07 July 2008

Independence Day 2008

I was away on an Independence Day weekend camping trip. In the United States, July 4th is Independence Day, the day when our forefathers so many years ago decided they had enough with British rule and created a new nation. Just some background in case any of my blog fans don't know American history.

Anyway, there I was not quite far from civilization and one of the first thing I did was to check for WiFi hotspots with my iPod touch. Naturally, none was to be found. A guy in my camping group commented that he wished he could check his email. Someone else, said that providing 'Net access for campers is perhaps an untapped market.

It was not my first camping trip, but there was still much that I learned. Last year, my camping trip was just one night in a big city park, with Park Rangers providing the food and service, including night hike and a failed stargazing exercise thanks to an uncooperative telescope. This year, the group consisted of some in-laws and ex-colleagues and their friends and the stay cover two nights and three days.

"Đi một ngày đàng, học một sàng khôn" is the Vietnamese proverb, roughly meaning "Make a day trip and you learn some tips". In this case, seeing platforms for the tents is a first for me. Up until last year, camping in my mind involves driving long wooden sticks into the ground for use as columns or the frame of the tent, then driving more, shorter stakes into the group and attach ropes to hold up whatever draped onto the frame. Nowadays, it seems tents come pre-built and are really easy to setup. Flexible and semi-detachable rods, for lack of better terms (or for being too lazy to research in Wiki), makes up the frame of the tent. Drive the rods through the "slots" in the tent roof and secure them with the "keys" at the four corners and you pretty much have the tent propped into shape. But that was no news to me this year. Besides the tedious work of setting up tent, my other wrong idea about camping in 2008 is that you sleep on the ground. Maybe on a carpet of grass, but still you must be on the ground, or at least having nothing but just the floor of the tent between you and the ground. Not so at Beaver Point Camp. There we had platforms raised on the sides of the hills, as shown in the photo. Upon seeing such platform, I instantly thought of Vietnamese aborigines (đồng bào Thượng) with their raised homes to keep them safe from wild animals. I suppose one advantage of raised platform for tents is that one can make use of hill sides as campground. More real estate if you will. Another would be to keep the tent drier in case of downpour. As a matter of fact, one tent in our group was on the ground and was indeed soaked the first night when it rained heavily. Another tent was also on the ground but it was dry, perhaps because it was on the top of the hill, whereas the drenched one was at the foot of the hill.

It was a great outdoor trip overall.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:15 AM


    That platform idea is pretty cool. When we camped in the South Carolina Mountains we were all on the ground, but it was pretty dry. However we had tons of condensation so if you happened to rub the edge of the tent then you got all wet. The suckers that reserved “cabins” were sleeping in three walled open aired shacks, I heard it was quite cold and miserable. Suckers!!! I also remember being quite hungry, It must have been all of the hiking and general outdoor activity that was the cause. We didn’t bring enough food and next time I will pack more food and drinks. Here in Florida we have Seminole Indian tribes that used the platform Idea as well. Since most of Florida was swampy before it was drained by the army core of engineers many years ago, it made sense to lift up your hut to keep gators, bugs and snakes away as well as allowing the air to move under you for a cooling breeze.. Florida is probably a lot like Vietnam, hot humid and sticky.

    Now all of the Seminoles are selling tax free cigarettes and running huge gambling casinos.

    For the 4th we didn’t do much but I did go out the night before to the shooting range with friends and shot an assortment of weapons. An Uzi,a Bushmaster , its like an AK-47, a 357 magnum basically a portable cannon, a Glock and numerous other guns that are loud and scary. It was a blast!

    God Bless America!!

    -Lone Gunman