We went camping this weekend at a very fine State Park nearish Appleton, WI. The weather was pretty awful, I forgot the stove part (i.e., the “pocket rocket”) of the camp-stove setup (I’d had a long night drinking before doing the final pack-check), and couldn’t get a fire going hot enough to cook our hot-food in the rain (if anyone has any tips on getting split logs to go in the rain, I’m all ears), but despite all this, we had a fine time and got a reasonable amount of hiking in, given the lack of long trails and sunshine.

That said, our neighbors at the campground were particularly… frustrating. We did not sleep very well or through the night, suffice to say. So I thought I might write up a few tips for our neighbors, as well as for any others who may decide to go car-camping this summer, because we should all be able to enjoy nature, because nature is cool, and we like cool things.

So, some tips:

  1. Please keep your dog on a leash. Your neighbors should not have to worry about a full grown German Shepherd who does not, apparently, respond to commands tearing through their campsites. Regardless of reassurances that, “She’s a good dog, she’s real friendly,” for the safety of everyone, including your dog, and the dogs of others, you should keep your dog on a leash.
  2. Be mindful of the noise you make. While no one, I think, would refute your right to make a certain amount of noise during the day, have your stereo playing at a reasonable level while the sun is up, etc., minimally, when the sun goes down, you should lower the level of noise so that it does not extend much past the boundaries of your own site.
  3. Racoons are a fact of nature, but good food storage practices can help keep them away from your campsite. For example, I noticed that your food was left largely unattended for much of the day in an open container. Animals, including raccoons, are attracted to smells (they don’t really distinguish between food- and non-food-smells, so this counts for your toothpaste, etc., as well), and storing your food when you’re not using it in the car will keep them from becoming too curious about it. This will also help you avoid a situation in which you might want to shout, “Get the fucking raccoon!” at three in the morning.
  4. Think of the environment before letting your car idle. Shouting, “Last chance to warm up!” before turning on your car at midnight, and subsequently playing all manner of songs, loudly, throughout much of the night, is not a good way to ensure the natural environment survives long enough for your unruly children and their children to enjoy. Idling engines are both expensive in terms of gas, but in terms of their exhaust’s effect on the environment. Keep the car off, and consider enjoying the simple sounds of nature, like the rain falling on the leaves, instead.
  5. Threats at three in the morning do not reassure your campsite neighbors of their safety. Regardless of whether or not they were directed at, “The fucking raccoons! There’s two of them!” shouting, “Get the fucking racoons” and banging (we’re not sure what) together over and over again is disconcerting for a number of reasons, and should be avoided at all times. It should be avoided particularly around three in the morning. For example, were you to “Get the raccoon,” you might employ a gun (we aren’t convinced of your collective sanity, due to all the yelling), and your neighbors don’t appreciate the vague fear of stray bullets, especially after having been woken up for the umpteenth time that night. Call us paranoid, but really, can you blame us?
  6. Speaking of, we all love Kesha, but not at four in the morning. See tip 4 for more.

There were more of these in my head, but I didn’t sleep so good this weekend, so that’s all for now. The point is, please be considerate of your fellow campers. Some of us like to get out in nature, even when the weather’s shitty, and like to enjoy the sounds and relative peace and quiet. This is where we read our books, nap in hammocks, and generally try to relax and unwind, especially if the weather’s too shitty for hiking. And though I know it’s car camping, and a certain density at state park campsites means there will always be noise, but this truly was egregious. Yes, we will probably try to do backpacking and whatever else to escape your panel van and hitch-camper, but even so: I’m pretty sure you could have heard your “80s Greatest Hits” playlist from across that lake we were camped by. And it was a pretty big fucking lake.

Anyway, happy camping!