Oh hello, I didn’t see you there. I’ve been busy crouching here perilously on a snow-capped tree stump, staring into the craggy cavern below, and thinking about what I would buy with an extra 40 percent off clearance merchandise at REI. Welcome to my domain.
“Go Outdoors.” “Explore.” “Take a Hike.” To some, these are mere slogans. To me, they are a directive. My intrepid spirit commands me to investigate every lichen-covered corner of this fog-draped photoshoot. I carry nothing with me but my sense of adventure, matte powder foundation, and this $450 Arc’teryx jacket.
Look at me. This morning, I grabbed a rainbow trout out of a stream with my teeth, then ate it with this $37 foldable spork. After that, I perched like a ruggedly handsome Gollum on a tree branch and meditated on how happy I am that I applied for the REI MasterCard.
This could be your life too. Sit with me. Burn your hands on this aluminum mug full of scalding-hot artisanal instant coffee.
I used to be like you. Weak. Unweathered. Bereft of overpriced camping accessories. But I transformed. I’m now part upper-middle-class white man and part grey wolf. This Pendleton flannel jacket is my hide. (My hide is excluded from the sale event.)
Now walk with me. Be careful of tree roots and electrical cords for all of this photography equipment. Empty your mind of all thoughts, except for a pressing concern that you really don’t have the right shoes on for this. You don’t. I can help you with that. Shhh, don’t worry about how much they are. Does an osprey worry about the price of its feathers?
Let’s jump across the slippery, moss-covered logs in this crystal-clear lake, taking a moment to punch our hands into the air and hold them there for an excruciatingly long time. Thirsty? You can drink out of the lake. All the intestinal parasites have died of regret from missing out on the doorbuster BOGO carabiners.
This could all be yours, you know? These boulders, these trees, those other boulders. All the generic wilderness your eyes can see. Put on this $200 Patagonia vest. Do you feel at one with the forest now? What about if you bought a second vest for 30 percent off? Mother Nature intended us to experience her creations just like this: posed like a mannequin and wrapped in the warmth of goose-down alternative.
Run with me! See that narrow, gravel-covered “trail” that edges right along a cliff side? See how if you kick a pebble over the edge, it falls six hundred feet into a skin-puncturing abyss of sharp rocks and mountain lions? We’re going to ride downhill on these mountain bikes that each cost more than six months of rent! I’m going to knock you so far out of your comfort zone that you’ll fly right over your local REI and into the REI in the next major metropolitan area.
I’ll be grinning the whole time with my pearly white teeth, screaming “GO OUTDOORS,” and daring gravity to come right at me. Gravity is no match for my perfectly trimmed five o’clock shadow! Gravity can’t wear zip-off cargo pants and eat dehydrated Salisbury steak packets! GRAVITY IS MISSING OUT ON THESE GREAT DEALS AT REI THAT JUST WON’T LAST!!!
You’re leaving? But I thought you wanted to get outside and explore? When we were done barreling down the cliff on two wheels, I was going to ask you to whitewater kayak through bear territory while eating REI-exclusive flavors of Larabars… Oh. Oh, I see. You’re one of those campers who enjoy pedestrian things such as “being dry” and “adequate restroom facilities’’ and “not falling to your death.”
Well, there’s a $600 tent for posers like you too. But just don’t expect me to help you with it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, the lighting is just right for me to go dangle off this rope over an active volcano.