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I realize that I haven’t told you about my most recent camping trip.  It took place the final weekend I was up in Vancouver.  This outing, nothing stalked me as I slept; but it was not, shall we say, without incident.

Martin and Rob were my travelling companions.  Martin is a glowing, rambunctious, energetic man with a feisty, playful, well-behaved black lab.  I’ve known Martin since high school, when we both used to camp at least three weekends a month.

Rob is a physicist / scientist-of-some-sort whose last camping experience was in the spring of 1990.  He’s the kind of guy who you can ask, while walking along:

“Hey Rob, what’s a watt?”

“A watt?”


And he knows what you’re talking about and converts it to joules per nanotube or some such.  I forget now, but at the time, I wanted to know exactly how many Christmas tree bulbs I could power with the energy I was burning in order to take me and my pack from where to car was parked to the top of the bloody hill.  About enough for a Charlie Brown tree, I figured out.

I’ve also known Rob for quite some time, he went to my high school, though we didn’t hang out.

Martin asked during the week if I wanted a camping trip where we slept by the car, or if I wanted “a short walk along a path” first.

For the record: he said, “A SHORT WALK ALONG A PATH,” so help me God.

Well, sleeping next to the car didn’t seem like fun.  But I didn’t reckon on the fact that, in the years since high school, I have become, essentially, a self-powered peripheral of my computer, while Martin has quite literally climbed Mount Kilimanjaro (where he proposed to his vomiting, oxygen-starved girlfriend). (She said yes, presumably because she needed him to carry her down.)

These days, _my_ idea of a great outdoors experience usually involves fresh sushi and patio seating; his involves scaling something tall while carrying four days of food and a first aid kit.

We left his apartment Saturday at about 9:45 a.m., and stopped at the edge of the forest in a small town to buy vittles.  Several key errors were made at this point:
* buying green tea instead of Irish breakfast
* an overexuberant purchase of pepperoni stick
* buying pancake batter but forgetting anything in the category of (butter, margarine, lard, cooking oil)

We did, however, manage to improvise a lovely trail mix with dried cranberries, and we also lucked into a very small, very plastic bottle of maple syrup, which was a great find.

At the trail, we divided up the supplies, geared up, and headed into the green woods.  Martin’s dog, Tennyson, yes like the poet, led the way.  As the path started to climb, I alternated between despising the dog’s endless energy, and plotting ways to slip heavier objects into its tiny backpack (Tenny carries his own food and treats in a fancy dog-sack.)  It was at this point I noticed I’d forgotten my camera, Martin had forgotten gators, Rob had forgotten long pants, and we were all wishing we had a better map.  Never mind, we were keen to get going.  It was about 2 p.m.

Instead of climbing towards the pass we’d be camping at, the path actually dipped lower for a while, which was fine until we reached the river with the washed out bridge.  Rob and I got our lower legs soaked when we slipped while fording; Martin, who has plenty of magic skip-across-water-easily cards left over from some unholy pact he signed when we were young, made appropriately sympathetic noises, then ran off after Tennyson, his familiar.

I will not detail the next hour or two.  I lived them once.  And it shouldn’t have been so hard for me to do.  It just was.  (I will just say this: I was lapped by A Physicist?!)

Once there, after the cursing subsided, setting up camp was fine.  The mosquitoes must have kept away the bears, because we didn’t see any bears at all.

Martin tried to make trail bread in a pot; normally it works quite well, but the bag that was supposed to have “dried lard” (is there such a thing?) had plain flour, and sticking was a problem.  We then had a good chicken-alfredo-garlic thing that would keep us quite warm.

We stored our food on top of the outhouse, because we couldn’t located any better spot to hang food.  Martin told a humorous story about the time he decided it would be effective to hang his food sack down the face of a cliff to keep it safe from marauding animals.  Evil chipmunks couldn’t get to the bag, but chewed through the rope during the night, and his food was far below them in the morning.

Rob and I shared a tent.  Nothing significant happened, fart-wise or otherwise, though I’d been hoping to share more of the nighttime camp banter that I remembered.

When we woke up, our food was safe.  It was then we realized our sticky pancake situation, but but keeping the pot hot and the batter made with half as much water, we ended up with biscuity balls of cooked dough, which made an adequate delivery system for maple syrup, which is really what the whole thing is about anyway.

Heading down the path was easier than coming up.  Rob and I switched to sandals to cross the stream this time—Martin of course simply bounced across the slick wet rocks like Tigger.

On the way back, as we stopped for a lunch of pepperoni-stick bagel sandwiches, two guys and their dog passed us heading up.  They also passed us again coming down before we got back to the car.  Hmmmm, maybe Martin’s right and we were moving a bit slow: the hike that took us two days took them approximately 110 minutes.

Overall, the trip was fabulous.  Not too hot, and though there were bugs, they much less irritating than, for comparison, a car-alarm.  Irritation-wise, they were closer to old toothpaste or two hang nails.  The food turned out far better than it should of, considering our lack of carefully planning.  And the views and conversation were stimulating.  I can’t wait to do it again.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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