Camping, Air Mattresses, Wild Berries and Angelina Jolie
This hub actually has little to do with air mattresses or
wild berries, though savvy readers might pick up on the value of each as they
read. I will, however, discuss camping at length because I love camping. In
some circles, that makes me a lunatic. I can accept that mostly because the
court provided me with a document that confirms it. At least I'm not one of
those fringe campers. You know, the ones who live on the extreme edges of the
activity? I'm talking about your extreme minimalists and your obscene, um,
maximalists. Hush. It's a word now. I just invented it. But I digress.
What separates these extremists from the rest of us is that they don't do anything small. Go big or go home. Any way you slice it (I like mine sliced in neat wedge shapes with pepperoni and extra cheese) these people are just a little more nuts than the majority of us who fall in the middle. They're also complete polar opposites from one another.
Angry Bears and Strawberries
Minimalists are your Rambo types. They thrive on as little
as possible in their wilderness experience. Two wet matches and a sharp knife
equate to a well equipped camper in their eyes. Maybe it's a test of their
man/womanhood. I'm of the mindset that they just like coming home with cool
stories to tell. "There I was, unarmed and defenseless. The rabid bear
gave me the hairy eyeball and charged. I looked around and quickly fashioned a
weapon from three wild strawberries, a grub, two stalks of poison ivy and my
shoelaces. The battle was epic, but I lived to tell about it. The bear wasn't
so lucky. Check out my cool scars!"
These guys aren't happy without some adversity. The food needs to be terrible, the tent needs to leak (or, better yet, be swept away in a flood), the weather should be life-threatening and the odds slim. It's tough to decide if these guys would make for great camping partners or not. On the one hand, you have to put up with them criticizing your chosen method of camping. Bringing toilet paper makes you a wimp. Complaining about the bone-exposing gash in your leg earns you contempt and the advice to rub dirt in it and quit crying. On the other hand, all those horrid past experiences they've enjoyed should mean they're well prepared should anything go wrong on your camping trip.
Roughing it in Luxury
At the other end of the spectrum are those who feel that
camping equipment is best defined as that which is portable or can be made
portable by any means. This is your Recreational Vehicle crowd. If it fits in the RV, it's
camping equipment. If it doesn't, but can be strapped to the outside of the RV,
it's camping equipment. If it can't be strapped then it can be towed behind the
RV and is, therefore, camping equipment. Essential camping equipment for these
folks includes HDTV flat screen televisions, satellite internet, caviar, a dish
washer, air conditioning, a fully reclining massage chair and their other car
(towed behind and also stuffed with camping gear). In fact, if it can't be
hauled, strapped, installed or towed, it's still camping equipment for which a
larger RV simply needs to be built.
Now I don't fault either of these folks their choices. I just happen to fall somewhere in the middle. I like good food when I'm camping but it doesn't have to be goose liver pate or imported caviar. I prefer a tent that doesn't leak over either a 40 ton RV or a lean-to made of the bones and pelts of the wild game I've just killed with my bare hands. I opt for a sleeping bag over either a bed of leaves or Sleep Number air mattresses (assuming my camping partner and I won't fight about our preferred mattress firmness). Lately I've learned to augment my equipment with a self-inflating camping air mattress because I like anything that does its own work. Which obviously brings me to my point.
Rocks are Intelligent, Evil and Consciously Malicious
I know what you're thinking. Poppy-cock. I'm as surprised as
you that anybody still uses an archaic term like that, but you thought it, not me. Back to my
point, though. Hey, are you paying attention or just looking at the picture? This is important stuff! I can scientifically prove that rocks are not only capable of
conscious thought but that most of those conscious thoughts are spiteful. I
base my assumption solely on their hatred for me, but I think I can extrapolate
from my own experience and draw a reasonable conclusion that they pretty much
hate all of us. I know these allegedly inanimate objects are malicious because
of the following experience.
Take any camping trip I've ever been on and you would note that I do a great job at preparing my chosen camp site. Like any conscientious and experienced camper, I ensure no endangered critters are in the way. If they are, I scream like a girl and then promptly trample and kill them while repeatedly proclaiming "ew, ew, ew!" Once thoroughly killed, I gently remove their remains from the area in which I wish to camp. I then do a careful job of clearing rocks and debris from the area, lay down a tarp, pitch my tent and then do various other manly camping things before finally bedding down for the night. Yet without fail, at some point in the night (usually in the middle of a dream in which Angelina Jolie enters my tent wearing nothing but a smile and offers to pay off my credit card debt) I roll over and enjoy that singularly outdoorsy sound that you only find in nature; the crunch of the bones in my shoulder blades as they roll over a sharp rock.
I can assure you that, were I to remove a foot of soil,
filter it through a fine-mesh sieve and replace it in my chosen sleeping spot,
at some point in the night, I'd roll over and find a rock aggressively grinding
into some bone or joint. Given my precautions and Herculean efforts to remove
any and all offending objects from my camp site, there's really only one
conclusion to draw here. The rocks purposefully maneuver themselves back under
my tent and await the perfect moment to strike.
I know what you're thinking. This guy is a real macho nature freak who clearly knows his stuff! And you're right, but that misses the point which is that it's highly probable that even as I write this, rocks are planning to assert their dominance, take over the world and force us into slavery. It's a scary thought because they clearly out-number us. But, we do have options.
Finding A Solution
Diplomacy comes to mind, though I'm really at a loss for the
appropriate way of opening a dialog with a rock. I suspect we'll have to speak
slowly given that they do just about everything (other than tent sabotage) on a
geological time scale. Alternatively, we can all stop camping and stay at home.
I think that's the coward's way out, though, and down right cruel to the
mosquitoes who would be left with nobody to eat. Perhaps we could restore the
rock's pride and offer them high paying jobs at Walmart.
Whichever option we choose (they're all equally good) I think the important take-away from this is best summed up as - how the heck did that guy kill a bear with three wild strawberries, a grub, two stalks of poison ivy and shoelaces?! We may never know, unless we happen to run into him at REI. If so, ask him about his cool scars and I'm sure he'll be happy to tell you with great enthusiasm while simultaneously calling you a wimp for even considering buying a camping air mattress. What's the matter, a bed of rocks not good enough for you, Sissy? No. Clearly it isn't.