Who remembers the opening scene of Birdman, where Michael Keaton floats cross-legged in his underwear?
“How did we end up here? This place is horrible. Smells like balls.”
I’ve been wondering the same thing as of late. How exactly did we end up here? What was life just a few short weeks ago, before we all became aspiring kitchen influencers? Before we all felt okay about drinking alone if we joined a multi-panel Zoom happy hour? Before this goddamned virus…
If it’s hard to imagine the Great Long-Ago of early March; then it’s a total trip to think of life in 2019. Last spring, I joined the incredibly rad crew of Pannier out of the UK for a weekend tour of the English countryside, the Route Beer Ramble. The journey was meticulously planned, the group size healthy yet manageable, the landscapes timeless. It was everything I had dreamed for an overseas adventure by bike, all made possible because Stef & Dave of Pannier worked tirelessly behind the scenes to curate something special.
When I returned home to California, I was inspired to use my coffee roasting company, Latigo Coffee, as a similar force for good in the world. The concept was simple: bring people with various “outdoorsy” interests together for a weekend in the mountains, drink damn good coffee each morning, and enjoy live music by campfire. Thus, the Latigo Campout was born.
Of course, all the predictable fears came knockin’ just before our October retreat. The confidence I felt in the months leading up (with excellent sponsors on-board, some totally badass artwork, and a generally healthy buzz of interest) evaporated about a week beforehand. I feared that nobody would show up. Or the exact opposite—too many people with not enough camp space and sad sandwiches. Everybody would hate me. I would die.
My fears finally vanished when the first caravan pulled into our group site—the Outer Shell posse all the way from the Bay Area! I suddenly remembered that people are smart and self-sufficient, and they don’t need the hand-holding I thought I’d have to provide. “Excellent camp spot right over here! River access about fifty feet that way!”
Folks ventured from all over California, and as I had hoped, they banded together for their own unique expeditions. The Cannell “Plunge” trail offered a world-class singletrack descent for the mountain bike crew. The “Trail of 100 Giants” gave a chance to the road and gravel crew to gaze up at some of the tallest, oldest living Sequoias left on the planet. Some of us just hiked and enjoyed the many charms of Kernville, a river town seemingly stuck in the early 1980s outdoor adventure scene. There was something for everybody.
Rosy & Amelia of LA’s Old Time Machine brought the fireside jams for a highly-memorable Americana set. There’s something in our DNA that captivates us when campfire light dances on an acoustic guitar. It’s a hushed, hallowed thing. This was the time of our weekend getaway when everyone gathered together, shared food (and stories of the day’s adventure), and generally “forgot” about normal life.
In the midst of COVID-19, it’s time now more than ever to reflect on connections with each other, even when it’s a short-lived weekend community. When the dust settles, we’d like to host more Latigo Campouts for both our coffee subscribers and the outdoor community as a whole. I hope you’re able to stay safe (and sane) in the meantime. Be good to one another.
If you’d like to stay informed for future events, you can join the Latigo Coffee mailing list and follow along @latigocoffee.