Pitching Tents and Other Things

I had the brilliant idea to marry a man with hidden desires.  Fast cars and pro football probably shouldn’t have surprised me even though he hid those desires well.  However, it never fails to amaze me that I married an avid camper.  As in, he loves camping.  And wanted to turn me into a camper.  Have I mentioned that I’m not a real fan of camping?  Actually, I don’t mind the idea of camping.  I just don’t really like the bugs and the dirt and the hassles of washing all the dishes in a 2 quart pot.

But I do camp.  I just usually am a bit irritated or agitated or all the other ways of saying I twitch rather a lot and wish I were most any place other than where I am.  So this weekend, when I really wanted to be at either the Willamette Writers Conference 2010 or the Art in the Heart of Vancouver event, I was instead camping.

Where it was buggy, dirty, and dirty dish making. But I still had a pretty good time.  Even though I was helping to pitch tents instead of pitching my young adult novel to agents or meeting local writers.

And considering the first time I ever camped I just about contracted hypothermia and the first major back-country camping trip I took included watching a mother and baby bear swim across a large lake, it is amazing I am willing to give up opportunities to immerse myself in the writing world and instead immerse myself in the great outdoors.  But I do because my husband loves it and has the best memories as a kid camping with his family.  And he wants his kids to have those same great memories.

So why all this talk of pitching tents instead of novels?  Well, besides the drying tent out on my deck, the house is put back to order and we are all coming down from the whole wild fun time.  Which for this trip means I survived the migraine I developed and I’ve finally got all the vomit cleaned up.  And I’ve had some time to think about whether this was a good camping trip or not.  After some thought, I do believe it deserves to be placed in the “family win” column.

Here’s what this camping trip looked like in pictorial form:

A key part to any camping trip is playing with fire.  If you are a bit of a firebug like me, stirring the fire is a very attractive way to spend many hours.  Because we all know there are no electronic devices allowed on a camping trip.  Just cribbage, books (this trip was Tolken, Grimm’s Fairy Tales & the Complete Collection of Best Loved Little Golden Books) and a few easily transportable games.  Makes playing with fire the most wild endeavor of the whole trip.

No camping trip is complete without the appreciation of the natural world.  On this particular trip, the birds were especially curious about our presence which made us spend quite a bit of time searching the trees for more fellows like this guy.  Isn’t he cute?

And, of course, a camping trip isn’t complete without lots of goofiness.  Nothing like the smell of campfires and camping food (bacon, steaks, tin-foil dinners, s’mores, et cetera) to make a person feel like being a bit more goofy than usual.  Perhaps that is the best part of camping — the ability to forget about the normal constraints of life and instead just have fun.

We take our sweet pup with us camping when possible so there is lots of throwing Charlie his “squirrel” and trying to convince him to not bark and growl at every other living being in the square mile where we happen to be standing.  Camping makes Charlie just as twitchy as me.  Poor thing.

In case you haven’t noticed, Charlie isn’t very furry.  He also has very little body fat.  All of which means that he gets cold and half the time starts whining part way through the night and we give up and let him sleep with us.  All 70 stinking pounds of him.  Each time I swear I’ll never do it again.  But I do.  I mean, how do you say “no” to such a sweet puppy face as this?  Not me.  I may have a heck of a bark, but I don’t bite much.  Really, I’m a push-over.  Of course, it’s much easier to be a push-over in the middle of the night when all a person wants to be doing is sleeping.  That and not incurring the wrath of neighboring campers by having a whining dog.

But sometimes, I wake up in the morning with a head full of ache.  Which if I’m at home, I promptly treat with my magic elixir of coffee, some Advil and an Excedrin.  None of which I packed for this trip.  (No, I’m not crazy.  Husband has quit drinking coffee and I don’t always drink it so I figured, what the heck, less to pack.  But I did manage to forget to pack the other 2/3s of the equation.  Oops.)  So this is what I looked like by about 9 am on Saturday.  Yes, this is a horrid photo of me, but I’m airing my ugliness in the pursuit of photo-journalism.  I think I should get an award for such bravery.

So by the time the day’s wild excitement was over, I was one miserable cookie.  So miserable that I packed up the dog and drove the 18 miles home promising to return the next day.  I figured I didn’t want to be in pain and nauseous in a tent all the way across a state park from a yucky public bathroom.  I ended up going from nauseous to puking to dry-heaving.  Which made the trip home a really swell experience but also clarified the wisdom of my heading home for my own bed, some meds and a heating pad.  All I can say is this:  if you get migraines, never leave home without your meds and plastic bags in the car.

