Sunday, September 21, 2008

Roughing it, and drinking wine in a hot tub.

I just got back from a weekend camping trip in Big Bear.  

Ok, it wasn't like full-on camping camping.  This was more like a bunch of friends renting a cabin with a full kitchen, cable and internet, a big deck and a hot tub. 

This is a big step up from previous camping trips with friends.  A while back, when Devin and I had only been dating a few months, he invited me along on a weekend camping trip.  With tents.  And bug spray.  And sleeping bags.  You know, camping camping. 

Eager to make a good impression in this formative stage of our budding relationship, I said "I'd love to go!"  

I'm kidding.  I was honest.  And I frowned and protested, "But I hate camping!"  I'd always hated it, even as a kid.  Growing up in Central New York, we were about a 10 minute drive in any direction from a patch of wilderness worth camping on.   And though I'm certain my family and I went camping many times, I can only recall two instances (the rest, I believe, I've blocked from memory)(or, more likely, I'm just growing forgetful in my old age).    

On one camping trip, we went to the Thousand Islands.  It rained all weekend, leaking through our tent and forcing us into a dry island of blankets and backpacks in the center.  During the night, raccoons got into our cooler and ate everything except for the cans of Spam.  The presence of these cans of Spam was sort of a mystery, given my mother's disapproval of both meat and preservatives, but I digress...

The second camping trip was in the Adirondacks, I think.  By this point I was in my early teen years and therefore eternally bored.   I don't remember much about the trip, only that while we left the campsite to get dinner in town, a black bear reportedly chilled out on our picnic table for a while.  We learned this from our next-door tent neighbor who was forced into her car, fearing for her life.  I did not sleep well that night.

But I don't think it's these experiences that caused my distaste for camping.  I mean, really, I was a kid.  I'm sure I mostly had a blast.  

The real problem with camping is that it's all just a way for us to inconvenience ourselves for no good reason.  We voluntarily throw ourselves into a situation with no running water or indoor plumbing, no cushy mattresses, no cell phone reception.   We get no sleep whatsoever. At night, we freeze our asses off, wearing a wooly hat and 3 sweatshirts, tucked into a sleeping bag.  And then in the morning, at like 6 am, the sun comes out and begins baking us inside our tents as though we are some manner of puff pastry.   Oh, and, AND! Everything we need for the trip --layers upon layers of clothing, aloe vera gel, etc. --is shoved into backpacks, which are then shoved into a tent.  Then, every time we need something, we have to climb into the tent, being sure not to drag in dirt or allow a moth to fly in, and then rummage around, tossing our belongings in all directions, so that they inevitably become entangled in a fleece pullover or a blanket or even the tent lining, and then the next time we crawl in the tent, we can't find anything.  

Anyway, I went on that first camping trip with Devin, despite myself.  And I went again the next year.  And sure enough, I was cold.  And restless.  And somehow, always sitting downwind of the campfire so that my clothes and hair ended up smelling all smokey, like hot dogs or something.  

At bedtime, we'd all nestle into our tents, where we would spent the entire night wide awake, scared to death of the mysterious rustling noises in the bushes.   On the second camping trip, when we all woke up after the first night, we gathered over breakfast and concluded that no one had slept a wink because we were all convinced that a yetti or bear or madman was stomping around outside our tents.  Devin had even slept with a knife clutched against his chest.   

Then, before going to bed that night, we divided our weapons among the tents.  Someone had a machete (for some reason), Devin had his Rambo knife with (for some reason) a belt holster thingy, another camper had a shotgun (what?), and Devin lent out his hatchet.  

I'll stop here, and remind you all that in no other situation and during no other form of vacation does one need to worry about their personal safety like this.  Camping...why do we do this to ourselves?  

And so, I was relieved to learn that this year's annual camping trip would be gloriously tent-free, and lead us instead to a cozy cabin with a fireplace and a dishwasher, and a washer/dryer.  Hell, those are 3 things I don't even have in my own apartment.  

And it was a great weekend.  With lots of drinking.  Lot and lots of drinking.  Because, it turns out, there's not much else you can do while camping unless you're actually hunting and preparing your own meals.

I'll go into more detail later, including the near-shipwreck of our pontoon boat, if and when I get pictures to show you.

Until then, cheers to the new way to camp! 


nicoleantoinette said...

Hahaha- this is all so gloriously true. Glad you had a good time though! The new "camping" place sounds fantastic.

saratogajean said...

*Note to self: Next camping trip, pack a Rambo knife, a machete, a shot gun...

Too funny.

JenBun said...

The best way to camp!

Did Devin still bring the Rambo knife??

Jack and Jill said...

#1 thing I learned from this post: Even raccoons won't eat Spam. That pretty much makes it official that Spam is the most disgusting food on earth. Raccoons will eat damn near anything. Except Spam, as I've just learned.

Katelin said...

any camping trip that involves a hot tub is good in my book.

Lizzie M said...

I'm with you--what IS it with boys and needing weapons when camping?? Although my husband's weapon of choice (and the only "weapon" we own) is a cheesy little pocket knife/plier/screwdriver thingy--not Swiss Army, but close...I don't think he has even used it, ever. Must give them a sense of security or something...

surviving myself said...

I am so jealous that the people you camp with have knives and guns. That sounds pretty damn cool to me.

gunn said...

Try Big Bear on July 4th. The fireworks show over the lake is glorious and a hike to Castle Rock will take your breath away.
Plan early it gets very busy.

Amanda said...

I completely agree. The only camping I've enjoyed was while working at an actual camp and going on overnights with my campers about 5 minutes from our regular cabin. Good food from the dining hall in the morning and bathrooms close, if necessary. Any other camping is unnecessary and terrible.

Anonymous said...

Definitely true...camping sucks..but staying at a cozy cabain with all those stuff?? Yay!!!!!!! I´m glad you had such a good time!
..what was a gun doing there?...seriously

Peter said...

Unless I can pitch my tent under a tree that grows flat screen TVs, I am not interested in camping.