Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Camping, Swimming or Dogs -- Part I

I grew up with a father who despises all three: camping, swimming and dogs. Being the oldest, I think these same preferences were imprinted upon me at birth (along with some other characteristics of my father, such as legs that refuse to tan no matter how much sunlight they see). Of course, being repulsed by camping, swimming and dogs makes you unpopular with nearly anyone who likes to do anything fun, so I have spent much of my life attempting to psychoanalyze the root causes of these dislikes and even trying to learn how to like each of them. Thus far I haven't been very successful, and this is my attempt to explain why. I think you will see how normal I am.

Camping: My idea of camping is eating some hot dogs and smores in my kitchen and then resting in my bed while watching the travel channel. What is not to like about camping? Well, bears for one. I am not really scared of them, but I am pretty sure they are after me. If you have ever stayed awake at night on self-appointed bear protection duty, which I have many times, you will know what I mean. There are bear-like sounds that happen all night long and I am reasonably sure, although I do not ever dare to look, that they are dancing around my tent at night taunting me, waiting for the perfect opportunity to strike. I once heard that bears will come after any trace of food, so much of my pre-bedtime camping routine is to make sure there are no crumbs of any type anywhere in the tent, the car (they could break in and then what would we drive home in?) or anywhere in the campsite. Unless I'm camping with people I don't like, in which case I put all of the crumbs in a neat little pile in front of their tent.

Speaking of tents, that is another problem. Whether or not they have instructions, they never seem to cooperate. I have spent nearly 3 hours trying to put up a tent (just to clarify, this tent was more like a folding mobile home, but that is another story). It is humiliating to ask for help from another guy while taking the kids camping for father and sons campouts. Or one of the scouts on a scout campout. Or my wife on a family campout. Or the forest ranger when I'm camping alone. Then there is the food. As a youth, every trip I went on involved a plan by our camping leader (which was never my parents, because we didn't camp as a family) to create the world's best "tinfoil dinner". I soon learned that tinfoil dinner was a code name for "raw meat and crunchy potatoes." Except when you are able to make a fire big enough to actually produce some heat, in which case it is more like aluminum-wrapped charcoal. Needless to say, I have gone hungry on more than one campout, which is why when I take my kids camping, I pick up McDonalds on the way there. I could go on forever, but here are 10 more reasons for the camping aversion (sorry to all of the boyscout leaders that I may be offending):

1) Mosquitos, undeterred by Off! spray
2) Where are all the toliets/ Have you noticed the forrest doesn't have very many good things to wipe with?
3) Maybe I'm made like the princess that felt the pea through the mattress, but if you ever need help locating the hardest spot of ground and the most rocks, call on me to pick the site to post the tent.
4) Tent stakes do not go in well through solid rock
5) I don't carry a gun, but what do you do when a bad guy comes in the middle of the night and wants to kill you and your children? If you had a gun, would you shoot? If so, what if it was your uncle trying to play a funny, but scary, joke? If you don't shoot, you are toast. I bought a house for a reason, and one of the reasons was locking windows and doors and deadbolts.
6) If there are no toilets around, where do you think everyone is going to the bathroom? That's right, it is everywhere you are stepping, sitting, exploring. Enough said. And don't tell me the rain washes it away. I watch Mythbusters (did you know that when you flush the toilet it really does send thousands of germs flying through the air in the bathroom? Enjoy that thought next time you brush your teeth).
7) I once tried to blow up an air mattress. Let's just say if I had decided to finish someone would have had to perform CPR to keep me alive. So, I'm back to the hard ground again.
8) Every good idea I get about something fun to do while I'm camping involves electricity. "Ah, it is so peaceful and quiet, I think I'll check the score on the D-backs game." Or, "what a great time to write in my blog". You see the problem.
9) I can give you a detailed report about how loud and how often everyone in my camping group snores. Tents do not make good sound barriers. See above for the reasons I am not sleeping at night and you will know why I am able to provide this valuable snore-tracking service. See me if you need any background checks on potential husbands.
10) Nearly every camping trip leads to a "let's go to the river/lake/swimming pool" (I don't know why but sometimes camp sites are near swimming pools). That leads to disorder #2, which you will find in my next blog post.


DAD said...

Okay, I have to admit that I relate to what you posted, Tim. Or maybe I should admit that I am related to you!

As you said, I have an aversion to camping, swimming, and dogs. You did a nice job of explaing the reasons for hating camping, but you left out a couple of things:

1. Smoke. Not only does your food either turn out to be half-cooked or charcoal, but the smoke always drifts in my direction. My eyes burn and my clothes smell so badly by the end of the camping trip, that I'm sure people suspect me of having a smoking habit. If I move to a different part of the campfire (keeping the front side of me overwarmed while the back part of me freezes), the smoke changes direction and comes right after me. Apparently, campfire smoke is some sort of an "ugly detector".
2. Cold. In addition to the tendency to pitch our tent in a location that has at least one good-sized bolder directly under my sleeping bag, it seems that my feet and face freeze on camping trips. The only time I have been colder was when I was in Germany during one of the coldest winters on record. Unfortunately, I also was in a small town with no highrise appartment buildings and had to resort to knocking on doors. Those who opened their doors to us said we were crazy to be out in such weather, but wouldn't invite us in to warm up. I got so cold that I was sure my ears would shatter if someone flicked them. That is pretty close to the way I feel when "sleeping" on a campout.

Laurie said...

Hey....the next time we come to visit....let's go camping!
I really just want to pretend I'm a bear stopming outside your tent!

Anyway I'm really not sure if I understand you correctly, but I think (correct me if I'm wrong)that you don't like camping!