"People do put to much emphasis on having just the right bike. Personally, I place much more importance on where I ride. I'd much rather ride a beat up old Honda 350 on a scenic, twisty road..."
How true. I wrote a blog entry a long time ago about that. So many have to wait for the perfect bike, and all the perfect gear that the whole thing becomes about the gear and not the ride. I say fine, if I had the money I'd have a Tiger adventure bike, Aerostitch leather suit, boots made to exactly fit my feet, full face Arai helmet, etc. etc. But when I started riding all I could afford was gas and some rudimentary gear (read cheap jacket and a second-hand pair of boots). And yes, I even rode all the was from Florida to Michigan and back in plain old blue jeans!!!
And that was on a 40 year old CB350!!
But the thing is, I went; I didn't wait until I could afford the "right stuff." And I had a blast.
And this: "A regular Air mattress is comfortable but takes up a lot of room. Any suggestions?" I would love to hear some cheap (yep, I'mm still cheap) and portable solutions. So far I have just slept on the ground, and nowdays state parks have gravel camp sites!
Sound like you had a great time and didn't get caught up in all the "stuff."