Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't Mess with My S'Mores

Thought for the day:  Camping is nature's way of promoting the motel business.  [Dave Barry]

Why didn't Noah swat 'em when he had the chance?

Some people love camping. Some people don't. Some people think there's nothing better in the world than spending time close to nature; others think close to nature means going barefoot, and roughing it means the TV in their motel room is smaller than their set at home.

I used to like camping. Probably wouldn't be my first choice now, but I have plenty of fond memories of camping as a kid, and of camping with our kids when they were growing up. (Is there ANYTHING that smells even half as good as bacon cooking outside in the early morning?)

Sure, camping has its downsides. Like the  mosquitoes that consider bug spray nothing more than a tasty finishing sauce, the tenacious horse flies that have to be pried off with a crow bar, and the sneaky little ticks that have such a talent for  burrowing into the most unpleasant places. And then, of course, there's always the inconvenience of  having to trek to the port-a-potty in the pitch black middle of the night.

Never wipe with leaves that look like this!

Or worse, finding your kids blithely playing in a pretty little patch of poison ivy.

 But the state of California offers a whole new breed of things for you to worry about when you take the family camping. (Or do just about anything else.)

Forget worrying about a bear attack.

Don't worry about one of those giant trees smashing your RV.

Maybe what you should be worrying about is that nasty campfire. Forget about running out of marshmallows. Don't worry about finding sticks long enough to hold wieners over the fire. (sigh) Worry about the fire. 

     Because the fine state of California says campfires are hazardous to your health.

Proposition 65, AKA the California Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, was enacted to protect the state's citizens and their drinking water from chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. An admirable goal, to be sure.

However, the law requires the governor to release a list of these toxic substances at least once a year, and businesses must notify the public about the presence of any of those substances. Still sound pretty admirable?

The problem is, signs like the one above now pepper California like termite holes in a rotten piece of wood. Certainly in campgrounds, because chemicals associated with things like campfires and RV holding tanks may be hazardous to your health. And at gas stations ... because ya know, there may be ... um... gasoline... there. Probably in hospitals, too, because cleaning products are also on the list. The latest list of toxic chemicals fills twenty-two pages, and includes well over 800 substances, so the signs are becoming so ubiquitous, it's questionable whether they have any meaning anymore, other than as fodder for potential lawsuits. 

Posting signs to warn us of the obvious makes about as much sense as a label on a can of peanuts saying Warning: Contains peanuts. I mean ... have we really become that stupid? I certainly hope we are much more competent than our governments seem to think we are.

So, bottom line, if I ever do go camping again, it sure won't be in California. Campfires are much more friendly here in Georgia.  (And who wants to go camping if you can't fix s'mores with a clear conscience?)

You know, I'm thinking our house probably wouldn't pass the California sniff test. I mean, we have two cats. ('Nuff said there.) I painted the walls last year ... I actually scrub the floors... and cook. Don't forget the evils of nail polish, acetone, super glue, spray paint, and who knows how many other things most of us use regularly. How 'bout you? Do you need one of those signs at your house, too? (Sheesh.)

                            Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

Oh, and a thanks and a tip of the hat to my amateur radio pals Barry and Judi for suggesting this as a possible blogpost topic. 


  1. I love the warning on packs of peanuts that says 'May contain traces of Nuts'.

  2. I am not a camping girl. I am one of those who believes roughing it is staying a cramped hotel room with no bar downstairs.

    I did see some of those signs in California last spring when we were there. A bit much, I think!

  3. Wow! I'd say those signs are most useful for scaring off tourists.

  4. Nice to meet you. Good luck with A-Z. I look forward to your posts.

  5. I never camped. My brothers would go all the time. I like the beach. And I would rather be at the beach withOUT a tv than camping with every modern convenience imaginable.

  6. Lol! "we have two cats..nuff said there" - Yep, our house would probably need a warning too. Reading this brought back memories. I loved camping as a kid. Not sure my neck could take the hard ground these days but would love to RV it! Happy Monday!

  7. We used to camp when our daughter was young...(she's an old lady now hehehehe) but you couldn't pay me to camp now. I want my own bed. Where can I get me one of those nifty signs?

  8. I'm okay with camping as long as there's indoor plumbing within walking distance. ;)

    And don't get me started on the utter ridiculousness of regulations taken to that extent. Makes me clench my teeth, and that's not good for health. ;)

  9. I've been busy critiquing someone's novel and haven't had much time for cleaning. My house might qualify as a superfund site at the moment. Good thing I'm not in California either.

    And I prefer comfy hotels now rather than a sleeping bag on the cold ground.

  10. I used to love camping, but that's probably because I never actually did that much of it... ;^)

    Now a rustic Bed'n'Breakfast is as close as I care to get.

    I get the reasoning behind the desire to protect people from harmful chemicals, but the execution can get insane. Reminds me of the frequent e-joke about the hazards of Di-Hydrogen-Oxide.

  11. I miss camping. No, there's no better smell than bacon cooking outside in the morning, unless it's combined with the smell of coffee perking along with it. And sleeping under a thousand stars? Nothing like it. Even if you wake up having been snowed on. :)

  12. Cro- Yeah, me, too. Such idiocy.

    Dianne- What a surprise! I had you pegged for a camping, hiking, sleeping under the stars kinda gal. I do like your idea of roughing it, though.

    Sarah- Good point. You're right; I'll bet those signs do put a damper on the some of their tourism business.

    Armchair Squid- Thank you for stopping by; it's nice to meet you, too. (Please don't think ill of me, but I had some of your relatives for an appetizer last week...)

