Tag Archives: Camping

Just Call Me Rattlesnake Pete

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…


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:

Hey would you look at that lad-site seekers, you get a little skin after all!

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…


Belching and Wet Spots: The Boys Scouts This Ain’t

Camping in the Catskills: A Trip to Remember

Beer and Rain Make for a Memorable Camping Trip

Beer and Rain Make for a Memorable Camping Trip

Headshot 4 AMR

AMR contributor John O’Connell weighs in with his recollection of this epic camping trip. Here’s his account:

We took two cars up to the Catskills on a three-day weekend.

The participants were: Chris, Rich, Pedro, Gary and Andrew (Rich’s next door neighbor) and myself.

Rich had picked up a five-man canvas tent at Sears a few days before. Did I mention that there were six of us?

I recall Rich taking the tent and spikes out of the box. I sat on a folding chair and started to read directions for setting up the tent.

The first line in the instructions was that since the tent was canvas, it had to be watered down beforehand so that the material could stretch.

Since this wasn’t done, I wasn’t so sure that the tent could be constructed correctly with all the bars, etc. I resolved to just sit back and watch.

I grabbed a six-pack and plopped myself down and drank the first beer very quickly.

I never really liked the taste of beer and most times I would nurse one beer the whole night at parties.

I had just popped the second can, took a swig then figured I’d help get the fire started.

Rich and Andrew were trying to assemble the tent and there was a Catskill chill along with a threatening rainstorm.

I probably downed about three beers when both the fire was going and the tent was finally constructed. I took my sleeping bag, rolled it out in the tent and passed out.

I woke up in the morning sopping wet.

It had rained that evening and since the tent wasn’t pre-hosed, it didn’t have time to stretch out. Luckily, I had kept my overnight bag in the car so it, along with my change of clothes, were dry.

That Saturday it rained most of the morning.

The neighbors across from us decided that their camping weekend was over and packed up their new-fangled vinyl tent and left. They said that we could have their wood.

By late afternoon, the sun started to emerge and some of the guys decided to go on a hike.

Pedro and Rich played some tunes on a boom box that Rich brought. Chris came back holding Andrew, who twisted his foot on a rock or wet leaves.

On Sunday, the rain had stopped and we had a visit by the park ranger who we dubbed “Ranger Rick.”

Andrew had a small axe and was chopping a tree branch and the ranger wanted to make sure that we weren’t cutting any trees down. I walk toward him, assuring him that we weren’t as Chris motioned to Andrew to get rid of the axe.

We were fortunate to have a bathroom hut within a 2-minute walk of the campsite. It had a few stalls and a shower unit, but we were all smelling kind of funky by the end of the trip.

I think we actually made it to Monday before we left, because I recall having Rich drive Chris and I to a church in the area for Sunday Mass.

Most vacations you come back feeling relaxed. We came back smelly and wet and just wanted to go home, take a shower and sleep.

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Camping in the Catskills: A Trip to Remember

By AMR contributor Richard Rodriguez 


I came across some photos of the About Men Radio crew back in the day when we were young and crazy and camping in the Catskills in New York.

Of course we were just a bunch of New York City boys spending a weekend in the mountains, so out of place and not ready to take on nature and the elements.

It was July 1986. I am not sure how many of us had actually been camping before, but we were ready to have a male bonding weekend in the woods.

We loaded up two vehicles with a tent, gear, food, drinks, and surely stuff we didn’t need. Our destination was Woodland Valley Campground.

Campsite secured, we went about trying to set-up camp.

We hadn’t even gotten the tent up and John had already dipped into the beer stash.

So much for his help.

Finally the tent was up, and we cooked up some BBQ. Good times ensued.

Got through the first night fine, and in the morning we took to the trails and headed up the mountain.

Then the rain hit, and it didn’t stop. We tried to find shelter under rock overhangs but we couldn’t go on and we headed back to camp.

It started to rain hard and steady. The other campers were leaving in droves, but we refused to give up, and the people leaving actually gave us all their firewood!

We were stacked and actually had enough to keep a fire burning for practically the whole weekend non-stop.

Unsure of what to do as the rain continued to fall, some of the crew ventured to the nearest town and convenience store and returned with some much needed supplies: porno magazines of almost every variety.

This collection of adult entertainment became a legendary stash that survived our camping excursion and was passed around to each of us at one point or another for a number of years.

Not sure where this collection is today…

The rain did finally stop, and we continued to enjoy the outdoors.

The highlight of our shenanigans was a belching contest between Chris and Gary.

camping 12
Chris and Gary engage in a belch-off while Pedro keeps score. Gary was reaching so far into his gut that his stomach hurt, as depicted here. And Chris was rocking that camo cap! WTF?!

It was an epic battle between two belchers extraordinaire, and I can’t remember the final outcome, but it was a roaring good time that capped our crazy weekend that made a great impression on our friendship for years to come.

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