This year, the Epic Fail crew decided to go camping in Wisconsin. This was my second camping outing with the group. The first camping outing in Galena last year was terminated early by some bad weather.

The Campsite:
On recommendation from our friend Belfy, we chose Camp Lake Joy as this year’s campgrounds. We made our reservations several weeks in advance and took off for our 3.5 hour trip at around noon from the Naperville area. The drive up to Wisconsin was fairly uneventful, with the exception of Belfy’s erratic lane changes and Tourrettes flare-ups at other motorists.

As a side note to anyone wanting to get to Camp Lake Joy: Make sure you have a portable GPS system handy. The sign for the camp off of US-151 is barely noticeable at best, and when you’re traveling at 70 mph through winding and hilly roads, the turn-off is very easy to miss. We didn’t have a dash mounted GPS system, but luckily, I checked Google Maps on Belfy’s Blackberry just as we arrived within 2 miles of the campgrounds.

As we arrived at the Camp Lake Joy, we noticed one major thing, it was definitely a remote location. The closest major town, Platteville, was about 8 miles away (We hit the Walmart Supercenter there at least once a day for fresh food supplies). We got to the main office and got our tags for our campsite. When we originally booked the campsite, we were given tent sites 33 and 35, which was a secluded tent site tucked away in the back of the campgrounds and a hop away from the lake. Instead, we were given tent sites 45 and 46 which were located in the Group Sites area of the campground. What happened?? Well, a fairly large tree fell in the middle of site 35 and the owners thought that we would not have enough space in just one site, so they placed us in the much larger, but also much less secluded, sites 45 and 46. Being that it was Memorial Day weekend, the campsite was at capacity and we really didn’t have much of a choice.

When we arrived to the campsite, we noticed right away that we were just a hop away from the restroom/showering facility (bonus! at least for those of us that couldn’t rough it for the weekend) and that the campsite was tucked away in the corner of the Groups Site surrounded on 3 sides by trees. As we spotted sites for our tents however, we noticed a few things:
1. There was no truly flat ground for us to pitch our tents. We were on a slight angle and dubbed our campsite “Slanty Town”
2. The picnic tables were very weathered and one was close to falling apart.
3. We were near the restrooms, meaning that we were near the septic tank. Which we suddenly discovered that the septic vent pipes were right next to us. (Oh sh!t. Literally.)

The firepits were old truck wheel wells buried a couple of feet into the ground. I actually though this was pretty cool as there was no danger of having the fire above ground and spreading dangerously and it focused the heat upwards nicely for cooking. The fire wood on the other hand was green and sucked when it came to starting the fire. Unfortunately, we dealt with the green wood and smoke and steam it caused all weekend long.

The first night was fairly uneventful as our neighbors slowly came in and filled in the rest of the Group Sites and we cooked up some old brats and hot dogs for dinner. It didn’t get truly interesting until the next day.

Day 2:

On Saturday morning I awoke at around 9 AM to the smell of a nicely burning fire. It turns out I was the last of our group of seven to wake up and everyone was waiting on me to get breakfast started, as I was set to make sausage, egg, and cheese muffin sandwiches. The meal was so good (and so late) that we didn’t eat again until dinner, where I made campfire beef stew from scratch.

That afternoon, we decided to go shooting at the Yellowstone Lake State Park Rifle Range, which was a nice little open shooting range on the west end of the park. The frame that they had built to place targets on was absolutely riddled with bullet holes and at some points looking like a few more shots would have taken it down. We grabbed a few targets and fired off a few .22 calibers and 9mm pistols. It was fun, oddly relaxing and a great little side trip that we all enjoyed..

When we arrived back is when the fun began though. As we were preparing our dinner, we noticed that our neighbors in the Group sites (We later found out they were all Mexican) were building a bar. Yes, a bar. Not just a small one sided bar that people could set their drinks on… No, a full service bar. It was surely a strange sight, but as the night grew on, the sight was the least of our worries.

Slowly, about 30 people gathered around the bar area and began playing extremely loud House and Tejana music (weird mix, I know). Now, normally I don’t mind loud music, and I’ve been known to turn the knob to eleven a few times myself, but here we are in the middle of bufu, camping and trying to relax; the last thing I need is loud music disturbing the peace and tranquility of nature. Well, if that wasn’t bad enough, our neighbors on the other side (who were Eastern European) started throwing a rave (at least that’s what it looked like with all the lights and the thumping techno music). To top it off, the Mexicans had a few dogs that were just barking and howling throughout the day. At first we seriously considered complaining to management, but we figured we didn’t want to sound like old fogeys disturbing someone’s good time. 9 o’clock came and went and the music only got louder and both crowds became more boisterous. 10 o’clock hit and we figured they would surely obey the posted rule of no loud music after 10… No luck. The clock finally struck 11pm and whereas most people were either sleeping or gathered quietly around their fires, the music from the both sites was still as loud as ever.

A couple of us were sitting around the fire, when shortly after 11pm we noticed a golf cart (the preferred method of transportation at the campgrounds) drive slightly past us and then stop. We then noticed a man walk towards the loud party goers then the only thing that was heard was “SHUT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!” As loud as the music was, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone yell that loudly before. It turned out that the man was the owner of the campground responding to complaints from other campers. He wasn’t to happy to have to come out and made sure that everyone in the area knew it. Needless to say, the music was quickly cut off and all the partiers were down to whispers. They waited about 30 minutes and then turned the music back on at a very low level and kept their conversations down in fear that the owner would come back out. It was at that point that I called it a night.

