Started for me in 95 when I went to Graduate school on a shoestring. That shoestring was due to my belief that full time employment plus classes would eat into very valuable camping/outdoors time. No money for a bed, and the house I rented for 200 dollars a month was inhabited by a family of woodchucks that lived under the house, but came in through the kitchen cabinets. One wall was more or less missing, and unfortunately it was on the prevailingly windward side. the floors were so uneven that my thermarest would slide into a corner, and the nails coming up from the flooring were going to puncture it, so I moved into the attic.
At least there I was safe from the major wildlife on the ground floor. It was pure luck that a week or so into this arrangement I saw a military jungle hammock at an army surplus store for thirty bucks and snagged it. It fit perfectly into the window off of the peaked roof. It did not fit me perfectly until I learned that the trick was to to fit it, and like it. I lived up there, and the woodchucks had the downstairs on all nights but those that there was a party. They seemed happy, and I got so that I could not sleep till I heard them come out and start their nightly wood chucking.
That lasted for two years, no air conditioning or heat. I learned the tricks to staying warm in a hammock during the Kansas winters there. I learned how to be really hot and horribly miserable during the Kansas summers there, no matter what I did. Good times.
Then came the last bit of schooling in Florida. Another cheap house,(I can't live in an apt. Too many people to close)this one with a large screen porch. I hung the hammock up on the ceiling of the porch, with a bar in front of it so I could "chin up", and climb in the hammock. It was starting to get rotten, and was on its third or fourth zipper. Finally it gave out due to overuse, humidity and to many washings. Important lesson learned that night on how high is to high in hammock applications.
I was really sad on that day, but got super happy several days later when a Brazilian friend gave me her spare hammock from home. It was a revelation, cause not only could you lay in it almost flat, but fit a girl in there as well. The old jungle hammock had always been a real deal breaker for a bachelor on the make.
That was the first hammock I took on a bike ride, it was to the ocean and I slung it up under a pier, as that was the most picturesque scene ever. Fixed gear bike, hammock, corona beer, I had everything in the world that I needed, except bug spray. The simple life, I mean why I had never figured this out before, carrying that **** heavy tent everywhere... It rained like anything that night. So I carried this soaking wet twenty pound cotton hammock all the way home the next day while thinking about tarps, weather channels, hotel rooms, and the general wisdom of just staying home and buying a bed.
Later, after I left Florida to return to the Ozarks, with my now very crusty, often washed but nonetheless fragrant Brazilian hammock, I set it up in my workshop with a pulley so that I could hoist it up, up and away... right into a light bulb that scorched it into a unusable mess. Good thing that Florida mildew won't burn that fast.
Thus began the hammockless period of my life. Not even a string hammock that also slices and dices and makes you feel like Julianne fries. It was pretty bad. There was a hammock shaped hole in my heart and nothing could fill it that I could find. Not until I saw a picture of the hennesy in an issue of backpacker mag did I realize that I needed another hammock.
Like a junky looking for a fix I started pricing them, comparing, moving from one dealer to the next before coming to the grim realization that because of my belief that employment under anyone other than myself might lead to some misunderstanding about time taken for some important camping trip or other outdoorsy endeavor, things were to tight to spend that money. So manfully taking up needle and thread, some cheap dollar a yard silicone nylon rip stop from a big box retailer, as well as a huge dose of what is generally referred to as “creative plagiarism”, I made my own hennesy knockoff. With only a tiny picture and a general description to go from, but also a driving need for a hammock of my very own again.
All there was to use for bug netting was a purple sort of shear stretchy mesh fabric generally used in women’s undergarments. All there was for rope was, well, I did have good rope. It worked. It was bright red with purple netting, and green nylon ropes. The tarp was also bright red. Looking on the bright side, I reflected that as a person who can get lost on single-track trails, red might not be such a bad thing. No, It was beautiful. When inside under bright daylight, the purple and red so disturbed the eyes that I decided never to venture into it during daylight hours again. Not a real problem.
That hammock carried me along on many nights. Firing Wood Kilns with other potters late into the night, backpacking the buffalo river wilderness, bike tours and car camping.
It finally died the other day. It died after five years nobly and well, dumping me into a bunch of soft, deep and forgiving mud when the fabric split in a totally different spot than the one I was worried about. I gave it a moment of silence, and then upon getting my breath back I gave it a good cussing. But in a sad voice. It ended its life as a jury rigged bug net/bivy, hung from a tree and staked out on the grass while I spent my last night in it, cowering from the mosquitoes that kept banging against the ladies undergarment purple. And in the morning I threw it away and rode my bike home.
So now here I am, looking for another hammock idea. It was suggested to me that I buy a hammock, since the time spent making one might cut into important camping, outdoorsy time. But I am determined that I will make another. Better, stronger, and not so **** purple.