What I learned about myself from going camping for the first time last week:
I learned that being a writer is good training for roughing it. Because when it comes to writing and camping, the outfits are exactly the same, and so is the level of personal grooming. And when you go to bed drunk and fully clothed, the crawl is much easier at a campsite — no stairs!
Top Cat took me camping in Shenandoahlast week (I pre-blogged last Monday and Friday: I have to welcome so many of you new readers and catch up with many of you regulars — meet me here on Monday.). It was the ripest moment of Fall, peak leaf color in Virginia:
The chill in the air (45 degrees our first night) made holding a pen or a paint brush too tricky so I didn’t write or illustrate anything while I was on site.
But I did do a piece of earth-work art that I call “How I Was Minding My Own Business With Fall Leaves Right Before The Old Guy In The Camper Started Telling Me All About His Legal Battles Against The Satanic Cults That Are Running This Country”:
Now, this was my first time in The Wild so I don’t know if each camp ground offers its own unique style of crazy. But the Devil-Fighting weirdo wasn’t the only Deliverance-type encounter we had in Shenandoah — there was also an 80-year old retired D.C. cop who called the park rangers out to arrest me for disturbing the peace just because I informed him that the generator on his mobile home was too loud, only I had to shout at him because he kept telling me that he was hard of hearing and couldn’t hear me over the noise of his generator, and I used a fine Anglo-Saxon adjective to describe his generator that began with “F” which he said proved that I was gulty of being City People. City People and Satanists (I learned) are equally unpopular in certain parts of this great land of ours.
So the Law arrived in the middle of the night and I got a lecture from the ludicrously big-hatted po-po about the limits of Free Speech in Virginia and other “nice” places.
But other than that, I loved camping. I loved the way Top Cat knows how to pitch a tent, and chop wood, and cook over a camp fire, and choose exactly the right Bordeaux to go with turkey dogs and baked beans on a full moon-lit October night.
I told him that I’d gladly do it again.
But Top Cat isn’t sure that there’s a camp ground in America that is big enough to keep a safe distance between me and my fellow pain in the ass Americans.