Day 3:

The next morning, I awoke to find out that one of the Mexican kids had their face severely bitten by one of the dogs they had. I was so dead tired that I slept through the whole thing.

Well, we were shocked but the incident was over and everyone was waiting on me for breakfast.  The previous day’s breakfast was so good, we had a second go at the Sausage, Egg and Cheese Muffin Sandwiches as well as some semi-retarded looking pancakes.

After breakfast, we decided to see if we could get some fishing done.  The girls had bought live bait the day before and we headed on down to the lake to hopefully catch dinner.   It was a slightly windy day with gusts coming from the East and as one old man who was fishing said… “They ain’t bitin’.  The wind’s comin’ in from the East and the fish just ain’t bitin’.”  Well, I love fishing, even if I don’t catch anything, so I cast out my line anyway.  We were casting out about 10 yards and reeling in, when Peggy noticed that the fish were right in front of us in the shallows.  At that point I started casting shorter and was getting a few nibbles, but no catches.  We were there for about 45 minutes when a family came by and decided to start fishing right next to us.  Maybe 10 mins after they started casting out, one of the boys, who was no more than 7 or 8 years old, gets a bite and hauls in a nice sized panfish.  We all just sat and stared slack-jawed in disbelief that a little boy just showed us up.  Well, we kept casting and didn’t catch anything, the kid in the meantime got a couple more bites.  Well, after a couple of hours of that, we called it a day and went back to camp.

Some of our group decided not to stay until Monday, so they took off shortly after fishing and we were left with just Belfy, Jester and myself.

We gathered around the campfire for one last night of drinking and relaxation and noticed that the bar was starting to get kind of loud again.   Two of the guys from the group came over and invited us over.  At this point I was slightly buzzed and figured why not.  We’re in the middle of nowhere, I didn’t have to be at work the next day and if I got too drunk I could stumble over to my tent.  We went over and were greeted with a barrage of cold beers.  It turned out that those guys weren’t so bad after all, they might have been loud, but other than that, they were pretty cool.   We had a few beers, mingled with the crowd, which at this point included some campers from some of the other sites, and partied until I couldn’t party anymore (which happened to be about 1 o’clock.  I know, kind of lame).

Day 4:

I rolled out of bed at around 10:30 am (I had to roll to get out because of the angle I was positioned in Slantytown).   I sat down at the campfire and was ready to make breakfast in preparation for breaking down camp for the trip home.   Just sitting there, I suddenly got the urge to sneeze.  I turned my head to the side and sneezed pretty violently.  I heard a pop and felt a snap in my right side.  Throughout the weekend, there was an ongoing joke about some weird injury occuring at the campsite and then having the doctor say, “So, how DID the accident happen?”  Well Doc, I sneezed.

I quickly grabbed my side and started freaking out and saying over and over, “That’s not good.”  I stood up and felt something shift and just not feel right so I sat back down.  Then the pain hit me and Jester asked if he should call emergency services and Belfy said to try lying down.  I got down on the ground and suddenly found myself gasping for air and saying, “Make the call, call 911!”.  I got real dizzy and nauseous from the lack of air as I was listening to Jester make the call.  No more than 2 minutes later, an EMT who just happened to be camping a few sites over and just happened to wake up and just happened to turn on her pager rushed over and began to help me out.  A few minutes later, a couple more girls came to help out and were then followed shortly thereafter by the ambulance.  The ride through the hilly campground was probably the most excuriating thing… that is until we got to the hospital.  The whole ride, the girls kept freaking out about my blood pressure.  Well, of course my blood pressure was bouncing up and down.  1. I’ve just been injured of which I didn’t know the severity, so I was stressed out about that. 2. I’m fairly good at meditation and can bring my heart rate down with a bit of deep breathing.  3.  A couple of the girls in the ambulance were pretty hot and because they were camping were not really dressed for the situation at hand.  And top it off with them bending or reaching over me… well let’s just say some people pay for the show I was getting.

Well, we get to the hospital and they put my in a bed and then started taking my vitals.  The doctor came in and very causally just started poking around and feeling my side and chest and then he hit the spot.  I not only jumped, I yelled so loud I think I did damage to my vocal chords.  Yes, he found the spot alright, but we didn’t know if it was a break, a dislocation or a tear.  Well after some x-rays, we confirmed it was a muscle tear in my ribs.  The doc pretty much told me there was nothing they could do other than give me some meds and tell me to relax for 2 weeks.

Jester helped get me to the local Walgreens and pick up my prescription to 800mg of Ibuprofen to keep the inflammation down and Hydrocodone for the pain.  We got back to the campsite and poor Belfy had already torn down the entire site on his own.  Well, we finished helping him pack up (or rather Jester helped, I just sat back in pain).

The drive home was fairly uneventful and Belfy actually managed to drive at a safe speed in conideration of the pain I was in.

All in all, it was a fun trip, except for the muscle tear, and hopefully we’ll be able to camp one of these times without some major catastrophe.