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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Man-Camp 2010 - The OTHER Half-Day of Nature (Part 4)

What??? Are you still here reading about our boring camping trip?  I would stop writing about it but I'm in too deep now.  I have to finish!  So just sit back and enjoy part 4 of 5.

When we last left our heroes...

We decided to go hiking.  We had just hiked the day before so it probably wasn't the greatest of ideas.  But we were in the wilderness... what else was there left to do?  We had firewood and our clothes were drying.  So we decided to hike farther down the trail to see what else the mountains had to offer.

Since we were in the valley between two mountains, the trail generally followed a mountain stream about 50ft away.  A very COLD mountain stream.  I remember it being cold the last time we were there because we all bathed in it's Arctic frostiness (not at the same time, mind you).  It was Spring we when made the trip last time but I promise the water could have held an iceberg or two if it had been deep enough.  So there would be no stream bathing on this trip.  I would be carrying this manly musk back home with me.  And that's the way it should be!

The other two people (the Scoutmaster and the Dr.) who were veterans on this trip wanted to find a little water hole they had found before.  They remembered how cold it was but they didn't care because there was a deep pool of water to swim in and a little waterfall to accent the scene.  It all sounded fine and dandy but I wasn't going to get in it!  One of my friends wondered why.  So, I told him.

You won't hear me do this a lot but I'm going to make a racial (NOT racist) statement here.  I don't know a lot of black people who enjoy water.  And I'm going to go out on a limb and say YOU (as in ANYONE reading this) don't either.  Sure, you might know one or two but they are about as rare as the elusive jackalope.  I'm going to let you think on that one for a moment.  Now, to add to the thinking process, how many black people do you see at the beach?  THEN think to yourself... How many of those at the beach do you actually see in the water?  I'm going to guess (with confidence) that you won't find too many.  Years ago there was a HUGE argument about the TV show Baywatch (I told you YEARS ago) not having many black people represented.  People were calling the show racist (NOT racial).  Personally, I think they were being pretty accurate.

Racial (NOT racist) statement part two: You don't see a lot of black people in places where it's cold.  Do we need to take a break so you can think about this one too?  We are just not fond of cold ANYTHING (minus drinks).  When you watch the Summer Olympics we are everywhere.  When you watch the WINTER Olympics we are not even at the indoor events.  We don't ski.  We don't play hockey.  We don't ice skate.  And I will repeat this...  You might find your one or two but you will not find a number that's even statistically recognizable.  I don't know why but that's just the case.

Now combine the two previous paragraphs and tell me if you have ever seen a black member of the Polar Bear Club.  Just the thought of that BLOWS my mind!  I can't imaging perfectly sane people WANTING to strip down to almost nothing in subfreezing weather and jumping into a pool of water that's probably colder than the subfreezing air.  I can't even wrap my brain around that one.  I'm sure there is an exception but I have looked at photo after photo and have yet to find a single one.  (This might be a good challenge to my readers.  If you have a pic of a black Polar Bear Club member, send it to me.  I would love to see it just so I can mark it off of my bucket list.)

And THAT'S why I didn't care too much about the swimming hole.  It wasn't even something I was going to look back on years later and go, "Man, I wish I had risked hypothermia and drowning just so I can say I did it." But I'm not a party pooper so I was on the lookout for it as well while we were making out way down the trail.

I'm not sure how far we went (but it wasn't even a mile) when the Scoutmaster thought he saw it.  So he went to investigate.  And by investigate I mean he cut through the overgrowth to get to the stream and starting making his way back upstream.  I think we all learned a lesson that day. We learned that is a lot has changed since we were here during our late teens.  After going from rock to rock (then eventually just walking in the water itself) he realized he couldn't find the original spot.  Too much had changed.  But, of course, he wasn't going to let that stop him.  So he and the Dr. found a different spot.  And all was well... until the next trip when they try to find this NEW spot again.

I decided to make my way back to camp.  So did the Rookie.  We made it back and enjoyed the last few minutes of direct sunlight left in the day.  The swimming hole adventure didn't last as long as I had expected it to so the other two were back at camp not too much longer after that.  It was definitely lunchtime.

This is also when we got to what the camp was really about.  As we ate MREs (the same food that the fine soldiers of the US military enjoy) we finally took a few minutes to just talk.  We talked about life.  We talked about politics.  We talking about the state of the US.  We even talked about time travel and physics (that conversation didn't last long).  We talking about where our lives are and how different it was the last time we were in the exact same spot.  We talked about the Butterfly Effect.  We talked about religion.  We talked a little about everything and a lot about nothing.  That was easily my favorite part of the whole trip.  There were a lot of funny and crazy things that went on in the VERY short time I was there but those conversations were the most memorable.  If life sees to it that we NEVER get to go back again, I will at least have that moment to keep me company.

