The Jimmy Barnes Tribute Page

Some people ask why Jimmy Barnes is featured so prominently in these pages. Apparently they haven't read enough of these true tales...

    We salute the Master of Mischief! 

Jimmy Barnes 'Explained'!

An Interview with Jimmy Barnes!

Links to 'Jimmy' stories!

"A Bad Day For Jimmy Barnes" (in which Jimmy sits on a claw hammer)



plus TRUE ROMANCE...a love story not featuring Jimmy!

Let's GO!

The Jimmy Barnes Tribute Page
And now, before we begin, let me answer a question I know is on your minds...

     Who is this 'Jimmy Barnes', and why should we care? you ask. Well, if you had read every word I have written for this Web-site, you would know the answer. You should be like my friend Terry's sister, Kathleen. Just last week she told Terry that whenever she is bored, she visits "Adventures In Camping". Now there's a real smart gal. Thank you for your uplifting story, Kathleen, and congratulations on your new baby girl Angie Rose!

     The answer is, Jimmy is the rascally character who has become an indefatigable (go ahead, look it up...) source for my columns, as evidenced by the story that follows shortly. Things just seem to happen to poor Jimmy, but he is the first one to tell you of his mishaps. Hey--you gotta' love a guy who can laugh at himself, right? (Although at first, when Jimmy was made consigliore by his golfing and drinking pals, the Italian-Polish Gang, he threatened to shoot me with his water pistol. But I wasn't scared. That's because, knowing Jimmy, the Gang wisely gave him a gun that wasn't loaded.)

     The sad thing is, Jimmy has never read about his antics on this Site. Computers frighten him. To help him out, I gave him the toll-free # for that Computer Doctor guy who mails you a free CD to learn how to operate your computer. Jimmy called back the next day. "Hey, thanks," he said, "but I forgot to mention something. I don't have a computer!" 

     But his grandson does, and one of these days Jimmy is going to check out his tales here on the Web. I really don't think he'll be too upset with me. Maybe at first, but then, after 3 or 4 beers, which I shall be happy to provide, he'll lean over and say...

     "You know, did I ever tell you about that time when I left a New Year's Eve party on a bicycle and got in to a 5-car accident?"

     It's a true story--the Italian-Polish gang guarantees it--and I'll gladly buy the beers to hear that one...


Know Jimmy? Got a Jimmy Barnes anecdote? Tell us and pay tribute!        

     "I have golfed with Jimmy. He fools you. The first time, waiting to tee up, he complained about his sore knees and how he almost hit himself with his own swing yesterday. We were playing for money, and I promptly raised the stakes. Back at the saloon, scorecard in hand, Jimmy nonchalantly took a sip of beer, leaned back, and said, 'That'll be $8 you owe me, lad.'"----Scoop.

     "There was a surprise birthday party for Jimmy at the tavern. Some of us guys hired a Dolly Parton look-alike. She came in with strings of helium balloons and sang 'Happy Birthday' to him. She was big, if you know what I mean. I think her chest put Jimmy into a trance. She handed him the balloons and asked him to dance. When he reached for her hands, he of course let go of the balloons. They floated up, but the strings knotted at the bottom got stuck around his throat, lifting his chin up. But he wouldn't stop dancing long enough to free himself, so there he was, dancing on his tiptoes, like he was defying gravity. We finally had to cut the strings and bring him back to earth."--Frank C. 

     "I figured all this stuff was made up, and then this summer I was home from San Diego and we took a ride to the campground. Jimmy Barnes and his friends were building a retaining wall for his driveway. Actually, Jimmy was supervising with a beer in his hand. First time I had ever met him...Jimmy's a very friendly guy, with a lot of wisecracks. Anyway, we're about to leave, and Jimmy decides to take a turn with the sledgehammer, driving the re-bar through the railroad ties. He takes one swing, connects, and the head of the hammer goes flying off into the woods. Jimmy just stood there looking at the handle."--Scoop Jr. 

     "Everybody has a bad day, when they're feeling sort of down. When I do, I stop by Jimmy's place, and by the time I'm leaving I've got tears of laughter streaming down my face. Jimmy tells the best stories in the world..."--Ted S.





From The Camper's Courier Sept '01


"Just normal," says an aching Jimmy.

Jimmy Barnes comes to the rescue again! As the Courier deadline loomed, with no lead story in sight, the irrepressible Jimmy Barnes struck again, once more creating just the right amount of mayhem.

For the uninitiated, Jimmy Barnes is the retired Chicago Firefighter who several years ago almost burned his own Fire Station down while cooking ribs in the alley. His own men, out on routine patrol, had to respond to an emergency call at the rear of their own building. There was only minor damage to the Fire Station, but the ribs were a complete loss.

Jimmy has also had trees fall over on every site he has camped at, been bitten by savage bluegills while twisted up in a rope, had his toilet explode like a mushroom cloud too many times to count, was almost bitten on the nose by a giant rat, and just recently set his hair on fire while trying to light the stove. But the past two weeks had been relatively calm for Jimmy…until this recent fateful day dawned.

"I was at peace with the world," said Jimmy. "That little black cloud that's always over my head seemed to have disappeared. I decided to go out on the lake." Borrowing an inflatable rowboat from a friend, Jimmy shoved off and drifted about. He drifted because he forgot to bring the paddles. "That didn't bother me," said Jimmy. "I threw caution to the winds and just settled back."

He also fell asleep. A while later his friends were surprised to see a rubber rowboat caught between two of the campground's rowboats near shore. Waves were knocking Jimmy back and forth between the boats, rolling him from side to side. Still he slept. Wakening to the sounds of laughter, Jimmy was disorientated, to say the least. "Where did all these *#!* boats come from?" he was heard to say. Later, Jimmy admitted: "I should have just stayed in the boat and gotten my brains knocked out. I would have been safer."

Back on shore, enjoying a much-needed beer on his golf cart, Jimmy was again painfully injured. "I was sitting in the passenger seat," explained Jimmy, "talking to my pals, and then I sort of hopped over to the driver's seat of the cart. I have no idea what that big claw-hammer was doing in between the seats. All I do know is that the claw of the hammer was sticking up, and I misjudged my hop. Yes, I landed my you-know-whats right on the claw. Talk about pain!"

Actually, Jimmy wasn't able to talk about much for a few minutes. "When he finally did say something," said his good friend Ted, "we couldn't understand him. It was just a high-pitched moan, like he was gargling soap bubbles."

Retreating to the safety of his trailer with his friends, Jimmy had only a few moments of peace before tragedy struck again. He was going up the stairs of his deck when, as Jimmy explained, "my feet got tangled up and I slid on my back all the way down. Alcohol was not a factor."

Seeking to ease the back pain, Jimmy warily climbed the stairs again. "I had some Ben-Gay in the trailer," said Jimmy, "so I rubbed it all over my lower back. I wiped my hands off, but not enough, I guess."

Soon after, Jimmy needed to 'pay a visit' ("#1"--Scoop). He had barely entered the bathroom when his friends heard a loud scream and Jimmy came hobbling from the trailer, clutching a certain body area. "He was making that moaning noise again," said Ted. "Poor guy. Twice in the same spot in one day!"

Jimmy has recovered, and is still having mainly good days. But that little black cloud is always there, waiting…



Love Strikes Hard!

Randy and Lisa Laurich are indeed happy campers. You can tell they're in love, and ain't it grand. And so, to end the summer on a warm note, let's hear Randy's tale that made his wife smile.

"It was our first season here at the campground, Memorial Day weekend," said Randy. "I had bought Lisa a watch after we had been dating for 3 months, and she had worn it for 5 years. The watch only cost maybe $300, but I had given it to her when I knew we were in love, and she never took it off. Then, that weekend, here by the beach, she lost it. We searched everywhere, endlessly, but never found it. Sure, I could have bought her another one, but that watch had a special meaning and memories to it. I could never really replace it.

"It was the end of that same summer, in October. A lot of time had gone by. Lisa was out on the beach, and I was setting on a bench near the store, where the beach ends. I was thinking about how much I loved her, how good things were, and then I happened to look down. There, between my feet, something sparkled in the sand. I brushed away the sand and found myself staring at Lisa's watch! How it got there, how it stayed unfound by anyone but me, is a mystery I'll never solve, but when I gave it back to her, I got a smile from Lisa I'll never forget."

Of course, love does have its rough moments. This would also be true in Randy and Lisa's case, as in when they were about to be married. With the wedding only a week away, they were setting up house. Randy was putting together a canopied waterbed with mirrors above ("Ooooooh"--Scoop). As Randy puts it: "I had the 1st mirror installed, and Lisa wanted to see how it looked when laying down. I draped the electric drill cord over part of the frame and stepped back. Lisa jumped onto the bed on her back, and the drill came tumbling down!"

"It landed right on my face as I was looking up," said Lisa. "I was all black and blue. I wore heavy makeup, but if you look closely at our wedding pictures, you can see my black eye. At the ceremony, people were staring at Randy, but he's a cunning linguist, and when he told the story in his own way, everybody calmed down."

Well, things happen. Right, Randy?

Just don't hang around too much with Jimmy Barnes.



Many campers have pets, usually dogs. If your dog has a "chewing" problem, here's a handy "Tip" from my friend John Vanhorn:

His hunting dog 'Quailer' has a bad habit of chewing up his TV and stereo remote controls. There is at least one dead remote every morning when John wakes up. John called me today and said he has solved the problem.

"I bought an entire case of remotes," he said. "They should last me another month."

Thank you, John. I'm sure that's a tip we can all use.


I'd like to thank everyone who contributed to these columns. I especially want to thank Jimmy Barnes for being a good sport. If you ever run into Jimmy, buy him a beer and listen to his stories. Just make sure you're inside, like a bar, where that little black cloud can't get at you.


Well, that's it. My computer shuts down every 20", and time is about up. I think I'll look up Jimmy and his pals and have some fun. Jimmy shouldn't be hard to find--all I have to do is look up at the sky.

Yep, there's a little black cloud, right there over the neighborhood saloon. I think I'll sneak in the back way if you don't mind…no sense tempting fate when Jimmy Barnes is around.


Editor's Note: Scoop Jackson was struck by lightning recently when leaving a tavern in the company of a man identified as James Barnes. He is expected to fully recover, and is already taking liquids. Mr. Barnes was uninjured…for once. Get-well wishes can be sent c/o



Links to "Jimmy" Stories...

(more to come...)


An Interview with Jimmy Barnes...


Jimmy is still golfing...please stay tuned...

But wait..! Jimmy is in the building! Let the Interview begin!

Jimmy: "I came up here for the Bears-Packers game and you gotta' ask me all these questions?"

Scoop: "You are aware that you are on the Internet?"

JB: "That 'www' stuff? To me, that stands for World War Won."

Scoop: "Tell us about yourself."

NOTE: At this point we indulged in several alcoholic beverages, not that we hadn't already. Ted Skora, of the infamous Italian-Polish Gang, was present. Now we continue, beginning with Jimmy's war-time antics:

JB: "I was born 10/07/37 in the year of our Lord. I was a Radar Mechanic in the War, and I helped drop the A-bomb."

Scoop: "You dropped the 'A-bomb'?"

JB: "No, I said I helped. See, we were using B-45s in England that were converted to jets. We would hoist the entire aircraft up at a tilt, move the bomb into position, then lower the jet on to it. As Radar Mechanic, I needed two wrenches to loosen, then secure, a set of bolts. I was timed, and once I got 'Top Time'."

Scoop: "That's quite an honor."

JB: "No...once again, I got in trouble. When they raised the B-45 up again to remove the bomb, my two wrenches came sliding off the top. I guess I forgot to take them with me. They had been left fastened on to the bolts. If that jet had taken off like that, they could never have dropped the bomb."

Scoop: "So...did you get in trouble?"

JB: "That's a stupid question...they threw me in the *!#*!#* brig. I was lucky to ever see daylight again!"

Scoop (talking to Ted Skora): "I know you guys have been friends for a long time. When did you first meet Jimmy?"

