SMOKELORE
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Editor's Desk

 
 

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The .338-.375 Campfire:
Part One

 Rick Bin

Revolvers Make Riflemen
 Ken Howell

A Campfire Review of 8x42 Binoculars
 Rick Bin

A New Way to Hunt Lion
 Ken Howell
(as told by Elgin Gates)

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Where Giants Walk The Earth
 Rick Bin

Annealing Cases
 Ken Howell

Jaguars In California
 James Capen Adams

Those Other North American Bears
 Laban Fieldman

Killer Buffalo
 Ken Howell
(as told by Elgin Gates)

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BIG EYES
Seeing Is Believing

 Rick Bin

Your Chronograph Can Tell You More
 Ken Howell

Africa And Actions
 John Buhmiller

On Seeing Deer
 Stewart Edward White
 [1873-1946]

Shootout With The Black-and-White Cat
 Steve Timm

Swiggett Kills A Killer
 Ken Howell

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Handloading for Long-Range Shooting
 John Haviland

Three Types of Hunters/
The Five Stages of a Sport Hunter

 Denny L. Vasquez

Big Ivory
 Ken Howell
(as told by Elgin Gates)

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Gnawed and Clawed
 Ken Howell

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Move Over Fail Safe
Winchester's New XP3
Big-Game Bullet

 John Haviland

Factors In Accuracy Part Two: Handloads
 John Barsness

My Love Affair with Grace
 Charles Speck

How I Killed a Bear
 Charles Dudley Warner

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Best Buys In Binoculars
 John Barsness

Bear In Camp!
 Ken Howell

Last Minute Muley
 Rick Bin

Factors In Accuracy
Part One: Rifles And Shooting

 John Barsness

A Brownie Got Me
 Ken Howell

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The .300 Winchester
 Jack Steele

Looking Long
 John Barsness

Choose the Right Backcountry Tent
 Rick Bin

Who Bombed Elmer Keith?
 Ken Howell

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Salty Locals
 Frank Nuni

El Tigre, Jr.
 Ken Howell

     
 
 
 
 
 
   
 
Campground Deluxe
 by Jenny Evans

"MAMA, CAN I go bullfrog hunting?"

For the umpteenth time in three days, my apparently overprotective maternal instinct screams a response that I fight to control.  Bullfrog hunting?  My daughter, dark night, deep lake, bullfrogs?

I take a deep breath.  "Are the rest of the kids going, hun?"

"Yup, and Louie has a net and Ellie has a flashlight and we're going to put the tadpoles in jars and see who gets the biggest one and..."

"And who's going along?"  By now she knows I mean, "Which adult agreed to supervise this adventure?"

"Louie's Dad and Janie's Mom and maybe Mr. Peters."

The clamor of yet another excited group of kids the last one took my husband and older son trout fishing until morning is growing outside the cabin, eliminating all hope of a graceful denial.   I notice that today I don't seem to mind so much.  Somehow, the "everyone else is going" phenomenon takes on an added dimension on a group vacation, almost like a secret parental conspiracy.

I take another deep breath.  "Okay," I manage through a half-forced smile.  "But stay close to an adult."  I barely have time to grab a T-shirt full of five-year-old girl as she turns to rush out the cabin door.

"One second while I bug spray you, young lady."  The mother in me demands some action.

As she scrunches up her nose and rotates her body slowly, like a rotisserie chicken, the clamor grows outside.  "Come on, 'Livia," we hear.  "Let's goooo."

The screen door opens, and an adult head pops in.  It's Louie's Dad, John, holding a formidable-looking flashlight and sporting long khaki bermudas, tank top, and a wide-brimmed straw hat.   He sees the concern on my face and the bug spray in my hand and smiles reassuringly.

"Don't worry, Jen.  We do this every year.  She'll be fine."

"Yeah, well just don't let her bring any bullfrogs back here, will 'ya."  My bravado does nothing to hide my worrying nature.

He smiles that relaxed smile again and nods.  "We'll be back in a couple of hours."

