Well I’m Goin to California Where They Sleep Out Every Night…

I did a bunch of solo backpacking in the ’60s and ’70s — the Sierras, Yosemite, Big Sur, Utah — but not in recent decades.

   I’ve decided to get back into it, because the rewards are so great.  Also because I’ve quit competitive running. 

   Thus, I set out with small Sierra Design tent, my new (wonderful) Western Mountaineering made-in-USA sleeping bag, plus various odd assorted items, and spent Saturday night on a remote beach.

  Well, I’m a bit out of practice. Too much weight, forgot flashlight, and worst, as I got the fire ready to light, to barbecue one of our small bantam chickens and bake a potato in foil, I had no matches, or lighter. Fuck! It’s an hour and a half walk back to where matches might be obtained, total 3 hours for such stupidity. Oh man, I’m not gonna be able to cook any food, won’t be able to stay warm on this cold night, can’t sit around staring into embers…Wait a minute, I’ve got a tiny Primus stove with self igniter, voila…Got fire started just before moon came up. Chicken roasted over coals, even had butter and salt for potato. Plus, heh heh, a flask of Don Pilar Agave Azul tequila…

   Even if for one night, it’s good for me to get away from electricity and all the comforts. No one for me to talk to, or blog to. Ulp! A jolt of solitariness. Refreshing. The fire is my TV, the stars part of my night, Orion in its lovely articulation rising and moving across the ocean horizon…

(And so glad to get back home.)


About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

11 Responses to Well I’m Goin to California Where They Sleep Out Every Night…

  1. Iyer on quiet
    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    In a New York Times article titled “The Joy of Quiet” writer Pico Iyer reflects on solitude and alone-time in contemporary U.S. society. Here is a representative quote:

    The urgency of slowing down — to find the time and space to think — is nothing new, of course, and wiser souls have always reminded us that the more attention we pay to the moment, the less time and energy we have to place it in some larger context. “Distraction is the only thing that consoles us for our miseries,” the French philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote in the 17th century, “and yet it is itself the greatest of our miseries.” He also famously remarked that all of man’s problems come from his inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

    URL: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html

    Brought to out attention by a friend of Hermitary.

    On the Hermitary website is Iyer’s essay “The Eloquent Sounds of Silence” published in Time magazine in 1993. Iyer has long had an interest in this topic.

  2. There is a lot of really cool cottage industry equipment out now that can lighten your load a lot. Single wall tents, ultra light packs, a bunch of stuff. Its a fun sport to be in right now. I use a camping hammock, but you would have to get pretty creative to use that on a beach.

  3. Don't know if you've heard of s24o's, but they're great. Sub 24 hour outings. If I remember right, cyclists got the idea started. Low to zero planning, quick, easy, and fun. Great way to take kids out as well and get them started. A one week camping trip may not be the best introduction, but a short overnight may be.

    By the way, I second the vote for a camping hammock. Sleeping on a dream cloud, not a rock in the back. Make your own, they're easy and cheap. Just like alcohol stoves, sewing your own backpacks, carving your own bowl and spoon for camping… ok ok, I could go on and on.

    I too get lost in the embers…

    …see, just thinking about it got me lost.

  4. " It's not an adventure until something goes wrong……." Yvonne Chouinard
    That chicken and tequila wouldn't have tasted nearly as good without forgetting the matches.

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