Sunday, July 18, 2010

National Lampoon's Camping Vacation

Love me some family tent camping. What's not to love?

A lot of American cultural rituals have evolved over the generations, but I don't think much has changed at all when it comes to backing in, pitching the tent, setting up the camp stove, yelling at the kids for not helping and sitting your southern end in a lawn chair, a frosty adult beverage wedged into the cup holder.

This weekend, the family and I mini-vanned over to a Washington state park situated along the Green River in Eastern King County. Actually, it's just outside of Enumclaw, and the nearest Starbucks is only about ten minutes away.

We co-camped with some old friends who have two daughters the same ages as ours, so everyone was paired up. The two fifteen-year-olds took turns uttering thoughtful phrases like, "Why does there have to be work?" and "Do you think everyone here knows I haven't taken a shower?"

They spent most of their time reading Us and Star magazines, which we parents feel is the perfect summer resource to keep those educational brain juices flowing in their thirsty, young crania. Now we all are fully briefed on the drugs Linday Lohan has been plying herself with, in addition to the size of the cell she's about to inhabit.

I realized I shouldn't have made any references to the Green River Killer around the campfire the first night after I overheard my friend explaining to his daughter what a prostitute is. Nothing beats a good scary camp story, but no parent should have to branch off into the evils of the sex trade while munching on s'mores.

A family of four sleeping in one tent is also a dicey proposition. We rarely slumber together in one room, let alone one room with only a thin layer of nylon separating my loved ones and me from an ax-wielding, deranged ranger, or clown or something else with easy access to our vulnerable selves. It was no accident that I slept furthest from the biggest tent zipper.

Actually, the real difficulty with this arrangement is sleeping next to my teenager, who employs the shark method—if you stop moving, you die. Her elbows are swift and lethal; her knees strike with blunt precision. In the morning, she remembers nothing of the pain she inflicted upon the man who inflated the air mattress, of which she occupied eighty to ninety three percent of its surface area.

But enough of the negatives. I love the taste of food while camping. It seems more well-earned and delicious, even if it's chips out of a bag. Bacon is in another stratosphere, as are burgers, spaghetti and the old stalwart:

The skewered weenie.

So pack up the kids, the dog and the OFF, it's time to head to the great outdoors. Just don't forget your National Enquirer.

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