Monday, May 31, 2010

A Soggy Reminder...

We live in the Northwest, the land of Starbucks, sparkly vampires, and what's that wet stuff? Oh yeah, rain. So what is it that makes us continually believe that camping is something we should be doing? Out there. In the rain.

Well, for whatever reason, we tried it again this Memorial Weekend, as we huddled close to the campfire trying to stay dry in our parkas, making s'mores and pretended everything was as it should be. But our teeth chattered and the kids were covered in mud. Camping in the Northwest...YAY!

We gave up by Sunday morning, packing up and heading for home, where we could be safe and warm and dry. Instead of a campfire, we had family movie night. And instead of marshmallows, we had Healthy Pop microwave popcorn.

This has been a pattern for us, our camping war stories. I did a post about a year ago, called "Why I'll Never Be Confused With Mother Nature" and it seemed appropriate to share it again, since it seems I'm stuck in some sort of strange time-continuum, doomed to repeat these patterns over and over again...like some freaky version of the movie Groundhog's Day. On crack.

So here's a little trip down camping-memory-lane:

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 packs everything up in the dark while my five-year-old son and I huddle 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. 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 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 damaged and upside down in the water (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???

7 comments:

Melissa said...

I used to go camping all the time, most...interesting experience? Waking up at three in the morning, only to notice that my inflatable mattress is floating in about two feet of water. I woke up because my sister's mattress bumped mine. In classic, sisterly conduct, I scrambled out and left her there to go into the RV. Two hours later my dad woke up, realized I was on the floor of the camper (still wet) and went to go check on my sister....she was floating in about three and half feet of water. There was torrential rain and we had set up the tent in a sort of ditch (to separate us from Dad and Stepmom). Luckily when you're 8 and 6 you don't have any tech things that would have been ruined.

Kimberly Derting said...

OMG, Melissa, you win! That is WAY worse than a little rain!!!

Diane J. said...

Oh geez, I haven't been camping since I was a teen. It was Memorial weekend and we figured it all out. We (group of teen girls) asked our parents if we could camp with (group of teen boys). I think one parent's gut split while laughing. We were smart, we asked that question 3 months prior to camp trip. 3 weeks before camp trip, we asked again if we could just camp at the local swimming hole (hey, small town in Montana, we didn't have a pool, just a section of a river...eh, creek that had been dammed up for our swimming pleasure). Parents agreed. Parents helped set up camp and roasted hot dogs with us. Once they left, we left a note in the tent "Went on a nature hike." We knew a few parents would check up on us. Boys picked us up at our camp and we cruised 45 minutes in the opposite direction to hang out at their camp. Around 3 or 4 in the morning, we were discovered, hauled into the Superintendent's car (his daughter was with us) and drug back home. We were grounded for a month. Turns out parent's kept coming to check on us, eventually thinking that we wound up in an abandoned mineshaft. Called the volunteer fire department, which called the volunteer fire department in two other counties and started searching for us. Now, that was bad enough, but we were also scorned at school because as adults came across other teen campers (you know we were all drinking), they enlisted them in the search and then they ended up in trouble for drinking. We ruined everyone's first night of camping. It took a while to live that one down.

Diane J. said...

Geez, sorry that was a long response. I forgot to mention that I'm impressed with your tenacity.

Patti said...

One particular night, we were late for the camp ground and decided to pitch a tent on the beach. I heard people walking by all night making comments about our tent. I thought we were going to be attacked at any moment. Then at around 3am, I heard a noise which eventually was the sprinkler system. We stuffed everything into the back of our Ford Focus and slept in the car the rest of the night.


As soon as I could convince my husband, we traded in the tent for a trailer and haven't looked back since.

Kimberly Derting said...

Okay, that's just hilarious, Diane! Hopefully our kids don't try anything that stupid, right? Right???

Patti- I don't know which is worse, the tent being soaked by the sprinklers or having to sleep in a tiny car. I agree, though, I could never go back to tent camping after having a trailer!

Tam said...

Awesome post - I am really starting to dislike camping anymore. Even in the trailer. Did somebody say room service? Pool with a spa? Those big fluffy white robes that are so long I trip on them? Yeah, now we're talkin.