Act Like a Tree And They Won’t See Us

My last post was on how I may or may not have made a lasting impression on one particular person I know who has repeatedly introduced herself to me as she forgets that she’s met me soon after we are introduced, again, and again.

There are times when I don’t want to make a lasting impression, times that I want to blend in with the scenery. These times occur when I am on a camping trip.

My husband and I are avid campers. We started camping in earnest when our children were small and we continue to go camping now that we have entered the empty nest phase of our lives.

Over the years we have discovered that there are two types of people who go camping. They are:

  1. People who like to camp with other people they’ve never met
  2. People who like to camp by themselves or with the people they came with

My husband and I fall into the second category. We like to camp with each other and no one else. Well, if our children are around, we’ll camp with them too, of course.

We did go through a short camping buddy phase when we first started camping. I guess we were a little nervous about, you know, sleeping outside and away from the safe confines of our home. I don’t remember when that changed. Maybe our camping buddies couldn’t go with us one time so we decided to go it alone. We survived, and then decided we could camp alone as a family of five.

But then came the day when some other friends found out we were going camping and thought it would be fun to tag along. We were like: Okay *sigh*. But it was okay, and we also camped with another family a few years later and that trip was fun at first, a little scary that night as a storm blew through, but overall fun, for our family anyway. We were in a pop-up tent camper and it didn’t blow away in the night like the other family’s tent did.

Our ideal camping trip is just us.

I recall the time we were camping at this one campground which usually isn’t very full, just the way we like it. We’d found a campsite far removed from the one other camper there. Ah! Perfect! Then, later in the day this RV pulls into the campground and they start looking for a spot. So many to choose from! So many. So why did they choose the one right next to us? They were in the first category of people who like to camp beside other people. Maybe it makes them feel safe, warm and fuzzy, they’re feeling neighborly. I don’t know.

We recently went camping two weekends in a row. I’ll blog about the second trip on another day. On the first weekend trip we decided to go to one of our favorite and typically not crowded spots. We got there and decided not to camp in the campground fee area, because we’re frugal and why pay when you don’t have to? We’d been told several years ago that you could camp anywhere else there were numbered trails or campfire rings.

So we stumbled across a large pull-off area hidden behind a stand of trees. The place was the beginning of a trail head, but hey, look! There’s a large campfire ring. Someone had been camping here, several someone’s at different times, so as long as we don’t block the trail head we should be good! And, probably no one will come hike the trail because nobody really frequents this area anyway.

We made camp and settled in for the night. The next day we lounged around, reading our library books we’d brought with us because we like to read books as we sit in the great outdoors. In the early afternoon we decided to check out the trail just for fun. We didn’t go too far because we didn’t bring any water with us, and I don’t like to hike dehydrated. I’ve done it before. Twice actually, and it’s not fun. So we went back after about a mile or so.

That’s when our isolated spot became congested with non-stop traffic. We were baffled by it. We’d taken our bikes up there one time before and rode them up the dirt road for miles and miles, and we maybe encountered two cars the whole day! So what was up with all the cars this time?

Each time one would go by we would become fearful that someone in the category one type of campers would pull into our pull-off and set up camp next to us. The horror!

At some point, when yet another car cruised by, I said to my husband, “Stand still! Don’t move! If they see us maybe they’ll just think we’re trees and not people and just pass on by!”

It seemed to work, for the most part. Toward evening a car with a Pennsylvania license plate pulled in. An elderly woman and a young woman got out of the vehicle. The elderly woman had hiking poles and they were going to hike the trail, not camp next to us. Thank goodness!

But then as evening wore on and the sun was starting to set, they still had not returned from their hike. What if something happened to them? I may not like to camp with other people, but I do like people. And I really wanted those two ladies to return safely. They did return shortly after that. They got in their car and stared at our camper van for a bit as they drove off, probably thinking we were the strange, creepy, unfriendly sort.

We are strange, but then who isn’t? But we’re not creepy or unfriendly just because we like to camp alone. I mean, if a type one camper engages us in conversation we’re not going to tell them to get lost. Chances are we might even invite them to dinner as we did once on another camping trip back when our kids were teenagers. As I recall, that camping couple was from New Hampshire.


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