I wrote this blog in a little notebook while sitting at the water’s edge in the above picture on the last morning of our most recent camping trip. There’s a special ambiance that comes with camping near water. It’s even more relaxing and mystical. I didn’t know what day of the week it was. I did know I didn’t want to go home.
Although I love where we live in Boise, I wondered why I was so resistant to heading back to the real world. We had braved cold (low 30’s at night), dust storms, smokey fires, being sunburned and bugbit; even taking a classic header while fly fishing. But on that last morning, I would have written a blank check to be able to stay. As I walked myself through why, here’s what I came up with.
We Get Outside Ourselves. There are no reflective surfaces when camping. No mirrors and nothing that reflects what we look like. We’re not reminded of our hair or weight or wrinkles or those places that we focus on every single time we look in the mirror. We have charcoal smudged hands and sandy feet. I have the best wild camping hair and it’s great to just wear my even more wild camping straw hat. We get to focus elsewhere. It’s freeing.
Talking to God is Easier. Maybe it’s because I’m in the middle of His Nature Show. The stars at night beg wonder. The power of forces are easier to see. I reflect more. I’m more thankful. I feel appropriately small and reminded that an awful lot of stuff goes on with no help from me, like forest fires and bears and rivers and wildflowers.
Concerns Become Simpler. We headed to the mountains just as a mandatory mask order was being put into place and all the usual political/ social / medical hoopla was in full hoop. Once in mountain air, all of it was quickly forgotten. My concerns became very simple: tent zippers, weather, food with minimal ash, enough ice, firewood, not getting eaten by a bear, and trying to catch a fish. That’s pretty much the list. My brain unknots. I become tolerant, easy, happy; heck, even funny. I like me.
Peeing Outdoors. I really like to pee outside. Peeing outdoors has got to be one of Man’s first best enjoyments. It’s natural. It feels right. There’s room. And things to look at. It’s feels Manly. And feeling Manly leads to using saws, building fires, getting wood and then making jokes about getting wood, creating the perfect Man-kingdom-settlement-campsite, toting big caliber handguns, and exploring; all things that give men back their wild. Wild is good.
Less / No People. Camping, especially outside of regulated campgrounds, lets us get away from people. People are often the reason we have challenges. Their actions impact our lives, and we’re forced to deal with their dumbness. Managers and leaders know that people themselves make up the bulk of work problems. Less/no people, less/no problems. Less we have to adjust to. An increased likelihood that our grand plans come to perfect fruition. As they should, of course.
No Calendars. In the real world, the non-camping world, our lives are strictly regulated according to time. Everything we do, from waking to sleeping, has an allotted time, including the waking and sleeping. 7 minutes to shower, 3 minutes to brush the choppers with the sonic, pouring coffee and grabbing the lunch is 2 more, and out the door by minute :17 or traffic will be a school bus bitch. Then it’s 3 meetings, 30 minutes to eat lunch, and 3 more meetings, all with accompanying reminder dings. I hate dings. But in the camping world, there are no calendars. F&#! calendars and f&#! dings (and the horses they rode in on). In the camping world, days are known by the one thing that is enjoyed that day, like hiking, or biking, or beaching, or napping, or reading, or fishing, or sitting with your toes in icy river water. We get to slow down. We get to breathe. We drink cold beer. We are successful.
We Get to Minimize. Camping allows us to remember the simple things, the minimal things, and how rewarding these things can be. The sound of the river at night and tent zippers, owls, shooting stars, campfire coffee and bacon, sunrise, the moon, and crickets. Staring into a quiet campfire until late at night. Hushed conversation with wide open spaces. It doesn’t take very long for these things to begin to unwind us. We feel the stress begin to come off, the shoulders drop, a few cleansing breaths, a deep sigh. It can make one wonder if the real word is really worth it.
Sex. This one probably should be closer to the top. Camping sex can be awesome. Although air mattresses don’t always offer the best support, not to mention if they pop it might mean a night on the hard ground, there are multiple other campground places that work. Couples feel more connected. We need each other more. We talk more. We wear less clothing. It’s cold at night and hot during the day. Men feel more manly in the wild. You can play games like lumberjack and/or lady camper in distress. There are no people around so being loud is not an issue. Although the term “Squirrel!” might take on a more literal meaning, getting the Bow chicka wow wow going in the great outdoors should certainly be on the list.
So there’s my list of why camping in Middle Age is just an all around great idea. I’m sure you can add to the list, but the important thing is that you just go. Find a place, get some stuff together, and head out. Summer will fade all too soon; get out there and make some memories.