Thursday, September 20, 2012
Camping with strange bedfellows: Week 21
Left the bicycle at home to go camping.
My husband and I have reached an age where sleeping on the ground means not sleeping, so we have a Big Top of a tent, big enough to stand up in, and which fits two of the sturdiest camping cots we could find. Takes over an hour to get it all set up (what else is there to do when you're camping?) and more than once we've been asked how many people are staying with us, but hey, it's really fun. It's as close as you can get to an RV without the crummy mileage.
It might be my imagination, but it seems like the fellow campers we run into are getting more colorful.
Here's my mental picture of camping:
Reality: On a trip last fall, the two guys in the site next to us, very polite and friendly, brought along a punching bag, which they fixed to a Douglas Fir and from time to time, well, punched it (whupata, whupata, whupata, whupata).
Across the road? A foursome who set up a compound, with a screen room (check the Cabela's website if you don't know what that is), tent, motor home, a 4-wheel drive off road vehicle.
They were also polite, and quiet, wore camo and were well-armed. It wasn't quite hunting season, but we weren't going to be the ones to point that out. When we came upon a huge elk in the woods during a hike, I tried to warn him (the elk), but he didn't seem very impressed.
On a trip to the coast this summer, we camped next to a couple of women cycling from Astoria, Oregon to California, and their son, who was driving the sag wag. There was a minor disagreement about who claimed a particular campsite first, but I was happy to accede because a couple years ago some friends and I pitched our tents too closely to the neighbors' for their comfort, and a woman came screaming over to me (everyone else was away at that particular moment), instructed her dogs to pee on our tents, told me I was full of excrement and other unmentionable things. We acceded then, too.
So ... is it worth it? Knowing that it's possible to end up bivouacked next to any kind of bedlamite?
Absolutely. Sleeping in a tent, even if it's 50 yards from someone who makes me a little nervous, is a good reminder that I'm not in charge. Not really. Without fresh air and lungs to breathe it, I wouldn't be here. It's kind of like church, under stars, atheists welcome. It's not a bad thing to get a little grimy. Without central heating, door locks, wi fi, a refrigerator and running water, it doesn't take long to be humbled, or to discover that it is possible to sleep for 11 hours a night, and then to wake up to a kind quiet you just don't get anywhere else. We read, we talk, we hike and fish. We rest. Time stretches out and snaps back, the way time does.
Of course, coming home again is pretty sweet.
Got any good stories about interesting camping neighbors?
Update on my quest to bicycle 104 times in 52 weeks. Week 21: rode/commuted 1 time. Grand total: 56 (14 rides in the bank).