Camping or a scenic night at the ER

It’s become a near yearly tradition, one weekend each fall me and a few friends head out to the country to camp. We find a place within a couple of hours drive from NYC, generally somewhere in the Catskills , load up an SUV and head into the woods.

This year we picked Mongaup Pond Campground. It proved to be a beautiful location.

Geese Flight

The forecast was for rain, and we arrived in a light drizzle so we had lunch and drank some wine while waiting for the rain to pass. We even took a short stroll around the pond though we didn’t make it very far.

Path in the woods

We decided to try our luck and I built a fire while the others set up our tent (including inflatable mattresses – Aero beds go camping!). We tossed a few sausages and our campfire-chicken packets on the grill. Five minutes later it started to rain, or more accurately to downpour, so we made a dash for the car to wait out the rain.

Tent builders testing the layout

I tend to get eaten alive by bugs in nature but I still persevere by coating myself in bug spray. As we climbed into the car I was complaining that something had “gotten me” through my tee-shirt. I lifted the sleeve only to find an angry rash. It was so itchy I wanted to rip my skin off. I applied some burn cream from the first aid kit (which I had packed at the last-minute) and decided to head to the ranger station to see if they had anything that would help. One of my friends stayed behind since our fire was roaring and we couldn’t leave it unattended. It was agreed she would wait it out in the tent.

We reached the ranger station and much to my dismay after looking at the rash and saying they’d never seen anything like it, they recommended a trip to the ER. I climbed back into the car and we went back to our campsite to tell our friend. We found her sitting at the picnic table… in the pouring rain… eating her campfire-chicken packet with a giant serving spoon, the only utensil we’d left out. Turns out the zipper on the tent had broken and she couldn’t get in. The tent was also leaking so our sleeping bags were soaked. Clearly, we would not be sleeping in the tent that night. So we ate our dinners, extinguished the campfire and headed off to the ER.

I would love to say the drive was uneventful but we were on a roll… rain, dense fog and winding roads were tough enough, getting lost and driving in circles despite the navigation of our phones was frustrating and then, our friend who had waited in the rain told us she was nauseous so in addition to me “scratchy the driver”, we had “pukey in the back seat” who required us to pull over on short notice, she was also the only other person who would be comfortable driving the car if I couldn’t.

Arriving at the ER around 10pm, I was told it would be awhile so the others went off in search of a hotel. Pukey was in no shape to drive so my two friends who hate to drive somehow managed (the next day driving down the highway we would find out that in their exhausted state and trying to open the trunk, they had popped the hood… like I said, they hate to drive).

Back at the ER, I waited and waited, trying to stay awake so that they wouldn’t skip me while listening to the groans of the man next door who was bleeding and watching very old people being brought in. For such a busy ER the place seemed empty. After 2 hours I saw the doctor. I can’t say I was impressed, he was sure it was not poison ivy or poison oak, otherwise he couldn’t be sure and just recommended I get over-the-counter Benadryl. It was midnight. In the country. No prescription. No free hospital samples. No sleep. Grrr.
My friends who hate to drive came to pick me up.

They’d found us a room for the night at the Howard Johnson in Liberty. The stains on the carpet were dubious, the mold in the shower made my skin crawl but it was dry and I got to sleep soundly.

In the morning we woke to blue skies with a few clouds. We packed up the car, throwing out the stuff that we would not need to take home including my soaked sleeping bag, ate some breakfast standing around the HoJo parking lot and went to retrieve the tent from the campsite.

Back at camp we packed a wet tent loosely into the car and bid farewell to our site. As we were leaving we stopped at the camp’s scenic view-point to admire the pond in the sun.

Morning after blue skies over Mongaup Pond

We headed back to NYC leisurely along scenic roads with only two goals: find a pharmacy open on a Sunday, find somewhere tasty for brunch.
We accomplished the former in Phoenicia, the latter I had to hold out till we reached our final destination.

Despite our misadventures and the less than ideal weather it was a fun weekend.  Even exhausted we had a lot of good laughs, enjoyed some great food and overall we got out-of-town and relaxed. I’m not kidding when I say, I can’t wait for next year.

Plus, the first aid kit now has an extensive selection of cortisone and Benadryl lotions/sprays/pills.

All stocked up for next time

By the way, even my dermato in NYC couldn’t figure out the rash. Two weeks later, it’s all but gone but whatever I did to piss off Mother Nature. I’m so so sorry.

Admiring nature from a far

Admiring nature from a far


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