Everything was going great until people started showing up.  Apparently, everyone got the memo that I was going to be at that particular campsite and wanted to come and see if the rumors were true.  Of course, THAT wasn't the case (I don't think) but people did start showing up.  As stated in an earlier camping post of this trip, we saw very few people the last time.  We also didn't have to share the area the entire trip.  Now, already, on this trip we had another person sharing the area (the Fisherman) and other people were coming through OUR campsite.  We didn't mind the Fisherman being there because he was.. well... out fishing pretty much the whole time.  But we had a few smaller groups of people come through first looking for a good campsite.  We directed them away.  Then a larger group came through looking for the same thing.  We gave ALL of them the "this is OURS, go get your own" look.  And they all obliged.  That was until the LAST group showed up.  I can't remember what group they were with (mainly because I didn't speak that much to them) but they decided to make our cramped campsite even crampier. (For some reason, spell checker didn't like crampier.  Oh, well.)

We didn't know this new group of people so we didn't trust them either.  (That meant all of us kept our weapons of choice close just in case.  My little knife was easy to conceal.) We also noticed that they were ill prepared to camp.  They were fine for hiking but not for camping.  This is especially true since there was a frost warning in the area for that night.  I kinda felt bad for them and so did the Scoutmaster.  So before going to bed, he made sure that the fire was a large, good one and that they had plenty of chopped wood ready in case they needed it.

We decided before we went to bed that we would move the tent a little.  I spearheaded this movement because through the course of the day I found out that not EVERYONE was sleeping with a root in their side.  So we moved the tent and changed the sleeping arrangement.  I really felt good about the new move until it was time to go to bed.  I put my sleeping bag in it's new spot.  I placed my trusty knife next to where my head would be for quick access. (You can't trust those squirrels.  Every good camper knows that!)  I get in my sleeping bag and there it was.  Mr. Root's cousin.  ANOTHER FREAKIN' ROOT!!!!  You've got to be kidding me!  Was this thing following me?  I moved my bag around to try to find the best spot.  But even the BEST spot left me with a root press in my back.  I just had to make do.

There was a problem with this night's making do with the root.  I don't even know if this is medically possible but I'm blaming it on THAT root even if it's not!  But for some reason, that root in my back kept making me have to go pee.  And I'm not talking every 30 minutes to an hour.  I'm talking like 5-10 minute intervals.  There were several problems with that.  I didn't have my glasses on so I couldn't see.  The tent was dark and I was on the side away from the entrance.  So that meant every 5-10 minutes I was getting out of my WARM sleeping bag, putting on my shoes, stumbling over everyone, opening the tent (letting in MORE cold air and making me have to pee worse), making my way down a trail (blind and in pitch darkness), peeing, making my way back (under the same conditions), opening the tent again (more cold air), stumbling over everyone, taking my shoes off, getting back into a (NOW) cold sleeping bag, and finally snuggling up to my favorite ROOT in the whole wide world.  I don't know how many times it happened as I stopped counting at 42,007.

I'm sure this ritual was annoying everyone but no one said anything.  The Scoutmaster DID finally offer me a foam padding to go under my sleeping bag.  It was something short of turning water into wine (probably not a good analogy for someone who was peeing a lot).  But it worked!!!  I didn't have go pee after that.  Granted, it could have been the fact that there was ZERO water left in my system after the many, MANY trips to the bark covered port-o-potty.  But, as I said before, I'm blaming it on the the root.

I would like to say that things ended there.  We were in the tent.  It was dark.  It was cold.  It was time to sleep.  But someone decided to put the final exclamation point on the evening.  Someone... And I'm not naming any names because that would be RUDE.  Isn't that right, Scoutmaster??? Someone decided that the night wasn't complete until someone sounded the evening tuba.  Someone (Scoutmaster) ripped on of the loudest, most explosive farts to finish the day off.  Does everyone remember that we were in a closed tent to keep as much of the cold out?  Nothing says camping like trying to decide of you want to freeze to death or die a painful death from paralyzing gas of a butt bomb.  The rest of us zipped up our sleeping bags over our heads and prayed for mercy.  Sometimes that's your only option.  It did, however, insure that if someone or something was going to attack the campsite that night we were protected by an invisible field of toxic gas.  Sorry other campers... you have to get your own!

That simple (yet hilariously disgusting) act also led me to believe that, though, there were a lot of things different on this trip from when we made it almost 20 years ago... some things were still the same.

Stay tuned for Part 5 and FINAL chapter of the Man-Camp 2010 Saga.