Last weekend I went camping with my family. It went down like this:
A 65 percent chance of thunderstorms was forecasted. It was the night of my birthday; though not a decade marker yet, it hovers just slightly south of the cincuenta border. I had worked earlier that day, then shopped for groceries, prepared hobo packets for dinner, and loaded the Jeep with 6 bins of camp gear, sleeping bags, cooler with prepped food, grill, charcoal, collapsible chairs, portable table, a 19-inch deluxe air mattress and pump, a single mattress for the munchkin, about a dozen D-sized batteries, lanterns, and our brand spanking new forty-five pound bag of:
DELUXE TENT – SLEEPS SIX.
Now here’s the beautiful thing: We just received our swanky new tent a few days earlier. I found the ONE website on the entire internet that sold it for $100 less than everywhere else. It is the Taj Mahal of camping tents! It has a hinged front door. It has a 3-inch mini zippered door beneath the main door, so your pet mouse can go in and out. Or at least that’s what I thought, until my genius husband explained that was for the electrical cords to pass thru. Fabulous!
It has windows that have slap bracelets inserted in them, so you can roll them down instantly with a cool-sounding SLAP! And it even has a 3-way light and dimmer above, and get this: An adaptor for a camping ceiling fan! The only design flaw I could find is that it doesn’t come with a flushing toilet, but I will submit this suggestion online.
Cool beans! Now Liz is ready to rough it for the weekend.
Fast forward to 7 pm. Hubby arrives home late from work. Mama is hungry and fairly exhausted and feeling kind of birthday-less after going at breakneck speed to MAKE THIS HAPPEN (a fatal flaw of mine when my intentional plans run contrary to unexpected circumstances. I run upstairs to print prior email with camp directions as this was a family scouting trip.
WHAT’S THIS?!? The trip was cancelled? Why didn’t this email stamped 11:32 am come to my phone that I checked throughout the day?!?! (A mystery of technology that will never be explained!)
&*(#%@ I thought inwardly. We are camping come hell or high-water, with high-water being a high probability. See, I had already invested in this trip with precious energy. It was too late to back out for me. If we were the only ones at the camp ground, we were going!
Well we drove everywhere that night down dark spooky roads out in the country. 9:03pm. Eureka! What’s this? The gates close at 9 pm. We go back home. Starving. Both of us tired from work. Frustrated. Ill at one another. Disappointed.
Mr. Holland was right: Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.
Saturday, 7 am: Reload the cooler and off we go. My husband has a bad back. You know what that means. I got to carry the gear down the hill, through the valley, and back up a hill, until we reached our campsite. Hooray! A few die-hard campers were there; we weren’t alone. Then the ensuing men-are-from-Mars, women-are-from-Venus battle of the sexes transpired over reading pica .001 directions on the tent label. Actually, it was not that bad. It took about thirty minutes and now we’ve got it for next time.
The rest of the day was great. We went on a hike and watched friends fish. We lamented that we still haven’t bought fishing gear, but if we do, we’ll need a back door basket as we are already at overflow capacity.
Our oldest son met us mid-day and brought our dog who became best friends with everyone who brought meat. Letting him be loved by so many and play with kids in the woods was a blast. Liz made smores for kids in an industrial smore-maker with gargantuan marshmallows. My young son, and I, and other scouts played the trivia game Hoopla by the fire. One of the other Dads recited from memory Shakespear’s Hamlet that he knew by heart as we sat around the fire. Liz was impressed. And exhausted. Unable to move or speak. Nearly numb. Just sitting there experiencing this one thing…..at long last:
It’s something I rarely do. Just sit. In a chair. Thinking about nothing. Doing nothing. Just watching fire. Contemplating life. And then quickly forgetting it. Why is this so hard for me? I wonder.
10 pm. Plip. Plop. Right on schedule. Rain. Story time around the fire is over and nothing left but to go back to the tent and sleep under a rainy sky. Well not exactly rain, more like a monsoon. ALL NIGHT LONG. But the Taj Mahal stayed dry thanks to the generosity of a friend who gave us another tarp to put over the rainfly. So I didn’t get to see the stars I’d hoped to see, as my weary eyes dimmed, but I did have this one comforting thought:
At least when I wake up, I can put on my Estee Lauder make up in the tent. I can just TURN ON THE LIGHT and use a mirror. And although Camp Hyatt (Grand) is still my favorite place to take a family vacay, the whole camping thing is something every woman should experience at least once!
Out in the wild wilderness I can bring a bit of plum lipstick to a mostly brown and green forest. I am older now, but not so old I can’t put a little sweat equity into participating in outdoor adventures with the two and a half men in my life. I can get muddy. I can lift a heavy load a few times. And somewhere in the mix of all these boys, and men, and dirt, and fish, and canvass, and leaves, and dog breath, and fire is a little girl inside a middle-aged woman’s body dreaming of the stories she will someday write.