I started camping in my mid to late teens. Pretty much since driving became a regular pastime for my friends and I. Once or twice every summer, we would pack up for a weekend away.
My first time camping with friends, I drove a buddy’s car down some logging roads on our way to finding a campsite before I even had my drivers license. That was thrilling and nerve racking at the same time. But it was freedom.
Later that summer, my mother allowed me to go off with a friend by Greyhound bus to his hometown. Once we arrived, we were off to a huge camping experience titled “The Rebirth of Mother Earth”. It was a crazy weekend filled with a lot of firsts. I learned what a sweat lodge was and shared my first peace pipe with a bunch of First Nations and came away fairly high. Probably the tobacco and herbs in it, I dunno I had never smoked anything prior to that weekend.
I spent the majority of the weekend bombing down dirt roads in the box of my buddy’s “borrowed” Toyota pickup getting flung around as he fishtailed down the back roads… That scene in Toy Story where Woody gets nailed by a toolbox in the Pizza Planet truck? I swear someone at Pixar was completely inspired by my idiocy- that scene was happening to me over and over that weekend. You’d think we would’ve moved the toolbox at some point. Bruised and battered- it didn’t matter, it was fun. Later that trip, I learned how to make gun powder and we fired some home made cannons. “D” cell batteries can fly across a river pretty darn good. I also went cliff diving for the first time. Nothing says “Peer Pressure” than trying to show off to girls in bikinis at age 16.
As we got older, beer and girls would accompany us more often as well. There was always great stories to share after a trip. Some drunken escapade, someone deciding peeing on the fire was a good idea, some emotional dramatic break up, or some crazy scars and burns. Good times. Good times.
But that all suddenly ended. Friendships changed, summers were filled with working weekends, and the idea of being dirty for a couple of days wasn’t appealing any more. Years went by and the idea of “roughing it” went out the window. Marriage, mortgage, & monsters became a way of life for me.
Ah, responsibility. The realization that “I’m too old for this shit.” kicks in.