Roughing It

It has been almost one month since we heard from perennial sophomore and chronic underachiever Bubby Spamden. I started to think he had gone on vacation with his parents … but no! The Spamdens never go anywhere!

Hey Mr. C.,

I’m kind of bummed today because it looks like the U.S. government won’t go into default after all. I have to admit I was kind of hoping it would.

Oh, I know what people say –that it would bring an economic catastrophe that would last a long time and seriously wreck my Potential Standard Of Living, not that my P.S.O.L. was ever anything to get excited about. In fact, each time my teachers at Wilkie hold me back for another year, they make it a point to sit down and have a talk, lowering my expectations about the kind of future I might have. It got to the point where I was kind of hoping a national economic super-collapse would create a level playing field where everyone could be down at MY level of sub-standard achievement, just so I wouldn’t feel so alone.

See, the teachers always tell me when I don’t hand in my assignments on time – “You better learn how to get your work done, Buster (yes, some of them still don’t know my name!), because out in the REAL world if you don’t get your work done, you wind up all out of money and not able to pay your bills.” Like that’s so unusual! It describes, like, everyone I know!

I mean, I used to think it would be horrible to be a no-account deadbeat, completely unreliable and financially stressed all the time. But this summer it’s just another name for government!

I see the U.S. might still lose its AAA bond rating, even though they got a deal worked out. Just as well. I always thought three A’s all bunched together like that was kind of showing off. What’s wrong with a C or a D thrown in there just for variety, huh?

So the next time a teacher calls me a lazy bum and predicts my personal economic collapse and a future that’s all about living in an appliance crate and eating cat food casserole every Wednesday night, I’ll ask what diff does it make and how does she like her under-funded pension plan?

I’m writing down the names of the teachers I will invite to share my cardboard box someday! It’s a very short list.

Your pal,
Bubby

Ever go camping in your own back yard?

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69 thoughts on “Roughing It”

  1. Rise and Shine Baboons:

    Yes, I have camped in my own back yard, as well as in many parks, National and State parks, and on the side of the road. The last back yard camp out occurred when my son was little and we were testing a new tent. Watching a little boy try to settle down under such exciting circumstances is a dear memory. The little talks in a tent about outside noises, the night time prayers, the questions about everything were all so precious.

    So I am starting the day with a wonderful memory. Happy day to all.

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  2. Good morning to all,

    I don’t remember any back yard camping. As improverished students we didn’t even have a tent, so there was no camping at all. We did manage to find low rent apartments to live in and never tried living in a box. I did know a guy that lived in a teepee. We are doing a little better these days and we usually do our camping in motels. We did do some camping in the boundary waters in the past and I still think we might get out our tent and try that at least one more time.

    My parents weren’t the camping type. However, my grand parents had a Nash Rambler with seats that folded all the way down that they could use to sleep in at night when on trips. They rigged up a shelter made of canvas on the side of the car to use to change their clothes.

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  3. I have camped in the yard with both my kids and the pets over the years. Daughter and best friend have often pitched our tent in the yard. They even ran an extension cord with a trouble light attached so they could stay up way late and read and carry on, The lawn got a little trampled but that didn’t matter. It was an adventure.

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  4. I’m a camper from way back. My Mom, Dad, sister and I camped often during my childhood. Mom hated it, but dad took great delight in being in close proximity to nature.

    I’ve camped in a lot in the Rockies in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and yes, I’ve even camped in my own back yard.

    As teen agers, my sister and I sometimes pitched a tent in our parents’ front yard and slept there. On one occasion, the neighbor’s son, who my sister later married, crept over in the middle of the night after we had fallen asleep and quietly collapsed the tent on top of us. Pretty sound sleepers both, we didn’t discover this till the morning sunlight warmed the canvas sufficiently to awaken us.

