"...it's like Will Rogers, Jean Shepherd and some grumpy Jewish man all rolled into one."

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Getting out of (not out in) nature

I rarely approach topics from a serious perspective, yet there are times I feel the need to make an exception. This is not one of them.
Camping is a complete waste of time, and here are my reasons:
Why do people say they want to get closer to nature and then separate themselves from it by erecting a nylon barrier?
It's a popular family activity which everyone seems to enjoy except for the parents and their children. "Let's take our rambunctious crew of hyperactive adolescents, ages 3, 5, 7 and 10 -- plus the baby and dog -- remove them from an environment where all that is needed to fulfill their daily demands is conveniently at hand, and relocate them to a distant locale where every single necessity of daily life presents a logistical challenge and is therefore often forsworn. Also the inevitable rain."
When I want to "get away from it all," I go out for a beer like normal people.
Think about it -- why would you want to sleep on a lumpy surface inside a poorly ventilated enclosure where the smell of other people's farts (not to mention your own) has no path of escape?
People talk about mitigating the risks inherent with camping -- keeping food safe from bears, skin safe from insects, possessions safe from interlopers. There's a foolproof method to accomplish all of this, called "staying home."
Many folks share a romantic vision of being in the Great Outdoors: a day filled with strenuous, invigorating activity; evenings filled with hearty, flame-grilled meals followed by a restful night's sleep on a bed roll in the open air under a vast expanse of star-filled sky while listening to the distant cries of native wildlife. Kind of like the first twenty minutes of Brokeback Mountain but then it went off in a different direction.
When I was younger, I would regularly carry essential supplies and my own meals into an environment filled with the unknown; where the only way to get to my next destination was to walk along unfamiliar pathways; where I would often arrive not properly prepared for the weather or other challenges I was about to face; where I would surrender my need for order and control to the direction of a higher authority; where even though there may have been others around me I often felt truly alone. This was called "high school" and I don't care to repeat the experience.
My few and far-between camping experiences include these highlights: a bear trashing our cooler; a chipped tooth from trying to inflate an air mattress without a pump; a cold front moving in overnight, bringing temperatures below freezing in late August; a late-night dash out of the tent to pee aborted by an encounter with the aforementioned bear, and someone serving me decaf one morning without notice, resulting in a withdrawal headache so severe that it was all I could do to spend ten uninterrupted minutes cursing out the person who handed me the cup.
Now when I feel the urge to camp, I take a leisurely walk through the nearest Cabela's while examining the gear and stuffed critters. Once I've had my fill of the Great Indoors, I buy a piece of fudge, exhale contentedly and drive home. And they also provide a safe place to pee.

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