This weekend, we went camping.
That’s right! It was time for my once-every-three-years(ish) camping trip with my family!
It’s not that I don’t like nature. I have much reverence and awe for the beauty and the juxtaposition of complexity and simplicity of nature. It’s just that most of the time, I like nature and I to be in completely different places. Or maybe I like watching nature from behind a screen or window, but I don’t actually want to be walking or sleeping in nature.
So, usually, when asked if I want to go camping, I say no thank you. Camping is very nature-filled, we all know that.
I have to take full credit for us being on the trip this weekend however.When my sister-in-law, Stefanie, asked if we would go camping at Raccoon Lake with her and Jeff on Friday night, the word, “Sure!” was out of my mouth before I realized what was happening. When I told Jason, our own family version of Bear Grylls, about it he had two comments: 1. Wow. The end of June? That’s going to be miserably hot and 2) Sure, I’ve been asking you to go camping for years, but Stefanie asks you once and you say “yes.”
Then, a month or so later, when Stefanie called and mentioned that they were going to stay an extra night (Saturday) and wondered if they should reserve our site for the same night, I said, “Sure!”
So, it’s completely my doing that we were camping for two nights this weekend.
It rained and rained and rained some more. At one point, all five of us were gathered under a canopy that was serving as our dining room/kitchen, and all around us wind and water was flying. We heard a CRACK as a huge tree branch fell from a tree near our trucks. (Free wood for the fire, Jason reasoned, and went out to retrieve it.)
We tried some new recipes over the campfire and ate way too much food. I made a skillet of eggs, sausage, hash browns and cheese. Stefanie cooked pudgy pies using crescent rolls and pie fillings. We tried foil packets filled with green beans, potatoes, smoked sausage (and in some packets, squash, onion and jalapenos). Stefanie made Pizza pockets on Friday night. This morning, I heated a peanut butter sandwich over the fire just to see what would happen (it was awesome).
We hiked a trail that kept going and going and going. It was muddy and messy and there were so many steps and hills. At one point, I was whimpering a little–all the nature was causing a bit of culture shock–when as we approached the lakeshore via the trail, Jason stopped, turned around and said, “There’s a baby!” and gestured. I stopped quickly in my tracks, commencing freak out. “A baby what?” I inquired. A baby snake? A baby raccoon? A baby alligator? “A BABY WHAT?”
He pointed again toward the beach. “A baby.” Sure enough, there on the beach, fishing with her family was a human baby. Jason continued, “If a baby can make it here, I think you’re going to be okay.” I stopped and laughed for about 5 minutes about that one.
We visited the camp store a few times. I love camp stores surprisingly much for someone who does not really like nature. There’s just something about paying $3 for a bottle of mustard and looking over the supply of camp supplies that seems fun to me.
We sat around an actual campfire. Sure, at home we have our firepit, but a campfire is a bit different. We roasted things, we poked it with sticks, we used it to get warm and dry off (remember all the rain?). We sat around it way into the night and drank coffee around it and discussed our lack of sleep in the mornings. We told jokes and talked about tv shows, music, our jobs and our childhoods around it. The campfire is a part of camping that I really do love.
I turned my phone off most of the weekend. As soon as we arrived at camp on Friday evening (we were using the GPS on it to get there), I turned it off–something I almost never do. I left it off until bedtime. Then on Saturday morning, it was turned off again and remained off the entire day. The same thing happened this morning until we left. It was glorious and wonderful. Yes, I missed calls and text messages and emails…but I’ll catch up on everything tomorrow morning.
I refused to shower. I sincerely dislike showering in public bathrooms. I just decided to be disgusting.
It was great to be with Jeff and Stef, but it was also wonderful for Jason, Jonas and I to spend that time together–road tripping to and from the campground especially. Today as we were driving home, Jason turned on a country station on his satellite radio. We sang together on the way home…
“All my exes live in Texas…”
“Way down yonder on the Chattahoochie…”
“I ain’t first class, I ain’t white trash, I’m wild and a little crazy too. Some girls don’t like boys like me…” We sang.
“but one girl do!” Jason finished pointing at me.
“That’s all it takes!” Jonas chimed in from the backseat, saying something exactly the way his dad does.
Did I like camping? Not the actual camping parts of it. I like to be clean and sleep in my bed and not worry about seeing spiders, snakes, mud and rain up close.
Did I like camping? Yes, the parts that included the fire and family time and the unplugging I liked very much.
By the end of the trip, everyone was “Next yearing.” You know what I mean…”Next year, we can try Clifty Falls.” “Next year we’ll remember to bring this or that.” “Next year, I’ll try enchiladas over the campfire.”
“Next year?” I’d ask. “Next year?”
But then this afternoon, as we sat around our dying campfire, eating the last of the marshmallows it happened.
“Hey, next year we should…” I began and stopped. “Look at me next yearing!”
We’ll see. Let me recover from this year first!