I give Livi a quick hug, extract another promise to stay close to the adults, and then she's gone, off to create memories that will last far longer than my apprehension, which is quickly fading at the prospect of a couple of solitary hours reading a magazine next to the campfire.

As she goes, I shake my head at the savvy way this group of campers has evolved over the years.  The founders being family friends, inclusion is by invitation only, meaning someone in the group trusts you enough to vouch for your fitness to watch kids one night in the week.  Preference is given to parents--no party-hardy singles scene here.  And, by camping standards, accomodations are deluxe, if a bit more expensive.  At least for this week, I think to myself, so much the better.

That's not to say that this bunch won't stake out a tent next to a high-mountain lake for a week of trout fishing au naturale.  It's just that, once a year, they make this pilgrimage to the little lake near the big Sequoias to relax and, well, enjoy themselves as an extended family.

As I settle down in a lawn chair with a headlamp and a copy of Architectural Digest, I realize why.  Pitching a tent at Boonies Lake with sleeping bags and Therm-a-Rests may be the prototypical camping experience, but for kid-friendly family fun, it's tough to beat the deluxe campground.

Ours is the world-famous Lake Elowin Resort--at least that's what it says on the sign--nestled in the town of Three Rivers, California, just a few miles from the entrance to Sequoia National Park.   Gas approaches two bucks a gallon, every convenience store sells PowerBait and Zebco rod-and-reel combos (a river does run through it), and vintage pickups cruise the hamlet like limousines on Sunset Boulevard.  My kinda town ... I think.

Cabins at the "resort" are tiny, but include a refrigerator, air conditioner, hot shower, and a hotplate, along with a queen-sized bed not exactly roughing i, to be sure.  Some are nestled right on the edge of the "lake," which is nothing more than a man-made swimming hole about the size of soccer field.

Nevertheless, the water is clean, refreshingly free of litter, and remains calm throughout the day.   A tree-lined vantage point along one side commands a shady view of the entire layout, swimming buoy and all.  Two canoes provide the extent of "boating" opportunities, and the only "fish" eventually grow legs, as my daughter will surely discover on her hands-on biology lesson.

And therein lies the beauty of the arrangement.  The deluxe group camping trip delivers unexpected benefits to all concerned.  Opportunities for the kid are varied enough to fill a week of fun from trout fishing in the river, to swimming, to afternoon barbeque's, to ... bullfrog hunting, they never seem to get bored.  Enriching the arrangement is the shared experience of good times with good friends, something missing from family-only camping trips.

By the same token, parents have time to actually relax.  To be sure, one night officiating a treasure hunt leaves you less than refreshed, but for six other nights of the week you're free to participate, or not, in someone else's "grand event."  Not a bad deal, considering that, at least at Lake Elowin, activities usually occur within eyeshot of the campground, a good thing for a nervous rookie like me.

So I kick up my feet on a lawn chair and tune out, looking up from the glossy-paged dreamhomes only for the occassional squeal when a particularly large or feisty bullfrog is encountered.   And a long while later, dinner and magazine thoroughly digested, strangely pleased at the prospect of a night's sleep on a mattress rather than in a sleeping bag, I watch the cadre of flashlights approaching from the far end of the lake.  The slumped shoulders, occassional stumbles, and droopy eyelids are the unmistakable signs of sleepy kids.

"Didja' have fun?"

Livi perks up for an instant, flashing a smile through red-tinged cheeks and sun-streaked bangs.

"Yup."  A ringing endorsement from a wiped-out pre-K.

"She was great," John reports offhandedly.  "No problem at all."  He looks a bit done in as well.

"Thanks for watching her, John."  He doesn't respond, already on his way to the next cabin, a stork delivering babies to their mothers.

I take the ever-growing bundle of sleepy little girl in my arms, carry her into the cabin, and lay her on one side of the queen-sized bed.  I get a distant smile in response to "You get to sleep with Mama tonight."  I fire up the reading lamp, turn down the air conditioner, and consider the glow on her face from her night's adventures ...

Maybe bullfrog hunting isn't so bad after all.

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Copyright 2000-2007 24hourcampfire.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved.