This past February I went on my first all LGBT cruise through RSVP Vacations (see: Anticipation is Half the Fun). We went as part of a group thing through The Woods Campgrounds in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Not only were a lot of people from The Woods on the trip but I was with my husband and a good friend who shared our room with us. We had the best time in the months before the cruise anticipating the fun we were going to have and prepping for the parties that were planned. We bought costumes, made t-shirts and just did our best to be part of the festivities. There was a “Where are you From” party where we wore t-shirts embellished with images that identified us with the state of Maryland. For the Pirate Party we were decked in the best pirate garb we could find at a party store, complete with headbands, eye-patches, and puffy pirate shirts. At the Leather Party for the first time in my life I wore leather including a chest harness purchased for me by my friend. And at the Gold Party we covered our bodies in gold body paint and glitter, wearing glittery gold bathing suits and actually spray painted our athletic shoes metallic gold. We looked great!!
The cruise was one of the best times I ever had in my life… and I loved it so much that even though we really can’t afford it, we booked the next RSVP cruise scheduled for February 2015. The cruise line for this trip was Mediterranean Sea Cruises or MSC and we were on the MSC Divina. It was the first time that RSVP had used this cruise line and we just thought it was wonderful. A beautiful ship with a terrific staff and great food. The shows were fantastic whether they were put on by MSC and those brought on board by RSVP. We were thrilled but were also surprised to hear a lot of people complaining about the ship and its services. You see it seems that a lot of the people had been on board during previous RSVP cruises when they used another cruise line and everyone that was able to compare the other ship’s service (even though they were older ships) with this ship making claims that the latter treated its passengers much better. All I know is that I felt like we were treated like royalty and I loved it.
I will say that the worst part of the trip for us was the end. We had never been on a cruise before and didn’t realize that debarkation would take so long so we scheduled our flight 5 hours after docking. Who knew that even though we arrived at 7:00 AM we would not be allowed off our ship until 10:30. We barely made our flight and I have to tell you that during this part of the trip I felt the most anxiety. We did ask at the counter if we could get off earlier telling the clerks that we were going to miss our flight but they had no sympathy for us telling us that we should have come to them earlier in the week. This might be true but we didn’t know until the night before that we wouldn’t get off until 10:30 and then didn’t realize we would still have to wait in line to go through customs. But in the end we did catch our flight so it all turned out well. As I said we loved it so much that we plan to do it again next year. In fact we are trying to do it as a group thing with our social group and it looks like right now we might have as many as 9 people going.
I don’t know why I continue to try to have friends join me in anything fun I do or things I love. Sometimes sharing the experiences are wonderful like the time our social group went to The Woods Campgrounds as a group event, about 5 years ago, as usual I arranged this particular event like I arrange 98% of all the events for that group. Everyone that came loved the experience. We had the best time and did it a second time as a group. Granted these were both small groups but those that came loved Illumination Weekend and the Country Western Weekend. The owners and management of The Woods Campgrounds are great people and do their best to make sure that their visitors have a wonderful time. Of course there are times when things go wrong but these are generally out of the control of the people that run the grounds, such things as power outages or terrible storms. Sometimes there are so many people here (this place is very popular among LGBT people and even lots of straight people) it can be difficult for the workers to keep up with such things as the shower area but how can you clean an area in the morning when hundreds of people are trying to shower in a 3 hour period… and for heavens sake, these are campgrounds after all… you are not talking about a Marriott Hotel. These are the woods, the wilds, the outdoors, things happen! Bears (the animal kind) have been known to trudge through on occasion, wind storms have suddenly come up and have blown tents down, thunderstorms have been known to roll through and soak people’s belongings, but in between these instances the sun is shining, the pool is cool and fun on the hottest of days, the trails are immaculately maintain, the lake is available for a early morning paddle boat ride. The dance club is hopping at night and the events and parties are amazing. These people (the owners) know how to treat their guests and generally everyone that comes here have the best time ever.
