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Photo: Tom Walwyn

“Is it camp-o’clock yet?”
“I reckon.” Well my backside reckons, anyway. I’ve been counting down for the past 2 hours.
“Tonight’s real estate includes flat ground with good drainage, shelter from the wind, no neighbours apart from a few llamas, and a mountain view. Is it to your satisfaction madam?”
“It’ll do”.

Photo: Tom Walwyn

Silently we pitch the tent, a ritual repeated so often we need no words to coordinate ourselves. Unroll the multiply patched thermarest, pull out the sleeping bag and move in.

Aaahhh. Home sweet home. Out of the wind at last and despite my many years of “playing outdoors”, still amazed and impressed at the safe haven this thin piece of fabric provides.

Photo: Tom Walwyn

Tom’s turn to cook. I open the tent doors as wide as they go, as always wanting to enjoy the evening light and my spectacular view, even now not wanting to be shut in from the world despite having been out in the elements all day. Down jacket on, legs inside my sleeping bag, I’m cosy and happy. I write my diary, read to Tom while he cooks. I am totally in my element, completely myself and right now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

I love love love camping.
Always have and I presume always will.
Sometimes I think this trip has nothing much to do with bicycles or travel at all – it’s just an elaborate excuse to string together a whole series of stunning and remote campsites. It’s my favorite part of the day.

Salar de Uyuni; a fairly memorable campsite

Urban camping, one of our less salubrious sites

Of course, not all our campsites are stunning! There are plenty of purely functional campsites, somewhere in amongst prickly bushes on the roadside, or in a ditch, and pretty unmemorable. I guess it’s one of the skills we’ve developed along the way: somehow, we always find somewhere to camp. Wild camping is my favorite, but we’ve also camped in people’s gardens, on a roof or two, in churches, schools, community halls, at fire stations, and trespassed in many a cow paddock.

Camping at the Bomberos, Ecuador

Las Lagunas, Bolivia. Photo Tom Walwyn

Our tent, a Hilleberg Allak, was new this trip, both of our Macpac Minarets being worn down from many years of faithful service (yes, we have 2, bought at around the same time on opposite sides of the world, long before we met). It took us way more time to choose this tent than it did our house! But we’ve been pretty happy with our choice. It’s a far cry from my first tent – a “pup tent” that I nagged my Mum into buying me from the local corner store when I was 7, that turned out to be nothing more than a sheet of plastic that you threw over a string and pegged out by its corners – though having met a few tarp advocates on this trip, that’s a style I may well revisit.

 

 

Summer style, inner only on the Maya Pedal roof, Guatemala

The Allak is a heavier and bulkier tent that I’d’ve chosen, but Tom’s argument: “We’ll be living in it for over a year, we need to comfortable, I don’t want to be claustrophobic and anyway I’ll carry it” was pretty much irrefutable. It was me who insisted on a freestanding tent, something I’ve been very glad of the many times we’ve camped on concrete. Hilleberg has a reputation for looking after its customers well and when we wrote to tell them we had zip problems they promptly express posted us new sliders to La Paz, so they get the thumbs up from me.

Argentina

There’s a comforting ritual in setting up camp: it’s the same every night, in a different location with a new view, but exactly the same interior. His side, her side, we arrange our things with monotonous predictability.

It’s all we need. Everything we need is right here on our bikes, including this, our home. Life is beautiful in its simplicity.

Argentina. Photo: Tom Walwyn

I drink in the evening air, revel in stillness after another long day in the saddle. I sometimes have a predictive image in my head, based on past experience, of my Dad, when we get back to WA at the end of this trip saying to me “It must be nice to be back in your own bed”. But no. As I stretch out on my camping mat, enjoying blessed horizontality, I
AM in my own bed.

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