As the day dawned serene and cheery through the slats of the blinds, I stretched luxuriously in my white, 1200 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, all too aware of the fact that I wouldn’t be enjoying them for the next week or so. I had been slowly steeling myself, half in excitement and half in apprehension, for the day I would be trading the comfort of my own bed for whatever mosquito ridden, smoke saturated, rain soaked future that lay in store for me. All the while, I was also chiding myself for complaining about all my first world white girl problems… That and the knowledge that whatever “hardships” I would face while out in the vastness of Glacier and Banff were nothing compared to the camping experiences of my youth which directly fed my current apprehension towards “glamping” as West likes to call it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I can absolutely hold my own against Mother Nature when needed. However, for me that’s a big reason why I do not start jumping up and down with glee at the prospect of going out into the elements for R&R. How and where I was born and raised, you did not go out into the wild because you wanted to be entertained by it or to see what the earth could offer up to you for fun. No, you went out into the world to survive with full knowledge of the dangers and with absolute respect for the flora and fauna surrounding you. The bush country of SE Alaska in as unforgiving and harsh as it is sprawling and breathtaking.
The limited experiences I had with willful camping adventures as a child involved biblical downpours and layer upon layer of clothing until you resembled some sort of mutant rag doll, Michelin Man hybrid. But of course, none of that could keep you warm as the humid chill of the Pacific Ocean air that clung and condensed inside your tent from fell on your quivering 12-year-old Michelin Man form and making the inside of your pathetic Coleman tent just as bad as the drizzle outside. This is all without going into the very real danger of brown bears in the area who would have their cubs out with them foraging for food. With this as my only reference point for voluntary camping, who could blame me for turning back into the depths of my plushy sheets and overstuffed pillow and hitting snooze one more time. After all I was on vacation, wasn’t I?
Once we both finally got moving, it started to set in. The feeling of giddy anticipation and optimistic joviality that often occurs at the outset of a grand adventure. West began his methodical triple checking of gear and mentally started packing things in our ride, a borrowed silver Xterra which would ideally carry our near excessive amounts of outdoor items. My once pristine, Pinterest inspired guest bedroom had been masculinity taken over and aptly dubbed “The War Room”. All month, little piles had been mysteriously appearing here until not a level surface was free.
I am by nature a simplistic and minimalistic creature, fond of my annual full house spring purges where anything not used at least three times in the last year it pitched. West is the true Yang to my Yin because he is the pack rat in the relationship. For him if he’s used in once in three years, it’s automatically a necessity in our lives. We have learned to use our opposing forces to help find balance in life, however there is one area I am not allowed to suggest revision to and that is West’s sizable camping gear collection. You could go literally almost anywhere on the planet and West would have the equipment you would need to survive there. Needless to say, my fears of a miserable camping trip can easily be put to rest.
Packing the car proves to be an adventure in and of itself. After several attempts, multiple frustrating fails, and a good deal of finger crossing, we manage to shut all the doors and windows and get underway. In true form, we make it about 100 yards before turning around and going back to grab the stack of $100 bills we had pulled to exchange once we crossed the border into Canada. That’s what West likes to call “starting out strong”.
Several hundred miles in, and the drive begins to take on a comfortable pattern. Pass the semi, change the music, listen to a podcast, argue about whether to put on another podcast or switch back to music, find a gas station to use the restroom, buy snacks, get back on the road, eat snacks, pass the same semi as before and repeat the cycle. All the gear in the back has our seat backs completely erect and the slid all the way forward on their rails making for a rather aggressive posturing situation. I’m wishing I had taken my boss up on that hot yoga class tip as I fold my limbs around stiffly for the next several hours.
Many podcasts/miles later, we finally start seeing signs of what the next week of our lives will revolve around. Suddenly our car falls silent as we see them. Huge and looming. Rugged faces rearing up out of the earth around them, their craggy peaks denoting the forces it took to form them. The mountains of West Glacier National Park spread out before us, beckon us, drawn us in. Our adventure has begun.