The epilogue is an attempt to appreciate the physical and psychological long-term effects of my sola camping trip, especially my decision making processes. "On this trip nobody penetrated the space between me and my agency, so every mistake or misstep were clearly mine and owned, as well as every decision well taken."
Preparing for a Camping trip
Tent , Stove, Rope, Walking pole, Lighting gadgets , Camping mirror, Tarps and mat , Garbage bags, Backpack and water bag , Phone , GPS , Chargers , Camera , Food and groceries , Sleep “Stuff” , Electrical spoon , Kindle , Footwear , Head band ,
Preparing for a camping trip is first and foremost the physical preparation – walking, physical exercise, keeping the body moving and flexible. As a minimum, I walk a little in my neighborhood daily. Twenty minutes in the early morn or the early eve or both, keep me away from sitting, the eye-brain exertion of screens and the confined air in the house. For more “serious” activity I walk 6-8 kilometers once or twice a week on the wonderful Har (Mount) Eitan Loop Trail, a fifteen-minutes’ drive from my home. It’s a safe walk in open air, surrounded by planted pine groves and natural vegetation. I follow the landscape changes with the seasons, and once in a while stop to take a pic. One can also see the occasional fox or jackal, bees, ants, beetles and a plethora of birds.
Additionally, I take two to three Pilates/gym classes weekly and do one or two 40-60 25 m laps in the neighborhood pool. In swimming, I keep changing styles so the body does not work just one way, and the muscles get stretched in several directions. I make sure to shift from front strokes to back strokes. Back strokes are a wonderful antidote to the forward bending posture we spend our everyday life in. They open the chest and the shoulder girdle, and allow us to breathe fully. I also dance freestyle in my living room, which is the best of all.
I do not support current trends promoting short high-intensity exercise sessions. I think this fad, like many others, is nonsense. It is designed mostly to placate people who are not willing, or able, to put the time and effort needed to keep fit. Perhaps for some busy younger people it is better than nothing, but I think this intensity can be dangerous for sedentary or older folks. Of course, a little exercise is better than none, but I do not believe you can build up your body in a system of shock and awe.
My humble recommendation – do what you like, but be consistent. Let your body tell you what it enjoys doing and stick to it. Vary. Get some endurance training, like walking, running, cycling, basketball, whatever suits you, but also some overall body toning like Pilates, yoga, dance. Too much exercise, especially done in a competitive spirit, overstretching one’s limits, can be counterproductive or even risky.
Basically, the old common sense still holds true – the more you move, the better and healthier you get, and you’ll experience less physical fatigue on the trip. With all my preparation, the trip still proved to be a considerable physical challenge, but that was one of its greatest benefits.
Adopting, Letting go
Second level of prepariation for a camping trip is getting “things”.
“Things” are essential for Homo sapiens. Somebody calculated how many “things” we touch throughout our lives, and came up with millions. It sounds like just another stat to impress people, but clearly if we think about it for a minute, it’s a lot.
Starting from childhood, we do not only touch but also amass heaps of “things”, hopefully letting go of most along the way, though many of us hoard “stuff” to various extents.
I don’t see wrong with getting attached to the physical objects that serve us so well, but it’s equally important to master the art of letting go of them if they get lost and as they wear and tear. The criminal disposable culture has a lot to do with our losing the natural healthy bonding/attachment to “things”.
Once you adopt a “thing”, it can take an emotional aspect for you, hence it makes sense to choose things carefully. An abundance is the counter-indication to a meaningful connection and an invitation to clutter and a loss of focus. Like the passing moment, we are meant to let go of objects, sooner or later.
Sheep, Cars and Spirituality
In her hilarious and wonderfully engaging books, “Three Bags Full” and “Garou“, Leonie Swann describes the world from the viewpoint of sheep. The books sharply brings to our awareness how humans are characterized by our possession of physical items, as the sheep watch us and our “things” in bewilderment and wonder.
On the other hand, spiritual and religious disciplines that teach extreme non-attachment and anti-materialism might err on the other side. When I finished my trip, I waved my rented Kia a kiss of farewell. We spent an intense month together, and she carried me around to wherever I wanted without bitching or complaining…
To me, the distinction between spiritual and material doesn’t hold water anyway. We are our bodies, mind and soul, sexuality and intellect. The universe is both spirit and matter which are one and the same. Dichotomous language by its nature, therefore, is an obstacle to understanding.
