I will admit that for the most part, our idea of “camping” is choosing to stay at a Motel 6 rather than a Holiday Inn, scrimping by on less fluffy pillows and a sink where both the hot and cold water pour out of the same damn faucet. Yeah, we suck at living off the grid.
But, we are going to change that.
One of our goals for the future is to camp – and I do mean CAMP…like, real camping, using nothing but a tent and a sleeping bag, in some of our country’s most beautiful and unique landscapes. The lovers of the outdoors that we are, our vision for our future includes schlepping our stuff out into the vast wilderness and setting up a nice, comfy spot next to a lake, or downstream of a waterfall, or up on a mountain top, or…you get the idea. Imagine the photography. I sure am.
At the moment, we’d be lucky if we knew how to pound those impossibly-small support rods into the ground to frame our tent, much less put that shit together into something that resembles a sleepable structure. Extra points if the tent is still standing the next morning.
So what’s the plan?
Over the next several months, acquire some camping gear. Things like thermal sleeping bags, a good set of hiking boots (I already have those), warm socks, portable cooking utensils, a small stove and, of course, the tent. We’ll probably visit some outdoorsy blog or web site somewhere to get one of those checklists that we can use to make sure we don’t get ourselves stuck in the middle of nowhere without a change of underwear (like this one). Or the damn sleeping bags.
Then, we camp in our backyard. Try it for a night and see how it goes, pretending the best we can that the house isn’t right there, able and willing to save the day when we screw things up.
We try it out in relative safety and see how things go. Were the sleeping bags comfortable and warm enough? Was the tent easy to haul and straightforward to put up? How about the weight? Was it manageable? Of course, I will need to keep in mind that I will have at least a small collection of photography equipment that I will bring with me. That’s half the point of doing this.
Once we are comfortable with our initial camping rig, we beg a few friends of ours who camp regularly to join us somewhere. We happen to live fairly close to a mountain range where camping is allowed and encouraged, even out in the middle of nowhere as long as you aren’t pitching your tent on someone’s property.
The first real test, though again, we have our safety net (our friends).
We take note of everything they brought and, naturally, compare it to our stuff. If our stuff is newer and shinier, we incessantly ridicule them over it. But, once they end up showing us how to position our tent so it doesn’t simply blow away in the wind when we aren’t looking (or in it!), we beg for forgiveness and hand them a beer.
Why are we doing this?
We love nature. There are so many beautiful places in our country that most people do not get to see because they are off the beaten trail. If I am going to get that magazine quality, award-winning shot of a Yellow Stone landscape, and it happens to be 15 miles into the park and inaccessible by car, I sure as hell won’t be doing that 30 mile trek in a single day.
We will be retired by then, so we take our time. Take a few days to hike in, spend a day or two where ever we decide to set up camp, then hike back out. At our leisure. At our own damn pace.
Then, watch out, because this blog will probably get flooded with pictures and articles from yours truly, all proud of himself for making the trip and, hopefully, itching to do it again.
Man, retirement is going to be a blast. I can feel it!
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.