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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Modern camping marvels

Mike Morin

People were shocked when I told them I was would spend the weekend of Aug. 12-14 in a tent. As in camping. Admittedly, I love nice hotels and good food and write about those things in this space from time to time. Well, after nearly 350 columns, I thought it was time to talk about camping. I loved it as a high school kid in Michigan, which, like New Hampshire, is filled with great sites to pitch a tent and enjoy the silence of a morning wake up call from the birds.

That was 1983. Now, campers wake up to the beeps of car locks. Even the accidental car alarms have replaced the robins. Twice that weekend, a sleeping camper rolled over on their key fobs and woke the whole campground up at 6 a.m. Never would’ve happened 30 years ago.

“A car alarm is the new reveille for today’s campers,” fellow camper Erik snickered. He’s right. This ain’t your father’s campground. A few things haven’t changed in the past three decades on camping. You still smell like smoke when you go home, and you eat stuff you drop on the ground. After all, the 5-second food rule doesn’t apply in the woods.

The heart and soul of life under the stars is the nightly campfire. Our evening began with a frantic rush to make s’mores about 8 seconds after we finished dessert from our communal dinner of venison and bear fat. OK, it was steak tips and Kayem hot dogs.

Have you made a s’more with those new super-sized marshmallows that look like white throw pillows? Good luck tasting the chocolate or graham cracker flavors with so much marshmallow. Plus, you’ll need a putty knife to scrape the excess goop from your fingers once it dries.

We played a few rounds of telephone, the whisper-in-your-ear game pre-teen girls like to play. Now that many of us are approaching Miracle Ear-age, the game becomes a lot more fun. The original phrase “Let’s play tennis tomorrow” morphs into “Do you want thousand island or vinaigrette” by time it makes the full circuit of the group.

We were spared, however, from any campfire singing. Big thanks to New England native and now Nashville recording artist Jimmy Lehoux and his band who were also camping a short distance from us. They treated fellow campers to a free two-hour show. They are really good. And my saviors.

Thanks, guys. I was dreading the inevitable “99 Bottles of Beer” and “Kumbaya” that I knew would break out once we ran out of baby-head-sized marshmallows.

As much as I enjoyed my time with Lady Baba’s fun and loving family, I was a bit saddened by technology’s tentacles reaching into the woods with cell phone ring tones and car horns.

And no need to bring a compass.

My GPS guided me out of the woods and back home to the city, where I’ll wake up to the birds tomorrow instead of car alarms.

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at His column runs the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month.