Ted: "September of '71, Engine #42, on Illinois and Dearborn." (Chicago Loop--Scoop) "I gotta' tell you, one time Jimmy is changing the license plate on his car and he rams a screwdriver through his hand..."

JB: "No, I was changing the sponge on the squee-gee. The damn screwdriver went right through the palm of my was sticking out the back..."

Ted: "So we take him to the hospital, and they sew him up. It was a Chinese Doctor. He seemed a bit confused about the cause of the accident."

JB: "I thing the word 'squee-gee' threw him off a little."

Ted: "Anyway, a couple of weeks later Jimmy is playing racquetball and he dips down for a low shot and he hits himself with his own racquet right on the eyebrow. So we take him to the hospital again, and it's the same Chinese Doctor who sewed him up the first time."

JB: "I said 'racquetball' and he just nodded and fixed me up."

Ted: "That's how Jimmy got the nickname 'Stitch'."

JB: "I've had a lot of nicknames."

Ted: "You deserve 'em."

Now Jimmy and Ted start telling war-tales again. Because I promised and because I was laughing too hard, I can't repeat most of them. Here's some I can...

 Ted: "Hey, Jimmy, I ever tell you about that time in Okinawa? It was all red clay there, and there had been like a mini-typhoon. The whole area was mud. Me and my buddy are walking back from this town, and of course we've had more than a few. My buddy is wearing a woolen suit, very fashionable. We're walking along this embankment, and he's telling me to watch out, because they're drilling a well somewhere along here, so watch out for the big hole, but he way he says it is 'Watch out for the Big Hooooole!!!', because he fell right in. It was maybe 7-8 feet deep, and he's flopping around. I finally get him out and carry him back. I figure I have to get both of us cleaned up for tomorrow, so I drag him into the shower fully clothed. The mud comes off, and I get him into his bed. I come around the next morning and there he is clean, except the wool suit had shrunk...his sleeves were up by his elbows and his pants are shrunk to his shins."

JB: "We see this river in England, so we jump in. We're swimming around, and I notice these things floating by. I think they're vegetation of some kind, like pods or something. I don't know...this is England, for Pete's sake. Then these little kids come up and start yelling at us: 'Don't swim! Poop!' It turns out this was their sewage canal. One guy cut his foot on a rock getting out, but we all got tet shots, believe me!" this point we must leave Jimmy and Ted. We meet again on Game Day, 11/11, at 11am at the saloon...

Scoop: "Nice jacket!" (Jimmy is wearing a fancy Bears jacket, very elegant).

JB: "I like to look my best at these events, you know?"

Ted: "It's $20 for the booze kitty, and $5 for the food." (Note: Ted is not being over-anxious about the money; I asked ahead of time. We just like to get things straight right away so we don't have to waste time with petty matters later--Scoop). this time we find our seats for a good view. I notice that Jimmy and Ted are at bar stools directly across from the ice chest, which is where Sarah the bartender, who is not wearing a bra, must lean over to fill every mixed drink.

Scoop: "Ted, want to switch seats?"

JB: "$50."

Ted: "Each."

...the Game goes on; Bears fans are sad. When time runs out, Jimmy becomes a 'Turncoat'...

Scoop: "What are you doing?!"

JB: (removing his Bears jacket and unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a Packers T-shirt) "Hey, a smart man plans ahead. Look at all these Packer fans. The Bears' guys are leaving; I'm sticking around. There's still $100 in the drinking kitty. Do I look like a fool, or what?"

And so, having eaten too much Italian beef and other great sandwiches and appetizers, I walked home, saddened by the fact that the Bears lost, and even more deeply wounded by knowing that if I hadn't stuffed my face, I could have guzzled a fair share of that kitty. Yes, a man must know his limitations...     



                  Photos...more to come!


     Jimmy at a Tailgate Party. He's the one wearing sunglasses. Ted Skora is 'Thumbs Up'.


    Frank the Enforcer, Jimmy the Consigliore, Uncle Hank, me. I come prepared.


   Home       Back to Top










Scoop says: "Ladies, Stand Up and Be 'Spouted'!" as Cautious Females test an innovative product after much hesitation. PLUS A Gift Of Life and A Great Graduation!


Stand by your man!

Stand by your man!

Warning: this column contains the ‘P’ word!

This column was supposed to be about peculiar camping ‘essentials’, weird stuff you could buy with all that money you made from following my Economic Recovery Plan (see last issue). But I am being thwarted, mainly because no one will test these fantastic products for me.

Actually, I had only found two fantastic ‘essential’ products so far, and one was quickly eliminated, once I came to my senses. This would be the ‘Off-Road Commode’ (, which is a padded toilet seat that fits into the towing receiver on your truck or even your 4-wheeler (‘Not for use when vehicle is in motion’ and ‘Can get slippery when wet’). The web site has many splendid testimonials on how the Off-Road Commode has opened up the great outdoors to people who want to travel far from the nearest bathroom. You just pull over, retrieve the toilet seat, slip the slug into the hitch receiver, and squat. A bucket underneath is recommended. However, since this fine newspaper winds up mainly at campgrounds, and many golf carts have receivers bolted on to the rear frame, I saw trouble looming. I mean, really, how far from a bathroom are you at any given point in a campground? So whoever bought one of these would do it for a joke, which is fine. But then this jokester might have more than several tasty beverages late one night and decide to actually use his new toy. He would probably find this hilarious, maybe even for several nights, until caught and punished. But I would be the one blamed, for writing about it. That’s why I decided to ‘eliminate’ it from any further research. Besides, they’re 40 bucks (but Free Shipping!) Buy your own if you want. But don’t say you heard it from me.

The other product seemed to ‘stand’ a better chance. This is the P-MATE (, brought to my attention by my friend Therese, from New Lenox, IL. The P-MATE is described as a ‘Disposable Stand to-pee Device’ for women, and after the owner of the company, Karen Diamond, graciously sent me some free samples, I saw that it is indeed just that, a folded cardboard device that opens up to sort of a kayak/funnel-shaped thing. Theoretically, a woman moves her underwear aside and pees into the kayak opening, and the pee goes out the end of the funnel six or so inches away. No squatting is required. This product is recommended for campers, hikers, boaters, FBI agents, private detectives, and all sorts of other users, including, and I quote: ‘the transgender population’. It seems to be quite popular in Europe, and with travelers to Egypt, especially near The Great Pyramids, where apparently the public bathrooms consist of large holes in the ground that women must straddle. The web site has a lot of pictures, one of which shows a poor woman hiker cowering at the base of a tree while a humongous bear the size of King Kong snarls over her. Ha! If she only had a P-MATE, she wouldn’t have been caught sitting down on the job.

I quickly assembled, at least in my mind, an Esteemed Board of Reviewers, which would consist of Mrs. Scoop and our friends Nancy, Therese, Sue, and Karin. The first three could be counted on to give me serious, no-baloney opinions. Sue and Karin, on the other hand, would hopefully agree to try out their P-MATEs only after evening cocktails at the campfire. This would ensure that the P-MATE was tested under some real, authentic conditions. However, this is where I started to get thwarted…

Things started out badly when Mrs. Scoop looked at her P-MATE and said she would rather pee in the bag it had been shipped in. Therese’s report would have to wait until she got her sample in the mail. But I had cornered Sue, Karin and Nancy on Saturday, with Nancy suspicious but Sue and Karin agreeing to try a late-night test. On Sunday morning I ventured out to get their verdicts. Karin’s RV was dark at 10am, with no sign of life. That was a good sign, I figured: late-night revelry must have occurred. When I pulled up to Sue’s, she was on her deck having coffee and bottled water. She started laughing and held up her P-MATE, opened but unused.

When I asked her why she hadn’t conducted the experiment, she said: "Karin and I both tried, together, behind the shed. But we were laughing so hard we just couldn’t…ah…release. Then we went down to the bar with them, and thought we could use them to scoop popcorn out of the machine, but someone grabbed them and took them around to show a bunch of people. We were still laughing too hard to even think about trying again last night. But I did drink a lot of coffee already this morning and I’ve got my bottled water, so I’ll try again today. By the way, Scoop, I talked to Nancy yesterday, and she thinks you’re up to something evil. She said she’s not touching it until she checks out the website and makes sure it’s a legitimate product."

So as of now I have no testimonials. Plans for a P-MATE column are looking dim. Fortunately, I have some good news, so let’s move on for now…



Yes they are, and sometimes they can be a lifesaver. Len and Cherie Biancofiore of Hoffman Estates, IL, have had a seasonal site at Blackhawk Campgrounds here in Milton for 16 years. Len was born with only one kidney, and after getting diabetes, Len was forced to go on dialysis three and a half years ago. He was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. On the waiting list in both Illinois and Wisconsin, Len’s chances did not look good. He is Type ‘O’, and only a donor with the same blood type could be used.

Five years ago, a friend and fellow seasonal camper brought Angelo and Sherrie Anemone from Bloomingdale, IL up to take a look at Blackhawk. They were soon seasonal campers themselves, and got to know Len and Cherie through their mutual friend. "We just started talking," said Cherie, "and we stayed in touch even during the winter. It turns out we only live about 20 minutes apart back home, so we had things in common. One time I happened to mention about Lenny being on dialysis.

"We were talking again one day back in January of 2008, and Sherrie asked how Lenny was doing. I told her they still couldn’t find a match for him, that he was a Type ‘O’ and there just wasn’t anyone out there right now; not even his own family members were Type O. There was a pause on the phone, and then Sherrie said ‘Let me get back to you,’ and ended the call. I didn’t think anything about it—she takes care of her four kids and a grandson, takes care of the house, and helps run the family business, a restaurant. She’s always busy.

"Sherrie called back in a few days. She said: ‘I’m type ‘O’. Let me see if I’m a good match.’"

Len and Cherie were stunned. "We started crying, both of us," said Cherie. "We couldn’t believe it." We asked her why she was willing to do this, and she said, ‘I’m a donor already (on her driver’s license); why do I have to wait until I die to give somebody an organ? I’m going to give Lenny a kidney now.’"

Lenny and Sherrie both started taking the required tests in April; in March, Sherrie found out she was almost a perfect match, maybe even better than a Type ‘O’ relative to Lenny would have been. The testing would wind up lasting until October. "Sherry never complained," said Cherie. "Even when she needed to re-take a test, she left her restaurant or house and was at the hospital as soon as she could, sometimes within the hour."

The surgery was originally scheduled for the beginning of September but was delayed until October due to more testing. On October 16th, 2008, Lenny and Sherrie checked into Loyola University in Maywood, IL, asking for and getting adjoining rooms. "The doctors were fantastic," said Cherie. "Sherrie was in a lot of pain, but that girl can’t sit still. She tried to get out in three days, but we talked her into staying, so she went home in four days."

I asked Lenny, now age 62, how he feels. "I feel good," he said. Then he laughed. "I’ve got a girl’s kidney now, so I’m not sure if I should sit or stand to pee. Maybe that’s a cheap joke, but believe me, just to be able to and not be on dialysis, to me, that’s a really good feeling."

Lenny and Cherie want to let you know that a donor’s medical expenses are covered by the recipient’s insurance. "It doesn’t cost you a dime, and you’re automatically put on the waiting list as a recipient in case you should ever need it."

They’ve never stopped thanking Sherrie. As Lenny put it: "How could I possibly thank her enough for doing such a thing?"

Sherrie now is dealing with her husband Angelo’s own medical problems. "He collapsed one day," she said, "and he technically died two times in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He has a defibrillator implanted now; his heart is only working at 30%." Sherrie asked the hospital donor-coordinator if, as a recipient now, she could get a heart and give it to Angelo. The coordinator thinks her status is good only for a kidney and only for her, but is looking into it.

Sherrie is 45. Angelo is 51. Their restaurant is DiVita’s, at 3753 W. Belmont Avenue, Chicago.

Lenny and Sherrie



Meg Webb, of Blackhawk Campgrounds and Grayslake, IL, graduated Summa Cum Laude from Arizona State University on May 13th. "It was a pretty cool ceremony," she said, "and I don’t think you can top it: President Barack Obama gave the speech and Alice Cooper sang ‘School’s Out’.

