My thoughts on camping – from a real fireside!
“Camping is the voluntary act of doing normal things the hard way.”
– Author unknown (but you can bet your bippee they just got back from a camping trip)
In these hard economic times, camping has become a very popular pastime, literally a word which means “things we did in the past”. No more expensive vacations to Hawaii, or Disney World, or Dollywood. Now we can only afford to leave our home with our stuff, go into the woods, and try to recreate our home with our stuff.
Camping is apparently the oldest of pastimes. The Indians (as Columbus called them) were found to be in a very bad mood when the famed explorer reached the shores of Native America. This was due to two reasons:
1. They did not like being misnamed “Indians”, although they should have been very thankful that Columbus did not assume he had landed on the island of Lesbos.
2. They had been continuously camping for thousands of years.
Yes, it is a little known historical fact that our dear Native American friends hated camping. They camped only because “modern living” had not been invented yet. This is why many tribes made hallucinogenic drinks with woodland berries, so that they could pass out and dream they were in plush hotel rooms with cable. This is also why Native Americans quickly sold their Manhattan campsite to Peter Minuet for just 30 clam shells. Within days of the sale, they were enjoying buffets and air conditioning in condos on the upper East Side. Once they took control of all the Indian campgrounds in this country, our ancestors worked long and hard and fought the elements to give their kids and grandkids a better life. Today, they roll over in their graves as we voluntarily return to the woods and copy their old way of life.
Camping, that wonderful pastime. The definitive publication on camping has always been Henry David Thoreau’s Complete Guide to Sitting in the Woods, first written on the back of a clean sycamore leaf back in 1854. According to page 55 of Mr. Thoreau’s work, there are basically three types of campers, based on increasing degrees of intestinal fortitude:
1. RV Campers – These particular campers travel to, and live around, campsites in large boxes on wheels called “RVs” (Repossessive Vehicles). RV campers are usually quite tired and stressed, and they camp to “get away from it all”. Curiously, when they try to get away from “it all”, they seem to bring “it all” with them.
2. Adventure Campers – These are people who, somewhere in the dark recesses of their mind, feel guilty about drinking 7 dollar coffees and buying little peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crust already off. And so, their inner voice tells them they must go on adventures to regain their integrity. Technically, adventure campers go without electricity and running water, but they are never too far away from indoor plumbing and vending machines, in case that craving for a crustless pb & j becomes just too great.
3. Pioneer Campers – A while ago, “pioneer” campers used to be called “primitive” campers, but the tourist board thought that “pioneer camper” sounded much more spirited and adventurous. These are your hardcore types who purposefully stay far away from all civilization, and make their own hot dog casings, stuffed with muskrat meat. For them, running water and electricity are not an option. Unfortunately for the rest of us, neither are bathing and mouthwash.
Apparently, my wife’s inner voice had really been working her over lately, because one day she announced:
“We need more adventure in our lives. Let’s go camping!”
Startled, I dropped my crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwich and replied: “But dear, we have no camping equipment.”
And so began a long odyssey of preparing for our inevitable camping adventure – making a list, checking it twice, and borrowing prodigious amounts of camping equipment from our friends, because I was NOT (repeat NOT) forking over several hundred dollars just for a mere adventure. We were regaled with stories from family and friends about camping, some good and some bad. One couple even told us about hearing a bear prowling around their tent at the same state park that we were planning on going to. With each new story, my wife became more and more excited. I had seen this look in her eyes before, when my wife spent an entire year planning for our Disney “adventure”. Believe me, the determined look of matrimony is much more scary than any prowling bear.
Dateline: Last Thursday; About to embark on our trip to Bear Food State Park, the vehicle is loaded down. My father-in-law, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law are also going. Apparently, they have been craving adventure too. “You will be much more relaxed when we get back to the simple life of camping” my wife announced triumphantly. Apparently, this simple life requires a lot of stuff – our van was so full of equipment that our kids had to ride in the cab of my father-in-law’s truck.
We pulled out our driveway, on our way to grand adventure. I sighed as we reached the city limits of Zebulon – it seemed so civilized now…..
Stay tuned for Part 2 – the allure and mystery of Bear Food State Park.
Do you have any camping stories to share?