Of course, my oldest must have had too much of something because he actually puked in the middle of the night. However, he didn’t bother to try for the yucky public bathroom and instead hurled all over the tent. No idea why.  But then, he’s the family puker so sometimes his little barf-fests just remain mysteries.  (I suppose it could have been some nasty water bug he ingested while splashing water all over the place and playing in the sand but I don’t want to think about that.)  Poor husband had to deal with that fun at about 2:15 in the morning.  I’m trying to not be overjoyed to have missed that bit of camping excitement.

But the kiddos, husband and I for the most part had a great time. And we are all putting the trip in the “win” column.  Maybe we wouldn’t put it in the “best time I’ve ever had” column, or “let’s do that again real soon” column, but it was a good time.  More of a smiling good time versus major knee-slapper good time.

Considering the goal of this parent is to give my children as many great memories of family time, I’m glad I didn’t take the weekend to geek out over all things writerly.  Instead, we geeked out over roasting marshmallows, hotdogs, and pudgie pies.  So no matter what was and was not pitched, it was a weekend to to put in the “family win” column.  Not all family wins have to be major.  In fact, I have a feeling that down the line, it will be the camping trips and roasting marshmallows that my kids remember most about being a family.  Or maybe the joy of a perfect pudgie pie.

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12 thoughts on “Pitching Tents and Other Things

  1. Aw, sorry your migraine had to put a damper on your camping. Glad you still managed to eke out a mostly good time in spite of it. 🙂

    • This was the first time I ever got sick to my stomach with one of these beasts. It also is the first time ever that I didn’t take something at the onset. Hmm. Correlation, ya think? I’m thinking Mythbusters needs to do an episode on Botox and the cessation of migraines – and then email me to tell me when it airs. 🙂

    • The best part was that for the first time EVER I wasn’t actually one big crab-toe about the whole thing. I am crossing my fingers, toes, etc that I’m finally finding some equilibrium with my mental health. I know you all like the crazy me, but I swear, you’ll like the less crazy me even more. 🙂

  2. I was going to say that a spell camping at least gives you good stories to tell afterwards, even if at the time the tent leaks, fires go out and cows bump into your guy ropes.
    But that was before I got tto the bits about being sick, nausea, migraines, etc.
    What an ordeal.
    I hope you have encountered some mellow time since.

    • Only the last bit stunk. The scavenger hunt that my husband created to keep the kids busy while I made pancakes was awesome. 🙂 They all think it was a grand time, so that’s all that matters. Plus, I’m sure the folks passing me as I dry-heaved into a plastic bag on I-5 had many interesting conversations to make the miles pass by quickly. LOL!

  3. Like you, I am not a fan of camping. Sure, tents are much cheaper than hotels, but really, I prefer to splurge a bit when it comes to where I sleep. Maybe my sentiments will change when we have little ones to think about, but really, I’m thinking probably not. The dog prefers the bed too. My dear husband, like yours, is outdoorsy. He was a boy scout probably his entire life and says we should just one weekend go out camping with only a tent and the “essentials.” If by “essentials” he means, a very large RV, then okay. If he means just a knife and toilet paper, I may stab him. Sometimes, he’s very lucky he’s cute.

    But, I think you’re right. You have to make family memories. I just think my dislike of camping stems from having to spend my freshman year of high school living out of a camper with 4 other people. Not the impression you want to make as a 14 year old girl, right? Haha.

    But I’m glad, despite your migraines (aren’t they the WORST?), you still had a good time. The kiddies look like they enjoyed it too. That’s what counts, right?

    P.S. – What the HECK is a pudgie pie?

    • I never camped when I was a kid so I am having to work at liking it – in theory I think it’s awesome. The delivery leaves me a little cold sometimes. HOWEVER, if I hadn’t gotten a migraine, I think this trip would be the best one we’ve had. Well, the Orcas Islands last year was pretty amazing – especially the hauling about the potty chair. 🙂 I blogged about it – I’ll have to add the link for ya!

  4. I promise that you all will also be telling the story of brother barfing all over the tent that time for years to come. Trust me – I know!

  5. My idea of camping is ‘sleeping under the stars – 5 stars’. May not be original, but it describes me. My husband also went camping when he was growing up and loved it. We went once in our earlier married years and I loathed it. It was over Easter and our site was near the toilet block. Seems 99% of the campers were drunk and made a constant trek to said toilet block. Some unfortunately didn’t make it that far.. I admire your courage in going camping for the family memories.. My husband takes our daughter camping and she for the most part likes it.

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