Camping at Cedar Rapids: An All-American Experience

Here’s the soundtrack for this post.  Heard this jam for the first time at the camp, it’s my summer anthem for 2012.

So I recently I went to Cedar Rapids, which was my first time camping in North America.  It was actually my first time camping in Africa as a teen, where I’d gone to Mombasa, Kenya and to Mount Kenya, also in Kenya. I do not know what took me so long, but for me I imagine it was a taste of an all-american experience, even if it was only for a weekend.  There were bonfires, fireworks (it was the weekend before July 4th), barbecues, etc.  There was an interesting juxtaposim of modernity and wilderness, as someone had brought a disco setup, so there was booming music all-night on Friday and Saturday.  This was complete with the disco ball, the sub-woofers, and the massive hand held torch–I’m talking about the one that signals planes.  Earlier on in the nights, the music blaring was rock-n-roll, blues, metal and disco—mostly american classics.  You would hear tunes form Aerosmith, Nirvana, Bee Gees, Red Hot Chilli Peppers.  Later at night, when the “normal” people had gone to sleep, the modern dance hits took over, your typical Pitbull, your Guetta, and your Gaga.  This was an all-night experience–and also keep in mind that copious amounts of alcohol are flowing at the camp at all times. Basically you either stayed up all night mingling with other campers, or you slept through the thumping music. I didn’t sleep much myself, was too excited meeting others and visiting rival bonfires.  There were so many kids and cool people from other neighbouring camps that I bonded with and got to meet.  A pity that we weren’t able to exchange contacts (more on that later).  Now this was a CAMPING trip, and lest you think that it was just a big dance party, I can assure you there was a primitive element to it too.

Ok, it wasn’t EXACTLY like THIS but I swear there was fireworks, a bright moon, a river, and a clear night sky.

Thing about the camp was that it was that it was in such a remote location that there was no cellphone service, which isolated us well from the external world. Even if there would’ve been a satellite signal, there was no electricity (the DJ used a generator), so most people were out of signal by Saturday morning. This is lamented earlier that people were unable to make contacts, as there was no cellphones (interesting how nobody had pencils and papers–these days we make contacts by facebooking on the spot on the phone).  No phones meant no alarms! No instagraming on facebook instead of just enjoying yourself in the moment!  No checking the streaming flow of extremely extremely urgent e-mails in faux-urgency every other second! The isolation was so complete that there was no light pollution in the sky…the camp was located at a riverbank, and the sides were foresty hills, think of a smaller scale of the Fjords in Norway–which I want to visit one day by the way. Now what was so charming about this was that when we were playing with the fireworks, the moon was the brightest I’ve ever seen, and it wasn’t even a full moon–it was probably about 3/4. That was truly one of those times when your soul just smiles, I was living life.   We were playing with sparkles just like little kids, and some campers even had the REAL fireworks that explode in the sky, and everyone had these grins plastered on their faces.  So to add to fireworks with the bright moon in the background, there was this guy who was playing a guitar and going around taking requests and serenading groups at their request. Awesome.

All the action wasn’t at night though, we did do some rafting–it took four hours to row 10 miles!! Our group in specific did it in a unique way as we had a giant DOG that kept threatening to leap over the raft with us in our raft.  In addition, we tied our raft to two other rafts, so that’s how we got down the river at our leiseruley pace.  Really, we had all the time in the world, and it did seem like all the time in the world.  All in all a great getaway, even if it was short, and I look forward to returning and sharing laughs with familiar faces, while touring various rival bonfires at Cedar Rapids.