Those of you who have known me for more than, say, 20 minutes know that I don’t camp. Hubs has been trying for years to get me fired up about it. “It’s great,” he repeatedly assures me. “The stars are brilliant. The air is clean. It’s quiet and peaceful. It’s nature.”
That may be true, but that’s not necessarily a selling point for me. While the serene, natural settings admittedly hold a modicum of appeal, there are a few sticky spots I struggle with.
1. Sleeping in the dirt. On rocks. Call me spoiled, but I like sleeping on soft comfy mattresses, without having to navigate my REM position around a rocky terrain. Yes, early man used to sleep on dirt and rocks, but then he invented the house. Camping is a step backwards in the evolutionary process.
2. When nature calls in the woods. “Pick a tree” is not how I normally choose a place to take care of my private business. I’m totally potty shy. Hubs has never seen me pee. Not once in 15 years. He thinks of me as some kind of pee-retaining dromedary, able to travel for weeks at a time without the need for a truck-stop pullover.
For the potty shy, there’s no greater nightmare than being spotted by a spouse, a forest ranger, or an entire brownie scout troop, squatting with my naked woo-hoo visible from every point on the compass, undoubtedly directly over a patch of poison oak because I have no freakin’ clue what it looks like, causing me to spend the rest of the week with my hand down my pants, scratching my lady parts like a twerking hillbilly.
3. Packing lists that require a expansive variety of bug repellants. Sprays, lotions, clip-ons, and candles. Voluntarily spending the weekend in a place that advises multiple products to keep from being eaten alive by insects is somewhat reminiscent of swimming at a beach that hosts a shark watch tower. If that water requires a shark watcher, I’m not going in it.
4. Bathing in ice-cold streams. Showers are like my mini-spa. Hot, long, with lots of suds. I get some of my best writing inspiration in the shower. It’s also a great place to have imaginary arguments with Hubs (which, obviously, I always win), thus negating the need to have them in real life. Splashing in a freezing creek, possibly with a stranger from the next tent over, my teeth chattering and goosebumps on high alert, is not conducive to creative thinking or marital problem solving. My brain is too busy screaming, “Why am I here??”
5. Bears. They’re big, ferocious, and usually hungry. Where we see a tent with four people in sleeping bags, they see a canvas microwave filled with Hot Pockets.
Poor Hubs has not been able to overcome my arguments, despite his enthusiastic descriptions of romantic twilight evenings, lit only by stars and insect-repelling candles.
Then one day, Hubs’ parents (veteran trailer campers) suggested we try a trailer as a fun compromise. Hubs gets his wilderness experience, while I get a real bed, an indoor potty, and a hot shower. Who knew?
A few days later, they pulled up with a 27′ trailer in tow. “It’s yours,” they announced proudly. “Try it out for the summer. If you like it, keep it. If you don’t, we’ll just sell it back.” It was an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Immediate exploration uncovered a microwave, queen-sized bed, indoor toilet/shower, hot water, fridge, and enough storage space for a week’s worth of clothes and red wine. This could work.
After brief instructions on towing requirements, site hook-ups, and something about dumping various colors of water at the trip’s end, we were set to go. The next weekend, we packed up and headed to a popular woodsy campground with another couple (separate trailers, of course). Trailer sales people love to wax on about how a small trailer can logistically sleep six people. I don’t know six people well enough for those kind of sleeping arrangements. A friend of Hubs commented, “A trailer drinks six, feeds four, and sleeps two.” Turns out he nailed it.
By the second day, I was hooked. It was wonderful. We slept. We ate. We drank. We talked about everything and nothing. I read three books. (We both agreed, no laptops, tablets, or cell phones allowed.) We were unplugged, and I loved it.
On the last night, as the temperature dropped, we built a crackling campfire, and the four of us sat in a small circle, bundled up and toasty, sharing wine and swapping hilarious stories about misspent youth. As the evening went by, someone suggested we make s’mores.
“What the hell are s’mores?” Hubs asked.
Conversation stopped faster than if he’d announced, “By the way, I’ve decided to shave my junk.”
Even I knew what s’mores were. “How can you not know this??” we all asked, “They’re a staple at every kids’ camp. You’ve never had a s’more??” “Nope,” he replied. “You’ll love them,” we assured him, “They’re fun.”
Lining up the Hershey bars, marshmallows, and graham crackers, I proceeded to show Hubs how to layer them into a gooey delight after toasting the marshmallow and using it to melt the chocolate. He stuck his marshmallow-topped stick into the fire, preparing for his first, and long overdue, s’more experience.
A couple minutes later, Hubs pulled his marshmallow out and found a charred, still-flaming ball. Seeing his dubious expression, the three of us burst out laughing, yelling “Blow it out! Blow it out!” Hubs tried several big puffs, only succeeding in exploding it into a dozen blackened, sticky pieces that somehow back-blew into his beard and down the front of his sweatshirt, with a flaming chunk landing on the back of his jeans.
By now, poor Hubs was running around the campsite, yelling, “Hot, hot, hot!!” repeatedly smacking himself in the face, trying to get the hot, gooey marshmallow out of his beard, while we were all doubled over in laughter, trying to tell him his pants were on fire.
“Hot, hot, hot!”
“Your pants are on fire.”
“Hot, hot, hot!”
“Your pants are on fire!”
“Hot, hot, hot!”
“Your pants are on fire!”
“Holy s***! My pants are on fire!”
I know, we’re all going to hell, but I haven’t laughed that hard in weeks.
As we got Hubs all put out and calmed down, we discovered charred, gooey marshmallow remnants on his clothes, in his hair, on the sand chairs, and even on the blankets, which we spent the next hour or so scraping up. “Yeah,” he grumbled, “s’mores are just super fun.” Okay, s’mores are off the list.
But this camping thing? We’ve reserved spots 75 and 76 for next weekend.
I can’t wait.