Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Camping Holidays NZ style

I found this link to a story apparently first printed by the ODT and then re printed in the New Zealand Herald.
Please make sure you don't just take a mouthful of tea/coffee/whtever before reading this and if you are anything at all like me and can possibly relate to this whole thing, go pee now!

Camping holidays - Drive for hours, wrestle with tent, ignore the rain
Monday January 01, 2007By Ben Fahy

There's nothing like using communal bathrooms with people who say, 'Yeah, nah, yeah', a lot. Now that's a holiday.

What you need

* A huge, leaky, multi-room canvas tent from the 1970s that sleeps about 20, takes about eight hours to put up, smells like mildew and, with about 100 metal poles, is heavier than Texas. The tent, which should be primarily beige or green in colour, must have an ineffective awning and exceedingly large guy ropes to trip over when nature inevitably calls in the middle of the night and the torch batteries run flat.

* More contemporary campers should invest in a newer, easily assembled, Chinese-made, synthetic dome tent that feels as though it will be blown away in anything more than a breeze and will heat up to 120C by 8am.

* Old sleeping bags with broken zips, a large supply of canned goods (loophole: beer is included in this category), a rusty metal pyramid to cook toast upon your rusty metal gas cooker, scroggin (which experts say is one of the funniest words in the English language), insect repellent that has no noticeable effect in the repelling of insects, an inflatable suede-topped airbed that typically requires daily reinflation and a dual-purpose 175g championship frisbee (for throwing and, potentially, as a surface to eat off).

* As camping in "temperate" New Zealand is usually a "summer" activity, a bilge pump is also recommended.

* A body of water, be it a stream, a creek, a lake, an ocean, a pool, or a trough, that is less than a five-minute walk from your tent (in either Jandals or bare feet). There must also be a purveyor of fine icecreams served in cones located close by.

* Aloe vera to remedy burns from toasted marshmallows and, for those of a whiter hue, the sun.
What to do

* Let Dad pack everything into the boot and/or trailer. A father's boot authority is never to be challenged, even if his chosen technique is obviously inefficient and/or potentially dangerous.

* Drive for hours (preferably with windows down). Children will ask parents to change the music every two minutes, saying "Do we have to go camping again?" Parents will say "Yes, be quiet", then sing along to Elvis or the Beatles even more loudly and/or terribly in an attempt to portray their false enthusiasm.

* After reaching the campsite, exude confidence before beginning tent erection process. Obviously, it will be impossible to refrain from making erection jokes. Confusion will soon set in, followed by frustration, then fury, as stubborn Homer-a-likes attempt to connect poles and hammer tiny pegs into rock-hard ground, regularly hitting themselves on the thumb and apologising to the young-uns for swearing so loudly.

* When tent is erected, make another joke and then set up ancient deck chairs that seem like they could either give you tetanus or snap shut at any second. Remain sedentary for as long as possible, only moving to get wet, collect fresh beverages, put the awning back up, pour more petrol on the barbecue to enhance chargrilled flavour or find children who have been wandering around the camping ground unattended for more than three hours.

* If elderly and male (this category will also include some fathers), don inappropriate Speedos, displaying your impressive and well-defined beer gut at every opportunity. Always remember that those with a tanned motor are aesthetically superior to their pale, sun-smart counterparts.

* After a winter of slipper-wearing, the soles of the feet will be soft, tender and pale. This needs to be remedied, and the only way to condition them effectively is to walk upon sharp gravel or burning hot sand, all the while making strange noises like "oooh, hot, ahhh, oooh, ahhh, sharp". Soon enough your feet will be calloused, filthy, bronzed and, most importantly, shoeless.

* If residing at a holiday camp with your family, beware of the grumpy old couple in the caravan directly behind your tent who keep complaining about the kids being too loud.
Amazingly, all caravan owners must sign a contract stating they will do everything in their power to try to stop other holidaymakers from having fun (or, for that matter, overtaking them when in transit).

* Also, try to avoid the annoying couple who keep inviting themselves around to your tent site, drinking all your beer and wine, and nudging you in the ribs with an elbow in an attempt to prompt laughter after telling another unfunny story about their last camping trip.

* If camping at one of the 120 Department of Conservation-managed sites around the country, or in a rest area on the side of the road, best of luck. But please, for the sake of your fellow free campers, try to find a toilet rather than going in the tussock just a few metres away from the picnic table.

* If camping at a New Year's "hot spot", pay no attention to the rioting, bottle throwing, vomiting and obnoxiously loud car engines of the young revellers. At this stage of the year, "quiet time" at the camping ground is oxymoronic.

* On the last day of the camping trip, allocate another eight hours to rolling up the tent so that it fits into an impossibly small bag, and, with furrowed brow, drive home hastily, safe in the knowledge that there may still be time for some proper relaxation when you arrive back at your permanent abode.

* Tell friends and associates who decided to stay within solid walls that you had a terrific time in the tent, despite having been either uncomfortable, irritable, itchy, sleep-deprived, sunburned or malnourished from the constant diet of baked beans, sizzlers, booze and double-scoop hokey-pokey ice-creams.

* Do it all again next year.

What to say

* When confusion reigns during tent erection, use the excuse: "Well, someone obviously packed it up wrong last time. No, honestly."

* Bemoan the fact that the quintessential Kiwi camping holiday is under attack from heartless, money-grubbing property developers who continue to snap up vast swathes of camping land to build oversized, sterile mansions for the wealthy. Excuse me, Camp Commandant? My fees going up to $4 a day? Pack up the tent kids, we're going somewhere that isn't quite so up-market.

* Caravan enthusiasts should say: "There's nothing I love more than hauling this big, heavy, box-like contraption around the countryside and driving at a snail's pace when the roads are at their busiest. Why stay at home over the holidays when you could take an inferior re-creation of your lounge to a small town in the middle of nowhere. Look, isn't that tiny TV cute? Oooh, watch your head now."

* If camping near a popular beach, say: "Look at all those superficial urbanites driving those fancy jetskis, drinking those fancy drinks, lounging in their fancy holiday homes and looking down on us with those fancy eyes. If only they knew how much fun it is to play Yahtzee in our mosquito-filled tent, eat Rice Bubbles with warm milk off a frisbee and use communal bathrooms with people who say 'Yeah, nah, yeah' a lot. Now that's a holiday."

* Nudist and naturalist campers should respond to fabric-embracing sceptics by saying: "The human body is a beautiful thing. We have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. I feel so free."

* Proceed to indulge in a range of activities that make your old, baggy, wrinkled flesh wobble and bounce even more than usual, such as volleyball, tennis, trampolining or even double-dutch skipping, thus confirming the stereotype that, typically, the human bodies on display at nudist colonies are not beautiful things at all. Excessively tanned, perhaps, but not beautiful.

* If rich and/or slightly rational, say: "Well, this camping business is certainly over-rated, isn't it? Why don't you guys just come and stay in my over-sized, sterile, beach-side mansion? There's a spa pool on the deck. And I've got eight spare rooms. We can take my boat."
Who are you to disagree?



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