Friday, June 5, 2009

Three days to go

It's Thursday night, June 4, 2009. It's the 20th anniversary of the Tienanmen Square massacre but I don't care. Sunday evening I fly from Honolulu to Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Conn., where a stranger will pick me up in a giant, yellow Dodge camper van and take me to his home where my new (his old) KLR 650 waits. It's a nine-year-old, 2000 model, but with only 13,000 miles.

Hell, I put half that on my Vespa GT in a year. She's practically new, gorgeous, green.

What's more, she's well-equipped and ready to go on a long trip: bags, skid plate, radiator guards, chain oiler, air-cushion seat -- and of course a deer and moose detector. Don't leave home without one. And KLR afficionados will appreciate the fact that her "Doo" is done.

I've been packing and spending. Besides a bike, I need a tent, sleeping bag, mattress pad -- essentially everything except a cutting board and omelet pan.

I haven't gone camping much since Boy Scouts 50 years ago. My grim memories of wet sleeping bags, leaky air mattresses and moldy tents do nothing to encourage me to be frugal. I'm going with the good stuff, but on a budget. If a motel room costs $50, I just spent five nights worth of warm, dry, cable TV, free continental breakfast and wireless Internet comfort on a Big Agnes sleeping bad and insulated air matress.

When grown-up retirees with a credit cards go on motorcycle trips, they often enjoy many nights in motels -- charging batteries, catching up on emails and basking in warm tubs. Now that I've invested heavily in lightweight camping gear, I'll need to spend more nights camping, fewer basking.

Life is hard.

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