A different kind of travelogue. As an avid young traveller I often wondered what would it would be like when I got older, gathered commitments, created children and accrued debt. This is what it's like.
Planes. Planes. Planes.
In my professional and personal life I spend a lot of time in airports and in aircraft. Despite my love of the wilderness I have to spend time in airports that are in big cities. Essentially Melbourne is like a Trail Head to me, I am already living out of my bag and my mind is fixed on the next part of my trip. Cities are full of culture and life and death and compromise. I love cities but they’re not great for camping. The majority of the camp sites around cities depress the hell out of me.
I’ve done some stealth camping in airports and cities in around the world, usually due to necessity, sometimes due to bloodymindedness. Security is my main concern when I’m in these spaces and I always look longingly at the roof tops. They look safer, quieter, more private and with a cool view and a taste of dawn. Even in a big city the dawn feels cleansing.
So I try to find out if I can access those rooftops when I am doing my version of Coach-Surfing.
My friend Kel has a access to the roof at his place in Melbourne. Last time my trip took me through Melbourne I arrived at his and asked to borrow his rooftop. Ideal. Fairly secure. Private. Theres a tram line in the street below but the surrounding structures and the acoustics of the cityscape minimised any noise and I did not awake with the first Tram at 04:45 or whatever it was. The suspension points for my hammock were far from ideal and the hammock purists will note the less than pleasing tarp lines.
Being in Brunswick, Melbourne (a bit like Australia’s answer to Portland) there was some heavy duty Hipster action on the pavements; facial hair, tattoos, fixes and craft beer. And so I grew a beard, got a tattoo and fell off my fixie to fit in. No. I did have a number of the very fine Thunder Road Brewery draught offerings; Brunswick Bitter and Collingwood Ale. I was reminded that while there are some things you can only enjoy in the wilderness there are some other things that can only be enjoyed in amongst Homo sapiens, like draught craft beer. http://www.thunderroadbrewing.com/beer/brunswick-bitter
I climbed onto the rooftop and into my hammock. It was a little less impressive than the Parkour people, all springing around from rooftop to wall to fire escape, improvising as they go. There’s a risk of macho overload with the muscles and the risk taking but then you also have to consider where Parkour comes from; Paris. Sarkozys Paris. I like Parkour partly because its a bit like telling Sarkozy where he should shove his Karcher. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/nov/11/france.jonhenley
There’s a bit of justifiable youthful anger to be vented. When you’ve been conditioned to think of yourself as worthless your assessment of risk to self will be different. This informed my past work in gritty Metropolitan Emergency Departments and it informs my everyday interaction with young adults in my work as a Remote Area Doctor. My present job has placed me in extremely remote aboriginal communities where there exists all sorts of issues with lack of opportunity, lack of self esteem, disconnection from traditional practices.
The elders in these communities try to get the young men and women to engage in the traditional skills; hunting, sowing crops, harvesting special plants for weaving or medicine or food. The first step is to get people out of their houses and back on the land. Out in the wilderness.
Works for me.