by Allen Rolf
Camping has changed a lot in the past few years. A couple of weeks ago, Alice and I decided to spend the weekend at Lake DeGray to give our daughter, Terry, the experience of camping out in the wilderness.
We spent a small fortune at WalMart on camping gear, and by mid-afternoon Friday, we were on our way to become acquainted again with the great outdoors. Along the way we talked about the wonderful weekends of past camping and how we would re-discover the adventures of outdoor weekend living.
Our first hint of trouble was at the first campsite we tried. It was closed.
"It says they're full," said Alice, reading the sign, "and that we should try area Q down the road,"
Area Q was also full ... as was R, S, T, and V!
"Wow, there must be a lot of people camping thsi weekend," I observed.
Terry started whining about having to go to the bathroom.
At dark we finally came to an open area called "Overflow Camping - Section M" and the ranger told us he only had one space left.
"I'll take it!," I said.
"well, it dosen't look to mear the water," observed Alice, "in fact, the lake is clear across the road, I think."
"I gotta go," whined Terry.
I carefully drove down the narrow road to the campsite, passing dozens of motor campers along the way. Kids on bikes and skateboards were everywhere, while their parents sat watching color TV. One couple had even brought a portable swimming pool to set up beside their RV!
"Where are the tents?" Alice wondered.
We finally reached our site which seemed to be occupied by one giant rock. I wondered how I was going to stake the tent.
As we inspected our weekend campsite, a kid came down the trail on a four-wheeler.
"Hey, Terry ....!" the kid yelled, "It's me, Sarah!"
"Hi, Sarah," said Terry, "you know where there's a bathroom?"
"Sure, we got two of them in our camper, one even has a hot-tub. We just got a new eighty-foot RV that even has a pool table in the game room and it gets three miles to the gallon!"
I'm going over to Sarah's," said Terry.
Not until we get the tent up," I replied.
"Now I know I'm adopted," bawled Terry. "You won't let me go play pool with Sarah!"
"You're not supposed to play pool when you go camping ... you're not even supposed to watch TV!"
After reading the instructions four times, I finally got the tents up on the rock slab and Alice started getting ready for supper.
"Where's the firewood," she asked.
"Dunno, should be some around here somewhere. I'll go ask the guy next door."
Our neighbor was lying in a hammock sipping a beer and watching a hockey game on ESPN satellite. Wet towels hung from the dish.
"Wood?" he laughed, "Ain't been none of that around here for ten years. You bring you're own, buddy, and you better guard it when you do it!"
Alice wasn't pleased when I told her to expect cold hot dogs for supper.
Without wood for a campfire, a TV or a pool table, we of course, went to bed pretty early. Terry put up a big fit to stay with Sarah for the night and kept muttering something about cruel and inhuman child abuse.
When we finally got settled down, Alice asked me if the TV was a bother.
"Which one?" I asked. They seemed to be all over the place. Then there was the guy with the motorcycle. He kept fiddling with it to see if he could make it run better without the muffler. At midnight there was some sort of celebration and they set off some fireworks.
"At least there aren't any bears," observed Alice.
"No respectable bear would come out here with all these crazy people," I replied.
"Bears? Bears?" screamed Terry. "I wanna go stay with Sarah!"
So, as I observed at the start, camping has changed in the past few years. But, thankfully, Alice came up with the answer for our second weekend of enjoying the great outdoors.
The stars coursed through their mystic orbs above. The cool early morning breeze danced through the tent. I awoke to hear a Mocking Bird's early song.
"You alseep?" I heard Alice say.
"No, I was just laying here enjoying the peace."
"Well, Terry has to go!"
"OK," I said. "The backdoor is unlocked."
Great idea Alice had, camping in our own backyard!
© 1998 Allen Rolf