"It was at Sun Devil Stadium. The ceremony was set for 7pm, but we had to be at the stadium at 2:30. The temperature was 107 degrees. We had to walk up the side of a mountain first to go through Security, so that made it worse. The security check took another half hour; they went over you with the wand, checked your purse, and had you unzip your gown. With that heat, most of us were wearing as little as possible. And they certainly know how to make money at the stadium: it cost me $20 for a bottle of water, a big lemonade, and a pretzel. Cheese for the pretzel was another $2, but I skipped that.

"Before the speeches, there were student performances. There was the female

a cappella group, the student mariachi band, a dance troupe. Last was Dash Cooper’s band, ‘Runaway Phoenix’. Dash is Alice Cooper’s son, he’s graduating next year. So a lot of us were thinking, well, is his dad coming out? Alice lives in Phoenix, so it was possible. At the very end of the set, Dash yelled out: ‘Welcome Alice Cooper!’

"Anybody who could still stand in that heat got up and started clapping and dancing. He just sang the one song, but it was great."

Meg’s mom, Katie, added: "Alice had the eyeliner on, but not anything real grotesque. He looked good; actually, I think he looks better now than he used to."

Meg said she happened to glance up during the entertainment at about 6:45. "I saw Air Force One flying over, so I figured things were good to go. There were the usual speeches, starting at 7pm, and Obama was supposed to speak at 7:30, but it was about 8:15 when he came out. He waved, shook hands, and he gave a good speech. He was funny too, kidding (ASU) President Crow he’d better watch out for the IRS, I think because ASU didn’t give him an honorary degree. But he also warned us that ‘you guys aren’t going out into an easy world’, and there would be a lot of hard work ahead."

Meg said the only bad part was that darned heat. "I was in the bleachers, and those metal seats were really hot. I felt like I was getting heat stroke. I leaned over the banister, feeling sick, and there was a Secret Service agent down there looking out at the stage. I told him I thought I might throw up. He sort of jumped and said, ‘Can you warn me first?’ I said: ‘You’ve been warned!’ But he was safe, although he kept watching me."

Margaret Ann Webb is headed to California to the UCSF Medical School For Pediatrics. I’ve known her since she was knee-high to a June cornstalk, and believe me, she will be the best at whatever she does.


Alice Cooper photo courtesy of Meg Webb


President Obama photo courtesy of Casey Thomas


P-MATE UPDATE: A-ha! At last, details from my Esteemed Board of Reviewers are trickling in. I’ve just received an email from Sue’s husband, Dan (‘Test Results are in!’). Sue did not experiment Sunday afternoon, but according to Dan: "Sue tried the P-MATE last night (Tues). I went to the Cubs-Sox game (which was rained out) and our daughter was babysitting, so it was Sue and Kramer the dog. She was cleaning the bathroom so she thought she would give it a try. If there was going to be a technological problem she would already be prepared for the haz-mat cleanup.

"She said it worked but you still had to drop the panties. Or maybe it would be better with a dress. There was no leaking and it seemed to hold up fine."

So far, so good. I was rooting for the P-MATE and hoping for across-the-board rave reviews (Mrs. Scoop didn’t count—she didn’t actually try it). I approached my sister-in-law, Sheila, about testing it, and she suggested my niece Emma, age four, try it instead. This seemed like a good idea; after all, little girls camp and travel far distances on family vacations. Alas, in an email from Sheila: "Emma says using the P-MATE made her feel like a baby going potty. She likes being able to sit like big girls. It was not very comfortable to use."

Well, maybe years from now under different conditions, like on a camping trip where there’re snakes or something. But thank you. Emma. I owe you an ice cream cone.

So now I was back to even-up on the P-MATE reports. Next came Nancy: "It was about to storm and I went behind the trailer. It wasn’t placed right and pee came out both ends. But it was dark and the storm was brewing; maybe I went about it too quickly. Women know the issues (of squatting), especially with holding underwear and trying to swat bugs at the same time. So, if I had another one, I would definitely use it (in particular situations)."

OK, I’ll give that a ‘yes’. Then, a discouraging email from Karin: "I don’t expect this person to get rich on the (P-MATE). I had to pull down my pants. This device is not designed to catch (everything) a woman has to dispense. The instructions need to be modified. There is no way a woman can stand back and relax."

The italics are mine, and I’ll get to that in a moment. But Karin also says her friend wants to get some for a girls-only camping weekend, which since it will be at a bathroom-equipped RV, means strictly-for-giggles around the campfire.

Anyway, as for the italics, I had given each participant full-color copies of the instructions that come with the P-MATE. The series of drawings specifically show that you should lean slightly forward. Geez, Karin, even I get in trouble when I lean back and relax. Most guys do. That’s why they invented urinals…and campfires.

As back-up on this, the next day Mrs. Scoop was poolside at a private residence, and exasperated that she had to use the facilities, leaving good music and conversation behind. I told her it was too bad she didn’t have a P-MATE, as there was a hidden corner full of weeds that needed killing. "But then I’d have to carry that full thing into the house anyway," she said. So her previous remark about using the plastic bag meant she figured it was like giving a sample at the Doctor’s office and carrying it down the hallway. So…it’s the guys who don’t listen to directions, huh?

And then, the final verdict. Therese is the one who originally sent me an email about P-MATE, in which she said she could have used some on her trip to Europe, where, quote: "it’s either an out-house or a filthy, germ-infested pig sty." In her latest email: "I used the P-MATE today. I thought it worked great! I would definitely buy them. I can think of 100’s of times I would use them. Not only outdoors, but restrooms that I do not want to touch. I would like to order some just to practice with (some more) at home. However, the first time I used it, I didn’t spill one drop. GREAT PRODUCT!"

Hmmm…I guess Therese read the directions. And that is why Therese and I are on to a new money-making idea, in which we sell P-MATES all over Wisconsin, especially at campgrounds. I’ll do the talking. Therese will demonstrate…girls only invited. And remember, Ladies, with the P-MATE you can now join an exclusive club: this winter you too can write your name in the snow.

 Got a good story? Let me know: See you at Jeffro’s Jam! Remember…don’t eat the yellow snow!

Thanks All: 'Stand by your man' & 'Beware' ('Beware' caption mine) courtesy of ...thank you, Karen, for all your help! Ladies, check out the web site--my friend Therese speaks knowingly of the dangers of squatting! Nancy, Sue, Karin, Therese, and Emma (c/o Sheila), thank you for overcoming your initial fears and getting those emails here before my deadline. Meg, thanks for a great tale, and Casey, thanks for the photo! Lenny and Sherrie, thanks for a heart-warming story! And to Mrs. Scoop: You chicken!

'Off-Road Commode' at

(Scoop WARNING: verify the site 1st--I got misdirected)

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Plus: The Worst Camping Trip Ever! Scoop Jr. has a flashback to Woodstock II


You’re up on deck on a warm afternoon, hoisting a bottle of rum with your lovely Lass, when suddenly grimy hands grab hold of the railing and two evil-looking characters leap on board. One wears an eye-patch and bandanna, the other a waterlogged captain’s hat and a gold tooth. Both wear stained, ripped shirts and pants tattered in shreds below the knees. The ‘Cap’n’ strokes his grizzly beard and grasps the handle of a sharp shaft of steel, brandishing the weapon. "Aye," he says in a guttural tone, "what have we here?" The woman recoils in terror as the two men advance.

Your date looks at you. "Who…who are these strange…people? And what are they doing on your deck?"

"Hi Bob!" you say. "Did you bring the bluegills? By the way, we’re having rum and Coke…want one?"

The lovely Lass is startled at first, and then she nods, apparently understanding. She is not blond, and she seems to understand quickly. "I get it," she says. "It’s International ‘Talk Like A Pirate Day’! You two guys are all dressed up!"

The men slowly look down at their clothing and then at you. They appear confused, and so do you. "What?" you say to the Lass. "This is Bob, he’s got a boat, and that’s Tim, he just had Lasik surgery, and they brought dinner."

Cap’n Bob sets down the skewer and tosses a mess of fresh bluegills next to the grill. "Hold on," he says, and carefully dislodges the piece of corn stuck to his tooth. "Sorry, picked up some good sweet corn and roasted a few ears before we got here."

"But…the clothes," says the Lass, totally confused, blond roots under the dye-job sprouting now as quickly as indicted Illinois politicians or Brett Favre’s retirement decisions.

"Paris," you say to the Lass, "these are my friends, and we don’t need a ‘Casual Dress Day’ at the campground. That’s why we come here. We’re not at the office, we’re not at the plant…we are here, having fun. We always dress like this when we’re here."

"You do? Ugh!" She stares at the bluegills. "And what are those?" she asks petulantly. "Do you, like, eat their little heads and eyes, or what?"

"You, like, clean them," you say. She grimaces. Then her eyes alight on a stray piece of seaweed. She plucks it eagerly and sucks it up like a spaghetti noodle. "Sushi!" she exclaims.

And now you realize that you need to stand up tall. These are your camping Buds, male and female, every one and all. "Paris," you say, "sorry, but you need to go."

"Fine!" she says, stalking off towards her Mercedes. You stop her and gently caress her now-totally-blond tresses with your hook. She stops, the cool steel curve now touching her neck. She laughs. "You are too acting like a pirate!" she exclaims. Her eyes beckon. "Take that fake hand-thing off," she says. "We can still have a day and, like, have fun."

"I lost my hand last year," I say. "I was out on Deadman’s Curve, near Sunset and Vine."

"That’s hot," she says. "I know the place. It’s groovy."

"The last thing I remember, I started to swerve," I say. "And then I saw the Jag slide into the curve." I look her in her contact-lens eyes. "You were driving your little pink Jaguar that day, texting while driving." I hold the hook up. "You caused this, you celebrity-cyst. And for that, you’re gonna pay. I lured you here for revenge, Paris. And now, it’s time for the hook to strike!"

But wait! That’s my Halloween story ending, so ignore that ‘hook’ part. Unless you really do have a hook, in which case you are all set for International ‘Talk Like A Pirate’ Day, which every year is celebrated on September 19th. And you’re in luck: that’s a Saturday this year, and you’ll still be camping! SPECIAL RELIGIOUS ADVISORY: This day is also the start of Rosh Hashanah, so to those observing, remember to flay your fish and ignite your campfire before sundown. Also, get in costume early to avoid twining and creating. And I’m not being sarcastic here; in fact, I’m envious. You have a solid, religious reason for dressing up like a pirate early in the day and keeping the campfire going all day and night! But if you are offended in any way, please direct all correspondence to Melissa DeBuck, Graphic Artist, c/o The Milton Courier. She’s the one who theoretically checks my column (She also does the great look of the pages and finds cool pictures to add. Thanks, Melissa!)

Anyway, you should check out to get some ideas for this momentous day and night. Cap’n Slappy and Ol’ Chumbucket will show you how to dress and talk like a pirate, and regardless, I like the site. Hey, these are two ordinary guys who started talking like pirates while playing racquetball one day and got famous when Dave Barry, the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist, wrote about them. Now these guys get paid to get sort of loaded and swagger about like pirates at parties.

Doesn’t this make you want to grab a beer and daydream about your own chances at making money with some really far-out scheme? Be aware, as I certainly am, that the ‘Pet Rock’ was ‘created’ by a guy who drank a lot of vodka one night specifically to think of a way to get rich. And he did! He became a millionaire! And, might I add—and I will--we imbibing guys owe inventor Gary Dahl a lot of thanks, my friends. Specifically, for ‘The Excuse’. See, next time you’re on the front porch at home or on the deck at the campground and you want to crack that beer at 9am, or have a shot of tequila at noon, it’s OK! Just have a fairly decent-looking rock on hand, and when your wife or Significant Other comes storming up to you, ready to slap your silly head for drinking so early, just hold up The Rock in a solemn way and study it. That’s Step #1.

This will halt any injury to you, at least momentarily. Then, in Step #2, you display The Rock as you would a precious antique, and admire it. Step #3, you hold it aloft and proclaim: "Baby, you see what I’m holding here? That’s a million dollars right there, right in my hand!" Step #4, you nonchalantly toss the million-dollar idea to your Honey-Pie for examination…

Step #5: Run quickly, and hope your Sweetie-Pie has a really bad throwing arm.

