Of course I’ve camped…

The prompts are getting sillier again. I wonder who comes up with them. It’s almost as if a married couple with on productivity-oriented half and a spiritually -guided half make up most of them, but some days their angry teenager writes them. Today it was their six year-old…

Have you ever been camping?

Today’s prompt

I could make it easy on myself and just say yes. Boom. Done. But that wouldn’t be very creative now, would it. It also wouldn’t really train the writing muscles. I kinda pulled a stunt like that yesterday already. Today I need some words on paper.

So yes. I obviously have been camping. I don’t see how that ever would be an interesting question, or how the answer makes an interesting blog post. It makes me wonder: do people even exist that have never camped?

I have camped a lot. I probably have spent more than a year of my life living in tents, ramshackle huts that could pass for camping, or my camper van (which to me feels like cheating, even though it’s in the name).

I will just share some of the most memorable moments in a tent. We currently have a pretty beaten up three-person Coleman Darwin III. It’s small, it smells, it’s leaky, I love it!

Husavik, Iceland – In May/June 2017, we went on a camping trip to Iceland. We should have seen it coming (and we did), but Iceland is pretty darn cold. We bought two very respectable brand insulated mats to sleep on, and new sleeping bags that would be comfy between -5 and +5 degrees centigrade. I think we were ready. For about a week, we were doing great. Our mats were comfy, and never a source of cold. Whenever we felt chilly, we zipped together our sleeping bags and slept in a combined little Dutch oven filled with farts and other camperly body odours, which were not all produced by me! All was great. After one week, I woke up one night, shivering cold. The cold came from the floor, which also had suddenly become harder than before. It turned out that my mat had a leaky seal. Something that wasn’t fixable, and certainly not at night. We had another five nights to go. In Iceland, a tin of baked beans costs the same as a sleeping mat in the Netherlands. That’s not to say that sleeping mats are cheap in the Netherlands. Iceland is not the country where you want to do any luxury (or tourism-associated) shopping. We decided to share Heike’s 60-cm wide mat, inside our fart cocoons. I’m a big guy. It obviously didn’t work out. It was the worst night I’ve ever camped. It was below freezing point. I was cold and pretty miserable. The next day we stocked up on cardboard boxes, and I decided to spend the rest of the trip sleeping on free cardboard boxes. Cardboard isn’t exactly Therm-a-rest, but fuck it, it would do the job. In the next days I got to see my first ever humpback whales, and all was forgotten. Go camping in Iceland – but don’t buy a Therm-a-rest lightweight piece of shit. Sturdier stuff is better!

Anywhere really, Oman – Oman is amazing. My mother hated me for choosing this destination, because she falsely assumed that this is a nation run by terrorists in traditional clothing. Although the Omani typically wear traditional clothing, I never got the feeling they were very eager to engage in terrorist behavior. In fact, they were typically friendly. My mother was wrong twice. They also don’t really run the country. All services are typically run by guest workers from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. We have talked to many of them in the restaurants, shops, gas stations, anywhere really. The guest workers were almoet friendlier than the Omani, and they typically shared pretty intense stories of first working in poor conditions in the UAE, to then finally make their move to Oman, where pay and work conditions are better. Anyway, I found that interesting, although it had little to do with camping. What was interesting was that we would often be woken up at night. Wild Camping is allowed in Oman, or was at the time. There weren’t many tourists around at the time either. So we camped in fun places. One night we were woken up by something big lurking around our tent. We heard breathing and things walking around. We figured the best thing to do was be scared and play dead. The next morning we found prints of very large cat-like units. I investigated some online and found out that our camp for the night was on the verge of where Arabian leopard have been spotted. Maybe it’s wishful thinking, and pics or it didn’t happen. Whatever it was, it was memorable. Other memorable encounters were with police, who came to our tent several times. They didn’t care about us camping. All they wanted to know was whether we were married, and once, an officer asked me if we were homosexuals. I was somewhat surprised by hearing this question a minute after being woken up, but apparently homosexuals meet up in tents, and apparently they don’t like that there. Live and let live, Oman.

Anavyssos, Greece (I probably misspelled that) – in August 2014 we cycled through mainland Greece. This was probably one of our dumbest ideas. No doubt Greece is beautiful. It’s also fucking 40 degrees centigrade out, and between 9 in the morning and 6 in the evening, you can’t cycle. The tarmac is boiling, and so is the sun. You’re basically crossing a deep fryer. It’s a ridiculous idea, but we were younger and more naive then. After about four weeks of getting from Sofia, Bulgaria to Athens, Greece, we needed a break. We decided to take our advanced diving certifications in Anavyssos. We had a good couple of days, and were allowed to camp on the beach in front of the bankrupt Calypso hotel. At the time, Greek tourism was still struggling to recover from the recession. I’m not sure it ever did. The beach was fun, and we shared it most of our time with a homeless guy that insisted his name was Nick the Greek, and spoke no further English. He also had a couple of stray dogs. Nick the Greek became our friend, and I think he was secretly in love with Heike. Perhaps if he had been thirty years younger… Who knows. He made her a bracelet. By that time, I had accepted him as a friend, I thought it was kinda cute. Anyway. This beach was nice and quiet at night, but the nights were warm – no mats needed here. We left the cover off our tent, and through the mesh we could see the beautiful starry skies. During the day we would dive and dive. Oh, and this is where I discovered frappe basically coffee powder, condensed milk and ice cubes thrown in a blender), which dive master Christos would make us every day. This stuff would keep your eyes open under water. There was lots to see, so that came in handy.

Camping is such a cool way of seeing places. I don’t like camping ground per se. I love wild camping. Just pitching wherever you end up.

These days, we don’t camp with a tent anymore. Our tent is too small for the kids, although with the first, we have made tent trips that were very enjoyable. Since our second was born, we’ve upgraded to our camper. Bavaria has many poor campsites, so ideally we just camp on parking lots in forests, where this is officially allowed. Close to nature, in our little glamping van – which is not as glamorous as it may seem from the outside.

Yes. I’ve camped, and I hope to camp a whole lot more!

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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