In a Tent

A moment of weakness, that’s the only way to explain it.  Despite my heretofore utter, adamant (dare I say pig-headed?) refusal to participate in any way in the so-called recreational activity of camping — tent camping, no less — I caved to peer pressure.  I agreed to accompany John and two of our friends to a campsite in the woods and spend three nights, however insane the thought, in a tent.

Did I mention I was drinking wine at the time?  I was, and in a quantity sufficient, apparently, to throw me just enough off-kilter to almost convince myself it was a good idea.  I mean, I enjoy the outdoors.  Hiking is a lovely way to spend a crisp Pacific Northwest day.  Thing is, though, after the hike is finished I’m ready for civilization again.  A hot shower.  A restaurant.  A real bed in a real building with real walls.

You know, the opposite of this.

setting up the tents

When setting out for a three-day camping trip, not only are you forced to carry along your own shelter (and I use that word generously, considering the only things between you and the elements are a few sheets of stitched canvas and a zipper) but good heavens, it takes damn near as many days to pack everything else four people need — including what appeared to me to be a good half cord of logs to build fires (for warmth, of all the ridiculous things) — as it does to camp for that same amount of time.

camping stuff

Had we planned the exact trip — hiking, sightseeing and all — yet tweaked it just a little to include three nights in, say, a charming B&B, we would have instead packed:


And we needn’t even discuss bathroom issues…but of course I will.

I give our camping friends the utmost credit for securing us a mighty nice site — or as nice as a site sans private bath can be — in that there was a perfectly respectable public restroom facility within reasonable walking distance.  In the daytime.  In the dark of night, however, it would have proven far too tricky a trek a la flashlight when half-asleep.

Thus, once (or twice, or thrice) per night when a certain business required attending, either John or I would shake the other awake and whisper the need to unzip the door and venture out into the blackness to find a tree at a (barely) polite enough distance from our friends’ tent.

As every woman in the universe knows, this is much easier for a man.  Much.  Granted, I’m a squatter from way back, beginning in the early ‘80s when we were building our second home on a couple acres hidden discreetly in the woods and minus the luxury of a portable facility.  Yet as accomplished as I became at answering nature’s call in full view of Mother Nature herself, my expertise is limited to the daylight hours.  With the cover of night comes the very real worry about the consequence of bad aim, namely — and specifically when sleeping outdoors — crawling back into the tent slightly, ahem, soggy.

I’m pleased to report, in spite of my fears, that never happened over the course of our three-day camping adventure.  At least not that I was aware of at the time.  Or would be willing to admit afterwards.

Fortunately for all of us — especially my three camping companions who would have otherwise been subjected to relentless whining — there were no serious mishaps of any kind during the trip.  The weather gods smiled upon us, granting us three clear, sunny days, and the one night we were awoken by sounds of something padding around our campsite, it turned out to be neither bear nor Sasquatch.  (As far as we know, anyway.  None of us unzipped our tents to find out).

And on the very last afternoon, while our friends chose to stay at the campsite to relax and nap, John and I headed into town — to civilization — for a little souvenir shopping and a visit to a waterfront adult beverage establishment to whet our whistles and reminisce.  We were in the charming village of Eastsound, after all, on Orcas Island.  The very spot where, just over two years ago, we decided quite off-the-cuff to sell our farm and move up here.  It’s a special place for us.

So all’s well that ends well, right?  Yes indeed.  Still, when next summer rolls around and we’re again partaking in a bit of the grape with our camping aficionado friends, should the topic of repeating this trip come up, I intend to take a drastic measure to ensure I keep my wits about me:

I’m switching to coffee.  Black.


17 thoughts on “In a Tent

  1. Being a camper from way back, I’m proud of you for trying it-I still love it. However, if someone suggests “backpacking” to camp for several days, grab the coffee. I love it too, but its the raw side of camping! Hang in there Jo.

    • Ah Reece, you’re a better woman than I. I am NOT a camper from way back. This is only my second foray into the tent camping world…and my last. The idea of backpacking to a campsite — something I’ve seen many people doing as I day hike while carrying only a water bottle and a granola bar — gives me the heebie jeebies. I mean, c’mon, how are you supposed to get your half case of wine up to your campsite?

    • Man, you’ve got that right David! Something I NEVER thought I’d agree with. I’m thinking this might have all been a ploy on John’s part….

  2. I’m an old Girl Scout, and most family vacations when I was a kid were camping trips (in a tent). Nowadays Skip and I “camp” in a Casita. (Google Casita Enterprises or checkout, where I work as an administrator.) The Casita provides a nice, dry bed; plus a shower and toilet (although we don’t use the toilet if there are decent out houses at the campgrounds), also a fridge that runs on propane… It’s everything we need and a few things we don’t. Think of it as a Hunter off the water. One day we will tug it up your way: we really want to camp on the Olympic peninsula!

    • I’ve seen one of those Casitas, Mary. And it’s only after suffering through tent camping that I can agree they’re pretty darned cool looking. Could John convince me to stay in one, however? Doubtful. Yet hey, if you and Skip ever feel like venturing up here in yours, we’ll be happy to open up one of our guest bathrooms to you. No charge.

      • Jo! It’s happening, in late Sept, we will be passing through Port Townsend. Can you you email me? I don’t think I have contact info for you.

        Mary & Skip

  3. When our last kid earned his Eagle Scout badge, I swore, with God as my witness, “I will never camp again.” Now, when our kids (now grown) ask to borrow a tent, we respond, “No. You must vow to keep it.”

  4. Fell over laughing at this post. My husband & I, along with a few relatives used to camp, no longer! Just about every w/e we went, we were rained upon. One can spend only so much time in a steamy tent playing cards. Even alcohol wasn’t helping. We decided that it was time to give up the camping when we found ourselves looking for a liquor store early in the morning after narrowly escaping a tornado!

    • Yipes! I give you all sorts of credit for sticking with it as long as you did. That first weekend of steamy tent cards would have been enough to send me packing for home, for good — never mind narrowly escaping a tornado. See what I mean about real buildings with real walls? And give me a real basement, too, in that case.

  5. I love your tale of this camping experience. When Joe and I got married, I had only camped a couple of times as a girl scout in grade school. My memory of that was being in a huge tent with cots and a building nearby with a full kitchen and mess hall. Joe LOVES camping. So, as a young wife I went on an uncountable number of camping trips with him trying to learn to love it as he does. We camped in freezing weather, thunderstorms with lightening striking all around, tornadoes in New Mexico, and hundred degree weather fighting a gazillion mosquitoes. I’m happy to report that being the age I’m at now, I don’t have to do it anymore!!! Thank God!!!

    • Ah, you were a good young wife, Debbie. I, on the other hand, didn’t give in to John’s desire for camping until this recent wine-induced event, 37 long years after we were initially betrothed. Sounds to me like you weren’t coerced into loving it the way Joe does, and for good reason. Freezes, tornadoes, lightning? No thank you!

  6. I’m a Scoutmaster and I don’t even like to camp anymore. The idea of sleeping on the hard ground isn’t very appealing to me anymore. Gone are the glory days. I much rather rent a cabin, condo, or hotel room. However, my kids still enjoy camping so I have a huge air mattress and that makes the world of difference. Still, having to walk to the shower and bathroom does suck.

    At least you made it up to Orcas Island! That’s a plus

    • I’m with you, Kevin, on the cabin, condo or hotel room thing. Believe me, I fantasized about those places at each night’s “bathroom” visit to the nearest tree. And oh my, Orcas Island. Love that place. Thanks for commiserating!

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