There’s nothing as refreshing to a person’s soul as a good, crisp , fall camping trip. Just the drive getting you to your destination can be a relaxing and invigorating adventure. And camping in a State Park, in this case Montauk State Park, Salem Missouri, can be an experience back to “Small Town America”, a time when people all cared for each other, helped one another, and generally just got along with everyone else. It’s a feeling of community, a feeling that allows you to forget about the daily grind, the daily job, the daily responsibilities. You’re there for rest, relaxation, and to just enjoy yourself with good company.
On this particular weekend, we were fortunate enough to be led at night by a perfectly full moon. It definitely adds to the camping experience. It adds atmosphere and a visual dimension, because we were able to dimly see all night long, without the aid of flashlights. It becomes readily apparent under a full moon that the night is full of life. But that’s not all. A full moon also brings out,well, let’s just say, it tends to release some people’s inhibitions. We started to see a more relaxed and welcoming sign from neighboring campgrounds.
Campers become less worried about what others may think.
Sometimes they’re just happy to be outside, and just like our pets at home, when set free in an open area, they can just run aimlessly for hours on end.
A full moon can turn situations upside down, like someone who doesn’t normally catch a lot of fish who then catches their limit in a very short time span, and then decides to calmly sit and wait for their fishing partner to “catch up”.
But in general, camping is all about togetherness, and this weekend was no different. Friends both old and new gathered in a common place to talk, reminisce, and basically just blow off steam, let their hair down (those that had hair anymore), and ramble on with others in an environment in which they know they can be themselves. The main attraction of a good fall camping trip is always the nightly bonfire, and this one was no different.
No matter what direction everyone goes in during the day, whether it be hiking, fishing, dog walking, relaxing with a good book, or just enjoying the outdoors, the bonfire attracts everyone like bees to honey. We all come toting our chairs, jackets, drinks and snacks. Introductions are made, but are not really necessary. Everyone is welcome, and everyone is friends for the night. As the nighttime sky deepens, and the fire gets bolder and louder, announcing it’s importance with every crackle and pop, the conversation starts to loosen up and become more informal. Drinks flow a little more frequently as everyone becomes a little more comfortable around each other. And without fail, we will find a common thread in our lives with someone there, someone we didn’t even know before this trip, but yet shares a mutual connection or acquaintance. This is the point at which we realize that the world is indeed a small place, that as a people we have more in common than we ever will know, and by simply sitting down and having a casual conversation, we can very well leave that place more as friends than strangers. It’s camping and enjoying the outdoors.
We don’t get to enjoy these types of weekend trips as much as we would like, but the times we do get to go are always special, and always unique. Just be sure, as responsible campers, to always clean up after yourself and leave the campground in move-in shape for the next round of residents. You wouldn’t want to leave anything behind that you might miss later.
And always remember, “Life Is Better When It’s Wood Fired”