Mug - Anna Fiorino

How to go camping: pack light, bring a good book, wake your boyfriend up in 45-minute intervals to get him to check if there’s a bear outside, whisper “Did you hear that?” a total of 16 times, give up and man the area yourself from 2 to 5 a.m. because you’re obviously the only one paying attention around here and, per usual, it’s on you to save your lives. 

All this aside, as I get older  or rather, as technology gradually takes over my life (to the point where I get that twinge of anxiety if I’m not within arm’s reach of my phone look forward to trips like these even more. 

As cliché as it sounds, being forced to engage with the world IRL is invigorating. And in my experience, the act of disconnecting is easy to dismiss as nonessential until realize (each time do it) how much better feel. 

To be fairtechnology has also made camping infinitely more funThe menu has expanded from hot dogs and roasted marshmallows to beef stroganoff and grilled chicken jambalaya. You can now buy freeze-dried Pad Thai in a bag that is ready to eat in 9 minutes — food that tastes way better than what I can make at home. (Not that this is hard to do, like at all.) 

I’m still making my way through the state’s “must-see” marvels and wondersbut this latest trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park has been one of my favoriteby far. From a distance, it looks like meringue; a sandbox for giants; the desert I left behind in California. Maybe it’s because, against backdrop of mountains, it looks like it doesn’t belong. 

Where do I camp next? Send your recs to

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Anna Fiorino is a graduate from San Diego State University. She is a journalist with (more than three but less than twenty) years of experience. In her free time, she edits novels.