It’s past midnight, Earth time, and the big skylight in the roof of our yurt peers up into the splash of brilliant stars careening through the cold night sky. Far from city lights and surrounded by wildlife, yet snug with a lover in a comfortable bed in a funky round cabin, we have returned to Camp Mars.
Winter weather draws campers even closer, huddled around wood fires to roast foiled s’mores with marshmallow fluff and Ghirardelli chocolate chips. All smiles and sugargoop, oiled by a few brews, stories unfurl like smoke. The young one came from Ft. Lauderdale, where he edits adult web sites. Those two are from Miami, and are celebrating their third (week) anniversary with a Mars safari. The cowboy in the other yurt is fair dinkum, a real southern gentleman with polished boots and a black hat.
It’s Wildlife Weekend, and the daylight action included a scavenger hunt. I seem to have left my pink high heels at home, and the Secret Message from Space also eluded me. But there
were apparently some very well prepared — ahem — Boyscouts at this camp, it seems, for a number of pumps and other surprises materialized on the judging table at the weekly sunset potlatch.
Also on the judging agenda for Wildlife Weekend: birdhouse decorating. This surprisingly amusing contest had campers paint and decorate a variety of houses provided by Camp Mars.
The winner was a rainbow-shingled bungalow with a patio, complete with drinks and umbrella, with a little TV inside and porn on the screen. Truly fit for those penguins in New York when they come to vacation in Florida’s outback!
If all this sounds a bit tame for Wildlife Weekend, it might be. Campers here often rejoice in the mellow mood and are grateful for the quiet after staying at other rowdier gay campgrounds.
Still, Mars has a naughty “hut” and a nature trail with certain sexy surprises. And I am pretty sure I heard the cowboy holler Yee-Ha in his yurt sometime around two a.m. So it’s definitely not your mom’s preferred getaway.
Then again, Korin has happily weathered hurricanes and honky-tonk parties to be the solitary woman resident at Camp Mars. “There were over a dozen of us cowering on the floor of
the women’s bathroom during the Charlie.” And then there was another horrible storm, and another! But she says, despite losing a few (tree) limbs, nobody got hurt and soon enough all of the residents and camp owner Dale Dunston put things back together better than ever. Two new roads for resident campers reach into the pasture near the pool.
But there is still plenty of nature and countryside all around. Camp Mars is (hysterically) near Venus, Florida. Go past Arcadia to Highway 27. Ten miles south to the middle of not much, swing right to Venus, left on Goff and straight ahead into another landscape! It’s a two hour drive from Tampa Bay, but meditative Moon River on the far side of Crater Lake is so distant from the mania of 275 that you might as well be on Mars. FMI www.campmars.com
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