My first camping trip was with my ex-husband. We were dating at the time and he convinced me that it would be a fabulous three day stint of relaxation in a gorgeous setting. He was right about the setting - we had, perhaps, the most beautiful campsite in all of California, overlooking the Pacific with lots of marine life to watch. Relaxing? Not so much. After the four plus hour drive from Sacramento, he realized that he had forgotten the tent AND the stove. We slept under the stars which might seem very romantic, but really, it was just cold cold cold. We ate from a deli in Big Sur. I think we may have come home a day early.
That was my last camping trip. Until last week.
In the past, my excuses for avoiding camping were:
1. I don't have any gear
2. My ex takes Ben a lot, so it's not like he's missing out
3. I'm not a good sleeper in my own bed, let alone in a tent with a thrashing child and a deflated air mattress
4. The bathroom factor is huge. I get grossed out easily. And I really like my twice-a-day shower habit. Yes, I am a bit high maintenance (but only when it comes to hygiene).
5. I don't eat "camp" food. No hot dogs, no smores, no cheap booze, none of that stuff.
I could go on and on.
My friends, Shelley and Linda, are very seasoned campers and they camped together last year with their kids who are also Ben's age. I was supposed to go last year but I chickened out had a very important meeting/medical procedure/root canal...well, you get the point.
No excuses this year! My ex came through with much of the gear and the girls (Shelley and Linda) promised to bring the heavy duty stuff.
I could tell you about the highlights and lowlights: Ben nearly scraping off the entire side of his face within just a couple of hours of being there of our trip but pictures will tell the whole story, I think...
Ben and Aidan, post scooter crash, devouring hot dogs. I think Ben would have had a third, had there been another available. The moms had organic hamburgers. Oh, and I had two wine coolers which is not exactly on par with Cakebread but they tasted pretty darn good!
Ben experiences a very rare moment of silence. Perhaps quiet reflection and gratitude for not splitting his skull open?
The kids went from the dinner table to the shores of the lake...no TV, no video games, just good old fashioned, natural play time! (And the moms got to eat with relatively few interruptions!)
And then on to roasting marshmallows for Smores, which as you can see, is very serious business! The end result...nothing short of divine! I admit, Shelley's addition of Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate made it impossible to say no! I take back everything I said about camping food.
The lake was a major source of entertainment for the kids. Does the stick look like a really bad idea? The kids fought over it, briefly, but no one got hurt!
Shelley's daughter, Lauren, is just two weeks younger than Ben yet remarkably more mature (it's the girl/boy maturity thing). I'm crazy about Lauren (and her mom's OK too!). Ben calls her his "best girl friend." I would put her in the "seasoned camper" category.
Ben fit right in with some of the "riff raff" clientele at the campground. Actually, give the kid a wife beater and with those missing teeth and that face, he could be a poster child for Wal-Mart in any of the Southern states. Seriously! What did this camping trip do to my cute boy???
Good friends who will help you put up your tent AND who will lug firewood AND who will make sure that there is coffee on the stove for the morning AND who won't laugh at you when you inquire as to how to find the bathroom in the middle of the night are worth keeping for life (or at least for another camping trip!).
And lastly, I loved the fact that there were no distractions for me except for my phone, which Shelley dubbed a "Crackberry" while we were camping. It was so nice to not have to leave our spot for two days and to know that everything we needed was just a few steps away, at any given time except for a flush toilet, a shower, and a strapping man to make fires and bring me coffee in the tent.