Off the Grid

My boyfriend and I decided to go on a hiking/camping trip at a state park that is pretty close to where we live. We do maybe three of these a year, weather permitting. We both like being athletic, and we love being outdoors. Some of our best dates have been outside, and these long trips really help solidify our bond in a way that vegging out in front of the tv just cannot. I am sure that sounds idealistic and overly romantic, especially coming from someone as practical and methodical as yours truly, but it is something that has kept us happy and strong. We would live out in the middle of nowhere if we could. However, we’re also people who have to maintain some semblance of contact with our respective jobs, which means we have to bring our cellphones with us when we go camping. It isn’t so bad; as long as we are in the range of a cell tower, we can use them as a map or compass. Sometimes we go geocache hunting, too, using an app on my phone. Using the GPS on our phones, however, is a huge energy drain. We can’t just light a fire to charge them the same way we can to keep ourselves warm or cook (Go biomass energy! Yet another reason I love camping!) so we had to find another method. It folds up so it isn’t too ridiculous to put in a pack and it will charge our devices through USB cords. When we break for a meal, we set the panels up and charge whatever we need. It’s been a really great system. I like to joke that we’re the most off the grid yet forced to be on the grid couple ever.

Our packs were nice and light this time, just a change of clothes, the tent, sleeping bags, some food, the solar generator, a compass and map, some bug spray and sunscreen. We chose a path that was a fairly straight and easy shot to the campsite and talked about everything and nothing on the way. We don’t always take this particular path–it is mostly just trees and dirt with nothing especially scenic about it–but decided to change it up a little. We sat on a huge rock and ate our lunch. We also took the opportunity to take out the generator and top off our phones before setting off again. We got to the campsite around dinner time and put up the tent. Then we made a nice cozy fire, cooked our dinner, and headed into the tent for the night.

We were up at first light for breakfast, and we charged everything up as we were breaking down the campsite. Once we were repacked and loaded, we headed out on a much tougher trail to get back to the car. It is one of my favorite trails but can be so hard that it is impossible to talk, depending on the heat and the condition of the ground. We were lucky that the ground was firm, and it was neither hot nor humid, but we still barely had the energy to say more than a few words to each other at points along the way. We got back to the car, happy but exhausted, and headed home to shower and get cleaned up.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?