I gave my sister a fridge magnet a few years ago. It showed a woman reclining on a sofa with a delicious beverage. Her arm was swept behind her head and the caption read “I love NOT camping.”
A number of winters ago I was camping near Lowman, Idaho. Lowman sits on the shores of the rowdy Payette river. Just up the highway (highway 21) from Lowman is Kirkham hot springs. Kirkham hot springs is a low-key geothermal hot springs. It’s got several pools of water ranging from warm to boiling lava hot. They’re all right next to the river. It’s perfect for the slightly adventurous or your garden variety white trash.
There’s a rock about the size of a Suzuki Sidekick that sits 10 feet off the surface of the river between the hot pools and the river. It’s the diving board into the river. The river water is as clear as air so it looks shallow. You have to dive in the right place where it’s about 8 feet deep so you won’t break your spine. I wonder what happens to the body when you go from 100 degree water to 50 degree water. Whatever the medical effects are, it feels good.
This particular January evening, Brent and I scrambled over the rocks with our flip-flops and towels to the hot springs. We saw the customary few hundred empty beer cans. My buddy Brent and I don’t drink. We thought “We don’t drink alcohol, but we drink pop.” So we scrambled back to our vehicle which was parked outside of the barrier to the parking lot with a sign that read “CLOSED FOR WINTER”. We got 2 six packs of pop (orange and grape if I remember right) and sat in the semi-hot pool with the plan to “drink it like they do beer”.
After two cans of grape pop I felt my stomach gurgle and jump. We both started sipping slowly until we both agreed that drinking a 6 pack of pop doesn’t work.
It was late and cold. We stretched out sleeping bags out under the stars (clouds) and cozied up in our mummy bags. My dad had spent some time in the National Guard so I had his old military mummy bag. It was green, stinky and pokey (pokey because it was down filled) but it was warm. We fell asleep in a closed park in January. About 3AM we heard crunchy footsteps. We both woke up and saw a dude walking through camp. It was snowy and 3AM. Where was that dude going? It really freaked us out. He just walked through and kept going along the river in the dark.
I wish I could end this story with a fantastic tale of a pack of hound dogs tugging a sheriff and a posse with guns after an escaped convict, but I can’t because we just fell asleep and woke up to severely sick stomachs.
Why do people camp? Jim Gaffigan helps us understand why: