Author: Campbell, Bruce

When Will It Happen to YOU?

To anybody that attends a multiday bluegrass festival, it’s obvious that those who spend the night (or nights!) fall into two rough categories: Tent or RV Camping.

Now, not everyone who’s a “tent camper” actually has a tent, and maybe not everyone who falls into the “RV” group has a motorhome, or even a trailer. Folks like me, who prefer to sleep in the back of their pickup, sort of straddle the lines. I don’t have a camper shell, though, so it’s tough to categorize a mere pickup as an RV.

I guess the classic example of a “tent camper” is one who drives a vehicle into the festival, and takes out a tent or tarp, maybe a camping table and some chairs, and bivouacs next the vehicle. So the tent camper’s footprint is roughly twice the size of their vehicle, right?

The RV Camper rolls into the festival too, and once parked and leveled, disgorges tables and tarps and chairs, too. Sometimes plastic flamingos and damnit dolls and other totems help mark the space, and that space, the footprint, ends up being about twice the area of the vehicle, right? Often times, two motorhomes will define a “courtyard” between them, and the resulting footprint is probably less than the 2x formula.

I’ve never had an RV, and to date, I have never slept in one, either, whether it’s a trailer or 5th wheel or full on motorcoach. And let me tell you, there was a time I smirked at such tomfoolery. I thought, “Why would I drive all the way to this beautiful place among the trees and then go indoors to sleep?”. Well, a tent is indoors to some degree, isn’t it?

I also took some pride in “roughing it”, sleeping on the ground, rather than in a nice fluffy bed, well above the cold dirt. I have slept on the ground many, many times over the years. I have good memories of sleeping on the ground, often without a tent, looking up at the stars, and enjoying the cool night breeze on my face. I relished waking up to the early morning sunlight, and crawling out of my sleeping bag to start the fire for that first cup of joe in the Great Outdoors.

Over the years, some things have happened. One, the ground somehow seems further down than it used to be. I first noticed this when trying to fish some shoes out from under my dresser. I find I will try for quite a while to produce those shoes with random kicks under the dresser before dropping down to my knees to look and reach. And when I DO drop down to my knees, once I find my shoes, I will look for some other stuff to do while I’m down there, to postpone the “getting up from my knees” effort. So flopping on the ground ain’t all it used to be, and that’s the main reason I’ve been sleeping in the back of my truck for the past few years.

Another reason is padding. The ground seems to have grown harder in the past ten years or so, and sleeping just one night on the hard ground produces aches and pains that may haunt me the whole next day. I figger it’s a combination of the hardness and the coldness.

I see where this is all leading. It’s only a matter of time before I break down and get some sort of camping vehicle or trailer that will allow me to, once I’ve decided to call it a night, sleep in warm comfort. The long view is, after awakening from a really good night’s sleep (something I’m not sure I’ve EVER had at a festival), I will greet the subsequent day AND night will vigor equal to the one prior. One more tantalizing possible benefit – I could convince my wife to come to more festivals… One of these days, folks, I’m going to slip away from the ranks of the tent campers, and succumb to the siren song of the soft mattress…

Posted:  1/19/2011

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