Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On quarreling whilst camping

     We went tent camping this week and upon arrival we could not agree on the placement of the tent.  We argued back and forth for a while, finally compromising so that neither party got what they wanted, but we both could live with what we had.  We had barely finished when we could hear a similar argument a few sites over, and it dawned on me that it was a sound I had heard frequently before, hence this blog.

A common camper placement
     We had family camping trips every other year for about a 15 year period.  We would choose a geographic location, find a suitable campground near it and start to fill up a corner of it with Yargers and kin.  This blog isn't about those trips, but rather about the shared experiences of most of the participants each year, and that was the fight each couple had while setting up camp.  It would play out the same, each time.  A tired, haggard couple pile out of the car, and upon reaching their assigned site, start to back their campers in, or drag their tents out.  Most times the first stake hadn't been pounded before a hint of the argument that was about to ensue would emerge.  "Honey", one of the couple would say " Are you sure it wouldn't be better over there?"  And the race was on.  Each one would state their case emphatically about the positioning of a

Typical Yarger set up

small hovel on a small site, citing door positioning, electric and water access, proximity to other campers (and family), the morning sun, the rocks that poked from the earth, and anything else that they could add that would bolster their claim that theirs was the better choice.  An half and hour to an hour later the decision would have been made, and pouting or not, both would have to live with it.  What amazed me was that almost every couple would go through it.  In my immediate family it became so common that I finally insisted that I would place the camper and Char could set up the inside as she saw fit.  It saved a lot of arguments, and I realize it denied my wife options, but after all she was getting to camp with my family for a whole week, so I felt that she owed me.

     The funny thing is, I suspect that these quarrels had little to do with the actual set up of the site and more to do with the pent up frustrations of the trip it took to get there.  Typically we'd leave for a camping trip at 2 or 3 am.  If you are questioning why, you obviously don't have children but seasoned parents know that the more miles you can get under your belt while your kids are sleeping, the better.  Think of a few hundred miles less of "She's touching me", or "Are we there yet", or "What's that smell?".  It's worth it, but it may lead to cranky adults.  The next frustration is probably choosing the best way to get to the destination and the number of stops along the way.  Rarely do couples have the same opinion on this matter, and if a mistake does happen they are quick to blame each other.  Map reading and mis-reading must account for a fair amount of this initial frustration, and it's not limited to the car you are in, especially if you caravan.  I remember on one trip, I had to stop a brother in law from going any further in the wrong direction after he made a bad turn, and although he
finally agreed, he almost ran over my feet before I could leave his window side with my map.  Yikes!  On that trip, I had more reason to be upset at that point, as the same brother in law had overslept and kept the group packed into their cars and sitting at my house for over 45 minutes.  That's probably another source of frustration right there, no, not the timeliness, the lack of space from over-packing for these trips.  We would use every available space in whatever vehicle we had when we packed for camping and even when we got minivans, it was a tight ride to our destination each time.  Inevitably, when you get there, the first things you need to set up are always buried beneath a mountain of other camping paraphernalia, it's Murphy's Law.  Getting back to map reading, I'll lay odds that the invention of GPS devices saved a lot of marriages, that is, if the couples are smart enough to listen to them.  At the very least, they give the travelers something else to blame. 

     There are countless other small frustrations on these trips, especially if they are long ones.  Where to eat and what to eat?  Drive through or stay in the car to save time?  Which radio station or CD to listen to? (A few
Note the homemade shade and rain shelter in the background
hours of country music is enough to set me off, but my wife probably feels the same about my Irish folk music).  Bad weather driving can be added to this list.  I've done my fair share of driving through pouring rainstorms towing pop-up campers behind me and only being able to see a few feet in front of the tow car.  For  a while we actually towed a small pop up with our Toyota Camry.  It worked really well.  On one particular trip, we got that car stuck on a soft shoulder and believe it or not, we were able to pull the car out with some baling twine that we had in the back.  My daughter, Molly, had gotten car sick on that trip, yet another source of traveling frustration. I can read in the car, do my work on a laptop in a car, sleep in a car, but my wife can do none of these.  It makes for long trips.  I think I've run the gambit of possible causes of the first fights whilst setting up camp, and I'll offer just one more bit to bolster my case that it's not about the set up of the site, and that is, I don't recall any specific arguments that relate to setting up and I don't remember
any camping trip that I had a bad time at.  The family pictures that are included in this blog, came from a 2003 trip to Ravenna Ohio that we had 4 straight days of rain, and a micro-burst tornado that touched down within a few miles of us, but would you ever know if by the faces of those camping?  I thought not.  That's the nature of these early setting up quarrels, they may be volatile and explosive, but they rarely last long.

     I want to thank everyone who shared last week's blog, who sent in ideas for future blogs and who commented on former or current ones.  I know, thanks to my cousin Gayle, that I have at least one new fan.  I'm still looking for guest bloggers though, so step up, come up with an idea and present it. It's really not that hard, look at this one. 


cdyarger said...

Many Yargers will recall we nicknamed that particular Ohio camping trip "Yarger Survival Camp" and one sister and her family voted themselves off the "island" they were on! Their tent had become surrounded by water and after a few days in the swamp, they had had enough and sought higher ground! It was still a great trip though, as all Yarger vacations are! Great blog!

Gayle Hendershot said...

I love to camp but I HATE to help get the trailer in the site. That is true fodder for fights. After that, it is smooth sailing....

cuzdee said...

Those trips were awesome and yes the Ohio trip was unforgettable!!! With 6 month old twins, rain, tornados!!! WOW!! But we still gave a blast under Aces broken awning!!

Karen Yarger said...

Oh but there were some good drinks being made under that broken awning. and the kids loved playing in the mud

ace said...

must we not forgett margarita night or the great food when the rain did stop...awsome time

D. Pollok said...

that pop up camper... did we borrow that one weekend to go to Darien Lake? I remember borrowing someone's pop up and think it was yours.... now that was a camping experience in itself... awful... just awful... but so thankful for the camper.... I would have surely died a slow death if I was in a tent that weekend... long story I will have to share some time... good blog...