"Good Enough" Equipment
On their journey from the store shelf to the high mountains things take on character and persona and become an integral part of us, an extension, like our cars. “Things” to me are real, alive and important. While travelling, it is crucial that certain things work well, or we might end up in trouble…
The working male’s paradigm – “Get the right tool for the job” – is not internalized enough for us women. It is one main reason men achieve the amazing achievements they do in the world. It leads to the quest for improvement. We have to catch up, but that does not mean getting obsessive about this. So, instead of saying “get the right equipment” or “the best equipment”, my motto is: “get good enough equipment”. Things are never perfect in the real world. “Good enough” tools/items might do for most of us interested in moderate camping and hiking.
Equipment is also personal. No one size fits all here, and there’s always the cost factor. Camping stores try to sell you many unnecessary and expensive items you can easily get in your regular clothing or general store. Sometimes, though, these objects can be helpful. I really loved the little 4$ camping mirror I bought on a whim at Cabela’s…
Camping - the Joy of Less
On a camping trip and even more so on a backpack trip, it is good philosophy to minimize the number of objects and their weight, and maximize their utility and functionality. Nice looks don’t hurt either.
This minimization is one of the appeals of traveling for me. The focus switches to “essentials”. At home, it is so hard to decide which items to let go of, and which to keep, usually erring on the accumulation side. One of the joys of my South American backpacking trip was having to make do with two shirts, two pairs of pants, one sweater, one headscarf, and a sleeping bag. It was a relief and a great practice.
Now, with the car, I could, of course, take much more, but even so, it felt good to know there was a limit. I had to make do with what I had. It helps one’s mental clarity as well. I kept teaching myself to allocate a logical place for everything. When you put things back in their places, you avoid confusion, have fast access and prevent a possible panic that they got lost.
Most important item on a camping trip like this one, aside from the car, is, of course, the tent. A good tent is indispensable.
Some Tent History
My ex-husband and I tented extensively in Northern Europe. We bought a good quality two-people low and compact Aztec tent in an Israeli camping store. The Aztec sheltered us and served us well in cold northern nights, in some ferocious Atlantic storms and under midges attacks. Comfortable, though, it was not. Warm and cozy, it was a bit small for the two of us, especially for my husband, a tall and fairly large man.
Searching for better solutions, we ended up mail-ordering a two-person Kelty Gunnison for a little over a $100. We liked the white and maroon combo, the two doors with their wide windows, and the weight, and were willing to pay the price.
Unfortunately, when ordering online, you might omit to notice certain things. Indeed, until we set the tent up in my back yard, we failed to see the main shortcoming. The tradeoff for the relatively light weight was the lack of window flaps. In other words, the tent without the rain jacket offered no privacy at all…
This time it was me who complained a lot. Nonetheless, we both loved the setting-up ease, especially clipping the external poles. We didn’t need to push the poles through annoying fabric sockets, worry about tearing, or that the poles would get stuck. The colors made our tent stand out and easy to spot in the ubiquitous boring grey of the Israeli tent panorama. The material was silky and nice; the doors and internal space were indeed very comfortable.
We only used the Kelty locally, though, and I still use it in open air festivals in the country. When we were in it together, the lack of privacy was a problem (who wants to put on a rain jacket in the desert heat?). Alone I am fine with the airy tent in the harsh Negev summers. It is easy to accommodate my bags, water bottles, etc., and I can sleep comfortably in the diagonal.
Ironically, when we divorced, I kept the Gunnison he liked, and he kept the Aztec I found useful. That’s because he was planning, at least in principle, to do serious treks, like the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). That’s the kind of divorce arrangements we had, which is actually quite cool when compared with what other people fight about…
So giving up on the Aztec, I knew I would need to spend some money to get a well-made reliable 4-season tent for the more serious travelling I was planning. I knew it would be wiser to buy it in the States.
Getting My 4-Season Tent
The tent I needed was waiting for me at Cabella, and on sale!
Caring about the health of my pocketbook, my friend, Jim, suggested a Kelty Gunnison one-person light tent that was on sale for very cheap. I resisted that temptation because I was clear what my needs were. When it came to the most important item on my camping gear, I was willing to pay whatever it took. Moreover, I wasn’t too keen on another Gunnison…
That was my lucky day… I found the (almost) perfect item on sale for half price: an Easton Torrent 4-season-two-people beautiful and light tent. Even today, six months later, I found out they still sell it for the original $400 while I got it for $200!
