May 29, 2005

The 5-Hour Camping Trip

My in-laws like to camp and head out every Memorial Day weekend from Friday morn to Monday afternoon. My wife and I generally join them for a 30 hour stint but it was shrunk to five this year on account of rain and fatigue and lack of interest. I can’t say I’m too upset although I do miss the post-camping euphoria. Camping, like swimming the English Channel, may not be enjoyable at the time but afterwards you feel whistle-clean.

But five hours lends no sense of accomplishment and instead the opposite. On the way home my brother-in-law’s voice on the cell sounds crestfallen. He is coming up Sunday morning and we are going home Saturday night and all we can say in our defense is that we are duds. His disappointment is oddly touching and I consider the possibility of making the 90-minute trip back to the camp the next day until sanity is restored.

We got there about five on Saturday and it’s pouring down rain. We make for the camper and lay down, lethargic from the drive. In my drowse I hear ominous words like “house boat”, “Lake Cumberland” and “rent” and I lie back down. The sound of the rain against the canvas top is comforting and relaxing.

The rain eventually quits and we’re back out doing what camping is all about: preparing the next meal. It’s discovered we’re low on firewood so four of us head back to Aldephia, Ohio population 400. The trip takes about 45 minutes and then we can begin cooking in earnest. There are pork chops, steak, chicken, brats, mets, hamburgers and hot dogs. Paradise for the Atkins dieter.

By 8:30pm we’re sitting down to dinner and getting down to some serious eating. An hour later we’re staring catatonically at the fire, giving Gov. Bob Tax hell. We try to solve the school funding crisis. By 10 we’re back on the road, and by midnight back in our own bed.

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