Monday, May 31, 2010

Camping? Not Me, Thanks.

Memorial Day Weekend makrks not only the unofficial kickoff of summer, but also of camping season. And once upon a time, I was one of those outdoor enthusiasts who gladly packed up the car and headed for the wilderness, where I could wipe my ass with poison ivy and shower in subzero water.

Not anymore.

Why? Because of one too many poison ivy rashes and subzero showers, of course.

I used to be made of hardier stuff. Growing up, most vacations found us calling a tent home, whether we were in the No Man's Land that is the Upper Penninsula of Michigan or the sunny beaches of South Carolina.

I once washed my hair in Lake Superior (which is the same temperature as a frozen Hell, for those of you not in the know).

I once got a severe case of diarrhea when the only toilet I had access to was a stinking Port-a-Potty baking under a 90-degree sun.

I once stomped on a fire ant hill and ran screaming back to my mom with armies of stinging red hellions traveling up my thighs.

But at the time, I thought nothing of it. Those adventures were just part of the Camping Experience.

Experiences that also included swimming in ocean surf, collecting Hermit Crabs in buckets, roasting marshmallows on an open fire and giggling with my brother in our own "Grown-Up Tent" after lights out.

Then I grew up. Well, maybe not "up," but older. Old enough to have my own set of car keys, friends and camping equipment. And camp we did.

My best friend and I once camped in weather that reached freezing temperatures at night, in the rain, then washed off in the aforementioned sub-zero showers.

Before we were married, my husband and I once went camping on Lake Michigan—in an area where the water, warmed by the nuclear power plant just at the other end of the beach, was decorated with used condoms and empty beer bottles.

Not to be deterred, the next summer we set out for a campground on Lake Huron, only to be awakened in the middle of the night by a tornado siren. After spending several hours praying to a nameless God as I sat shivering and drenched on a pitch black beach (we were told that the tornado would turn back before it hit the water), I vowed never to camp again.

But it wasn't until a weekend of rustic camping (i.e. peeing in the woods), left me with a poison ivy rash up and down my legs and thighs so bad that they were swollen to the size of tree trunks that I made good on my promise.

While smearing myself with Calomine lotion and popping steroids, I swore never to camp again. And I haven't.

Because of this, our vacations have become much less frequent (a clearing in the woods is way cheaper than a hotel, yo), but significantly more pleasurable.

When it rains? I can go inside.

When an unexpected cold patch hits? I can turn up the heat.

When a tornado threatens? Well, I still quake in my boots, but at least I'm dry while I do so.

So, all you hardy, I-don't-need-no-cushy-mattress types, enjoy your mosquito-ridden, rain-soaked weekends. I'll be toasting you from inside my air-conditioned living room, munching on s'mores roasted in my microwave.

Cheers!

17 comments:

  1. My husband and I were just talking about camping this weekend (not about doing it, just talking about it). I have never ever been a camper. I hate it, in fact. Luckily The Husband is cut from the same cloth!

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  2. Amber? Those are pretty much ALL the reasons I DO NOT camp either! The Lake Superior comment made me laugh out loud- that is one cold lake!

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  3. I am NOT a camper either. I consider staying in budget motels 'roughing it'.

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  4. You know that I love camping, so I'm letting this one slide, Amber...

    Extremely funny, by the way :-)

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  5. I was also raised camping and in one calendar I had two trips turn me.

    In one instance we went to UP where the black flies would not leave the dog alone and he was covered in welt. So, we moved downstate to camp next to a waste water management plant. When we drove home from the so-so trip the dog had liquid poop all over the back seat of the car (and the camping equipment). To this day it is still the most wretched smell I have ever experienced.

    Then I went to a music festival, this is always weird "camping". Since the campgrounds; go car, tent, tent, car for as far as the eye can see. On that trip a huge storm blew in with pelting hail the size of my fist. Our shade tent blew away and our sleeping tent flooded. Luckily, we had air mattresses and napped through the storm. We made the best of it by visiting the local Walmart and buying towels and waders. The mud was fun to play in and the concerts were great, but that was it.

    The End (of my camping)

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  6. Amber! Busting a gut over here!
    1) This MN girl jumped in Lake Superior a few times, once my muscles litterally froze stiff I had to be pulled out. Awesome!
    2) Microwave Smore Rock my Socks! I just had one last night. Yummy!

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  7. Amen sister! No camping for this woman either.

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  8. Yeah. Camping is when I have to stay at a Courtyard instead of a "real" Marriott. No. Thank. You. I don't get camping. I mean, there are bugs! You have to poop in the woods!

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  9. Camping? Can't do it, can't bring myself to do it.

    And not for lack of trying. I've had friends promise to come along b/c they know I'll just love it if I see it done right.

    I've never loved, never--despite every one's good intentions.

    I don't like, my kids dont' like it, my husband doesn't like it.

    Roughing it to us is a tourist town hotel close to a resort beach. You know, a quaint little place that hasn't been updated in 40 years. With an ittybitty one setting microwave and a hot dog stand across the street.
    That's roughing it.

    Thanks for the validation, soul sister.

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  10. I love camping too. Sorry. We usually go somewhere with plumbing and bring an air-mattress though.

    You WASHED your hair in Lake Superior!!!! Brave girl.

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  11. The only kind of camping I enjoy is the kind that involves a hard top travel trailer or motorhome eqipped with it's own bathroom and shower, even if the aforementioned bathroom is the size of a postage stamp. If I want to pee at 3am, I'm quite happy peeing in a bathroom where I can wash my hands AND have a shower all without shanding up (not that I would....I'm just saying...)

    And for the record, I don't even have a "horrible" tent camping experience to reference, only that anytime I've slept (and i use that term loosely, I don't think I've ever really slept, mostly just closed my eyes and prayed I would sleep) in a tent, it rained, I got wet, and was misrible.

    And I neer understood how tenters at a campground could happily leave the campground to do whatever, leaving all their belongings in a tent? Even if it's locked you only need a knife to break into that nylon dome. I guess I'm just paranoid.

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  12. Amen! I am not a fan of camping, either. Unless the "camping" involves an air conditioned cabin with a bed. Then I can get on board.

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  13. Camping makes me cry.
    I don't even like hotels that don't have room service.

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  14. We have a pop-up camper ... but I still feel like I'm being held hostage in a 3rd world country. The kids and man love it, though, so I have to suck it up and pack lots of insect repellent and toilet paper.

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  15. We use to be huge campers, well, real campers...taking out a tent and all. Now, we have a travel trailer and that is really the only way I will go. I have a toilet, shower, bathtub. I have a microwave, oven, refrigerator, satellite tv, comfortable bed...air conditioning and heater. I will not camp without it.

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  16. Ha! We went camping in our luxury camper this weekend and I LOVED it! But I loved your post, too. Sooo funny. Even the part about the ants and the diarrhea. Yeah, I felt a little bad for you. But I was laughing underneath the sympathy. :)

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