    Many years ago, my husband and I tried out a new tent in our back yard one summer night. A long orange electrical cord snaked through the grass to our tent to provide the ultimate in camping luxury, an electrical reading lamp. On another occasion, when he was trying to convince me how wonderful winter camping is, we pitched a tent about 10 feet from our back door on a cold and snowy night. It was nice and cozy inside the tent once I got inside my sleeping bag, but when I got out of my bag in the morning, I was glad to have quick access to a warm bathroom. To this day, husband still loves winter camping, I never really took to it.

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  5. my yard caming was with one of my daughters ( the youngest) and we would try to fake like it was a real outing but the back yard was reality of the sitation. i have done lots of camping, my family not so much, the times we did cam as a family were so memorable that my wife couldn’t forget them. the river running through the tent. the skillful job i did to be sure the sleeping bags did not get wet in the midst if the monsoon, the projectile vomiting and diarrhea mentioned in a posting a month or so ago, all reasons she prefers to be in a room with hard walls and a light switch. my tent poles are still bent form the time my daughter and i slept out in a blizzard and we got enough snow to max out the snow load capacity of the tent poles unil the buckled. there is a place down at the university where the sell tent pole replacements (harris canvas)what a shop) and i do mean to get down ther but i have not and the tent functions ok but looks less than taut when the poles are all magically plugged in and the expected camping domes looks like a pair of rolled up sox instead of a crisp solid geodesic specimen. off to college son used the tent for his first solo expedition to the north shore this sumer and kept the spirit alive. but the idea of sharing my cardboard bx with my teachers would make my list a short list too. 3 or 4 max. those people would elcome to my box anytime.

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    1. Isn’t it funny how camping disasters remain much more vivid memories than the more idyllic trips?

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    2. One of the tents we owned had a pole that was bent because a tree fell on it. It wasn’t a big tree and we managed to use the tent to complete the camping trip. That was a light weight tent for canoe trips. Before that we had a heavy canvas tent used for camping out of a car. That was used for family trips to state park camp grounds with our children. I still like looking at camping equipment in catalogues and at outdoor equipment stores even though I’m really not in the market for buying that stuff any more. There might be a few more purchases if we finally decided to do another canoe trip in the Boundary waters.

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  6. My sisters and I would sleep in a tent all summer. Every once in a while we would move the tent so the grass wouldn’t be completely dead.

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      1. Many people today don’t know that homes built in the decades before air conditioning often had what were called “sleeping porches.” That would be an upstairs porch the size of a small bedroom, screened all the way around. On summer nights when the home was too stuffy and hot for sleeping, people would sleep in the sleeping porch. In the summer of 1936, when temperatures reached record-breaking highs, many families in Minneapolis camped out in city parks.

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    1. Yup, it’s a whole different thing to sleep in a tent for weeks in the city vs. in the country. We didn’t move into a town until I was 16 so it was safe and quiet to do that (and even then, in a town of 1200, we probably could have, but didn’t).

      In my current neighborhood, noise would definitely keep me awake…as would the anxiety (and the anxiety wouldn’t be about wondering if a bear would come along). Sleeping porches sound like a wonderful idea, although it seems even that would not help much during this summer with its hot, humid, no-breeze nights.

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  7. I grew up with, I think it was Crow Girl’s term, credit card camping. As a family we went camping once, with a pop-up camper that my grandfather had built. Can we all say “disaster”? My mother is just not a camper… she feels that vacations are just that… vacations. She doesn’t want to cook over a fire (OK, to be fair, she doesn’t want to cook at all), clean up dishes using water from a creek, etc. etc.

    As an adult, camping appeals to my wallet a great deal, so that’s how the teenager and I get along, although I do have some of my mother’s genes. When the teenager and I camp, we do breakfast and lunch campside, but then eat dinner someplace where they do the dishes for you.

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    1. My Dad thought it might nice to do some traveling in a recreational vehicle with a kitchen in it when he retired. My mother vetoed this. She said she didn’t want to have the job of preparing meals when she was on vacation.

