Tuesday, January 31, 2012

60 Years of Camping, an Evolution

Our experience with the Airstream has me thinking about
redefining the term “camping”.

When I started to go camping as a kid, camping
meant canvas tents without floors, tents that would leak if you touched the
canvas while it was raining, big rectangular sleeping bags, that weighed a ton
and god-fucking-forbid you ever got one wet. No Gore-Tex existed and nothing
stayed dry even when it was dry and don’t get me started on the back packs and
other camping gear all designed to impart the most pain possible in the shortest
amount of time. Things are much better. I have a North Face backpack, it’s
comfortable, tough and I can lug 40-50 lbs on a good day, not that I will, but
I could. I have a synthetic down sleeping bag I bought in the late 80’s for a
$125.00 I’ve slept in it in 10 states, 3 Canadian provinces and a foreign
country…it is and was worth every penny, oh, and it works as well on a sailboat
as it does at 12,000 feet above sea level.

When I was younger, I was a back-packer as in; park the car
at a trailhead, load up and walk on a trail for 5-10 miles, camp and do the
same thing for the next 3 or 4 days. Hard work but refreshing. I’ve back packed
year round, I’ve even done it on skis in the Three Sisters Wilderness and in a
canoe in the Boundary Waters. The Boundary Waters trip included a confrontation
with a bear, a capsized canoe and a wicked rainstorm, I was wet for days and
still had a good time.

We now have a fantastic REI tent, great gear and the ability
to survive almost anything weather wise and still be able to read a Kindle at
one in the morning. We can cook top flight meals, drink good wine and booze, so
with that in mind why take the next step? Who the hell knows?

I have been fascinated with Airstream trailers for as long
as I can remember. Is it the iconic shape, the quality and the longevity? I don’t know I just like them. (We met a woman and her daughter in Big Sur with a 1961 Caravan model Airstream, it looked like new!) Another cool thing is they make people smile, even the bastards driving
three quarter of a million dollar motor coaches like them.

To put my Airstream jones to the test, I worked out a deal with a RV dealer who happens to sell AS. I now have the luxury of using an Airstream for 3 weeks this year, for as few as 3 days or as long as several weeks. Our vacation jaunt to Monterey, Big Sur and the Central Coast in January used 7 of the 21 days.

We thought the 16 foot Bambi was just too small. In retrospect, we brought too much shit with us. Granted 2 people can’t turn around in it, at least not at the same time. The bed is only 48 inches wide and that would have been fun early in our relationship, not so much now, since
getting “some” isn’t the first motivation in mind when I crawl into bed with the Cakes anymore. Almost 16 years of sleeping together does that to a relationship, especially when the female side cranks out 60 hour weeks on a regular basis. A guy has to pick his spots under those conditions. Frustrating at times, but realistic.

Our next trip is in August. Yosemite for a couple of days, a drive over Tioga Pass to Lee Vining, on to Mono Lake and we’ll wrap with several days in the high valleys just south of Mammoth camping off the grid on Forest Service land. We might even try out the natural hot springs in the area. The Airstream on this jaunt will be a 25 foot International, with a genuine
queen sized bed and enough room to turn around at the same time with the dog
sprawled on the floor. Even better it has a stall shower and a full sized fridge! Planning is underway.

Between then and now, we will take the big REI tent to Joshua Tree, Refugio Beach, Lake
Casitas and Anzo-Borrego, reports will be forthcoming.

1 comment:

  1. enjoyed the post. your note about the next trip over to the eastern sierra sounds wonderful. we love that part of the state.