Part of the reason I write things set in the mountains or in space or backpacking around Europe or attending UFO conventions is to have my characters do these things so I don't have to.
As a kid, a Girl Scout no less (a pre-Jack Thompson Girl Scout, mind you. Me and my Atari-playing friends would have no part of that lunacy), I used to go camping, and enjoyed it.
I got older and paler and found that I liked books and movies and the theater and computers more than insect bites and sand in inconvenient places. Any camping trip I'd consider now would probably need to involve a bed with sheets and WiFi.
This December, The Boyfriend, Sis and Brother-in-Law, Mom and Dad, and I are off to Central America. Don't get me wrong, I am very excited to be going. Beautiful country, Mayan ruins, time with folks I love, rum drinks.
It's the preparation I hate. Trips like these involve planning like you're Shackleton tasked with provisioning the goddamn Endurance. You get shot full of vaccines and buy weird things you never thought you'd need that are only sold in weird places.
REI. I'm in an REI, God help me.
I'm a room full of kayaks staffed by people who look like they're made out of beef jerky.
These people terrify me. I know, and they know that I know, that should the apocalypse come, they can and will track me down, joint, bone, and fillet me. Me, I can and will get eaten.
REI sells enchiladas that come in a mylar bag. This is somehow more hair-raising to me than the cannibal scenario.
REI staffers are very nice and very helpful and very cheerful, because they are trying to get you to become an official member of their beef jerky cult, with its associated rituals involving carabiners and helmets and crampons.
And you can't leave REI without buying something, because the place is overwhelming (did I mention the astronaut enchiladas?) and because the staff will hunt you and skin you in your sleep if you don't, because, y'know, they can.
I now own some unspeakably ugly sandals and shirts that "wick," whatever the hell that means. Wish me luck.