Tale End: Camp Or ‘Glamp?’ - The Fisherman

Tale End: Camp Or ‘Glamp?’

Packing up and getting away from it all can be all sunshine and rainbows; and sometimes it’s not. Photo by Chris Lido.

“Dad, we were a lot smaller then.”

That was my daughter’s response in reference to me waxing nostalgic about our little 18-foot trailer on the Pennsylvania hill and how we, a family of four, all fit in, somewhat comfortably, two decades ago.  There was no running water, no electricity, no indoor toilet in that tin box on flat tires that was going nowhere.

Now we have a four-room camp – if you count the potty and shower stall – on a little lake with Internet, satellite TV, electric, landline phone, indoor plumbing, AC and heat.  But it’s a tight fit, nearly impossible with four (much larger) adults and two grandkids.

I said in a weak moment: “Perhaps we should build an addition to the camp for the kids.”  My wife, the brains of the outfit, said “Forget it. That place has been a money pit for 20 years; the girls can pitch a tent in the yard next summer.”  They will probably one day inherit the lake shack, unless we’re desperate and sell it for the wampum necessary to avoid eating store-brand cat food in “The Home” in our dotage.

The practice of pitching a tent in the woods has been described as “paying good money to live like a homeless person.” Well, sometimes. Now there are “glamping” options, the upscale version of “Gimmie Shelter.” Those outfits cater to the crowd that wants a swanky, but semi-outdoorsy, hotel suite in the boonies with all the amenities, except perhaps room service – and you can probably find a posh palace in the pines that offers that amenity.

This is not an inexpensive way to experience Mother Nature; nor are pricey in vogue “tree houses.”  We’ve done it all over the years, the cheap versions, blankets over clothesline rope in the backyard, tents at state campgrounds, pop ups in trailer parks, Baker tents at Camp Lejeune where your brass belt buckle grew green mold by noon on a steaming and humid July day.  I even spent a night in a “Yurt.”  Not to my liking for permanent living quarters…no corners.

Sleeping under the stars, or whatever spiffy synthetic material is draped over your head these days, usually meant we were there for one reason…to go fishing.  I camped, sort of, in the capped bed of my pickup truck in the parking lot of the Blewett’s Stretch of the Big Flatbrook, and got rousted by a park ranger for sleeping in the back seat of my old Mustang up by Van Campens Brook. We pitched tents in a field by the Willowemoc in the Catskills to fish first thing in the morning on an April 1 opening day. It snowed overnight. There were Boy Scout “Jamborees” with canvas sleeping quarters where some rascal kid would invariably place an unopened can of baked beans in the coals of the fire before we turned in.

Best of all was the Meadowbrook campsite in Ray Brook, NY between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake with my brother, and two other dear friends. Fresh caught brook trout sizzling in a pan over an open fire, tall tales told and retold. Lord, those were good times.

I still harbor fantasies of a rolling hotel on wheels, as in an all the bells and whistles self-contained recreational vehicle, and pull up to any waters, still or running, that looked “fishy.”  The luxury ride would no doubt cost more than my lakefront camp and require the skills of a trained mechanic to go from one place to another. I could probably afford the RV, but my savvy about how the internal combustion engine and related parts work is akin to how, and why, a light goes on when I flip a switch. Must be magic.

An RV in my future? Doubtful.  However when I skip, well used-to-could skip anyway, down memory lane, “camp”, other than my grandfather’s old self-built place on Lake Seymour in VT, means summers in the Poconos as a counselor in the 1960’s. The skies were always blue; the air was gentle, breezy and pine-scented.  There was never a discouraging word.  I just don’t remember any buffalo roaming around.

The last time we camped out in the Adirondacks it rained, hard, for three straight days. Water runoff ditches were dug around the tents, just-bought tarps stretched over their tops, sleeping bags propped with pine boughs up off the sodden ground. Nothing worked. That’s when we decided to go “Western” camping on our final night.

As in the Best Western in Saranac Lake.  It was dry…and had indoor plumbing.

A Waldorf in the Wild if you will.


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