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      1. huh? what is that? don’t need a credit card to camp in your own back yard, even if it’s on 8 acres of land…

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    2. i do my camp eating out of the old pie tin from the betty crocker poppin fresh pie shop. when you are done eating the proper technique to doing the dishes is to grab a handful of dirt, throw it in the pan and add a little water to make it an abrasive slurry and rub the side til the big chunkes are gone. my kids thought this was great and the concept of washing with dirt was a revalation. gotta love that camping spirit.

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      1. That system will not remove grease from you plates and kitchen ware. Did you end up with a situation where you were making frequent trips out into the woods to fertilize the ground?

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      2. Or what about when the food falls on the ground? The dirty food you wouldn’t eat at home is fine to eat when camping and it even tastes better than the clean food at home.

        Cleaning with dirt…what a great term.

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  8. One of our Hidatsa Indian friends has a huge Lakota teepee that he camps with. It is about 14 feet in diameter. It even has a solar shower in it. The poles are from lodge pole pines. He has red cloth tied to the top ends of some of the poles. He loves it when people ask him the the symbolism involved with the red cloth. He says, in a hushed and serious voice “It’s an old indian legend. When the ends of your poles stick out past the end of your truck, State law mandates red markers to warn other drivers of your extra-long load”.

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    1. I forgot to mention that I’ve also camped in a teepee – with friends up near Park Rapids. It was very comfortable and a fun experience.

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      1. Isn’t raising a teepee a lot of work? I can imagine that it’s nice a spacious on the inside, but it’s got to be heavy and cumbersome to raise, no?

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      2. My husband has assisted with putting the teepee up, and he says it is not easy and you have to be careful and methodical. It takes more than one person to set it up.

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  9. Yes, I’ve done lots of tent camping too. Some of it has been really fun, some not so much. I’ve also experienced a river running through the tent – very memorable. On one trip, the mosquitoes were so bad I tried to sleep in the car. I ended up killing mosquitoes all night. In the morning they were smashed like polka dots all over the ceiling of the car.

    I’ve slept in the backyard many times. In the ’60s, when I grew up on Cannon Lake, my brothers and I slept on the wide screen porch of the old cabin on camp cots. We could hear animals moving past the cabin and we got the full benefit of summer storms. When I was older, my teenage girlfriends and I would fill a rowboat with sleeping bags and potato chips and row out to the raft we had anchored out in the lake. We watched meteor showers on August nights, counting who saw the most shooting stars. The raft would pitch and sway with the lake, its log chain and nine 55-gallon barrels groaning with the toss. The wind would keep the mosquitoes away and we talked as teenage girls will all night long.

    More recently, a group of us camped at a friend’s cabin on Crooked Lake, near Bemidji. It was beautiful and quiet, with loons calling throughout the night.

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    1. Husand and I once slept on a diving raft like that, Krista, because all the beds were taken in the cabin. It really was cool to be out on the water.

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  10. not campers, here. and especially last night. 7 solid hours of wind, torrential rains, and at least four crashes that sounded so close that they might have hit the tall, old white pine in the back yard. (didn’t) we weren’t afraid, but stayed awake just because of the noise. this morning the goats are all very sleepy. i think they didn’t sleep last night either. Juju didn’t wake up until it was her turn to eat, after all the milking was done.
    Steve and i have camped twice in our married life. it rained both times – hard, stormy rain. we were thinking of starting a business, putting up our tent in drought-stricken areas.

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    1. First day in August, last rain was in May.
      When the Rainmaker came to Kansas in the middle of a dusty day.
      The Rainmaker said to the people, “Tell me what u are prepared to pay”
      The Rainmaker said to the people, “Well, I’ll conjure up rain today.”

      90 degrees ‘neath the trees where it’s shady, hundred & 10 in the hot sun
      Heat from the street burned the feet of the ladies, see how they run…
      [ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tom_northcott/the_rainmaker.html ]
      Called down the lightning, by a mystical name.
      Then the Rainmaker called on the thunder and it suddenly began to rain.
      Then the Rainmaker passed his hat to the people but the people all turned away.
      Then the Rainmaker’s eyes & the Kansas skies both became a darker grey.

