The Great American Camping Hoax

It never ceases to amaze me that car camping is so popular.  In case you haven’t done it before, here’s what it is:  You pile tons of stuff in your car, drive to a beautiful location, park in a little outdoor cubicle about 30 feet from the next car, and then sleep on the ground right outside of your car.  Hundreds of other people are also doing this at the same place.

But it’s not just about sleeping.  It’s basically playing house without all the stuff you need.  You essentially try to re-create all the things you usually do (except for tracking the debt ceiling crisis), but outside, without the stuff you forgot.  Like in my case, I forgot pants and a bunch of other important things.  Other than that, it’s half-assed business as usual, but everything takes longer. 

For example, at home, if you want coffee, you just make it.  In my case, that means heating water on an electric stove, taking the water temperature with my digital thermometer (incessantly.  Like a diagnosable condition, but harmless), pouring it through my little aeropress setup, adding cold half and half from the refrigerator which is about a foot away, and drinking it.  Camping coffee is made this way:  walk about a block to get water.  Find or borrow matches.  Light the stove, heat the water.  Rummage in the cooler to find the stuff you need.  Wish you had a digital thermometer to take the temperature, but act flexible, as if you don’t care.  Meh, whatever, just pour the water.  Who cares if it’s 175 degrees?  Not me.  Assume it’s 212.  Discover that everything in the cooler is soggy, and the half and half is a little tipped over, and the ice has mostly melted, and there’s a loose egg yolk floating around.  Make the coffee and then sit near your car in a chair that you brought from home and drink it.

You get the idea, you alien who has never been camping.  The point is that it takes a great deal of effort to recreate something that’s a little bit home-like, but lacking the basic creature comforts that we’ve come to love, like warmth, indoor plumbing, a bed. 

At any rate, the fact that Americans love camping is exactly like Daylight Savings Time, which is when someone said, “Let’s everyone in the whole country (except for those of you in the sorehead states) get up an hour early tomorrow, and just keep doing that all summer long, and then let’s switch again in the fall.”  And everyone just does it.  Does it seem amazing, what high compliance we get? Somewhere around six percent of people in this state don’t vaccinate their children, and 20 percent don’t wear seatbelts.   I don’t know of anyone in a DSL state that doesn’t switch times. It’s astonishing that we all go along with the getting up earlier thing in the same way that camping is astonishing.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy camping, because I go to beautiful places with people I love, and we laugh and play, and they loan me pants and the other stuff that I forgot, and we talk about our favorite podcasts, and I get to be around all of their fine children. 

Oh, and I’ve been whining about the whole food thing, but for me, this is how it goes:

Me, a few days before the trip:  Hey, C, should we coordinate on food?

C:  Um, what are you thinking?

Me:  Should we do that thing where you organize the food and I show up with snacks and beer?  The way we do?

And a day later, she gives me an organized little grocery list, telling me exactly what to bring and why, and she brings the complicated forgettable little items like dish soap and a sponge, and we eat well.  Including fresh Dungeness crab that we caught with a net.


  1. Great Post! Loved it.

    The urge to go camping disappeared from my being when I was about 11, tried out the Girl Scouts and we all set out on a bus to go to some camping place and I ate my sandwich (which was supposed to be for my dinner) on the bus enroute to the camp ground.

    Need I say more?

  2. I am not a camper! Not! Not! Not! Too much inconvenience and discomfort.

  3. hahahahahaha! we go "camping" but that includes everything from home, only in a smaller container.

    We even have internet and a printer for my husband's "GolfNow" coupons.....hahaha....

    The queen size bed has 5 inches of memory foam.

    That's camping for me! :) Anything less is torture. ( I have even been known to drag along my coffee grinder/press/maker that costs almost as much as my car.... hahaha)

  4. We are now using Via coffee instead of dragging all of the coffee making stuff with us. Easier but not as tasty.
    You forgot your pants??
    I'll have G. read've captured both the fun and the annoying things about camping.

  5. hey you went crabbing without me????? m


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