Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tent Camping

Experiences from the terrifying to the humorous come to mind merely by those two words: tent camping.

My parents taught me to love camping, having taken me to the Mammoth Lakes every year for vacation for several years in a row.  A nine year old boy finds great delight in living in the dirt, digging a hole to poop and swimming once a week instead of taking a bath.

We camped in tents at June Lake before there were condos.  Hey, it was before there was a paved road.  (Yes, I am that old.)  The latrine was behind a tree up the hill.  I had my own pup tent, and didn't mind sleeping on the ground.  That was then.  Now not so much.

I actually rose at dawn to catch a trout and fry it for breakfast.  Camp food was wonderful.  The ashes that drifted into the beans just made them taste better.

Now my wife has taught me the sensible pleasure of camping at resort hotels.  On a recent junket she ordered lobster eggs Benedict.  And as for the pup tent and earthy mattress, I've come to the place that I am unable to get down to the ground, and if I do, I need serious help getting back up.  Now for an octogenarian whose bladder demands attention at 4 in the morning, that routine is way out of the question.

There were several years that Barbara and I took our boys camping, however.  It was not because I had convinced her of the joys of the rugged life.  No, it was an economic necessity on the preacher's impecunious salary.

There was the time we traveled from Front Royal into the Blue Ridge Mountains to find a camping spot all by ourselves.  I kept the boys busy hiking and Barbara fixed meals.  It was a beautiful sight.  Some people just do not appreciate the experience of cooking and doing dishes in refugee conditions.

When we visited Williamsburg for the first time, we pitched the tent not far from the town and made daily trips.  Very educational.  On the Lord's day we took a drive to see Yorktown, but there was a rainstorm that stopped traffic.  It was like we were parked under a waterfall.  Later, when we returned to our campsite, we discovered that a tree branch had fallen through our tent, ruining the tent and drenching the contents.  Wasn't that funny?  No, actually it was not.  Other campers let us use their station wagon so, between their's and ours, we housed the family for one last night.  Later it was reported that that storm produced 2 inches of rain in half an hour.

Fast forward a few years.  The kids are grown, and we have camping friends.  I weighed my chances of giving my wife a pleasant camping experience, and decided I should cook.  I determined to cook gourmet meals.  Steak from the freezer would take two days to thaw completely, and a favorite of ours was cornish game hens.  I simply doused them with generous amounts of salt, pepper and garlic. then I double wrapped them in heavy foil.  I rolled them back and forth over the grill, listening to the spit and crackle of rendering meat.  Couple that with potatoes baked the same way and maybe some corn or a veggie bought from a farmers' market on the way, and we had a worthy meal.

This became our planned routine for camping until we ran into hornets.  Camping with our dear friends, Bob and Susan Lee and their two children, I treated everyone to this cornish game hen banquet.  However, who knew that there was a hornet nest nearby?  And who knew that they would be frenzied by the scent of grease?  It turns out we were more in danger of eating a live hornet than we were of being stung by one.  This definitely modified the pleasure intended for this meal.

They say with age there comes wisdom.  I think the point is with age more mistakes have been experienced by all the dumb things one has done.  If this is wisdom, so be it.  The wisdom I have gained in lo these many years has me enjoying the camping we do at resort hotels.