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Inside the Chrome Dome (archive July 2007)

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 The ‘Mother of All Camping Trips’ is This Weekend

I’m not sure, but the ultimate camping trip may be taking place this weekend.

This could be a trip of historic proportions – one that may qualify as the camping trip to end all camping trips.

It could wind up being that bad.

Getting into the spirit of the upcoming annual Swincher family reunion, by brother Cort and I decided to take a camping trip the weekend before the family gathering. What started out as a little adventure with me, Cort and my son, Richard, has turned into a test of monumental levels. Somehow, somewhere along the way, we ended up inviting our brothers to the little campfire gathering. Much to our surprise, those big city office dwellers that have spent less time in the sun than it takes to walk to their garages agreed to go.

This Saturday night, Cort, Richard and I will be joined on our camping trip by our brothers Mark, from Columbus, Steve, from Ft. Wayne and Kenny, from Plainfield. Five of Betty Swincher’s sons will be on this trip, and some of them haven’t been camping in more than 35 years.

It’s been so long since Mark, Steve and Kenny have been out of an office environment that they don’t even own a fishing pole or sleeping bag, let alone have proper attire for fishing. Cort, I believe, owns a fishing pole. But I question his ability to use anything that doesn’t have a number printed on it (i.e. 3-wood).

Before you start prejudging this group, I would like to remind you that all five of these sons of Betty Swincher, as well as the grandson, are products of Knightstown High School. Scary, huh?

Faced with the reality that I would be camping with some brothers who hadn’t slept anywhere but their own beds or expensive hotel rooms in more than three decades, I decided to prepare all of the campers the best I could. I tried to keep things as painless as possible and sent out an e-mail suggesting we plan for this trip. We would need certain things, such as firewood, food, drinks, etc.

How bad is this going to be? Since you asked, I’ll tell you by sharing some of the many e-mails that have made their way back-and-forth over the last week in preparation for this trip.

The e-mail exchange included the following suggestions, and I am not making this up:

Mark: “OK, I’m in and I’m ready to rough it. I can bring my IPhone, my IPod and my IFish (a multi-infrared satellite fish image tracking system that works remarkably well in the video game).”

Cort: “I can bring my camper. It has a gas stove, air, electric, television, and even runs on a battery pack. I also have hot dog and marshmallow roasters.”

Steve: “I have a 12-volt lighter-powered coffee pot rig in my Jeep.”

Cort then sent a reminder to everyone, “Don’t forget to bring your blanky, pillow and chair.”

That information alone should give you a general idea of what my son and I will be up against Saturday night. I can just see multiple tangles of fishing line, or even worse, someone’s hook in someone else’s hind side.

I was put in charge of getting the campfire started, perhaps the one weakness I have when it comes to camping. Just in case, I’m bringing two cans of charcoal lighter, a two-gallon can of gasoline, a dozen railroad flares, four M-80s, and a vintage WW II flame thrower I got from an Army surplus store. If that doesn't work, I talked to a 9-year-old girl who stays at this campground all summer with her grandparents, and she said she'd help get our fire started.

We should be in great shape for an outstanding camping trip this weekend. I’m looking forward to kicking back in my lawn chair, cup of coffee in my hand, watching Kenny try to remove a fishing hook from Steve’s ear.





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