A tent guy discovers camper air conditioning

When I write about regular people, especially in an outdoor column, I try not to make fun of them.

Even when they say and do stoopid stuff.

Honesty is vital to journalism, but so is tact and fairness. A cheap shot is a cheap shot. The key is choosing the right target.

That's why making fun of myself is such a joy. There's no worry, no chance for offense. I know what I am — a sometimes funny, often annoying feature writer with boundless energy but no aptitude for tools, machinery or vehicles of any kind.

Which brings us to the camper.

My wife and I just got what is called an A-frame camper. We have no idea what we're doing. We took our first trip to Myakka River State Park.

You should have seen me backing that trailer into our campsite. The only thing missing was music from the old "Benny Hill Show." I kept turning the wrong way, then trying again, and making the same mistake.

We're lucky I didn't back into the lake.

D'oh! D'oh! And d'oh!

When we unhitched the camper and plugged in our power cable, the lights wouldn't come on and neither did the air conditioning.

Uh-oh.

This could be bad. Then I looked over and saw that the cable had come unplugged. I plugged it back in and everything worked.

Then we couldn't light the burner on the water heater. Finally, we gave up. The next morning Naomi realized what went wrong.

We had never turned it on. So I flicked a switch from "off" to "on." Then we had hot water.

We never did figure out the refrigerator or the grill, but the gas stove worked. My scrambled eggs were our first meal. For dinner, Naomi's grilled corn and sausage were much better.

The best part of our cluelessness was that it didn't matter. We had a great time. I'm an old tent guy, but I have to admit that AC is pretty nice for Florida camping in 85-degree heat.

We weren't the only ones trying something new at Myakka River. The guy next to us in the campground locked his keys in his car. While he waited for a locksmith to drive all the way out to the state park, Naomi made him a sausage sandwich.

But I wouldn't want to make fun of him. Everybody makes mistakes and figures them out. He was just a regular guy stumbling into camping life.

Just like us.