Here’s the scene: It’s April and the Rosado family is deciding on summer plans.
“How about the Caribbean? We could visit family and save some money.”
A trip like that always sounds great during the planning stage but in practice, things invariably end in tears. Next…
“DISNEY WORLD! DISNEY WORLD! DISNEY WORLD!”
Hot as Hades in the summer, insanely expensive and infested with terrifying mute effigies of cartoon characters that lumber around the parks like zombies barely able to hold up their giant heads.
It’s the eyes that haunt you. Dead and soulless, like sharks. I’ll pass…
“Let’s go camping!”
If you’ve stumbled across this blog thinking it’s a lad-site, looking for a bit of bawdiness, you’re probably unfamiliar with El Kaiser (that’s me) and his kin. We are urbanites, tried and true. The suburbs are unsettling and “the great outdoors” are no different to us than an alien planet.
I’m a city boy. My wife is a city girl, born and raised. My children are infinitely more comfortable navigating around cracks in the asphalt than they are scampering over rocks and tree roots.
The last place you’d expect to find us is spending any of our precious vacation time jammed into a nylon wigwam like some sort of snack-pack for bears.
Of course, that’s exactly what we decide to do.
The plan is to rendezvous with friends who are more experienced in such things. They live in Brooklyn, which for this Bronx boy and my Manhattanite wife gives them instant camping cred.
Brooklyn has always been the boonies as far as we’re concerned.
A date is agreed upon in early July and we excitedly trek over to one of those outdoorsy chain stores that sell impossibly macho gear I could never hope to master.
Mrs. Pink and I are promptly taken for the noobs we are and upsold on all manner of geegaws and doodads that the salespeople assure us are critical for braving the terrors that await us in the Catskill mountain region of New York State.
The pièce de résistance of our spree is a tent suitable for six adults that features a garage and a sitting area.
This may sound like a total exaggeration for comic effect — but you’d be wrong. The thing is yuuuuge. It could easily rent for $3K per month in NYC.
Right about now a tale like this would usually start detailing a litany of the mishaps and humiliations we suffered. There would be some humorous and occasionally painfully recognizable aspects for the reader about how badly Mother Nature bested us city slickers.
But guess what? Despite half the crap we brought along being completely unnecessary and our fear of bear attacks and bug-borne diseases unnecessary, the truth of it is we did pretty damn well out there!
About the worse thing that happened was learning that retro low-top suede basketball sneakers are not appropriate footwear for a nature hike and my young son announcing, at full volume and unprompted, that I liked to look at “naked women in bathtubs filled with dirty water.”
The awkward silence that descended around the toasty campfire after that one felt like it lasted an eternity.
Now before you go calling the authorities on me, this is the photo in question.
It was part of a spread featuring the ageless and beautiful actress Helen Mirren that appeared in a New York magazine issue I happened to be flipping through one night.
Apparently young Master Pink snuck a peek over my shoulder:
Inspired by our successful Independence Week adventure, later this summer me and the fam are hitting the road again to visit multiple campsites as we make our way to South Carolina.
Swapping the tent garage and sneakers for a tarp, a hatchet and a pair of size 12 hiking boots is first on the list before we head out.
City slickers, my ass…