Jackass Camping

litter at campsite
The spoor of jackass campers

Most good campers have had to deal with them on more than one occasion.

I’m talking about the jackasses who think it’s their right to go out into the bush and proceed to do everything in their power to ruin camping for the rest of the camping world.

You know them–they generally have bear scares, base-heavy music, and a predilection for howling at the moon around three in the morning.  They settle down around 4:00 a.m., start everything up again sometime in the afternoon, and leave the site looking more like a garbage dump than a camping area. They also have a tendency to leave campfires smoldering or barely put out, ready to start up again.

Someone You Know May Be A Jackass Camper If:

  • They have more than three ways of making loud noises (bear-scares, music, voice, fireworks, etc.) and they use them separately or in combination more than once on a camping trip
  • They feel it is their right to impose their life-style upon others, either by blocking access to other campsites, imposing above-mentioned noises upon others’ ears, or not worrying how their behavior will affect neighbors
  • Ignoring camping rules, regulations and/or the law
  • Engaging in disruptive behavior that extends beyond their own campsite
  • Throwing combustibles into the campfire (bullets, propane tanks, containers of fuel, all of which I have heard of or seen being done by various jackasses)
  • Feeling that their ATV has right of way because the campsites have roadways and they’ve been going there for years.
  • Not cleaning up every speck of what is brought in.  This includes shell casings, half-burnt lawn chairs (more common than you’d think), broken glass, and leftover food (which attracts bears and rats and other anti-camping critters)
  • They feel the whole world is a toilet (No one wants to see little piles of toilet-tissue dotted among the brush like so many pimples on mother nature’s face. Bury it.)
  • Felling live trees for firewood
  • Entering others’ campsites for any reason without permission
  • Stealing
  • Engaging in any activity that endangers their family, pets, friends or themselves (including going off on hikes without telling anyone and getting lost)
  • Drug or alcohol excess
  • Over-regulation-sized fires
  • Dogs off-leash
  • Incredibly bright light that extends beyond their campsite in a blinding manner

Do you know of anyone who indulges in any of these regularly? Or in more than three of these activities during one camping trip? If you do, they may just be a jackass.

If you are the unfortunate neighbor of jackass campers, do the world a favor and phone the authorities.  Take cell phone photos of their licence plates. And for heaven’s sake, if they leave before you do, check to make sure their campfire is out. They won’t.


How The Camping Weekend Went

When they want their own tent, but want someone nearby for safety.
One nephew wanted his own tent, but also wanted to be near someone for safety. Guess who he picked to tent beside?

All in all, our camping weekend went great.  The site we wanted was taken already, in  spite of the fact that my brother went up Thursday to secure it (because it’s bush camping it’s a first-come, first-serve kind of thing), but we got the site we had the last time we were here, and that’s great; it’s one of my favorite sites because it has a lot of space and it’s kind of pretty to look out on the river.  You have to travel down a small embankment to get water, but that’s okay.

The first day was busy, setting up the tents and getting the air

Fitting a queen-sized mattress into any tent can be entertaining to watch.
Fitting a queen-sized mattress into any tent can have entertainment value.

mattresses into them; it doesn’t matter how big a tent is, all the entrances are remarkably similar in size and so it’s kind of like trying to squeeze a giant, air-filled square peg into a smaller nylon round hole. We got it all done, though.

My air mattress was a double thickness, not like the one my brother-in-law is trying to fit into the tent into the picture here, so that was a delightful experience.  They left their tent at home so I shared mine with them.  By the way, the ten-man instant tent I bought was great!  Read about the results here. However, we got it all done and just like that Friday was over.  We stuffed the boys into their tents (four pre-teens into a large one, (one teen into the smaller one), and then the rest of us sat up until about two in the morning, just talking and enjoying the sensation of sitting in front of a campfire with nothing left to do but go to bed.

Saturday was wonderful; it was like summer in our area–except for about an hour in the afternoon.  It went from this:

The camping weekend was summery and beautiful by the river.
Gorgeous summer weather, for nearly the whole camping weekend. I say, *nearly*.








To this:

For one hour, it hailed--hailed!--before turning into summer again.
That’s hail, folks. Hail which turned into a drenching rainstorm. And I left my tent entrance open.

The hail turned to rain and we had a downpour like you wouldn’t believe.  It ran the whole gamut–we had thunder and lightning, wind, cold, and thunder again. We honestly wondered if we should pack up and go home, the weather was so violent. Then


After the brief but violent storm, we were back to summer weather conditions.
Back to summer again, as if the whole hailstorm had never happened.

…in less than an hour, we had sunshine and summer was back:







The guys wasted no time putting up the tarps after the storm. Weekend camping--what are you going to do?
I can’t over-stress the importance of tarps when camping. Even when it rains only a little, the tarp keeps everything underneath nice and dry.

