Even though my paddle pilgrimage down the Erie Canal and Hudson River to the Statue of Liberty has ended, the journey isn't over. One of the experiences that lives on in my mind is "tent life". Sleeping in a tent in a sleeping bag on the ground leaves a lingering, even lasting impression. Each night as I now slide into my comfortable bed at home I find myself imagining the places I camped. Last night I went so far as to assemble a mental list of locations. A little crazy...not so fast.
What do I remember from tent life?
- Practicing setting up the tent before the trip. When rain and dark are approaching, you gotta be quick!
- The importance of scouting and finding a good location with a slight incline so I am not sleeping downhill.
- The hope that I wouldn't be near train tracks. I miserably failed. When trains replaced the canal as a primary source of transport in the 1860's, they generally followed waterways which had ruled from ancient times.
- The need to locate the tent with a view of my kayak for security reasons.
- The value of a dry and clean tent. There is nothing worse than packing and later setting up wet gear.
- Whenever possible set up the tent under a pavilion or roof of some sort. This solves the previous problem, although the inside of the rain fly is often still wet from human-produced warm mosture in the tent meeting cold exterior air.
- Are you bored yet?
- Organizing the interior in a sensible manner: flashlight, toiletries, clothes, p-bottle ( I had to mention that...mine is red so I don't lose it)
- All the above are the basics....now for what prompted this blog: "deep thoughts"!
- Tent life really does help me appreciate living in a house with a bed and a shower and a refrigerator, and, and, and....
- On the other hand, tent life reminds me of how much stuff we collect under our roofs which we really don't need. I think of all the people who don't have housing, food, toilet etc and know if we put our minds and hearts to this task, we wouldn't have homelessness and hunger.
- Tent life is a regular reminder of how vulnerable and mortal we humans are. Human ingenuity and creativity are magnificent. But the basic lession I learned while paddling the Mississippi River in 2012 was "We are NOT in control." And equally important "That's a good thing!" Tent life ultimately teaches humility...especially when I set up the tent wrong once again!