Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sleeping in Strange Places

On my recent four week road trip I slept in a number of very strange places. In more or less chronological order:

  • Utah: Castleton Tower's free primitive drive in campground was my first stop. It is this little patch of private property that is adjacent to the National Forrest with Castleton Tower. There are several leveled tent platforms and fire rings and it is totally free. 
  • California: I pulled off on the side of the road near the east entrance to Yosemite in the National Forrest and simply slept in my van. It was a nice cool night.
  • Yosemite: Camp 4! I spent three nights there although I only spent one sleeping under the stars and bears the next two nights encouraged me to sleep in my van in the parking lot instead. I paid for all three nights. 
  • Yosemite(ish): The National Forrest on the west entrance to the park has a small unimproved road when I spent two nights in my van.
  • Yosemite: I spent one night sleeping at the base of Halfdome with a backcountry permit. That was hard to get to sleep because I kept thinking that a rock would fall while I was sleeping and hurt me. Falling rocks is too common in the mountains. It's not as common in Yosemite as some lesser climbed places such as the Elk Range in Colorado but still a danger. 
  • Yosemite: I spent a night on the South Face of Washington Column. I was sleeping on this little three foot wide ledge at least 400 feet above the trees. I was roped in yet still somewhat scared of falling off.
  • California: I spent two nights with a college friend in San Francisco on Mission Street. On a couch in a room with two other people sleeping on couches. For real there were three couches and each one had a sleeping person on it.
  • California: I spent two nights on a guest bed in a guest room in Redwood City with an American friend I met in Pakistan. The second night his wife had their first child so I was alone in the house.
  • Seattle: I spent a slew of nights with another American that I met in Pakistan sleeping on his couch. I guess as far as strange situations goes, this was pretty normal.
  • Washington: I slept for five and a half hours on a porch at a deserted cabin perhaps ten miles from any electricity or running water. I shivered almost all night. I had to scare away an elk when I first tried to go to sleep. I slept like a rock, when I slept. The porch was hard and there were really no comfortable positions for sleeping but on my side in the fetal position was the warmest so I went with that.
  • Seattle: I slept in one of my new friend's bed while he slept in the guest bed. Pretty nice to sleep in a bed. 
  • Montana: I slept on a short couch in my friend's apartment. It warmed up in the middle of the night and my feet were up in the air. Not the most comfortable.
  • Colorado: I spent a few nights at my friends' house in Rollinsville. Again on a bed. I have the best friends!
So basically I greatly benefited from the generosity of others. At some point I hope to have a guest room, ooohh or even a guest house! That way other travelers can visit me. I have slept in many different places, not just on this trip. I have spent weeks sleeping on uncomfortable surfaces. I have been cold on a mountain and hot on a beach. The truth is, when I am tired enough, I sleep. 

Each new and different (and strange or scary) location I sleep builds confidence and relaxation. Just watch veteran expeditioners in Asia approaching a mountain. They are not phased by the height of the mountains. They aren't daunted at the first or second snow storm. They are as comfortable relaxing on an oddly slopping rock at 15,000 feet as they are at a hotel in the shade in a city. Every new experience callouses to some extent. Future similar experiences are less dramatic or frightening. Other new experiences are not as frightening either because of the depth and/or range of previous terrifying experiences that turned out with no permanent damage. 

The best part is, it was all legal.  

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