Get­ting away from ab­so­lutely none of it

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LIFE - Jim Mullen The Vil­lage Id­iot

“Hi! We’re Bob and Ellen Yeller, and this is Joe and Patty Screamer. We love camp­ing! We’re here al­most every week­end! This is our spot! Wait! Look who just pulled in — the Drinkers! We didn’t know if they were go­ing to show up this week­end! Some­times things hap­pen to them and they’re not able to make it but — whoops! That nutty Donny Drinker, he just backed his camper into a tree. He’ll be sorry about that to­mor­row morn­ing. He loves na­ture! Wouldn’t hurt a fly, but af­ter a few six packs, watch out! He’s like a buzz saw in a for­est!”

Donny Drinker comes over, beer in hand, to in­tro­duce him­self. It’s 9:30 in the morn­ing. Sue and I were just go­ing to park here while we spent the day hik­ing on the trails.

“Here come the Self­ies,” Donny says as a hu­mon­gous camper pulls into the site. “Well, it’s just Tom now. Too bad about Karen, but that pic­ture she took as she fell off Su­per Dan­ger­ous Falls was re­ally spec­tac­u­lar. A clas­sic. It was in all the news­pa­pers. She’d be so happy that some­body fi­nally rec­og­nized her work. It’s a won­der she had the pres­ence of mind to take it.

“We all felt bad for Tom, but at least he’s got the hun­dreds of thou­sands of pho­tos of Karen eat­ing din­ner with friends and stand­ing in front of shops to re­mem­ber her by. And since no one can fig­ure out to can­cel her Face­book ac­count, they’re go­ing to be in the cloud for thou­sands of years. Some­times I won­der when she found the time to eat that food she was al­ways pho­tograph­ing. Peo­ple in the fu­ture will be amazed at how many places one per­son could take a pic­ture.”

We could hear a tele­vi­sion in­side of the Yellers’ camper. Is there re­ally a sig­nal out here in the mid­dle of nowhere?

“Hey, turn that down in there!” Bob Yeller screams at the top of his lungs. The phrase echoes through­out Peace­ful Canyon.

“There’s some­thing about be­ing in the mid­dle of na­ture that just fills my soul!” he says, in his out­door voice. “I don’t know if it’s the first sniff of pine nee­dles, the smell of a camp­fire or the odor of a Na­tional Park toi­let, but it just makes me love get­ting away from all the junk in the city! Am I right or am I right? Or maybe it’s the sound of the he­li­copters res­cu­ing us from the top of old Don’t Climb Me Moun­tain. That’s al­ways re­fresh­ing, and the flight is so scenic!”

A blast of “Ride of the Valkyries” starts blar­ing from the mid­dle of nowhere. It’s Patty Screamer’s cell­phone.

“WHAAAT?” she screams into it while we put on our back­packs and get ready to leave this wood­land haven of peace and quiet. Af­ter all, aside from all the other campers, and all the birds and an­i­mals, who are they both­er­ing?

“I don’t know why, but we never see any an­i­mals here, ex­cept the bears! They say we shouldn’t feed them, but they’re just so darn cute!” screams Joe. “The one that mauled Billy had to be put down, but noth­ing could have pre­vented that. Billy was just play­ing with that cub’s tail, he wasn’t hurt­ing it. Be­sides, the face trans­plant took, and he’s good as new! Ex­cept for the beard. That looks a lit­tle weird on a 7-year-old. But there’s so much money left in his GoFundMe ac­count, he won’t even have to go to col­lege! He can just live off the in­ter­est!”

Patty Screamer slams down her phone and says, “KIDS! WHY DID WE HAVE THEM? WHAT WAS I THINK­ING??” Ap­par­ently, that was the Scream­ers’ teenage daugh­ter, Chardon­nay, on the phone. She was call­ing from the camper 20 feet away, want­ing to know when they were go­ing back home. Af­ter all, they’d been here for two hours al­ready.

We were about a mile up the trail be­fore we stopped hear­ing camp­ground noises.

“How can you get away from it all if you bring it all with you?” Sue asked. I, for once, kept quiet.

Con­tact Jim Mullen at

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