Friday, November 22, 2013

Tents and Tent Stability by Chris Lown

 The first day spent recovering after recent surgery, I found a nice get well card from my Mom, and a copy of Chris Lown's delightful travelogue, with a note taped to it, "Prescription: Take as needed to stay recumbent as you convalesce." Great idea! Thanks, Mom!

When middle-aged, cantankerous Chris Lown's wife gets the opportunity to go on a Caribbean cruise with her best friend, he decides he should fill the time during her absence with a trip of his own, tent camping in each of Germany's sixteen states. His journey is described in Lown's chatty, humorous style, with a great attention to detail, seasoned, perhaps, with a dash of hyperbole.

Lown decides in the first place not to spend the big bucks for a top notch tent for his adventure, settling for a cheaper and, in the end, far less durable model. The series of unfortunate events (sorry Lemony) that befall his shelter steadily and inexorably erode its stability and degrade its appearance to a truly sad state. At one point, after offending a group of late night musical pretenders at a campsite, his tent is vandalized when he goes off during the day by having the word "Schwanz" (look it up) written boldly on its flank, and Lown has to be creative for the next few days concealing the offensive word while staying at family friendly campgrounds.

Each of the states that he visits are thoroughly described, and left me thinking that I need to move Germany a bit closer to the top of my travel bucket list. At the conclusion of each visit, he also delivers a report on the best beer and cheese selection he encountered there. The only time he abandons tent camping for more comfortable surroundings is when is when he visits his friends, Jan and Sophia, on their farm near Wittlich, and when Jan meets up with him on Lown's last day in Cologne (Koln). I gave up tent camping not too long ago, after my back surgery, but even at my best, I doubt I'd have maintained my equanimity through some of the crazy things that happen along the way - I'd have (literally) pitched the tent and moved to an inn long before the trip was through.

This one's going on my shelves permanently, to use as a reference when my wife and I finally do visit Germany. A great read, filled with the best medicine, laughter.

No comments: