One of the unique pleasures (some would say “torture”) of camping – even less remarked upon than the phenomenon of how food tastes better outside – is the people-watching. A campground is like an apartment complex without walls, a workplace with all the cubicles removed. I believe the term is “fishbowl environment.” About the only privacy a tent provides is a screen behind which you can change your clothes.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? How about an anecdote to illustrate the fun?
While camping near Cambria CA, my friend Stephanie unavoidably heard – through the canvas walls of her trailer – a couple bickering over who failed to bring what on their trip. The argument ebbed and flowed throughout the weekend. Stephanie kept everyone in our campground entertained with regular recaps, transforming their continuous squabbling disrupting our peaceful retreat into something like episodes of, “The Young and the Corkscrew-less.”
Don’t think I’m pointing fingers here, or am unaware that I’m the star of (many?) other people’s camping neighbor horror stories. My apologies go out to anyone whose vacation suffered through me and my friends hotly debating (knives were waved; not by me) whether the skirt steak should rest before cutting into it (it should). And I cringe when I recollect our trip that instituted the use of the “Drama Bell,” but at least that led to my proud ownership of a, “Save the Drama for Your Mama” t-shirt.
Even so, I still stand by my assertion that the joy of people-watching is greatly amplified by camping. (Maybe everything is just better in fresh air…) Sometimes that means witnessing admirable traits (yes, Scooter-Man, I’m talking to you). More often, unfortunately, are the quirks of our obsessions and personalities on display:
- The man at Lake Lopez CA neurotically building a larger and larger fire during the night, directly under a highly-flammable tree.
- The lax parenting of boundary-disrespecting crowds (word of advice to those camping next to Stephanie — don’t let your kids repeatedly run screaming through the neighbor’s camp).
- Spatial-awareness challenged elderly couples trying to back massive RV’s into narrow sites between lurking rocks and trees (“Turn to the left!” “My left, or yours?”).
- Artisanal-mustachioed and ironically-t-shirted campers stranded with locally-sourced, hand-picked, bacon-roasted smoke-infused, freshly-ground coffee beans, and no matches to light a fire for heating the water to pour into the French press. (Okay, maybe I exaggerated that one, but only the details…)
Do you have a favorite camping neighbor recollection? Please share!