On Camping. And Totes.

Last weekend I went car camping. It’s been awhile. The last number of years have been more focused on river trips, backpacking, and a mega land-yacht RV. All of which arguably have components of camping, but are not exactly the same. To me, “campintrucksterg” is loading up the family truckster, driving to a designated forest service campground and unloading a mountain of gear at a designated “site”. Said site shall contain one rickety picnic bench, one fire ring, tent sites that are on a mandatory slope of at least 30 degrees, and easy access to a standard forest service toilet that contains horrors that shall not be mentioned.

While all of those items are worthy of discussion, it’s the mountain of gear that befuddled me. With backpacking and river trips you have clear space limitations, so you’d think that I would be good at packing efficiently. Apparently those rules don’t apply when car camping. I looked at the volume of space I had in the pickup truck and lost my mind. I packed gear for every possible contingency. Enough clothing to cover temperature ranges from  Death Valley to the top of Everest. I brought enough lighting products to perform neurosurgery at midnight. Small, medium, and large flashlights. A 5 pound lantern powered by 6 D-cell batteries. A headlamp. And a backup headlamp just in case. What did I actually use? The 2 inch mini flashlight one time, while digging around in the cooler for another beer. I had approximately 2,000 feet of utility cord, mosquito nets, shaving mirrors (but no shaving kit), tools, zip ties, plastic zip lock bags, a compass (we never left the campground), a broom, and at least four different drinking cups. All told I think I had three full duffle bags, a backpack, a cardboard box, a cooler, a half cord of firewood, an air mattress that was too big to fit in the tent, and a ten pound folding chair. I briefly considered renting a trailer but that would have been… excessive.

Within the first half hour at camp all this gear somehow exploded, covering the camp site. And when it rained – it all came into my little tent. I slept surrounded by mountains of stuff. The contents of every duffle bag had been pulled out and strewn everywhere, looking for the extra pair of socks I was sure I had. When it came time to leave there was no careful packing and organizing. Everything got stuffed into one giant pile into the back seat of the truck, which is now spread across the garage, the basement, and the kitchen. I plan on cleaning and putting it all away any day now. Promise.

I vowed never again. I will become the Martha Stewart of camping organization. I’ve spent approximately 45 hours researching camping organization web sites. I have visions of campkitchencolor coded plastic totes, camp kitchen boxes, and gear organizers. In my mind I’ve been crafting plans for adding a camper shell to the truck and building fantastic storage options so I’m ready to camp at a moments notice. I will craft laminated efficiency checklists and pare all equipment down to the bare minimum.

And then I stumbled across the Sprinter van. I am now officially obsessed. This is the ultimate car camping vehicle. Small enough you can drive it sprinteranywhere. Big enough you can comfortably sleep and have all your gear available. There’s whole community dedicated to van life. I could be ready to go fishing, to faraway hikes, climbing, escape the zombie apocalypse, a horrific nuclear accident, or just plain old camping at a moments notice. It works for campsites, boondocking, sleeping at truck stops, or Walmart parking lots. Never mind that I average about two camp trips a year. The point is that I could if I wanted to.

Now I just have to convince Mrs. troutdog. Or I could just buy more totes.

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Clark: I think you’re all fucked in the head. We’re ten hours from the fucking fun park and you want to bail out. Well I’ll tell you something. This is no longer a vacation. It’s a quest. It’s a quest for fun. You’re gonna have fun, and I’m gonna have fun… We’re all gonna have so much fucking fun we’re gonna need plastic surgery to remove our goddamn smiles! You’ll be whistling ‘Zip-A-Dee Doo-Dah’ out of your assholes! I must be crazy! I’m on a pilgrimage to see a moose. Praise Marty Moose! Holy Shit!

This One Time, At Band Camp…

I like to go on walks. And runs. I’ve been told I have a lot of energy, but seriously what’s the point of getting up in the morning if you’re not going to go at mach 7 all the time? Let’s just say that I like to go… wait, was that a bird? It’s a bird, did you see the bird?? Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, walks.

I have some pretty good humans that take me someplace every day. At least I think it’s every day. They don’t let me wear a watch so time gets a little fuzzy. Was that a squirrel? Sorry, I’m getting ahead. It happens. I’ll start by introducing myself. Don’t be intimidated, but I believe I’m some sort of God. I must be as I have humans that attend to my every wish. Like most deities I have many names, but I usually respond to Bodie.  A.K.A The Bodie Zafa – The Enlightened One. I’m also known as Red, Big Red, The Bodster, Monkey Boy, Dammitbodie, Cutie, Sweetie, Bubba, Bodiedog, and Goodboybodie. I’ve heard there’s some human who skis with the same name, but that’s not me.