    Anne- Ah, but all my camping as a kid was withing walking distance of both the ocean and the bay. We did a ton of fishing and clamming and crabbing, and ate seafood for every meal until we had to make a break for the local hamburger joint. Something tells me you would have loved it. And after we moved to GA, most of our camping was beside a lake.

    Tracy Jo- I've slept in a tent, in the back of a station wagon, in several different kinds of campers, and even in a hammock under the stars. (with two cock-a-poos on top of me) But I have never spent the night lying on the ground. So, there's lots of ways for you to still enjoy camping now without having to lie on the hard ground.

    Delores- Your daughter's an old lady? Funny, my kids are old now, too, and our sons have more gray hair than I do. (If they keep it up, they're gonna pass me by!)

    Linda- Now, don't be clenching your teeth. Have a piece of chocolate. There. Better?

    L.G.- Funny! I used to be such a ridiculous stickler for a clean house, but not anymore. Now, as long as the health department doesn't threaten to condemn the place, I'm good.

    Chris- Yeah, I think age has a way of making us more interested in comfort than just about anything else. I hadn't heard the joke about the hazards of di-hydrogen-oxide before, but that's pretty good. (And I guarantee you, SOMEONE took the joke seriously!)

  13. Laura- You had me right with you, nodding my head in agreement, right up until you mentioned snow. There was probably a touch of magic in having that experience, but I prefer my magic served warm.

  14. I wonder if they post those signs outside of McDonald's.

  15. Follow-up:

    The joke was actually about "DHMO" -- DiHydrogen Monoxide:

    It can KILL you!!!!

  16. Mr. C- If they don't ,they probably SHOULD!

    Chris- Thanks. I'll go check that out.

  17. Aaaaaaaaaah camping... summer... memories, in the corner of my mind....

  18. Carrie- Hey, betcha Roz would LOVE camping, and summer is right around the corner ...

  19. We used to go tent camping for two weeks every August. The California Redwoods was our favorite. I can totally relate to the midnight porta potty trips, and the bugs, and the . . . bacon! There IS nothing like the aroma of bacon first thing in the morning. Now that I'm older, I'd much rather stay at a hotel.

  20. Um, no thanks. I'm not a camper. My idea of roughing it is no concierge. :)
    But I did camp in Montana once long ago and had the BEST time. All the other times, "meh".

  21. Judy- Ah, perhaps camping is for the young, huh? But I'll bet you have some super memories.

    Jennifer- HA! Too funny. Roughing it ain't what it's cracked up to be, huh? (I sure hope you did your camping in Montana in the summertime!)

  22. Camping means staying in a hotel that costs less than $200/night.


  23. I still love camping, though we've graduated to the softies-style - with a 30' trailer :)

    Nothing like a good campfire to keep them bugs at bay too.

    And please don't anybody tell the state of California that water and oxygen are toxic in high doses!

  24. Hi Susan,
    Oh my and thanks for this um 'in tents' article.
    Now I've moved to England, camping is so much easier. Okay, there is limited chance to having a campfire. Of course, no worries about bears here. Not like the times I went camping in British Columbia. No, the big worry here is if you might accidentally disturb the mighty and legendary hedgehog.
    Take very, very good care.

  25. Janie- Wow, by your definition, I've done a WHOLE lot more "camping" than I ever realized!

    Botanist- That sounds like the perfect kind of camping to me... from campfire to a comfy bed. And I won't tell the paranoids if you don't! Give it a scary enough name, and some people will be scared of just about anything. (as in Chris' DHMO story.)

    Gary- Thanks for the chuckle. You watch out for those hedgehogs, now.

  26. I'm with you. I hate mosquitoes, even though they're supposed to be no strain on the food chain. I made the mistake of trekking through an area right after a snow melt, and our group was the first food the new hatchlings could find. I hiked with netting over my head, gloves and 3 layers of clothes. We couldn't cook until midnight, because the skeeters were too thick if you stood still. Why ever were they created?

  27. Hi, Barb. I have no idea what the purpose of mosquitoes is in the grand scheme of things. All I know is they reeeeeeeally must like the taste of my blood. (Fleas, too.)

  28. Hi Susan, Loved your post. Yes, camping in the UK is usually a pretty tame affair, with the exciting prospect of the odd cow getting into the field, or spiders (friendly ones) invading the tent. I seriously think my camping days are over now. I'm built more for the comfortable things in life these days. I also enjoyed reading your profile about never giving up. I think we've all been tempted from time to time, but you're right. We just have to keep on keeping on.
    Best wishes

  29. Hi, Valentina. (Beautiful name!) Thank you so much for stopping by, and for signing on as a new follower. I think at this point in my life, "tame" camping is about all I'd want to handle. Much better a cow than a mountain lion! Welcome aboard, dear lady.

  30. S'mores are soooo good and mosquitoes? I loathe them, they are the very devil. Why? Because their bites don't go away for 10 or so days on me. Trust me to be slightly allergic........

  31. Gentleman's Lady- Mosquitoes and I don't get along very well, either. Half the time, their bites end up getting infected. Nasty little buggers. Take care.

  32. It's impossible to camp without s'mores. Although I don't need to camp to enjoy s'mores either. :)

    P.S. I'm totally with you on the jar of peanuts thing.

  33. Hi, Liz. Separating s'mores from the campgrounds is just one of the perks of being a grown-up. Heck, we can even eat dessert FIRST if we wanta!

  34. Hi Susan .. I just hate how many signs there are .. crazy - and most people don't know or wouldn't understand .. oh well that's me - common sense used to prevail. Do we have any any more ...?

    Cheers Hilary

  35. Hi, Hilary. Um, no. Unfortunately, common sense is anything but common any more. And sometimes, even posting a sign doesn't help. I once saw parents watching their young children swim in water right beside signs warning that the water was infected with polio.