Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 21, 2002

Can’t find the appeal of camping

Call me strange – you won’t be the first – but the lure of some activities that millions of others find entertaining escapes me.

Take boxing, for example. I just don’t understand why watching two men beat each other to a bloody pulp qualifies as a sport, much less as something to pay steep prices to watch on pay-per-view. For a long time, most women agreed with me. But now, it seems that not only are more women watching boxing, more are participating in it.

Then there’s auto racing. I spent the good majority of my growing-up years in Indianapolis, so it’s near heresy for me to admit this, but auto racing is another sport that I just don’t get. Why would I want to pay good money to sit in a hot, humid city watching noisy, dirty cars play follow-the-leader around a race track?

For auto racing spectators, I suspect a big part of the attraction is watching for a spectacular crash. I don’t mean to imply that I understand the fascination of that, but I just don’t know what else might draw fans of the sport, unless they enjoy going deaf while breathing auto exhaust fumes.

So far, thankfully, my husband and I agree on the lack of appeal of these pastimes.

But then there’s camping, which he loves. Me? I’m in tune with David Letterman’s assistant Stephanie. She told Dave on The Late Show the other night when he asked her to go camping, “I don’t camp for anyone.” Amen, sister.

Humankind has progressed through the centuries from living in caves – camping without the expensive gear – to building ever more elaborate dwellings. People invented cooking devices with temperature controls to solve the problem of under- and over-cooked food on an unpredictable outdoor fire. They invented out-houses and then flush toilets because … well, because the old-fashioned way of answering nature’s call isn’t very pleasant. I don’t get why you’d want to regress to what man has worked for centuries to escape.

I fail to comprehend the appeal of fighting off bugs, wrestling to erect a tent, trying to snooze on a thin mat covered by a sleeping bag while wild creatures prowl around hoping to snag some of your 21st century foodstuffs – likely HoHos and hot dogs – and dealing with the lack of indoor plumbing.

If that’s not bad enough, my husband likes to take camping to the next level – backpacking. Oh, joy, I get to carry everything I need for the next several days on my back (causing me to ponder, “Gee, is this water really worth its eight pounds a gallon of weight? The less I drink, the less often nature will call.”), hike on rough trails – where poisonous and thorny plants, not to mention snakes and spiders, lurk – until I get to the camp site where the bugs, a flimsy tent, wild creatures and no indoor plumbing await. No, thank you.

A friend of ours has some land in the middle of nowhere – OK it’s somewhere in Northern California – since I’ve never been, I don’t know precisely where it is, but I do know there’s no cell phone service. A few times a year, he invites a bunch of people out to camp for a weekend, and my husband loves these events.

But I just don’t want to drive for hours, including on unpaved roads, to spend the weekend using a convalescence toilet chair and a shovel whenever nature calls. And they call me strange?

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