As promised, this is my story (and I'm sticking to it)
Background: Chances are that if you're reading the DBD, you know who I am since I have an autobot that posts for me. Just in case you don't, well, camping is kinda the opposite of what I'd do for fun. I admire nature, but I'm the kind of guy that likes civilization and tall buildings and convenience. I'm more likely to have an epic weekend in Vegas partying than I am hiking the Grand Canyon. Yet I somehow got talked into joining this trip and, with a lot of help from CGB, went on it and came back alive.
I've never really been camping before in my life. Sure, I've been hiking, but I end up back in a cabin or hotel after and it's not a weekend dedicated to it.
The crew on this trip consists of almost two entirely distinct groups: there are three couples, all of whom have been dating for over a year, and then there are the three obnoxious guys with no significant others there (the other two guys have girlfriends, but they were not there this weekend). There's also the older sister of one of the guys in the couples group, but she doesn't fit neatly into a category.
So we head out to Yosemite on Saturday morning and hit our campsite, near Cedar Lodge, a short drive outside of Yosemite (being Memorial Day Weekend and all, availability inside the park was very limited). In pretty embarassing fashion, it takes five of us about half an hour to set up a small three-person tent. This is what inexperience does, I suppose.
We try to get down a quick lunch, consisting mainly of cold sandwiches, before hitting the park. Unfortunately, the weather has been terrible and the parks are soaked. As such, getting into the park, well, nothing. There's just a giant traffic jam and essentially no one is getting in, so day one, no hiking. But hiking isn't the important part in this story anyway, it's the camping.Head back to the campground after eventually getting through the traffic jam in the park (and maybe Dougieing a little bit) and start to grill. Immediately discover problem # 1: I'm the only vegetarian on the trip and, well, everyone else is grilling burgers. Fortunately, there are a couple veggies and I brought a block of tofu and hot sauce, so I cooked up a tofu sautee over a stove on an open flame. I'm not much of a cooker, but this was pretty fun and food cooked this way after a tiring day of not hiking totally tastes great.
Unfortunately, the weather is terrible and the rain continues on, which makes cooking and walking around difficult. So we grabbed some drinks and sat in the large tent and played games. This was definitely one of the more fun aspects of the trip -- this was the closest to the "everyone around the campire" moment we got (stupid rain). We played Mafia and Ten Fingers and all those dumb games, while enjoying each others' company.
The rain, of course, made sleeping terrible. The tent leaked a little bit on the side and getting up just to use the restroom was a huge pain, since everything was just getting wet. It kinda reminded me of that Calvin and Hobbes comic:
Day 2, nosh down a quick breakfast and hit the park to go hike. It's a little sunny at this point, so we hit the park and hiked Vernal Falls. As mentioned, I'm not much of a hiker, but I can definitely handle it. The hike wasn't too bad and the waterfall was really pretty! Totally enjoyed this part. Sadly, the weather deteriorated a little and the trail started to get really slippery past the falls, so we couldn't hit Nevada Falls, which was unfortunate. Maybe on a better weekend? Ooh, also, saw some pretty animals, like bluejays!
Wandered around the park a little and hit the campsite for some lunch. At this point, a couple people went to nap, so the rest of us went to walk near the campsite. We ended up playing Hide and Seek in the parking lot for a little bit until a truly unfortunate incident in which my friend busted his knee and had to get stitches, which meant we all went to the hospital.
The only reason I mention this is because we met one of the more interesting characters in the waiting room. It started out as casual conversation and him talking about how he freestyles and parties, but then he started talking about prison and his life there. Truly eye-opening, since most of what I know about prison life is from the movies and tv shows. He spoke of a prison riot that lasted over a month, of drug use in the prisons, guard abuse, etc., but also of the underground economy in prison. A cell phone with internet reception will fetch six grand from inmates. Apparently, he snuck cash into the prison from the outside world -- a friend would come by, buy him a bag of chips, and put cash folded inside, tied to dental floss. He'd continue to eat the chips, then essentially swallow the money and tie the string to his teeth, then get past inspection, and pull teh cash out.
Also, this medical centre had a helipad that was being used by a deer.
Hit the campsite late and found a clear night. Since the rain was gone and the clouds had disappeared, we could FINALLY see the night sky in all its glory. No light pollution meant we could see the tiny stars in the sky and all the detail. I always enjoy these moments.
Since we were exhausted at this point, we just hung around the campire and talked and admired the stars. Out of curiosity, we stopped by the Cedar Lodge bar. Since this was a camping trip, we didn't cause too much trouble there.
And left this morning and finally back.
Wow, how the hell did I write this much? Okay, what would I do if I just rambled on at work? Aite, here are some quick takeaways!
- Would I go camping again? Potentially, though it's most likely just not my thing.
- That said, I can imagine it would be a lot of fun under much more ideal conditions
- Seeing a sixty-year-old couple set up a tent in five minutes that we couldn't do in thirty is downright shameful
- I could never go backpacking for a week
- One of the biggest game-changers of camping is the lack of connection with the "outside world". That is to say, no cell-phone reception or internet connection. And this is strangely liberating! Not being able to call anyone and not be able to just waste time on espn made us appreciate our surroundings much more
- I hate couples that constantly act like couples
- Few things will invite odd looks like playing Jay Z on the jukebox of a bar populated by "Middle America" types listening to country music
- Sleeping in a tent is what you make of it. I got lucky and was able to borrow a really comfortable sleeping bag and pad from a friend (thanks, Harsha!)
Thanks for all the help, CGB, and seriously, when's the next Vegas trip?