Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Back to Reality.

Someone recently told me that I don't "look like the camping type" and I'm not sure if that was a fat joke or if it was just a nod to my designer socks from Hanes. I actually love camping, but it was a different story when I was little because being in the woods in the pitch black is also fairly terrifying. I've progressed beyond that, mostly. I was also told a story when I was young about the son of my dad's co-worker who went camping and slept under a tree. That night a storm passed through and lightening struck the tree. The electrical current traveled through the roots and ended up passing right through the guy as he was sleeping, he later died. I recall at least one very specific camping trip afterwards where it began to rain and I demanded to sleep in our minivan. I also pleaded with my mom for her to sleep in there as well. I know she was quite fed up with me because it was the middle of the night and she was trying to sleep, but I was trying to keep her alive and I feel that's a good reason to wake someone up. Sorry mom!

Since moving to Idaho we, or more specifically I, have made time to camp a few times every year. We have some camping gear that is for the whole family. We have a larger tent and ways to cook and be comfortable outside. I also have some solo gear for those times when I'm alone. I have a dual sport motorcycle and wanted a way to camp off of the bike. Everything is small and light, but far less comfortable. With either set up I always have fun and besides, camping isn't really about comfort.

Then last weekend happened...

Every so often my friends and I will do a guys only camping trip. It's not one of those things where we are trying to rough it more than usual (which doesn't happen) or finally be in a place where it's acceptable to fart whenever you want (which does). As cheesy as it sounds, it's about connecting with the guys. It's about staying up late talking about everything without restrictions. Good old male bonding.

What made this most recent trip so different was for the first time ever, I slept in a camping trailer. It. Was. Amazing! It was a pop-up trailer with two queen sized beds, a stove, oven, sink, shower, and dining area. To eat at a table instead of trying to balance everything on my knees was amazing. To wake up in the morning without that familiar back pain from sleeping on the hard ground, because I spent my night on a soft mattress was unbelievable.

The ritual for most everyone on Sunday morning (leaving day) is to wake up early and begin the painful task of packing everything up for the drive home. There's normally a chill in the air and everyone is moving a little slow from lack of sleep or too much alcohol the night before. Everyone struggles to get things to fit in just the right way to be loaded up and more than one person is sure to have an item go missing. On the other side of camp, the pop-up trailer was clear, broken down and ready for travel before most people had finished their first cup of coffee. It was just that easy. I started to get this overwhelming feeling of sadness. Why? I knew the next time I would go camping, it would be back to my normal routine. Back to reality. On the next trip I'll spend my night tossing and turning, wondering what's outside my flimsy bit of cloth. I'll fight for space to put my bag or shoes or just myself, and from this day forward I'll remember that one beautiful night in the trailer where there was so much room on the bed it was almost lonely.

I'll admit, that kind of "camping" might upset some purists who feel that going into the wild with a small apartment defeats the purpose. They might be right, but damn, seeing how everyone looked and clearly felt the next morning, I feel okay about it.

On my way home I got to thinking about the camper (and how much I want one now) and realized that it's a good lesson to think about with the boys. I often post, and will continue to post, about the situations that cause me some headache, but really I love my boys and they are fantastic most of the time. In the moment though, it's hard to remember that they've been great all morning when they're both screaming as loud as they can for seemingly no reason after lunch. It's hard to remember the string of amazing days when you're in the middle of a really bad one. So from now on I'm gonna try to remember that night in the camper because no matter if the situation is really good or really bad, you're most likely gonna wake up that next morning and be thrown right back into a big steaming pile of normal, and that's really not such a bad thing.


  1. Beyond the comment on FB, I will say this to your last paragraph: Some of the better camping memories I had when I was little, was cramming into the tent with my parents and my brother. While it was cramped, I was small and it was rad.

    Don't look passed making memories in something simple like a tent.

    1. Great point! The lasvish camping evening was a fantastic new experience for me, but my family camping memories are certainly nothing fancy, and the boys are gonna have that same type of experience of squeezing into a tent that's just big enough for all of us.