Sometimes sharing the experience of coming to The Woods Campgrounds backfire. Some people don’t like the outdoors and sudden changes in weather and don’t have a good time. Usually when this happens people put the experience behind them and don’t mention it again but every now and then there are mean people who do their best to punish you for the experience and having tried to share something with them you thought they might enjoy. I mean relentlessly and forever make you feel bad for having brought them along. (See: Worst Experience Ever – It Goes Both Ways!!) On one occasion we brought a couple that absolutely hated the experience. I think that they thought that being a gay campgrounds The Woods Campgrounds would be have paved trails with barriers blocking the wilderness and weather from encroaching in on perfectly manicured lawns and exquisitely sculpted topiary. Instead they found dirt and rock trails guided you everywhere and now and then a chipmunk would scurry across ahead of them, they found the parties that were planned might be the victims of mother nature as she pissed all over the festivities and unfortunately on the weekend we brought this particular couple the weather just did not cooperate, but despite this everyone in the campgrounds doing their best to enjoy themselves these two made sure that I was miserable for having cursed them with such a horrid weekend. While people partied and got drunk and we certainly did as well and despite forewarning our friends that at these campgrounds the nights were generally long with dancing and drinking they complained about lack of sleep. I’ve already posted about this weekend in Worst Experience Ever – It Goes Both Ways!! and I was told my almost all my friends to whom these two spoke afterwards that they likened the storms that intruded on our Mardi Gras weekend to that of Katrina and the aftermath. That the shower area stank because as they showered men would be shitting in the toilet stalls and they were personally offended by the odor and the whole experience was the worst thing they had ever experienced in their entire lives.
Nearly three years later at least one of these two continues to be vocal about his negative experience. Whenever he mentions the name The Woods Campgrounds he refers to it as “The Woooooooods” doing his best to extend the words with an annoying whine to emphasis his disdain for what most of us find to be a wonderful LGBT experience. Even when we meet for dinner and the campgrounds aren’t up for discussion he goes out of his way to ask so “How are The Woooooooods” or “Are you going to The Woooooooods” or whenever something sexual comes up I hear “I bet they love that at The Wooooooods”. You know I get hit, he hates The Woods Campgrounds but why does he insist on punishing me every time we see each other over “The Wooooooods”. I’m to the point where I don’t want to even talk to him anymore for fear that “The Wooooooods” will be brought up. Heaven forbid he overhears me discussing the The Woods Campgrounds to other people, trying to tell them how wonderful it is.
A couple of dinners ago I was talking about The Woods Campgrounds when he suddenly said “Oh are you talking about The Woooooooods” I said “Yes but you hated the place” trying to make sure that the person to whom I was raving about the grounds would know the negative comments about to be espoused were coming from a unique perspective. I recently got a tattoo on my left ass cheek and shared a picture of it (I’m not bashful) my friend said “I bet they love that at “The Wooooooods”. Are you going to have a bulls eye put around your hole so the men at the “LAKEY LAKEY” will be able to find you?” “LAKEY LAKEY” is his derogatory term for the lake were men meet late night and will often reference it in the same whining tone as “The Woooooods” indicating his disgust with the place.
I received a call the other day from a friend (part of a couple) that were thinking about coming to The Woods Campgrounds but after hearing from these friends about the experience they are afraid to come. I was honest and told them that if they were expecting 5 star hotel experience then The Woods Campgrounds were probably not for them. I haven’t heard back from them but the last thing I am going to do is rave about this wonderful place only to have it thrown in my face at nausea for having given someone the worst experience of their lives.
Okay so if nothing else you need to read the last paragraph of my posting: Worst Experience Ever – It Goes Both Ways!!. We had brought along another couple that claimed to have a wonderful time their first time at the The Woods Campgrounds and had even talked about the first couple and the horrible experience they had had. This second couple were a lot less worried about weather or dirty trails or the smell of man taking a shit in the public restrooms and in fact they wanted to come back for a second experience. I remember their anticipation for the 2nd trip. One of them posted that they were going on a weekend Gaycation and couldn’t wait. Now these two had no excuse for complaining about The Woods Campgrounds because this was going to be their second time coming here and they knew what they were getting into.
