Why I'll Never Be Confused With Mother Nature...

Camping is a summer pastime for many families. It’s a way to get away from it all, to explore the outdoors, to challenge yourself. It’s rugged, manly, tough.

Sorry, not me. I’m not your typical “outdoorsy” girl. I’m more...indoorsy. Or, your typical vacation-at-a-resort kind of gal. You know, the kind where they bring you drinks at the pool with foofy little umbrellas.

But over the years I’ve given camping the good old college try, it wasn’t my fault that the trips didn’t go particularly well:

1998: We packed up our SUV and drove six hours, with a car sick dog yacking all the way, to tent camp on the Oregon Coast. Two nights later, heavy rain storms soaked our tent to the point of flooding, and my husband had to pack everything up in the dark while my five-year-old son and I huddled inside the car. My husband had to drive the entire way home in just his t-shirt, underwear, and hiking boots because everything, including what he was wearing, was soaked. The best part was when he was pumping gas in his underwear! We stopped everywhere but couldn’t find a single hotel vacancy along the way. We finally had to wake his brother in Portland at 2 in the morning for a place to sleep. That. Was. Awesome!

1999: A second attempt at tent camping, this time closer to home, less than an hour away. After unrolling our tent we realized that it was damaged, probably from being packed in the dark during a rain storm, and had to drive to the nearest town to buy a replacement. But eventually we had our home-away-from-home. We stayed up late roasting marshmallows and hanging out by the fire with friends, only to realize in the middle of the night that our son (who was only six years old at the time) doesn’t stomach marshmallows very well. We woke to find him puking all over us and our sleeping bags! Needless to say we abandoned our campsite sometime after midnight to head for home, leaving everything where it was. My husband returned the following morning to gather the evidence.

2000: We’ve grown wiser by this point, and have decided to graduate to rental houses at the lake. No more tent camping for us! Unfortunately, this trip fared no better. This one could have actually been written for a version of the “Griswold’s Family Vacation”. During the night, a summer windstorm frees one of our jetskis, which apparently we haven’t secured well enough to the dock, and we wake to find it missing. My husband and his brother spend the day searching the lake, only to eventually find it upside down in the water and damaged (oh, and did I mention that it was borrowed?). And to top it off, my son’s stomach apparently doesn’t react well to licorice and Oreos either, creating something black and tarlike that does NOT come out of rental house carpet.

So, it’s not that we’ve given up on summer getaways, or on the great outdoors. I’m nothing if not persistent. Only now we do it in a completely different fashion. We’ve traded in tents and rentals for a state-of-the-art camping trailer, complete with A/C, flat screen TV, shower, microwave, and an espresso maker. I know what I am, I understand the kids I’ve created (and their sensitive stomachs), and I’m okay with that. So, this summer we’ll be camping, if you can call it that. And we’ll be building campfires and roasting marshmallows. But I’ll also be flat ironing my hair, drinking my latte, and using my satellite card to check email on my laptop.

What about you, any good/bad/ugly vacation stories???


Lisa Schroeder said…
I love the outdoors, but there is something to be said about having modern conveniences while you are enjoying said outdoors. So I don't blame you! I would totally have an RV of some kind if we could afford it.

Whenever we go camping, I go knowing I will get zero sleep. Between the leaky air mattress, the sounds of rustling sleeping bags all night, the moisture on the ground and on and on, it's just the way it is. That's why we go tent camping about one time a summer. :)
Lisa and Laura said…
I'm SO not a camping kind of girl. Even lakehouses are sort of pushing it. I think our worst "camping" experience is when we went to a cabin with the whole fam and my sisters and I all ended up with lice. Traumatizing.
Heidi said…
First, I must apologize for laughing hard enough to snort diet coke out my nose reading this.

Secondly, my husband was a tanker in the army before I met him. He spent five years living in a field - some of that time in Kuwait and Saudi - and informed me before we married that he was so not the camping kind. Less than a four star hotel? That was roughing it for him.

I thought I was really missing out. Then I read this.

I must go tell the hubs how much I love him...
Lisa - Yeah, the whole sleeping outside thing was awesome...when I was twelve. Now I'm some kind of princess or something. I can feel the pea (or a piece of gravel) beneath layers and layers of air mattresses, blankets, and sleeping bags. It's sad really...

Heidi - I am glad that I found my soulmate in my husband, who also, is not a great outdoorsman. He likes it all right, but he's not a hunker down in the woods with no amenities and live off the land kind of guy. And he probably wouldn't turn away the umbrella drink either. :)

And, LiLa - Just EWW!
PurpleClover said…
I hear ya sista. I can see how the outdoors draw people but in the end, I want an airconditioner, thousand thread-count sheets, and room service in order to call it a vacation.
Little Ms J said…
While I surprisinginly didn't yack on my one and only camping trip it left me shivering and questioning my relationship. Hubby took me after we'd been dating four months. He is a Dinty Moore and a can opener kind of camper. He doesn't even bring toilet paper. I couldn't sleep since I was freezing and I woke him up to walk me to the outhouse. He refused and argued, "I told you to get drunk or you wouldn't be able to sleep." Then he refused to walk me to the outhouse in the pitch black and instead kneeled before the tent door and peed out into the night. I followed suit after a lot of arguing. Yes, that's right. I tried to balance while sticking my rear end out and fell backwards, landing in my beloved's urine. He threw me my own socks to clean up with and that ended our future as a campimg couple.
Leigh said…
Wait - Is Little Ms J's camping buddy a current hubby??? LOL!! That mess would be a dealbreaker to me! ;)

Thankfully my husband and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to vacations - no camping or tents for us. I know people have a great time out there but I'd prefer to watch a movie and drink a nice cup of tea as I fall asleep in a big comfy bed.
Oh, Miss J - Can you say scarred for life? Ahaha! Your husband and I would not camp well together either, he's definitely a "should camp with his buddies" kind of man.

And, Leigh, I hear ya on the hot tea and cozy bed! I'm definitely a lover of creature comforts!!!
Purple - I think I like the idea of camping way more than camping itself. I feel like I should do it (for the kids) since we camped when we were little. Unfortunately, my kids got a different kind of mom than I had. My mom could tent camp with the best of 'em.
Tam said…
You know how they say everything is relative? I can't stand camping now because the bed (in the trailer we have) is impossible to make. How quickly we forget the days of babies in travel cribs taking up 75% of the 4-man tent, leaving the remaining 25% of open space to the other 4 family members, all the luggage, 4 sleeping bags, and 16 pairs of (wet) shoes. I wonder what the Robinson's complain about? The fireplace in the travel mansion doesn't get hot enough?
OMG, Tam, that's so true! Maybe we're just born to bitch!!! This last trip the kids were mad because with the TV all digital now they couldn't get a signal for the flat-screen and had to watch DVDs instead. Hello??? We're CAMPING! (well, kind of)

Shelli said…
girl this cracked me up! we are going to have fun in LA!
I know, Shelli, I'm so excited!!! :)

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