You paid good money for a full-sized SUV or, as in our case, a station wagon. You need to make use of it! Fill it up! Learn to pack heavy for a weekend trip! Hey, gasoline is over $2 a gallon. If your rig is almost empty you’re going to burn almost as much expensive irreplaceable fossil fuel as if it were full. So why not load it up with as much stuff as possible?
This is our packing philosophy, as evidenced by this photo I took just before we left for Camp Sherman yesterday afternoon. You can’t see all the crap in the back seat (or what would be a back seat if it was possible for anyone to sit there), but believe me, it is fully stacked side to side and top to bottom.
We have perfected the art of packing heavy, so I’d like to share some tips about how you too can make optimum use of your vehicle, even if you’re just driving two hours to a central Oregon cabin to (ha-ha) “get away from it all.” “All” not including, of course, everything listed below—the bare necessities of life for the Hines’.
I realize that likely you will need to modify these tips to suit your own peculiar lifestyle, “peculiar” being my term for any lifestyle that does not precisely match our own. Feel free to do so. We have found what works for us in filling our 1999 Volvo XC station wagon up to the headliner. You will have to be as diligent as we have been in refining your own Pack Heavy formula. Here’s ours:
(1) Get a large dog. Serena is 78 pounds. By itself, her auto lair takes up half of the rear storage area. Plus, she also needs a large container of dog food and a bag of chew sticks for her nightly dessert.
(2) Take bicycles, even if you aren’t sure you will use them. This makes you look Oregon-outdoorsy as you’re driving along or parked, which is especially important if you’re going to central Oregon. There, cars of locals are required to simultaneously sport a kayak, skis/snowboard, and mountain bikes, so you’ll look like a Willamette Valley weenie if you’ve got nothing on top when you pull up to the Bend Starbucks. Be sure to use a bike rack that requires the front wheel to be removed, as two wheels take up a lot of space inside the car. Bring bike helmets and strap-on bags for maximum space utilization.
(3) Adhere to a picky healthy, organic, vegetarian, supplement-rich diet. Since you’ll never be able to find the food you like to eat where you’re going, you’ll have to take it with you in a very large storage box that takes up a good share of the rear seat. Empty everything in your refrigerator at home and put it all in a huge cooler that fills up the other half of the dog area.
(4) Stay wired. Take both of your laptops, one in a computer backpack and the other in a computer case, plus the requisite trackballs, power cords, and other accessories you might need. If you’re married you need to bring two computers, because each of you has your own email addresses, messages, files, URL favorites and what-not that you can’t live without. As is occurring at this very moment, this allows one of you to bid on dichoric glass earrings on Ebay while the other writes a weblog posting (hopefully she’ll let me have a few minutes on the phone tonight to get this online; it all depends on the status of the global dichroic earring trading market, which is far beyond my ability to comprehend).
(5) Be prepared for any climatic condition. Sure, it’s May and the forecast is for 60 degree partly cloudy weather. But who trusts the weatherperson? This is central Oregon. It could get cold. It could get hot. Unlikely, but you had better cover all the bases. This means heavy jackets, and shorts. Long-sleeved shirts, and t-shirts. Hiking shoes, and sandals. Much better to take more than you need even though you (the male you, at least) will end up wearing the same jeans and shirt the whole weekend.
(6) Take every unread magazine in the house and a bunch of unread books. Plus a couple of five-day rental DVDs from Hollywood Video you can play on your new computer. All this will fill up a good-sized container. It’s crucial that you avoid any risk of ending up sitting in a televisonless cabin in the woods with nothing to do except, god forbid, talking to your spouse, or, even more god forbid, quietly musing on the contents of your own mind.
(7) Don’t rely on natural means of exercising when you travel. If you simply walk and enjoy the great outdoors you’ll miss a great opportunity to fill up those last crevices in your nearly-crammed car. It’s good that you have the bikes which you might not use, but it’s even better to take more things that you may or may not use. Large ball for Pilates exercises, plus foot pump. Staff and bokken (wooden sword) for martial arts training. Toss in an inflatable kayak if you have room for it. You can dream of using all this stuff while you take your naps on the couch.
Well, I hope this has helped anyone who suffers from too-much-room-left-in-the-car syndrome. Of course, if you have two kids or more, plus a large dog, you should be writing this rather than me. I’ve geared this to the childless couples like us who need to learn how to fill a two-ton car to capacity in order to haul 375 pounds of man, woman, and beast to a central Oregon “getaway.”