After not having had a vacation in over two years I decided that this year, no matter what, I was going to get away for a week. I contemplated a few different options, but ultimately I decided I needed to scratch an itch I had developed recently and give camping the old college try. Although I had gone camping with my parents in an RV many times as a kid, I’d never gone tent camping, and I’d never really “roughed it” on my own.

I wanted to go somewhere without an internet connection, with no access to technology, and make a genuine attempt to unplug for a few days. I had grown frustrated and needed to unwind and reflect on things. I needed to stock of where my life was, where I wanted to go, and how I wanted to get there.

Camping supplies

So I did what any self-respecting budding outdoorsman would do: I went to the store and bought pretty much anything I thought might be useful.

My reading list

I also purchased a set of books I had been meaning to read for some time, and decided on the lofty goal of reading one per day.

On first assembly

When the day finally arrived I loaded up in my pickup truck and headed to the campground (at Warrior’s Path State Park in Kingsport, TN). This was the Monday that hurricane Florence was hitting Western NC / East TN and people said I was nuts for heading out to camp in the storm, but I decided I could beat the heavier rain showers if I hurried and got set up, and as it turns out I was (mostly) right. I got to the campground and was able to almost finish setting up my tent before the rain set in again. If I hadn’t made the mistake of following the directions by not putting the tent pegs in before inserting the poles (it’s way easier and quicker to put the pegs in first), I would have made it before any rain, but alas, these are the things you learn as a tent camping virgin.

On first assembly


I started getting settled in. Unfortunately, the rain picked up and I retreated to my tent for a few hours.


The sound of rain in the tent was amazing. I captured a bit of it on (shaky) video.

The next day the rain disappeared and from then on, for the next week, it was nothing but pure sunshine.


The first day I decided I’d spend the morning eating breakfast at Waffle House and collecting supplies I had forgotten or not even considered (for example, I somehow completely forgot to bring pillows to sleep on). That evening I cooked steak over charcoal.

Cooking steaks

Then I made a lovely cup of hot chocolate and enjoyed a campfire.

Hot chocolate and fire

Hot chocolate and fire

For the next week I spent my days reading, cooking, hiking, and napping. Not too shabby. I walked down to the lake a couple times.

The lake

The lake

I snapped a selfie on one of my last days of the trip.

Camping selfie

Packing up on the last day was the worst part of it. The tent was wet and covered in ants, and it took a few hours to vacate the site. I snapped one last pic as I left.

Looking back

Back at home, I was in agony over my bug bites. Here’s just a small sample of what my body looked like. Next time I’ll be sure and use bug spray.

Bug bites

I had a rollicking good time on my trip, and it did me a tremendous amount of good. I came back rested, rejuvenated, and more determined. It was also just plain fun. I can’t wait to go camping more next year. Spring can’t roll around quickly enough.

Book Reviews

The Day of the Doctor by Steven Moffat

I bought this book because I wanted to have a nice mix of fiction and non-fiction, and since I love the Doctor Who episode so much (and this was written by Steven Moffat) I figured I’d enjoy the book. The truth is, I kind of found it annoying. What can I say, it was fine, I just don’t particularly enjoy reading fiction. It was good, but watching the episode is just fine. Although there were a couple additional scenes, there was nothing mind blowing here. 3/5

The Varities of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan

I went into this expecting more of what Carl Sagan is known for: connecting big scientific ideas to human experience and feelings. This one ended up being drier than I expected, particularly of Sagan, and focused more heavily on the science than I would have liked. I know this is taken from a series of lectures he did, but at the end of the day I just didn’t connect to it the way I had hoped I might. I much preferred Sagan’s other books, especially Billions & Billions and Pale Blue Dot, and other books on similar subjects have done a better job. 3/5

Tales from Out There by Frozen Ed Furtaw

I’ve been obsessed with the Barkley Marathons, and in particular the race director Lazarus Lake, for a few years now, so diving into this book while out in nature was an absolute joy. While reading about the history of the race was interesting enough, I’ve found myself marking countless quotes that I especially enjoyed, such as “briers give you fewer scratches than you would get baptizing a cat.” It also had a lot to say (if not always explicitly) about what it takes to be successful, and how one should handle failure. It was probably my favorite book I read on the trip, and is one of my favorites in general. 5/5

Kitchen Confidental

This was probably the most fun I had reading on the trip. I consider Anthony Bourdain one of my favorite writers. His elegant, flowing sentences have a nearly poetic feel to them (often profanity-laced, mind you). The rawness he writes about the restaraunt business with, coupled with some of his amazing stories, make this a more exciting read than it really should have been. He has a lot to say about tenacity and work ethic. It was exactly what I needed to read. Another one of my all-time favorites now. 5/5

Everything Happens for a Reason by Kate Bowler

I expected to be uplifted or given a raw look at someone close to death, but I found very little of substance in this book to be honest. Other books, like Mortality by Christopher Hitchens or Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty, give a much better look at sickness and death. 2/5.

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

I don’t understand the appeal of this book. It wasn’t interesteing, it wasn’t poetic, it wasn’t insightful, it was just bland and boring. I’m sure it’s brilliant because people keep telling me it is, but it just ain’t for me. 1/5

Killing It by Camas Davis

I’ll be honest, I still haven’t made it all the way through this book. It’s not what I expected, but I’m not sure that it’s bad. There is a part of me that would love to be a butcher (weird, I know) so I thought this would be an interesting book about what it takes to become a butcher, and examine some ethical questions about it. So far (and I’m over halfway) it’s about a rich white woman who goes to France and eats fancy food. So far, 2/5