This is what you get for not landing that prime camping spot.
Remember back in the early part of the year 2020 before we ever heard the term coronavirus or Covid-19? We were all simply riding out the end of winter in the den with the laptop, perusing the websites of our favorite state parks or national parks, looking for that prime camping spot.
Then suddenly, there it was.
With visions of s'mores dancing in0y our heads, you knew you'd found the perfect camping spot.
We envisioned sitting around the fire ring and filling the picnic tables with all the camping essentials that we packed. The only thing left to do was find a level spot for the tent.
And then you realized it: the site you just wanted was already reserved by someone else.
Now that getaway to your favorite camping area is starting to look bleak. Not to worry. You'll still have access to miles of hiking trails, hot showers, and an electrical hookup, right?
Well, whether it's in the backcountry or at a state park campground, it still remains to be seen whether settling for a crummy campsite ruins your trip.
Honestly, we're already taking this a bit far. A campfire is a campfire no matter where we set up our tents, it's just that we had out hearts set on that prime camping spot and now it's gone.
You pretty much have two choices: back up, pack up and wait until next year, or jump in with both feet and make the best of it.
If you're like most of us, you're going to take the second option and go for it. It's just that you may try to convince yourself that it's not all that bad, even if you have to tell yourself some lies.
Go ahead, be in denial, and laugh at the 10 lies we all tell ourselves when we miss out on the camping spot we really wanted.
1. This Spot is Just as Good
Trust me, there's nothing like sleeping on a site full of rocks, on a steep angle, with very little privacy. Don't kid yourself, there are probably better campsites and you're not in one.
Even with included pictures you'll still have to see it to believe it, even if it is the next site on either side of the one you know the best. Not only that, but one tree in the wrong place, your sun is blocked and that view of the lake just went in the bear-proof garbage can.
Take a tip from me and my friends. We'll search a campground on our bikes looking for the best sites, and asking those who have them their thoughts about the location. Once the camping trip is over we always make a mental map to remind us of which sites were the best, for what reasons, and how to find them again.
This way we can at least have the upper hand when it comes time to get online or on the phone and reserve said sites.
2. That Was a Raccoon, Not a Bear
Ted: In your family.....who would survive the longest on a camping trip "gone bad?"
Certainly knowing that you're in bear country is your responsibility. When it comes to bear-proofing the campsite, it falls on everyone to chip in. All the same, you don't want to be in a spot that's susceptible to bear visits. That's why you'll kid yourself and deny any bear sights or sounds.
3. We'll Be Upwind of the Outhouse
Or the community bathrooms that, by the way, have had the same septic system for over 50 years.
We're not saying that the park service doesn't practice proper maintenance, it's just that the second the wind changes direction you'll pay for it.
4. It'll Be a Short Walk to the Showers
The spot you really wanted was much better, but you quickly try to look on the bright side based on facility proximity.
Really, does it matter?
5. It Won't Be as Buggy
Since it's summer and there's bound to be bugs everywhere, it stands to reason that you've taken the precaution of bringing some decent earth friendly bug spray or wipes to alleviate this very common camping issue.
The only problem is, some campsites that are closer to water sources tend to attract bugs, and others can house ant hills or the nests of wasps and hornets.
How are you supposed to know which ones are bug-protected?
6. We'll Be Able to See the Water
No you won't. In fact you won't be able to see the water until after hiking three fourths of a mile through and around everyone else's campsite to get to it, all while carrying towels, beach chairs, a cooler, and your kids exhausting you by the time you get there.
7. It Won't Be as Crowded
JRDX7590.CR2Litchlake Campsite - by James Rudd at Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, England, on 09 July 2016. Copyright 2016 owned by James Rudd
Peace and quiet: the beginning and end of the great camping experience.
Honestly, this is why we like to get out into the backcountry sometimes for a truer wild camping experience. All the same sometimes the allure of a community of campers is why we like to get to the more populated state campground as well.
Community camping is always going to be about being close to some new "neighbors," but when you can see and hear them clearly from a short distance away, it starts to defeat the purpose.
The prime spot you had your heart set on was a big site, but it separated you from the folks on each side with some nice, full privacy trees. That's a luxury you've missed out on.
8. It Will Be on Level Ground
Look, it's fun to try and distinguish the value of a camping spot via online photos. But campgrounds don't exactly get the National Geographic photography team out to take the pictures for their websites, so you have to take what you see with a grain of salt.
That's why level ground is never proven until you walk on it, or try to sleep on it.
Look, especially if you're a lifetime camping enthusiast, you've pitched a tent on an angle at some point. But when you have to decide by a coin flip who gets the uphill lie and who gets the downhill one, you may have just lied to yourself about how good this site was going to be.
9. It Will Have an Electric Hookup
Extra batteries for the flashlight or the radio is usually on every camper's list, but they won't help with that TV, DVD player, electric skillet, or power can opener you brought.
Sure, really roughing it is fun, but if you want to have a refrigerator, freezer, and your hairdryer you have better make sure that you can plug in. This is where the whole glamping thing started, isn't it?
Hey, it's only a mile walk to the showers where they have one plug for everyone, right?
10. The Camp Store's Not Too Far
No it's not too far as long as you have a full rucksack, provisions for a day's march, and shelter in case you get lost. In reality, most campgrounds have their camp store either in the front of the park where your drove in, or in a more centralized place where it is easier to access for everyone.
If you recognized any of these funny and head slapping fibs then congratulations: you're officially a camper!
Having said that, don't let any of these foibles dissuade you for any reason from going camping, as it is a tradition for many American families, especially those with kids. Taking a kid camping is a part and parcel of growing up in the USA and one of the greatest ways to make memories that we all have.
Good luck and happy camping!