      First day in August, last rain was in May.
      When the Rainmaker came to Kansas in the middle of a dusty day
      Rainmaker smiled as he hitched up his wagon & w/o a wd he rode away.
      Then the people of the town heard the sound of his laughter & they knew the rain had
      come to stay..

      Rain rain, go away.
      Come again another day…

      More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/t/tom_northcott/#share

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    2. we’re ok in Blackhoof, thanks for asking, Krista – lots of sand and rolling hills. we got 4.7 inches of rain last night. (neighbor keeps track of this) the pond is pretty full and the road is difficult. friend with goats west of Moose Lake says the water is standing everywhere – in her basement, in her goats’ pens – that area of SW Carlton county is very low. neighbor says they were up watching the pyrotechnics and saw a bolt strike the ground on the hill about 100 yards south of the goat barn. no wonder everybody out there was a little subdued this morning.

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  11. Husband has done that with various little kidss when they were visiting. And when the grandbabies were here last summer with Mario, they all 3 slept out in a tent, and of course there was a downpour – they stuck it out but didn’t get much sleep. My mom tells about how she and her sisters regularly slept out under the stars (no tent) when it was just too hot in their little house.

    OT – We had a quite a storm here yesterday pm. I dubbed our screened in porch floor “Hassing Lake.” At least it cooled things off.

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  12. Morning–

    My family never camped but somewhere along the line my Mom picked up an old canvas pup tent. I don’t think it had any poles; the one time I put it up I remember having to find some old boards for poles.
    My wife; she traveled all over the states with her brother and two cousins led by an Aunt and Uncle and has many stories of camping. They had a regular routine and everyone had their jobs. Many stories of their trips and like you said; the rainstorms and tent rivers are the most memorable…
    The Aunt and Uncle kept track of everything; little notebooks full of how many miles, what was spent, who bought what; and then they wrote a book of the adventures. Hardbound and given to the families…
    Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bill plus cousin Nikki have passed over so the book is more special than ever to Kelly.

    We put the tent up in the backyard for our kids once… but that bug hasn’t bitten them either.

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  13. As a kid I never camped in my yard. Why would I? Right across the street from my home was a creek, a woods and the town’s largest park. My buddies and I camped there.

    There was that one trip I took in high school. Two friends and I camped out along the Skunk River to catch catfish. I’ll never forget that night. We filched a big bunch of corn from the adjacent field and cooked it over an open campfire. That’s the night I learned the difference between roasted sweet corn and scorched field corn.

    We were awakened in the morning by a car horn honking. To my acute embarrassment, it was my mother, who had become worried about us and brought breakfast. I couldn’t stay mad at her for shaming me like that. Chocolate glazed donuts washed down with icy Hawaiian Punch will go a long way toward making you glad to see your mother.

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  14. Greetings! My parents were both Scout troop leaders, so we did a lot of tent camping — some in the back yard to test the tent, but mostly out on the road. Most memorable was camping and hiking for a week on Isle Royal. Absolutely beautiful, wild and remote. Unfortunately, I HATE camping. Being out in nature and hiking and all that stuff is very cool and I enjoyed it tremendously. But come nightfall I want a comfortable bed and quiet to sleep with a flushing toilet nearby. I’m a light sleeper and camping usually means extreme sleep deficit for me; so no thank you.

    As others have noted, vacation (for me) means NOT having to cook, clean and sleep badly in a wet tent and sleeping bag while fighting off the bugs. I’m tough in many ways, but getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely necessary for me and camping is anti-sleep in my mind.