Anyway, walks. We do something different all the time. Walks in the neighborhood, in the park, running in the hills. I’m attending a school lately where I’m learning to go through tunnels and climb over things. Pretty fun, but there’s a lot of rules. Gods such as myself shouldn’t have to follow rules in my opinion. My favorite thing to do is go up in the mountains where they let me run wherever I want and chase all kinds of things. I love that. Personally I think we should do that all day, every day, but my humans seem to have some sort of schedule they’re forced to follow. I feel bad for them.

So anyway, this one time we’re going for a walk. We get in the truck – which is a good sign as we’re probably going to the hills someplace. But we’re driving and driving and we’re not in the hills. We stop at this building. I’ve been there before. It’s ok. They poke and prod me a little bit, but everyone seems to like me and I get treats. It’s cool. But this time, my humans leave me. What the hell? So… wait, did you hear that? Did you hear it? Did you hear it?

Where was I? Oh yeah, my balls. Did I mention that I’m really proud of my balls? They’re pretty big for my age and I really like the way they swing when I run. I spend a fair amount of time attending to them. You laugh, but a God like myself needs to spend some quality maintenance time with balls like that. Can’t go outside and have them all frumpy.

So I’m at this place and I suddenly needed to take a nap. It happens. When I woke I thought maybe it was just a bad dream… but no, something was seriously wrong. I felt really loopy and there was a giant piece of plastic around my head. And down there – something was not right. It hurt. It itched. And something seemed… missing.

The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.
The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.

It took days before I felt better. My humans were clearly concerned and I got lots of treats and time on the couch. The worst part is this nagging feeling that something is… different. From time to time I look down at these two bags of skin and feel like something used to be there, but I just can’t place what it was. On the plus side, it does seem to take less time and maintenance to get ready in the morning.

The moral of the story? Wait, was that a bug? I swear a bug flew into that bush. Anyway, you need to stay on top of your game. Keep your head on a swivel. Follow the rules. Love your humans. Enjoy life. Because at any moment… you might go for a walk and wake up missing parts.

F-Bombs On The Bunny Slope

While my life achievements have been numerous, impressive, and intimidating to most mortal men, I tend to not publicize them.  After all in today’s age we have at least seven different social media accounts (five of which you can’t remember the passwords), LinkedIn, blogs, Christmas newsletters, and on-line “brag books”.  I have no idea what that last one is, but every professional job search service says you must have one.  I usually just bring an old photo album of baby pictures.

So, imagine my horror when a friend sent me someone’s “climbing resume”.  Seriously? With everything else going on in the world I now have to stress over my lack of a climbing resume?  I’m a busy guy.  I don’t have time to be searching for climbing resume examples on the internets.  I have nymph fishing videos to watch (yes, this is a real thing and how I spent my morning).

Sigh… not wanting to be left out of the next social media, job hunting fad, I present my climbing resume:

  • 1975   Climbed the big kids playground at the junior high school.  Solo ascent.  (class II 3.7+)
  • 1977   Group climb of the Matterhorn.  Seated climb, Disneyland-style.  (class II 5.1)
  • 1982   Ascended some hill in the dark to drink two beers we’d stolen from my friend Roberts house.  (class I 1.0+)
  • 1994   Summited high point in Houston (some office building downtown).  Done in classic alpine style, carrying only a briefcase and sack lunch.  (class I  2.2++)
  • 2007   First ascent of Funny Bunny Express, Heavenly Valley, Tahoe.  Expedition style, utilizing both “magic carpet” and “rope tow” methods.   (class III 5.10)

Speaking of climbing and rope tows, I attempted to teach a friend how to ski this past weekend.  First off learning how to ski when you’ve reached middle age, while commendable, has a few challenges you may not have anticipated when you were a little tyke.  It’s not like a golf course – there’s no beer cart lady who periodically comes by to serve you tasty beverages.  Your center of gravity is a few feet higher and further in front of you than it was as a youngster.  This tends to have a negative impact on your relationship with Newtonian physics.

Also, the bunny hills tend to be filled with little kids and moms.  It turns out they don’t appreciate expletive filled tirades when you fall.  I tried to explain to the ski patrol dude that some little three-foot tall psycho went screaming by at mach II and cut us off.  Anyone who wears an all pink “My pretty pony” ski outfit should have their pass pulled just on general principle.

The lesson learned?  Don’t drop the F-bomb on the bunny slope (hey, that’s T-shirt worthy!).  Also, knit ski caps give you really bad hat hair.

Morning Hike

Went for an early morning hike on Christmas day.  Took a few photos.  I’m running into a problem with my camera batteries – in the cold they only last about 45 minutes.  I need to find a way to keep the camera warm, yet accessible.  The light was amazing later on in the hike, but those images are confined to my head since the battery went kaput.