I can’t really explain it. I was sitting on my balcony, overlooking the intersection of a trendy part of the inner city, where I live, when I heard a dog bark. Actually, it was more like a howl. It stood out because it sounded so primal.
Anyway, I suspect it was that dog barking that made me think of a wild place, far from the virtual world in which I lived every day.
Getting a whiff of exhaust from the cars below, I felt like camping deep in the woods. I felt like fishing. I felt like hiking.
But where would I go to do these things? And what would I do them with? I had never owned a tent or a fishing rod or hiking boots.
In my mind, I put aside the place I might go and thought about the gear I’d need. Bass Pro Shops, I thought. There’s one in Forest Park, about 20 miles away.
I hopped in my car and headed north. I’d never been inside one of these stores, only seen them on TV. As I got out of my car, I looked up. It looked like a Walmart made out of Lincoln Logs.
Stepping inside, I felt I was in Montana, even though I’d never been to Montana. Enormous columns, actual tree trunks, stretched from floor to ceiling. The heads of animals peered out from the walls. Wagon wheel chandeliers hung from wooden beams the size of redwoods.
I must have looked bewildered because a young lady came up right away and asked if she could help me.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m going camping.”
“Cool,” she said. “Are you looking for a particular piece of equipment?”
“Not really a particular piece. I need everything.”
“I see,” she said with a smile. “Why don’t we start with camping supplies?”
Two hours and two grand later, I drove out of the parking lot, the back of my car packed with enough gear for Lewis and Clark. I had to fold my back seats down to fit it all in.
When I got home, I lugged all my new stuff up to my apartment. I had to make several trips. I stuffed it into my spare bedroom.
Wiped out from my big excursion, I grabbed a beer and went out on my balcony to relax. The sun was setting, and the streets and sidewalks below were crowded. Engines revved, horns honked, people called to one another. The sounds of my daily life.
Once again, I heard a dog bark, but this time it was more of a yip. I guessed it was a poodle.
For a moment, I thought about going online to find a state park nearby. But then I remembered a project due in a few days and decided to go inside and get some work done.