Alvin Richardson

Sometimes I just need to soothe my frayed nerves. I normally can accomplish this by pretending to be a fishing guide (for no pay) or playing a little golf with my buddies (for money). When these two activities don’t work, I always have my go-to strategy. Break out the camper and head for the hills. This is a sure-fire method for lowering blood pressure and smoothing out my anxiety issues. As usual, my instincts were right. This camping trip did the trick. There’s nothing like communing with nature to put one in a better frame of mind.

Now, I must confess: this is not pioneer camping that I refer to. We did not cook our supper on a campfire or sleep under the stars. Neither did we drink water out of a babbling brook or hit the woods when nature called. No, this is the modernized version of experiencing the great outdoors. I believe that the new-fangled term is glamping (camping with glamorous amenities).  

First, you have to hook up a camper about half the size of your house to the old pickup truck and then try to put everything you own in it. All the kitchen utensils, everything in the refrigerator, any bathroom item you can think of, laptop computer, satellite dish, and the television to name a few. Make sure that the indoor restroom facilities (in the camper) are in working order and under no circumstances do you pull out of the yard until you are positive that the air conditioning in the camper is functioning properly. So you see what I mean. We are not exactly roughing it but it is fun and relaxing.

So, Laura and I, along with Steve and Vicki Cisson headed out for the western boundary of South Carolina with high spirits and the anticipation of fun in the air. It was going to be a great week. We were looking forward to an unforgettable trip and I must say that several events made the trip special.

Upon arrival, we noticed that the campground was fairly crowded. There were vehicle tags from lots of places, and several groups who displayed their favorite college team’s colors. As dusk approached and the noise level lessened, you could hear voices of people with accents that were not from Georgia or South Carolina. The nasal twang I heard was distinctly similar to those I’ve known who hail from north of the Mason-Dixon Line. I don’t have any problems with any of them but there are certain cultural differences in those who live in foreign countries like New Jersey, New York, and Vermont. It takes all kinds to make up our world and we certainly had most of them inside our little camping area. I was sure, however, that we would all get along famously.

 

Anyway, we began experiencing some neat stuff from the very beginning. One night we were sitting outside after sundown and taking in the beauty of the lake. Coach Cisson was attempting to dump his sewage water (illegally) on the ground, so Vicki could take another 30-minute shower. About the time Coach Cisson started doing this a man snuck up in the dark and frightened him. The man was not threatening in any manner but Coach thought it was the water dumping patrol and thus he assumed he was caught in an unlawful act. Happily, the man was just lost. He had parked his boat on the shore near our campsite and came wandering up to ask us if we knew where his campsite was. Steve assured him we did not know but gave him directions anyway and the wayward adventurer returned to his vessel to explore some more of the coastline.

On another occasion, all four of us were sitting around our campsite after dark and began to get a whiff of a strange aroma. It was the evil smell of left-handed cigarettes. We knew which way the wind was coming from so we could easily discern where the smell originated. The culprits in the next site were from one of those aforementioned foreign countries. I knew this from their car tags and the twang of their language. Not long after detecting the smell much giggling and loud talk ensued. The sound of several bags of potato chips and other munchies being ripped open could be heard. This verified our suspicions about what was going on over there. 

The little group beside us was not yet through with their evening entertainment. The highlight came a little while later when one of them began to walk down to the lake with a lantern in his hand. We peered through the thin row of trees to observe the action. To our surprise, the old fella had on a three-piece bathing suit (two sandals and a straw hat) and was heading for a late-night dip in the pond. I was concerned at that point that Laura and Vicki would be embarrassed but such was not the case. They watched the proceedings with great interest. We then heard the sounds of a lone swimmer and eventually, he returned to the bank, picked up his lantern and returned to, what I suppose was a nudist colony for dope smokers in the next campsite.

That was not the only amusement we were treated to on the trip. The next event happened in broad daylight and once again originated at the nudist colony beside us. One of their group (showing good sense) actually did go swimming in a bathing suit. He was about 65 years old, in poor physical condition and sported a nice hairy tan. He also sported a red speedo around his mid-section that was about the size of an eye patch. I suppose that even northern, nudists with left-handed smoking inclinations have the good sense to clothe themselves when the sun is out and other people are around. Anyway, it was another episode that helped relieve my stress level which was now around zero after watching their antics.

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