Bonnie Henry: Sweet smell of bacon cooking under the pines makes this camper happy; no glamour required

2012-09-23T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T16:54:12Z Bonnie Henry: Sweet smell of bacon cooking under the pines makes this camper happy; no glamour requiredBonnie Henry Special to The Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

My first "tent" was a bedspread. My first "bed" a blow-up mattress with a leak of undetermined origin. No need to ask why I no longer go camping.

Then again, I could be persuaded to change my mind - but only as a "happy glamper." That's what a recent Time magazine article calls folks who have taken up "glamping," or glamorous camping.

No sleeping on the ground for these folks. Instead, they can opt to catch their zzzzs in a deluxe tent, a yurt or even a tree house. But wait, there's more.

There's a place in Montana called Paws Up Ranch which serves up not only a butler but also a personal chef. Your four-person tent ($1,530 a day) also comes with plush beds, electricity, jet bathtubs, robes and slippers.

No outhouses here either, my dears. Instead, you're provided with a "luxury" bathroom. Geeze, why don't these folks just book a room at the Ritz-Carlton and be done with it.

On the other hand, even the Ritz can't provide the experience of the Bird's Nest Treehotel in Sweden. For $598 a night, you get to climb a "retractable ladder" and sleep in something that resembles, well, a bird's nest, at least from the outside.

Well, at least it keeps the porcupines away.

That, by the way, is one of my "fondest" childhood memories of camping: feeling a porcupine scoot under my canvas cot. That was the trip where my folks used their '57 Chevy station wagon as an RV, extending its back by draping a bedspread from the rear top of the wagon over our canvas cots assembled below.

Worked just fine until it rained. Chenille, it turns out, is not that sturdy. Nor were our feelings when a little boy walked by and gave his assessment: "Man, what a crummy tent."

The next time, we had a real tent, the kind that came with a pole in the middle and what seemed like 47 stakes that had to be pounded into the ground.

Complicating all this, of course, was the fact that we never arrived at any campsite until well after dark, having taken at least three wrong turns onto roads that quickly petered out into some sort of swampy bog.

Once there, my mother and I set up the little table and washbasin that would serve as our kitchen, while my father erected the tent, assisted by a glossary of swear words seldom heard outside an Army barracks.

Once inside, all was cozy. Until it started to rain. And rain. And rain. Remember that old saw about if you don't touch the inside of the tent, the rain won't come through? Don't believe it.

Ah, but the mornings were usually glorious. And cold. I can still see that little washbasin my mother kept close by, frozen solid.

The grub more than made up for all our travails. My mother was an excellent cook under just about any circumstances. If there's a sweeter smell than early-morning bacon cooking under the pines, I'm not sure what it would be.

Eventually, my folks graduated to a camper that could sleep four, which we borrowed a time or two before we managed to buy our own small RV - the kind with the bed over the cab.

I think I still have a few bumps on my head from rising up from that bed in the middle of the night. Even so, I'll take that any day over "glamping" around in something that looks like a giant bird's nest.

Bonnie Henry's column runs every other Sunday. Contact her at Bonniehenryaz@gmail.com

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