The 2-person 4-season Torrent Easton tent has many of the useful Kelty features, like the double doors, which are nice even when I camp alone, and the external poles. And it is fairly lightweight. Unlike the Aztec, which is slanted, it is structured in a way that the walls are vertical, maximizing the internal space for sitting comfort. The setup requires some additional poles that took me a while to figure out, but they help to make the tent more spacious. They also keep the rain jacket away from the canopy. A special trick with an integrated Velcro stick allows you to keep windows open even in the rain.
It is nice to feel you own a product that has a wealth of accumulated knowledge built into its design. Tents are improving through the ongoing trials and errors of multiple campers. The steady search for betterment, the use of advanced technologies that can give an answer to most perceivable contingencies, all these are important in a tent – your basic security and the heart on which a camping trip is based.
That said, I did have a problem with the tent. Occasionally water seeped into the floor from underneath. Now that I look at the specifications from the comfort of my home and learn words like “Denier” and “coatings”, I realize the floor is indeed the weakness of this tent. While in the shop, though, I had to make a quick decision, and all in all, my satisfaction level was very high. Even when it got wet, it was not detrimental. I moved myself, and things, around. No lasting damage occurred.
A 2-Burner Propane Stove
Me and Jim bought the 2-burner propane stove together. I also got me a lighter and two packages of long sturdy camping matches just in case. The stove requires refills, of course, but those were available in many stores along the road, including some general stores. Most campgrounds did not have a special disposal locus for the tanks, but people left them on the ground by the recycling centers.
Another great item bought at Cabela was a wonderful $6 50’ plastic rope that I used to tie around trees and cabin beams, On one occasion I even tied it around a gazebo in the middle of a town to dry my laundry and the tent. I kept the rope intact, since sometimes the full length was needed. If just a short stretch was used, I tied the rest in a bundle or let it drag on the ground.
Poles I owned in the past always had some “issues”. Most required adjusting the height by screwing the sections at different locations along the pole. That often did not work very well. Locking was either not secure enough and the poles would collapse under pressure, or they locked too tightly and I could not unlock them when I needed to. In other words, they were not too female-friendly.
The $30 walking pole with flip locks I got at Cabella, was not a very good solution either. The flip locks often collapsed under pressure. The pole was rendered unreliable when climbing or when I wanted to lean on it going downhill.
In conclusion: I recommend spending extra money on better poles (the price range is wide) and checking them out well before purchase.
The decision how much to invest in a pole is complicated for me since I am a serial loser of them. How much to spend then must be a compromise. When I lost the Cabela pole on a trek in the White Mountains I had to spend precious travelling time looking for another one. Most stores I checked were specialized, and the prices were sky high.
In the end I got a decent pole at L.L. Bean in North Conway, NH. It cost an extra $15 or so and was the last one they had. The lady got out of her way to bring it to from the warehouse and even gave me a discount.
The model is called Rambler, and is actually produced in Austria… It proved much sturdier and more reliable than the Cabela pole. This fliplock was straight and not twisted like the cheaper one, where the locks had some strange angles. The Rambler locked securely and opened easily. The disadvantage was it had only two sections and a wide handle, making it inconvenient to carry when not in use. I do not use a pole when walking is easy; I either hold it behind my shoulders for a backwards stretch, or stack it in my backpack. In either situation the length of that two-section pole plus the handle made it a bit of an encumbrance.
Many people walk with two poles. I use one. I need my second hand and some freedom, but that’s personal. The reason I use a pole in the first place is because it takes pressure off my knees, but it also helps with balancing on rough terrain and on downhills. It is useful in swampy areas to gauge the sponginess of the grass before stepping in. It can even be used in self-defense and to scare away animals (didn’t need to so far, but I assume it could come in handy).
As can be seen below, I ended up with many different kinds of torches and flashlights, all the way from the keychain one I got at Hertz to the lantern and middle -sized luminators, but nothing really big.
The keychain flashlight proved very handy as the keys were always in my pocket (the extra key was in my purse). I often used it just to find the bigger ones, the same way I use my home phone to find the cellular…
The black flashlight with the reflectors was good when I needed stronger illumination.
At Cabela I also bought:
A small $7 green lantern I picked from a pile of hundreds, stocked in a large cage at the front of the store, the sale item of the day. This small lamp proved extremely useful. It could be stationed on a campground picnic table, giving light while preparing dinner or reading, It could also be hung from the loop attached to the middle of the tent by a hook drawn out of its handle.
