Vision: If It Feels Good…by Howard Hanger

April 13, 2017 |

I like everything about camping, except… well… the camping. I enjoy eating outside. I’m keen on bonfires. Hiking?- Check. Waterfalls? – Wonderful! Woodsy sounds?-Splendid. Sunsets? Spectacular.  And there are few more delectable delights than snuggling with your honey on a warm rock in the middle of a rushing mountain stream. (I had a honey once. I remember.)

But, when it’s beddy-bye-time, Lil’ Buckaroo, gimme clean sheets, a toilet and a shower. You can hold the TV, hold the mint on the pillow, hold the turn-down, hold the complimentary java, juice and bagel in the morning. Just clean sheets, a toilet and a shower. That’s it!

Call me finicky, fussy or fastidious. Maybe I’m just a victim of comfort. Who knows? Who cares? Just don’t put my bubble butt in a zip-up cocoon on a 1-inch-thick piece of styrene and ask me to spend the night.

I’ve tried sleeping mattresses, sleeping pads, sleeping padding, sleeping mats, sleeping cushions, sleeping pillows and, of course, sleeping bags.  Sleeping bags, for God’s sake! The name says it all!   Good evening, sir.  Would prefer to sleep tonight in a bed or a bag? Assuming you haven’t trashed your few remaining cerebral cells with drugs, alcohol or television, the choice is simple. Bags are what they put dead bodies in.

Beds are where you sleep. I  do, however, like the commercial names for the bags: The Super Stretch Burrow Bag. The Warm n’ Light Down Lady. The Woodpecker. The Cat’s Meow.  The Super-Stretch Ultra-Light Down Hugger. The Big Agnes. The Mother of Comfort. The Van Winkle. These are actual names for sleeping bags. Google it, yourself.  And these puppies range in price from $80 – $600.  $80 -$600 for a body bag and a bad night’s sleep!

OK, OK.  I have friends who love camping and tell me that they never sleep better than when they’re in the woods. Though it does make me wonder if maybe they just need a better mattress at home, I have to admit that many, many people truly love to sleep under the stars or in a tent. And it does sound enchanting: Slip-sliding into dream-land to the gurgling giggle of a mountain stream – moon and stars above, earthy bouquet beneath – waking to birdsong rather than electronic beeps – smell of brewing coffee waltzing in wood smoke – it’s a compelling and enticing image. It simply hasn’t worked for me.

So, being true to whatever puritanically punitive cultural hangovers which still boogie around the edges of my brain, I have practiced a goodly chunk of self-doubt regarding my desire for sleeping comfort and for comfort in general.   Am I nothing but a hedonist?  Pleasure-seeker? Fair-weather wimp? Should I buck up and have a bad night’s sleep in the woods every so often just to keep myself strong and honest?

Like most personal issues in my life, I haven’t figured it all out. But considering all the pain and heart-ache with which we inevitably and daily tango on this planet, maybe a little comfort here and there is not too much to ask.  So, if camping seasons your chowder, go for it. I’ll hang with you till it’s baggie time.