If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I like to spend time in remote places, living close to the elements. The year following my college graduation I spent more nights sleeping in a tent than I did indoors.
But as a kid, besides sleeping out in a friend’s back yard a few times, I never went camping. The summer before my senior year of high school my older brother, Carl said he was going to ride his bike up the coast of Lake Michigan and camp out for a few days.
I was deep into summer basketball workouts, but reluctantly decided to invite myself along on Carl’s trip, not because I wanted to go camping, but because I didn’t want him to go alone. At least that’s how I remember it. Carl is just 21 months older than me and played a huge role in my life as a kid.
Our supplies: one sleeping bag, one blanket, a cast iron frying pan, and a plastic table cloth.
Our plan: one of us uses the bag to sleep, the other the blanket, and if it rains we’ll drape the plastic table cloth over a picnic table and sleep under it. We were brilliant.
We pedaled about 70 miles up the coast and set up shop just outside of Covert, MI.
For three nights we slept next to a campfire under the stars in the sand dunes. I had the sleeping bag, Carl the blanket. Yeah, turns out we’d brought that table cloth for nothing!
I almost didn’t go on the trip. And if it’d rained the whole time it would’ve been a completely different experience, but that trip touched me in a way I’d never been touched. Fast forward three years later—I spent the whole summer in a tent in Alaska.
What are your early influences? Is there a person or a place or an experience that awakened a part of you that you didn’t know existed? And, have you ever slept under a picnic table? I haven’t, but I came pretty close.