Trepidation is probably fairly accurate in describing my lovely wife’s unease and foreboding of camping to come: When there are so many variables and important tiny details that you’ll have to deal with on the fly, but your thorough preparation is just the bits and bobs you could think of after a few Google searches based on your entire inexperience with the subject. Nine days we had planned in Australia’s magnificent red Simpson Desert, traveling over thousands of miles of dry dirt roads and dunes, sleeping in a pop up trailer that we tow with a rented Toyota Land Cruiser. So many questions. “Will we have access to power, facilities, food sources and clean towels on the journey?” my wife asked with a measured modulation of hope. “Dunno,” I said flatly while wondering if I ever towed anything in my life and whether I would be able to erect and deconstruct this complicated-looking NASA space station trailer in the dark, all without access to YouTube.
On the brochure, the compact trailer’s exterior looked like one of those shiny little square carts you find at 5th and 48th in Manhattan, complete with secret flaps and nooks for pretzels and gyros, and hooks for potato chips that you can’t find in stores like Dark Red Tomato, or Yellow Cheese and Bacon. But when erected, on the inside it becomes Dr. Who’s Tardis, though decorated by some budget-constrained Sultan who only had access to the L.L. Bean catalog.
The brochure said that just one random person could erect the trailer in less than ten minutes, but anyone who has ever tried assembling a desk from IKEA or a gas grill from Home Depot doesn’t buy that crap anymore. In considering the unexpected and what might be ultimately required of me, I was glad that I had recently seen The Martian.