Now the first time they came the older of this couple had anticipated lots of sexual activity and would barely take his eyes off of Grindr checking out the men that were nearby. He would excitedly show us pictures of any hot men nearby and would communicate with some of them in hopes of setting up a tryst for he and his lover with these others. It was almost comical though because whenever people would invite them he wouldn’t go meet them claiming that he didn’t want to appear desperate. Later at a party he pointed out a couple to whom he had been talking to through Grindr but didn’t want to appear desperate so would not talk to them so I went over to this couple and introduced myself, called my other “non-desperate” friend over and told them, “This is the guy you’ve been Griding with” and left them alone. The next thing you know he is walking off with them and later when I saw him he was now part of their circle of friends wandering off with people to go get alcohol laced slushies. He was having a great time, but later when he came back to the camper he would say nothing happened as he once again scoured Grindr “not” desperately looking for sex. Don’t get me wrong, he was fun but you had to distract him from his smartphone and even then he seemed to distracted with activities that were yet to be realized. When I suggested he go to the Lake at midnight because men would meet there he said “That’s only for fat old desperate men that don’t care who they have sex with.” You see being in his mid to late 40’s the ideal age for him is 18 to 25, now he was saying this without ever having gone to the lake. He had formed an opinion with no facts because if he had ever gone he would know that the statement he was making was wrong. Yes there are fat ugly desperate men there but there are also hot “twinks” as well. Of course at his age he’d be lucky to get them himself without using his much younger and more handsome boyfriend as the spider web.
So during this first trip he met many, many, many people but I’m not sure that he and his lover had sex with anyone other than with each other but they put that weekend behind them having the best time ever and said they couldn’t wait to come back. My husband (then partner… this was before marriage was legal for us) and I were disappointed that the next time they would come they wouldn’t be staying with us, you see they had made so many friends during that first weekend that they had arranged to stay with others, not just for one weekend but for several weekends. Now that they had “better” options they no longer needed to “use” us for accommodations. Our friend would tell us that he was communicating with the multitude of men they had met here and could come up and stay on practically any weekend they wanted as guests so they would not likely be staying with us… mostly because the people he met with were ideal candidates for sex and we of course were not, nor did we want to be.
So we hardly saw this couple during their second time at the Woods but when we did the first “over sexed, Grindring, non-desperate person” was becoming more and more negative. It seemed that he found out that the younger of the two men they were staying with was actually in his 40’s too and much too old for him to be interested (the man appeared to be in his 30’s… anyone in their 40’s is out of the question and off the table for my Grindr friend) so sex with them was not going to happen, despite his having led this couple to believe there would be an orgy at some time over the weekend. So at this point he was even avoiding the couple who were kind enough to allow them to stay with them for fear they might make advances and he wouldn’t be able to get out of it. He did brag of a younger 20ish man he did couple with at some point but was becoming more and more negative about The Woods Campgrounds. His attitude regarding the “Gay Wonderland) was becoming more in line with the first couple that we have brought that hated the place so much. It seems that the longer he went without have sex or being able to arrange a group get together his perception of the men that would come here were “FAT, DISGUSTING, OLD, and DESPERATE FOR SEX”. What’s sad is that this grinding friends lover actually likes The Woods Campgrounds, and likes it a lot however with his partner’s paradigm switch they will no longer come here.
So now I have two sets of friends that bad mouth The Woods Campgrounds. One set tells everyone they meet about it being the most disgusting experience they ever had and the others tell of how only fat disgusting old men desperate for sex camp here. Now the reason I started this posting with the discussion of the cruise is that now that I am trying to arrange the RSVP cruise as a group event “The Woooooods” person is already damning that trip talking of hidden fees and extraordinary airfare costs exaggerating those fees during our dinners. You can’t win! When you find something you think is fun and love it, keep it to yourself, its not worth trying to share it, it will only lead to heartache and misery. Vacationing with friends, even for a weekend, is a BIG MISTAKE!