THAT OLD CHESTNUT: There's a joke that's been around for approximately a thousand years and it goes a little something like this: "Camping, for me, is anywhere beneath the fourth floor of a hotel." Heard it, or some variation? It doesn't garner the biggest laughs, and it points out a rather broad generalization which may not hold much water: Camping people and hotel people are two different sets of people. But we disagree. There are many people who enjoy both, and, moreover, crave a setting and a stay-over that has a little bit of both, though maybe more of the Great Outdoors. If this is you -- if you're an in-betweener on the matter, like many are -- you might want to toodle over to Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is launching the RentMyTent program on Monday, July 7. Yep, you'll be under the sky and by the trees as you saw logs by night (as in sleep, not actual log-sawing) but your tent will be set up and waiting for you. Isn't that a tiny dash of hotel-style mixed in with camping life?
THE DETAILS: Campsite fees are normally eighteen bucks for people who haul in and set up their own gear. You'll pay that, plus another $67 to have someone do the whole shebang and set-up for you. It'll be "waiting for you on the day of your arrival and taken down on the day of departure" so, yep, we do mean set-up, not spread out on the ground awaiting assembly. How to nab this make-things-easy-breezy deal? Stay two nights and book at least four days in advance. You'll need to rent a campsite through www.recreation.gov first and then head over to the Lassen Volcanic site to set up RentMyTent. And the tent you'll snooze in? A 17' x 9' Adventure Tent. You just need to show up with sleeping bags (cots and lanterns'll be found inside the tent). Sound like a good hotel-camp combo? You're still outdoors, breathing Lassen-lovely air, but your room -- we mean your tent -- is all taken care of. Maybe that old chestnut of a joke deserves a rewrite.