Remember when you packed up, gassed up, and hit the open road to become one with Mother Nature? A cooler, a tent, a couple sleeping bags, a flashlight, plus a pack of matches, and you were good to go for an entire weekend it seemed. During the day, we easily entertained ourselves with a deck of cards, Frisbees, a transistor radio, and Mad Libs (or any other small item that could fit in our backpack). We'd hike for miles, pee in the woods, scout out stumps and boulders for our campfire seats, whittle our marshmallow sticks, and set the stage for that night's ghost stories. We went to bed dirty, slept in our clothes, and woke up to start another day with unkept hair and unbrushed teeth. We scarfed down a doughnut for breakfast, PB & J for lunch, and a hot dog cooked on a stick for supper. Add ripple chips and Koolaid and viola---gourmet! Now throw in a couple hundred mosquito bites, a dozen or so blood soaked band-aids, a pile of muddy rain drenched gear, and an empty bottle of Calamine lotion. Not in a million years, will you ever be able to convince us that it was anything less than...... heaven on earth.
So why? Why have we complicated things by "improving" the camping experience? Log chairs gave way to lawn chairs, then folding camp chairs. Flashlights got pushed aside, and out came the rechargeable lanterns. Now headlamps are the "in" item. Heavy duty wooden match sticks lost out to Bic. But why settle, when you can own the ultimate fire starter? A refillable windproof flex shaft automatic butane grill lighter in your choice of red, blue, black, green, or yellow for $35.00? A steal. So much better then keeping the kids busy for a couple hours with a Dollar Store magnifying glass and some dry twigs. Right? hmmmm..lets think on that.
Coolers became bigger and better....but not as effiecient as a mini fridge running off a quiet gas generator. I do have something to admit though. As much as I miss laughing hysterically when listening to the nightmare stories of setting up outdoor sleeping quarters...The tent Gods have indeed smiled upon us. Even at 2am in pitch blackness, anyone can get an eight person tent up in under 5 minutes! Its still going to take you awhile to blow up your mandatory air mattress however. Well, unless you have a handy dandy inflator thats plugs into your car lighter. Damn... there goes another hour or two of time consumption for the kiddos. And heres another question...how ridiculous is it that the expense of nightly S'mores exceeds the cost of our campsite?! You wonder why campers cave to the ease of Little Debbie snack cakes? If the cost factor doesn't phase you, just remember the potential for a sticky mess on your new portable DVD player or laptop. You know...the one thats keeping the kids entertained after your one Duraflame Log burned out bout a half hour ago. And now you are sitting by yourself in the dark...but in your comfy chaise lounge camp chair...with a red solo cup full of deliciously cold cold beverage...with no one to share stories with. Maybe its time to call it a night? Or maybe head over to the bathrooms ( or inside the RV) for a hot shower...blow dry your hair, charge your phone....contemplate tomorrow's adventures. Hhmmm..I wonder if that restaurant down the street serves steak? Wheres the closest McDonald's? I wonder if theres an arcade in that mall I saw? I wonder what they are playing at the movie theater up the road?
I know people camp, or stay at campgrounds for numerous reasons. Comfort levels, budget restrictions, rest & relaxation methods, vacation needs, health concerns, etc. differ from person to person, family to family. Some campers love the mountains; Give me the surf. Through the years, I have tweaked my techniques, modified my "must-haves", and perfected my packing list. I've discovered the wonders of the hobo pie maker :) and I've fallen victim to the iphone... (and every fun and/or useful camping and outdoor app thats out there)...but I know when to put it down. Sure Siri's voice is comforting and helpful during my times of need... but its doubtful she'll be able to warn me when I've nodded off by the campfire and my sneaker soles are smoldering.