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.
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.
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.