I’ve been hiking in places where you could go for weeks without seeing another person.Of course places and hikes like that pose their own logistics problems–packing two weeks of food is no small thing, plus a tent and sleeping gear, and it all adds up to fifty pounds or morevery quickly. Such a hike is not for everyone, and the people you do see are a sort of clan.Usually young, fit and often solitary.“Car camping” is a horse of an entirely different color. What we did was snag thecamping gear (or most of it), zip to the grocery store for hot dogs and other high-bulk,low-value foods, and hit the road. Total packed weight: about 400 pounds.Our chosen camping place is about seventy miles away from the city, and we drive it inslightly over an hour. Halfway there I remember what I forgot to bring. It’s always something,and always something important. This time it’s sleeping bags or any other sleeping gear other than the air mattress. This could seem like a problem considering that our tent is made entirelyof mosquito netting with a plastic floor. But I think it’s okay because it’s hot, and it doesn't look like it’s going to get cool tonight. Still, a disappointing oversight from the purist’s point of view. Sleeping bags are pretty obvious, wouldn't you say? The memory of One’s and my firstuse of the tent under slightly different circumstances also lingers–that time was in autumn, andwe did not know that the tent was lacking nylon siding. It frosted that night, and we woke withice on our noses. We won't have that problem tonight.And at least I’ve got everything I need to make coffee. Didn't forget that.
Upon our arrival, we sign up for our camping space and drive over to it. I set up the tentand send the boys off for firewood. I am not a fan of campfires, marshmallows, or any of therest of it. It’s too frenetic for my tastes. I’d rather hike or swim, look around and listen to thesounds of wildlife, or even just drink a cup of coffee and read. But the boys consider “camping” and “toasted marshmallows” synonymous. So we must have a fire, and this, in theopinion of the boys, will require no more than five or six, five-foot long sticks of about thethickness of my thumb. I send them back for more, and twice again, reminding them each timeto avoid poison ivy. Since our campsite is surrounded by poison ivy, it’s easy enough to showthem what to avoid. Naturally, we all still get some poison ivy, and I get the most of all.I finish putting up the tent. We go off together this time, ostensibly for more wood, andwe do get some, but I bring my camera and take about fifty shots on the way. We find somevery interesting bugs and a couple of armsful of wood. If I were alone, this would be a goodtime for that cup of coffee. Instead, we’re off to swim. Two brings his soccer ball to play