Saturday, August 5, 2017

Nurse the Hate: Hate Camping


 It is  very well documented that I do not like camping.  This is because I am a sensible man.  I see no reason to leave my shelter for a shoddy tent in the wilderness.  As I recall from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, “shelter” comes right after “food” in the laundry list for survival.  It’s hard to worry about “self actualization” if you are being bitten in the eye by a snake.  Let’s not even get into the toilet scenarios.  I am a firm believer that the only reason to be emptying my bowels into a terrifying port a john is if I am in an internment camp or perhaps in a pinch after having eaten Indian street food.  There is no chance under normal circumstances that I will be stooped over in the woods like a feral dog.  For God's sake, I am a Star Club Premium Rewards Member!  Thus, it was a rare experience to find myself camping last Saturday night.

Now "camping" means many things to many people.  I have heard people talk about "camping" in regards to driving enormous motor homes to corporate run lots with water and electric hookups.  This is not camping.  It is sleeping in a parking lot in your big car.  I have also heard people refer to camping as staying in a luxurious tent that has been set up by minions that looks like the Pottery Barn catalogue barfed out onto a State Park.  This is also not camping.  It's still awful but not camping.  While obviously not roughing it, it still holds no appeal for me.  I turned down an offer cold of being taken down the Grand Canyon via pack mule like a Maharashtra to my four star quality condo tent where a team of servants would cater to my every whim.  The bottom line is I didn't want to go to a common latrine.  No thanks.  That’s still just too close to camping for my liking.

Yet I found myself last weekend struggling to put up a tent in the woods with Leo and Sugar in the western NY wilderness.  It was a gig in the woods, an extraordinarily fun party that led me to break my anti camping ban.  As I am so adamantly anti camping, this should give you an idea of how good the party is.  Let’s be honest.  I bring almost nothing beneficial when it comes to setting up a campsite.  I gave it what I had though.  I'm a good guy for the "hold onto that pole while I pound these stakes in" sort of help.  Somehow, we got a tent up and tossed in our meager supplies.  I had a sleeping bag and a bottle of water.  That's all my camping supplies.  I have a Swiss Army knife, but it's the one with the corkscrew on it, so I don't think that is much help unless you are camping with Robert Mondavi. I’m like a shivering little lamb out in the woods.  This is why in certain circles I am known as "Lamby". 

Quick factoid…  The last three times I have camped has been at this party over the span of 10 years or so.  Each of these three camping experiences has gone exactly as follows:  We play the show.  We drink a bunch of beers while we play.  Someone offers us psychedelics after the show.  I sensibly don't take them as it is 11:30 at night.  It seems like a bad idea to worry about my face melting off at 445am when everyone else went to sleep two hours earlier.  As I am not 20 years old any longer, or at a Jerry Garcia Band show, I am not in need of having my mind re-arranged.  I have enough problems.  I lean towards the “two beers after the show/shit talk by a campfire” game plan.  This is NOT the game plan followed by all members of the rock band.

It is usually within 20-35 minutes after our set that I lose Leo.  I would categorize Leo at this party as a junkyard dog that is trotting around the woods looking to see what he can get into.  This leads to the exact same scenario all three times I have camped.  It is about 4am.  I can hear Leo and whatever new friends he has made at the party walking down a path towards our tent.  Someone else sleeping in the tent will also wake up and hiss out a warning.  “I think that’s Leo!”  He is always in full life-of-the-party mode with a heavy cackling laugh.  It is literally the last thing you want in your tent at 4 am after already sleeping for a couple of hours.  Thus, I always shout/whisper “Shut the fuck up!  He’ll hear you!”.  The voices begin to come closer.  No one in the tent dares to move a muscle.  It’s like a horror movie where I am staring at the tent flap zipper, swallowing my Adam’s apple down, hoping beyond hope I don’t see that zipper move and knowing The Monster might enter.  All three times he has failed to recognize the tent and kept walking, a heavy sigh let out when the coast is clear.

Morning wake up comes with the sun.  It is ungodly early.  This means I have slept on the hard ground for about 3 hours total.  I couldn’t be less refreshed.  I make old man noises when I sit up like “uhhh… owww… ahhhh…”  If I had my druthers I would abandon the campsite completely, climb in the van and drive away.  Fuck the tent.  Fuck the sleeping bag.  See you later.  I am driving to a Marriot.  Instead, the worst part of camping then ensues.  Breaking down the camp.  The very last thing I want to do after three restless hours of sleep is to take on chores.  Yet, the only way I can get out of the woods is to shoulder the burden of trying to pack the enormous tent into the tiny storage bag.  It never works correctly.  I half ass it and then haul the stuff back to the van.  I just toss whatever shit was with us into the back of the van to worry about it later.  Then comes the most difficult part of camping.  Finding Leo.

There are about 300 people crashed out in tents sleeping off a dizzying array of recreational drugs and booze.  Inside one of these is Leo.  Well, that is if he isn't still up holding court by the fire.  Another real possibility is that he fell off the gorge in which case fishing his body out of the creek and hauling it up the cliff is way too much work for 8 o'clock in the morning.  We would have to leave it for the coyotes or whatever else might eat a decomposing drummer.  I think we would return later to place a tasteful memorial stone, so don't think me too callous.

I try to listen for the tell tale Leo wheezing coming from a tent.  I can't poke my head in too close or I will be accused of being some sort of peeping Tom cowboy.  God knows what kind of frontier justice would be carried out in that situation.  It is interesting to think that now the tables have turned.  Leo is undoubtedly in a tent hoping not to hear my footsteps outside.  The hunter has become the hunted.  When Dad finds him, the party is over.  Somewhere he wheezes the wheeze of the innocent.  The cheetah must find this wounded gazelle.

Somehow we always find him.  Each time it is exactly the same.  It's always by pure chance.  Someone is leaving a tent and the exposed flap reveals an evil leprechaun.  Or maybe he just walks out into a clearing like a pasty Sasquatch sighting.  He always looks tip top.  I am the exact opposite.  Every muscle in my back is remarkably sore.  I have an ache behind my eyes from lack of sleep.  The back of my skull seems barely attached to my neck.  I want to shower and re-set.  Meanwhile he emerges from those same woods, fresh as a daisy.  He's all smiles.  Crisp.  Ready to go.  I want a clean toilet and he more than likely shit in the woods like a bear and wiped his ass with leaves.  He is a man made for the woods.  In Man vs Nature, he has scored a triumphant win.  Me?  I have lost.  Again.  Man, I hate camping.     

2 Comments:

At August 8, 2017 at 4:49:00 PM EDT , Blogger Cy Zibrik, MPA said...

I appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. But that doesn't mean I want to sleep in it. To me, roughing it is staying at a hotel that does not have room service.

 
At August 9, 2017 at 9:49:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Agreed.

 

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