Roughing It

I figured we could end the week with one more nature post, seeing as many people will be packing up to go camping for the holiday. I will not be one of them, as I do not camp.

annenot camp

Don’t get me wrong. I love the outdoors and worship the sun and nature. And while I’m not high-maintenance—the closest thing I’ve had to a pedicure in the past few years is stubbing my toe while falling UP the stairs and losing a nail—I  don’t find appeal in sleeping on the ground in a tent pretending I’m homeless.

While it’s been years since I’ve been on vacation, when I go, it involves the option of a warm shower, a real bed and little bottles of shampoo I can steal and take home with me.

And although I’ve never slept in a tent, I do have a bit of camping experience. When I was younger we had a trailer up north that we spent a good deal of time at in the summer. It was a decent sized rig with a shower, small kitchen, deck, etc., but it was still a trailer.

I fished, I shot my bow and arrow (not at anything living, at least on purpose,) I tore around on the four-wheeler, we went for nature walks and into town for ice cream at Jones’ ice cream and cheap toys at the Ben Franklin.

We would blow up the inflatable alligator and hit the lake before coming back to nighttime campfires, Cribbage games and attempts to attract bats by throwing random crap up in the air by the park lights.

I was young, and other than the fact that I rolled out of the top bunk of triple bunk beds—a bed rail was quickly installed—I had no real complaints. Now that I’m older and debatably wiser, I would have many complaints, which is why I don’t even attempt to pretend to want to camp.

Thesis statement:

Why someone would want to leave indoor plumbing, decent food and the likelihood of not contracting mosquito malaria for outhouses, dirt-covered food and the likelihood of being attacked by a baby deer in the woods is beyond me.*

*To each their own, of this I know (disclaimer so campers don’t get pissed, although if they’re camping, they shouldn’t have access to Wi-Fi.)

But for those who enjoy camping and would like to recreate this experience at home, I have a few suggestions:

  • Hang your clothes over a wood fire to get that signature smell, the one that will hopefully cover up the other signature smell of musty dampness.
  • While you’re over the fire, singe your eyelashes and grab a hot poker to recreate the experience of starting the fire and attempting to roast anything over said fire with a metal stick.
  • Scald the skin on the roof of your mouth in an attempt to eat whatever it is you were trying to roast that didn’t fall into the flame.
  • Hovera lot—and get used to swatting bugs with one hand while wiping with the other. This takes skill, which is why you will most likely find yourself pissing on your own leg (hey, you wanted to go camping.)
  • Pour sand directly into the bottom of your bathing suit and any exposed crack or opening in your body. If a lake is nearby, also include seaweed.
  • If you feel like getting fancy, spray yourself with a water bottle to recreate the (lack of) water pressure trailer showers provide. Forget about washing your hair (this is actually a positive in my book.)
  • Plant families of the loudest bugs on the planet in your backyard directly next to your window. If available, add in the mating calls of mystery creatures you’re sure are rabid and hunting you down.
  • Roll your meals in damp dirt.
  • Roll your clothes in damp dirt.
  • Roll yourself in damp dirt.

So for those of you starting your camping season this weekend, may the force be with you. I plan on working in the yard a bit, reading and enjoying the luxury of warm showers, good food I didn’t have to catch and a few good baseball games.

I love not camping.

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24 responses to “Roughing It

  1. Oh, I laughed!

    We love camping in spite of these things, but it’s sure hard to argue with your list. Especially the bathroom issue. That’s the one thing about camping that makes me think I might just be officially too old for this shit.

  2. I truly hear you on the bugs…
    And I love camping. Trying each time to get a little closer to the ideal compromise of packing: being very prepared while being able to carry it all. Still full of energy making it to above the level of bushes and the bugs. Then walking on the ridge, watching clouds pass from one side to the other. Walking some more. Not talking much. Then pitching up a tent and sleeping on the most comfortable bump of ground or backpack. Drinking unbottled spring-water, and realizing just how cold bath-water can be. Doing this long enough to get used to thinking about simple things like the map and whether to put that sweater on right now or not, or in which pocket that certain snack could be hiding. Until some thoughts start coming back again, nagging you, and urging you to start working on them. Things that inspire you. So you walk downwards. Through the clouds of bugs again. And take a hot shower. And sleep with the window open.

  3. When I was young, my dream was to go camping and “sleep under the stars” and toast marshmallows.

    I went camping with Asians.

    I will NEVER go camping again, at least with Asians. Who brings rice cookers to camp? Gah!

  4. Camping to me is staying in a motel on I-95 (East Coast) as I drive south. That’s it. It’s as bad as I can let it get as far as roughing it.

