The drive home was representative of our camping trip. We were happily cruising along I-70, Sadie in my lap and Soren and Peaches sleeping in the back seat. This is nice! Life is good! All of a sudden, traffic came to a complete stop. (It turned out the road was closed ahead because this happened, which holy crap I’m glad we missed that. We missed another accident on 70 on the way out — that one resulted in people being stuck on the road for 4 hours. Even during off-times, you pretty much have to be crazy to drive to the mountains on 70 anymore.) We got off 70 and took Lookout Mountain Road, which would’ve been awesome but for everything else. Soren woke up and wanted something nobody could reach. Peaches woke up and vomited all over the car. I had to pee and Sadie kept poking me in the belly with her little stick legs and wouldn’t sit still.
We made two major mistakes while camping. The first was taking the little inflatable “pillows” that came with our air mattress instead of regular pillows. Don’t ever do this. Bring regular pillows. The second was failing to take into account the horrific trashy camping neighbors factor.
I don’t, in general, make a practice of calling people trashy. I mean, it’s kind of gross. But I’m going to do it now. Holy hell. Two SUVs roll up and park between our campsite and the one next to us. Several adults with what appeared to be prison tattoos and a few children (the children were fine) got out. The driver was drinking a beer, which means she was drinking and driving with children in the car. They accused us of stealing their campsite, claiming they had reserved our site and the next one. I got out our printed confirmation, showing that we had in fact reserved our site, and dude asks Ben if they can park some cars on our site because they had, like, 15 more people coming. Ben said no. They said they’d try to squeeze everyone into the one site, moved their cars over there, and proceeded to talk shit about us, which, whatever, saying that we were “only 3 campers,” like we didn’t need our whole site. Which, whatever, we reserved the site because, well, we wanted to use it and weren’t looking to spend what was supposed to be our relaxing little trip with obnoxious strangers and we were careful to pick a site where our yappy little dog wouldn’t see people at whom she’d like to yap. Every other word of every sentence uttered by every adult over there all night and into the next day was “fuck” (and at one point there was a big argument about someone being a fucking drunk) and fine, I swear, but come on, man.
Quiet hours at the campground begin at 10 p.m. These folks were loud as hell until 3 in the morning. In a normal world, we would’ve asked them to be quiet, but they just didn’t seem like they’d respond well to such a request, especially from the people who stole their imaginary reserved campsite. I resorted to the “Stream Water Flowing” selection from my White Noise app to try to drown them out. I waited for them to die or morning to come. They made brats at 2 in the morning. I dozed off for a few minutes but didn’t get to sleep until after 5 and slept for maybe an hour or two.
If not for these fuckers (sorry), the endeavor wouldn’t have been so bad, even considering that it took forever to put up our tent (it’s super old and hard to deal with); it was so windy we almost couldn’t get the tent up and then when we did the whole thing shook and the door flaps made horrible flap-flap-flapping sounds such that nobody would’ve been able to sleep in there if the wind didn’t die down; it rained for a while; by the time we got everything set up and waited out the rain and got dinner made, it was pitch dark; Soren slept on my lap by the campfire for a while but then woke up and we all had to go to bed because he’s two and didn’t want to go to bed by himself in a sleeping bag in a tent in the middle of wherever the hell we were, which is totally understandable but it was impossible to sleep with the ruckus next door.
Okay, enough negativity. Our campsite was great (although we wouldn’t have minded something level); Soren did reasonably well; Sadie and Peaches were totally awesome; the food was fantastic, especially the feta (I pretty much followed the directions but used dried oregano and left out the capers — I mixed everything but the cheese in a jar the night before; at the site I poured the oil mixture over a block of feta, which I wrapped in foil and we cooked over the fire) and the pancakes.
We stayed at the Cow Creek South Campground, which is on the Green Mountain Reservoir, across from Heeney (if you go and you want to get to Heeney from the campground, turn left as you leave the campground because it’s shorter than going right and you get to drive over the dam, which is kind of cool). I recommend the campground with the major caveat that you might have annoying neighbors and if you do, there’s not much you can do about it because there’s nobody on site to enforce the rules. (From what I can tell, rangers visit the campground and do some maintenance, but don’t stay.) The sites are spacious and, in our experience, private enough for you to pee there if you’re into that sort of thing. Each site has a fire ring (fires are currently allowed) and a picnic table. You can reserve a site online at recreation.gov (I recommend printing your confirmation if you do this in case anybody tries to jack your site).
After we got home, we spent the rest of the weekend having conversations like this:
Me: You know what’s awesome?
Me: We’re not camping.
Me: You know what’s awesome?
Me: Cleaning the house is not camping.
I can’t say we’ll never go camping again, but it’ll be a while. We’ll bring real pillows and reserve, like, three sites in a row in an attempt to prevent annoying neighbors.