Somewhere along the way I developed the reputation among my family for not being the manliest of men. This reputation is not entirely ill-deserved. Every time I take my Vespa – manly! – in to be repaired my mechanic calls his daughter and tells her to study hard because Harvard is suddenly within his financial grasp. “Mr. Bell, I have bad news. Your scooter needs a new kidney.” “A new kidney? How much will that cost?” “70,000 dollars.” “Wow, do you think the scooter is in pain? I hope not. Let’s do it!”
But as is often the case with reputations, mine for being an effete urbanite is not entire accurate. Because guess what? I actually really love to camp. So there, everyone! (Wrist slaps at everyone.)
This weekend Melissa and I grabbed Lyla and a few friends and headed to the Catskills for some backpacking and camping, and while camping I had a few thoughts about camping that I’d like to share:
Everybody’s happy! At the beginning of the hike!
1. I have no idea why, but every time I encounter a sign of civilization when camping – a power line, a rock wall – I get a little depressed. It’s sort of like being at a movie you’re really enjoying and have managed to completely lose yourself in and then having the teenagers behind you start making out. I know that’s a silly and absolutist mentality, and that to get to a place where there are no signs of the modern world I’d have to go further than I’m currently able and willing to go . But that’s how I feel.
2. Did you know they have special new marshmallows designed specifically for S’mores? They are the size of a baby’s head. A large baby’s head. A large, delicious baby’s head. Everybody knows that it’s a scientific fact that food cooked over a fire after a long hike is the best and most delicious kind of food. In addition to S’mores I ate two hot dogs, which I ended up burning pretty badly. It didn’t matter. They were cooked over a fire after a long hike, so they were delicious. And just to verify this fact by taking it to its logical extreme, I cooked and ate a flashlight. It was delicious.
3. Just because I like camping doesn’t mean I’ve very good at it. Not two seconds after this picture was taken I tripped on some underbrush, falling flat on my face and losing the hatchet seen in my hand in the process. It took 4 of us about 5 minutes to find it 10 feet from where I fell, causing me to realize I had very nearly scalped myself. Anyway, the point is that I cut a huge log with a hatchet and I really enjoyed it.
4. On a note somewhat related to my second point, I like to feel like I’ve done something really difficult when I go camping and hiking. I like to feel like the hike I’m on is punishing and something that only the foolhardiest of souls would attempt. I sometimes get convinced that this is true because my legs and back and shoulders are telling me that the hike I am on is punishingly difficult, and because I am outfitted with equipment for the harshest conditions. And then we come across a family of 5 with 3 little girls, all carrying their little water bottles, or a retired couple wearing all-white Nike mall walking shoes, and it kind of ruins it for me a little bit.
5. There have been some jokes made on this blog about Lyla being a purse/Paris Hilton dog, mostly by Kook. I’m pretty objective about Lyla, and am fully capable of recognizing her faults. But I’d be lying if I told you I’m not impressed with how she performs when we hike and run with her. We’ve been an all-day hikes and 7-8 miles runs and still haven’t pushed her to the point where she isn’t straining against her leash, dying to keep going. For a 7 lb. dog with 3-inch legs, I find that pretty impressive. Kook, how does your dog perform in these situations? Oh wait, I forgot, Mr. Dog Lover Himself doesn’t even have one. My bad.