One Terrible Night of Camping
Every summer, my father, brothers and me go camping in upstate New York. We do so on a campgrounds, so there is always amenities like showers, bathrooms, and running water. But we do actually camp in tents and not an RV, so it can get interesting sometimes.
This night in particular, it did.
2:45 AM, The Thing
After a long night of drinking around the campfire, and laughing our way through the years of memories we have all spent together, we decide to call it a night. My brothers and father had taken their respective places in the tents 15 minutes earlier, and were already sawing logs.
It's 2:45 AM, I was the last one up and, at the time, still smoking cigarettes. So I decided to have one last cigarette before turning in. I light the cigarette, hear a blood curdling screech from high up in the pine trees, and freeze...
CRASH! Something sounds like it is somehow running through the treetops above me. I listen.
Screeeeeeeech! Again, whatever this...thing is lets out a nervous-system-unraveling scream that I can only describe as a blend of an angry cat's meow, an anvil being dropped on a concrete floor, and an elephant's roar.
I wonder what the hell it could possibly be. It was absolutely terrifying.
CRASH! CRASH! CRASH! Screeeeech! The Thing again barrels through the treetops at a frightening speed, and unleashes another one of its screeches from the other side of the campgrounds.
"Dad, Drew, Corey...?", I ask to the tents. No reply from anyone. They were dead asleep.
I sit there for another 15 minutes, waiting for others around the campgrounds to wake up, or for The Thing to start terrorizing me again.
3:37 AM, a Marauding Critter
With The Thing seemingly gone, I had climbed into the tent and passed out. Unfortunately I am a light sleeper, and some noise had roused me from my groggy drunken snooze.
Scratch, scratch, scratch...
There was something outside of the tent, right by my feet, clawing at the side of the tent. I freeze and remain silent, wondering what it is and what I could do to get rid of it.
Scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch, scratch...
I look down by my feet again as my eyes had adjusted. There was a loaf of bread left there from the previous night.
Scratch, scratch, scratch...
A small hole is torn into the tent, two tiny hands reach in, grab the loaf of bread, and rip it through the tent.
"What the hell is that?" I say to myself before jumping up, grabbing the flashlight, and exploding out of the tent.
As soon as I get out of the tent, I switch the flashlight on just in time to see a raccoon running down the trail with our loaf of bread in its mouth. All I could do was let out an exasperated laugh and a sigh of relief. I was expecting an abominable monstrosity of some sort after hearing The Thing just a short time ago.
I patch the hole with duct tape and fall back to sleep.
4:17 AM, Warlocks on Dirtbikes
I wake up to something loud and constant. I take a few seconds to clear the cobwebs, remember where I was, and try to figure out what it was that I was hearing. Dirt bikes. Can't tell how many of them, but it's more than 2.
I climb out of the tent, at this point furious and probably shooting laser beams out of my eyes. I'm already hungover, and all I want to do is sleep. I think to myself "I'm going to kill one of these sons of a bitch."
Three dirt bikes roar past our campsite, and I set chase as if I'd actually be able to catch these people on foot, hungover, and running on broken sleep.
They see me, stop, call me a bunch of unpleasant words, and continue to taunt me. I break into a sprint, because at this point I'm going to kill all three of them. As soon as I get within 20 feet, they speed away kicking up dirt and rocks, and cackling like three witches on brooms who had just set fire to an entire village.
After a cigarette and a settling of the nerves, I climb back into the tent and pass out...again.
4:59 AM, a Lumbering Bear
I wake up needing to take a leak. I walk out of the tent, and see a black bear lumbering down the trail no more than 30 feet away. I freeze and my penis shrinks into my body out of pure terror.
Does the bear hear me? Of course it does, so it turns around and stares at me. I stare at it. It keeps staring at me. I keep staring at it.
It dismiss me with a nosy grunt and continues lumbering down the trail. I watch it leave and sit there for another 15 minutes to make sure it is definitely gone.
"This night can't be real.", I say aloud to myself.
Back to sleep again.
5:40 AM, Whispering Satan Spawn
"Hey!", I hear in a shouted whisper. It's my dad, who I'm sharing a tent with. I roll over and look at him.
"Did the rain wake you up?", he asks.
"No, you woke me up."
"Shit!", he replies in a garbled and infuriated, groggy, scratchy voice. "It's been pouring out for the last half hour, and there's a stream running through the middle of the goddamn tent."
Mind you, I was completely unaffected by this idiotic stream and it was only him who was woken up by the water.
He then takes his bottle of NyQuil, drinks a couple cupfuls of it, and goes to pass out in his warm, dry truck.
6:00 AM, That was Horrible
At this point, my father had gone to his truck to curl up in the back seat. I was too annoyed and furious to fall back asleep. Also, there was a stream running through the middle of the tent and the rain made it much too noisy to fall back asleep again.
What did I do? There was no food, and we forgot to get instant coffee--which would've been great. So I sat there in the pouring rain chain smoking cigarettes and drinking flat, warm cans of Budweiser until everyone else woke up...which was at about 10:30AM.
Moral of This Story
There is none! Sometimes camping just sucks.
I call this comedy because it was a mix of the surreal, funny, annoying, terrifying, and downright infuriating. It was like all the stars were aligned to make my life a complete and total living hell for the entire night. I can look back and laugh at it now, but on that fateful morning I wanted to kill every living thing within shouting distance.
The Thing barreling through the treetops? I'm still at a loss for what it could have been. But whatever it was, it scared the hell out of me.