Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend 3-Way: campy

We’re camping this weekend, and it’s not your granny’s old backwoods hoedown. We’ll be sitting pretty atop an imposing bluff, with nothing but a set of simple wooden stairs between us and the warm, wonderful, crashing waves. Better still, we’ll be in an R.V., with beds and coffee makers and freezers and light bulbs. So tell me, for this weekend’s 3-way: What’s your camping status? Do you consider what we’re doing camping, or a poor man’s hotel? What’s your best camping story?


I’ve done my share of “real” camping. But you know what? I’m d.o.n.e. with that shit. The last time I slept on the ground was when we took a little family camping trip 2 Thanksgivings ago. We went to a great local mountainside lake and had a perfect spot next to the babbling brook. We brought a huge tent, 2 air mattresses, a battery operated pump, and whatever comforts of home we could fit into the SUV. It was glorious, we had the best days ever. But the nights? The pump didn’t work, so we found an air thing meant for tires and blew up our air mattress. We figured the kids could go without, they’re lightweights, and accustomed to misery. About 3 hours into REM sleep, my ass hit the dirt. And that dirt was cold and hard. The kids were no better off, it was utterly miserable. I made a promise to myself that night, a promise that I have thus kept and shall always keep. The promise is as follows: I will not sleep on the ground. Amen.

Of course it's camping! I spent most of the nights between 2000 and 2008 sleeping in my Westy -- except when I was at your house, tiger-tweetie, and assorted other sisters' and friends' -- NOT sleeping on the ground, and I was most definitely, most assuredly camping. And it doesn't even have to do with 2 people sleeping on a bed bigger-than-a-twin-but-smaller-than-a-double, with a 1½" mattress. What matters is you're out there, out and about, in the wild world.

We've spent months in the Florida Keys, with electricity, and therefore with an outdoor fridge, electric wok, electric coffee maker, boom box, computer (but no internet), lights, fans, and sparkly string lights on our outdoor canopy. But that was still camping. And we still had to vacate our site at 5 every afternoon -- we biked to the breezy beach with drinks and let the mosquitoes and no-see-ums (which, by the way, we could see) have the place to themselves every dusk. It was, afterall, their hour.

We've also spent lots of time combat camping -- in the Sonoran and Anza-Borrego deserts, among other places -- with nothing but some food and some water and some melting ice in a cooler which we hoped would keep the milk tepid enough for morning coffee (with water boiled on our Westy propane stove). And that, of course, is camping, too.

Actually, with the Westy, you're always almost-camping.

I have 8 million favorite camping stories, but one of our best camping experiences was our winter in Mexico's Baja Peninsula. In Mulege, one of our favorite towns, camping on the public beach is legal, and free. Can you imagine? We parked the Westy and spent the next few weeks walking or biking to town, swimming and clamming in the water, washing our dishes in the (salt) water, and making friends with the couple of other campers on the beach. It was easy, cheap, safe, fun and warm. And, you can get killer beef tacos in Mulege.

Okay, this isn't Mulege; it's Ligui. But you get the idea.

I'm not much of a camper. I've done very little tent camping; the last time was in the Borrego dessert, on a night that there just happened to be thunder, lightning, and, yes, rain. Like Jacquie, we'd brought along our air mattress, but once that thunder started our dog was so freaked out that he lay shivering on it with us, scared shitless and desperate for human comfort. It was one of those nights when you just wait for morning to appear with its sunny smile, so that you can forget the night's misery. Luckily, the more prepared campers (none of whom were in tents, I might add) we were with started making bloody mary's early that morning.


Kathi D said...

I have the feeling that I still love old-fashioned camping, but I think I love it more in memory than I would in reality. Rick won't test me on it, anyway, since he is camping-averse.

too many camping stories in PA said...

I can retell camp stories from dusk 'til dawn, but I won't :)

most from childhood might make you feel sorry for me and laugh at the same time (Beth can attest to the fact that, any story involving my dad, is not an exaggeration.)

I will say that for 3 of the last 4yrs it has RAINED while we camped at Ricketts Glen PA. I'm not much of a fan of camping when it's not raining SO raining in a camp that has clay in it's dirt...SUCKS! and thinking it's a good idea to add 3 boy cousins to my own 3 kids, is jut stupid! The only reason to continue this family traditions that goes about as far back as my marriage, is the
HUCKLEBERRIES that grow wild there and that I pick the entire time and savor all year in jam, pancakes, ice cream, etc..

This year, after the rain, no air mattress and re-staking of half the tent at 2 am due to a wind storm, I told my husband to check the cost of those cabins that sit on the other side of the camp ground. People look a little more relaxed when I see them stepping out their doors.
or maybe a Westy :D