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Slice of life, middle aged crazy style

My prep for the trip to Hiawatha required tearing apart the spare room to find camping gear. That's when I realized the bag that my tent used to be stuffed in was ruined. Waterproof stuff sacks go bad after a while, see. Since Dr. Dave graciously set up a tent for me next his camper, I didn't need my tent. Eventually, though, I needed a new stuff sack, if only for easy storage. Today was the day to find one.

My first stop was at a discount sporting goods chain, and it was a total bust. They used to have a good camping department, but now it's a total mess. (That chain's in trouble, I think. But I'm no retail analyst or anything, so I don't really know.) Back in the parking lot, I pondered my options: a couple of other sporting good stores likely to be as useless as the first; two Gander Mountain stores, likely to be helpful but at least 15 miles away each... and then the light went on when I thought of Bass Pro Shop at Great Lakes Crossing north of Pontiac. If I had to drive anyway....

Gods, I love that store.

I know what you're thinking. Fishing? Hunting? Rednecks? The pick-ups with bumper-stickers reading "Sportsmen for Bush"?

Well, yeah, but also camping and backpacking and birding and canoeing. All the stuff I used to do myself, back in the day.

Back in the Bass Pro Shop camping department, after twenty minutes of wandering through different departments soaking up outdoorsy atmosphere, I had the new stuff sack in hand. Looking over the backpacks, Nalgene water bottles, and miscellaneous camping gadgets, I was overcome by how much I missed all this outdoorsy stuff. It's been way too long since I've been camping anyplace more than 20 yards from my car. I haven't been in a canoe or been strapped into a backpack since well before the turn of the century. And I miss it a lot.

The big canoe trip in Adirondack Park where I learned how much portaging sucked, but how soothing the rhythm of paddling could be.

The solo hike at Pictured Rocks where the bugs chased me 9 miles in something like five hours back to my car. (I think this pic is from that trip.)

Waking up in Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia to see snow falling on the camp, on October 1st. And more.

Over the last ten or so years, I've somehow been distracted from all that, stuck in front of a computer or a TV, kind of wishing something would happen. All that's happened is that I've gotten soft and disconnected from nature.

I don't want to conquer K-2. I don't want to through-hike the Pacific Crest Trail or encounter a grizzly on a trail. I don't even want to build a log cabin in the woods and retreat from civilization anymore. (Though I used to, when I was young and really naive.)

I just want to go outside and play sometime.

Maybe I should work on that.


So since I was in this vignette of a possible middle-age crisis (I *am* middle-aged, after all, I guess), but pretty far from any wilderness, retail therapy was my prescription. Bass Pro Shop yielded the stuff sack and two new pairs of jeans &mdash you have no idea how short I've been on pants to wear. After dinner (Steak and Shake; strawberry shortcake can make a person feel better), I hit the Borders and scored some cool stuff:

  • Loreena McKennitt, An Ancient Muse (the newest CD)
  • Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner), the first movie in Inuktitut (DVD)
  • Mirrormask — I didn't even realize it was on DVD yet. And I got it along with Atanarjuat on a 2-for-$22 sale
  • Run with the Hunted: A Charles Bukowski Reader, edited by John Martin — deeply discounted; good lit cheap!

I think tonight's movie night. Time to brush up on my Inuktitut.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 5th, 2007 09:42 am (UTC)
HE he he.. Ya... I've come across a few water proof bags that are just a bit crisp (rubber lined nylon military water proof bags). Guess two decades of disuse was too much for them. Worse, my only full rain suite is stiff and won't unfold. Sad how long it's been since I've been real camping as well (although I never used that rain gear, to much not like roughing it). Good thing I picked up some Rock Port hiking boots on the way to Bliss along with the deck shoes I usually wear. Now I just need a place to go hiking..

Alas, it will be faire season in a few weeks and I will bury my weekends in the distraction of the renaissance and bawdy wenches. Late fall is better camping/hiking weather anyway. Ok for canoing for those who know how, but spring is best for that. Paddle and life jacket are where I can get to them... Kool...

Sigh.. The good old days.. When even a tent was taking it easy..
Aug. 6th, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
The two stuff sacks I had were nylon coated on the inside with whatever made it waterproof; their insides are now sticking together, and even when I get them apart I don't think I want to put anything in them. The little sack was for my eating utensils. (I didn't replace that one; plastic bag would be good enough for that.) Fortunately, my sleeping bag's bag is made of Cordura, so it hasn't failed in the same way -- it'll probably create a new method of failure eventually. :)

It's easy to geek out over camping gear and gadgets. Another decade of technological advancements means that things have gotten lighter and more convenient. I was glad to see they're still selling my tent (Eureka Timberland 2-person backpacking tent) -- it's a great design, and pretty lightweight, and not a lot more expensive than when I bought mine in the late 1980s.
Aug. 6th, 2007 05:07 pm (UTC)
I prefer the 4 man version o of that tent, but that's usually because I'm camping with someone else where having all your gear in the tent is somewhat necessary.. That is one of the best tent designs on the market. I'd expect it to be around for a good long time. Just like the Boy Scout Voyager, it sets a standard that everyone else has to meet. The voyager is a tougher tent, but weighs 4 times as much. Rather have a Timberline.

Actually, a lot of the gear on the market today was out when I was camping, but the price has come down to consumer levels (did some high adventure stuff back in the scouts so some people had the bleeeeeding edge stuff). Even Greatland makes a self inflating air mattress now. That was way to expensive for me back in the day. And let's not mention gortex rain gear.
Aug. 6th, 2007 04:57 am (UTC)
I have Atanarjuat as a computer file but I haven't watched it yet. I need to do a movie night, yessir.

Mirrormask is made of awesome.
Aug. 6th, 2007 01:19 pm (UTC)
I ended up watching Mirrormask because I started late and didn't have enough time to watch Atanarjuat. Mirrormask was pretty cool. Just the right amount of surreal.
Aug. 6th, 2007 05:34 pm (UTC)
I loved Mirrormask so much I went to Boston twice to see it on the big screen (it was a limited release and didn't play in RI IIRC).

It's probably a good thing you didn't see both films. You might get them mixed up and dream about the Inuktitut version of Mirrormask, which would be a little scary. ;)
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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