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AMR contributor Richard Rodriguez offered a pretty good account of what can only be described as an epic camping trip from nearly 30 years ago, but there are some salient details he overlooked that I want to add or clarify based on my hazy memory of this adventure.

As I recall, Rich was in charge of getting the tent.

And as I recall, the manufacturer’s instructions recommended pitching the tent, wetting it down with a hose and letting it dry to help activate some kind of waterproofing.

And as I recall, Rich did not do that.

So when the rains came down, down, down like in “100 free online dating sites no credit card required,” the tent leaked worse than Edward Snowden.

The result was there were numerous wet spots that rendered parts of the tent inhospitable.

But that was not the end of it:

As I recall, John somehow got his hands on beer and ice cream and proceeded to fumigate the tent with a green fog that damn near gassed us the way an exterminator would if he were trying to rid a house of termites. (Picture the faux extermination scenes from “Breaking Bad.”)

Pedro and I ended up sleeping in Rich’s Dad’s station wagon because the tent was already overcrowded and did I mention that parts of the sleeping area were also now wet?

That Pedro and I were relegated to the car meant the two biggest guys in our group would be in the most confined space.

I do not remember which of us ended up sprawled across the front seats and contending with the steering wheel, but I do clearly recall that we needed chiropractors in the morning!

Of all of us, I think I was the only former Boy Scout and the one with the most experience outdoors and with camping.

But you would have had no idea of that based on the way I was behaving.

I was petrified/obsessed with raccoons that were foraging in a nearby garbage can. Every five minutes, I would poke my head out of the tent with a flashlight like some crazed movie usher to see what they were doing.

As Rich noted, there was a steel-cage belching contest that I recall Gary winning on the strength of a masterful performance, which featured quantity, volume and endurance.

Though I finished that weekend dethroned as a title-holding belcher, I went home with many great memories of this trip!
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Beer and Rain Make for a Memorable Camping Trip

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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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