Vivian Gullien/The Paisano

Clothing optional. These words easily render any person insecure and modest. However recent growth of nude parks and communities throughout the United States opens up the need reevaluate. Even here in conservative Texas, it seems millennials and baby boomers alike are driving to Austin to question the societal norms and let it hang free.

On the beautiful shore of Lake Travis, sits Hippie Hallow, the first and only legally recognized clothing optional park in Texas. The park stretches about 109 acres, showcasing bright blue waters and elegant evergreens. While 109 acres may seem uncomfortably small, there are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself naked or not.

Hippie Hallow, and other clothing optional parks, allow for a variety of activities that can fit every lifestyle, ranging from athletic to leisurely. Being someone who enjoys both leg day and taco Tuesday, I soaked up all Hippie Hallow had to offer naked, just for you guys.

At first, the thought of just walking in and taking off my clothes was unsettling; however, I learned quickly there was nothing to fear. People of all sizes, ethnicities and genders were naked and all having fun. So I joined them.

My first adventure was swimming. The water was perfect, cool and refreshing to the touch.Throwing caution to the wind, I dove in, the current strong, guiding me throughout the lake.The sun beat down on my face, while I lay suspended in the water. In that moment, my mind, body and soul functioned as one, and a sudden awareness of the beauty of life engulfed me.

Emerging from the water, my first thought was to sunbathe. A short walk led me to smooth rocks overlooking the lake. I laid my towel down and evenly soaked up the sun. After I dried off and looked at the breathtaking scenery, it seemed only right to relax and do some yoga. With the sounds of waves splashing in my ear, I gave salutations to the sun.

Beauty and peace surrounded me; it was so ethereal that I didn’t notice my pending doom emerge from the trees. Steve. A very old, overly-friendly pervert. I have never felt so uncomfortable in my life. Steve came up to me and said,  “I saw you swimming thought I’d come down and join.” To make matters worse, he was obviously aroused and was breathing heavily. I responded with certain euphemisms and went on my way, but that did not stop Steve from getting a good look before I left. My nature high was officially gone.

Although my trip ended in discomfort, it was nothing compared to all the sensations being nude had to offer. I left feeling closer to myself than ever.

I have to say, enjoying nature nude is something we should all experience. In a society obsessed with time and work, it’s easy to put yourself on autopilot. So take a break, get nude and reconnect with yourself. Don’t let the Steves of the world stop you! There is so much to discover, just have courage and an open mind.

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