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Roughing It

It takes a lot of energy to enjoy the great outdoors.

We had only been driving for an hour when my dad started belting out Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

“Bye, bye Miss American pie, drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry …”

Just make it stop, I thought. Please.


This day, in our car, the music wouldn’t die. My mom helpfully tried to reassure us it was going to be a great family camping trip, but I could see my older sister rolling her eyes as texted on her bedazzled flip phone. Sheets of rain inundated the windshield, and my seventh-grade self wished that I had brought my Walkman to drown out the sounds of what shaping up as the worst family camping trip in the history of humankind.

We weren’t campers. Our idea of roughing it was cots in the backyard – and then moving indoors when the bugs came out or when it got chilly. But it was my uncle’s turn to pick the family trip and unfortunately for us, in his mind he was the reincarnation of Daniel Boone.

I remember being immediately jealous of my cousins when we arrived at the campground. They had a camper with running water and beds, while we were stuck in leaky tents with sleeping bags. As I helped my dad set up our tents in the rain, I wondered if I could convince him to check us into a nearby hotel.

The rain never let up that first night. I tossed and turned, wondering why I wasn’t soaked and if coyotes really liked to eat little girls – like my uncle the pathfinder told me.

About 40 million Americans go camping, traveling an average of 136.8 miles to their destinations – helped by fuels made from oil and natural gas.

74% of adult campers used a smartphone while camping – phones with components made with natural gas and oil.

While Millennials account for about 31 percent of the adult population, they account for 38 percent of campers.

In the morning, the sun finally came out. It was a new day, and my uncle led all the cousins to the pool to lift our spirits. After being greeted with a sign that said the pool was closed due to “germs” (use your imagination), we decided to go horseback riding instead. I remember being jealous of my older cousins who got to ride the grownup horses while I was stuck on a pony in the kiddie section. That is, until one of my cousins got bucked off her horse, and we had to promptly leave and find the nearest emergency room.

By that second night I think all of us were ready to call it quits. But when we got back from the ER, my cousin with a few stiches and a scraped knee, my uncle had hotdogs and hamburgers on the grill – one final Hail Mary to salvage the trip. Believe it or not, as we sat around the fire roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories, our family camping trip didn’t seem so bad after all.

When I finally returned to civilization I buried that memory as deep as I could. But looking back some 13 years later, I now think of that trip as one of my favorite childhood memories – one that gets sweeter and exponentially funnier with time.

While I still don’t know how we all made it through those two days, I do know that those camping memories were the product of many things – transportation, the campsite, outdoor equipment and more – all powered and/or supported by energy from natural gas and oil.

Natural gas and oil: Powering the moments that matter.


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