Meridian Star

Outdoors

June 6, 2014

Overnight Camping - On a Shoestring

MERIDIAN — Camping out doesn't have to get complicated. I know this because I have done a lot of overnight camping with just a pickup truck serving as both my transportation and my camp shelter. One day when you are tired of the routine and frustrations of the daily grind, throw a sleeping bag into the pickup, raid the pantry for some chili and coffee and take off for a friend's back pasture or the river bank or a remote spot at the deer lease.

    When you get there, gather some fire wood and then just sit around until dark and do a lot of nothing. If you like to read this is the time for it. But just experiencing being alone for a while does wonders for me and I expect it would for most anyone.

    Toward dark, listen and count how many animal, bird and insect sounds you hear. Build a big fire inside a containing circle of rocks or shoveled soil and let it burn down to coals. Charge up the coffee pot and heat the chili but don't get in a hurry. Do everything only when you feel like it.

    Check the stars and do a little thinking about their origin, remembering that the light that they emit left them eons ago. Eat a little more chili than you need and then scorch some marshmallows one at a time on a stick. Wash them down with sips of hot coffee. Do some creative loafing until bedtime. Spread the sleeping bag in the truck bed and douse the fire coals. If your truck has a camper shell, close the door and stuff a sock between the shell door and the tailgate to let in fresh air. If you are sleeping in an open truck bed, toss the tarp you brought along over the bed and crawl under it. Make a pillow by rolling up your pants and shirt. If you like firm, roll in your sneakers too.

    Snugged deep inside the sleeping bag, think only about the fun things of life. If a disquieting thought tries to horn in, ask yourself what difference it is going to make in the history of mankind a hundred years from now and get over it. Sleep in peace until you want to get up the next morning.

    When you arise build a fire and make coffee. Even if you don't drink coffee, make coffee, for there is not a single living human being that is not blessed by the smell of brewing coffee. Do what you want until you leave for home. I'll have bacon and eggs myself, but they take more effort than some will want to expend. When you get home there is precious little to clean up and you are now refreshed and ready to rejoin society.

    This sounds like a simple trip and it is. But there are a few items that will add its benefits if one invests just a few minutes to gather them for the camp out. A lawn chair adds a lot of comfort. A small shovel is almost a requirement. A coffee pot, a pan and a spoon facilitate supper and a soft drink and bottle of water will take care of the liquid needs. Take toilet items you can't live without. A jacket and cap should be in the cab in case it gets cool after dark. A hatchet will prepare the firewood and of course the matches; don't forget the matches. A can opener is handy but a dull knife blade will open the chili. With these few items, a rewarding camp out can be yours. Try it and see your life get a little better.

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