The lantern would illuminate the space with a soft white light. It was perfect to leave on when venturing away from the tent at night, so it was easy to locate coming back. It was excellent for reading, changing clothes, and all activities executed in the tent at night. The batteries also last forever with careful use.
A head flashlight, a highly useful item when running around a campground in the dark, or when cooking in the dark and needing free hands. Also useful for walking to the bathroom or around the grounds at night. Problem: it attracts flying insects to your face…
A Camping Mirror
On a whim, I bought at Cabela an unbreakable camping mirror which came in very handy and cost only $4! It has several modes: it can be hung on things, or placed vertically or horizontally on a surface. Can’t neglect one’s womanhood entirely, can we?
Tarps and Mat
From Cabela we headed on to Walmart in Biddeford, where I got two nicely priced blue tarps to place underneath the tent floor for extra protection and insulation. The tarps happened to be just the right size to cover the ground one way, and stretched a bit further the other way. I routinely clipped these edges upwards over the tent walls to prevent leakage. Packing them separately, I tried to keep the upper one as clean as possible. The lower one was naturally in touch with the ground.
I also bought a nice woven small mat to put on the tent’s “porch”. The mat was also a nice thing to have, especially when kneeling at the tent’s entrance or porch, to get things in and out, and sometimes to sit on. I discovered that America, or at least Walmart, doesn’t carry the mat type most common in Israel, the all-purpose “mahtzelet”. Also known as “ethnic mat”, it is ubiquitously used on the beach, for camping and even as land cover in one’s back yard. Walmart did have what we call “Chinese mats”, so I settled for one of those, despite its water absorption.
The advantage with the “ethnic” mahtzelets, most of which are apparently made in Jordan, is that water runs through them, and they dry extremely fast.
Black garbage bags were some of the most useful items on the trip. When dismantling the tent under rainy conditions, when it was wet or messy, the fastest way of getting everything out of weather’s way and into the car, was to shove the different parts into separate bags and onto the trunk as fast as possible.
It is better to pack each part individually, so make sure you have several of those bags. I bought mine in a friendly local “general store” in Cape Breton.
Backpack and Waterbag
This adventure consisted of camping and day trips. Therefore I decided to minimize the weight pressing on my back and shoulders. I used my very light red backpack, made of silky material, containing an inner compartment, for a water bag. This North Face little marvel folds into its own pocket to form a 12X18 cm, 270 gram (9.5 oz.) small pack. Unfortunately, the name of the model is not on the pack, and I cannot find the exact thing on the Internet. It would be lamentable if they actually stopped manufacturing it.
I often use this lightweight pack simply to hold my water bag on short walks here in Israel, but during the trip it carried a significant amount of “stuff” in addition. That included weather clothing, food and trinkets, and sometimes my sneakers. I preferred carrying my shoes to wearing them…I still carried them in case the terrain got rough, as on Mt. Cadillac,
The bag has horizontal straps that tie in the front, but I did not find them comfortable unless the pack was, indeed, fully packed, which was rare.
As to the water bag, it was good enough for the cool weather of the northeast summer, but would not suffice for a long day in the Israeli heat. I first found it very hard to open the plastic opening screw but discovered I could let off the pressure using the valve at the bottom. It seemed to solve the problem most of the time…
Sometimes I also carried my small purse across my shoulder for easy access to wallet, cell phone and keys. Mostly I packed those into the small zipper-closed compartment of the pack itself and kept the keys in my pocket.
We stopped at “Best Buy” in Portland to get me a phone deal. In Israel we now have all-inclusive cheap cellphone packages following the 2012 “Communications Revolution”, and I literally forgot about paying separately for “data”. It seemed anachronistic…
Jim signed me up for the optimal one-month deal with AT&T with an option for extension. It was a complicated affair involving passwords and a multiplicity of forms. He helped me further by paying for that extension while I was on the trip (I reimbursed him later, of course).
The “data” was needed mostly for Google Maps, but for the most part AT&T did not function in Canada, or I did not know how to make it work there. Speaking of cellphones, I am still amazed that people in America (and as I recently found out, even in Sweden) can legally drive with their phones in hand… Regardless, I got me a good magnetic phone holder that stuck to the windshield for easy screen viewing as well as safety.
Car Accessories :
- GPS – My first rental car came equipped with GPS, so I was not expected to pay extra for it. It proved extremely useful since AT&T did not function the majority of the time. When I switched cars, there was no guarantee I’d be lucky again. I decided to invest in a $100 medium-sized Magellan, advertised as Canada-friendly, and connected by Bluetooth through the lighter socket. It worked beautifully and is a nice thing to have for the long run, even though in Israel everybody uses Waze application. More on GPS here.
