Summer Stings + Things

Throwback circa 1992

Julie B!! Oh I was so fond of the time I spent at summer camp with this dear one who just the other day had no idea I was going to post a bunch of old pix in honor of my bday month and sent this to me out of the blue!

I lied about my age to become a CIT at Golden Slipper Camp a year earlier than I was able to legally obtain a work permit. oops

Grateful that I did because those were some of the best times of my life. Even though I was a weirdo emo art kid trying my best to hide my desperate childhood poverty and parental abuse from everyone, there were these kinds of moments with amazing humans that I got to call my friends.

This was the same summer that I was stung by a bee at 2am while painting the bunk plaque for the end of the first encampment. Bunk J I believe. Despite the rumors that bees prefer daytime, this night bee flew into Julie’s long, thick mane and she jumped around the cabin trying to shake it out of her hair. It finally got free and then we went back to painting.

A few minutes later it came out of nowhere and stung me on the knuckle of my right ring finger. I had no idea I was allergic at the time but I wasn’t feeling well right away. Our other co-counselor Denise said I was probably allergic like her. She said she just takes Benadryl and it solves the problem. I took some, but a couple minutes later I still felt really weird.

I went into the bathroom and when I looked in the mirror, the impetigo on my chin that I got a week earlier from a mosquito bite was oozing and my face was rapidly swelling. Denise and Julie agreed I should go to infirmary so I hiked over there.

Nurse said the same, probably just an allergy, take some Benadryl and sleep there for the night. I got into bed and after a couple of minutes my armpits hurt. Huh? I went to the bathroom to take a look and I was covered in hives, the teeny baby armpit hairs growing in now felt like daggers in my skin.

Back to the nurse, “um, I really don’t feel well.” This time she looked at me and immediately called the head counselor to take me to the hospital. Since we were in the middle of the woods, the hospital was about 45 minutes away. By the time we arrived I was unconscious and had gone into anaphylactic shock.

The next thing I knew, I shot up from the hospital bed, instinctively diving to rip an IV of steroids and whatever life juice they were filling me with, out of my hand. The doctor and nurse restrained me before I could succeed and calmed me down. I remember at one point seeing my heart rate monitor at 14 BPM.

After they stabilized me, they left the room for me to recover, or to go get the heart attack patient that had just come in. They came rushing in with him on a gurney and drew the curtain between us while they pumped him back to life. The curtain was not the full width of the room so I could still see almost everything going on, but didn’t have enough strength to interpret my surroundings. This was a one or two room hospital in the middle of the mountains so there weren’t alot of resources. Apparently the middle of the night is when it’s hoppin’ around there.

He kept moaning, “Oh the pain!” I looked over and saw his heart rate monitor, 148. I remember lying there thinking, if I only we could combine our heart rates we would both be normal. Bee Daze Math.

Most of the days I spent at camp and with Julie were not life threatening, but this was the day I found out I was allergic to bees. Well, maybe not the day in this picture. I wore that 70s knit sweater t-shirt any chance I could. I wish I still had that little gem. It was cropped too, back in style..because that’s how old I…I mean that’s how old that picture is now, printed on unpredictable film with a weird saturated smudge and everything.

SO overdue for a camp reunion!

ps if you want to add a little pop, bling, or zing to your photos HMU. I love making digital art for people!

Redwing 40

My minimalism mission meant it was time to go separate ways with my sweet Kelty Redwing 40 hiking pack that I got when I was traveling in Vermont. I bumbled around the gorgeous state and then took a long beautiful train ride down to NYC after about a month or so of walking the long country roads (getting chased by viscious cows), watching the leaves change every shade of red, yellow, and amber, and discovering maple everything for the first time. I took my Redwing to many United States, and rocked it especially hard in my grand finale state, Alaska. I traveled with it to Europe for 6 weeks of early winter all over the continent from Ireland to Hungary to Portugal and beyond. It is abundantly roomy and the compression straps can suck it down to feel like a daypack. It fits in the overhead bin of a plane, or under the seat of a train. When I’ve been lucky enough to get both seats on a long bus ride through Western Europe it sits by my side and I’d fall over onto it like a perfectly sized mushy cuddle buddy. Sometimes it was even my pillow on the New York Subway after a long day of urban trekking.

