Colin Fletcher made me do it
When I was in high school in the late sixties, a book came out that changed the world of backpacking. These were the early days of REI, when that company was run out of a smallish house in s Seattle suburb, and a person could wander the rooms in a glorious fantasy of compact tents, water-bottles, ponchos, and multi-bladed knives. And of course, books:
Not, you understand, that I was a backpacker. This was fantasy, pure and simple, a fantasy that leads in a straight line to the random backpacks grabbed by the participants in the Hunger Games.
It was probably in one of those rare trips to REI that I encountered Colin Fletcher’s The Complete Walker. I almost certainly did not buy a copy, since it would have been a hardback and my family did not buy hardbacks, or books in general, really. That’ s what libraries were for. So I probably requested Fletcher’s book from my tiny local branch of the Tacoma library system, conveniently run (20 hours a week) by my mother. And from my rich memories of the book, I suspect I requested it again and again, as it came due and had to be returned.
The book was designed as a handbook for serious backpackers (Fletcher’s other excellent books included accounts of his long walks through the Grand Canyon and up the length of California–A Walk Through Time and The Thousand Mile Summer) and includes detailed analyses and recommendations of specific pieces of equipment. For a fantasist, it was a treasure trove, and I’m sure influenced my life-long adoration for tiny pieces of highly efficient machinery..
The closest I came to making use of Fletcher’s recommendations was my proposed bicycle journey from Tacoma to California. By myself. At eighteen. On a 5-speed bicycle. With my cat in a basket on the front. Yes, an insane idea, which fortunately I realized before actually setting off.
But more recently, as I began assembling my single suitcase full of stuff for the three week trip to Japan that begins next month, (I leave on April 1, which I refuse to take as significant) Fletcher’s book came back to me.
My search for the tiniest and sturdiest cover/keyboard to preserve the iPad I am taking instead of my laptop.
My satisfaction in finding that I can use the smart phone for such diverse purposes as alarm clock and Skype source without having to pay huge roaming fees. (I’m looking at translation programs, so let me know if you have any recommendations.) And although I can’t use my little Radio Shack recharger cord that has various snap-on ends for different devices, I was happy at least to discover–
–that although I resent the size of the battery recharger for the camera (the iPhone camera just doesn’t cut it) I will be able to get by with just two cords: one for the iPad and phone, another for the keyboard and Nook.
I think Colin Fletcher would have been pleased.