Thursday, May 7, 2009

The original camping story

Our first camping trip was a Disaster, with a capital D. We were absolute greenhorns. We borrowed camping equipment from friends, not being entirely committed to the idea.

We got the cliched slanted campsite that had no flat space in it and every bit of food we put on the picnic table rolled off and into the dirt. Barley at age 18 months was absolutely dirt-phobic. He would have an utter meltdown at the slightest speck of dirt on his hand, and wail until I wiped his hand clean. Given that we were camping IN dirt, this made for a challenging time. Birds pecked all our sandwich bread, and the corn on the cob I was trying to grill fell into the coals.

Everyone else had these lovely Coleman campstoves that just TURNED ON, but I had borrowed from a hiker friend. His so-called campstove looked like 3 paperclips put together, and we never managed to get it lit the whole trip. This link shows a similar style camping stove, thought not the exact brand we borrowed. We learned later that we needed to pump the fuel into the hose before attempting to light it--didn't know that at the time. Fortunately, more experienced friends took pity on us and fed us through the weekend.

On the upside, the tent worked fine, and the playpen we brought for Barley (age 1.5) took up 60% of the interior space. DH, Teddy, and I squeezed in all snug in the remaining space of the tent. The river running through the site had a little beach to explore, and a playground for the young ones.

We also got to witness Teddy's first older kid idolization. The older brother of a playgroup friend caught Teddy's attention, and he followed this boy around all weekend. Teddy was almost 5, and the "boy in the yellow shirt" as he was called (Teddy has trouble with names) was 8, I think? Anyway, upon witnessing him change a bike tire, Teddy said to me admiringly, "He is a very wise man". He invited the boy in the yellow shirt to our site, and plied him with fruit, and McDonald's toys. It was very sweet to watch.

Now, the boy in the yellow shirt was very familiar with this campground, and knew all the fun places to check out. His yellow shirt got progressively more brown as the weekend went on. At one point, he made a statement that perfectly summed up the attitude we all came to adopt. He pointed at his absolutely filthy shirt, and said, "In the language of dirt, THIS is how much FUN I am having!!!" He was having a LOT of fun, let me tell you!

So, we did enjoy the trip, despite all the stress (and in hindsight, despite my raging hormones). We went on the same camping trip the next year, but opted to pay through the nose to stay in one of the onsite cabins instead. Fridge, microwave, real beds, and flush toilets in the middle of the night kept us sane until the boys got old enough for us to try tent camping again. Which we have, and now enjoy. We even upgraded to a bigger tent last year, when the boys complained that the queen size air mattress did not leave enough room for their sleeping bags. Now we all have inflatable mattresses. We believe in our creature comforts when camping.

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