Filed under: Comfort at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Nature & Wildlife, Outdoor Recreation & Hiking, Preparation & Readiness, Scenic Byways/Historic Routes, State & National Parks, Taking Along the Family Pet, Tent Campgrounds
“Bob and the Raccoons” – A Camping Humor Story
Marge and Bob had recently been given an older, but extremely well cared for, pop-up from their neighbor and friend Steve. Steve’s company had closed their Richmond office and he had accepted a relocation offer in Oregon. The distance and cost were just too much to take the pop-up, so he simply gave it to Bob.
Marge and Bob had only been camping once before, but that was in a tent beside a mosquito populated lake. Now with two children, Katie – 7, and Andrew – 12, not to mention Skeeter – a 4 year old Jack Russell, camping seemed like a good thing to get into for family type stuff.
Bob was really getting into the idea of a relaxing camping trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was a few weeks before the kids went back to school and he had a full week of vacation left. The idea was to enter the Parkway at Waynesboro, Virginia, and drive all the way into North Carolina, stopping at various campgrounds along the route.
Bob had pretty much cleaned out the gear and accessories at Camping World, Bass Pro Shops and Dick’s Sporting goods. He had it all – gas stove, oven, sleeping bags, cooler, screen house, dining fly, hammock, recliner chairs – you know – the whole works!
It was Monday and Bob’s family had stopped at the Peaks of Otter Campground near Bedford, VA. He had spent several hours that afternoon setting up the pop-up and an adjacent screen house. Next to the screen house he had erected a dining fly and put up his elaborate outdoor kitchen. Everything was perfect.
They grilled hamburgers, roasted hot dogs, marshmallows and made Smores over the campfire. It was a beautiful evening, but it was now time to retire for the night. Bob turned off the Coleman lantern, doused the campfire, closed the zipper door on the screen house and they all went into the camper to go to sleep.
Bob and Marge were in the large queen sized slide-out bed at the rear of the pop-up. The children were in the front with Andrew occupying the lower bed and Katie the upper slide out bed. Skeeter elected to sleep with Andrew.
About 2 o’clock in the morning Bob heard a loud noise outside. It sounded like someone was knocking over the pots and pans in his outdoor kitchen.
Now, you need to know that Bob slept only in a pair of boxer under shorts. When he heard the noise he jumped out of the bed, grabbed a flashlight and opened the door to the pop-up to see what was going on.
Barefoot, he made his way across the coarse gravel of the campsite toward the kitchen and screen tent. That is when the beam of his flashlight picked up a family of three raccoons digging through his kitchen and a box of vanilla wafers he had left inside the screen tent. Two of the raccoons were in the tent; the third was on top of his outdoor kitchen table exploring the aluminum pans and clanging the hanging spoons and forks together like a wind chime.
That was when Bob noticed a freshly made hole in the side of his brand new screen tent. He was furious! These critters had either clawed or chewed a hole in his new tent.
The only thing nearby that Bob could use as some sort of a weapon was a hot dog roasting fork, so he grabbed it, holding it like a medieval knight ready for battle.
He rushed toward the screen tent with the flashlight and hot dog fork yelling, “I’ll get you little varmints!”
The two raccoons inside the screen tent became somewhat excited and apparently forgot where the hole was they had made to enter. They were running around inside the screen house looking for an escape route as Bob got closer and closer.
Without really thinking of the consequences, Bob unzipped the door to the screen house. One of the raccoons, seeing the newly created escape route, jumped toward the opening only to land smack dab in the middle of Bob’s bare chest. With nothing to grab onto the raccoon slid down until it’s claws found a hook in Bob’s boxer shorts. But, the elastic band in the shorts was not strong enough to support the raccoon – so the shorts fell with the raccoon around Bob’s ankles.
While all of this was going on Bob had decided it was best to get away and had started running back toward the camper. But, with the boxer shorts around his ankles he was abruptly stopped in his tracks and fell face down into the dirt.
Well, all this commotion awakened everyone inside the camper. Andrew came to the door to see what was going on. That was the perfect opportunity for Skeeter to dart out and tear after the remaining raccoon inside the screen tent. Unfortunately, Skeeter either did not see or realize the tent was there and hit the closed side running 100 miles an hour.
Skeeter was caught in the screen material and thrown backwards like he was on a trampoline. As he flew backwards he hit the outdoor kitchen table and it collapsed like a house of cards sending the stove and remaining pots and pans clattering to the ground. The screen tent collapsed from the force of his impact. The raccoon managed to escape unscathed.
Bob got up off the ground, pulled up his shorts and surveyed the damage. His new screen tent was destroyed and the aluminum support poles lay in a pile of twisted metal. His outdoor kitchen was in shambles with all of his gear scattered around the campsite.
Disgusted and embarrassed, Bob returned to the camper to go back to bed. He lifted his body up over the lower couch and plopped himself down on the bunk. Unfortunately for Bob he “plopped” a little too hard. One of the aluminum support poles that runs between the bottom of the slide out bed and the bottom outside edge of the pop-up came loose from it’s holder. The corner of the bed dropped down and Bob went rolling out onto the ground with Marge right behind him.
This might have been relatively minor if the back of the camper were not facing a significant downward incline that sloped toward the forest.
Both of them rolled like logs when they hit the ground, right into the natural flora and fauna. Once again, they got up off of the ground, brushed themselves off and returned to the camper. Bob replaced the aluminum support pole and this time lay down on the bed gently. Marge elected to finish out the night on the couch below the bed fearing another unwanted but exciting dump-and-roll experience.
The next morning both Bob and Marge noticed a red rash appearing on their arms, legs and face. Marge went out to inspect the area where they had landed after the downhill roll the previous night. It was a well nourished patch of poison ivy.
This family’s ordeal was both sad and funny. I guess it could happen to anyone? But, it should not dampen the spirit and fun of camping. Thankfully Bob, Marge and the kids continued their trek across the Blue Ridge Parkway spending their second night at Massie’s Mill. They did not encounter any more raccoons. Of course, they did not have a usable screen tent either and were somewhat uncomfortable from scratching their poison ivy rash. Both wore numerous patches of pink lotion that made them look like aliens from outer space.
I was told this story after they returned home. I laughed until I thought I would burst. I only wish I had a movie camera during Bob’s ordeal with the raccoons. But, my imagination is able to paint an extremely clear picture of everything.
Bob and Marge are not discouraged by their experience. They have several more camping trips planned before cold weather hits.