Tuesday, December 8, 2020

My Silly, Camping-friendly Dream

What with the up and coming "Second Gentleman" designation for Doug Emhoff, Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris's husband, it seems my subconscious was busy last night in supplying me with an enjoyable dream. In it, my wife was president of the United States and I was the First Gentleman.

These First Spouses all have some themed causes or initiatives that are part of their official duties when at the White House. Currently, Melania Trump advocates for her "Be Best" initiative to fight against cyber-bullying. First Ladies Barbara and Laura Bush advocated for childhood literacy. Eleanor Roosevelt more broadly advocated for women's rights, civil rights, and humanitarian efforts. 

In my dream, while my wife was busy running the nation, I decided that I still wanted to go camping. I suppose my First Gentleman initiative in my dream was similar to Lady Bird Johnson's--environmental protection and beautification. I'm not making this up, though, but want to relate accurately my dream's reality, and my dream was that I wanted to continue camping and advocating for our country's natural beauty and for having the ability to enjoy it through camping. 

There were some security issues, though. I had to make sure that one of my Secret Service detail could pull a trailer. I had to check that Camp David had an RV dump station. In my dream, I named my First Hubby initiative "America, the Beautiful," and dedicated my time to YouTube campfire video chats about camping cleanliness, nature preservation, and the freedoms and responsibilities of life on the road. 

Airstream Basecamp at Joshua Tree National Park, Vivian Firlein photo

In my dream, my Secret Service detail rolled with their own security RV, complete with kitchen and arsenal. I had fun with the detail at the shooting range, had a minimal personal staff that included a videographer in order to maintain my YouTube channel. I was able to enjoy my Airstream Basecamp, even though most of my camping was at Camp David.

During the dream, I must have been connected to some extent to my conscious mind because some of my opinions surfaced in the dream.
  • National parks have to provide access to all sorts of campers--RVs to backpacking. However, we have to stop "loving our national parks to death." Develop campgrounds--modern and primitive, yet leave much of the parks wild and untouched. Rather than arguing the wild vs. developed topic, admit both are a part of the national park experience and develop a small pocket of camping access in order to allow the greater portion of the parks to be wild. For instance, Yellowstone National Park includes 3,500 square miles of wilderness. It seems like a bit of that territory could be developed and most remain wilderness.
  • The Army Corps of Engineers has the making of campgrounds down to a science. Sometimes the campgrounds are a bit too contrived for my tastes--tract home projects of the camping world--but they certainly provide easy, clean access to the natural world for the many people who want to enjoy natural beauty and still mostly hang out beneath their camper's awning. 
  • A campaign for campers that is the equivalent of backpacking's "leave no trace" needs to find a high media profile. My dad, fifty years ago, used to say that we should always leave the campground cleaner than it was when we arrived. From what I've been reading recently, that is a PR campaign whose time has come. I'm sickened by the stories and photos I've been reading about the mess and waste campers have been leaving behind.
  • Additional money needs to be provided for our state and national lands. We need to preserve our wilderness for future generations. I also wonder if some volunteer programs could be initiated. First Lady Pat Nixon advocated volunteerism. 
Well, so much for my dream. One of the favorite parts of my dream was me sitting around the campfire with some other campers, talking about our love for nature and responsible interaction with the environment. I doubt whether in reality I'll ever become a First Gentleman or a Second Gentleman . . . and thank goodness for that! However, it was a nice dream that included communication activities, environmental awareness, and lots of skies full of stars. 

We can all do our part, though, spreading the word that we have a beautiful world and that we need to do our part to ensure that it remains beautiful. Perhaps my silly, camping-friendly dream is a reminder that we are stewards of the land, that as the saying goes, we do not own the land but rather just live on it for a time. And as my dad said, if after our time here is done the land is better for our having lived on it, then that is good. Let my dream be my legacy--spending time in nature, stepping lightly upon the land.

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  1. Wouldn't it be great if some day there IS someone in the White House, or close, that is an avid camper? Or at least someone high up in the Department of the Interior (isn't that who rules the parks??) who liked to camp.

    1. Oh, yes, Dawn--someone like Muir or Teddy Roosevelt or Thoreau who feels the spirituality of nature. (And I do think TR felt that spirituality. He was just to "manly" to admit it.)