As with many of these “random camping” stories, the tale starts in Mike’s apartment, with him and I eating meatballs. Mike makes meatballs a lot – they’re simple, you put them in the crock pot, and they come out delicious.
This time, we even had some BBQ brisket Mac and Cheese that I’d made too.
But really, that doesn’t matter. We ate, we laughed, we were lazy. And then, finally, we were on the road in my brand new Mustang.
This was the first camping trip that I’d ever done in the new ‘Stang, So we had a blast with it – tearing down Route 3 with the top down, the music cranked (not fully… this thing has a massive stereo system, so it was maybe 40% power), and the stats in our faces. It was seriously a perfect night – the moon was full, but somehow we could still see the lions share of the stars too.
It did take us a while to actually find a campsite though – we tried the ranger station, but as no one was home we decided to just recon around ourselves, and pick out a spot that looked good. Easier said than done, but about half an hour later we finally found a spot that looked good enough to settle in at.
Remember how I said the moon was full? We didn’t even pull out the headlamps – the moon was enough for us to see by, and we didn’t have any trouble setting up camp by moon/starlight.
By the time we’d finished setting up camp, we realized our mistake – we’d chosen the one spot in the campground near a house… a house with a rather annoying searchlight out back. Thankfully our unexpected neighbors turned it off soon after we arrived, but it still didn’t bode too well for the morning – somehow, neighbors are always annoying in the mornings.
But we ignored them, and set about the domestic tasks in front of us – namely making a fire, drinking beer, and having a cigar or two.
And, of course, random insane discussions.
But for once, those were slightly light – instead, this time we just stared into the stars and played around with the fire. See, the firepit was one of those multi-use pits, where you can grill on it too. I’d built the fire on the grill area, so that it wouldn’t get stuck in the snow (yes, I went camping in a rear-wheel-drive convertible in the snow). But after a bit, the snow had melted off and we decided to drop it down a bit, to keep the heat facing us.
Not the simplest of tasks, but thankfully we were able to get it done… helped in no small part by the fact that I’d brought along a snow shovel just in case. A shovel that, magically, fit perfectly into the slot that the firepit made.
So with the fire moved and restoked we set about more beering and chilling, until I finally gave up on the night and headed into my tent to crash.
One note about sleeping in the snow – it’s amazing. Assuming you have a good sleeping pad, of course. But if you do, the snow slowly melts under your pad/sleeping bag, making a custom-shaped mattress for you as you fall asleep.
In my case that night, fall asleep on a custom-mattress, serenaded by Mike’s guitar playing.
I awoke to a very different serenade.
I mentioned that neighbors are, somehow, always annoying in the morning. Well, this was very much the case in Shawmee-Crowell. The neighbors had a dog. And they didn’t like us much, it seems, because they set it loose in the backyard, under very strict orders to start barking and not stop. Ever.
Seriously… I don’t know how the dog held up that long, but from the time they let it out to when Mike and I left a few hours late it we were serenaded by a constant stream of yaps.
I even went for a walk (not long, maybe two miles), and the dog was still barking when I got back. I mean… dang. That is dedication to duty.
Thanks to the dog I was quite happy to be back on the road again, and we made a pretty straight line back toward Cambridge – Both of us had stuff to do, and not a huge amount of time to do it in, so after a quick stop at Friendlies for lunch and a driver change (since Mike hadn’t driver the Mustang yet) we put the pedal on the floor and burnt the gasoline back into the city.