    I remember one time on a family camping trip, I shared a small pup tent with one of my many sisters. Mom had the unfortunate habit of putting the head of sleeping bag opposite the opening. This park was VERY dark and quiet with the top of tent barely 2 feet above me. I lay there for what seemed like hours, getting claustrophobic and feeling for sure I was in a tomb, never to wake up or get out, the darkness pressing on me from all sides. I got so anxious, I finally crawled out of tent for fresh air, walked around for a bit. When I went back into tent, I turned around the sleeping bag, kept the flap open with my face half out the opening so I could finally sleep. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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    1. Your story reminds me of why the teenager and I have such a humongous tent. Little tents give me the same claustrophobia you’ve described! Our current tent says that it sleeps 10 (yes, that’s right… sleeps 10 when there are just two of us) and you can stand up completely in it. Goes up pretty fast for such a big thing and, of course, if it rains we can scrunch up into the middle if the edges get soaked.

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  15. For Daughter’s 7th birthday this year, we had a camp out in our urban back yard with a couple friends – roasted marshmallows over the fire bowl, lit sparklers, and read troll stories before bedtime (figured Norwegian trolls would be less scary than ghosts…and I didn’t want three little girls waking me up due to nightmares). Every girl got their own flashlight (“just in case”) – and the girls slept well and had a grand time. I woke up with every vehicle that passed on the other side of the block (a major thoroughfare, unfortunately for me), but it was worth the aches and pains and lack of sleep because it required so little to make three little girls so happy.

    I am a very occasional camper otherwise, and much prefer a cabin with a solid roof, indoor plumbing (if possible), and a place to sleep with a little more forgiveness than a camp mattress on the ground. Added bonus would be a refrigerator so I have more options for cooking…also, Husband is not likely to go camping in a tent at all as he hates bugs. Daughter would totally do camp tenting again…and again…and again. Might have to head out to a state park with her sometime for a girls’ weekend (and leave Husband home ostensibly to take care of the dog and cats) – my joints might not like me after a weekend on the ground, but Daughter would be over the moon.

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    1. Don’t know where you’re located, Anna, but Afton State Park and William O’Brien State Park are two great places to camp within a reasonably short drive of St. Paul.

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      1. Another even closer camping site is Lebanon Hills (in Dakota County). That’s also a great place to find wild mushrooms.

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      2. Has anybody ever tried the camper cabins at the State Parks? They’re a great way to check out the Parks if you want a roof over your head. They’re primitive – you have to walk to the potties and use candles for light but it’s a fun way to go.

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  16. OT-The Redhouse Records Barnfest is Saturday in Red Wing. This note is still posted on the site *VOLUNTEER POSITIONS STILL AVAILABLE*
    Call 651-644-4161 for more info!

    I won’t be going but the music including Pat Donohue and Andra Suchy looks lovely!

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  17. I think some of you have been on camping trips in the Boundary Waters. If you like camping and you haven’t been there, you should think about going. It isn’t hard to do. You do most of the travel by canoe on lakes which is easy going. You do have to carry your gear on trails between lakes, but the trails are generally fairly short. The country is beautiful and you can get completely away from the rest of the world. The sound of cars seems strange when you first return from several days in the Boundary Waters. You should go late in the summer or fall when there are not too many mosquitoes. Outfitters can rent you a light weight canoe that is not too hard to carry between lakes.

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  18. Am I the only one who has noticed Blevins’ strange behavior today? Sometimes he’s Mad Hatter, sometimes he’s presenting us with his most colorful side and now he’s grinning from beside the Trail. Hm.

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    1. What is going on? I saw the Mad Hatter, but not the colorful side, and I see that we have a different look now as you say, Krista. Does the topic of people camping out cause Blevins to get crazy?

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    2. I meant to mention that he was in his “Easter bunny” outfit this morning, but hadn’t paid attention after that…

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    3. As you refresh the page, Blevins refreshes his look…not sure why it switched to having a refreshed Blevins with each page refresh, but that’s what’s happening (try refreshing your page a coupla times – it’s like Magic 8 Ball Blevins).

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  19. We camped with the kids at Madeline Island, Sakatah State Park, and many other locations around until they left the nest. My experience with the backyard: we have a lovely screen porch where I spend many happy hours reading, eating, or jest sittin’. When I tried sleeping out there the raccoons scared the %^&* out of me rustling around underneath it. Aack. No more of that.

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