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Village Idiot: Getting away from none of it

Jim Mullen
Jim Mullen

“Hi! We’re Bob and Ellen Yeller, and this is Joe and Patty Screamer. We love camping! We’re here almost every weekend! This is our spot!

“Wait! Look who just pulled in – the Drinkers! We didn’t know if they were going to show up this weekend! Sometimes things happen to them and they’re not able to make it, but – whoops! That nutty Donny Drinker, he just backed his camper into a tree. He’ll be sorry about that tomorrow morning. He loves nature! Wouldn’t hurt a fly, but after a few six-packs, watch out! He’s like a buzz saw in a forest!”

Donny Drinker comes over, beer in hand, to introduce himself. It’s 9:30 in the morning. Sue and I were only going to park here while we spent the day hiking on the trails.

“Here come the Selfies,” Donny says as a humongous camper pulls into the site. “Well, it’s just Tom now. Too bad about Karen, but that picture she took as she fell off Super Dangerous Falls was really spectacular. A classic. It was in all the newspapers. She’d be so happy that somebody finally recognized her work. It’s a wonder she had the presence of mind to take it.

“We all felt bad for Tom, but at least he’s got the hundreds of thousands of photos of Karen eating dinner with friends and standing in front of shops to remember her by. And since no one can figure out how to cancel her Facebook account, they’re going to be in the Cloud for thousands of years. Sometimes I wonder when she found the time to eat that food she was always photographing. People in the future will be amazed at how many places one person could take a picture.”

We could hear a TV inside the Yellers’ camper. Is there really a signal out here in the middle of nowhere?

“Hey, turn that down in there!” Bob Yeller screams at the top of his lungs. The phrase echoes throughout Peaceful Canyon.

“There’s something about being in the middle of nature that just fills my soul!” Bob says in his outdoor voice. “I don’t know if it’s the first sniff of pine needles, the smell of a campfire or the odor of a national park toilet, but it just makes me love getting away from all the junk in the city. Am I right, or am I right? Or maybe it’s the sound of the helicopters rescuing us from the top of old Don’t Climb Me Mountain. That’s always refreshing, and the flight is so scenic.”

A blast of “Ride of the Valkyries” starts blaring from the middle of nowhere. It’s Patty Screamer’s cellphone.

“WHAAAT?” she screams into it while we put on our backpacks and get ready to leave this woodland haven of peace and quiet. After all, aside from the other campers, and all of the birds and animals, who are they bothering?

“I don’t know why, but we never see any animals here, except the bears. They say we shouldn’t feed them, but they’re just so darn cute!” Joe screams. “The one that mauled Billy had to be put down, but nothing could have prevented that. Billy was just playing with that cub’s tail – he wasn’t hurting it. Besides, the face transplant took, and he’s good as new! Except for the beard. That looks a little weird on a 7-year-old. But there’s so much money left in his GoFundMe account that he won’t even have to go to college! He can just live off the interest!”

Patty Screamer slams down her phone and says, “KIDS! WHY DID WE HAVE THEM? WHAT WAS I THINKING??” Apparently, that was the Screamers’ teenage daughter, Chardonnay, on the phone. She was calling from the camper 20 feet away, wanting to know when they were going back home. After all, they’d already been here two hours.

We were about a mile up the trail before we stopped hearing campground noises.

“How can you get away from it all if you bring it all with you?” Sue asked.

I, for once, kept quiet.

• Jim Mullen is a syndicated columnist. Email him at

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