Car camping. The Boy Scouts.
Outside Magazine (but, mostly Tim Cahill).
That, and the fact that video game consoles had not yet been invented, is as good an explanation as any as to how I became the world published Global Adventure Humor Writer that you have come to know and love.
I remember my dad loading up the family sedan with about a thousand pounds of car camping gear for our epic road trips. Hell, the room-sized canvas tent must have weighed a few hundred pounds, all by itself.
I remember a trip up from the Bay Area to Lake Tahoe when my dad had to slam on the brakes and the roof rack, which was held on by suction cups and narrow nylon straps attached to the rain gutter, went flying off the roof, across the hood and onto the ground. Good times.
I have previously pontificated at length on what I learned from the Boy Scouts—which included packing way more stuff than you would ever really need. Low impact camping, it was not.
When I finally got past the awkward age of high school, I remember backpacking trips with the Chabot Community College hiking club, when a drink of water could be had by simply dipping your metal Sierra Cup into the nearest stream. This was long before I ever heard of some strange bug called Giardia lamblia.
I also remember on some of those same overnight hikes during the Free Love era of the early 70’s, it was not all that unusual to encounter topless women backpacking along the trails in the central Sierras. (Do they still do that?)
(Author notation: as far as I could surmise, pretty much everyone—except me—was participating in the so-called love-fests of the time. Ah…poor me.)
Having grown up in the cookie-cutter suburban neighborhoods of the East Bay, another activity that piqued my passion for the great outdoors, was our annual stays up at the Camp Mather Family Camp, just outside of Yosemite.
I remember learning how to canoe in Birch Lake, taking dust-choking trail rides by horseback, and being crammed into the rustic wood-walled Evergreen Lodge tavern to watch the last episode of the popular television series, The Fugitive.
I remember that it was so crowded that every time Richard Kimble got close to catching the one-armed dude who killed his wife, it got so outrageously raucous you could not hear a dammed thing on the one television hanging in the bar.
But, nobody seemed to care.
What got me going on this protracted bout of nostalgia was a news story last week. Apparently, there are a hell of a lot more communicable diseases than I recall from my youth. I happened to read that a suspected norovirus threatened to shut down my beloved Camp Mather. (I guess our shit back then was a lot healthier.)
Nowadays, kids have to survive the perils of too much TV, which entices them to consume excessive amounts of high fructose foods, along with poor role models of parents already suffering from their own rampant obesity.
The McMansions keep getting bigger, while the yards keep getting smaller and smaller.
And to think, all it took for me was my mom who told me to get out of the house and my dad who did his best to lose me in the woods.
(I think my sister put him up to it.)
So, what did it take to get you out to see the world?