Good Times Camping

campingBy Judy Berman

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.”

campgroundThe 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.

Those beady eyes. I'd know him anywhere.
Those beady eyes. I’d know him anywhere.

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.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: Judy Berman and earthrider, 2011-15. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to (Judy Berman) and (earthrider,, or earthriderdotcom) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo – Camping  – owned by Environmental Protection Agency

Photo – Campground – owned by Environmental Protection Agency

Photo – Raccoon hiding in the branches of a maple tree – taken by Ken Thomas

  1. If it doesn’t say Hilton, you can’t get me there! One time I was a chaperone on a church kids’ retreat at a nearby state park. We slept in barracks style buildings with a fireplace but no heat. It was early June and after the fire went out it went down to the low 30s. I got dressed under the covers. While I had a good time with the events, no one could get me to do it again. No bathrooms, no showers, no heat, no happy Kate!

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who would rather not venture into the wild … except for a stroll thru a nature park. Overnight? Not so much. Now that you mention it, Kate, the temps did drop at night. Brrr! (But, I confess, as a kid, I loved the whole camping experience with my Girl Scout troop. My Mom, who as an assistant leader, was there and we had a great time.)

  2. Most historians agree that one chief reason for the success of the Lewis and Clark expedition was their detailed map showing every Waffle House in America. (And if they were too far away from one, Sacajawea knew where all the IHOPs were.)

  3. This is priceless, Judy! Exactly the laughter break I needed today as I emptied drawers for the Goodwill clothing drive. You are the Erma Bombeck of camping adventures, and your greatest triumph was that you didn’t lock yourself out of the car at 4AM! (Talk about a missed opportunity to truly endear yourself to other campers!)

    1. Too funny! Just envisioning me locked out of our car in the middle of the night … priceless. Thanks again, Marilyn, for the Erma Bombeck comparison. I can sleep well tonight knowing I made you laugh.

  4. Great I finally found someone that shares my love for camping. My friends laughed when they saw I packed my makeup and my revolver. Never slept during the first night and headed for the hotel the next morning.
    Still great memories

    1. Me and a revolver would be a very dangerous combination as I get skittish every time I hear a noise in the woods. You are not alone. I much prefer a bed and breakfast (or hotel) to a night spent on a cold, dirt floor in a tent. 🙂

      Looking back, it was a wonderful time and our girls loved it.

  5. I love camping in the same way that you do! Keep me in your thoughts as I will be out in the wild next weekend 🙂 I know where the nearest Cracker Barrel is from our campground, so I will use it in case of emergency.

    1. Just think … what could possibly go wrong? Then, times that by ten. 🙂 Cracker Barrel is another fine choice for dining when you’re trying to escape everything burnt over an open flame. I hope you have a great time. Bless you. You will be in my thoughts.

      1. 🙂 Thanks, there is no rain the forecast, yet. Mother Nature probably has just not noticed the camping reservation 🙂

        comment from earthrider to Amy (Photography Journal):
        Give her time. Give her time. 🙂 (Hope you do have great weather and a fun time.)

  6. You make me wanna Camp soon. Perhaps this Fall when weather is cooler. I want my son to experience this amazing event and being one with Nature. Thanks for sharing a great adventure.

  7. Oooh – no pillow or air bed – I would have headed home at that moment I think, can’t manage without my pillow!! 😀 I love the bit about hearing the guy in the next tent lick his stamps!!! 😆 Well, you certainly gave me the laugh for the day – very entertaining! And this is a very good example of why I NEVER go camping! And thank God for Waffle Houses!! Waffle Houses are not common in the UK, but there is one in the city where I live – but no camp sites near by though! 😉

    1. A little hyperbole … and a few good-natured laughs at my expense … all for your reading pleasure, Suzy. Glad you enjoyed my story. What? There’s not a Waffle House on every block? How uncivilized. (Kind of like camping.) 🙂

      1. No – Waffle houses are definitely are a rarity in Britain! My lovely friend of many years (originally from the US) was a student in the 90’s and introduced me to Waffles at ‘The Waffle House’ I knew what they were, but I’d never had authentic ones before. Waffles in supermarkets tend to be soft, very sweet and rubbery – OK if you like gooey sticky trashy food! 😀

        comment from earthrider to Suzywordmuser:
        I’d much prefer to munch into a lovely, crisp Waffle House waffle, along with some crispy bacon. That’s the perfect way to begin – or end – a day of camping. 🙂

  8. I think my favorite part was how you didn’t bring the water bed because “the TV and the vacuum cleaner took up all the room in the trunk.” Understandable– HAW!

    I, too, am a proud member of the Non-Roughing It Club. We’ve taken a lot of bike trips, but they’re always the kind where you spend each night at an inn or B&B, and leave the raccoon nature walks to someone else. Great post, Judy, and wonderfully droll! : )

    1. There’s just so much you can cram into a trunk before you’re calling on Two Guys and a Truck rental.. 🙂 I do prefer a comfy bed in a B&B or a hotel. Sharing my breakfast with a raccoon is not on my agenda. Glad you liked this story, Mark.

  9. I agree–the last time we went camping my husband started talking like Patrick Henry, in the middle of the night, except he modified the saying to, “Give me luxury or give me death.”

    We sold the tent at a garage sale.

    1. Tracy, you and your husband caught on quick. We were slow learners. We graduated from the tent to a pop-up camper. When we started doing more camping in the driveway than out in the wild, we knew it was time to go. 🙂

      1. Haha–we had a pop up in our drive-way when I was a kid, which we used for sleep-overs and only took to a campground twice. That taught me something.

        Or maybe our quick catching-on had something to do with the fact that our kids were grown when we decided to try camping as a family–they had their own tents and we had ours. They now camp in a cushy trailer that resembles a house; while we stay in a nearby B&B and just visit for the picnic and marshmallow roast before going back to civilization to sleep. Even when we stayed in the north woods in Quebec, in the secluded boondocks in the middle of nowhere, we found a place with private cabins with hot water/fully-functioning bathrooms, and a lodge that cooked our meals (fresh-caught fish; steak; bacon and eggs) and served us.

        comment from earthrider to Tracy:
        I like your idea of camping much better. I’d also bolt right after the marshmallow roast for a place that served meals at the table. Yum! 🙂

  10. Great writing, Judy! I’m jealous because I so love this kind of camping. But at the same time I’m happy cause you had fun. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

    1. Believe me, little lilly, I’d much rather have been under that waterfall you and your family were enjoying … or at least running thru the water. Glad you enjoyed my story. Thanks for writing.

  11. I love that Alan Sherman song. I haven’t been camping although I’ve been to school camp. I really admire you, Judy, but give me mod cons any day.

    1. That song cracks me up every time I hear it. I really haven’t gone camping all that many times as an adult, and probably only a few when I was a Girl Scout. You got me, marymtf. What are “mod cons”? (And, thank you, for following me and commenting.)

      1. Here in Australia, we say (or used to in ‘my day’) modern conveniences. You’re such an interesting character, Judy. I just wanted to make sure to stay in touch.

        comment from earthrider to mary:
        Why, thank you, mary. I’ve just checked out your blog and find it very enjoyable.

  12. I have never gone camping Judy and have always felt I missed out. But truth be told, I would probably react the same as you. I love my bed and gleaming porcelain way too much 🙂
    Fantastic post..

    1. I enjoyed camping more than I’ll admit to publicly … whoops! too late. But I do prefer a nice bed and breakfast or a comfy hotel to the great mosquito-infested woods and critters lurking everywhere. 🙂

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