- Chargers – My friend lent me a multi-socket charger system with USB ports. Prior to the trip, driving the ancient cars I had in Israel, I did not even know modern cars had multiple “cigarette” sockets, or that there was an option to divide the existing ones. Being quite female in that respect, I never bothered to learn what was new on the market, and it’s hardly a burning topic of conversation among women…
- These charging solutions came very handy. At times, I could even charge 5 devices simultaneously: the computer, the tablet or Kindle, the cellphone, the battery charger I bought at Moncton, and most importantly, the extra camera battery. I made it a principle to always have as much camera power as possible.
Charging while driving was imperative since, as mentioned elsewhere, campgrounds often did not provide outlets. Even when they did (usually at a cost…), there would only be two ports available and exposed to the weather.
My wonderful Canon SX50 HS. It has more options and capabilities than my mind can grasp, so I am learning it slowly, improving my techniques and expanding my photographic horizons as I go. The manual has 268 pages, so I’m digesting it in small bites…More about the camera here.
Food and Groceries
Poor Jim was also kind enough to take me to the large and beautiful Whole Foods store in Portland. He bought himself two or three items as well, probably just to make me feel good…
I got myself stocked up on staples for the long haul: short-grain and long-grained brown rice, buckwheat, lentils red and green, thick rolled oats, walnuts, raisings, sunflower seeds, extra trail mixes. Those lasted me for a very long time. Later in Canada I bought an additional 1-kilo package of brown rice and some more green lentils . There was still enough left to give Jim when I flew home two months later. I also got me some trail mixes for the day hikes.
Whenever grains and basic vegetables got tiresome, I treated myself to a nice restaurant (I preferred saving money on accommodation than on food). Still, it was always good to know I had something to eat “at hand” if there was no access to food stores or restaurants .
I kept replenishing myself on fresh produce on the way whenever possible, but that proved tricky. Jim lent me his big sturdy cooler, but things still got bad very fast, even carrots. At one time I tried to buy ice packages, but my tortillas got wet and funky. Towards the end of the trip I preferred eating salads in restaurants over carrying cucumbers, tomatoes or carrots. The only fruit that kept well were apples and oranges and, among vegetables, potatoes and celery.
On my last day at Jim’s, just previous to my departure, we stopped at the Sanford Walmart, and I got clothespins, 3 1-gallon water bottles, which I filled and refilled over and over at the campsites, Woolite detergent for cold hand wash, a saucepan and one roll of toilet paper.
My friend didn’t deem the toilet paper necessary.”This is America, after all”, he said, “There’s toilet paper everywhere, no?” No. He neglected to remember I was going into the Big Outdoors plus that I was female. Small detail. I eventually needed to get more toilet paper along the way….
Generously, he also let me use his set of camping utensils and dishes. The cutting knife was inserted into a sheath improvised from duct tape, a cool idea. I wanted two pots for the two burners, one for the meal and one for a hot beverage, so got myself a nice small stainless steel one as well.
In addition to the large comfy mattress, Jim also lent me a fluffy duvet and a nice beach towel, both of which were extremely useful. My Outdoor Revolution micro-light sleeping bag (above) was obviously insufficient for the weather, even with the extra fuzzy flannel insert, so the comforter really saved the night…
There was one important item I forgot to bring: a pillow. I used my flannel sleeping bag insert as a pillow when I did not need it for warmth, or otherwise heaps of clothes and towels…
This item, called “an alectrical spoon” in Israel, was pretty much unknown to the folks I met in North America. After a lot of digital effort I found out it is officially called “portable mini electric heater for kitchen coffee tea” on eBay.
Low-tech gadgets like that can come in very handy in some situations. Taking out the gas stove, screwing in the tanks, lighting the flame, and eventually dismantling all of that was way too much effort for a simple cup of tea.
At home I drink up to ten cups a day, using an electrical kettle. This low-tech “spoon” enabled me to heat water in the cup in two minutes wherever I had access to an outlet. Outlets were usually availbale either on the tent site itself, in a common room, or the bathroom. The disadvantages are: 1. If you stick your finger in the water to check the temperature you get electrocuted. 2. The one I had short circuited after a while. Alas…
A must! I have the Paper-White model that emanates a soft white light at night and a matte non-reflective surface for daylight reading. Advantages: does not take much space; lightweight; you can download several books to suit changing moods and reading needs. You can take it to restaurants, or for any occasion in which you need to wait. You can read it by the picnic table or inside the tent if you are freezing in the middle of the night and can’t sleep! It usually holds charge for quite a while. Disadvantage: still, it has to be charged from time to time.
