Camping: nature’s way of promoting the motel industry.
– Dave Barry
Much like corrective dentistry and Indian cuisine, I’m willing to try anything once. Camping falls neatly into this category.
I soon depart for the wondrous and majestic vistas Mother Nature has to offer. My weeklong vacation takes me to Estes Park, Yellowstone National Park and a few other stops along the highways and byways that sprinkle and encircle the Midwest.
Brilliant blue sky above, hundreds of miles of asphalt below. A Jeep-ful of snack foods, books, magazines, playing cards and my Macintosh.
I’ve taken many a road trip during summer vacations; some merely a weekend in length, others a bit longer. But this particular getaway will introduce me to what outdoorsy types call “camping” or “exploring The Great Outdoors.”
For me, it’s better labeled The Great Unknown.
We’re talking sleeping outside in a tent, eating homemade meals around a fire, sunning one’s self for hours on end, hiking through the woods, swatting mosquitoes.
We’re not talking indoor restrooms or Internet access, pillow-top mattresses or air-conditioned rooms.
Granted, our weeklong vacation only has us sleeping outdoors a few nights; the rest will be spent inside cabins or roadside motel rooms. The experience of camping is one I’m having difficulty preparing for. I mentally pack and re-pack my suitcase, trying to pair the perfect ensemble while (sort of) living off of the land.
Do I bring a blow dryer? What about a razor? And can I even think of brushing my teeth?
While discussing my vacation plans with friends and coworkers, I’ve been peppered with countless inquiries I cannot answer. Matt and his brother Ben have developed our itinerary; in a sense, I’m just tagging along for the ride.
“You know I’ll be of little to no help on this trip,” I remind them.
Having never camped before, there’s precious little to use as a comparison. Yet the questions continue:
Where are you staying? (“Outside,” I think to myself.)
What do you plan to do while you’re camping? (“Um, outdoorsy stuff?”)
What routes are you taking? (“I-80, I assume. I don’t read maps that well, but can follow verbal instructions from a GPS like nobody’s business.”)
Do you have permits yet? (“For what?” I wonder but don’t say aloud.)
What kind of gear are you bringing with you? (“Ask Matt and Ben.”)
Have you thought about bears or snakes? (“About what?”)
And my favorite: You got your tiger urine yet? (This one comes courtesy of my gal pal Beth Katz, who suggests I splash pungent droplets of tiger urine – from a pre-menopausal jungle cat, no less – around our campsite to ward off hungry bears and other forest creatures who may or may not intended to do me harm.)
Wildlife and their subsequent waste don’t worry me as much as living without connection to the World Wide Web.
You go through withdrawals: you try to right click on a log to light the fire, you make typing gestures in the air as you talk, you constantly think in 140 characters about the beauty of the view, you worry about what you are missing around the globe, you try to score a fix from the RV with the satellite dish, etc. Then you come out of it and see that reality can be a good thing. Besides, think of all the cool things you can tweet about when you get back to civilization.
Although my Internet access will be limited, I intended to keep writing. Microsoft Word still launches quite nicely on my MacBook. Twitter updates, photos and an exhaustive recap of my “adventure” shall be posted soon enough.
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