new_paltz_bannerSo I went camping.  I camped. I have been a camper.  I now understand the mysterious world of camping–sort of. Jewish Friend and I took to the woods with a moderate amount of success, and strangely, I would do it again.

We arrived in New Paltz, NY around 9pm.  It was darkish–enough to necessitate the headlamps we brought.  Seriously, for this rather low-key affair, I purchased what seems like an exorbitant amount of “gear,” but justified these purchases by telling myself that now I can camp at will.  Think of all the money I’ll save in the long run!

The campsites we were staying at were of the no-frills/free variety.  No toilets, no showers, no well-marked trail, just a small triangle sign and a patch of cleared space.  The idea is, come, pitch a tent, clean up after yourself, which is exactly what we planned to do.  The three campsites are big enough for four tents, and people are supposed to share.  Jewish Friend told me that typically this campsite is full of rock climbers, who go to bed early, get up early, and make little to no noise.

After climbing the steepest hill in the world, we arrived at the campsite.  There were some kids spread out next to the fire pit, and a couple in their mid-twenties a little ways away from them.  “Do you mind if we put our tent back there?” Jewish Friend asked indicating a spot just behind the couple’s tent.

The guy glanced at the spot, and said, “yeah, we kind of do mind.”

Strike one for camper courtesy, but these people were clearly planning on trysting romantically, and with all of the outdoor sex acts I’ve seen this summer, I’m happy to walk away from the chance for more.

So we walked over to the kids, and asked if we could put up our tent near them. There were about eight of them, they were playing a guitar and having a quiet conversation–seemed pretty chill.  They told us of course we could put our tent there, and then marveled to each other about how awesome our headlamps were.

My heart started warming toward these teenagers, but dimmed a bit after they started playing not one, but three Third-Eye blind songs.  Who the hell knows more than one?  How are they even different?

We set up our tent and went into town for late dinner and a beer, getting back to the campsite around 11pm.  By this point, the teenagers were still just sitting around, their fire was dying, and (I thought) they were getting ready for bed.  Jewish Friend and I put on our jammies, played some cards, and decided to call it an early night in preparation for the full day ahead of us.

“Do you think they’re going to be up late?” Jewish Friend asked me. “If they are, I won’t be able to sleep, I can’t sleep if there’s noise.  Do you think we should move the tent?”

“There’s nowhere to move the tent, and besides, how late can they possibly stay up? It will be fine.”  This was the first of so many things I was wrong about that night.

Not only were these kids staying up, but at 3am, they called for reinforcements.  Two boys showed up with a cooler full of beer and a cord of firewood, and got the party going again.  By this point, Jewish Friend and I had our ears stuffed full of cotton balls, I was thinking about draping my clothes over my ears, and she was considering going and sleeping in the car.

One of the new boys noticed our tent and asked, “Holy shit, are there people in there?  Should we be quiet?”

Maggie, the loudest girl ever born, reassured him, “Yeah, it’s two girls, but we asked if we were too loud and they said it was fine.”

This is a lie.

“Actually,” Jewish Friend spoke up, “We would really appreciate it if you could keep your voices down.”

And they did–all of them by Maggie.  Her other friends had climbed into their tents by this point, though I can’t imagine they were sleeping.  She then spent the next three hours talking about herself in the loudest voice possible, and desperately trying to get one or both of the boys to have sex with her.

“My mother says I was born beautiful, she tells me that all the time…If I want to get a tattoo, that’s like my body, that’s my business. I mean she can tell me not to drink or do drugs, but like a tattoo, that’s my body… I’m not drunk, I’m completely sober, I haven’t done any drugs, I don’t do drugs…The people that camp around here are all rock climbers who go to bed early, so we can totally stay up and party, they’re all sleeping…At the Indian restaurant.  Have you been there?  They have this bread, it’s called naan…There’s no room in the tent, so we can just fucking dogpile, whatever….I’m going to go to college, and I’m going to like, live my life…The lobster roll sandwich at Panera Bread is like, fucking 16 dollars of, like, processed, gross, lobster, fucking processed, fucking cheese. I mean for like 3 more dollars I could go to a real restaurant, I mean, why the hell would anyone want…lobsterroll

Finally, at 6am, Jewish Friend (after hours of shushing Maggie and asking her to keep her voice down) said, “I’m sure the Lobster Roll sandwich at Panera Bread is grossly overpriced, however, it is now 6am.  I would like to get at least one hour of sleep tonight.”

Then, we heard the most glorious sound ever coming from the other tent, “Yeah, shut the fuck up, Maggie! She’s asked you like 10 times and you’ve been talking all night.”

Maggie disregarded this in the way that bossy girls who are never wrong do, but her friends quickly rebounded with, “Seriously, Maggie, shut the fuck up. What is wrong with you?”

We managed to grab about two hours sleep after the mutiny shut Maggie up for good. As we were taking down the tent, the four girls were rather sheepishly cleaning up their space.  After listening to Maggie talk about how beautiful she was all night long, I expected to see a homecoming queen-type rolling up the tent.  Apparently, Maggie is quite plain and rather chubby, which may be why she gets so many compliments only from her mother.

We spent the following night in a hotel.