Friday, July 8, 2011


Westport, WA
Edit: Apparently blogger ate half this post when I posted it originally. Fixed it 10amPST 7/9/11

I'm camping out tonight for the first time in almost a week - I've been spoiled recently by having friends and family to stay with, and using a hostel while up in Vancouver. Potlatch Saturday night was the last time I camped, and even that didn't feel much like camping (5 beers probably helped that). When I was driving to find a campsite tonight, I almost stopped at a motel advertising rooms for $35, because I really didn't feel like camping. Yet here I am, camping, and enjoying it.

I swims in the Tagus all across at once, and I rides on an ass or a mule, and swears Portuguese, and have got a diarrhea and bites from the mosquitoes. But what of that? Comfort must not be expected by folks that go a pleasuring.

Lord Byron
It's not the most comfortable thing in the world to camp out. My sleeping pad keeps me off the ground (though it's 3/4 length, so my feet and legs still end up on the ground), but it's not much padding. I basically have it to insulate me from cold, and I bought the smallest one I could that would achieve that.

My sleeping bag, while warm, is a mummy bag. When I sleep in a bed, I find that I'm most comfortable laying on my back with my legs pretty spread out, and at least one arm out to the side - you can't do that in a mummy bag. and if I want to keep my head warm, I have to tuck it in the head part, zip it up tight, and deal with the edges of the sleeping bag up against my face all night. It also makes it difficult to turn on my side if I want to.

My pillow is an inflatable one. If I blow it up all the way, it's stiff and unforgiving. If I let any air out, my head sinks in and then shifts back and forth, pushing air out to whichever side my head isn't on, and never finding a comfortable resting place.

My tent is okay, but inevitably while I'm setting it up some mosquitos get in, and I spend the first half hour I'm in the tent swatting them so they don't bite me incessantly while I sleep. (And let me tell you, trying to shave the back of your head without cutting yourself after a mosquito has bitten it multiple times is no small feat.)

And because I tend to sleep in, by the time I wake up in the morning the sun is usually beating down on the tent, turning it into an oven. I'm often sweaty even before getting dressed, and it takes me about half an hour to get ready and packed up and everything back on the bike in the morning.

And yet, I find that the nights I camp out are some of my favorites. Don't get me wrong, I love sleeping in a nice comfy double bed with plenty of room to spread out, some nice blinds to keep the sun out in the morning, and a nice soft pillow and warm comforter.

But camping feels... simple. I'm not sure why it is that I enjoy that in and of itself, but there's something to be said for pulling up on a motorcycle and assembling your own house and bed, and then pulling away in the morning with almost no trace of having stayed there. As much as I hate having to set up the tent late at night when I'm exhausted from having ridden all day, and as much as I hate waking up and looking at the time and knowing that it will still be 45 minutes before I'm actually back to travelling, the routine is comforting. Especially now that I've got it down to a well-honed ritual.

And more than just being simple, I love the sounds and the feel of camping. Falling asleep hearing a creek nearby. Or crickets in the bushes. Or even, as it turns out, the sound of trucks going by on the highway late at night. The feel of the air cooling down after the sun sets, or shaking the dew off the rainfly in the morning. They're all part of camping, and I like each one of them.

And each camping experience is different, even while I'm going through the exact same routine. When I was writing this post I remembered camping next to a creek that had turned into a raging river from snowmelt, and was obviously way larger than it normally was, and was actually pretty loud - there was a car near my tent, and they apparently packed up all their stuff and drove off while I was awake, but without me hearing them. And I could immediately pinpoint that as when I camped west of the Bighorn mountains. The most memorable sound of the trucks going by was while I was talking to a guy from a nearby RV outside Omaha. The most memorable day of the air cooling off was just east of Seattle - I'd been sweating all day, and yet as soon as the sun went down I was shivering, and fully bundled up in the sleeping bag. The hottest morning in the tent was when I camped on a hill overlooking Salt Lake City.

So while it may not be the most comfortable way to live, I'm glad I'm doing it. I'm glad I'm not in a house every night, not in a bed inside. Because camping lets me experience each state in a different way than I would if I were only staying with friends or family, or couchsurfing. And I know that if I'm going a pleasuring, it won't always be comfortable.

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