20 April 2012

Gone Camping

Welcome back. Jogging this morning, I noticed the RVers are back. I tried to be very quiet when I passed. As recreational vehicles go, this one’s a nice size; a step up from what I guess is still called a camper. I never see the RVers, just the RV. It reappears for a few days every 4 to 6 months, parked in front of the same house, plugged into the house with a long power cord.
I wouldn’t want to pay for the gas, but an RV this size seems like a comfortable way to travel and camp out. If you want the real thing, you can always unpack your sleeping bag and curl up under the stars or pitch a tent, breathe the fresh air and cook over an open fire. Or run inside if it rains.
Warren’s parents, camping in mid-1930s.

My parents hiked and camped a lot but stopped that sort of thing after my brother and I were born. Frankly, my mother didn’t look that thrilled in the camping photos I found. It’s possible she just woke up and my father told what she missed. Once, when she was sleeping, he saw a snake slithering across her body! Shouting might not have the desired effect, so he just watched. The snake slithered on by.

I don’t know any details about the snake or its family heritage, but, when young, I always envisioned something like a medium size boa constrictor, albeit rare for New York’s Adirondacks. Maybe that’s why I’m not wild about camping.
My Camping Life
The fellows who prepared the campsite for a
UN project in Northwest China, early 1980s.

I shared my most recent camping experience in my first blog post. It was long ago, far away and short. I didn’t select the site, which was near a flowing stream for bathing. I wasn’t responsible for cooking or setting up the tent, which was large and nifty. And I didn’t have to dig the restroom facility, which was also pretty nifty.
One of the cooking areas at the
China campsite, early 1980s.

My only other semi-memorable camping experience was for an undergraduate summer engineering survey camp--5 weeks in a tent for 5 credit hours. I think there were 20 to 30 students. I don’t recall how many tents we shared, but we were within crawling distance of a structure with plumbing facilities. I remember the cook, from a fraternity, but not the food, so it must have been ok.
The restroom at the Northwest
China campsite, early 1980s.

None of us was overjoyed about being there. It sure cut into our months for earning and playing. Several students, particularly those who were married, tried to commute, even when we had evening meetings or assignments, which was regularly. We were about 20 miles from campus.

We did learn. We employed every known ground surveying approach to map a chunk of terrain that encompassed a small forested mountain or big hill, depending on where you’re from, and a small lake.

We also went off to collect data for monitoring ground subsidence over an underground salt mine. We never saw the mine, but we did get to see a student being driven off to a hospital. That day’s lesson was avoid hitching rides on a car hood when you’re carrying a precise level.

Wrap Up

This is all to say that when our son, Noah, was growing up, it was my wife, Vicki, not me, who took him camping. When they returned each time, I didn’t bother to ask if he liked camping, because all he ever talked about were the side trips--whitewater rafting, ATV riding, lying in a field to watch a Leonid meteor shower.

Yep, those would have improved my attitude about camping when I was young, even if they weren’t as cool as watching a boa constrictor crawl across your tentmate.

Thanks for stopping by.

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