Tenting: I don’t do Spartan bravely. On these outings, I miss my warm bed, home-cooked meals, and indoor plumbing.
I wondered if we’d need a Sherpa to help us survive “roughing it” for several days in the Adirondack Mountains in northern New York. From the mound of stuff still to be packed, we’d definitely need a trailer to haul it off.
This is from the way-back files when our girls were little, but the memory burns as brightly as the campfires we sat around at night.
About 200 miles into our trek, I realized I’d left my pillows and air mattress at home. Groan!
When we returned home, I shared my woes with my neighbor. But he just clucked unsympathetically, “What, no water bed?” I rolled my eyes. That was absurd. The TV and the vacuum cleaner took up all the room in the trunk.
The camping area, built at a 90-degree angle on the side of a mountain, was not the remote, idyllic spot to pitch a tent that I’d imagined. It looked like tent city.
There was no privacy. Our tents were so close that I could hear the guy next to our campsite lick the stamps for the postcards he was writing by the firelight.
I opted to sleep in the car while my husband used my sleeping bag for a pillow. Our girls nodded off an hour before, tuckered out by the day’s activities. Actually, I slept rather well, except for: the discomfort, my intolerance for frostbite, and an unrelenting need to “take a pause for the cause.”
The latter caused me to wake at midnight and 4 a.m. At midnight, I fought the feeling and went back to sleep. By 4 a.m., it was no longer a question of choice. I left the car. As our only flashlight was in the tent, I groped toward the object of my quest.
Earlier that evening, on a similar errand, I’d gotten lost leaving the restroom as I headed toward our tent in a downpour. That time, I had the flashlight. So, understandably, I left the car with misgivings. I had no sense of direction and a magnum of suspicion.
Campers had complained about bears foraging thru the garbage cans for food. Not wishing to run into any wildlife, I double-checked every shadow to be certain the Masked Marauder wasn’t lurking in the bushes.
Then … a loud crash. I froze, unable to move … for what seemed like an hour. There, cloaked partially in shadows, was the Masked Marauder. We locked eyes.
His beady eyes were behind a mask. He had a long, pointy nose. I’d know him anywhere. It was a raccoon. He grabbed a bag of food from an insulated cooler and ran off, leaving a trail of groceries in his wake.
Boy, those folks are in for a rude awakening come morning.
Slowly, I stumbled back to the car.
The ultimate outdoors’ person successfully navigated the total distance from tent to john – in a direct line – of 200 feet.
About 2 hours later, I was awakened by screams from the neighboring tent.
“John!” a woman shrieked. “All our food’s gone. It’s scattered all over the campsite.”
Not to worry, I thought. The nearest Waffle House was just 15 minutes away. I’d checked the map as soon as we put the tent’s stakes in the ground.
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Photo – Camping – owned by Environmental Protection Agency http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/59/AZALEA_CAMP_GROUND_AT_DAWN_-_NARA_-_542727.jpg/640px-AZALEA_CAMP_GROUND_AT_DAWN_-_NARA_-_542727.jpg
Photo – Campground – owned by Environmental Protection Agency http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c5/LODGEPOLE_CAMP_GROUND_DURING_MEMORIAL_DAY_WEEKEND_-_NARA_-_542747.tif/lossy-page1-640px-LODGEPOLE_CAMP_GROUND_DURING_MEMORIAL_DAY_WEEKEND_-_NARA_-_542747.tif.jpg
Photo – Raccoon hiding in the branches of a maple tree – taken by Ken Thomas http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/81/Raccoon-27527-4.jpg/600px-Raccoon-27527-4.jpg