Looking back on last weekend's camping trip, I realize that we probably do things differently from other families. Somehow, I picture other families huddled around their evening campfires recalling warm, fuzzy moments of a shared past. Maybe Junior once hugged his little sister just as the camera snapped or Sissy lost her first loose tooth […]

Looking back on last weekend's camping trip, I realize that we probably do things differently from other families.

Somehow, I picture other families huddled around their evening campfires recalling warm, fuzzy moments of a shared past. Maybe Junior once hugged his little sister just as the camera snapped or Sissy lost her first loose tooth in Grandma's homemade fudge.

Yes, my family has moments like that too, but last Saturday night around the campfire our conversation took a different turn. In lieu of warm and fuzzy times, we laughingly recalled some of the strangest campground neighbors we've had over the years. We didn't have to go far very far back in time to find examples, either.

For instance, when we pulled up to our campsite in Chenango Valley State Park this August, it was minus a picnic table. Maybe this actually wasn't that big of a deal, but it seemed that way at the time. It was going on 8 p.m. and we had just spent most of the day travelling from a New York State Park on the Canadian border to this new location in the state's Southern Tier. All we wanted to do at that moment was to unwrap and devour our deli subs from Price Chopper, but there was no table upon which to place them.

In all the years my family has camped — which totals around 17, incidently — we'd never before encountered a situtation like this. It was bizarre. Who steals picnic tables? As it turned out, the campers directly to our left appeared to have done so. They were using their furtive acquistition as an apparent beverage station.

Then again, maybe the people across the road with two tables on their site might have taken ours. Or just maybe, the family with an extra table stashed behind thier trailer were the culprits. Who knew?

Not knowiing where to turn, I wearily returned to our van and drove to the park office to report the situation.The woman at the desk said someone would be there soon. Meanwhile, I settled for eating my sub in a folding camp chair.

About a half hour later, a worker pulled up to our campsite in a beatup white pickup truck. I had expected that he would have a spare picnic table waiting in the truck bed, but he didn't. Instead, the weathered man went from campsite to campsite asking people if they were using their second table. Of course they were! Finally, the people with an extra table stashed behind their trailer said we could have it. The only problem was, their campsite was about 500 yards away from ours.

If you've never happened to carry a looming wooden NYS Park picnic table, let me tell you, they're heavy. Extremely heavy! Even with the park staffer carrying the other end, I only made it about halfway to our campsite before my arms started giving out. That's when my teenage son Sean took over, huffing and puffing the rest of the way.

Really, couldn't the people directly next door to us have just moved their Pepsi and plastic cups off their stolen table and given it to us? The whole thing would have been a whole lot easier.

That's not to mention the loud group of women who descended upon the women's bathroom at 10 p.m. that night and appeared to throw a party of their own within the confines of the sink area. I don't know exactly what they did in there for the next half-hour, but I think it's safe to say that i've never before had as good of a time as they appeared to be having in a public rest room.

Maybe they were sharing their own warm and fuzzy memories?