My Kind of Camping

After a year of working to keep our heads above water, we’re ready to start making real memories.

Bringing the children home, adjusting to instant life as parents (of two toddlers, no less), dealing with nutritional needs and health issues, and fostering attachment were all things that left me with little creativity to put towards establishing family traditions and making their childhood memorable.

But now that we’re approaching the year-mark I’m officially ready to clutter the video camera with precious images at which our children will roll their eyes when they’re 25.

One of the first of these will happen this Thursday night. Our first (possibly) annual camping trip.

For Nate, and probably 90% of you reading this, this is no big deal. One night … a stone’s throw from our car and within walking distance to restrooms, showers, and a water source at a state-park may not even qualify as camping to some of you die-hards. For me, just talking about it gives me hives.

You see, I’m not the camping type.

For example, this spring, the warming weather brought ants into our home. While they didn’t make it into my bedroom, just finding them getting comfortable in the corners of my first floor was enough. I figure that given this and the two spiders I killed last week in my bathtub, I’ve already filled my “outdoor experience” quota for 2010.

And lingering in the back of my mind as we prepare for this trip, is the memory of the birthday surprise  hiking/camping trip I planned for Nate 3 years ago, to celebrate his 30th:

To start with, I asked advice from friends who didn’t take me at my word when I said “I really am not the camping type” and still sent us into what I’m sure was the DEEPEST ravine in the Blue Ridge. To sleep of all things!

But it wasn’t sunny enough. We hiked for about 4 hours before I caught the first whiff of Nate’s frustration with my particularity about camp sites. I tried to tone it down but (thank God) by that point our options were even more sparse.

The combination of my usually-resourceful overpacking skills and my heretofore latent fear of sleeping under a canopy of really tall trees (and not stars, as I had pictured), left my rugged groom with a tough decision: Does he coax me into fulfilling what, a few hours earlier, had been a really cool birthday adventure at the expense of (what I argued was) my life?

If I can’t see the moon, there was no way I’d be able to tell if a bear was approaching to eat me.

He humored me until our hike turned out to be a loop (up-hill the second half) and we wound up back at the car. Seven hours later, our packs were still sixty pounds. We didn’t even crack open the cool camping stove to cook the gourmet enchiladas I’d prepared for us. I spent the ride home pretending to be deflated and share in Nate’s disappointment, hoping he couldn’t tell I was secretly ecstatic that I was going to sleep in my bed that night.

Win/win. I planned an awesome trip that made me look like the granola wife Nate never had and I got to wash my face and floss my teeth before climbing under my 400-threadcount sheets.

The bubble bath the next morning washed away any second thoughts I might have (pretended to have) about our aborted camping trip.

Fast-forward almost 3 years to the day, and we’re doing it a little different this time. Car camping. “Cush camping”, as those ignorant crunchies may call it.

I’ve invited friends to go with us who come with a cooking stove and lantern. And the back-seat of our car folds down should I decide that the mosquitoes need a break from their feast. Eden will get her long-awaited fantasy to sleep with Mommy and Daddy again and I’ll still be near a shower after my children sweat all over me.

After all, as parents we mustn’t heedlessly go overboard in seeking to fill our children’s mental scrapbooks. Pace yourselves, people. There’s, like, options.