There are not too many families, especially those with children, who have not heeded the call to get back to nature and go camping. Every Friday night during the summer, they leave the suburbs in droves, packing up their motorhomes, trailers and 5th wheels with assorted sundries of bikes, toys, boats and other recreational paraphernalia.
I am struck by the irony that people who head out to “get away from it all” actually end up in tiny parking-like stalls where their neighbours in several units on either side are scant footsteps away and able to hear any transgression of flatulence one might let slip after a meal of spicy smokies.
Neighbours who, while extolling the virtue of roughing it the great outdoors, unfurl their awnings, extend their pullouts, turn on their air conditioning, open up the compartments to reveal a complete outdoor kitchen with stove, sink, refrigerator 36” gas barbeque and a 52” TV. They then crank their stereos to drown out the 97 decibels that their 3500W generator emits.
My family, while exhibiting the same pack mentality of communal togetherness in the wilderness of a nearby lake, nevertheless insists that real camping just consists of a tent, cooler and a campfire.
It is no small feat to ready our family up for a weekend of minimalism. Besides our industrial-size tent, there are 6 sleeping bags and 6 pillows, 6 blow up mattresses and 6 backpacks of clothes & toiletries. Then there are the 6 lawn chairs, 3 coolers of food and drinks, dishes, pots, campstove, 2 jugs of potable water, 2 portable picnic tables and a camp kitchen, wire weiner roasters, tarps, lanterns and an axe. Rounding out the pile we have the frisbee, horseshoes, beach balls and water wings and a first aid kit. Somehow, we manage to stuff all of these things, and us into the family car for a fleeting pioneer experience.
Lest you think otherwise, I am not being critical of the camping junket. On the contrary, I am grateful for any opportunity for a car ride, and happier still for the opportunity of quality family time with my humans in a place where adventure and new odours lie beyond every tree and bush. As a matter of fact, whenever I see the pile of equipment start to accumulate beside the family car, I quiver with excited anticipation.
Less delightful in this case is the journey. In our sojourn to the wide open spaces with our myriad of supplies to sustain us for the weekend, we are privy to a two hour ride with the intimacy of a sardine can. But even that is not a bone of contention with me. What frosts my buttons is that when the family goes on an camping excursion, everyone gets a window seat but me.