Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California.

How to go urban camping


I hate camping. It's never been my idea of fun, going way back to when I was a kid in Minnesota, being attacked by mosquitos. And to this day if someone suggests that I sleep in a tent out somewhere, I politely, but firmly, say no. No. No.

I do, however do urban camping. And there is a relationship to camping. And I've learned a lot in the past few years from my serious "huntin' fishin' campin'" friends. And it comes down to accepting a tiny bit of discomfort, or inconvenience, in order to get away and see some cool stuff.

Urban campers are like real campers, they bring stuff. They don't just head out the door and hope that there will be room service, or a restaurant next door, or that someone will wait on them. On my recent visit to a friend in an undisclosed location near Apache Junction, I really enjoyed urban camping. I brought beer, which is just polite, and I also brought a suitcase with more clothes than I would have needed for a trip twice as long, and enough snacks to feed an army.

One of my advantages to doing urban camping is that I like dogs, and they like me. I've been around dogs all of my adult life, and I understand that they're dogs. A lot of people don't get that, and expect dogs to be, well, something else. They're dogs. And it starts with respect that they're animals.

Dogs love to hang around. And a large percentage of my urban camping includes just hanging around. I can sit with dogs for hours. There's no need for conversation, just the occasional sigh is more than enough. Dogs will come over to me as I'm eating a piece of cheese, but I don't give them food. I also wouldn't feed the bears (not that I would ever be in a situation where I would be able to!).

My friends that I urban camp with have "houses that are clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy". I can't urban camp somewhere that's so filthy it makes me ill, but I also can't urban camp somewhere that's so neat and tidy that I'm afraid to touch anything. As you may have noticed on my sweatpants, this environment includes dogs that shed. I'm OK with that, and it makes me relax, and feel happy.

So that's urban camping. It's a concept that I know eludes a lot of people, who turn traveling into a tangle of complex etiquette and checking their watches to be sure that the schedule is adhered to. But what I like is just hanging around, with dogs.