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28 July 2009

You Do Not Have To Have Teeth To Camp

Some national parks have long waiting lists for camping reservations. When you have to wait a year to sleep next to a tree, something is wrong. ~George Carlin

It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.
~Dave Barry

So, I'm telling you, the campsite we reserved for this weekend was the crappiest campsite we've ever seen. We got site 13, lucky number right? Wrong. Very unlucky indeed. Site 13 is one of 31 sites at this campground that was smack dab in the middle of 30 back country toothless campers on hiatus from the backwoods. The sites were so close together you could watch your neighbor sleep from your tent. To make matters worse, when we checked in, the large motumbo woman with the raspy voice and lisp from missing teeth, told us 'not to be afraid of the bunnies. They love it here. In fact, the store across the street even sells packages of bunny food but of course, they are happy to eat anything we give them.' My heart sank. How were we going to quietly set up camp and chill while our 3 dogs were murdering the camp friendly bunnies one by one?

Instead, we opted to head to the beach for a few hours and forget about the nasty little campsite we had awaiting us. We took a little snoozer on the beach while the dogs, tied on long tethers to a large piece of driftwood, tried to dig to China in the sand and had contests on who could mark on the driftwood the most. Then after a long walk down the beach, we went for a drive. On a whim we drove by our favorite little motel about 2 miles away where we found new owners and after a bit of chat with them, discovered to our delight they had 3 empty campsites behind the motel, complete with grass, wood, fire pit, bathrooms and showers - and no bunnies. Without hesitation we paid for the site and began setting up camp - to heck with the other joint! We tethered the dogs and let them roam the grass and chew on the firewood. We did end up getting one neighbor camper family next to us - definitely from the backwoods and missing a few teeth. But they were friendly enough and kept their distance. Funny thing was, we only had a two-man hiker tent - not big enough for 2 humans and 3 big dogs. We had borrowed our friend's two-man tent so we set up both tents next to eachother and split up at night, each of us with a dog or two.

When we arrived back in town, it was unusually hot and muggy, unlike the cool breeziness from the beach. Well, why not extend the fun so we set up the tent in the backyard, complete with a fire, beer and music. We fell asleep late with the dogs resting peacefully just outside the tent. A few hours late into the night I woke up to raindrops falling through the tent skylight. We scrambled to put the cover on and went back to sleep only to wake up a couple hours later in the blistering suffocating sun. Our bodies and sleeping bags were drenched in sweat. So much for the leisurely morning we had planned with a fire, coffee and breakfast in the backyard. We scooped up our gear and fled for the inside of the house where we turned on the A/C and sat in front of the fans to cool off.

When you think about it, camping is a funny thing. It's ironic that we leave our comfortable urban lives to eat hotdogs and chili, use smelly latrines, and sleep a few nights outside on the hard bumpy ground. That's one way to look at it. Another would be that we temporarily trade in the comforts of home because we crave peace, slowed pace and a closeness to nature - our roots. Camping forces us to slow down, breath in fresh air, play games, talk to eachother and forget about the rat race. It may be hard working prepping to go and quite a drive to get there but once the tent is set up, the fire is going and the beers are open, you know it was worth all that effort. I think from now on we are going to fore-go the national park seen. They book for the whole season 9 months in advance of the summer. We may also fore-go the county campground scene as the impression it left on me is still digesting. I'm going to pull out my long lost book called 'Free campsites in Oregon and Washington' and start researching. We'll see how that pans out. Either way it happens, it's still camping even though we'll without a doubt eventually encounter the toothless back-countrymen again. And that is ok, just as long as there are no bunnies.

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