Just last week I noticed that the grocery store was filled with shoppers buying marshmallows, chocolate bars, and graham crackers. Packages of hamburger, hotdogs, brats and related buns and assorted accouterments were flying out the door. Cases of beer, soda and bottles of water were filling carts.
Campers. Good-hearted, happy folks heading out to enjoy our great outdoors!
It’s hardly coon-skin caps and Ma and Pa cooking grits over a fire anymore.
Today, camping is pretty citified and even the backpack, pop-up tents offer efficient lightweight protection from the winds and rain.
There’s even a new word to describe the upscale kind of camping we are experiencing now: Glamping. A combined descriptor meaning glamorous camping. But, even Glampers have to show their resolve against the elements.
If you’ve never been camping you’re missing some of the things in this life that challenge your ability to improvise. I always say that camping is made up of three things: improvise, improvise, improvise and you’ll be wiser at the end of it.
Just for the record staying in a cabin, cottage or camper could be called “glamping.” There are also nice structures called “yurts” that are fun for even winter camping. There are campers longer than a school bus that have every comfort of home including air conditioning and living rooms with sectionals. There are gourmet kitchens and “slide outs” which make the space even more spacious. I have never glamped in such luxury.
We did have an older model camper trailer when my boys were younger. It was one of those campers where the table became the base for the bed and the windows cranked out and I could never get it level. When you opened the refrigerator door (with three little boys - the refrigerator was always being opened) the food (especially the milk) had a tendency to slide out and make a big splash.
At one state park, I was trying to back up so I might plug the camper in after I realized that I had failed to bring the really long extension cord and only had a short one packed in the back. So I kept backing up and backing up until the boys yelled that I was backing into a tree. So I got as close as I could and branches were scratching the roof and the sides - but finally, we could make our connections.
I always noticed that our arrival had sparked the interest of the other more experienced campers who were walking by and giggling. Once when I parked the camper snug between two trees the other campers were almost pulling up chairs to watch the show when I tried to get out. Once I had forgotten to pull in the fold-out step and bent it right off. I am sure I heard some chortling from behind the trees.
A friend of mine forgot to crank in the windows on her truck camper and they were fine until she got too close to a tree and cleared them all off.
Then there was the time she was getting a flat tire on the interstate and didn’t realize that until the thing began to rock like a boat on ocean waves.
The raccoon tales just go on and on. Once I looked out to see raccoon faces gathered around our cooler which they’d unlocked like a treasure chest and were using their tiny hands to check out the food inside.
They were eating one egg after another and were able to crack the shell and then tilt their heads back and slide the egg down their thieving little throats.
I was camping alone up at Brunet Island and around midnight, all of a sudden the campground came to life. Raccoons everywhere! I had my dog who was determined to bark her head off (lest there be one camper who might still be sleeping). The naughty wildlife could smell the food that I’d stored inside the tent and made laps around the base with the dog in hot pursuit. All I could think about, was that my only protection came down to that thin layer of nylon tent. Finally, all around the campground people started getting up with pots and pans and banging and yelling to scare them off. It was like an old-time Shivaree!
It’s funny how the ground gets harder as one gets older. I haven’t camped for a few years, but I still have my tent and I hope someday I get crazy enough to think I can still camp out. What’s a few creaky bones in the morning when compared to the sound of screech owls overhead and the approach of a serious thunderstorm - complete with a warden and a bullhorn warning us to take to shelter (and where might that be?)
But, there are usually some loons to make it all worthwhile - calling to each other across a calm lake. Chorus of crickets or croaking frogs and sometimes even the snoring of people in the next site.
It’s all good. What would I have done for stories had I not been a camper?
Improvise I guess.