For the past few years, all my camping has been on a bike. Bikepacking, or bike camping, or bike touring, whatever label you want to use, enforces a minimalist approach simply through a lack of space. Oh, and the rider’s ability to haul weight.
Having the double strike of being both skinny and out of shape, this means I generally try to use a pretty light setup. Bivy sack, 6 oz tarp, space blanket ground tarp, fuel tab stove, etc. For the trip down the Lost Coast, my gear without food or water came in at around 14 lbs. Which isn’t a whole hell of a lot, as these things go.
Because of this, I’ve developed a deep-seated aversion to heavy, bulky gear. Car camping means just that: Coolers, dishes, utensils, firewood, spare clothes, inflatable mattresses, all that stuff!! That isn’t camping. That’s … glamping.
I wasn’t ever going to go car camping, until last weekend. My better half had enough of my avoidance and booked a weekend with friends at the Bodega Bay Dunes campground. Using a borrowed SUV, we packed in more than I could have ever imagined. Things actually reached the point that there wasn’t enough space for me to sit in the passenger seat. In an effort to make room for myself, I pushed a bag into the back of the SUV, which created an avalanche of gear onto the top of my son’s head.
Yet, once we arrived, it all kind of worked. The tent, which is more of a palace that can sleep at least 6 and is tall enough to walk in, set up as advertised. Which is to say, literally one minute once I figured out its fancy auto-erecting mechanisms. There was a box for kitchen stuff, a box of food, a cooler for, um, cold stuff. Whenever someone needed something, it was there.
With the exception of forks, which were somehow missing from the equation.
And that gave us the luxury of not only having to not worry about much, it also gave me the luxury of relaxing. With more minimal bikepacking, there is always the nagging voice in your head that’s asking questions. What food do I have that’s going to go bad first? Has it already gone bad? Is there clean water nearby? Where in the world am I going to go take a dump? Speaking of that, how is my supply of baby wipes? And where did I stash that avocado, because all of a sudden I am starving!
Bodega Bay Dunes is one of the prettiest of the Northern California coastal campgrounds.
Little boys can find all kinds of things on the beaches of Northern California.
Driftwood. We have alot of it!
Seaweed + pen = AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!
Glamping leaves more energy for carrying tuckered out newborns.
Some trees are made for climbing.
Things that would never go bikepacking: Propane, plates, rolls of aluminum foil, coffee pots...pretty much everything on this table, in fact, would never go bikepacking.
S'mores are always an acceptable way to make up for burning the living Hell out of dinner.
Don't forget to look up once you get out of town.
Without that voice in my head, I could climb a tree with my son, pop open a sea weed root to see what’s inside (air, by the way), and watch the teenagers attempt to start a fire with Adam helping. We burned the heck of of dinner, ate s’mores to make up for it, sang Adam “Happy Birthday” using a Minion Peeps as a candle, drank cider, sung along with Jason as he played his guitar and tried to make coffee with boiling water, coffee grounds and an egg like my Pops had told us his parents used to do. (For the record, even though it looked gross, it kinda worked. Kinda. Some raccoon probably got the caffeine high of it’s life after scavenging that coffee ground/egg patty out of the garbage can afterwards. We sincerely apologize to whichever park visitor got greeted by that sight!)
After cramming everything back into the SUV, we drove home, picking up lattes on the way to make up for the egg coffee experiment. Sipping my latte, relaxed and watching the scenery go by, I came to the realization that glamping wasn’t so bad after all. Except next time we needed to remember that forks are not optional.