Virgin Campers near Bethlem!
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However, we had checked out the park (especially the toilets and showers and decided that this WAS the spot! Camping on our brains….we headed off to find a hotel locally to stay overnight ready to return on Sunday when the Park had sites available. We had already realised that there wasn’t much around this area in terms of accommodation, and a ‘Scottish Inns’ annoyed us by trying to charge $79.99 when their huge interstate sign bragged $44.95….but claiming they "had a ladies professional golf tournament on" so rates had been hiked!!!! As evening was beginning to fall we found ourselves in a town outside of Allentown named Bethlehem and spotted a Best Western, which we had one of our saver vouchers for! In true atheist style we managed to secure the ‘last room at the inn’ as they were also full due to the 4 day golf tournament!! Tired and hungry, we made the unfortunate mistake of choosing to dine at the hotel and were served a very inadequate yet expensive meal by a server from Stepford!
Sunday morning arrived and we packed up our stuff again ready for our camping adventure. We spent a little while trying to find a grocery store, which meant we got to drive around Allentown and appreciate another area that appeared not to have been so affected by the economical crisis; we could also see how sport played a major part in the town’s identity. We eventually located a ‘Wegman’s’ the best grocery store we have visited in the US, and stocked up our cooking supplies. So by Sunday lunchtime we were back at our designated campsite and attempting to put our new house up for the first time. After a couple of mishaps we successfully erected our new house and our new bed! Built our first campfire and began to relax with some vodka and orange, quite pleased with ourselves!!! We had a walk along the reservoir edge in the campsite and acquainted ourselves with our ‘neighbours’; we chatted briefly with a nice camper-fisherman who gifted his bass catch to us for our BBQ. It was also enlightening to see just how seriously some people DO camping looking at a large family adjacent to us who HAD brought “everything but the kitchen sink” including sailboat, dingy, bikes, swings, and large gas-fired BBQ. We had settled for plot 29, a reasonably secluded corner plot, and with a 150 metre walk to the restrooms and showers. As darkness descended we consumed more vodka and tried to cook scallops, after Nick found he couldn’t gut our Bass with the little steak knife we had. The first camping disappointment we had was to quote Nick’s words “our Walmart shit” camping stove. Having opted to purchase the more reasonably priced non-brand stove, rather than the more expensive Coleman stove, we began to realise this was a camper’s ‘false economy’!! However, what was to prove our biggest disappointment and virgin camping learning was our bedding arrangements!!! When it was completely dark, and we had consumed most of our vodka, we crawled into our house and into our new bed. We were to experience one of the worst nights sleep we have had to date. Apart from coping with the over-powering smell of new plastic (AKA our bed), the sleeping bag cover proved totally ineffective in keeping us warm, and we both woke around 3am completely freezing as the temperature had dropped to about 50 degrees. We cuddled up tight to try and warm each other up, and did manage to drift off again….probably still under the influence! By 9am we were awake again but now we were unable to breathe and trying to surface in an airless tent that had turned into a hot plastic bag in the heat of the morning sun!! Our house, which we had carefully erected in a shady spot yesterday afternoon, was now in direct sunlight!! We did our new horizontal dressing manoeuvre, and feeling distinctly groggy with a quality vodka hangover, crawled out of our house. Nick made us some strong coffee and we flobbed in our Rekindlers’ chairs savouring the quiet greenness!!
Unfortunately our ‘quiet greenness’ was destroyed firstly by a Harley Davidson, and then by the family from hell! As we were sipping our morning coffee, the loudest bike I have heard (nothing to do with my vodka head!!), started racing round the park ridden by a big bearded and tattooed biker dude. Not satisfied with disturbing the morning tranquillity once, he proceeded to circle the park several times, giving a number of children rides. This was our first inkling that all was not as it seemed at our beautiful State park. We had already come to realise that many of our neighbours appeared to be Jewish – the skull-caps and the little pinafore thingies being the give away! But up until then we had only been slightly amused by their strange dress and odd behaviour. That was until the most annoying Jewish family in the USA arrived to camp next to us!! Our afternoon was spoilt by this obnoxious family all shouting at each other, and the eldest son pounding away at a log of wood trying to chop it with a small axe. Not the kind of quiet afternoon we needed to recover from our vodka hangover!!
The mission for the afternoon was to ‘move house’ to try and eliminate being cooked inside the tent in the early morning and keep our house cool. By removing a couple of pegs, we were able to relocate under some shady trees, and we were quite pleased with our adaptive skills!!! Not so virgin campers now!!!!
We removed ourselves for a couple of hours early evening to go and fish, and although this perked me up somewhat I was disappointed not to have had a bite. Nick did catch a small stripped bass, and we did see some deer. We were pleased not to see any bears, as the campsite is adorned with warning notices about “being in black bear country”!! We returned to ‘Camp Rekindlers’ for an evening campfire and to relax! Our annoying neighbours had now settled all their children around the campfire ring adjacent to us, and the noise only got worse. Just when we were at a point when tolerance would have been impossible, things did seem to quieten for the night and we retired to our plastic bed. Towels draped over us for extra comfort and warmth, we hoped for a better nights’ sleep!!
I woke again in the early hours shivering uncontrollably to discover Nick was also awake and freezing – more desperate cuddling for warmth, and I also resorted to dressing – and we managed to gain a couple more hours sleep!! On arising on Tuesday morning, feeling less like virgin campers but not feeling like becoming camping whores just yet, we both made a unanimous decision to abandon our campsite a day early and go find a hotel with a big bed and a bath……we were craving sleep, warm and peace and quiet!!!!!!!