1) A portmanteau construction that combines “glamour” and “camping.”
2) The noble pursuit of outdoor enjoyment with upscale elegance and panache.
3) Finding fabulosity between the trees in the forest.
Sometimes camping requires ultra-efficient packing, loaded bike-panniers, relieving oneself in the woods and roughing it a la Lewis and Clark. Sometimes hucking a hodgepodge of stuff-sacks into the passenger seat of a Subarua and driving 20 minutes up the road to the nearest state park is enough to find a small slice of natural nirvana.
Sometimes camping calls for minimal gear, ultra-light equipment, and carefully considering every carried ounce. Sometimes a three-inch thick, self-inflating foam pad that is literally larger than an entire tent provides the perfect platform for beauty rest in the backcountry.
Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination; travelers tested by the travails of a treacherous trip emerge from trials by fire harried yet hardened, tired yet transformed. Sometimes the destination is mighty comfortable and has double-decker s’mores.
Yesterday I spent a delightful evening in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. My awesome aunt Terri and her wonderful wife Cindy have this week off of work. My aunts and a close circle of their friends enjoy getting together and camping. For this particular trip, the lovely ladies of the crew decided to decamp to a National Forest Site located a mere 11 miles from my happy mountain home. They extended an invitation for me to come visit, and even though I just returned from a weekend of camping and wedding-celebrating in Montana, I couldn’t resist the temptation to spend time with family and sleep in my tent for yet another night!
My aunts own a lusciously luxiourious recreational vehicle. They enjoy exploring the West with their fifth-wheel because it allows them to travel with (a small contingent of their multiple) canine companions.
I arrived at my aunts’ and their friends’ base-camp-for-the-week on Monday afternoon and promptly set up my trusty-but-tenacious little Alp tent next to the Road Warrior.
Satisfactorily staked-down, I insinuated myself into an ongoing game of gigantic Jenga.
My aunt Cindy’s daughter and son-in-law built this gargantuan-scale set of the balancing game out of freshly-lacquered two-by-fours. We had a blast watching our teetering tower grow taller and taller with each passing turn. Our monolith reached it’s maximum potential at a full 30-layers before the unstoppable force of gravity reared its ugly head and sent timber toppling dramatically to the table-top!
While the doggies enjoyed their dinner, I cooked up my own little packet of quinoa and lentils. I know it’s perverse to insist on eating freeze-dried veggies when an expertly-prepared multi-course dinner is available, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off my sleek little ultra-light stove.
My human camping companions enjoyed garlic bread, spaghetti, meat sauce and green beans. I stole some of their salad and wine to round out my dirtbag-haute-cuisine dinner.
After we ate it was time to take the doggies for a walk. While we strolled around the campsite my eyes glimpsed the most exquisitely beautiful example of classical elegance and grace in the entire Rocky Mountain Region.
I fantasized about absconding with this gourgeous little refurbished vintage Shasta to make a life for myself on the outskirts of Fairfield, Idaho. Fortunately the smell of smoke and the promise of s’mores shook me from my reverie, and we returned to our site to gather around the campfire. I quickly set about roasting the PERFECT golden brown marshmallow for my after-dinner treat.
S’mores, for me, are an experiential food. I don’t particularly care for Hershey’s chocolate, graham crackers, or marshmallows in my day to day existence. Indoor-s’mores prepared with a blowtorch hold no romance for me; I can think of several more delicious avenues to Type II diabetes. However, once I’m outside, all bets are off and suddenly s’mores become the ne plus ultra of delightful indulgence. Somehow the alchemy of campfire smoke, good company, and an open sky transform three mundane sugar-bombs into a transcendently decadent treat.
Sweet-tooth satisfied, I crawled into my sleeping bag and spent nine glorious hours unconscious. I awoke to the sounds of birds singing, then lanced up my shoes for an early-morning trail run through the State Park.
I ran up to an overlook called Panorama Point. My 6-mile loop featured a thousand feet of climbing, with enough tree roots and rocks to pick through to keep things interesting. My efforts were well-rewarded with stunning views of the Indian Peaks Mountain Range.
After my run I returned to camp for a quick cup of coffee (or three) with my aunts, then I packed up my tent and drove back to my house in Nederland. I had a lot of fun spending time with my family and meeting their friends. I think it’s so cool that this group of women has been able to consistently congregate and explore together over the years. Even if I began this post poking a little good-natured fun at the concept of “glamping,” no one way of enjoying the outdoors is innately superior to any other. Be it by bike, on foot, or in a plane, train, or automobile it doesn’t matter how you get outside; what’s more important is who you are with, and the fact that you GET OUT THERE. I’m thankful that my aunts let me crash their party, shared their s’more fixins’, and gave me another excuse to visit a beautiful park and sleep with the stars for a ceiling last night.
I hope everyone has a chance to get outdoors and spend time with loved ones this week!