I don’t go into nature enough. Do you? When I say “go into” I mean go hiking, camping, on long trips through Montana or Colorado or some place with a ton of mountains and trees. I sit at my computer a lot. The only nature I see sometimes is the monstera plant in my room.
Well, not so true. I have some trees, a few big ones, outside my window. And I do see the mountains, living in Southern California. And now and then I take a drive with my wife up the coast to a Malibu Beach to watch the sunset.
So I lied. I see more nature than I said. But am I really seeing it? I walked outside this morning to throw out some trash and it had rained last night.
And the air smelled great. Smelled like sage. I love the smell of sage. Sometimes when we want to clear out bad energy (and random ghosts) in the house, we burn sage. A lot of people burn sage. But have you really smelled it in the morning after a rain? God it smells good. Grounds you. I felt grounded. I felt a part of the earth or rather, I felt one with the world.
I thought, you fool, you never go to those places they show on the Subaru or Jeep commercials; high up in the mountains, a few 30 somethings in flannel shirts going camping. Laughing. Living it up.
You’re stuck in the city on a boulevard with a ton of strip malls. And in front of your computer. And in front of the TV watching Subaru commercials.
So I plan on getting out somewhere. Anywhere in nature. Not just for an evening drive up the coast. But a few days away.
I never liked camping. It had to do with this one time when I was 15. Me and 2 friends went camping in New Jersey. Big backpacks on our backs. A tent. And a big bottle of 151 Bacardi Rum.
I was a young punk from Queens. I’d never seen a mountain before. Can you imagine that? There’s mountains all over the world and I had never seen one.
We took a bus to New Jersey to some national park. It was raining. Not very heavy. A “light mist” as they say. But it was about to rain very heavily. We knew we had to get into that forest, find a spot and pitch our tents.
We trudged into the forest in our down jackets and big backpacks. The damn backpack was almost bigger than me. The one with the steel frame and you roll the sleeping bag on top. You have to balance yourself very gingerly as you navigate through mud and streams and dirt and leaves. Especially when it’s raining.
I remember I had on some construction boots. And I kept slipping in the mud. They were getting covered in mud and water and leaves. You had to be real careful walking, balancing the backpack, and not slip onto some random rock—just waiting for you to slip and fall on it.
So there was a slow drizzle. We knew it was going to rain a heavy shitstorm of water. Cats, dogs and rivers…We had no idea where we were going. And I was young and full of teenage OCD (inherited from my loving mother…) and wanted to just get in my tent and drink some 151 rum.
And when we finally found a spot to pitch tents and settle in, it really started raining. No “light mist” now. A torrential downpour. Cats, dogs, boats, planes…like a giant faucet from the sky opened up and poured out. Right onto us.
I’m not exaggerating. It was bad.
We barely got the tents up. We were on this little hill. I still have a few pictures from an Instamatic camera. There were these big rocks jutting out of the ground. They had moss on them. Big grey rocks with olive green and yellow splotches of moss.
It looked like a Yes album cover. Go and look at some Yes album covers. That’s what it looked like. Something Rodger Dean the artist would paint.
(Yes is a progressive rock band from the 1970’s…)
Once we got the tents up, and were half-safely inside, we just sat in there and watched the rain. No glorious hikes through the forest. No singing on some hill in the sun. Just rain. So much rain we had to stay in there for at least an entire day. And drink 151 rum. From a suede bota bag.
I drank a lot of 151 rum. I was pissed off our first camping trip was marred by rain. I was really mad. I wanted this to be an awesome adventure. I didn’t want to be soaked in water every time I tried to relieve myself behind a tree. So I drank a lot of 151 rum. And laid in the tent and nursed my moody wound.
And then I don’t remember much.
(For those who don’t know, Bacardi 151 Rum is about 75.5% alcohol. Most hard liquor is 35 – 40% alcohol. This shit is like drinking moonshine.)
Then I remember waking up and feeling very hungover. The photo my friend took shows a very hungover, pissed off, tired Bruce laying on the ground looking into the camera. Green down jacket. Right outside the tent. Some rocks with that moss on them. And a very wet background.
That’s the one and only time I’ve been truly camping. In the woods. Away from cars and campground bathrooms. In a spot you had to hike at least 5 miles into the forest to get to. (I don’t even remember where they put the bathrooms in this forest…)
Later on, my wife and son and daughter went baby camping various times at some campgrounds by the Pacific Ocean. Malibu. Santa Barbara. Park. Pitch tent next to car. Go to the general store 200 ft. away. Buy charcoal and Cheetos. Go down to the beach and watch sunset. Sit by car and play a guitar. Easy.
If we ran out of food, and they didn’t have it in the fully-stocked general store, I’d drive into Santa Barbara, sneak in a trip to a local bookstore, get some more food, back to baby campsite.
So yes, it’s time to truly get into the wilderness. Feel the earth hugging my soul. Try and catch a time when it’s not raining.
And definitely not bring any 151 rum.
Maybe a just a few bottles of reverse osmosis water…
And yes, we’ll probably drive there in a Subaru.
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