Mine does not.



I certainly hope everyone had a great camping season. Yes, the summer went by all too quickly, and the weather was kind of goofy, and it might have rained a tad too much, but hey, it was fun, right? And if it wasn’t, well, let me cheer you right up! After all, misery loves company…

Even with over 25 years associated with camping, I myself have only camped twice, if you don’t count the ‘Mom let me pitch a tent in the back yard’ thing. The first time, when I was about 20, my friends and I were evicted from a campground at Chain-O-Lakes because our campfire was "too loud" (it’s a long story). We at least got to stay the one night because the park ranger lurking in the bushes next to our site was afraid of my friend’s dog and he wouldn’t come any closer after threats of evisceration by Yeller the growling dog. But it was a tense night after that, and no fun. The second camping fiasco was when Mrs. Scoop and I came back to our tent after working at a campground all day and found a pile of poop smack in the middle of the tent. Was it left by a big devious dog, or perhaps a disgruntled camper? Mrs. Scoop and I will never know, but I do know that ever since then her ‘camping’ comes with A/C and room service.

But these are trivial camping misfires, especially since we did not step in the poop, whatever its DNA. What will really make you feel better is what happened to Scoop Jr. when he went camping at Woodstock 1994. Allow me to interview him…

"We drove a ’79 Toyota from Milton WI to New York. I was 20 years old and it was Woodstock again and I wanted to go. I had some money and we went. My Mom offered to pay for air-fare, but we were driving…it was a road trip. I probably spent $300 on gas.

"We had bought tickets for $200 each but when we got there all the gates had been broken down and anyone, ticket or not, could get in…the cops were no longer in control. We found some guys who said they would let us stay in their tents if we helped them set up camp. During that time I got nine bee stings and got poison oak, passed out and woke up with bumps and hives all over me, and got sent to the Red Cross tent, where they stripped me naked and rubbed my entire body in calamine. That was a little embarrassing…it was an open tent, no partitions, and there were nurses and a hundred other people in there. I took some benadryl, and when I got back to camp I was no longer welcome…the guys had found some girls.

"We mainly went to see Alice In Chains, but they didn’t show. Metallica was good, but there were so many people that we couldn’t get close. Green Day got the mud-slinging-thing going. There were so many people shoulder-to-shoulder; it was hot, people were sweaty and then it started raining…

"I lost my sandals in two feet of mud in a crowd of a 450,000 crowd, saw people doing some crazy stuff. There were spigots set up in shanties held up with 2x4s for people to shower…lot of nakedness…great for a twenty year-old. There was a huge hill that turned into a mudslide…I saw people riding down in a grocery cart.

"There were a lot of fights. There was nothing ‘hippie’ about it, it was all punks and moshpit guys trying to fight or (have sex). The food stands were down. We went a mile to a convenience store to get food and water.

"The cops were making people leave. It was time to go. The fences were down, but a bunch of scumbags wouldn’t leave. These were the guys strung out for three days, dirty, no shirts, wired. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

"Driving home, the gas tank was on fumes. We couldn’t afford to pay the tolls, so we signed receipts and I did pay once I got home.

"All in all, I gotta say this was not a trip worth making, but if I were twenty again, I would actually bring a shirt, a few extra dollars, and an extra pair of flip-flops. And my own tent. I would do it again…you are only twenty once!"

So there…feel better?

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The "My Worst Camping Trip Ever" Contest Stories and Winners! plus 'Walking Talking History'!

Folks, keep those tales coming in! No prizes this time, but tell us anyway!

Rules for future Tales (right below!)              Go To Stories

 RULES: I won’t slander any specific campground, but will use its name if it was your fault only. I won’t mention anybody else’s name without their permission. I won’t mention your name if you don’t want me to. But even if no names are mentioned, yet the tale is a good one, please send it along to . Your email is your permission to print electronically or on paper or whatever, and permission from anyone else you want to include by name. This is important! One winner was concerned because she admitted peeing in a garbage bag 28 years ago, so these contest winners are all first-name only. But you and your friends know who you are! Also, make sure you read the ‘fine print’:

I just wanted to see if anyone would get a magnifying glass out and try to read this. Thank you.

                             THE PRIZES AWARDED:

  • A $20 gift certificate from Ron & Sue’s Beverage Mart, my favorite place for take-home libations and mixes and Bloody Mary stuff, and home of the 'Beer Cave'.
  • A $20 gift certificate from Junction Pub, my favorite place to have a beer and great food and watch a game.
  • Sweatshirt from Junction Pub…pretty cool apparel!
  • $20 gift certificate from Dave’s Ace Hardware (Milton), the helpful place where I do all my ‘Honey-Do List’ shopping.
  • $20 gift certificate from Milton Family Restaurant, a great place for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
  •   Most importantly, check out all these fine businesses at my ‘Drink, Dine, & Dance’ page and then go there!

    BIG-TIME THANKS to all the businesses that generously donated the Prizes--these are all places I frequent, and I highly recommend them! Please stop in and check them out!


       The Stories:

         In no particular order, so you can do your own judging. Winners are after 'Walking Talking History'.

    Well, I feel a little better. See, I announced this contest in the 2009 Labor Day edition of The Camper’s Courier, and on my global-reaching web-site, and got a grand total of two (2) contestants over the long winter. Even after announcing it again in the last (Memorial Day 2010) Camper’s Courier issue and FaceBooking all seven of my friends, I was still stalled at two contestants. Yes, I felt inadequate, contest-wise, especially since local businesses donated some really good prizes, and they were literally yours for the taking, in that there were five prizes and only two submitters (“Do the math, fool!”—B.A. Baracus, A-Team).

                However, as the deadline approached, I was happily deluged by an avalanche of new contestants, bringing the grand total to—seven! So I thank all who entered, and don’t some of you slackers out there wish you had?!

                Names were deleted from the emails and the submissions handed to my esteemed Board of Reviewers. These secret judges rated the stories on a point system based on the OMG (“Oh my …”) level and how much beer poured out of his/her nose while reading. The winners were emailed and picked their prizes (1st Place picks first, etc.) and are announced in the sidebar, which is that colorful thingy over on the side of the page somewhere. Note: One winner lives far away and is unlikely to be able to use a local prize, so I’m sending that person a Gander Mt. gift certificate out-of-pocket, which I don’t mind one bit, since I got a good column out of all of this, and he was the first to enter. Another winner is my brother, and as a prize I’m going to buy him lunch and beers when we get together, which serves two purposes: I would have done it anyway, and now five prizes have been stretched so that every one who entered, wins!

                Every tale was fun to read, and I thank you each of you, as I thank the businesses that generously donated the prizes. Again, these are businesses my family frequents because they are the best, so when you’re in Milton, WI, go there! And now here we go, in no particular order in case you want to judge for yourself…

    Helen: “It was 38 years ago and we did not have a lot of money for our honeymoon.  We planned a trip in northern Wisconsin around Lake Superior, into Canada and back in a week.  Day one we are heading north, but not before asking my father-in-law for his vehicle because of course we couldn’t trust our car to go that far. It was a cold, wet summer and there were a lot of rock and mud slides on the route we took.  All of a sudden, BAM a truck in front of us threw up a huge stone and sent a crack the full width of the windshield; Rule #1, never borrow your father-in-laws vehicle. After regaining our sight we continued on to our first stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park. Finally we pull into our site and get ready to set up the small tent--which again--we borrowed from one of my new husband’s brother. As we are taking it out of the vehicle, we find there are no tent stakes, so now what do we do? Rule # 2 never borrow a tent without stakes. Well my husband figured out a way using trees and pieces of wood to get the tent up. I said, “I think this was done on purpose as a joke and I don’t find that humor funny at all.”  Well, we get settled in our sleeping bags zipped together--after all it was our honeymoon and the temperature dropped to about 45 degrees. Upon waking the next morning we could see our breath. At least we dressed for the weather with our matching black and red checkered coats from Spiegel’s (back then it was cool to match as it said we belonged to each other). So we rolled out of the tent to make breakfast and guess what?  He only packed a frying pan and a pot to heat the water so that meant 1-pan meals. I proceeded to heat some water to have a cup of instant, yes, instant coffee and never having made it before I put 3 Tbs. of coffee into a 8 oz. styrofoam cup. What an eye opener that was, he laughed as he watched my face and I proceeded to dump it out! With all this past, we packed up and went on to our next destination, taking many pictures and enjoying the falls.  We finally ended up borrowing some rather large nails from one of the campsites in order to hold our tent up as we didn’t always have trees.  Finally, the fourth night I said, “forget this you are going to spring for a motel room,” and he did. We were pretty young and when we checked in to the motel room, they looked at us like we were runaways. Ahh, what a good night’s sleep, in a real bed, and the next morning I’m awaked by a sweet whisper, ‘Do you want to go home early?’ No hesitation, we both agreed. So we headed back home, no more ticks, no more peeing in a garbage bag in the dark of the night (as I was afraid of bears). There is no place like home!  I think we grew up in a great period of time as today if the honeymoon isn’t planned to go to the Caribbean they are not happy campers!  Everyone should have a honeymoon like this and it was a good test as we are still together and love motor homes even more now.

     Karen: “We were camping and I had to pee so I went to use the old outhouse that was in the back section of our camp site. I stumble to the old wooden latrine and squat down just far enough to pee but not to actually sit down (if ya know what I mean!) and all of a sudden I hear some rustling around outside and I’m startled because I know there’s something out there—I just didn’t know what! I start to panic and open the door a smidge and see a small animal but I’m still not quite sure what it is until I spot the white streak on the critter’s tail. Holy c***--it’s a skunk. So now I’m stuck here. Do I make a mad dash and run for the camper or do I wait it out and see if the critter leaves? I’m stuck in the (deleted!), do I stay or do I go—a stinky choice either way!!! What would you do? Well, I finally decided to make a run for it and make it safely to the campsite and I’m standing there trying to explain to my family what just happened and they are laughing at me. Little did I realize that my britches were still around my knees! Needless to say, they got an even bigger laugh when I told them what happened.”

     Jim: “Scoop, I can't remember what year it was but my son Jeff was old enough to have his own tent and he loved it. Friday night was a great night with a campfire, s’mores and beverages. Saturday called for rain but we didn’t know exactly how much. After a wet lunch and a washed out dinner, we went to the campground restaurant for dinner. It’s still raining, only a little harder now. Geralyn, myself and our 6 kids in a small pop-up trailer on its last leg and a tent decided to call it a night. During the night it got much worse and I was worried about Jeff; sure enough he called out to me saying he and his tent were soaked. We all packed in our pop-up at that time and the kids were a little scared. Jeff and I went to the large side of the pop-up and when we laid down one or both of the supports under the trailer soaked into the ground and the trailer almost did a 90. With the rain pouring, Geri and I decided to sleep in van with no dry blankets. We didn’t sleep much--the van had the ribs on the floor and we had nothing to sleep on. Finally in the morning we woke up to a swamp--if the trailer was flat on the ground we would have floated away to the Mississippi. Later we were watching the kids swing on what were playground swings a day earlier and jumping off into the new lake which was about thirty feet away. They loved it but when Geri and I saw this, having barely no more dry clothes for them, the Dells couldn't be close enough. We packed up and took off so fast I don't think we said goodbye to anyone! The kids are in their Twenties now and we still laugh about that one--they thought it was great but from a parents’ point it was a nightmare!”

     Debra: “My family and I went on a great camping trip for Father’s Day weekend. It turned out to be the worst. First my brother had to borrow a tent so he and his family could join us .After  getting this nightmare tent up without directions, a little boy on his bike came down the hill and ran over the tent, putting a big hole in it .We asked the parents to pay for the tent but that didn’t go very well. My brother that night slept in a sleeping bag on the ground. Thank God it didn’t rain! The next day we brought a new tent to replace the borrowed tent. A few hours later my ten year old son went fishing to catch the big fish of the day. Well, he didn’t--he was caught instead. The hook went right in the mouth with the fat juicy worm hanging from the hook. We had to call 911 and an expensive ride to the Hospital. Six hours later back to the campgrounds. We caught the tail end of the band which was the reason my family  and I camped that weekend. Now it’s back to our site and time for bed. The next morning we packed up and time to go home to get a few hours of rest before going back to the old (grind).”

