Charisma is the Key to Camping

Before this past weekend, I had only been camping one time. And that time isn’t when my friends and I thought we were “roughing it” by renting a log cabin on a military base stocked fully with Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

This time we were roughing it in actual tents in the Shenandoah Valley of rural Virginia. Plus, we switched out the Mike’s Hard for Bud Light Lime. Because somehow we are poorer now than we were in college.

Ignore the grill, and the cut lawn, and the strangers in the background.
Ignore the grill, and the manicured lawn, and the strangers in the background.

I arrived to the site late afternoon with two of my friends. Another four had already arrived and had mostly set up camp. My car companions were feeling really pumped after the 5-hour game of 21 Questions I had forced them to play, and they practically flew out of the car to greet the others. I was equally excited to continue the game with more people.

My six friends were all working really hard to pitch the tents and tend the campfire, so I felt it best that I relax and entertain everyone. I had just met one of the girl’s boyfriends upon arrival and he even told me, “You must be the most charismatic person I know to get away with not helping at all.” — What a compliment!!

I took that as my cue to continue not doing exactly what I already wasn’t, and by the time they all finished working, the last two people finally arrived. It was night by this point, and after the last tent was erected, we all sat around the fire. We thought it would be fun to share our best travel stories with each other, and we mimicked the Native American custom of passing around a bottle of Fireball to the next speaker.

By the fourth person’s story, we noticed that drunk hookups seemed to be a recurring theme. We all really bonded over the deep conversation! However, once my turn came I just shared a really romantic encounter I once had on the Eiffel Tower (in Paris, not Vegas). Future Post?

When we finally realized that story-telling may have been a bad idea, we decided to “hit the tent” (lol) so we could get a really early start at 10 a.m. the next day. Apparently when I was busy selflessly making everyone laugh earlier in the day, my friends hadn’t realized they pitched my part of our tent on a slope. So, I demanded my friend switch spots with me. Unfortunately, the ground in that spot was really hard, and I found it really difficult to get comfortable all night.

Then it dawned on me, This must be how Goldilocks felt when she innocently broke into that poorly secured bears’ home.

The next day was really fun. After the most delicious breakfast, we changed into our bathing suits and prepared for tubing down the Shenandoah River. We had to take a school bus to the water. Each of the buses had a different name, and ours was “Deliverance”… Comforting.

I really enjoy eating food I didn't make.
Food always tastes better when you demand it be cooked for you.

We each grabbed yellow inner tubes and added two for the food and “water” coolers to sit on. We then tied all of them together and walked the hive of tubes down the shore. Well, technically, we waited for our friend to finish peeing in the river bank that we were all about to wade through, and then we walked it down. Once we got down the slope everyone jumped on and we set sail on a three-hour, three-mile journey.

A good friend always links pinkies with you while you pee.
True friends always link pinkies with you while you pee.

Our first priority was to get drunk. This helped us to continually fall out of the tubes while screaming the National Anthem loudly at other campers as they drifted by on their inferior rafts. A few times our hive got too close to the sides of the river and we frantically scrambled to kick our way away. This is because the previous night I befriended a mountain-man named Matt who drunkenly wandered onto our campsite and explained to us that water moccasins like to drop onto boats from the trees.

He also offered us pot. We declined.

Once we got back from our adventure, everyone was pretty tired from the sun, so we all rested a bit. We explored some and made dinner, and once it got dark we celebrated the holiday by setting off sparklers surrounded by as much foliage as we could find. We thought it would make for better Facebook photos. I love sparklers because I get to shout spells from Harry Potter without feeling judged. The rest of the night consisted of two of my favorite things: smores and scary stories.

Naturally, my stories were the best. I was able to find some really good ones online because Sprint decided to give me perfect service in the middle of nowhere. Which I’d have been grateful for if only Sprint could have provided me the same luxury in Downtown Chicago.

The only problem I have with scary stories is my inability to use a bathroom alone afterwards. I don’t know if it’s the mirrors or the silence that freaks me out more. Fortunately, this was one of those few times where it’s acceptable to just go in the woods, so I took advantage of the situation. The next morning, I was sweetly woken up at 7 a.m. by my friend aggressively grabbing and shaking my feet. It was time to leave.

All in all, this was one trip I am glad I guilted my friends into inviting me on. And I guess if there is one lesson to take away from this amazing story it’s: My friends are more patriotic than yours. Nah nah na boo boo.  

Happy belated Independence Day everyone!

If you want to share a camping/holiday story, feel free to comment below!

-Phil

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