The All-Inclusive, Over-the-Top, Strap-It-Down-With-a-Bungee-Cord Car Camping Checklist
For the Happy Camper Who Wants Everything

Three bears at retro station wagon

Some campers are content to throw a pair of swim trunks into the backseat, strap a kayak to the roof-rack and declare themselves ready to go. I prefer to bring at least a tube of sunscreen, a bag of M&Ms, and the kayak paddles. Others find hauling their provi­sions in a pack on hunched shoulders more satisfying. I, on the other hand, prepare for all possible comforts when heading, in an overloaded station wagon, to a mountain campsite. Leave no bungee cord unstretched, no crevice unstuffed, no beach ball behind. Hence, the all-purpose car camping checklist. I’ve scratched it onto note paper dozens of times, checked each item off as it was loaded and then used it to start the fire. May this one serve you well as the clouds roll in, the insects descend, and the marshmallows roast. Happy camping!
Colleen Kiefer
©Kiefer Creative 2015. All rights reserved.

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Earlier this year, I encountered Zentangle™. I don’t remember if Amazon “pushed” one of it’s titles to me or if I plucked Joy of Zentangle: Drawing Your Way to Increased Creativity, Focus, and Well-Being from a shelf at Barnes & Noble. But, I soon began to horde a small cache of Zentangle books and supplies with very good intentions. I would master the delightful doodle and be a better designer for it. Finally, months later, I actually opened one of the books and began to “tangle,” daily—almost. The book I’ve been using is One Zentangle A Day—A 6-Week Course In Creative Drawing For Relaxation, Inspiration, and Fun by Beckah Krahula. Although, I haven’t completed each lesson in one day, I am hooked.

Zentangle is defined by its developers, Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, on their Zentangle.com website, as:

“The Zentangle Method is an easy-to-learn, relaxing, and fun way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns. Almost anyone can use it to create beautiful images. It increases focus and creativity, provides artistic satisfaction along with an increased sense of personal well being. The Zentangle Method is enjoyed all over this world across a wide range of skills, interests and ages. We believe that life is an art form and that our Zentangle Method is an elegant metaphor for deliberate artistry in life.”

The yoga-like practice of daily drawing as meditation has appealed to me for years. Regular training of my creativity muscles the way a musician practices her instrument makes sense to me. Although I have explored similar approaches to drawing in the past with Betty Edwards’s 1989 Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, and Frederick Franck’s, 1973, Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation, I have demonstrated about as much discipline as a third-grader with a dusty clarinet.

One mid-August morning as I sat on my brother’s deck—pen in hand, he looked over and said, “Zentangle? I’ve done that with my students before. They love it.” He’s an art teach in the suburbs of Albany, NY. “You know, I’ve got a class in the middle school this year, maybe I’ll start them off with that. Every time I’ve introduced Zentangle to a class and they get going, it gets really quiet. They just get completely absorbed even if they came in complaining that they can’t draw.”

I’m not yet sure whether Zentangle is an art form, a practice, a healing therapy, or a warm-up exercise for artists and designers much as running scales is for a musician. Nor am I sure how long my newfound commitment will last. I am pleased, however, to have picked up a pen (several actually), sharpened my pencils and supplied myself with paper and, for a little while each day, to have loosened my grip on mouse and keyboard.

Here is a peek into my sketchbook:

First attempt at Hollibaugh, Jonquil, Poke Root, and Fescu and Nekton
First attempt at Hollibaugh, Jonquil, Poke Root, and Fescu and Nekton
First try at Knights Bridge, Fescu, Tipple etc.
First try at Knights Bridge, Fescu, Tipple etc.
Sketchbook pages showing Mooka Zentangle practice, Poke Root, Flux etc.
Sketchbook pages showing Mooka Zentangle practice, Poke Root, Flux etc.
Poke Root, Jonquil, Hollibaugh variations
Poke Root, Jonquil, Hollibaugh variations

“There was nothing like a Saturday – unless it was the Saturday leading up to the last week of school and into summer vacation. That of course was all the Saturdays of your life rolled into one big shiny ball.” 

― Nora Roberts, Rising Tides

As we touched down in Colorado Springs, having been routed away from Denver’s thunder and lightening, the young woman beside me woke from the fog of a 30-hour journey back from Europe. As we waited, impatiently, for the storm to clear, she asked me what we planned to do in Colorado.

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