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Friday, June 22, 2012

Camping

A lot of people may think I am a bit of a prima-donna, and they might be right.  I wasn't always this way, I will freely admit that over the course of 40 years, I have evolved into a woman who likes the finer things in life, but that's not to say that I can't appreciate the simpler things.  I *reluctantly* went camping last weekend.  I will also admit right here and now that I have a love/hate relationship with camping and it can turn on a dime, which it often does.

I grew up with a father who taught me how to camp, I mean really camp.  I washed dishes and took baths in rivers and lakes, I slept under the stars in a banana lounge chair on the shore of a cove in Lake Havasu, and I made more than a few trips to an outhouse perched atop a hill overlooking the campsite we called home for a week at a time. Truth is, I loved it (well all except the outhouse) but in my adult life, I have gotten used to being pampered.

Now I am lucky enough to have a sweet little vacation home out at the river.  It has it's issues, what with the mainentence, the occasional mouse and cockroaches the size of golfballs. But really it's like a little slice of heaven on earth.  I am spoiled because besides food, I have everything I need right there.  I have stocked that place up!  We even have cable TV, which last I checked Ridgemont still didn't.

So last weekend, we packed up the trailer we borrowed from my Mom's boyfriend Dave.  He generously allowed us to use it so that saved us quite a bit of dough since we didn't need to rent an RV.  We've used it before and it's a fine little toy-hauler, it does the job and the beds are quite comfy, even with a small child twisting and turning against my back all night long, essentially it's pretty basic but at least there is a toilet for those 3:00 a.m. bathroom breaks I now have nightly.  It's more of a "glamping" situation than pitching a tent and peeing in the bushes outside.

We joined a group of friends who really LOVE camping, I mean they do it in style with HUGE 5th wheels and all the extra goodies which makes this production much more satisfying I suspect.  Full kitchens and fancy bedrooms, the whole kit and caboodle.  Jealous? Yes I suppose I am.

Anyway, back to the camping.  So the prep work that goes with the "relaxing getaway" is not something I love.  In fact, packing up a bunch of crap while fending off a serious case of PMS, well let's just say it's not the perfect combination for a delightful weekend.  I do recognize that my attitude may have played a roll in  my reluctance, but I sucked it up and did the grocery shopping, the laundry, the stuffing of the bedding into a variety of bins, I gathered the toys and the electronics, got the bikes together, made lists of things to bring, etc. etc.  And so off we went to spend time in the great outdoors. 

We arrived in Carlsbad after an hour drive, not too bad considering we were towing.  We found our spot and our friends and began the process of setting up camp, which basically involves unpacking all the crap I had just loaded into the trailer and trying to fit 10 lbs. of shit into a 5 lb. bag...(thank's Mike, borrowed this little gem from you.  I like it.)

When I finally got it all sorted out, it was time for some sangria.  Ah...the refreshing part of the weekend!  We rode our bikes a bit and walked down to the "beach" (and I use this term only in the sense that the ocean met the shore but really it was much more of a rocky terrain than a beach). 

I did manage to whip up some rather tasty tacos in the shoebox kitchen and only got one complaint (my son, but he bitches about everything so I didn't take it seriously).  We put the little kids to bed, enlisted the 15 and 13 year-olds to babysit and joined our friends a few campsites down to sit around the fire and have a drink (or five).   Chris was the smart one who went to bed early, like maybe 11:30.  I, however, felt the need to be the last one to leave the party, probably some time around 2:00.  Yes, I am a fool.  You would think I would know better now but it's like a vortex, I just get sucked in!

So when the sun came up and the little girl woke, there really was not a whole lot of sleep for this lady.  Sleep is a valuable commodity in my life and without it, well let's just say that I might not be the "happiest" gal on the block.  Right about then, I was ready to pack up our junk and head back to the comforts of my home.  Chris was feeling the same way but when I checked on my boy who was sitting in the tent pitched outside, attempting to roll up a sleeping bag but was just sort of picking at the zipper, and saw the look on his face (with tears welled up), I knew we HAD to stay.  Chris and I muddled through the morning, Gav pulled on his wetsuit and grabbed his surfboard and went out surfing with his buddy. 

My dear friend Nicky took her little girl and Piper to a sandy, kid-friendly beach down the way.  Chris and I watched Gav surf and play in the ocean.  No sleep and a little hangover had everything to do with my own poor choice so why should our kids suffer?  Right.  They shouldn't. 

So we sucked it up and spent another night.  Our friends put together an amazing spread for dinner but grumpy old me, well I didn't even want to cook.  My family thought that Pick Up Stix sounded fine so I drove off site to have everyone's favorite camping fare: Chinese fast food.

We hit the sack and woke up early Sunday morning, Father's Day.  It's a rough holiday for both Chris and me, bittersweet since we both lost our Dads.  But Chris is such an amazing father so it's a day to celebrate him.  I'm not making excuses but I think this day coupled with grey skies and looming sadness, well it makes for a recipe resulting in a crabby bad attitude. 

We packed up all the gear, the chairs, surfboards and bikes into the back of the trailer and got the hell out of Dodge before you could start your generator, which incidentally in California State Parks, is not until 10:00 a.m.  Ugh~no coffee.

The good that came from this weekend was that our kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves.  They got filthy dirty, ate junk food, hung out and played with their friends and smiled the whole time.  So even with all this bitching, will I do it again?  Probably.  Will I complain the whole time?  Maybe, depends on the time of the month.

The bottom line is this:  The stuff we do for our kids, for our families, might not always be our favorite, but we do it anyway.  We do it because we get to see the way our kids light up and share their joy and happiness.  We do it because we remember our own childhood (the good and bad) and make choices to make things better, more fun, for our own kids.  Ultimately, we do it to create memories and connections with our family and friends.  

I often tell my son to "suck it up" and make the most of the situation you find yourself in.  I suppose I need to take my own advice.  But, I am only human and I won't apologize for that.  I will, however, apologize for acting like a turd if I offended anyone by being a grumpy crumudgeon, but that's what hormones and a lack of a shower will do to a girl.

In any case, I wish you all the best of luck in your future camping endeavers and if you are anything like me, I recommend sangria and sleep, in that order.

Happy Weekend and Summer!



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