The dock at Waldport and row of seagulls
We camp, therefore we are.
The evolution of my camping experience, like other parts of my life, has much to do with poverty. I have camped-out on porches--screened and unscreened, beside railroad tracks, next to rivers, lakes, oceans (ocean. one.) I have camped-out alongside creeks in many areas of Oregon while on the run from one bad act or another. This was not actual camping. This was avoiding responsibility, adulthood and inevitable consequences.
Growing up, my father dropped us off for the summer at McKee Bridge park and would visit each weekend and we camped the summer away in 110 degree Southern Oregon weather, renting painted orange innertubes that I was allergic to, but floated on anyway, covered with the beachtowel of the season, trying to keep my rash at bay. I learned to swim there, at McKee Bridge, when my schizophrenic uncle threw me out in the middle of the river thinking I knew how. I didn't know then that this would mimic my life to come. Was I afraid? I was. Did it stop me? It did not. I was neither brave nor courageous. I simply didn't die, and this has been my barometer. Set your standards low, I say. Nobody dies, its a good day.
So, the first legitimate camping had to wait until I had a job, because it isn't really camping unless you are on vacation, right? I mean, otherwise its just being homeless. Am I wrong? So when I was finally gainfully employed long enough to be paid to not be there for a week, I went camping. I knew nothing else. Its what you do. Its what we did, therefore.... So all I had was a car with a plywood backseat (see previous posts) and we had to camp in that. I don't remember the first year I actually had a tent, but I couldn't stand up in it, I know that. I cooked over an open fire using pots and pans from home and spent hours scrubbing the black off them when I got home.
The next evolution was the coleman stove. I never did like the pump up stove. I've never liked or trusted white gas. I knew too many hippies who didn't get it, who would blow up the camp and never be able to boil water on the damned things. Having learned early how to build a good fire and stack rocks to level the grill, I pretty much cooked that way, even when we had a coleman stove. Besides, wood was free and I could afford matches.
Next came a tent I could stand up in. Still, the bed was on the floor and year by year, getting up in the morning became progressively more difficult. From there: marriage and the combining of assets. Now, we have every conceiveable real-camping item: good tent, camper shell on back of truck for the bed, a small folding kitchen stand, folding tables, permanent camping-only pots and pans -- you know, the blue spatterware, and a two-burner propane stove. This year, a Mr. Heater was added to the mix. This little gem is a stand alone propane burner that blows hot air in under the pop up gazebo with a net enclosure. Did I mention the pop-up gazebo or the trailer we have to rent to haul all the shit? Ah, camping. The simple life. Back to nature. Turns out the only thing that got trapped in the net enclosure was me. With the bugs.
So there we were, in Beverly Beach, more of a Californian campground than I am accustomed to. Very organized. A nice campsite right on the ocean, and because it is right on the ocean, it is also right on 101. I didn't care (theme of blog). In fact, as I made the long trek to the bathrooms each morning (and hourly thereafter) and watched the little old ladies strolled by as I stood at my little camp kitchen doing dishes outside, I began looking at the smaller travel trailers, envy in my heart. Unfortunately, we don't have room to park anything permanent.
I've figured it out, the transition from tent camping to rolling home. It isn't only increasing financial capacity, it is physiological: as the female bladder gives way, the need for a self-contained camping unit increases. Men? They will piss on trees as long as they can walk upright, but women? We are condemned to the long walk -- the long cold rainy walk at five in the morning.
I'm thinking: rentals.