By Bernie Bates
Every summer since the days of horse and buggy we’ve packed up the family and hit the open road. We dared to see what was on the other side of that horizon with nothing more than a tent, some beans and the yearning for an adventure.
Most of us have childhood memories of going camping at some remote lake, swamp or dusty hell hole. However some of the younger generations only know of things like; water slides, resorts and theme parks. They’ve missed out on the wide open spaces, the fresh air and swimming in chlorine-free water. They have no idea what it’s like to rough it in a rustic setting – the lucky little sh*ts.
These modern day lads and lasses wake up, turn over and pick up the phone to order breakfast: “easy over, not too crispy and lightly toasted.” They don’t have to fight mosquitos, listen to their dad snore or smell the last night’s bacon and beans. These privileged tots wake up in climate controlled comfort, and not in a sweltering hundred degree tent, that only mere hours ago was cold enough to freeze brass balls.
These trendy travelers rustle from their crisp sheets walk a few steps to their very own private bathrooms and wiz away in peace. They shower away their bed-head, brush their teeth then put on clean, dry clothes. Whereas we used to stretch our aching backs from sleeping on lumps, bumps and rocks. Then we’d have to run into the nearest bush with toilet paper in hand, squat down only to piddle on the back of our underwear. At which point we’d yearn for the monotony of home life and the drudgery of chores.
Trust me when I say that camping isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As they say: “been there, done that.” As I’ve gotten older the idea of sleeping under the stars isn’t as romantic as it once was. I don’t like to eat burnt bacon with slimy eggs that have garnished with ashes from the campfire. I also hate flimsy paper plates, plastic forks and coffee that tastes like dishwater. And can you tell me why in the hell it always seems to rain whenever you go camping?
When I was too young to know any better I thought the great outdoors was a form of freedom. I never wanted to go home and bathe, do my chores or eat another vegetable ever again. The idea of sharing the woods with bears, cougars and snakes was kind of cool. For some adults camping is an adventure that they relish. These fearless folks favor survival in the wilderness over creature comforts. They love the smell of campfire smoke, the view from a tent flap and getting dirty in the bush with the one they love. To them I say: “All the more power to you hardy hillbillies.”
But as for myself I’ve grown to enjoy a roaring gas fireplace, a panoramic view from a twelfth story balcony and getting dirty with the one I love – in clean freshly pressed sheets. Yes sir, Jed Clampett, for me it’s the great indoors that make for a happy holiday. If I wanted to eat outside I’d go alfresco at some quaint little bistro. And if I choose to take a walk on the wild side all I have to do is drive to a campsite and take a stroll along the very same lake that campers use to wash, fish and pee in. Then I can simply hop back into my air conditioned car and drive back to the hotel for a three course dinner with dessert. And I don’t have to do the dishes, make the bed or crap in the same woods as a bear.
Don’t get me wrong I think it’s a wonderful thing for a family to get back to nature. Show the kiddies that there is more to life than television, telephones and video games. Drag the little brats out of their comfort zones and make them sleep in bug infested filth. Make them eat cold hotdogs with burnt marshmallows for dessert. Then promise them that next year you’ll take them to Disney world, but only they if promise to make their beds, do their chores and eat all of their vegetables, including broccoli.