It was the craziest thing. The boys wasted no time in setting up a tarp, something they had been putting off because the weather was just so nice.








The rest of the camping weekend was pretty good–now and then it would rain for a bit, then clear up and be nice.  It didn’t rain too often to interfere.  We had plenty of wood, tarps over everything, and even with the rain we played a game of Harpo’s croquet that was so much fun it lasted three hours (there was a half hour pause on account of the rain and dinner).

We had to pack up the stuff wet when we went home but that too worked out nicely; the weather at home was scorching, so we spread out all the tents and tarps and they dried in no time, and then we packed them away for the next camping trip.

I am already missing the time up there.  I wonder if I can wrangle some time off for the August long weekend…


The Horror of a Good Rod

Evidently I have been harboring the misconception that I know how to

These days, a fishing rod is oh so much more complicated than it seems

use a fishing rod. Throughout my foolish youth, up to about 15 years or so ago, I assumed that fishing consisted of a line, a rod, a hook, some bait and maybe a bobber; and that you slung the rod forward and the line would sail, straight as a die, out into the water; that you would slowly reel that line in until the bobber met the tip of your rod and then you would repeat, until you caught a fish.

This is mostly true. Until your well-meaning youngest brother, fishing aficionado and camper extraordinaire, indulges your camping/fishing fantasies and gets you a moderately good fishing rod for no other reason than that he loves you. And wants a fishing buddy. And feels sorry for you because a few camping trips ago you placed your only–and therefore favorite–fishing rod  a good ways away from everyone else’s and a big wind blew up, unseated the very heavy branch that was holding up the main tarp, and made it thru some demonized whim smash gleefully upon your beloved rod, snapping it in two.

So my brother bought me another one.

So there you are, proudly marching down to the waters’ edge to test your wonderful new fishing rod out, and with every promise of a wonderful day by the mountain lake, you cast–

–and it promptly birdnests on ya. (“Birdnest” is a term that means all the line tangles up around your reel, making it impossible to reel in or do anything, really. It is a newbie’s nightmare, but everyone suffers from this debilitating outcome at some point.) Fifteen minutes later you have it all untangled and you cast again. Another birdnest! This repeats for a dozen or so casts, when you finally give up. That’s when your youngest brother comes in from floating around in the new little floaty-boat he’s got and checks things out. At least, that’s what happened to me.

“Are you keeping your thumb on the line when you get ready to cast?”


“Even after you set the bale?”


“Let me see your rod.”

A few seconds of checking later, he informs you that there is waaaaaaay too much line on the reel, causing it to spang out in all directions when you cast out. The air, already somewhat blue with the cold mountain air, turns a shade or two bluer. I give up for the day; it is time to go home anyway.

Later that week…

At home my brother (he’s a super helpful dude always) unreels the line after I have de-tangled it once again, until he judges the right amount to be remaining on the reel. He mutters something about not needing to cast all the way to the other side of the lake and bites the line off from the unwound stuff, now itself a huge birdnest destined for disposal in an environmentally friendly way, and puts the weight back on the remaining line, but without a hook. Then we go out to the back lane by our house so I can practice casting down the road. (I caught some weeds; good size, too.)

Happy now, I:

1.) Grasp the rod in my casting hand and check to see if the sinker(the little lead weight) on the line has been reeled in but still dangling a little, maybe an inch or two from the tip of the rod,

2.) Hold the rod comfortably enough that I can press the line coming from the reel gently against the rod itself with my forefinger,  3.)Set the bale, which means flipping that little shiny metal pail-handle thingy on the reel over to the other side, and  4.) Raise the rod up, back a little and cast overhand.

–Upon which the whole blasted thing tangles at the tip of the rod. I try a couple more times. Tangle, tangle; those annoying little ones that are so hard to see to untangle. My brother comes out to the lane to see what I am doing wrong, for by the sound of my inarticulate mouth-noises alone he knows success is not yet mine.

The horror of a good rod.

That is when I realize the horror of a good rod. You can’t just cast it any old way at any old speed and have it do it’s job. A good fishing rod is sensitive at the tip. If you treat it rough, it treats the line the same way. I discovered that I had to be gentler, more deliberate in my overhead cast, to kind of slow down and tai chi the thing out.

Kim told me that when I release my forefinger from the line at the cast, to point that forefinger where I want the line to go, and it will kind of do it naturally. And you know what? It worked! My casting immediately smoothed out and the line started going where I wanted it to go, and further and further away, too. Now that I know I am dealing with a thoroughbred, as it were, I’m good to go. It no longer birdnests, it no longer ties a little knot at the tip of the reel.

There, there, girl, eeeeaaasssy now….

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