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HUMOR: How To Camp Anywhere
Finding a place to camp can be difficult in areas where summer homes have invaded the state or national park or forest. However, a simple solution presents itself.

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How To Camp Anywhere

Imagine yourself in the following situation: You have been traveling a week or more on your heavily loaded bicycle with romantic pictures in your mind of camping in Rinky Dink National Forest.  However, when you arrive, you see some alterations have occurred in the years since you were last there.  Then, you were on a lightly paved back road with only occasional vehicles; now, fleets of cars and trucks crowd past you on the new highway.  Then, the trees came right up to the road; now, houses and "no trespassing" signs block every access to the barely visible woods. Then, you could camp anywhere; now, the last remaining campground has been closed to keep out "the disreputable element."  Then, a muddy trail led to a canoe launching site; now, large signs indicate the presence of large marinas, full of 40-foot boats.  Welcome to the age of user fees!  In our rush to ensure that giant corporations would no longer be able to cut the giant trees at tax-payer expense (not a likely situation any more, since no marketable timber has been left standing), we failed to notice that user fees would attract other corporations and wealthy individuals who would even more thoroughly disfranchise the poor and humble (us) of our natural heritage.

But, politics is politics and finding a place to sleep for the night is a necessity.  Then, an evil idea grips your mind, and you realize how to revenge yourself and have a good camping place as well.

Riding along, you see the perfect spot: a beautiful little pond, some lawn furniture and a picnic table, a freshly mowed yard, and in the background, a $150,000 "cottage" with no car in the driveway.

Pulling off the road, you begin to make camp.  You pitch your tent in the choicest spot, rearranging the lawn chairs and tables to your liking around it.  You also break up some of the wooden furniture and the "no trespassing" sign to fuel your fire.  From the rock garden, you remove the choicest stones for your fire ring, and you also behead all the day lilies (an excellent vegetable) and place the pods and flowers in your pot.  After starting the fire, you entice the ducks out of the pond with a little bread, snap the neck of the slowest bird (apologies to all vegetarians), clean the bird, mount it on a spit, and use the entrails to begin fishing in the pond while the carcass roasts.

At some point, after you are comfortably settled, a pickup roars into the driveway.  The driver gets out shouting curses and threats which you ignore as if deaf and blind, while his wife and kids try to control him.  Finally, he approaches close enough that even a blind man could see him and shouts in your face, "What in the hell do you think you are doing?"  And you very calmly reply, "Excusez moi, monsieur, mais je ne peut pas comprendre anglais."  (Substitute some other language if you don't know or can't speak or fake French.)

All of a sudden, the wind is out of his sails, but he will continue to try to communicate for a while.  Perhaps, he will start speaking in broken English, saying something like, "Me no want that you camp here!"  To which you can very splendidly respond, "Pardonnez, monsieur, mais je suis très fatigue et je ne préfére pas parler longtemps."  Or he might try yelling very slowly. (Respond with gentle words in French: "Es possible que vous êtes mal a la tète?")  Or he might even resort to writing on paper.  You might try drawing a picture of you and him fishing together in return.

At some point, he is going to want to go get that gun of his.  When he starts waving that at your face or nose, produce some French or Canadian currency and act as if you think he is offering to sell the weapon and you wish to purchase the same, while his family will fight to keep him from becoming a murderer.  Show no fear and not the slightest suggestion that you understand his intent, and you are absolutely safe.

At this point, his only remaining option is to call the police.  If he is smart, he will mention on the phone that he is dealing with a Frenchman and not a madman, and it is just barely possible that the sheriff will bring someone with some French ability to the scene, but do not worry.

The police will arrive after you have eaten the duck and your meal and while you are cleaning your pots in the pond (with lots of suds).  The sheriff will approach you in much the same way as the property owner (less the gun and the frustration), and you will answer every statement with another one in French.  Finally, he will produce a deputy with a Gomer Pyle ability at French, "Parlay-vouz French?"  Reply with great enthusiasm and joy, as if he were your long lost cousin, using long, complex, and rapid sentences and jumping from one idea to another.  When you pause, if he seems ready to speak again, hit him with another burst or two.

The others will crowd around him wanting to know what you said, and he will reply, "Well, this cyclist is French, is glad to see me, and had a lot to say."  But then they will want to know what that was, and your new comrade will find himself at a complete lost and very possibly the focus of much criticism and ridicule.  A long discussion on the merits of teaching foreign languages in the schools is very likely to ensue before they get back to you.

The owner of the late duck will then suggest, "Well, it doesn't really matter if you understand all that was said or not; tell that person that camping here is trespassing."  But the deputy will only point out that he does not know how to say "trespassing" in French.  "Then just say that no one can camp on my land."  But the deputy will look baffled there too.  Finally, he will be instructed to just tell you to go away.  But the deputy will most likely sadly shake his head, and then they will finally realize that his first question to you was the limit to his ability.  Then there will be some more insulting statements about the deputy or the school system, depending on the deputy's previously success at dodging the blame.

However, if he does manage to say anything at all in French, in fact, even if he explains the situation to you in perfect French, look at him blankly and ask him, "Quelle langue est-ce-que que vous employez?  Je ne peut pas comprendre un mot."  And the result, whether he understands you or not, will be the same as before.  As long as you refuse to understand the translator, you are home free, unless the translator turns out to be a bona fide French speaker, something as rare in the US as icebergs in the Sahara.

Finally, the property owner will insist that the sheriff arrest you anyway.  But then the sheriff will point out that the "damn liberals" voted down the "English only" law that would have made such a simple resolution possible.  "In fact," he will add, "with such a law, I could shoot that Frenchie down for just failing to understand my orders.  But as it is," he would continue mournfully, "I can't even read out the rights, so I can do nothing."

"Nothing?" your unwilling host would shout in astonishment.  "Absolutely nothing," the sheriff would reply, "If we end up in court with this joker -- for any reason -- our county will have to pay heavy costs for a translator and for making transcripts of the translations.  In any event, there is no evidence that this person has committed any crime or infraction of the law."

"No evidence!  What about trespassing?"  "Where's your 'no trespassing sign' and could a French speaker properly read and understand it?  Besides, you leased this land from the national forest service, which would have to agree with your suit."

"Well, what about killing the duck?"  "Did you see the duck killed?  Could it have been hit by a car?  And is the duck really your property?"

"Can't you at least prosecute for trashing my yard?"  "I don't see any trash strewn about, and there's no law against moving furniture and rocks around.  No, your best bet is just to pretend the cyclist isn't here."

"But, what will I tell the neighbors?"  "You better tell them that you were visited by an eccentric relative, or they will laugh about this for years."

And so, the police leave, the owner retreats, and you enjoy a peaceful night.

The next morning, the sheriff gets a call from the mayor's wife, and he answers, "You say there's a naked person in your swimming pool?  We'll be over right away. -- Wait a minute, is this person a French cyclist who doesn't seem to understand English?  My advice then is for you to close your drapes and pretend you don't see anything, and maybe the cyclist will eventually go away."

Camping can be a really pleasurable experience if you just have the appropriate negotiating skills.


Bicycle Camping  A serious discussion of the same subject.


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