Saturday, October 3, 2015

Camping: How to Show Your Ancestors Who's Boss
Recently the wife and I ventured into the cold, dark heart of nature in order to prove to our long-gone ancestors that we are capable of surviving as they did, in harsh and angry world devoid of modern comforts. Just as they did, we spent our days walking and our nights under the stars. We cooked our food over a roaring fire and raised a toasted marshmallow in tribute to those who came before us.
                Oh and also like our ancestors, we kept a car close by. You know, to keep us and our food safe from marauding bears and to drive in case we wanted to go somewhere that was really far away and we didn’t feel like walking.    
                Alright fine, so maybe our ancestors wouldn’t exactly have been bowled over by our definition of roughin’ it, but still, we did survive a weekend spent predominantly outdoors. That has to count for something. Get off my back, ancestors.
                Probably the most important part of any camping trip, after the tent, a knife and finding a cool walking stick, is the fire. Without a fire, you got nothing. No s’mores, no light, no warmth. (Editor’s Note: These things are listed in order of importance from most important to least important.)
As I’ve found out from past camping experiences, lighting a fire without the benefit of electricity or propane or what have you can be trying. Very trying. You got to find the right blend of large and small bits of wood, you need something to get it going with, be it matches or flint, etc. So this time, I planned ahead. On the way home from work on the day we were set to depart, I stopped at a local grocery store and picked up two Duraflame logs. Duraflame logs are amazing. They’re what Prometheus got busted stealing from the gods. At my wife’s suggestion we also packed a bunch of wood that’s been collecting in our backyard. We had prepackaged corporate/Ancient Greek fire and we had lumber. We were set.

First night, the Duraflame log worked like a charm. We had ourselves a nice roaring fire and all was well. However, I think I got a bit overzealous with feeding said fire and on the second day, I began to worry that we may be running short on wood. We couldn’t spend a night camping without fire. That meant no s’mores. If we didn’t have s’mores, we might as well have just stayed home.
On our hikes during the second day, I kept my eyes peeled for tree parts. Being as though we were in a public campground, the pickings were slim. Still I managed to find a few promising subjects and we brought them back to our campsite. I still feared it might not be enough.
I was right. Before the sun had set, our second Duraflame log had consumed all of the rest of our wood, including what we’d found that day. I had to act. S’mores are a nighttime food and our fire wouldn’t make it without more wood.
Luckily there just so happened to be a trail next to our campsite which led to another series of campsites, all of which had been shut down for the season. I spied a few interesting pieces up there during our hikes earlier in the day and so that was where I headed. I made a beeline passed a nice family and their three small dogs who were just out for a stroll. I was on a mission. I reached the campsite I’d noticed earlier and found a number of helpful small branches … and one giant log. Using all the strength I had in my surgically-repaired robo-wrist, I lifted the log and the branches and headed back to my fire. I once again passed the nice family with the dogs. They looked perplexed.
We were once again back in business. My plunderings carried us through s’more time and well into the evening. Soon, we were once again facing a wood shortage. The smaller pieces were all gone and the remnants of the Duraflame were no match for the giant log which remained. Even though it was now completely dark, I knew what needed to be done.
I ventured back up to the abandoned campsite with flashlight in hand to search for more wood.
                In very short order I realized two things. One: It was going to be a lot harder to find wood. The campsite I’d hit up earlier was tapped out so I needed a new spot and now it was dark. The other thing I realized is that, a slightly inebriated male aged 18-30 wandering alone in the woods is a prime target for any iconic, mask-wearing mass murderers who just so happened to be vacationing in the area. This made me quite nervous. The constant snapping of twigs and branches I heard also made me quite nervous. They also annoyed me because I could use those twigs and branches for the fire. Where were they?
                Eventually I found a good-sized log and returned – quickly – to my fire. Sadly, the log was too wet to do much of anything with and we had to let our fire die. I’d faced down almost certain death at the hands of any number of horror movie monsters and all for naught. Ah well. It’s all part of the camping experience. 

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