     Mike: “Hey Scoop, I got one for you. It was in the early 1980's. My family and I were tent camping. My son was still in diapers and my daughters were 3 1/2 and 9. My wife was never very thrilled with tent camping, but she went along with the gag. There was rain in the forecast, but certainly not the deluge we got. Around 2:00 AM the wind whipped up to over 50 mph, and then the rain came with lightening and thunder like only Noah would have experienced. Now comes the fun part. All 3 kids are scared to death and start screaming bloody murder which provokes the wrath of the only other adult in the tent. Now to beat all the tent collapses on top of us and she refuses to go outside and fix it. So being a good Dad (and afraid for my life) I went outside to repair the tent. The rain was coming sideways and the drive going down to the boat ramp was becoming a class 4 rapids. I was soaked to the bone in seconds. Only my extensive military training saved my family from this near-drowning experience. I made hasty repairs to the tent and went back in dripping wet. Unfortunately I did not get the hero's welcome that I had expected. I got the ‘you're getting everything wet’ look. The denouement is, to the best of my recollection, my spouse never graced the inside of a tent again. I took the kids tent camping several by myself and the next season we purchased a used but wonderful 23 foot trailer. I still wasn't a hero but I still got to go camping.”

     Neil: “Growing up in a small town has its share of con's, one of these being the shopping experiences. But crappy malls aside, it all changed for me as a young buck with a new store that opened in our local mall called Supply Sergeant. To a thirteen year old kid this was a dream come true (even though the woman who ran it smoked constantly and every time I came home my parents accused me of smoking)! Supply Sergeant sold new and used military, survival and camping gear. The first item I bought was a 99 cent olive drab container of foot powder. It could have contained flour and I wouldn't have cared because on the container it said - 'Official G.I. Foot Powder'. I proudly displayed this on a shelf in my room. My next purchase was a little pricier: I had saved my allowance for a big investment in a pair of Nomex Flight Pants. Mainly because the smoking woman who ran the store told me that ‘They will never catch fire!’ Looking at her light up another one of many cigarettes I assumed she knew this from personal experience. This wasn't the case as I soon found out a couple of weeks later sitting too close to the campfire. But my greatest purchase up to that point, which I had acquired through the labors of shoveling driveways all winter, was a used sleeping bag rated at -40!!! In my eyes, this was more of an olive drab-colored miracle than just a plain ol' sleeping bag! The coughing owner again spruced up the deal by adding that ‘The bag was used by a real soldier in the Arctic.’ Wow! I was sold! I do remember feeling a little concerned about the bag being so thin and lumpy - but if a soldier had used it in the Arctic, then I had nothing to worry about! What I failed to ask her was whether or not that soldier had actually SURVIVED in the Arctic. One week later I had the opportunity to test it. Some friends and I trekked out into the Alberta wilderness, everybody was complaining about how cold it was--everybody except me. I felt impervious to the cold with my magic sleeping bag (even though at this point my hands and feet were starting to feel the chill a bit). Of course I let it be known that ‘A real soldier had used my bag in the Arctic’ and I added ‘I'll probably have to sleep in my tighty-whities tonight just to keep from burning up!’

    “After setting up camp and giving up on our campfire (we ran out of diesel fuel, yes diesel fuel!), we settled in for the night. I laughed at one of my friend's giant city slicker sleeping bags and told him ‘Have fun freezing tonight!’ The temp according to my zipper thermometer was -10 and I was feeling it…I knew my cold feeling would pass as my 'magic bag' started to work it's wonders. My nomex pants would have been a nice addition on this particular night to keep my legs from burning up in my sleeping bag--or so I thought...

    “After falling asleep, I woke up sometime around 3 AM shivering uncontrollably not being able to feel my feet. I was FREEZING my butt off!! I had been deceived! What happened to my magic bag? Apparently my buddies weren't faring well either, as two of them had slipped away during the night. Waking up my remaining friend who was huddled up against me moaning something about ‘I want to go home’ I put on my half frozen clothes, grabbed my icy boots and made an agonizing run for it! At some point on the way back, my boot had actually fallen off as I was running, and my friend had to point it out to me. My feet were so cold I hadn't even noticed! Eventually after what seemed like a lifetime, we made it back to the farm. My iced-up former comrades were sitting huddled up to my Grandparents’ crackling wood stove as we walked in. Giving me the 'we're going to kill you for talking us into this’ look my friend’s gazes turned more towards sympathy after observing my obvious state of border-line hypothermia! The -40 arctic sleeping bag jokes commenced from there. It was a disappointment for me, but a learning experience that helped me better prepare myself for my next adventure.”

     Rose: “It was late July and my sister wanted to plan a surprise  birthday party for a friend.  She wanted to have a camp out so bad so she begged and begged and finally our parents said ok. She was so excited planning who to would invite, where they would camp and what to eat. Well that ended really quick when our parents said we didn’t say you could go camping we said you could camp out.  So living on the lake in the city of Whitewater the site was set.  My dad pulled out the pink and white Shasta trailer to the backyard. So the day had finally come. We had four friends arrive and later the guest of honor we were surprising. My sister went into the house to get a pitcher of lemonade and told all of us to gather when they came outside so we could all surprise our guest. Just as my sister and the guest of honor were walking outside the trailer—which didn’t have any jacks under it--we almost did a backward flip. All you could hear was screaming from the trailer. My sister and the guest of honor looked at each other and the surprise was over; instead of Surprise, Happy Birthday, it was Surprise, my dad forgot the jacks! It was hard getting the door open with back end of the trailer on the ground and the front hitch in the air about 3 feet. Then we needed to get the girls to stop laughing and yes, we still had to bring the house down! So, one, two, three--one at a time--they moved to the front and finally the old trailer house came down. Soon after that my dad came out not expecting all of us girls would all be at one end of the trailer at which point we said, Surprise! He merely laughed.”

     Thank you all, again! Readers, send your own Tales in and let me use them in a column! (Sorry, no more prizes!)


     For this 4th of July column, let’s take a look at another person who is part of our American history. Last year it was Norm Piper, now age 90. This year it’s Sergeant First Class Dan Whitney, age 32. Dan likes to hunt, fish and camp, and grew up right here in Southern Wisconsin. He’s my nephew, and I’m proud of him. His words give me a better understanding of what it’s like to serve our country; I guess it’s the things I don’t normally think of when I watch the news or read the paper. I’ll get to Dan’s life-story in a moment. First, here are some e-mails I kept—everyone was pretty worried about Dan flying in to Iraq, especially his parents.

     From Dan’s Dad 11/11/07: “Hey everyone, Dan arrived in Iraq safely. The engine of the plane that flew them into Iraq caught fire when they landed but everyone was
    evacuated and all is good.  He told me that he is living in a house right outside of the ER so he hears a lot of MEDEVAC helicopters landing at all hours but I think that he'll get use to it. He started work today but didn't elaborate on anything.”

     From Dan 11/11/07: “Hey Mom and Dad, Everything is going well here. I started work today. It will be busy for the next few weeks until we get stabilized. It looks like I'll be
    working 7 days per week, 13 hour shifts, for a bit. Within a few weeks I'll be able to go down to 6 days per week. In time I'd like to be able to get to 5 days per week but that is too far in the future to figure out now. I'm still getting my room set up with internet and so forth. It's nice that most of the structures that I'm in are reinforced. The hospital and my house are reinforced with extra barriers and thick concrete. The dining facility actually has a ballistic roof that can withstand any rocket or mortar attacks. So all in all, I'm pretty safe, even if things heat up around here.  As much training and mental
    preparation as I've had, nothing prepared me for seeing my first trauma patient coming off the air EVAC helicopter 30 minutes after I arrived. The Medics were doing CPR on a local National on the back of a 4x4 Gator as it rushed from the helipad to the ER doors.
         “My house is right next to the helipad so I hear helicopters coming and going at all hours of the night. The patients on my floor range from double amputations to bone breaks to serious illnesses. It's all very real now. The guy I'm replacing has been taking me around all day. I think this will be an educational experience for me. I've done
    this same job back in the states and there really isn't a lot different besides the type of patients we get. When you guys get the chance to send my clothes to me, please send a couple of bags of coffee (Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts are my favorite). Don't worry about sending any phone cards for now. I'm going to get a cell phone here that only uses local calling cards specific to the local network. I have to go for now. I hope you are enjoying the sun and sand in Aruba. By the way, I no longer like the beach. I've had enough sand to last me a lifetime!”

      Here’s Dan: “My family moved to Wisconsin from Chicago when I was ten. Later I worked at Stoughton trailers. I was bored and had nothing better to do so I joined the Army right after high school, just before my 19th birthday. That was in ’97 and I spent three years in Infantry at Ft. Campbell. On my first re-enlistment I chose to be re-classified as a Nurse; I was married and it was a family decision to get out of combat arms—I was gone training too much, and this was before any war.

                “From the end of ’99 through 2001 I went to EMT School to be a Medic, and then through the Army’s Practical Nurse Program (LPN). After that it was Fort Eustis in Virginia; I was there 2 ½ years. I got divorced, and then met Carol, who was a Medic, after she moved to my hospital. Carol moved up to Michigan after she got out of the Army in 2004. We got married on December 23rd, 2005. From ‘03-‘06 I was a Health Care Recruiter in Michigan—I picked MI so I could be closer to home. Then in 2006 I moved back to the East Coast—Fort Belvoir in Virginia—to be closer to my son Hunter, who was then eight years old.

                “After 12 months at Fort Belvoir I was deployed to Iraq for 16 months, and got back to Fort Belvoir in 01/09. Six months later the Army moved me to Fort Lewis, Washington. I did an IN-DEF (indefinite) re-enlistment in June 2009. I’m majoring in Health Care Management and will complete my Bachelor’s Degree this October. Once I complete my degree, I will be submitting an application for a direct commission as a Medical Service Corps officer. If selected, I will be commissioned in June 2011 as a Second Lieutenant. I will stay in to at least 20 years of service, but will likely stay in longer.”

                Dan and Carol also have a daughter, Shae, who turns five this July. Dan received the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award in February 2008 while deployed in Iraq, awarded ‘to an NCO who, as a squad leader, consistently demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership, professionalism, and regard for the welfare of his soldiers.’

    On re-locating often: “Three weeks after moving back to Virginia in 2009, after returning from Iraq, we had a house fire the morning of Valentine’s Day. It was a two-story condo, and (allegedly) the lady upstairs got drunk and passed out while smoking and her cigarette landed in a planter filled with a dead plant and wood chips. It started the outside wall of the house on fire, and I was awakened at 5:45am when the automatic sprinklers went off. The water destroyed all of our furniture. However, there was a silver lining, in that all of our furniture was mismatched—stuff from my first marriage, which Carol hated, and Carol’s stuff, and we were replacing things one piece at a time. So, with the fire—and everyone safe—we went out and bought new furniture together. It’s ‘our stuff’ now.

                “We found a new place, but a couple of months later I came down on orders to move to Fort Lewis, WA. So, after coming back from Iraq, we did a combined move of Carol’s things from WI and our household goods that were in storage in January, then a second full move after the fire into the new place in February, then another full move from VA to WA in July. That was all in 2009.”

    On deployment to Iraq: “It’s harder on the kids than Carol—she’s been in the Army also and understands, even if she doesn’t necessarily like it. In Iraq I had use of a land-line and could talk to Carol and the kids almost every day, so that helped. But Hunter was old enough to understand what war is about and what could happen (to me). He was scared. So were Carol and my parents, of course.