  5. I thought I hated camping until I did it. Granted, I have to have all the right gear but when I did it I had a blast. I didn’t even sleep under a tent. I litterally slept underneath the stars. And I too hate bugs of all forms but I find more bugs in my apartment than I do camping. Weird.
    Anyhow, the one thing I dont like about camping is indeed the “hover” situation. As my bladder is the size of a tic tac and everyone keeps yelling at you to “stay hydrated” when your camping.
    And I am totally for going camping with Polocks provided they bring kielbasa!

  6. Agreed. I just don’t get it, and while I appreciate that some people love to be surrounded by mud and bugs without the luxury of electricity, I’d rather step on a rusty nail. The closest thing I ever came to camping was in college – we set up tents and then drank all night. I waited to sleep until I was safely back in my twin bed, thank you very much.

  7. Fun post and not just because I’m not a camping kinda girl. I’m no longer in the position to complain about the quality of hotel room service, so I can no longer make the joke that roughing it means the wrong flavor mint on my pillow, but the sentiment is still there.

    My garden is filled with weeds, and I’m dreading the task of cleaning it up. I’ll take a cooler of beer with me to the front yard and pretend it’s a canteen. Close enough.

  8. Totally agree. Camping sucks. I grew up in Michigan, and we camped every summer. Mosquitoes galore, mud and rain, sleeping on the hard, bumpy ground, lake muck in your shorts… ew. Glad I’m a grown-up now and can choose not to camp.

  9. The last time I went camping with my brother-in-law’s family we had a pick up truck full of “Deliverance” extras pull up, sit there uncomfortably long whilst passing back and forth the one tooth they shared, and, finally, leave after deer hunter brother-in-law flashed his handgun. All I did the whole rest of the weekend is call everyone I knew and tell them that if they didn’t hear from me by Sunday night, I was chained in a basement somewhere in rural Pennsylvania.
    Side note: Trying to lo-jack yourself is harder than you think.

  10. Camping is fun for about a day. And with lots of fancy camping equipment so that I can pretend everything isn’t dirty. And wine.

  11. This is just freakin’ hysterical. You are a soul sister. Camping — I so fail to get the appeal, too. I didn’t even go to Girl Scout camp.

  12. “Roll your meals in damp dirt.
    Roll your clothes in damp dirt.
    Roll yourself in damp dirt.”
    I’m here from Lady Bloggers. This is very funny. As a girl who loves to camp who is married to a dude who feels exactly the way you do, I printed this out and brought it in to him. He said, her thesis is my thesis. DO we still have to go? So as we head out for the weekend, I just have to say: You are a hoot. And a great writer. And isn’t that REALLY what it’s about? 😉

    Come and visit me if you are in the mood.

    • Contrary to popular belief, flattery will get you everywhere. I’ll be sure to stop by this weekend and check out your stuff. You’ve been warned, so no hiding behind the couch and pretending you’re not there when I stop by…

  13. I totally agree the whole pee-on-your-leg thing. Been there, done that.

    While I do prefer a shower nearby, I love camping, especially the Polish way. I loooooove carving my own “kielbasa stick” with a pocket knife and having to fish my sausage out of the flames every time my crappy stick breaks. I remember the first time I went camping with my “Canadian friends” and they brought burgers (and we had to use a shovel to flip them since we forgot a spatula). It was an awakening of sorts. Still loved it though 😀

    • My uncle–the one I call Uncle Kielbasa–is going to crap kittens and fall in love with you if he ever reads this comment. “Carving my own kielbasa stick with a pocket knife” has been his life’s calling.

  14. God, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve been camping. I think the appeal has definitely worn off for me and my husband. We are old and love to sleep in beds at this point. And showering is pretty important, too.

    But we used to go to Canada in the summer to camp and hike. But really we went to sleep a ton and drink a lot of beer. One of the last times we went, we decided to go on this great hike and were so excited to get back to the car and head back to the campground to eat at the end of a long day. When we figured out that the keys were in our locked car, the shit hit the fan. I think we hitched a ride with a family in their mini-van into the little town and somehow found a tow-truck willing drive us back and open the car. What a mess that was. I think we had extra beer that night.

  15. OMG. This is exactly how I feel about camping. Yes!

  16. Are you my twin? I COMPLETELY agree. 🙂

  17. I grew up “camping” in trailers and motorhomes, so I was shocked when I went camping in a tent for the first time. No way is that fun. The bathroom part is the worst. The. Worst. Because I go to the bathroom like a million times. Get me a tent on wheels with a bathroom or just forget it!

    Any chance that trailer was in a park on Cape Cod?

  18. This was hilarious, as usual! First, sorry about that fall from the bunk beds. Second, I actually like camping in a tent sometimes, but I totally get what your saying. I think your advice to roll everything in damp dirt was perfect and very appropriate!

    (Thanks for linking this up with us over at #findingthefunny last week!)

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