Roughing It

Objects may be closer than they appear

By Beth MacDonald

I love camping. I love the smell of fresh, early morning air. I love the quiet, the darkness easing into light, the birds beginning a morning conversation. I love the deep woods, a lake, an ocean, any place to explore. My preferred method was to pitch a tent until we bought an RV last year.

Fortunately, we have friends, Drew and Rollie, who are RV veterans. Drew’s go-to line is, “Something will always go wrong.” I hear it in the voice of Jud Crandall, the character in the movie, Pet Sematary when he says, “The ground is sour.” Drew’s right. I could write an entire book based on last summer alone. Each chapter title would be a mishap. “That Smell Is Your RV,” “You Can’t Make a U-Turn in Trenton, New Jersey,” “You Can Eat Six Muddy Kraft Singles.”

My husband, Mason, is a quick study. Learning the ins and outs of the RV, however, has challenged him. Flushing our plumbing, without fail, puts us in the category of those people — a classification, according to Rollie, that’s viewed suspiciously by the veteran RV community. No matter how diligently he tries to thoroughly complete all the steps, there is an inevitable calamity that requires a HAZMAT suit. Embarrassment ensues, and one can’t face-palm with the “plumbing gloves” on.

The camping community is full of kind and helpful people. Children speed through the parks on bikes, laughing. People stop by your campfire to say hello, pet your dogs, and talk about trucks. Soft sounds of music drift over from other campsites. The transition from tent camping to RV camping has been entirely too easy with all the comforts of home rolling along with you.

Our son is working down by the coast, so we decided to take a trip to visit him last month. I didn’t do much research on the camping resort, forgoing my due diligence and booking the site closest to him. It proved to be a desolate parking lot with the ambience of a place where you’d be murdered in your sleep. There was no shade, a swimming pool that Mason referred to as “marinade for victims,” no laughing children, no drifting music and, worst of all, no trash service.

The day we left, Mason decided to clean the toilets from the inside. He handed me this large wand, attached to a hose that, like a robotic colonoscopy, I had to insert deeply into the interior plumbing. The hose filled up with water faster than fear could fill my heart. Water did not go down, it went up. Potentially blinded by backwash, I doused myself with our daughter’s hand sanitizer. Luckily it also had glitter in it, a lovely accessory to pathogens.

Twenty minutes into our drive home from Camp Creepy, Mason started yelling.

“Oh no! NOOO!”

“What?” I began to think the RV was breaking up like the Enterprise on Star Trek.

He looked at me, eyes wide with fear.

“The trash just got sucked out! ZOOP! It’s gone!” He looked behind him in the side mirror. “OH NO! It just exploded like a hot garbage bomb on that Toyota!” Mason’s voice was cracking with frenzy.

I have an inappropriate response to stress. I laugh hysterically.

Mason pulled over. I tried to speak through the staccato breaths of laughter, tears streaming down my face.

“Is the driver OK? Is the car OK?”

“He didn’t even have time to brake! That man is going to need therapy and a car wash.”

“I’ve never even littered. I pick up trash,” our daughter said from the backseat, as if our steaming trash controversy was going to appear on her permanent record.

“Who doesn’t have trash service? This poor guy is going to be picking my trash out of his grill wondering who drinks Hamm’s beer! We are never coming back here again!” Mason was yelling from across the road as we picked up our trash shrapnel.

I texted Rollie. You’ll never guess what we did this time.

The reply came back instantly. You’re those people!  PS

Beth MacDonald is a Southern Pines suburban misadventurer that likes to make words up. She loves to travel with her family and read everything she can.

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