Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Final Thoughts on Travel and the Return to Civilization

The question is, how much can you pack into the back of a Toyota Matrix? We have all of our food, our clothes, our firewood and supplies in the back. The picture does not tell the whole story, because it doesn't show the sleeping bags, the tent, and all four of our backpacks. We really crammed it in there, and the car was really weighed down, but I give it two big thumbs up. We managed to fill the back and it performed like a dream. In retrospect, you begin to realize two things when you travel-you don't really need that much stuff, especially camping, and you can get by with less space than you realize. This became readily apparent to us on our travels out west, where you can't spit without hitting an RV. They are everywhere, and while I can appreciate the notion of traveling in comfort, at what point are you just bringing your home along with you?

A theme that began to develop on our trip was traveling light and making due with just the things you need, focusing more on the experience and the time spent together as a family. When you've got four people sleeping in what is barely a four-man tent, it doesn't get any more "together" than that, but there were no regrets. In fact, the time we spent together camping were the best. It was just about working as a team and not stressing over a clean outfit every day or having lots of toys or gadgets. Not bad for our first camping trip, it sets the tone for future endeavors.

Looking around at the other campers, we found we had definitely packed the lightest for a family of four. This makes the trip more economical, as well, because less stuff means less gas and a cheaper vehicle. I'm struck by how much stuff people bring along, but I won't get into it. This also made breaking down camp and hitting the road much more streamlined, and we fell into a comfortable routine where everyone was involved. The kids loved it, and I have to confess, it was a lot of fun.

Now that we are back in civilization, you get a new perspective on the state of our culture. Nowhere is this more apparent than in a suburban setting like the one that we're in. It's all about shopping and eating, and the marketing just pounds that into your head. Everywhere you go around here, and for that matter, just about everywhere, the message is the same: spend, spend, spend. It's amazing. I have to admit, I feel the seductive pull of their message, they are so good at selling it and make it look so appealing.

I'm glad we live in Vermont, where billboards are banned, and don't watch TV. We'd be doomed.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to the all-you-can-eat breakfast where the flat screen TV continually broadcasts CNN. What more can you ask for?

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

No comments: