Thursday, November 17, 2016

Chapter 6.4: Setting up Camp

Back to reality, we throw the sleeping bags on the air mattress and jump in.  Air mattresses inherently have a feedback mechanism.  It has to balance out the air load.  It’s not like a spring bed were the springs work independently of each other.  A water bed would be more in tune with an air mattress.  When you’re on one side of the air mattress your weight tries to force all the air to the other side of the mattress.  Now if you have two people on the mattress it turns into a teeter totter. You can always tell who weights the most on the mattress.  If you’re sleeping 6 inches higher then your partner, it’s not you.  I always like to get into bed first, then when Bonnie jumps in, it like a ride on Disney’s Space Mountain.  You have to hang on for dear life. 

Another problem with air mattresses is that they are made out of plastic.  Plastic and skin do not go together.  Nylon sleeping bags and plastic do not go together.  People in sleeping bags on top of air mattresses do not go together.  There is very low friction between the sleeping bag and the air mattress.  I’m constantly moving when I’m sleeping.  I like to sleep on my back, roll to the left, back to the right, on my stomach.  On a normal bed that’s no problem, but in a sleeping bag on top of an air mattress, that’s a big problem.  It’s like Houdini trying to get out of a straight jacket while hanging upside down from a rope.  If you lie perfectly still you have no problem. The air mattress is balanced just right; but as soon as you start tossing and turning, all hell breaks loose.  The sleeping bag starts twisting and turning with you because it has no friction with the air mattress.  It starts twisting around you tighter and tighter.  You start feeling more constricted.  The more constricted you feel the more you twist to get out of it.  You continue twisting faster and faster.  The air mattress starts acting as a teeter totter bouncing you and your partner in equal but opposite directions.  The more you struggle the more intense is the reaction.  You’re bouncing up and down, twisting and turning in perfect harmony with each other.  Both of you are being drawn to the center vortex of the mattress where you collide in a giant.............

            Anybody have a cigarette?


Saturday, October 1, 2016

Chapter 6.3: Setting up Camp

I guess the kids are going to sleep on the floor.  I don’t want to take a chance on inflating another air mattress.  Plus I’m allergic to chainsaw dismemberment. 

I will get the sleeping bags out of the car and throw them into the tent.  All the other stuff can wait till tomorrow.  Maybe I’ll sit by the fire for a while and then call it a night. 

There is nothing quite like sitting by a camp fire, having a few beers and shooting the shi….. having intellectual conversation.  Camp fires in general have a soothing hypnotic effect which makes you calm and relaxed.  Add a beer or two and you’re calmer and more relaxed.  Add a few more beers and Quantum physics takes over. A parallel universe takes hold which transforms you into a loud, rude, obnoxious individual who’s on the way to jail.  Luckily this was only a two beer camp fire, no police or physicists were needed.

The only reason this was a two beer camp fire was because Barry’s’ friend Skip had not shown up yet.  He would have defiantly changed it to the parallel universe scenario.  Skip is one of those people you need to get the party rolling.  Don’t get me wrong he’s not an alcoholic; he just likes to have a good time.  Bonnie’s sister Barbara, her husband and kids are supposed to be here tomorrow.  It’s the calm before the storm, and the storm is coming tomorrow.  I better get some sleep. 

The inside of a tent is pretty dark at night so Bonnie bought this battery operated tent light that hangs on the inside of the tent.  Just turn it on and walla, light.  You could just use a flashlight but the tent light is more convenient.  The only real problem is bugs; just make sure the tent door is zippered shut before you turn the light on. You don’t want to attract mosquitoes and flies into the tent.  They’re attracted to that light like a “Biggest Loser” contestant to a 16 oz. T-bone steak.  If you ever slept with a mosquito in your room you know what I’m talking about.  I don’t know what’s worse the buzzing or the biting.  Flies are just as bad, especially the ones with human heads, “help me, help me.”

Luckily the country air zapped the energy out of my kids so they went to sleep without any problems.  Now it’s our turn.  An air mattress is one luxury item that attempts to bring the feel of your real bed into your tent.  Unfortunately it comes up short when it comes to comfort; unless the girl on the air mattress box comes with it, then it would be plenty comfortable.  I’m not sure the air mattress is big enough for Bonnie, me and the girl on the box.  One of us is going to have to sleep on the floor; any guesses? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Chapter 6.2: Setting Up Camp

It’s time to pump up the air mattress. Blowing up an air mattress with my mouth isn’t my idea of a good time.  It takes an enormous amount of air to blow up an air mattress. It would take at least thirty minutes to blow it up with my lungs and that’s if I didn’t hyperventilate.  So I bought this ten dollar pump at K-Mart (sorry, the Big K) that plugs into the lighter (sorry, auxiliary port) of your car.  Just plug it in, turn on the switch and the mattress blows up in a matter of minutes.  Here we go, “HHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM”(high whining sound of air pump)……….. “Turn it off, turn it off!” God is that you?  “No you idiot, its’ your wife; It's 1am in the morning, your waking everyone up.”  I had no idea that the pump was that loud.  They should have made a muffler for that pump.  Now what do I do?  There’s no way I’m sleeping on the floor of the tent, it’s hard, cold and damp.  What should I do, what should I do............?   Keep on pumping!

“Hey what’s that noise?”  “Honey turn off your vibrator!”  “What time is it?”

“HHHMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM” (two minutes) (other campsites) “We’re trying to sleep here!”  “You’re waking my kids up!”  “What’s wrong with that guy?”  “It’s 1 AM in the morning!”

“I’m going to kill you”!  “You’re dead meat”.
 (Pleatherface)  “Where’s my chainsaw”?

Alright, alright, I’m done anyway I’ll turn it off, "click".


 Just kidding, just kidding. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

Chapter 6.1: Setting Up Camp

Time to get it up... no, not that, I'm talking about the tent.  It’s so dark out I’d better get the lantern. I could have just turned my headlights on but that’s a little disrespectful to the other campers.  I get the Coleman lantern out which took ten minutes to find,  I put it on the ground and just stare at it.  I know what happened the last time I tried to light it, baa voommmmmm.  Here I go again, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, pump, turn the knob to full, turn the lever to light,


I bring the flint towards the mantles… sparks start flying as I turn the little wheel. The sweat is dripping off my forehead in anticipation,

Baaaa voommmmmmmmmmm flames everywhere.

“CARL, TURN DOWN THE BIG KNOB” a voice says. “God, is that you,” I said. “No you idiot, it’s your Brother in Law. Turn down the big knob!”  Oh yeah, so I start turning down the knob and whalla, light.  “Let there be light, let there be light,” I kept repeating.  It’s a powerful feeling to create light out of darkness. 

So Barry, can you give me a hand setting up the tent.  ‘Which one, left or right,” he replies.  That would have been funny three hours ago but not at 1AM.  “By the way, do you have any extra stakes with you?”  “Extra steaks, didn’t you bring your own food?”  I asked for that answer, no not those kinds of steaks, tent stakes!  “I left all my tent stakes at home and I have no way of staking the tent down.”  “How many do you need” Barry replied?  “Sixteen” I said.  “Sixteen, all I have is two.”  I was hoping he would have at least four, but two is going to have to do. I’ll just find a couple of tree branches to use for one side of the tent.  Just as long as I stake down the corners I should be alright for the night.  Tomorrow I can find a store and buy a couple more. 

The first thing I do is lay down the tarp exactly where I want the tent to be.  Then I throw the tent right in the middle of the tarp.  I start unfolding the tent making sure the door of the tent faces the road.  It’s just a matter of staking down the tent and up it goes.  With this size tent you need at least two people to put it up.  “Barry, Barry, where are you Barry?”  Barry just turned into Houdini, he disappeared.  I better go to the next “B”.  “Bonnie, get over here and help me!”  “Quiet, everyone is sleeping” Bonnie says.  It must be nice to able to sleep, but I got this giant tent to put up.  Grab a pole and let’s get going!  “I’ll grab your pole and rip it off if you don’t stop yelling at me.” Why do woman always have to go there? 

By the way Bonnie where’s your mother sleeping.  “She’s sleeping right next to you dear”.  “You are kidding,” I replied.  “Just don’t sleep on your side” Bonnie added; “she likes to spoon”.  “Only kidding dear, she’s sleeping in Barry’s’ tent”.  “Thank goodness” I said to myself; I didn’t want any coat hangers puncturing my air mattress. 

After a few more minutes of verbal sparring the tent was up and ready.  Did you notice I did not say up and steady?  With only two stakes and two branches holding the tent down the slightest wind could blow it down just like Humpty Dumpty.  I don’t what to wake up with egg all over my face.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Chapter 6: Setting Up Camp

Alright, everyone out of the car, let’s start setting up the tent.  I turn around for one minute and everyone’s gone. Oh! They all ran to Barry’s camp site to enjoy the camp fire. Yeah, they are enjoying the fire why I have to unpack the car and set the tent up.  Life just isn’t fair, at least for me. 

The first thing you should do when you arrive at the site is to set up the tent.  The tent is like a hub of a wheel, every other aspect of camping revolves around it.  The location of the tent is very important.  You never ever, ever want the tent too close to the fire pit.  Tents aren’t fire proof and neither are you.

*Flashback* When I was a Cub Scout Leader our Pack 618 went camping in the month of November.  Cub Scouts were always taught to put a bucket of water outside their tents just in case there was a fire.  The last night of camping turned out to be very, very cold.  You could see your breath inside the tent. Thoughts of hypothermia danced in my head as my eyes were closing and my teeth were chattering. I woke up the next morning thankful not to be a Popsicle.  I unzipped the tent and saw that the bucket of water had turned into a bucket of ice.  It’s a good thing that in my state of semi-hypothermia I decided against starting the tent on fire to keep warm.

Besides keeping the tent away from the fire pit, there are many environmental factors you have to take into consideration when deciding where your tent should be and what direction it faces. If there is any chance of rain, even the slightest chance, always put the tent on high ground.  Tents are not waterproof, no matter what the manufacturer states.  Waking up in a sleeping bag that is water logged is not my idea of fun. Flipper might think so but not me.  Actually, waking up in any sleeping bag is not my idea of fun, wet or dry. 

Now that the tent is away from the fire pit, and on the highest possible ground, you have to decide which direction the door should face.  There are a couple rules of thought on this one.  You could point the door towards the road just like a house normally faces.  The only problem is privacy; everyone walking or driving by can look into your tent.  Do you really want everybody looking into your tent?  I don’t.  I don’t want anybody to see my dirty laundry.  The only person I want looking at my dirty laundry is my wife…. After all, someone needs to clean it, and it’s not going to be me.

One glance into a tent can tell a whole story about the people inside.  If I see a messy tent, right away I think of people who are undecided, unorganized, middle to low class and unsure of themselves.  If their tent is kept immaculate, they are probably well organized, upper class, and overachievers…. What am I saying, no upper class overachievers sleep in a tent.  They are the ones who pull up in the big $100,000 dollar RV’s with the bull horns on the front.  They push a button, the sides of the RV push out, the top expands and the satellite dish rotates to find the best signal.  What I’m really saying is never judge a person by the tent he sleeps in, and always face the door of the tent away from the road. 

Ok, we need a spot away from the fire pit, on high ground, door facing away from the road, what’s next?  Trees or no trees, that’s the question.  Trees mean shade, no trees mean sunshine.  It pretty simple, putting a tent in direct sunshine on a 90 degree day is like sitting in an Easy Bake Oven with you being the main entree. But it’s really not that simple. Putting a tent under trees has its’ own problems with bugs being one of them.  Nothing is worse than getting eaten up by mosquitoes.  I’m talking about normal camping here; there are no bears, mountain lions, carnivorous ants, killer bees, scorpions and Hannibal Lectors.  Blood sucking mosquitoes can ruin a nice camp fire.  So you really have to decide, do I want to get eaten by mosquitoes or bake in the hot sun.  Well at least I’ll have a sun tan; sun it is.

I have all the information I need now to find the perfect location for my tent.  If I triangulate the three know factors, fire pit, high ground and sun, and find the average distance from all three, that should give a centralized location for the tent.  This sounds like an episode from “NUMB3RS.”  Well after all my calculations the perfect location for the tent should beee--- on the neighbors’ site.  That’s not good.  Maybe I should have used an algorithm instead of triangulation.  I could really use Charlie right about now! 

When in doubt, ask the wife where she wants it.  “Honey, where should we put the tent?”  Bonnie takes one look;” just put it there with the door facing the road.” “You want the door facing the road?”  “Yeah” Bonnie says, “It’s a lot easier to unload the car right into the tent.”  “But that’s also a low spot I replied”.  She looks at me in her usual loving sarcastic way, “the weatherman says cloudy with no chance of rain, so what difference does it make were the tent goes,  just as long as it’s away from the fire we should be OK”. Hmmm--- At least I got one out of the four factors right. 

To tarp or not to tarp, that’s the second question.  You should always put down a tarp before you put up the tent.  It’s good common sense to keep the bottom of the tent from touching the ground.  The tarp acts as a vapor, rock and mud barrier.  It also keeps the bottom of the tent a lot cleaner.  Tarp it is.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Chapter 5.7 On the Road Again (con't)

After driving for three hours I start to feel a little drowsy.  My eyes are straining to see the road ahead while  my brain is desperately begging for oxygen to keep me awake.  My body starts contorting in the seat to ease the muscle spasms.  All right, that’s a little dramatic; I’m sick and tired of driving.  It’s been three hours after all.  Wait, what’s that, what’s that straight ahead; my eyes are so tired I can barely make it out.  It looks like a sign.  It says Cammmp Parrrrri…. Camp Paradise next left. 

Hallelujah, ♫♫♫ hallelujah, hallelujah ♪♫♪, haalaaluuujah ♫♫♫, hallelujah ♫♫♫ hallelujah ♫♫♫ hallelujah hallelujah ♪♫♪ haalaaluuujah.  All right, who keeps switching the radio?

It’s always a relief when you finally arrive at your destination, or so I thought.  I made the left at the sign and turned into a dirt road.  Do they have dirt roads in Paradise?  I expected at least stone, maybe even asphalt.  I know I’m a pestamis, but this is not starting out good.  This road is like never ending, its pitch black out except for my headlights.  I can barely make out road.  I can see glowing orbs of lights staring at me as my headlight reflex off the eyes of hidden marsupials.

What’s that up ahead?  Oh! It’s a skunk.  No—o its two skunks,,,  three skunks,,,, four skunks,,,,,, six skunks, twenty skunks!!! A hundred freaking skunks!!!!!  “Scotty beam me up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“Where the heck are we!”  Did that sign say Camp Paradise or Skunk Paradise next left?  I never have seen so many skunks in my life.  Wait one minute, let me check the Camp Paradise brochure again; nope, there’s no mention of skunks greeting you at the entrance.  For some reason, they left the skunk greeting out of the brochure.

Lets’ see, “here’s a skunk, there’s a skunk, every where’s a skunk skunk., a stripe stripe here, a stripe stripe there, there’s a stripe, here’s a stripe, every where’s a stripe stripe” …….  …….hmmmm……… “I do not like skunks here nor there, I do not like skunks anywhere, I do not like them in a box, I do not like them with a fox.  Not in a box, not with a fox, not here nor there, not anywhere”……….”Skunk skunk here ♫♫♫, skunk skunk there ♫♫♫ in the merry oh land of OZ, it’s time to skunk the day away ♫♫ in the merry oh land of OZ.”  I must be really tired; I’m regressing back to my childhood.  Old McDonald, Dr Seuss and The Wizard of OZ are playing mind games in my head.  It’s time to drive thru Skunkville and straight ahead to Camp Paradise. Like the Fresh Prince of Bellaire said, Smell you later.” 

There she blows, Camp Paradise just beyond the small bridge over the creek. “We’re heeeerrrreeee.” I shouted.   We made it; now if we can only find our campsite. It’s totally pitch black out except for a few lingering camp fires. I put on my parking lights to see.  You’re really not supposed to drive with your headlights on in the campsite, especially at 12:30AM when everyone is sleeping.  “Hey! Over here, over here!”  Did I say everyone is sleeping, not Bonnie’s family.  Their night was just beginning.  That’s bad news for me, I’m ready to go to bed, or in my case to air mattress.  The only problem is we have to unpack and set the tent up.