                “My Dad was nervous but he tried to keep my Mom calm, but we were getting lots of rocket attacks in the International Zone ( ‘IZ’—formerly known as ‘Green Zone’, in Baghdad) so it was always on the news. The buildings in the IZ were thick poured concrete for the walls and roof, with additional reinforcing with sandbags, and lots of bunkers to get into when the attacks started. The buildings were OK except for a direct hit—the rockets would put a hole in the wall or take a chunk out, or skip over the roofs. One hit a fuel tanker full of gas about 100 feet behind my house when I was on duty (as the night shift Battle Captain in the Tactical Operations Center) and the explosion blew the windows and doors out of many of the base houses. A couple of days before, because there were so many attacks, we had bricked-in all the windows on the first floor of the house I stayed in, and bricked-in a wall. The mortar was still fresh so the blast pushed that entire 8x6 wall in a half-inch. My bed sat right next to it. Plaster chunks went flying all across my room. If I hadn’t been at work that night, I would have been peppered by flying debris.

                “I got hurt one time—a 107mm rocket landed 30 yards away before I could make it into a bunker; the blast gave me a concussion, but at least I didn’t get any shrapnel wounds.

                “But even in the 16 months I was there I could see things improving. We did lots of work with the local people, like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts chapters we started with the Iraqi kids, with off-duty soldiers volunteering. If we were upgrading our clothing, we would donate (the older clothing) to local communities and clinics instead of throwing it away.

                “Part of building up Iraq was making them independent; they had to learn to rely on themselves rather than the US. But it wasn’t easy--for example, due to the Iraqi-US agreement, we couldn’t treat most Iraqi medical cases; we could only treat patients that were ‘life, limb, or eyesight’ injuries, and different levels of Iraqi governmental leaders. So we had to send people back out to Iraqi hospitals and clinics for treatment. But most of the Iraqi doctors and nurses had fled the country during the initial invasion, and if they were caught coming back in Al Queda would kill them as traitors. So we had to send some sick people away to what we knew were understaffed hospitals, assuming (the worst for them).

                “The ‘Medical Rules Of Engagement’ (the Iraqi-US agreement) allowed us to treat coalition forces (US, UN, and contract companies), but otherwise, when they came to the gate, it was it was only for the ‘life, limb, or eyesight’ injuries. We had to send them away. An exception could be made by a 2-Star General, for example if it was for the son of a tribal leader who we were trying to work with, trying to get leverage to work with the local community.”

    Dan’s thoughts on Iraq: “Iraq has been and in many ways continues to be a very delicate situation that is a balancing act between providing logistical and tactical support to a developing country (most notably a developing government) while affording the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army enough room to grow and learn to protect themselves and uphold justice with minimal oversight by U.S. forces. The majority of Iraqi citizens are good people. It is unfair to stereotype all Iraqis into one negative thought based upon small groups conducting terrorist operations. A large problem (that we saw improving during my time there) was how the terrorist organizations attempted to gain support of local citizens. For example, these organizations would attack, kill, kidnap, etc. local citizens in an attempt to scare the local population into a sense of forced support. Their mindset was that if they could demonstrate that Americans can’t protect the population from these acts of violence from terrorist organizations, the people wanting protection would have to support and protect the insurgents.

                “I am proud of my time spent in Iraq supporting America’s War on Terror. I know our contributions have significantly helped Iraq to build and grow towards their own stability. I’m not a big fan of the word ‘hero’ and I’ve never been a fan of it being combined with my name as friends and family tell me that I’m their hero. I’m not  hero—I swore to support and defend my country; I’m just doing the job that I committed myself to do with the values we as Soldiers uphold. The real heroes are the men and women kicking in doors, fighting the enemy on the streets, and uprooting the insurgents from their strongholds. Even more so, the ones that should be thanked for their service are the spouses that were left with children and a home to maintain while the service members were 10,000 miles away, and the mothers and fathers who would pray every night that their children in uniform would come home in one piece.”

    Thank you, Dan!

     See more ‘Scoop’ at Send your own Tales of Camping to Have a happy and safe Holiday, and remember why we celebrate it.

    And The Winners Are:

    1st Place: Helen (chose $20 Gift Certificate from The Beverage Mart, home of the ‘Beer Cave’--icy cold!)

    2nd Place: Neil (from Alberta, getting the Gander Mt. Gift Certificate)

    3rd Place: Karen (chose $20 Gift Certificate from Milton Family Restaurant)

    4th Place: Mike (getting that burger and beers!)

    5th Place: Jim (chose $20 gift certificate from Dave’s Ace Hardware)

    6th Place: Debra (chose $20 gift certificate from Milton Family Restaurant)

    7th Place: Rose (chose Junction Pub sweatshirt)


    OK--so who's next?

                    Rules    Stories   Home





    The 'Craig'-A-Pult has arrived! Amazing Travel Invention has zero % accuracy, but inventor 'still confident'! plus...   The Return of Tim 'B': 'Golf Cart Knowledge 101'

    The Countdown Begins! (attempt # 1)

    Camping means friends, and often involves tasty beverages, and rightfully so. You are there to relax, and sometimes this means sitting up around a campfire until 3am drinking ever-stranger alcohol concoctions, some involving snake venom, or so it seems later that day.

    But such carefree shenanigans can have their dangers! If it’s a short trek back to your site after a late night at a friend’s place, no problem—you will eventually get home, often with only minor injuries. And this is if you are walking. But all too often caution gets thrown to the wind, and you trust your golf cart to get you back safely, as if you were hobbling out of a saloon and your horse knew the way. People, beware: too many times have well-intentioned imbibers found themselves in a ditch, or--even worse—snoring on some stranger’s deck! Maybe in your underwear---Ewww!

                Thankfully, excited entrepreneur ‘Devious Dan’ has come to your aid. Now, don’t get too excited yet, as scientific tests are still on-going, and Dan is working feverishly (“when alcohol permits”) to raise the success rate of his idea (currently at a meager 0% but “I am confident we can fix this!”). Let us now turn to Dan for his first-person report:

                “We like to have fun, and really, we don’t get crazy. And if we do occasionally over-do it, well, then we’re walking. But even this had its dangers, in that our friends Bob and Karin’s site was up a fairly-distant hill, while (wife) Sue and I, and friends Craig and June, had sites close together down below, near the lake. So we would make Bob and Karin come down and visit us here if we were partying, where there was a body of water to act as a sort of ‘runaway truck’ stopping-area in case Bob had too much forward momentum going as he came down the hill. Then we changed sites (still down below), and while we were close to another lake, it didn’t offer the same safety features, since it was off to the left, and Bob doesn’t normally veer that way, except when he’s golfing.”

     Feeling guilty about avoiding repeated invitations to Bob and Karin’s site, Dan began to wrack his nimble brain. “I was resting under an apple tree,” says Dan, “drinking apple schnapps, when something struck me! And there was the answer: Gravity!

                “So my initial idea was to run a zip-line from Bob and Karin’s site down to our sites. It was a good start, in that we could string this cable and hold on to a tube or something to slide right down the line to a safe landing. It was a more-or-less straight shot. However, problems arose, in that my fantastic wife Sue decided she needed a patio for the firepit right where our landing spot was going to be. Of course I agreed she was correct in this decision, and that is why we are celebrating many years of wedded bliss.

                “And then there was the ‘Spring-thing’ with leaves sprouting out of the tree branches and sort of blocking our view. And who would climb the trees?--all those complications. And what about getting back up to Bob and Karin’s site? These were problems to ponder. I then thought of building a giant potato-gun, but the fuel costs would have been exorbitant. I also had a moment of careless thinking involving Kirstie Alley’s thong, doing equations with elasticity, but we didn’t want to mess with a friend of Oprah’s, since that can lead to big-time trouble. So I did some more ‘deep thinking’, and after finishing off the bottle of schnapps, I realized I had to get back to basics--I had to get primitive!”

                According to Dan, in his deep-thinking dream, he first learned to rub two sticks together to create fire, and then he invented the wheel. When he awoke the next morning, groggy, in his Hot Tub Time-Machine (Scoop: actually, a puddle of water from a leaky faucet), he had just a ‘wee’ bit of the hair of the dog and didn’t go quite so far back in time, and watched, stunned, as a large rock was hurled at a castle by a catapult. “It really knocked the (heck) out of those stone walls,” Dan reminisced, “and they were able to adjust the distance. That was important, and I knew this was the answer!”

                Working stealthily during the day, when Craig was sleeping, Dan and Sue and Bob and Karin kept up a feverish pace to finish the ‘Craig’-A-Pult in time for opening weekend. Deftly grinding small logs on a hot rock, they made the wheels, and with left-over timbers from the new fire pit, and squirrel hair woven together to form thick braids of rope, it was all the intrepid crew needed to finish the job, except for several other items not described here for security reasons per Department of Homeland Security guidelines. “I even put a high-gloss coat of poly on it to give it that ‘new catapult’ finish,” said Dan. “I take pride in my work.”

    When asked why Craig was chosen as the first test-victim, Dan grinned deviously and said: “He was the only one not here when we first thought about it, hee-hee.”

    The excited inventors had to wait until nearly 2am before Craig was snoring in his lawn chair. “We double-dosed his drinks,” explained Karin, “and we did a sing-along with some really boring songs, like ‘Two Thousand Bottles Of Beer On The Wall’ and a lot of Enya with us humming monotonously in the background. But that Craig, he’s a tough one to put down. So it wasn’t until after dawn that we had the ‘Craig’-a-pult assembled on our roof (to get the height advantage). Then Craig was carefully hoisted.”

    Alas, the first attempt did not go well. “We got him over the trees and sort of in the right direction,” said Dan, “but he landed in the lake. That’s just as well, since we didn’t get down the hill to my site in time to catch him anyway.”

    After hauling the ‘Craig’-A-Pult down to Dan and Sue’s site, they remembered to fish Craig out of the lake, and they then hosed him off for the next attempt. “By this time,” says Dan, “June was fully involved. I think she wants to harness the energy of the ‘Craig’-A-Pult to send Craig grocery shopping or something—just zing him into space with a list. Anyway, she wo-manned the station down below until we were ready up on top.”

    With a safety ‘net’ carefully positioned, the teams waited for the launch. And there it was—a startling sight, as Craig flew through the air, seemingly right on target. However, it was another set-back for Team Craig, as the intrepid and unconscious victim was snagged by a jutting oak-tree branch, altering the trajectory, and Craig landed in Bob and Karin’s firepit. “It was just by inches,” said a startled Karin. Fortunately, Craig was not hurt, in that Bob had neglected to clean out the firepit as he was supposed to, so he (Bob) is not in really hot water yet, but he better clean the (darn) thing out quick, (darn it).

    Failure! Craig's near-miss stuns Karin, Bob and Devious Dan

    At this point in time, at the end of the day, with all said and done, Team Craig is holding a yard sale to raise funds for a “ball of twine with a rock tied to the end of it” to better judge distance and landing procedures. As for Craig, he awoke woozy but unharmed, except that for a short time afterward he kept flapping his arms and hopping about as if he were a bird.

                Disclaimer! Here I must pause to explain (according to my lawyer): Craig is a really good guy, and the reason he is being used for this stunt is that Devious Dan did not have a suitable picture of Bob, who was our originally-intended victim. No harm came to Craig during these stunts. Craig—and everyone else—don’t try this at home! Or at the campground! Thank you, Craig! And now you know why I had you sign that Official Waiver.



                The first few weeks of camping are when you work out the bugs so the rest of the Summer is stress-free. This, of course, also applies to your golf cart, and here is a quick lesson, courtesy of Tim ‘B’, who has evaded this column for almost three years now. Welcome back, Tim!

                According to an anonymous source, Tim had been having problems with his golf cart for two years. To get it to go, he would have to hit the starter with a hammer. This was fine, except that Tim would often forget to bring the hammer along, and this would cause problems, such as Tim accosting strangers along the road, begging for a hammer or “some sort of blunt instrument”.

                Finally, on Mother’s Day weekend, with incoming friends and relatives expecting to be shuttled on the golf cart, it just simply had enough of the constant hammering and gave up the ghost, its starter-soul winging its way to the junkyard. Thus, Tim was forced to install a new starter, with the able assistance of his friend Bradd. The cart seemed to run well, but only for a while. With the cart dead and time of the essence, Tim got the cart on-site and used his back-up cart while he charged the battery on the poor dead battered beast.

