Thursday, June 17, 2021

Paradise Lost: The Wilderness is Not What it Used to Be

Henk de Haan & Virgini Senden

Freshly vaccinated, we decided it was time for a change of scenery, so we packed our recently-acquired second-hand travel trailer and hit the road. The trailer, like any other trailer, is packed with amenities to turn it into our home away from home—heating, cooling, cooking facilities (an oven and a microwave), a fridge with freezer, and a bed with a real memory foam mattress and a bedside reading light. After a lifetime of camping in small, portable tents and sleeping on wafer-thin camping mattresses not worthy of the name—the epitome of luxury.  All these amenities require electric power, of course, either supplied via batteries or via a hookup at the camping spot.

Our first camp site was not equipped with power at all. To prevent draining his batteries, a neighbouring camper schlepped a transportable generator in and ran the generator for about an hour each day around lunch time. The first time, I was sitting outside reading, enjoying the beautiful weather, the songbirds, the busybody squirrel—it was heaven! The generator in question was not equipped with any noise-mitigating features, and it showed. The birds, the squirrels, the rustling leaves—all gone. I sighed, went inside and closed the door.

When camping, you’re more exposed to the weather, and it can turn nasty. We had a spot of rain overnight, and when I woke up early the next morning, everything inside felt a bit damp. I sneaked out of bed and decided to try out the heating system to get rid of the dampness, thus making getting up a more pleasurable experience for my significant other (she’s sensitive that way). The furnace came on, and so did the fan. It turns out the fan is a small, high-performance fan, tearing the peaceful slumber of my beloved to pieces. I tried to restore peace by offering breakfast in bed, which was (thankfully) gracefully accepted. A golden rule for both camping and staying in hotels: bring earplugs!

Our next campsite, located in a popular National Park, had it all—or almost everything in the eyes of management. Opposite from our campsite, a construction crew was working to erect a new building quite close to an existing, also fairly new, one. The crew put in admirable hours, even on Saturday and Sunday—twelve-hour shifts at least. For their power, they relied on a generator, not on the outlets of the building less than 25 metres away. When we pointed out the option of plugging in their equipment to the camp operator, the young man stared at me and said that generators were allowed between 7 AM and 11 PM, completely missing the point.

The weather on this camping trip was warm. Neighbours a few sites over invested in an RV the size of a city bus, equipped with at least three AC units. Obviously, they liked it cool, including overnight. We reached for the ear plugs once more. Did I mention the grass mowers? Management likes the grass on the campsite short.

All in all, we had a lovely outing, but not a quiet one. Thankfully, we were not confronted with rowdy neighbours playing their favourite music over the outdoor sound system that any decent trailer comes with. I’m sure, however, we will in the not-too-distant future. I want to go home.

No comments:

Post a Comment