we’d be freezing,” but alas, I woke up quiet and smirking as I knew I had to say once more “You were right.” Not only was I extremely warm from the canvas tent and 15 degree sleeping bag, I was incredibly comfortable!
Once I got out of my own way, trusted the process and allowed the adventure to be different than my usual comforts, I realized I was on the trip of a lifetime.
A week into our trip, Josh said we needed to get product shots for the companies sponsoring the trip and he spent so much time trying to find “just the right spot.” I had no idea was really about to happen, I wandered off to find a place to go to the bathroom, meanwhile he was getting ready to ask me to marry him. Whoops. Timing is everything.
He walked me down into a field, ocean on one side, mountains on the other- (the perfect depiction of both of us: I grew up on the ocean, he in the mountains), got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
We were both crying and I said “YES! OF COURSE! I’m so glad I went to the bathroom first!” In that order. We laughed and kissed and vowed to love each other as we are, while allowing the other to grow and change.
In Josh I have found a new affection for the outdoors, an enjoyment for the smell of earth and the sight of it on my feet and under my fingernails. We eloped a month later in the hills of Santa Barbara, CA. We both cleaned up pretty good.
For our one month anniversary I set up a tent in the backyard, started up the Jetboil and served Mountain House in honor of our adventure's beginning.
Given that we have many adventures ahead, we came up with a list of our favorite (and most-used) gift ideas that would be awesome for any outdoor enthusiasts, no matter how hardcore or glamper-friendly. Check out some of the stuff we’ve found useful, and some of the stuff we still hope to get for our registry … wait, do you still get a registry if you elope!?
I'm sure there are loads of other items I could add to this list! But the real adventure is in figuring it all out as we go, learning together, making do with what we have when we have to, and always keeping a roll of toilet paper in our backpacks no matter where adventure takes us. Just in case.
Editor's Note - We met JJ and Josh because ofthis video that they shared on Instagram. And we're so glad we did. A huge thank you to JJ for taking the time to share their story with us!
Josh Newton is a wedding and lifestyle photographer who loves to visually tell a story. He loves the great outdoors, Star Wars, and canned peaches (he doesn’t want anyone to know the third one). JJ Barrows Newton is a videographer and artist, as well as an aspiring comedian (marriage has given her plenty of new material). They married in June 2019 and reside in Santa Barbara, CA. They plan to return to Iceland in 2020 with another suitcase full of Mountain House!