Monday, September 28, 2009 by Jason Oliver Nixon.
Last month when carmaker Subaru invited me to go camping for four days in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park, I was hesitant. Sure, I figured that it would be fun to road test the latest vehicles—including the Forester and the 2010 Outback—amid the glorious landscape just outside of Jackson Hole, but, frankly, I haven’t gone camping since I was 10. And that was in my backyard in Tampa, Florida, and we quickly ran inside screaming when the sprinkler system turned on 'round 3 a.m. My friend Diane quipped, “You? Camping? Send me a photo.” Even my partner John laughed, “Dubious. Very dubious.”
Here I am in the heart of Grand Teton National Park, tearing down a split-rail fence so that elk will not be hindered in their migration. I look sort of authentic, no?
Well, never scoff at this Jet Setter, for I am a chameleon, and I can fit into any situation urban or ex-urban. So I called up L.L. Bean for a few sundry supplies, and, voila!, off to the wilderness I went.
And wow, what an amazing trip! Let’s just say that the “camping” was more “glamping”: We had kitted-out tents outfitted with everything from mummy-style sleeping bags to bear spray (Egads! Who knew? And, no, it’s not like Skin So Soft—you spray it at the bears and not like a repellent.) and a movie theater stretched between two trees (Blazing Saddles alfresco? Divine!). There was also access to showers and, most decadent of all, our very own and seriously talented chef, Claudia, who whipped up bespoke meals paired with top-flight wines (we’re talking salads with pears and gorgonzola, roast pork loin, and turkey-and-avocado sandwiches for the road).
There were seven other journalists on the trip—and what a cool bunch (and none of them hardcore campers or woodsy types, whew!). There was Bethany, a senior editor from Fitness magazine; Anne, who runs the amazing Women-Drivers.com website; and a special projects editor from Better Homes and Gardens—among others—who really helped create a spot-on sojourn.
But, most importantly, how about those Subarus? OK, so I obviously don’t hike much, and why kayak when you can Chris-Craft? But I was still blown away by the Outback’s handling, pickup and storage capabilities. We did some serious off-roading, and this vehicle handled like a dream come true, especially when a several-thousand-foot drop sits less than a foot from the edge of the rutted track upon which you are ascending a mountain. I can now see myself driving around Brooklyn and through the Catskills in an Outback—albeit with no canoe strapped to the roof but rather a couch from Mitchell Gold and a trunk filled with catered tailgating fare. Subarus rock! Perhaps they should market more to jet-setters like me—and less to crunchy granola types: Truly, I am smitten!
Other highlights from the trip: meeting the team from Leave No Trace, a dynamic organization that encourages outdoors activities with minimal impact on the environment; tearing down a split-rail fence in the National Park as part of a service project; singing along to the tunes of George, a guitarist who flew in from Ithaca, New York; sipping Veuve Clicquot next to Jackson Lake as the sun set over the craggy peaks; and driving along solo through the park with the windows down and The Clash blaring away.
“London, Calling,” baby. Signing off.