Friday, July 20, 2007

Campin' Out

This weekend I am taking the boys camping. Considering how much we enjoy outdoor activities, you'd think this is something that we regularly do. But it's not. I have achieved exactly ONE night sleeping in the great outdoors in my entire 42 years of life. And I didn't really sleep, I laid in a tent listening to the sounds until morning came. That was last year, and this year we are going to do it again, for two nights this time. We are joining my sister Mary Beth and her family who we went with last year. Since then they have bought a big, bad used camper named Honey. I will put my tiny little tent up somewhere in it's shadow.

I have amassed a giant pile of "gear" that we are going to stuff into my little truck somehow. I think I can do this. I was talking to Becky (our other sister) on the phone about it and she said: "If Mary Beth will put up with it you know it can't be that rough." She has a point.


It wasn't too bad. I'd even do it again. Maybe even for longer. This big reason for this might be that we had perfect weather. Come to think of it just about every camping horror story that people have felt compelled to tell me about in some way involves some weather influence. Rain, bugs, landslide, avalanche, they are all out of the equation when it is sunny, mid-seventies, with a gentle breeze. The kind of weather where you want to be outside for as many moments as you can possibly pack in to a day before it goes away. That's what we had. Cool nights, but not too cold. Low humidity. I can think of many potentially torturous situations that I might be willing to endure if I could simultaneously say to myself: My, isn't it NICE out here, so glad I get to be outside in it! So with that in mind, I offer some of my observations about this whole curious camping thing, because I said I would:

I noticed that:

I didn't sleep the first night. Well maybe for a few moments closer to morning but the majority was spent awake. But this happens to me whenever I'm in a new place, even in the Knickerbocker Hotel. So I can't blame it on being in a tent. I thought that getting less sleep the night before (due to the Margarita party) might help with that, but no. I did like being outdoors, and our little tent is cozy! There were a lot of sounds to listen to, such as people talking, setting off fireworks, and coming in late and backing up their fifth wheel. These things wouldn't have been cause for concern except for how they seemed like they were happening one inch from my tent wall.

I now know that you have to put away every piece of food or thing that smells like it might be food at night. We tried to do this but the first night a package of fudge stripe cookies got left on the picnic table. A raccoon came and ate every single one of them. That would be one thing but if you've ever handled one of those packages they are LOUD and I listened to the whole thing, wondering if I could get to my camera and get a picture for you (but I didn't) The kids found this incident endlessly fascinating and they even named the unseen rascal "Fudgy Stripe." The next night he came back and went through the garbage and tore into a bag of hot dog buns. Then they decided to re-name him "Fudgy Buns" which set off giggling that is still going on.

There is sort of a weirdness about sharing space with so many strangers, all going about the business of daily camping life in full view of each other. And trudging to the bathrooms in various states of dress and appearance. It kind of reminded me of the communal living at college, and it didn't bother me like I thought it might have. The experienced campers seemed to be used to it. It's just what you do there.

A campground is not a good place to be if you are a germophobe. Or are intensely bothered by dirt, or the presence of bugs. I tend to be a bit of each of these things in my normal life, but I made a conscious effort not to let them get the best of me on this trip. And sure enough I came to find out that these things, although troubling, are really not worth getting worked up over. They are there, and you deal with it. (and then wash everything and everyone real good when you get home!)

Camper envy is an official pastime at a campground. People walk around noticing the details of other people's stuff and discussing how it might be better to have that. I tried not to get sucked into it (although there are some CUTE string lights out there) mostly because I felt claustrophobic whenever I went into the camper and it seemed to undo the goodness of being outside in the nice weather which is the thing I liked about camping. But I say that NOW. I know it's how they all start out.

It's hard to get very cranky when you are in the company of a group of deliriously happy children. Cousins who need to be together. Having fun fun fun swimming and digging at the beach, finding petosky rocks, tossing pretzels into the mouths of seagulls, riding in canoes, trying to catch fish, metal detecting, exploring, riding bikes, burning things up in the campfire, going for ice cream. We did it all.

And finally, like any trip long or short, good or bad, how nice it is to come back to your own home sweet home, where everything is just how you like it, and you crazy cat is there waiting, and a husband who unpacked the whole car and put the towels in the washing machine while I went to lay down on the couch.


Susang said...

Michael and I went camping quite a bit when we did our Route 66 trip. If I can manage to not freak out while in a tent at night that's been surrounded by hungry raccoons, I'm sure you'll manage just fine. You might feel a little achy in the morning, but it'll go away after awhile and you'll have a blast with the boys.

Mindy said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I remember when you guys did that, I was amazed. Right now we're still packing. I was having trouble getting the big flashlight to work, but I knew it could also come in handy as a holder for baked beans.

Aunt Kathy said...

I haven't been camping, unless you count sleeping on the boat years ago, & I do NOT wish to try it. Give me a nice motel!

Anonymous said...

After camping, Ramona asked if Tim and Jeff could live with us now because she is used to it. Cale wanted to know when we are going again because that trip was too short. Hats off to Mindy for taking the boys on her own!
Mary Beth