Every year when the weather turns hot, the traditional American camper loads up his camping gear, abandons the comforts of home and heads for the Great Outdoors.Call me a wet sleeping bag, if you will, but I don't think there is any such thing as a really good camping trip. At some point, you're going to be hot, stinky and miserable, and there isn't anything you or your fairy godmother can do about it.
If summer finds you considering a camping trip, please study my list of observations (and a few choice tips) before loading up and leaving town:
1. Good campsites don't exist. The ones that did exist are now parking garages the size of Montana. If you find a site that's reasonably flat, get out and unload.
2. Bugs are the bosses at campgrounds. You can run, but you can't hide. No matter how many bug-be-gone candles you burn, you won't extinguish the head honchos of the Great Outdoors. Bring a king-size fly-swatter and plenty of first-aid.
3. Campers are never clean, and if you become one, you won't be clean either. Whither thou goest, dirt will go. Wherever thou lodgest, dirt will lodge. Thou food shall be seasoned with a pinch of soil…a touch of ash…a hint of soot…a powdering of perspiration. Don't bother taking any soap.
4. Camping isn’t synonymous with activity. In between hotdogs, there isn’t much for campers to do, besides sit in lawn chairs, listen to crickets chirp and count mosquito bites—which, of course, keeps them busy for awhile.
5. Modesty isn’t an option while camping. Your underwear will be viewed by one and all, hanging from low-lying limbs, car antennas and myriad fence posts. Keep this in mind before embarking, and bring the best you own.
6. Campers laugh a lot. They have to laugh to keep from crying. They’re generally nursing nasty sunburns, poison ivy or brain concussions from colliding with tent poles in the middle of the night.
7. Campers have character. If they don't have character upon arrival, they have it when they depart. It’s just what happens when adversity arises without easy access to Wal-Mart.
8. Campers go to bed early. They’re worn to a frazzle from chasing flies off the picnic table all day.
9. After sunset, campgrounds are the darkest places on planet Earth. Take plenty of kerosene and renew your faith in God before departing.
10. Camping isn’t for wimps. If you turn out to be wimpier than you thought, do the honorable thing and admit it. The only thing more pathetic than packing it in and finding a motel, is a wimp in denial trying to outmaneuver mud slides and monsoons.
The way I see it, Mother Nature is some kind of wonderful, for sure, but if you really want to ENJOY her breathtaking bounty, bring along a Winnebago.