There is a tent in my living room. Inside it are: my XL sleeping bag (with washable cloth liner) on my inflatable bed roll (for my 49 yr old back) with two pillows (one for my big head, another for my knees – I’m a side sleeper), my mess kit (pot, pan, lid, 2 bowls, flatware, cooking spoon, towel, 2 cups) and my backpack. Just outside, two propane tanks & my burner (with fold-out prongs for pot or pan). Along side, my 300lb rated camp chair. Why? Because I’m going camping and before I pack, I lay everything out & practice setting it up. I want to know that I can set up & breakdown/repack everything on my own.
This is all “new” gear to me because my focus has shifted. I used to pack for “glam-ping on a budget” as a friend called it, but I don’t camp that way anymore.
Gone are the days of bikes and skateboards, pop-ups and screen tents. Now it’s Xbox-x and high speed internet, projectors showing movies on the sides of RV’s, I know I sound old, but I don’t want that. I don’t like rugged camping either (although Blue River has the nicest out-house I’ve ever seen).
I want to go camping. Not pretending to be a member of the Donner party, not driving a land-yacht to an RV park. Just camping. Enough electricity to charge a phone & a couple battery packs. A lake to swim in. Water from a spigot. But there are a few “concerns.”
My son hates camping, So, as I’m staring at my phone, about to pull the trigger on a pre-wired X-Box X carry-case with built in screen, the sheer weight of all I was going to take with me bent my shoulders. “I’m not getting away, I’m just relocating. I’m moving the same stuff around while adding more and more stuff.”
This is not what I’ve been doing with my life lately. Seriously, I’m “whittling” Beau out of Rob. I’ve let guitars go (to friends), I let my slowly-killing-me job go, I let my anger go, I’ve even thrown out perfectly good T-shirts!! I let comfort and stability go. I bet God and me against a miserable life…
Which brings me to concern #2, to make the beautiful woman who will be my wife and her 68 degrees or crying daughter and my son enjoy camping, I’m going to need more than a plastic case of wiring with a 19″ TV glued to one side. I’m going to need an air conditioned/heated camper with a private sound-proof room. I’m going to need satellite TV and high-speed Internet and a private bathroom with a human-sized shower. I might as well buy one of those travel-busses & paint the side movie-screen white.
I mentioned retiring and travelling the country in an RV once – and her response was kind, but questioning. An RV to my specs would run an easy 80 grand and she’s right, We’d have to stay in hotels or cabins more than 4,ooo nights to justify that expense. (Considering she gets 2 weeks vacation every year, it would take us more years than we have).
So, that takes care of that. Can’t go big, but I can’t stay home. So, I went to the garage and started looking at my bins. I’ve got some swag in there. My 14x10x8 instant up “cottage” with the external frame, my dual burner suitcase grill, which was replaced by a tailgate grill with dolly-wheels & can cook 6 steaks at a time, a foldable rack for grilling over fire, 4 sleeping bags that could zip together in pairs, my 7×4 cot, inflatable mattresses (now that the latex powder has been washed off), a good sized igloo that doubled as an air conditioner with a battery powered fan, center-mount ceiling fan with LED lights, my 4 person mess kit, my solar shower bag, my 5 gallon water bladder… Basically whatever luxury I could stuff in the back of my Subie.
I sighed. I hated the “bigness” of it. I can sleep 8, but I don’t know 4 people I’d share a tent with. It was just too much, too much to fool with and honestly – it KEPT me from going out by myself. bringing with me kept me from going. It needs to get – smaller, more manageable.
Like my diet, like my work-week, like my stress level…
When I camp, what do I need?
Something to do: My phone (books, music, maps, audio recorder, contact) and battery packs.
Something to sit in: A comfortable chair (one of my biggest complaints of camping is picnic tables).
Some place to sleep comfortably.
Some food & a way to prepare it.
A clean bathroom/place to shower.
Bugspray, first aid kit, rain gear, clothes… blah, blah, blah.
And that’s why there is a tent in my living room, next to a small burner, next to a chair rated for big people. This is my new rig, all I need.
Funny fact: All of it breaks down small enough to fit into my 40L backpack.
Fun fact: All of it combined weighs less than 20 pounds.
Freaky fact: Wearing the backpack, I am still physically lighter than I was by myself two months ago.
Fitting fact: the pack fits perfectly on the rear seat & mounting plate of my bike & has mounting straps to secure it.
Fantastic fact: That leaves my tank and side bags free for clothing, toiletries, food & water.
Final fact: I’ve already found 3 campgrounds within a 3 hour ride that have WI-fi so I can still catch a small-screen movie… but don’t have cell service.
Cue the music.
Lenny Kravitz, “I want to get away, I’m gonna fly away…”