I’m a Midwestern native. I grew up in small-town, rural Iowa surrounded by farmers and corn fields. And somehow, I’ve never been camping.
I’ve been meaning to change that, but plans always fell through, until last weekend, where all signs pointed to “never camping again,” but instead resulted in, “probably going to camp in more remote locations.”
We started late in the day. And then my camping buddy got lost. Two friends were supposed to campfire with us, and they couldn’t find our location. So we moved to an easily found campground a mile down the road.
It. Was. Packed.
Somehow, I, camping novice of the group, anticipated this while no one else did. We drove around until we found what appeared to be a very open, very empty site. We pulled in, started a fire, and brainstormed impossible-to-execute ideas on how to hang my hammock. All the trees were spaced 30+ feet apart (you need 10-12). We tried using ratchet straps, but that mostly resulted in half-climbing trees and lots of laughter. Eventually, we gave up, deciding I’d sleep away from the campsite.
The fire was roaring, so I decided to test my brat-roasting skills using a stick. Furface suggested I hold the stick higher because having it directly in the flame would cause the brat to burst, and sure enough, it did. It was still tasty, even if it looked like I cooked it with a grenade.
Meanwhile, CampKing made coffee on a fancy camp stove thing, and while it looked like motor oil, it tasted delicious. I threw another brat on, determined to cook this one without bursting just for show. Two minutes in, my stick disintegrated. One second my brat was there, the next, gone.
Campfire squad rushed to my aid, rescuing it so I could continue my mission. I re-skewered. Just when I’d come up with a clever strategy involving a sterile glove and a washcloth to remove the embedded broken roasting stick from my brat, an RV pulled up. An old man got out, passive-aggressively informing us, “We reserved this campsite… Not sure what’s going on here…” There wasn’t a “reserved site” card, but we apologized anyway, packed up, and moved along. Toodaloo Grumpy Gramps.
We returned to the Primitive Campground. It’s 10:30. The sites weren’t clearly marked, so we parked on the grass near a fire pit, found trees and set up camp. Not three minutes into late night stargazing chats, two park rangers approached to tell us we need to move to the other side of the road.
So we relocate again. CampKing helps me reset the hammock. It’s midnight. The temp has dropped. An hour passes. The tent next to me houses a raging snorer. I have to pee. I’m greeted by a dead cicada splat in the middle of the bathroom floor. Eww.
I finally fall into a deep slumber… until 3:15 am… when someone’s phone goes off. And it continues… for an hour. Finally, someone shuts it off, and there’s peace… for another hour. And then freakin’ Chewbacca’s tent wakes up, at 5:30 am, speaking at full volume.
I’m contemplating finding a large rock to launch at their tent.
For an entire hour (seeing a pattern here?), they’re loud. And then they feel the need to comment on our late entrance.
Chewbacca #1: They came flying in here last night. It’s not Fast and Furious.
Bossey Boots Fact Check: We were going no faster than 10mph (speed limit).
Chewbacca #1: They were being loud as fuck.
Bossey Boots Fact Check: To be fair, we did walk in like this, for the sole purpose of pissing them off. Side note: This is sarcasm.
Chewbacca’s Minion #1: They probably didn’t even pay to be here.
Bossey Boots Fact Check: We actually paid for two campsites because we only had a $20 and the Rangers didn’t have change.
Chewbacca Female: Mutters some ignorant, nonsensical bullshit about my hammock. Chewbacca Minion mutters more nonsensical terms of agreement.
Bossey Boots Fact Check: No one asked you if you’d like to sleep in it. Because while it fits two (or one human and a dog), I’m definitely not sharing with your rude ass.
But I don’t care enough to engage idiots in pointless fights. As my dad says, “You can’t argue with stupid.” So I rolled my eyes, returning to sleep until CampKing woke up.
Filling him in on the intellectually stimulating morning conversation (What is sarcasm, Alex), I can tell he’s considering confrontation. But after a pause, “Eh, they look like they have a combined IQ of 80 between all of them, so… Let’s go get breakfast.”
Plenty of opportunities to hate camping presented themselves, and I still want to do it again. We agreed next time we need to forget the campsites and go deep into the woods where stupid people are less likely to be found and the stars are likely to be much brighter.
Til the next adventure,