Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on May 20, 2024 in Retirement Humour |

Living Retired — ‘We Camped, Once!’

Living Retired — ‘We Camped, Once!’

Living Retired — ‘We Camped, Once!’

By Gary Chalk


Sometimes we are as dumb as a box of Smarties. Case in point…


Years ago, during the week leading up to the May 24th holiday weekend Jan said, “Gary, let’s go camping.” I was shocked! “Jan, are you friggin’ nuts?”


I asked Jan what her attraction to camping is. Back flies the size of Buick Enclaves? Does she like to reek like a California wildfire? I even reminded her that we won’t have colour-coordinated decorator pillows to display on the air mattress. No luck.


Before you could say, “There wasn’t a river gushing through this campsite when we pitched the tent in the dark last night,” Jan and I spent the next seven days preparing for three days of insect bites, ants in our food, and packing flip flops, running shoes, rain boots, even nice shoes for the days it rains so hard you go into town for Chinese food.


Jan and I had different perspectives about our camping trip. Jan took a more practical view and was concerned about disgusting cobwebs in the communal washroom. Me? I took a more liberating perspective dreaming of peeing in the woods.


Jan loaded us up with bug repellant, anything with citronella: citronella spray balms, citronella rub-on lotions, and citronella votives in sparkling handblown cut-glass vases. Me? I stocked up on anything with DEET. And a NORAD-like propane-powered insect zapper capable of shooting down low-flying objects invading Southern Ontario.


When it came to food, Jan prepared a three-day menu and proceeded to pack everything into a gazillion Tupperware containers to keep the ants out. Me? I threw red meat into a leaky Coleman cooler filled with ice.


Friday night we fought the holiday weekend traffic, arriving at our camp site after dark which was perfect because campers are not allowed to pitch tents — until it is pitch dark and pouring rain.


I did what every guy does when putting up our tent: I grabbed an old, rusted camping hatchet that chops wood, gets thrown at snakes, and slices watermelon. Then I jammed an EverReady Flashlight in my mouth, turned it on and began screaming…






Anyone worth their weight in Naptha fuel knows that when someone with a flashlight in their mouth is hollering, “WHAN, GUHH EEE AH ENT EGG!” means they are saying, “JAN, GET ME A TENT PEG!”


Ahh Naptha fuel. What’s more romantic than waking up in the morning with your breath smelling like a lumberjack convention, and trying to light a two-burner Coleman camp stove? I held the fuel tank in one hand and pumped the little whatchamacallit until my fingers ached; then I opened the gas valve and lit a match — what could possibly go wrong!


Jan’s breakfast menu called for crepes. The old cast iron camping fry pan from Jan’s parents was nowhere close to being flat. It was shaped like a funnel for icing a birthday cake. I tried but our crepes looked like, well, sacks of putty.


We did what all campers do: we packed it in early and drove home. First stop was a walk-in clinic to have white gauze wrapped around my head to cover the third degree burns when I tripped on a tree root and fell into the campfire.


We drove past Walmart stores where owners of Winnebago’s camped, parking their rigs underneath 50’ tall light standards. Too bright at night? They lowered their California shutters and watched the Fireplace Channel on television.


This May 24th holiday weekend, Jan and I are relaxing in our backyard. We planted pots of pretty petunias and containers of colourful coneflowers to attract bee pollinators. And to make it feel like we are camping we planted peonies to attract ants. Such fun.



Living Retired is written by syndicated humour columnist Gary Chalk.


Listen to ‘Living Retired: The Radio Edition’ on Friday mornings 10:30 AM on The Mike Farwell Show on CityNews570.


For more laughs click


To unsubscribe contact