Tuesday, March 27

A note on my camping experiences...

As a solo female rider, I am leery of camping alone. Gender is an issue. Allow me be honest, race is a factor too. As much as I’d like to pretend that race doesn’t matter, it does. I am not naive; I know I don’t have blendability, that quality that allows me to cross boundaries with nary a notice. To some extent, we all have limits on our ability to blend. Truth be told, some of us have more difficulty blending than others. Long before riding a motorcycle, I was made aware of how my presence in some places could generate certain crazy dynamics, which has taught me that being female is challenging enough, but being a visibly distinct “minority” and female raises the stakes a bunch of notches! I’m talking firsthand experience here. Please don’t tell me, as someone did, that we get or find what we’re looking for on this earth and that I only need to practice positive thinking to reap positive outcomes. Look, I’ve been drawing breath on this earth a long time; I know the limits on positive thinking. I have been spit on, yelled at from moving cars, ignored by wait staff in restaurants, and fended off enough unwanted male attention to know that along with positive thinking I need to be realistic and committed to self-preservation.

Years ago, I did a lot of camping so I’m not a complete novice. Then, I weathered the stares, the whispers, the nasty epithets that sometimes came my way. I chucked it up to ignorance. As long as I didn't feel physically threatened, I dealt with others' stupidity. I wasn't, back then, camping alone. My upcoming camping venture will be solo. I’m planning to camp at least twice--maybe more--while circling Lake Superior. I'm a huge fan of creature comforts but I also want to experience, up close and personal, some beautiful sunrises and sunsets; I'll need a great spot to do so along the lake’s magnificent shoreline. I refuse to allow my or anyone's limitations preclude me from having a great time.

First on the list: new gear. My allergies can exhibit monstrous results with one whiff of old, dank and dusty equipment. Thus, I’m not even thinking about using anything from the old stash. I bought a new tent and sleeping bag and pad. Then of course, there are the accessories, like head light and binoculars. Second on the list: items that serve a useful purpose but double also as a weapon. Given that I’ll be traveling through Canada, I will need to avoid carrying anything that might be a red flag during customs inspections. My motto: expect the best but prepare for the worst. Here’s what I took on the Lake Michigan Circle Tour (LMCT). Does anyone know…will I need to leave the knife at home? What about a hammer? I think I’d feel more comfortable sleeping with a hammer nearby. I’m open to suggestions for dual-purpose items—if you know what I mean.

Next: Gear talk