                Meanwhile, Bradd and neighbor Dean, both accomplished mechanics, found the battery charged and the cart road-worthy. But when Tim returned, eager to ride, the golf cart stubbornly refused to start. Somewhat irritated, Tim confronted his two friends and complained about the work they did on the cart. Which is when Bradd said:

                “Tim, it works better if you turn the key on.”

                Have a good Summer, Tim, and we’re expecting more from you!

     See more Scoop at Big Thanks to Melissa @ The Courier for the ‘Craig’-A-Pult pictures! Original Craig photo minus helmet courtesy ‘Devious Dan’. Thanks for the idea, Dan!






    BETCHER SWEET (B)ASS! ‘Mooning’ Incident Brings  Revenge! Plus TRUE ROMANCE: Stuck Like Glue! Plus a Golf Cart Road Rally PSA...


    "I'm freezing my bASS OFF in here!" Photo by Gorno.

    A mooning incident has resulted in four weeks of traveling trickery, and we may never see the ‘end’ of it.

    More than a month ago, seasonal campers Gorno and wife Kathy were out golf-carting with friends and stopped at a high point to oversee the campground. They noticed another friend, Brian, leaving the pool area, and, as Gorno described it, "I yelled out: ‘Hey Brian, nice (butt)!’, at which point Brian mooned me!"

    The stunned spectators immediately thought of rinsing their eyes out with grain alcohol, but it was a Sunday afternoon and they would all soon be driving home, so they resorted to driving around looking for something to ease the painful mental image. "It was bad timing," said Gorno. "People were putting their garbage out or putting things in their vehicles, all bending over. But then fate smiled on us!"

    Passing a vacated site, Gorno noticed a huge decorative fish among the debris set out for collection. "It was about five feet long, a giant stuffed pillow, and it was in excellent condition," said Gorno. "Revenge was at hand!"

    The group quickly rescued the fish and set about spawning their plan. "We’re all friends," explained Gorno, "and we know where the keys are hidden, and how to get them. So we decided to leave Brian a gift in his screen room, along with a nice little sign."

    With Brian already headed home, the clandestine golf-carters struck, pranking Brian by hanging the fish in his screen room. The sign read: ‘Hey Brian, Nice (B)ASS!’

    The ‘Betcher Sweet Bass’ hung there all week, patiently awaiting Brian, but when he returned the following weekend, he was mystified. "He didn’t understand," said Gorno. "We had to refresh his memory. I guess revenge is a dish best eaten cold, because when it sunk in, he was speechless."

    That Sunday, late afternoon, the (B)ASS traveled to original conspirators Jeff and Kate’s site. "They have a refrigerator on their deck that was a perfect spot," said Gorno, "but it was locked. So I had to do a re-con mission to get a hidden set of keys and try to infiltrate, hoping one of them would work."

    One did, and Gorno reported back to the anxious group. This time the sign read: ‘I’m freezing my (b)ass off in here!’ "It was tricky," said Gorno. "We wanted to wrap a fin around a can of beer, but there was a lot of stuff in there, and Betcher Sweet (B)ass is not a small fish. We decided to enjoy a few of Jeff’s MGD’s while we figured out a way to make more room in the fridge, and then we had a second round, and then, mysteriously, there was just enough room. It might have lost some stuffing getting jammed in there, but we did it--a new tenant in their refrigerator, fiendishly holding a beer."

    When Jeff and Kate came up the next weekend, they were so proud of their new friend that they hung it up in their room addition all week long. But after that display, it was time for Betcher Sweet (B)ass to move on.

    Next up was the site of Kevin and Kelly, also in on former conspiracies, who were not up that weekend. "Keys were found," said Gorno, "and entry made to their 3-season room. The sign this time was ‘I’ve fallen on my (b)ass and can’t get up!’, a direct reference to the incident in which Kevin did donuts with his cart and accidentally (?) tossed wife Kelly into a pile of gravel (see ‘Running With Scissors’à ’Big-Time Butt Bruises’ on the Web-site).

    Once again, the recipients were "most pleased to receive this dubious distinction", as Gorno put it. "When you get the (b)ass, it means your friends love you."

    Who will be next? The candidates are dwindling from the perpetrators’ ranks, and each new stealth mission will require more cunning. Gorno’s advice: "Don’t leave early."

    Gorno also adds: "There are six families in our group, and we have (B)assed three so far, so the others are just waiting their turn. They know they could be next; they just don’t know when, where, or how, and that nothing destructive would occur. But after the six events, we fully plan on infecting someone outside our group, like Devious Dan, my former neighbor. Anyone in camp could be a target--Betcher Sweet (B)ass could travel all around the campground. We plan to add site numbers to his belly to show where he has traveled, so be sure to add your site number afterwards so you don’t get (b)assed again."

    You are forewarned!


    It's decorating time! Photos by Gorno

    TRUE ROMANCE: Stuck Like Glue!

    "All I was trying to do was fix her sunglasses," said Scott of girlfriend Joanie. "I mean, I love her dearly, but sometimes now I just pray for a cloudy, rainy day."

    Unfortunate Scott had carefully balanced Joanie’s broken sunglasses on his forefinger and then applied Super Glue to the bridge (or whatever you call that part that fits on top of your nose). "It’s her favorite pair, so I made sure I stayed still and steady for a long time to let the glue set," said the beleaguered long-time boyfriend and constant companion.

    However, an overdose of glue had made contact with Scott’s cuticle. "It was right in the ‘quick’ of the nail, where it goes under the skin. I couldn’t get it off without either ripping my nail off or breaking the glasses again."

    "Those are indeed my favorite sunglasses," stated Joanie emphatically, "and for sentimental reasons cannot be replaced. I knew Scott would make the right decision."

    "I am her constant companion--now, for sure," said Scott, "especially outdoors on a sunny day. The sunglasses are still stuck to my finger, so I have to follow her around when she’s wearing them, keeping them set correctly on her face. But that’s fine, except maybe when I’m having a beer. I had to get used to using my left hand, and at first I missed my mouth a few times. But now I’ve adjusted."

    The sunglasses had suffered another injury, resulting in the loss of the right lens, but that’s fine with Joanie. "He can gaze lovingly into my one eye out in the sun all he wants. Besides, I don’t want my Honey-Bunny stuck to me with both hands, which he would be if he tried to fix the lens," she said. "There’s a lot of yard work to do, and he is getting quite skilled at raking with one hand."

    GOLF CART RALLY: A Public Service Announcement

    A fun-time golf-cart rally was held recently, with stops along the way to challenge the riders’ skills. Organized by Mary A. and Diane B., the events included ‘Shoot ‘Em Down’, involving stacked paper cups and a water gun; ‘Take The Plunge’, with one partner holding a plunger and the other a roll of toilet paper--between the knees--and attempting to get the TP on the plunger; ‘Puzzled’, which was assembling cut-apart pieces of a beer carton; and ‘Don’t Leave The Light On’, where a blindfolded contestant tried to place a lampshade on his/her head by maneuvering it with a fishing pole (Mary says: "We started out with lampshades--hence the name of the game--but people kept conking themselves in the forehead with the metal bracket, so we changed to plastic buckets."). There was also face-painting and other cool stuff to do as contestants completed all 15 Events.

    Mary had called me a few weeks prior and invited me to volunteer. I was in the midst of my cocktail hour and thought she asked, "Did I want to go in the drunk tank?" That sounded interesting, so I readily agreed. Not until late the next morning did I realize I had volunteered for the ‘Dunk’ tank…ha-ha!

    OK, just joking there, folks. I agreed to the dunk tank because these are fun people, and I had done the dunk tank-thing years ago, so I had no fear of it. However, it was many years ago, when I was spry and immune to extreme changes in temperature. So that’s why I’m posting this Public Service Announcement…

    Steve W. was seated above the tank, thrice-dunked, when I arrived. He gave me fresh words of experience: "You know it’s gonna’ happen, but you’re never quite prepared for it." He was right. And I should have stopped the dunk tank assistant (‘Cold-Hearted Dave’) from constantly running the garden hose in the tank.

    Most people tried too hard and missed the bulls-eye. A guy who was the starting pitcher for his age 50+ baseball team never came close. So I was nonchalantly swinging my feet over the tank when this other guy, the kind that always got picked last for a baseball game, and only then because his older brother threatened to beat you up if you didn’t pick him, lobs a harmless ball that is never going to come anywhere near hitting the mark and the next thing I know, I’m gasping for air in frigid water.

    So that’s my PSA: If you volunteer for the dunk tank, make sure they fill it at least two days ahead of time, in very hot weather. And never take your eyes off the ball.

    Note: After all the contestants had finished their turn at the tank, the organizers and volunteers kept it going, charging a donation, and raised $230 towards building a handicap-accessible ramp for a needy camper. Good job!

    Mary A. and unidentified dump-tank fool. Photo by Diane B.

    See more Scoop at, and send your own tales of camping to




    GOLF CART RALLY INJURES PANTS AND PRIDE! Plus: TCB: The Dirty Underside Of Camping! (A Honey Wagon Expose!) and A Refreshing Drink Recipe! And of course…more!  

    It's all a game until the cart rolls--but Tough Mike comes up with high-fives! Photos (c) Dan Wiegel, Thanks Dan!


    Golf Cart Rally Injures Pants and Pride!

    At Blackhawk Campground’s recent ‘NASCAR Golf Cart Obstacle Rally’, winner Mike C. used sheer determination, skill, and plain logic to take 1st Place with a time of 50.2 seconds. He also had some advice for Mike F., who was tragically disqualified in a cringing crash.

    "Neither of us are skinny guys," admitted Mike C. "Those starving bobsled guys in their Speedo suits, they want to bang their heads on the wall leaning in to the curve, fine. But we more, ah, ‘mature’ adults need to think about gravity. I studied the course and I observed. This obstacle course was all right-hand turns, and I knew the wrong placement of my butt and improper leaning could send me crashing."

    Indeed, it was tactical errors such as these that led to Mike F.’s downfall, and I mean that in the literal sense of the word. "I knew he was going to roll over," said Mike C. "All his weight was in the driver’s seat, on the left side, and these were right turns. When he leaned into that particular right-hand turn, it was too much for the cart, gravity was upset, and over it went."

    Stunning video footage of the crash, taken by and frighteningly frozen for this column in still-frames by noted photographer Daniel Wiegel, shows how centrifugal force and improper displacement of the gluteous maximus caused the cart’s right-side tires to leave the ground and send Mike F. to the treacherous earth.

    Fortunately, Mike was unhurt, except for his pride and a wicked grass stain on his pants, but the cart itself suffered a wrinkled roof and damage to the custom-made utility box, which Mike says he is going to re-configure ("Probably a flatbed, which will save a lot of money on repairs if this happens again.").

    This reporter asked Mike what his thoughts were as the cart started to go over, and which way he was leaning. Said Mike: " My thought was: ‘(expletive deleted)! I'm going to miss the shrimp-boil later (big-fun party--Scoop).’ And which way was I leaning? I was trying to climb into the middle of the cart to get away from the ground." Was he sore the next day? "Yes," said Mike, "my left hip was sore, and my wife was sore because that was a good pair of pants I ruined."

    And any advice for the next race? "I would set up my cart differently—put more air in the left-side tires. And I would get a pit crew. And cheaper pants."

    As for Mike C’s secret of success: "I kept my butt in the middle of the seat and my body braced, I leaned in low, and I held on for dear life."

    Winner Mike C.    Congrats, Mike!

    But there was another tragedy at the race, one which perhaps stung worse than the roll-over. For golf cart savant and aficionado ‘Gorno’, the agony at the starting line was palpable in the air, as Gorno’s just-installed ‘Plum Quick’ engine "spun a hub" (tore the splines out of the wheel hub, disabling the cart) as friends and family awaited what they expected to be a certain victory. In fact, brother-in-law Brian (aka ‘Shed Intruder’) and his full boat-load of fans had come in close to shore to cheer Gorno on. Even his fiercest competitors, such as ‘GPS’ Sal, who still gets lost on the campground after many years now, knew it would be a race won by micro-seconds.

