Rustic Cyberpunk

Coffee & Cabins


2 min read

There have been, amazingly, only two moments in my life where I was utterly lost in the woods, with no obvious clues as to where I am and where should be going. First time was from my sophmoric overconfidence with technology during my first solo camping trip. The second was when I was too distracted by my own thoughts to take note of the trail.

The realization the first time was disquieting. A cold wall of silence approaching my reality at light speed, as if the universe just discovered the edge of its false vacuum. The second time was oddly humorous, but I took it no less seriously.

GPS is a remarkable invention, but I've paid a heavy price for it. My map reading skills have severely atrophied since GPS came into my life. This is entirely my fault since the convenience of exploring civilization was far too enticing and so, little-by-little, I let go of discovering nature by following drawings of its topology. The last time I actually used a physical map and a magnetic compass while camping was back in 2010.

Since losing my way is always a possibility, even when simply hiking, I've kept handy trail markers with me ever since.

The lesson I learned from Hansel and Gretel, besides not entering suspicious cottages found in the woods, is that any edible substance left behind will quickly be gobbled up by the local fauna. Inedible substances may still be distrubed, but likely found nearby again once the fauna discovers its lack of nutritional value.

I now keep two decks of cards in my pack at all times. One for actual play and is plastic. The other is plain paper with just a glossy coating, which will return to nature when left exposed to the elements.

Two decks of cards
The brands don't really matter as long as they serve their function. I simply like the color red, besides its contrast against a carpet of white snow.

Waterproof cards are a must for actual play. It's physically impossible to keep a deck of cards dry, for any meaningful length of time, while playing outdoors. Even in a dry spell, a drop will manifest from the aether to harrass the ink. A disposable deck, however, must not tolerate water at all in order for it to disappear eventually.

I hope I'll get a chance to go camping again this winter, but financial and world realities are such that it seems a reach. What I miss the most in camping is not just the solitude; It's also the joy of existing in the present.

Tactical Sandwiches

3 min read

I love camping equipment. Not so much to buy, but to look at in stores, feel them, smell them in person or gawk at in online shops. I think I have everything I'll actually need in virtually every camping scenario I can imagine, but for some reason, I can't get enough of camping equipment. At least in my sensory range, if not to actually take with me while camping.

Camping has been a part of my life whenever I have a moment. Those moments are fewer and far in between these days, but I try to absorb nature whenever I can. One thing I've noticed about the camping community is the trend for ever more elaborate, advanced, and tactical equipment. They're a lot of fun to look at; Even more fun to touch and feel. But I can't help but wonder how much of it will be of actual use in most camping situations.

Most of my outdoor clothing is either a bland shade of brown, gray, or black. Since I don't hunt, I've felt camouflage was a tad excessive. Besides, if there's an emergency, I'd rather be as noticeable as possible. But maybe because of the significant overlap of camping and hunting, a lot of outdoor gear is heavily leaning toward the tactical sphere. Tactical stoves, tactical knives, tactical med kits, tactical fire starters.

The infiltration of "tactical" into camping is an interesting change from the early days when most of things were just called "handy". A lot of the military essence has been trickling into everyday things and lingo and I'm not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, the cool factor is undeniable. On the other, I'm a civilian. How likely is it that I'll ever need a tactical shovel, for example. Even firearms seem to be a louder presence in camping these days and many of them are far more tactical than a typical hunting rifle of yesteryear.

I've never carried a firearm into the woods. I don't own a gun and have no plans to aquire one in the immediate future, but I can understand how some people may feel that need when entering the domain of dangerous wild animals. I have camped in bear country quite a bit and it can be a worry even when you don't see one roaming about. In fact, it's when you don't see any, except their footprints and scat, that you really feel nervous at night. I can see how a rifle can give enormous comfort in such a scenario. Not being a gun guy, I don't know how tactical a gun needs to be to defend yourself against bears. I'm sure there's a point of diminishing returns.

The weather is warming up so it's past the point I'll feel comfortable packing bread while camping in New York for days at a time. That's a shame, because there's a lot of comfort in making yourself a sandwich in front of a tactical fire.

Why the Cold

2 min read

I couldn't feel my fingers or face for a while. My speech was starting to slur. I had stopped shivering. My teeth and my bones were aching. It was the best night I had in a long time.

There was a winter weather front sweeping through most of the country and it had just passed over New York a little while ago. I was still on my way home when my ride got stuck and we all had to walk for a bit. Everyone else was pretty upset, but I didn't mind. We're about to get another storm soon.

Something about the extreme cold always had an appeal to me even before I saw my first snowfall. It was during bad weather in general that I felt at ease the most. Although, when I was young, I hated thunder and lightning. It wasn't until I was 11 or 12 when I really started liking thunderstorms and, later on, snow storms.

Any time I get excited over a weather forecast, it's because we're about to get hit with lots of snow, torrential rain, thunderstorms, ice storms, heavy winds or some combination of all. It's like I need Earth to threaten me on a daily basis.

My second most favorite thing about awful weather is the feeling of getting indoors and drying off again. I wish I could experience borderline hypothermia all the time, just so I can feel the sensation of getting warm and dry over and over again. Until fairly recently, I didn't really understand why.

Warmth has no meaning without the cold.