Camping


White People Like Camping

campingStuff White People Like has done it again. Just like they did with The Wire, they've nailed camping.

If you find yourself trapped in the middle of the woods without electricity, running water, or a car you would likely describe that situation as a “nightmare” or “a worse case scenario like after plane crash or something.” White people refer to it as “camping.”

When white people begin talking to you about camping they will do their best to tell you that it’s very easy and it allows them to escape the pressures and troubles of the urban lifestyle for a more natural, simplified, relaxing time. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In theory camping should be a very inexpensive activity since you are literally sleeping on the ground. But as with everything in white culture, the more simple it appears the more expensive it actually is.

Camping is a multi-day, multi-step, potentially lethal activity that will cost you a large amount of both time and money. Unless you are in some sort of position where you absolutely need the friendship of a white person, you should avoid camping at all costs.

The first stage of camping always involves a trip to an outdoor equipment store like REI (or in Canada, Mountain Equipment Co-Op). These stores are well known for their abundance of white customers and their extensive inventory of things for white people to buy and only use once. If you are ever tricked into going to one of these stores, you can make white people like you by saying things like “man, this Kayak is only $1200, if I use it 35 times I’ve already saved money over renting.” Note: do not actually buy the kayak.

Next, white people will then take this new equipment and load it into an SUV or Subaru Outback with a Thule or Yakima Roof Rack. Then they will drive for an extended period of time to a national park or campsite where they will pay an entrance fee and begin their journey. It is worth noting that white people are unaware of the irony of using a gas burning car to bring them closer to nature and it is not recommended that you point this out. It will ruin their weekend.

Once in the camp area, white people will walk around for a while, set up a tent, have a horrible night of sleep, walk around some more. Then get in the car and go home. This, of course, is a best case scenario. Worst case scenarios include: getting lost, poisoned, killed by an animal, and encountering an RV. Of these outcomes, the latter is seen by white people as the worst since it involves an encounter with the wrong kind of white people.

Conversely, any camping trip that ends in death at the hands of nature or requires the use of valuable government resources for a rescue is seen as relatively positive in white culture. This is because both situations might eventually lead to a book deal or documentary film about the experience.

Ultimately the best way to escape a camping trip with white people is to say that you have allergies. Since white people and their children are allergic to almost everything, they will understand and ask no further questions. You should not say something like “looking at history, the instances of my people encountering white people in the woods have not worked out very well for us.”

To be fair, I don't own a $1200 kayak, and even before Canadian Tire provided me with new camping essentials, I had camping down to a very inexpensive art. For me, that's only part of the allure. Once I'm out there, with my tent pitched and laptop three hours away, I can literally hear myself decompress. It's plenty of hikes, lots of swimming and hours and hours of playing cards, throwing a frisbee and roasting marshmallows on the campfire.

It really is my holiday of choice, but then again, I'm white.

Camping in Canada

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Camping With Fresh Roots Gear Provided by Canadian Tire

canadiantireI'm camping this week. Not quite yet, because I want to play a Raging Storm playoff game before leaving town, but the kids and I will be away from it all before you know it. I'm officially in prep mode.

I want to thank the very cool people at Canadian Tire for providing me with a new tent, new sleeping bags, a new chair, a new cooler and a sweet new inflatable air mattress. I can't wait to try out the new gear. It's all from the Roots Outdoor line, except for the cooler. And, it's all an upgrade. I'll report back on how it all worked out.

Let's see...

  • tent √
  • air mattress √
  • propane stove √
  • sleeping bags √
  • cooler full of food and drink
  • insect repellant √
  • sunscreen √
  • bathing suit √
  • radio √
  • camera √
  • toiletries √

Only one item left on the list...

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Blue Springs Scout Reserve near Acton

CampingIt takes more than a little rain and a couple of cool nights to dampen the spirits of a bunch of Beavers and their bewildered daddies. Even though I arrived at the camp grounds in a torrential downpour, got lost twice on the Scout grounds trying to find Radial Lodge and got my car stuck in the mud, it was a fantastic weekend at Blue Springs Scout Reserve near Acton, Ontario.

Most of Saturday was sunny and warm for the Beaveree itself, and after a brief shower in the evening, Dan Duran turned on his inner caveman and ensured we didn't miss out on the highlight of any camping trip, a kick-ass campfire and marshmallow roast.

Here's a photoset with some pics.

Camping Trip

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First Camping Trip of the Year

campingThe first camping trip of 2009 is planned for this weekend. My son and I are heading to the local Beaveree tonight where we'll pitch a tent and spend a couple of nights under the stars and away from the laptop.

Typically, I don't schedule camping trips for May, because it's so hit and miss. But, this is a Scouts Canada thing, so here's hoping the rain goes away and we get some sunshine.

