I Went Camping. And I Liked It

camping wrong

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.

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  1. says

    Ouch! Poor hubs, why in the world did he not know about s’mores?! LOL The last time I camped was when I was in 6th grade and it was required or they would not let us move up to the next level. I loved it! I slept on the ground, saw a shooting star and and splashed on the river! Good times!
    Camping with a trailer sounds heavenly but I don’t think I’ll try camping with 2 small kids because KIDS. Although we do not have bears here, I might be driven to look for one so I can feed him my kids!

  2. says

    You had me at “causing me to spend the rest of the week with my hand down my pants, scratching my lady parts like a twerking hillbilly.” This piece cracked me up. And geese, I’m from Brooklyn and even I know what a s’more is!

  3. says

    I hate camping, but I’ll forge a compromise: I’ll read every blog post you write about camping. It’s fun to “watch” you and your hubs conquer (or not) the great outdoors.

  4. says

    Oh, how I needed to read this today! I am not a camper either but my husband and kids love to camp and we are going on our (now) annual scalloping trip 4th of July weekend, and we’re camping. Yes, RV camping…but still. Sigh….

  5. says

    LOL! I used to love camping. Now, I’ll just camp out in a hotel. :D maybe if hubby ever breaks down and gets a camp trailer, I’ll go. GREAT post, Ms. V.

  6. says

    Great post! Sounds like so much fun. As a kid we went camping for every family vacation, tent camping! We did stay in campgrounds with showers and toilets, but still essentially sleeping on the ground… My attitude at this point is I have fulfilled my lifetime allotment of camping.

  7. Goddess says

    This is great! I loved that trip and had been really looking forward to reading your blog post about it! As usual you have exceeded my expectations! Great job my friend! One of the most relaxing and entertaining camping trips ever! Im still laughing about the Smores event and seeing Kenny walking away, sporting those burning embers of molten marshmellow on his face, Hoody and pant leg. The lack of expression on his face as he’s walking away saying “Yea, Smores are fun”. Such a good time and cant wait for the next trip!

  8. says

    I have always liked camping that involved decent weather and a bed that is somehow elevated. As for my twin sis, her attitude is that she can enjoy nature from a museum and that concierges were invented for a reason. So glad you had fun, even if at your husband’s expense.

  9. says

    27 foot trailer? Bequeathed to you? Wow – very blessed! My last camping experience was a few years back with my two kids. Our tent was nestled amongst trailer haven. We woke up with ice on the canopy (yes it was August, how did you know?) and the sound of trailerland’s generators whirring away. As we hastily struck camp we were saluted by warmly dressed, coffee gripping trailer folk. Enjoy 75 and 76 and maybe take pity on that blue and shivering tent woman …

  10. says

    As I have heard of Ken’s s’mores episode, I’ve been wondering about you & the camping experience! Camping is so much more enjoyable with the modern conviences but REAL camping would definitely not be your cup of tea! So glad to hear you are willing & able to go again! It just gets more fun!

  11. says

    My husband and I have spent many nights under the stars. I love camping, but as I get older, I prefer a few more luxuries, like at least and air mattress…and a shower…and a door to a cabin. As always, snort out loud funny!

  12. says

    Sounds like an excellent time, Vikki! I always tell my husband that I want to do that someday. Years ago, our band played an outdoor festival and we showed up totally unprepared. My husband decided to sleep next to the campfire, rolled over and set his pants on fire. But…our friends were smart and brought an RV. They were sitting in comfy chairs drinking beers, they even had a TV. (Not that I’d want that necessarily on a camping trip) But right now, the idea of sitting and talking over glasses of wine, eating s’mores, reading…it sounds glorious!

  13. says

    I could camp in a trailer, but there is no way I am going to sleep in a tent! For every single reason you listed!! I can’t believe his pants caught on fire…that is hilarious. Glad he was ok though. He’ll come back around on the s’mores!

    • says

      Michelle, yes, Hubs will live to tell the tale, but he wasn’t happy at the time! Of course, his wife and two best friends howling with laughter probably didn’t help… :)

  14. says

    My son (age 16) is going on a 3-week biking/camping trip this summer (starting out in Eugene, Oregon!) which is something I did when I was his age. I haven’t been camping since then, but the RV thing? THAT is something I would try too because like you, I’m all about the bed and potty. So glad you had fun AND you’re going back — no better bonding experience than camping for sure.:)

  15. Sue says

    My ‘van man’ was delighted to hear that you are a camping convert…. He now has hopes that if he just perseveres, I too will come to love it too. He even bought a van because the tenting thing just wasn’t getting the results he wanted! Sadly, like Carol, I am not won over yet… we’ve been away on 2 trips in the van, and if you are game to read about them you can find find them on the travelpod website http://www.travelpod.com/s/Travelling+hopefully+suo?st=user
    PS its the only time I have blogged…a way to cope with the outdoors, its good therapy and I try to stay positive

  16. Sue says

    PPS I know Ive said it before, but its worth saying again … I love your blog, it reminds me to laugh at myself. You are inspirational.

  17. says

    The last time I went camping was 1974 with my Girl Scout troop. What a disaster. It was freezing (March isn’t always the best time to camp here in New England) and I didn’t like using the port-a-potty in the woods. Not to mention the bug bites. I have no desire to do it again…but maybe a well-equipped camper would change my mind.

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