    Indeed, the crowd was awestruck as Gorno’s cart had to be pushed off the course. Probably a lot of bets were lost, not that you should wager money on such things, and let this be an example to you gamblers.

    Anyway, Gorno did compete in his back-up cart, but it just wasn’t the same. As anonymous NewsHound Kevin aka ‘Prowler’ stated: "He was ready to win. So ready that he left me in the middle of a flooring job in my RV to compete. Even so, I was rooting for him, in that he would be in a great frame of mind to help me finish this darn floor if he won."

    But Gorno remains upbeat. "In a few weeks I’ll be participating in the ‘Show & Shine’ cart event at the campground, and I told my wife: ‘Start dusting the mantle, Honey, and make room for another trophy."

    Gorno, we will all be rooting for you! Except maybe Prowler, depending on the floor-situation.

    In related sports news, all campgrounds within the Camper’s Courier circulation area are invited to attend next year’s ‘Honey Wagon Drag Race Competition’. There will be three categories: ‘Dry’, ‘Grey Water’, and ‘Poopie’. There will be thrills, chills, but hopefully no spills. We are sure all campgrounds will be eager to sponsor this event, so you are all going in a lottery, whether you want to or not.

    Unfortunately, Mike F. will be driving for Team Blackhawk. I just thought you’d want to know ahead of time, in case you were thinking of getting there early for those ‘really close’ seats.

    BUT WAIT! This won’t all fit under the photo as a caption, so that # 43 car you see here on this or another page is the handiwork of Russ N., who is a fine and very precise gentleman. What he did was go to the library and get a picture of Richard Petty’s race car and then compared it to scale to his golf cart. Said Russ: "I measured the wheelbase on the picture at 3", and that’s 60" on my cart. So it’s all to scale, and authentic, except I had to put headlights on so I could drive around the campground at night."

    Russ also showed me the Hula Girl he uses for his ‘Hawaiian Night’ drive-about, but that’s another story. I hope use it in a column next year, especially since it involves a brassiere made of a golf ball sawed in half in lieu of coconuts.

    Russ taking a few extra laps. Photo (c) Dan Wiegel

    TCB: The Dirty Underside of Camping!

    When you stay at a hotel, your face-time with the staff is usually limited to the check-in person, and maybe the maid if you want extra pillows (No bellhop--we carry our own luggage, ever since that one guy almost broke my portable bar).

    Unless, of course, you’re Mrs. Scoop, like when she got stuck behind the shower curtain at The Farmer’s Daughter Motel in Hollywood while I went to check out the itinerary for getting on ‘The Price Is Right’. And even then, it was I who rescued her, in that she wouldn’t touch the moldy curtain and couldn’t reach the phone and remained trapped in the shower until I returned. So that’s a moot point—I just wanted to mention that event in case she gets in a weird wife-like mood and I need something to remind her just how thoughtful I am.

    Yes, there are many other people at a hotel who make your stay comfortable, but unless you can’t open the window or the toilet breaks—actual events for us—management usually just moves you to another room. But when you’re camping in a rental-cabin or your own RV, who you gonna’ call more often than not?

    Yes—the Honey Wagon! Now, I’ve mentioned this before, but you need to know these facts, especially if you are a ‘newbie’. You will need to call for the Dump-Dude or -Dudette in an emergency situation because:

    A) You think you are at home and can flush the toilet all you want.

    B) Your kids—almost always female perpetrators—stay in the shower for hours on end.

    C) You forgot last night to ask for the dump when you—the guy—walked right past the store and wound up at the bar instead.

    According to Murphy’s Law, this should happen at dinner or breakfast. However, studies have shown that this usually happens about 10am Saturday and Sunday mornings, when the late-night partiers are just beginning to wake and get ‘moving’, and also right before the ‘Big Dance’ on Saturday night, when those who haven’t yet showered suddenly discover they smell like decaying carp.

    And that is when the Honey-Wagon person becomes so valuable that—by gosh—you swear you would even tip that person for showing up expediently!

    So why don’t you go ahead and do that next time? You tip the maid at the hotel for leaving chocolate on your pillows, right? Just think of this as a service-in-reverse.

    Cash is good. Or even a can of soda. But no 3 Musketeers or O’Henry bars, please—shades of ‘Caddyshack’.

    PARENTAL WARNING: Holding Tank Alert!

    Barbie should be safe. And Dora the Explorer. Little girls don’t want their favorite toys swirling their hair in the toilet. Maybe the sink, but never the toilet. But Batman and The Joker are dead meat. They are definitely taking the plunge.

    See, little guys need to move their action-heroes in and out of danger. A sink? Ha! That’s merely a swimming pool, or better yet, a shark-infested bay. And when the gero has made it across to the edge, he must dive into the deadly toilet. By the Action-Hero Code of Conduct, this is required, probably several times. And then, if your son is really active-minded—and which one isn’t—he will see if Batman can survive the Deadly Tidal Wave of Death, which is caused by flushing the toilet.

    This will inevitably cause one of the most feared things known to queasy campers: The ‘Clog’.

    I’ve spent my time on the Honey-Wagon, and I’ve seen mature adults clutch their hearts like Fred Sandford and gasp: "A clog? A clog! I’m coming, Elizabeth!"

    Well, sort of. But those faint-hearted souls did have a look of sheer terror, because it meant they would actually have to get hands-on with the plumbing problem. They would have to snake a hose in through the window and shove it around in the toilet and maybe, actually, get their hands dirty.

    If I sound revengeful, it’s only because most of these people were the ones who always flushed and rinsed for what seemed like hours on end, while the Dumper-Person got eaten alive by flies and mosquitoes. It was incomprehensible that such a thing as a ‘clog’ could happen in their plumbing. In the end, it was always an object that they swore they had never seen before—how did that ever get in there? (Answer: Grandkids).

    Now, you ‘regular’ folks were always earthy and relaxed about a clog. It happens. And you had an extra hose handy and some paper towels for clean-up. And at this point I want to sincerely thank Howard P., who found me the day after I got splashed and handed me a bottle of fine Scotch and apologized. What a great tip!

    In my day, the clogs started with He-Man and Skeletor and evolved through Ninja Turtles and Superman and Spiderman, and the timeless and inevitable G.I. Joe. And I am so glad my time on the Wagon was finished before the Burger King give-away of Dr. Octopus. Jeepers—eight arms holding on for dear life in your holding tank!

    However, according to my resource person Maria, her daughter Alexandria (age 8) likes ‘Monster High’ and ‘Ty Girlz’ dolls.

    Allow me to digress for a moment, as I just checked out ‘Monster High’.

    The web site says every kid feels like a ‘freak’ in High School, so that’s why these dolls appeal to young girls. They (the dolls) are daughters of Dracula, and the Werewolf, and there’s ‘Frankie Stein’, daughter of guess who.

    So I’m thinking I have to ditch the whole ‘Barbie’ premise. Luckily, Maria’s son Henry (6) likes ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Toy Story’ people. Henry—this is good, and expected from any Honey Wagon person. We are prepared for this season’s unexpected toilet-adventurers. Except for the ‘Monster High’ girls, who look like they already got a ‘swirly’ and were then chewed on by a starving pack of rodents, and would definitely scare me if I saw their grotesque little heads come suddenly popping out of the gate valve.

    So to all you fellow members of the ‘Stinky Club’, be forewarned, and I hope you get what you deserve: A ‘thank you’ would be nice, but on closing weekend, five bucks would be sweet. But a bottle of fine Scotch comes at a high price.

    STINKY SEGUE: I’m on a roll here, folks. Here is one of my favorite Honey-Wagon tales:

    A Turtle Tragedy

    With almost a hundred Firefighters’ and Paramedics’ families attending a week-long Camp Outing at a local campground—perhaps the safest contingent of people one could ask for—tragedy still struck.

    "To lose a life, be it man or beast, well…it haunts you," said the Firefighter involved.

    The tragedy occurred when the Firefighter’s young son accidentally dropped his pet turtle down the toilet of their RV while he was flushing. "He didn’t mention it until I was at the dump station later and things got clogged up," said the boy’s father. "I was probably cursing—under my breath, of course—when he asked if ‘Tony the Turtle’ was still alive. Then I understood. I tried to get ‘Tony’ out of the drain-tube alive, but when I fished him out with a coathanger, he wasn’t breathing."

    The Firefighter immediately summoned the Paramedics. "There were several waiting in line for the dump station, and I called them over. I requested mouth-to-mouth on the turtle…my son was frantic."

    His request was rejected. Said one Paramedic: "He knows mouth-to-mouth…let him do it. It was his kid’s pet. And just look at that sludge on its snout, to put it politely."

    ‘Tony the Turtle’ was given a proper burial, all things considered.

    Apple Pie Recipe

    OK, enough of this potty-mouth talk. To rinse, here’s a great shot-drink, courtesy of ‘The Shield Drive Gang’, the street of fun campers and flavorful beverages, as described by Mary A.:

    1 gal. apple cider

    1 gal. apple juice

    1 quart (approx.) size Vodka or grain alcohol (Mary says: "I don’t recommend the grain alcohol—that’s getting too serious, and you could hurt yourself.")

    10 cinnamon sticks

    Bring cider and juice with cinnamon sticks floating intact to a boil. Turn off, cool, and add vodka

    VERY IMPORTANT! Says Mary: "Make sure you add the vodka after the cider and juice have cooled. Otherwise, it (the vodka) will just cook right off, and what’s the sense of that?"

    BIG CONTEST 2011: You are so lucky! See, I'm going to do another 'Worst Camping Trip Ever' Contest this winter, and since you are clever enough to read this far, you can start reminiscing now! In the last contest, five (5) valuable prizes were awarded, all of them from businesses in this area (southern WI), and every prize was quite the thing to win! You can enter anytime after Labor Day weekend at . Good luck to all!

    Final Pump Room Plea (for this year!)

    Once again I ask someone to see if my fake photo of me and Uncle Hank is still hanging on the wall of the famous Pump Room at the Ambassador East in Chicago. New owners are now renting the Pump Room out for weddings, office parties, etc., so maybe you’ll be there sometime. We used to be right above Fred MacMurray and June Allyson, as you climbed the stairs and faced forward, but our picture was peeling and barely hanging on. So we are either fixed, or dumped. Let me know, eh?

    Self-Promoting Plug

    I’ve got two ebooks out now, and I want you to buy them. And then review them. Good or bad, say so on the sites. ‘EVIL CAMP’ is for scaring young kids and maybe yourself, and can be told over three nights, great for a campfire or Halloween. ‘Adventures In Camping’ is the best/worst of my columns and web-site, including the ‘Stinky Segue’ tale you’ve already read in this column. If you’re a rabid-reader—my favorite kind—you’ve heard it all so far. So why check it out?

    Because there’re FREE for a while, and who can pass that up, eh? So go to and look up ‘EVIL CAMP’ and ‘Adventures In Camping’ and download them to your favorite e-reader or computer (for a Kindle, go to ebooks). They are usually 99 cents each, but because you readers are so special (and I want some reviews!), they are free at the Smashwords check-out with this coupon code: XY59Y for 'EVIL CAMP' and code KC64L for 'Adventures In Camping'. This is good until 9/13/10. (Sorry, but Amazon doesn’t allow this coupon, but you can still get a sample, I think).

    Big Thanks: To Daniel Wiegel for the excellent photos. See his work and contact him at .

    And to Karen for breakfast—good luck wherever you go.

    And to Marv and Suzanne. Marv, thanks so much—enjoy the sunsets and the dolphins.

    And to all of you who wind up in these tales! Keep having fun!

    Have a most-excellent and safe Labor Day weekend—party on, Dudes and Dudettes! See you next year…

    See more Gorno—‘The Golf Cart Guy’--including specs on his indeed-awesome golf cart (well, certainly before the new engine)—and Brian the ‘Shed Invader’ and ‘GPS’ Sal at . And remember, send your own crazy and fun camping tales to all winter long. Note: Front-row seating for the Honey Wagon Drag Race is going fast, so plan ahead for Christmas and Anniversary gifts now! Stay warm, and bye-bye!