I'll be back Sunday. Hit up the archives if you're missing me. There's almost 9000 entries there to catch up on.

The Tent

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Awesome Hikers

campersI'm raising a couple of awesome hikers. James is just 6 and Michelle is not yet 4 but when we hit the trails we go whole hog. They don't tire, they don't back down and they actually prefer to lead.

The official trails at Pinery aren't intense enough, so we tack on the sand dunes that snake their way along the lake. I find these adventures gruelling but the kids don't complain. In fact, they beg for more.

Looking back, I should have seen this coming. In 2005 I took James, who was then just three years old, camping at Killarney Provincial Park. Killarney has some fierce trails through rocky terrain and James took them on like a pro. Compared to Killarney's trails, the trails and sand dunes at Pinery are child's play.

Here are my pint-sized heroes striking a menacing pose. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

P7177802

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Tavistock Mike

OntarioPinery Provincial Park, where I've been camping the past few days, is right by Grand Bend, Ontario on Lake Huron. To get there, I take the 401 West to about Kitchener and then Highway 8 toward Stratford.

I like to stop in on one of the many small towns on our way to and from Pinery and pretend I'm a local. They all have a Main Street with a bank, a water tower, a church, a drug store, and usually, they have a Tim Hortons. Today we stopped in Tavistock, Ontario. As I just learnt from tavistock.on.ca:

Tavistock is a German/Scottish community founded in 1848 and famous for its cheese production and fresh meats. Tavistock was founded in 1848 by Capt. Henry Eckstein on the boundary between Oxford and Perth Counties. It served as a gathering place for agricultural workers and soon became equipped with taverns, flour mills, blacksmith shops, general stores and small tradesmen.

If you're ever in Tavistock, tell 'em Tavistock Mike sent ya.

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Batteries Recharged at Pinery Provincial Park

campingI've just returned from The Pinery Provincial Park where I've been recharging my batteries for the past three days. It was my third visit to Pinery, and my second in row. Last year around this time I was raving about Pinery's sandy beaches.

We had a very full first day. We set up the tent, ate lunch, went swimming, went for a hike, went swimming again, played with arts and crafts, ate dinner, went on a big hike and hit the hay.

It rained while we slept, which I actually prefer when camping. I find the rain hammering the tent drowns out all that rural silence. Then, we woke up, had breakfast, went for a hike, went for a swim, had lunch, went for a bigger hike, went to story time at the visitor centre to learn about frogs, went for a swim, had dinner, played, relaxed and got ready for bed.

It was hot, the water was warm, the kids were great, the entire mini-vacay was perfect.

I'll have more to share later, in the meantime, here's my Flickr photoset from our camping trip to Pinery.

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Unplugged

CampingToronto Mike has unplugged for a few days. This is a good time to visit the archives and catch up on what you've missed these past 5.5 years.

If something breaks between now and Saturday, like a big trade involving a Toronto-based franchise, a significant death or World War III, feel free to use the comments of this entry to share your thoughts and discuss the significance of this big trade/death/war.

L8R

The Tent

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Woodland Trails Scout Camp

campingCamp Woodland Trails has 19 campsites which are spread out over 275 acres of breathtaking landscaping. This weekend, my son and I stayed at Hickory Hills with his Beavers troop.

I remember these trips from when I was a Cub Scout, and it was as fun as I recall. The weather was fantastic as we went on a scavenger hunt, learnt how to use our compasses by orienteering, enjoyed a traditional spaghetti dinner, exhausted ourselves on the obstacle course, played plenty of soccer, told stories and jokes by the campfire, roasted marshmallows, made smores, went on a long hike and closed out with a wienie roast.

There were no computers, no televisions and no radios. It was just a jam-packed couple of days that James and I will never forget.

I do, however, have one complaint. Sleeping in a single room with 17 Beavers and their dads isn't easy. I counted at least three snorers and one dude, sharing the bunk beside me, cranked out his snores at about 140 decibels. I didn't think I'd ever fall asleep. Next year, I'm bringing my tent and sleeping outdoors.

I went nuts with the camera. Here's the Woodland Trails Scout Camp photoset and a few pics below.

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Saying No to the May 2-4 Camping Trip

campingI love to camp. When people talk about vacationing and getting away from it all, they speak of resorts and five-star hotels and casinos and I cringe. I far, far prefer the idea of pitching a tent and roughing it in nature as a fun escape from it all.

Many tent campers consider the May 2-4 long weekend (also knows as Victoria Day in some circles) as the ideal time for the inaugural camping trip of the year. In my experience, it's far too often cool and wet and it's far wiser to wait a month before packing up the sleeping bag.

Tonight, for example, it's 9° and rainy. Tomorrow it's more rain, and Monday, although sunny, has a low of 6°. It's too early.

Just say no to the May 2-4 camping trip... unless you've got a cabin or cottage.

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