Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see
And baby, baby, baby, do you like it?
today’s guilty pleasure monday brought to you by the letter C for camping.
those of you who know me in real life know i love nature. oh yes, i really, truly do… love to hike in it, love to play in it, love to search in it. and then, at the end of the day, i like returning back to my home or a lodge or a resort of some sort, nicely appointed with electricity, bathrooms within the building, and nature coexisting outside the confines of my indoor world. i like indoor plumbing, i like restaurants, and i loveloveLOVE showers. (i’m high maintenance like that.)
so it came as a huge surprise to everyone when i agreed to join our girl scout troop as we embarked on a cabin camping trip to misty mount in the beautiful catoctins. after all, the one and only stipulation i had made when i agreed to help my dear friend M as she led our troop was no camping. i’ll do lots of things with the troop if asked; i’m generally not a shrinking violet. but please dear Dog, no overnights in the great outdoors. at least, not for me.
in short, i am not a happy camper.
i know this, not from experience but from knowing what camping entails. if i don’t like when ants come into my home, i know i won’t enjoy whatever more interesting wildlife decides to say howdy-do while i’m trying to get some shuteye. i like climate control. i like having a bathroom nearby, one i don’t need to put clothes on in order to pee in the middle of the night, should, ehhem, nature call me. yet somehow, i threw the whole to thine own self be true biz to the wind. and i brought jools and BS up into it for good measure because why shouldn’t we all have fun together! after all, it’s not roughing it. it’s cabin camping! (which my more experienced friends said is a cakewalk in comparison to tent camping.) there’s a building with bathroooms and showers, just a short walk from our cabin. and one my friends graciously organized the whole she-bang, and lots of other families were bringing food and knew what to do.
so thanks to target, we had sleeping bags, we had mess kits, and we had liftoff.
BS was being a super-good sport when he went along with us; i offered to leave him home, but i think the idea of me being lost up in the maryland mountains with the kids probably compelled him to refuse my offer. he, like queen victoria, was not amused, but he came along anyway, bless his pointed little head. we arrived in the sunshine, somewhere before 1pm. the folks who had slept over friday night left us a note; they were hiking, but lunch foodstuffs were available and we should help ourselves. very very kind of them! another mom, her daughter, and another scout were there, so the mom took the kids, including BC and jools, on a mini hike while i waited for BS to walk back from the parking lot, where he had to leave our car. when he returned, he and i decided to hike a little hike ourselves.
now the thing about hiking here is that there actually are no paths. you really are walking through woods, over streams, and into mushy things that may end up on your pants when you sink in them (not that i would know about that personally, though my jeans are currently swirling in round two of my mini-wash-a-thon at the moment in the hopes that nature will leave my levis alone.) and when you’re a person who has fractured, then sprained one of her ankles, you tend to remember that perhaps unsure ground is not the place you ought to be walking until after you’ve had the surgery to fix said ankle and then have had a few months of physical therapy. but of course, this all had been realized as BS and i were deep in the woods.
gee, i hope we can actually find our way back, i mused aloud, fiddling in my pockets in search of crumbs i could start throwing onto the ground. just in case.
fortunately, we soon heard the happy chatter of our kids with the other girls and mom, and we knew we were on the right track. and if i only walked ever so carefully, i would make it back up the hill to our campsite without requiring a med-evac transport. which i did. yay me! well, yay, BS, who held his hand out, gentlemanly, at certain pivotal moments. (like the one, for instance, where i didn’t want to jump down this one giant rock onto the lower rocks at the stream. but i digress.) how cool is this camping business, i thought. it’s sunny, it’s fun, and food is involved!
the others returned, and we proceeded to have a fun afternoon. kids played, grownups ate and chatted, and other than BC getting stung twice by a wasp or yellowjacket on her knuckle (her pal H was stung just before she was) and having her middle finger look like it was blown up and ready to fly in the macy’s thanksgiving day parade, it was a lovely time. i brought benadryl, and since the girl had never been stung by anything in her life besides a mosquito and some sharp criticism, i gave some to her, hoping she wouldn’t have a reaction. and hooray hooray, other than a big old blownup finger, she seemed to keep breathing.
then, the deluge.
grownups made some awesome food in spite of the buckets of rain that came down. i am so very, very thankful to the others who brought so much delicious food and who knew how to prepare it out in a camp situation. (i saw my first camp stove, and in short, i was awestruck.) i had amazing veggie chili made fresh, i made a smore for the first time in a campfire (yes, i make them in my microwave, don’t judge), and the yummy spinach artichoke dip that my pal and co-leader M brought from whole paycheck foods was absolutely delicious! knowing that jools was not a veggie chili eater, BS cleverly brought along a pack or two of hotdogs, which he and the boy roasted beside some baking dump cake (which i totally have to try at home!) the park rangers do, in fact, check on you to make sure you haven’t brought any grownup beverages (which is truly unfortunate.) while it rained, the boy continued to poke at the fire, which probably ensured that it didn’t go out. in fact, i think some of the boy’s and BS’s happiest moments involved poking at fire. which, in hindsight, should probably frighten me a little, though i prefer to think that perhaps they are both frustrated firemen.
yes. that must be it.
anyway, the light rain became heavy rain. we three retired to our cabin; BC slept in a bigger lodgey-cabin with my friend, the organizer, her family, and several other girls. (bless you, my friend.) the minute i sat on my bed, it sagged 3/4 of the way to the floor. a great sign in sleepland, to be sure. i crawled into my new sleeping bag. have sleeping bags gotten smaller, or have i gotten bigger? i remember fitting myself and a friend once in a bag, and now, i barely fit myself comfortably. i tried to stay on my side in an effort to preserve my back. and i tried desperately not to move. every move made a noise, and every noise, i feared, would wake up BS. the light shone in through my window, and i watched it blurry and hazy-eyed (my glasses were resting on a makeshift table of board games we had brought up.) jools, on the other hand, slept like a rock; his sleeping bag was practically off him, and he was just the best. sleeper. ever. would that i had been him.
when i saw BS stir, i knew the morning must have come. i didn’t have a watch (and couldn’t have read it even had i wanted to without my glasses on), but he did. when i don’t sleep, i just get boohooey. but when BS doesn’t sleep? well, let’s just say he’s not his usually, happy-go-lucky self. and waking up meant having to put clothes on to get to the bathroom (which, i will say, was very nice to have, as opposed to say a latrine. but still not psyched to have to put on clothes to get there.) i let him hike to his bathroom in the rain first, and i somehow ended up waking up the boy. it was 6:00somethingish in the morning. after he returned and i trudged to the ladies room, we did what any normal family would do: we broke open our two packs of donuts and started to inhale them. powdered donuts! jools exclaimed, mouth stuffed to the brim. mpfmpfmpfmpfmppfffffhhhhhh! yep. they’re definitely an important part of his training table. then, as others were still asleep, we played a game of yahtzee. the boy actually rolled a yahtzee and beat us both. badly. badly enough as in he wants to actually save the score sheet badly.
i’m sure my grandchildren will one day hear the tale of just how bad grandma is at yahtzee.
we finished, and people were beginning to stir. but watching hellboy struggle putting on his raincoat and whining because the sleeves were saturated was the straw that broke the camping camel’s back.
we’re done, BS simply said.
i am so grateful to all the families who did all the work while i did precious little, and i do mean precious little. they organized things, they fed us, they were so amazingly wonderful and generous to us. and i’m hoping they know that our experience is not any reflection on all that they did at misty mount. if my house wasn’t a shambles, i would totally want to invite them all over for a thank you festivity.
so, in their honor, some zeppelin. cos nothing says thank you like robert plant.