Disclaimer: if you are a lover of camping and offended by excessive cranky whining from non-camping-loving people - then you may not want to read this blog. If you want a little entertainment about some random gal's tortured night in the woods, then read on.
Call off the searches. Sorry to those of you that have been in the running this year; but I have just been crowned Wife of the Year! Though I barely came back alive to accept my major award. Why, you wonder? Because last night I went camping!
There may be some of you out there that say, "camping, fun!" Well, then sorry, I just don't think you and I can be friends. I am a city mouse. I just am. I have not hidden this. I have made it clear for a number of years that me and the outdoor loving world just don't mix very well. I had more than one bad camping story growing up. Camping....I don't get it.
But despite all of this that my Hubby knows and has known about me, somehow I have been put into a position not once but TWICE in the last SIX months to go camping. You only think I was troubled when we camped at Yosemite this summer. That was like staying at the Ritz compared to my camping adventure yesterday.
So the Hubs asked me weeks ago if I would bring the girls out to this area about two hours west of Austin called Enchanted Rock. I know it's a pretty area - I've heard. I might have been interested in checking this area out for a hike in the summer, but that's it. But as time went on, and his whining persisted, I caved - and saw that Wife of the Year crown in my future. It's really not my thing - but I figured I could handle one night, right? - and also be a good mom to my girls. Yada. Yada.
My first cranky observation about camping - why does it take so much stuff?!!! Hubby joined some friends the day before for some rock climbing. The girls and I went and joined up yesterday. I loaded up our van for a one night stay, and it looked like we were going to California for two weeks. Seriously.
My second cranky observation - it's December. We might live in the south. But it presently is very cold here. I am also not a fan of feeling cold. So who thought let's stick the lady who hates cold and camping into a tent to sleep at night when it got down into the 20s was a good idea? Not me. My prize crown is growing bigger now.
So the girls and I check into the camp area last night. We were in charge of bringing dinner. So at least I didn't have to cook my own meal too. When we get there, I pay to enter the park and tell them the name the camp reservation should be under. The check-in guy says, "you're in the primitive" camp area. Say what?! Primitive doesn't sound cute and rustic. It sounds secluded, dark and super shady!
Now the reason I agreed to this is because the last couple weeks, prepping up for this event, we've been cooking some s'mores outside at our outdoor firepit. And with that, I was actually starting to get some kind of, sort of warm feelings about camping. I thought, we'll build a fire. We'll sit outside our tents. We'll have that fire glow over night through the tent. Warm. Cozy.
Two things happened when I saw Hubby after check in. One - he asked me if I brought matches. What? Two - I discovered that in the primitive area, you cannot have a fire. Not allowed. So there goes one cozy camp dream right down the port-a-potty.
We did manage to find some matches, and we did manage to make a fire. It was in one of those tiny picnic grill thingies. It was hardly big and roaring - but I did manage to eat a s'more anyway.
I knew there was another reason that I cringed and should have just driven the he** away from that campsite when I checked in and heard the word "primitive". Primitive means "park super far away from your car and hike in the dark on a narrow path for literally over two miles to get to this glorious primitive campsite." You know what primitive also means, there's no bathhouse across the dirt road. There's no shower. Not even running water. No, there is a plot of land. There is a 3x3 building with a hole in the center of it to go to the bathroom.....and that's about it.
So, yes, last night, after my marginal camp fire, I loaded a bag on my back, a bag on my left shoulder, a bag on my right shoulder and a pillow and sleeping bag cradled at the front of my body - and I guided my four and seven year old daughters by moonlight for a two mile (more?) hike that took about 50 minutes to our spot to sleep for the night. And at this stage, it was about 35 degrees. (Don't forget that disclaimer I wrote at the beginning of this post. I warned you.)
So we get to the site. It's approaching 10 o'clock. And we still have the tent to put up. All I can see is what I shine on with my headlamp. The Hubby was on his own with putting up the tent. I was just standing in fear hoping I hadn't drank too much Dr. Pepper at dinner. Because the idea of having to pee in the middle of the night was already causing me nightmares. Worse yet, I hoped my daughters also hadn't had too much to drink. With the temperatures dropping by the second, my nausea was undeniable.
So eventually the tent gets set up. We all get in. The girls are dressed in their clothes, a head piece we made them wear when we went skiing, their mittens, a sweatshirt and a vest. I had on my own stocking cap, gloves and thermal wear.
And there we were - in the tent, in the dark with the whole night ahead of us. And was it indeed. 10 o'clock arrive, 11 o'clock arrived. Midnight, 1:00, 2:00.....and I stayed wide awake. My camping psychosomatic mind would not shut off. I was cold. I was freakishly disturbed by the coyotes howling throughout the hours. Were they getting closer?? And I knew it - I HAD TO PEE!!
Finally after 2 o'clock, I sat up and dug around in my purse to find some kleenex. There was no way I was going down the death hill to the port-a-potty. I put on my Uggs and repositioned my stocking camp, unzipped the moist (yuck!) tent zipper and crawled out. The moon was full, so I had plenty of light. It was actually kind of peaceful. But only for like three seconds. In the most glamorous, city mouse way I could, I squatted by the tent, probably inches from a cactus and relieved my poor little Dr. Pepper bladder. Ahhhh. Maybe now I can sleep.
Nope. Time marched on. It simply was the longest night of my life. I shifted. I tossed. I rolled. I squished. I did all I could in that sleeping bag to feel comfortable. When all was said and done, I managed to probably get about three hours of sleep. But I did get up about 5:30 to pee by my favorite cactus again.
When the morning light finally shone through the tent, I didn't know it. I was so buried in my mummy bag to avoid the sub-30 temperatures.
Cheekers started making sounds first. She was thirsty - go figure. That girl is always looking for a drink. I had her squeeze into my sleeping bag for a half hour longer until Syd and Hubby started to wake.
When Hubby woke up, I was glaring over at him. His first words, "morning, you look pretty." I doubt it was sincere. My black mascara was smeared all over my face - from no running water to clean it off, eye-rubbing from lack of sleep and sobbing (ok, I didn't cry....much). And my first words to him, "I'm ready to go home now."
The plan was to actually do some hiking up the rock. But fortunately it was still cold, and the wind picked up. Why is this fortunate? Because my daughters are resilient - but more cold and wind, nope, we're outta here. I had given just about every outdoorsy drop of energy I never had in the first place.
So we packed up. Yet again, another brutal process. Squeezing a bag you sleep in into something sized like a watermelon. Yeah, good times!
Don't forget, we walked two miles to reach our primitive site. We had to walk the two miles back to the van, with our stuff and stiff neck and raccoon eyes. I am feeling like a hottie!
The best part for all of us was I had also picked up breakfast when I picked up dinner the night before. Frozen glazed Krispy Kremes awaited us on the passenger seat of my van after our trek back. It tasted pretty good. I'm not gonna lie.
But what was even better though - the best - was arriving at home, to my heated house and hot shower and cozy couch. And that's pretty much where I was most of the afternoon.
So maybe when you started reading this post, you thought, "wife of the year....for camping....come on". But for real.....I truly think I earned that crown. My sleep deprived mind definitely thinks so. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
P.S. You also may be thinking, wow, she hasn't written this much is a LONG time. Well, I wrote this whole blog last night.... in my tent from the hours of midnight to 3 a.m. Hope you enjoyed my camping tell-all. :)
Some photos from our glorious primitive adventure....
Our hotel room....
Scary, gross, stinky outhouse building.
Hard to tell map, bottom of the map is where van is parked, far upper right is where we hiked to sleep!