Lee Pitts: It’s the Pitts 8-15-11
August 15, 2011
This summer it has become obvious to me that most Americans simply don’t have any idea how to vacation properly. Lugging the family through airport security only to be mistreated in Europe is not a vacation, it’s hard work. Who can enjoy staying in a nice hotel knowing that for every night you stay you could have made one house payment?
I read recently that 70 percent of people connect with work while on vacation! That’s not a vacation, it’s a fake-cation. Heck, I don’t even connect with my wife when I’m vacationing. Whatever happened to the good old American tradition of going camping for the annual family ordeal? And I’m not talking about loading up the family in a 42-foot motor home with satellite TV, hot showers, HDTV, Internet access and four slide-outs. I’m talking about a real camping trip where the only thing in your ear is a treble hook from a wayward cast.
Here are a few other things that camping is NOT:
• You are not camping if there is a gift shop within 60 miles of your campsite.
• There are no beds or 300 thread count sheets on a real camping trip. You sleep in a sleeping bag on the ground, not on a mattress, cot or blow-up bed. You must be fully exposed to things that slither on the ground. As for a pillow? That’s what rocks are for. Try to find a soft one.
• Speaking of blow-up beds, you can’t use a generator or a compressor on a real camping trip because the noise they make might scare off the bears and mountain lions.
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• You must leave your I pads, I pods, laptops, phones, video games and even your GPS at home to be truly camping, so that if there is an emergency back home the only way the authorities will be able to get in touch with you is by contacting the Highway Patrol and by putting out an all-points bulletin or Amber alert for you. Now that’s camping!
• Rugs, microwaves and food processors have no place in a proper campsite. Meals are never catered and the only prepared foods you’re allowed to bring from home are marshmallows, Graham Crackers, chocolate and wieners. You hunt and fish for your food and if you fail in your quest, you tighten your belt a notch or two. And there’s no cheating: no scopes for your guns or fish finders on your boat. You’ll fish from the shore like the rest of us. If you don’t have to hide your food from bears you are not camping. You big sissy!
• Recently I saw in the Cabelas catalog (the Bible for campers), an entire section of “camp furniture.” I love Cabelas but shame on them! Chaise lounges, rockers, zero gravity chairs, fold-up kitchens, and showers are not allowed on a real camping trip. Neither are heaters, air conditioners, espresso machines, coffee makers, refrigerators, saxophones, electric porta potties or bio-toilets. (Don’t forget the shovel.) You are definitely NOT camping if you use a restroom, outhouse, bidet, liquid soap, extra soft toilet paper, deodorant or room deodorizer. If you stink, or are sharing a sleeping bag with your spouse, spray on a little more OFF, which might also keep some of the more sensitive insects away.
• Heat is supplied by the campfire for which you must gather sticks or dried up and old cow pies. (The fresh ones are hard to light.) You must be two hours away by helicopter from the nearest emergency room doctor and there must be plenty of unidentifiable insects, ants in the food, scorpions and snakes in the sleeping bag. Also, plenty of ghosts and Bigfoot sightings for the kids. No mosquito nets or shaving either!
• Anything you might buy to make your vacation experience more enjoyable should be left at home. You aren’t supposed to enjoy a camping trip vacation … you are supposed to survive it. You must endure extreme discomfort so that when the vacation is over and you come home with marshmallows in your filthy hair, poison oak, first degree sunburn and a scrapbook full of memories, you’ll also have a greater appreciation for toilets, food without sand in it, beds and your otherwise boring life.
Now that’s a vacation!