It’s a long way around France, especially on a bicycle.
Many of you—or maybe just one of you—have noticed my absence for the last month.
I apologize as I understand that you just can’t go anywhere on the world wide web to witness the epitome of wannabe travel writing.
In the past, a month-long sojourn from online access might have meant that I was on a scuba diving adventure on the other side of the planet, out on a live aboard dive boat bobbing in the middle of the Sulu Sea.
Or, it is possible it was the month I plied the Pacific coastline of Mexico on a 42-foot sailboat, where locating the next small fishing village offering ice cold cervazas was a higher priority than where I could find wifi to post a blog.
But, this time, my lack of posting prolificity was my participation in the grueling Tour de France bike race.
Oh, not doing it. HELL NO.
Do you have any idea how sore my ass would be after three weeks sitting down for that long on a hard, narrow seat, wearing those skintight spandex shorts with the padded, bulging crotch?
No, I just spent those three weeks sitting down for that long, wearing my stretched out tidy-whities with the not so bulging crotch on my heavily padded La-Z-Boy recliner.
Those who cannot do, watch those who can on NBC Sports.
But, they do give the bike racers a rest day, so I took the opportunity to take an overnight camping trip. The destination was Crater Lake, but not the one you are thinking of.
A longtime friend and I drove to the relatively small Crater Lake in Lassen County, up in the northeast corner of California, east of Mount Lassen.
I went with a buddy who is more accustomed to week-long backpacking treks in the high Sierras, while my camping technique is to back up to the garage and load everything I can cram into the back of the pick-up truck.
This yielded a somewhat disparate, and disproportional, amount of camping equipment to haul up to the campground.
My buddy was able to pack his entire supply of stuff into his backpack, including all his clothing, his tent, his sleeping bag, his camp stove, his .06 oz.titanium spork, and his water filter. (Back in the day, we used to drink directly out of any stream; doing this nowadays will result in days of a stream of disgusting rectal discharge.)
I, on the other hand, needed a garden cart to lug my pile of stuff out to his truck. Note, that out of that entire, mountainous pile of camp material, my entire dinner fit into that foil bag, not much bigger than a bag of beer nuts.
Yes, all that was for a simple overnight trip.
Come on, car camp companions, help me out here. Back me up when I say, one night or 10-nights, the only difference in how much shit to schlepp is more beer, more gin, more ice, and more food. But the rest of the stuff doesn’t much change.
We did discover our dissimilar camping styles lead to discrepant ideas of what we brought with us.
As seen in the picture, it was suggested to me we subsist on a packet of backpacker meals, which I was not told have only a resemblance to actual food.
When I typically car camp, we usually bring up multiple ice chests with the equivalent of a large farm animal in meat and associated food products, a two-burner gas stove with multiple fuel canisters, a fully stocked kitchen of cooking and serving supplies, and large containers full of fresh water.
My buddy packs a lightweight (of course) plastic bottle, containing a small amount of rum, which he mixes with some artificial drink powder and drinks it warm.
I, on the other hand, bring a 64 oz flask of Bombay Sapphire gin (yes, folks, that’s a full half-gallon), a bag of fresh limes, a baggie of garlic-stuffed green olives, and one ice chest dedicated just for ice cubes for my GNT’s (gin, no tonic).
My friend carries a small inflatable pad, which I’m sure reduces the discomfort of a rough, rocky forest floor to a slightly less rough, rocky forest floor.
Me, I bring an electric air pump-filled queen-sized air bed, and my down pillow from home.
And, finally, my backpacking buddy brings tiny packets of instant coffee (Starbucks, to make it even worse), while I carry whole beans from Peets, a hand coffee grinder, and a full-sized coffee pot with a Melitta cone, and natural brown filters.
What you ask, don’t I believe in roughing it?
Sure. You’ll notice that I do manage without tonic for my gin for a whole two days.