I have discovered that I have a little bit of a bag obsession. As I pare down in my glorious minimalism, I have found that I simply have too many bags. Too many ways to carry and stow and trek. I know this because most things, like my wardrobe, have been a cinch for me to downsize. I hate clothes for the most part. I am too rough and tumble to be fashionable. I get into an overwhelming tizzy when I have to shop for anything fabric related. Forget sewing! Textiles have a mind of their own and I can not handle the way they change form and shape without warning. Give me power tools over a sewing machine any day. I am OCD clean at home but what happens after laundry is washed? I can’t seem to find it in me to simply hang these things on a hanger and be done with the task. I dump the basket on my bed so I am “forced” to put them away before I go to sleep ~ but NO ~ this does not happen. Putting the clothes away simply never happens with ease. Later, tired and ready to go to bed, I grab the heap and throw it on the lounge chair and go promptly to sleep. The next day I am shuffling through the mad pile to dress myself and the shit goes spilling all over the floor. After a few days the dirty is starting to get mixed up with the clean and, DAMMIT, again, Amy?! Anyway, it’s a nightmare. So I promptly got rid of all but a capsule wardrobe in about 4 whole minutes when I decided to do the 100 Thing Challenge and go hardcore minimalist. So now I have no clothes. I have BAGS. Holy Cats! I’m a bag lady! Ummm…

SO. I was having the hard talk with myself and realized it’s time for some tough love. I simply must downsize, even my precious bag collection, for my ever inspiring minimalist lifestyle. As a Tiny House Movement Wannabe, it just makes sense. Less is more! How many hiking bags do I really need? I already got rid of 3 lightweight generic backpacks. Along with this Kelty I still have a North Face pack and my trusty Lowe Alpine that I got in 1990 when I first started hiking and climbing in the Pocono Mountains. Home turf Pennsylvania say whaaaat! I also have a gym backpack, a beach tote, a waterprood gecko swim bag, a messenger bag…needless to say there are many more vessels in my collection.

I’ve had a few things sitting on Craigslist for the past month collecting dust and trolls and I didn’t really feel like dealing with that forum so I decided to try posting it to a local Facebook garage sale page I recently began following. I couldn’t remember what I paid for it, at least $150, possibly $180. I posted it for $50. Then I looked it up and it is selling for new on Amazon for $264, and it’s an older model. Whoa! Did I pay that much? I never did think too much about what I spend on quality outdoor gear. I barely shop as it is so when I do go for a high ticket item it’s usually worth it. Still, even though I bought it in 2012, 4 years ago, all of those trips I took it on tallied to only about 6 months of use. I take great care of my gear. Wiping dust off with rubbing alcohol, shaking out the debris regularly, keeping the excess straps bound neatly to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. I always hang my hiking bags in the closet between uses, all zipped up and compressed, so pretty. I copied the Product Description and Bag Features from Kelty and posted it with a couple of pics. To my surprise I had a nearly immediate hit. A woman liked, commented, and sent me a direct message shortly after I posted. Well, that was fairly easy.

We agreed to meet at a nearby coffee shop the following afternoon. I slept as hard as ever since I’m now doing bricks to train for my first triathlon. I woke up at 5am ready to conquer the to do list and saw the appointment on my calendar to sell my Redwing. I suddenly had a hint of seller’s remorse. Not as much of a hint, really – more of an onslaught. “This thing is in excellent shape,” I thought. “Have I been underutilizing this bag?” “Should I sell the Lowe Alpine instead? The Kelty is newer technology! What am I doing??” I continued to wonder if I was doing the right thing as I dragged myself out of my house to deliver it to its soon-to-be new owner. Maybe she won’t like it. Maybe she will find it awkward. Yet, lo and behold, when I met her, I couldn’t help myself: my REI member-salesgirl persona came tumbling out all over as I excitedly showed her all the cool features. How it was so big and so small at the same time. The trick velcro side pockets that opened up for tent poles or walking sticks. The secret camelback compartment that opened through the top while doubling over enough to still keep the rain out. Comfy, slim straps for the female torso and an external spine that distributes the weight absolutely perfectly. So much back padding! The perfect bedroll straps, the countless carabiner loops on the bottom, the compartments, the top loading ~ OHEMGEE~.

It was a hard break up, but at the end, my knapsack was starting a new love affair. The best part came when she told me she will be using it to hike the Continental Divide!!! All of a sudden, I was ABOUT IT. YES. So much YES. “Prior to the trip, planning, preparation, and training can take anywhere from twelve to eighteen months. The trip itself takes about six months on foot, when averaging 17 miles per day.”** I am grateful to provide something so useful to this woman’s incredible journey and the look on her face told me she was super pumped! Kelly got her Kelty and I am stoked to know this Redwing has many more adventures ahead. Bon Voyage!