I did know that I needed gear. I went to a big box sporting goods store and, on five minutes of consultation with the on-staff teenager, bought some rudimentary supplies and dried packaged foods. I then threw everything in my trunk and headed out to Joshua Tree National Park. I did not arrive at the park until well after nightfall. I lacked the foresight to bring a headlamp or flashlight, so I scurried around in the dark to set up my tent. (I didn't use my car headlights to avoid disturbing my fellow campers). I also did not think to first survey a campsite before setting my tent. Instead, I pitched the tent exactly where it landed when I tossed it from my trunk. Unfortunately for me, I did not notice that my tent had landed on top of a giant ant hole.
When I woke up the next morning, I saw a swarm of ants crawling on the walls of my tent -- fiery-red ants that were big enough to be seen from a distance. From what I could tell, they were angry. I swear I could see them looking at me, mashing their mandibles in a menacing way. If they could curl their forefeet into fists, I'm sure they would have been shaking them at me.
It felt like hours before I was able to will myself to leave my tent. And even then, I owed that motivation more to my desperate bladder than any shred of bravery.