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Today is July 22nd. National Hammock Day.

This may be a shock to some of you, but Mariah and I sleep in hammocks just about every single night.

Here’s the long version. I was in a bad car accident when I was a little kid… about 6 or 7 years old. My shoulders were both dislocated, and I had some neck and back issues as well. Since then, I’ve been pretty jacked up, but I’ve just lived with it. I went to a chiropractor a couple of years back and he asked me when my shoulders got dislocated, thinking it was part of the reason I came in… and that it was recent. He was stunned to learn that I’d been living with these issues for about 20 years. He popped them back into socket. That was weird. It helped, but didn’t fix the problems entirely.

The reason I mention all that is because I couldn’t find a comfortable sleeping position, and a lot of it had to do with the pain. I used to sleep curled up on my side, but that was certainly no good for the shoulders. I trained myself to sleep like a mummy with my arms folded across my chest flat on my back. That helped quite a bit, but my hips would hurt, my neck was never quite comfortable, and so on. Basically, everything was out of whack all the time. Then one day, a few years ago, I bought a hammock. A Trek Light Double in Silver and Yellow.

Well, that was the start of a huge lifestyle change that I would recommend to everyone.

I had a couple of friends who were also photographers, and they slept in a hammock every night. I thought that was crazy talk. I honestly didn’t understand what they were doing. I, like most people, thought hammocks were those uncomfortable huge woven things that you tip out of and can nap in for about 10 minutes before something falls asleep… like your arm or your leg, not your brain and the rest of your body. Well I bought a gathered end hammock, one without spreader bars, and I decided to give it a shot. I took a nap in it. I fell asleep almost immediately, and I woke up totally refreshed about 30 minutes later. This became a ritual.

As often as I could, but not often enough, I would take hammock naps and sway myself gently to sleep. It was very relaxing, but it was very dependent on good weather and sturdy trees. We moved into an apartment in St. Louis, and that seemed to be a lost cause all of a sudden. My thick memory foam wasn’t cutting it, and my sleep, though seemingly straight through the night, was becoming less restful and fulfilling. Since the weather thing was still getting in the way, I decided to remove it as an obstacle and I built hammock stands.

By this point, I was still only hammocking on occasion, but I’d started making all suspension equipment myself. I purchased more than 700 feet of Amsteel, a marine grade braided rope that you can splice, and turned hundreds of feet of it into adjustable ridgelines, slings to hang the hammock, soft shackles (a carabiner replacement), continuous loops, and a bunch of other crazy things hammock-related and otherwise. Mariah calls that “Man-Knitting,” and it’s very zen. At this point I owned a fair amount of hammocks, though I could only use one at a time, and even then, only on rare occasions, but I was becoming obsessed with the idea of hammocks. Hammocks were a big part of my life, and I hardly got to use one. So I went to the hardware store with a loose idea of how to build a hammock stand in mind, some cursory knowledge from www.hammockforums.net, and a passion for hammocks.

What resulted were two sets of hammock stands. Once we realized this meant we could hang in a hammock every night, we transitioned into doing just that, and we haven’t turned back. To answer the questions that always seem to come up around this point, “Yes we have two hammocks. Sometimes we share one to watch shows or hang out. Yes we still have a mattress for… “cuddling.” No, we don’t miss sleeping in a “real” bed.” We both sleep unbelievably well every night now, and the pain is virtually gone.

This has already been an exceptionally long post, so I’ll wrap it up, but I’d be more than happy to talk to you about hammocks (if you haven’t gathered that by now). I included some photos of a bunked outdoor setup and our nightly setup just so you can see. We tear everything down every morning and it takes up about 2 square feet of space in a corner. Very convenient. Much less intrusive than a mattress. And yes, we sleep in the living room. It’s the only place big enough. And in case you’re also wondering, you can mount hardware straight into the walls, but our apartment is an old warehouse, so the walls aren’t actually weight bearing… so we couldn’t use them.

If you can do it, get a hammock and sleep in it every night. If you need help, let me know. It will change your life.

HAMMOCK

HAPPY HAMMOCK DAY!

 

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For those curious, currently, in addition to the Trek Light, I own a couple of the Mosquito Hammocks from Yukon Outfitters, and our beds are each black and grey Double Parachute Hammocks from the same company, and I owned two (was a tester) of the Yucatan hammocks from Hammocks Rada (kept one, gave one away… only really good for indoor use)… and I also have 5 rain-flys. 3 from Yukon, again, and 2 awesome but tiny ones from BackCountry. Thanks Woot! for feeding my obsession.