Yes that title is what this post is all about; for after a number of years and many puzzled friends and family, I have had some difficulty in trying to explain what Beth and I do and why.
One key question is how can you go camping, for so long? Apparently the idea sounds like it is a tremendous hardship or involves suffering and doing without. This is pretty far from the case. To be sure, there are times when the weather simply refuses to cooperate, or some equipment or vehicle will fail at the most inopportune moment. To be honest though there is little in the way of hardship. Yes it can get pretty cold at night, and we have been snowed in a number of times, but if you dress properly, keep a campfire going for the cold nights, and be sure to zip up your down-filled sleeping bag each night, there is little in the way of discomfort due to the cold. At the other extreme it can indeed get uncomfortably hot but when that happens (as it rarely does over the winter months) one can spend most of your time in the shade, do your activities in the early morning and late afternoon hours when the heat is much more tolerable. Camp life almost never becomes monotonous either, for there are always wildlife to see and many things to do not to mention the plain old ambience of camping.
Even the worst sort of weather is more like a personal challenge than something miserable to have to suffer through. Kind of like a test, to see if we are still tough enough, smart enough to keep warm and dry, to be able to cook up a hot meal in a driving rainstorm, and so far neither Beth nor myself have yet failed such a test. Bad weather passes, generally speaking, so a day spent stuck in the tent is not so much to get through; with a portable radio, the laptop computers and movies on DVD, playing cards or just fooling with the dogs, such a day is not really anything "tough" to get through.
This will sound rather corny, to wax poetic about it but there is no other way to put it. The wilds of america are some of the most beautiful country there is. Gorgeous sunrises and spectacular sunsets are rather the rule, and at night, the star-studded skies are so stunning as to beggar description. Crystal clear blue skies, with a hawk or eagle soaring on the updrafts, a gentle breeze to "blow the stink off us" as my mother used to put it, makes for a most pleasing sort of living room. Even the night sounds of the desert are like sweet music, from the coyotes howling plaintively to each other or great horned owls giving voice to their haunting souls. Too corny? Perhaps, but if you have experienced it you know exactly what I am talking about and know that I am not exaggerating.
Now some folks feel that if you were to do this, then the right way would be to get a big motorhome or RV trailer; to then have a portable home on wheels that you could haul anywhere you wished, rather than having to pitch a tent and put up with the vagaries of tent life. Modern RV's are fully equipped with all the conveniences of a home, from a furnace to warm you when it is cold to a flush toilet and shower, even a microwave. I do not wish to cast aspersions on such camping, for it is still camping yet it is something disconnected from camping in a tent. You do not really get to experience the outdoors quite as well,
Life in camp is also not one of boredom or tedium. Yes, doing the dishes can be a pain in the neck but that is a small matter. Much of our time is very busy - for we do not spend our time just camping out, but rather are out exploring, searching for lost mines and buried treasures! If you have never done this, I highly recommend you do give it a try, even if only once in your life. How can I explain it? I know, some folks view this pursuit or avocation as nothing but sheer greed; as if we are only out to get rich quick. Let me disabuse you of that notion out of hand. In fact, just one day of working with that old number 2 shovel, and any greed that may have been at the root of your passion will have rapidly evaporated. Have you ever found a penny? How about a nickel, or a quarter, or a dollar bill? Maybe even something more valuable, like a twenty dollar bill? How did you feel when you picked up that small treasure? Yes indeed it was a treasure, small maybe but treasures come in many sizes and many forms. Were you filled with greed for money? Hardly, rather it was that inexplicable little "rush" in your heart. The great poet (hey I heard you, 'oh no, here he goes again with the poetry') Robert Service put it best, and I will quote:
"There is gold and it's haunting and haunting,
It's luring me on as of old,
But it's not the gold that I'm wanting,
So much as just finding the gold"
You can believe that or not, but it is the plain simple truth. Few treasure hunters will admit it but it is the search and the finding, not the monetary value, that is what they seek. It is a quest, a search for fulfillment that attains the goal whether one finds the treasure or not. I know, you fellow treasure hunters may well be thinking that I just spoke blasphemy, but it is the secret at our very core.
To try to sum this up, as if I ever could, the short answer is that when Beth and I go off camping, for weeks or months at a time, we are really at home. Not to try to pretend that I am some kind of latter-day Dan'l Boone, heck I know that I could never hold a candle to such men; they had no detailed maps of where they were traveling, primitive weapons, often forced to live off the land and almost constantly in danger of attack by savage enemies. True, we do have some of the same dangers they faced, like poisonous snakes, scorpions, bad weather, steep terrain, murderous drug smugglers, the evil men who traffic in human beings or slip guns across the borders, but it is nothing compared to what those early pioneers and mountain men faced. Kit Carson or Jim Bridger could hardly pull out a cell phone and dial 9-1-1 when trouble arose, like we can. And Heck, Beth and I are both physically limited now, and are forced to do more car-camping not to mention having the dogs pack some of the stuff when we do hike, and have to be extra careful about hiking the rough country not to mention the medications we live on but these are just more challenges to your engineering and planning skills.
So dear reader, I hope that I have successfully explained what it is that my wife and I are doing at our every opportunity. We generally include in our budget enough for a motel room now and then, for the hot shower and to catch up on the latest events, and we are blessed with many extremely hospitable and generous friends and family, whom have allowed us to "crash" at their homes along the route. But we spend the biggest part of our time camped fairly far from what we call "civilization"; not because of adversity or poverty, but a personal choice. For it is in those so-called wild places that we are most at home, feel closest to our God and can more fully appreciate His handiwork. Yes we are out searching for lost mines, buried treasures, and sometimes just plain vanilla old-fashioned prospecting for gold and silver, but even were we to suddenly strike it rich and join the Billionaires club, it is a certainty that the moment we had deposited the new-found wealth into a bank or into a safe buried in the ground, we would be packing up our gear and hitching up the dogs to get back out there and search for more. You can choose to believe this explanation or not, I won't be offended if you don't, but it is the truth.
So let me close this over-wordy attempt to explain our lifestyle in my own personal way, as I prefer to - good luck and good hunting my amigos, I truly do hope you will find the treasures that you seek. Just be sure to let me know that you did - for I will get almost as big a kick out of it for you, my friend, to have found it as if I found it myself.
Roy ~ Oroblanco
PS I will try to post somthing interesting for you to read, as soon as I get some more time at the PC.