One of the experts on the PCT says the healthiest, most natural way, is to walk barefoot. Second best, sandals. I found the following on the Net: “There are people who swear by sandals for hiking. I know that some people have hiked the length of the PCT (2650 miles) in sandals. These also tend to be the same people who wear sandals every day of their lives” (Backcountry Forum). Another good source on sandals: http://www.cleverhiker.com/blog/ditch-boots.
That said, it was very difficult to convince other hikers that this was a viable and legitimate choice, not to mention a good one. Many people expressed bewilderment or concern when seeing me in my sandals.
Well, I do prefer sandals. I switch to shoes in winter only once wearing sandals with socks does not work any more, due to cold or wetness. Wearing sandals with socks is considered bad fashion by everybody, of course, but my feet got wider with age, and shoes feel suffocating. Sandals with socks are still airy, but shoes with socks are sweaty and itchy.
Sandals are a big Israeli industry, but even Israeli hikers still walk mostly in sneakers or high shoes. That is true even in the summer. The common belief is that you might sprain your ankle otherwise.
Those who swear by sandals are the type who usually also hike in shorts… (I prefer mid length pants whenever possible, but not short shorts…). With my sandals, people warn me all the time that my ankles will sooner or later sprain. That did not happen yet, but I got Achilles tendonitis from wearing high shoes that rubbed the back of my ankle.
Some writers try to debunk the myth that you needed high shoes or boots to “hold the feet”. I decided, therefore, to opt for Scarpa low sneakers (~$150), and whenever possible, wear my sandals (~$85). I switched from my Israeli “Shoresh” sandals to the Scarpas when there was a lot of low vegetation on the trail and for climbs like the Boulder Loop, Green Gardens and the Cadillac.
The main reason to wear shoes was when I felt the sandals did not have enough grab on sloping surfaces. To be truthful, I’m not sure the shoes had much better grab either, but didn’t want to risk it. Plus I paid a lot for these Scarpas and needed to justify the expense…
A tip: once in a while scrape out the little stones from the tread of the soles, they reduce the traction and make you liable to slip.
The following is an item I bought in the gift shop of Parc National du Bic, Quebec:
A Multi-Functional Head Band:
This item is sold in the Canadian National Parks gift shops for 20 CAD. Worth every penny….It feels good to get oneself a quality item that you know also helps a good cause like the Canadian National Park Authority.
This misleadingly simple product can be extremely useful for the hiker. It can serve as a head scarf, scrunchie, neck warmer, face warmer, hair tie, head cap, ear warmer or an Al Kaeda-style camouflage, all according to need…
The importance of ear and neck warming was becoming more apparent as fall was proceeding and the furthrer north I went … The main advantage of this invention is its versatility. You start the day with a nice sexy headband and end it with a scalp warmer as the temperatures drop. Saves you carrying a lot of separate items, and adjusts to the changing seasons. At night you can use it for a blindfold. I am doing them this PR with total pleasure!
Well, if the last picture is scary, it was meant to be, so…
Headwear really affects how we look, doesn’t it, ladies?
We went to Hertz. I lose 50 points or so of my IQ when I have to deal with “representatives”, rules and forms. It’s bad enough in my original language and in the country I’m more familiar with, but it gets pathological when I’m in America. That’s despite my Queen’s English and the full 15 years here. There’s something about the relevant vocabulary and something about an intuitive inborn understanding of how things work in one’s native surroundings.
At home, I even feel safe to argue with the “representative”, try to defend my interests, price things down. Here I knew I was out of my turf. I, therefore, focused on being polite and friendly, creating a good impression and not rocking any boats, while letting Jim do the work. He, of course, performed admirably through all my car ordeals.
As he was talking to the very nice representative about all the different kinds of insurance coverage, I was treating myself to candy and to the little flashlights on keychains you got for free when you did business with Hertz. I knew my friend would get me the best deal with his charm and perfect manners, and he indeed delivered. Following his advice, I got mid-size family cars rather than compacts on both trips. That ensured comfort and enough power to push up the hills.
For the first part of the trip I had a silver family-sized Chevy, for the second, a yellow Kia Soul.
That’s about it for “things etc.” and now to more philosophical stuff :