I’ve camped a lot in my time. Not much as an adult, but enough to know that I generally enjoy a good outing in the wilderness. I suppose something about the great outdoors, the nature, the raw beauty, is attractive to my vagabond nature. I remember going camping with my family when I was a child. Don’t you love how easy it is for kids to go camping?! It’s the parents that do the work, while the little scamps go exploring or swimming or poking things with sticks (not that I ever did that). So, it’s always the memories of camping that seem to be the best, where the whole family is frozen in Pleasantville-like wholesome fun. Camping as a teenager or an adult is a whole different story; it’s not better or worse, just a different experience.
The last time I went on a camping trip as a child, I was there as a slightly older helper to my mother who was acting as a chaperon for a grade school camping trip. Since my mother worked in the school district, I got to be a “counselor” quite often. I never minded; it was like getting to go on extra field trips. I can’t remember why we were camping, I just remember drinking Tang, and braiding the girls’ hair in the morning. Then, we had to hike our way out. Now, to be perfectly honest I’m one hot mama, but I’ve never been what one would call…thin. So I didn’t think hiking would be tons of fun, but oh was I wrong! I led those girls out of camp like a freaking forest ranger(I guess I was born to be a leader)! We had the greatest of times, me joking with them all the way, occasionally dropping to the back to encourage the slowest girl. That was probably the best camping trip I had before reaching adulthood.
A few years ago, I went camping with my good friend Puzzo. Boy, was that a different experience! I had just as much fun, but now that I had to actually set up the tent and build a fire, well the flames weren’t the only thing that flared. Actually, building the tent wasn’t that bad. We pretty much attacked it and made it look like the picture. None of that “connect joint A to joint B” crap for us! Heck no, we were gonna do this on our own. Luckily, we had the tent built and everything inside just in time for a monsoon to hit. We decided to go swimming anyway, since wet is wet. We returned from the lake to find half of our things as wet as we were! Apparently, the tent wasn’t exactly level, and the rain hadn’t let up at all, creating a miniature lake on top of the roof. No worries! We set up a clothes line in the tent and hung things up to dry with the help of the fan (hoping not to get electrocuted). Then, Puzzo straightened the roof from the outside while I pushed on it from the inside. As one might guess, the water dumped all over Puzzo (it happened to me later too), but we both just burst out in laughter. We changed into dry clothes, turned on the radio, and pulled out the drinks and the cards! Later, the rain finally stopped, and then…the cicadas attacked! Jeez, but those things are loud! We stayed up talking late, and eventually dropped off to sleep. Our next adventure was in trying to build a fire. You see, when wood is wet, it doesn’t like to burn. Who’dve thunk? So, it was about 3am the next morning before we got one going. We were so excited, we partied like primitive cave women..dancing around the fire (this had nothing to do with the beverages) and cooking up masses of hotdogs…on sticks! We had a grand old time, but were quite ready to leave by the third day. Ahh yes, camping as an adult is very rarely as magical as when one is a child. But, one day…this vagabond will get the magic back. Happy Camping!