Thursday, March 5, 2009

I Am Not An Outdoors Girl

I've never been into camping. I'm sure much of that reason is that my mom is the reincarnation of Donna Reed -- pearls and all. She just doesn't really do the outdoors, so I was never exposed to it. The poor woman was my Girl Scout troop leader for years (see, Donna Reed again) and was forced to take us "camping" three times. She always managed to do it in cabins, though, as primitive as they were.

When I changed schools in eighth grade, my new best friend asked me to go camping with her and her dad.

So long as my mom didn't have to go, she was fine with it. I thought it would be a neat experience - especially the canoeing part of it. We were even going to be in a tent, cool!

Here's what I learned about camping from that experience.

1) Don't walk on squishy muddy sandbanks in lakes in Minnesota. They're filled with leeches.
2) Leeches like to sneak in between your toes. And they get really fat after having been there all day long.
3) Always take tarps with you when you go camping. ALL. WAYS.

The first two are probably pretty self explanatory. The good news is that I never was the girly girl who was freaked out about bugs, so as my friend and I were getting ready for bed in the tent and discovered these little vermin gnoshing away between our toes, I simply pulled them off.

And yes, I then threw them outside the tent.

We then went to bed, after trekking back and forth to the latrine where we were able to use the facilities and brush our teeth.

I woke up around ohhhh two or three in the morning. Why? Because I was soaking wet, of course. It was pouring down rain, lightning and thunder. Huge, massive amounts of rain. And said rain was coming into our tent.

Oh, I don't mean that our tent was leaking. I mean that the tent was sitting on ground that became a huge puddle and the water was seeping into the tent from the bottom up. And perhaps seeping isn't quite the right word. After all, there were a couple inches sloshing around by the time I woke up.

My friend slumbered on, however. She had a fancy air mattress that her sleeping bag was resting on while I was on the bare ground. I woke her up, and she woke her dad up -- and yes, he also had a nice air mattress. We then spent the next few hours trying to wring the water out of my sleeping back and get everything wet out of the tent.

Had my mom been in charge of the expedition, we would simply have piled into the car and gone to find a hotel for the night. I think that was the first time in my life that I was homesick for my mom.

After awhile of trying to dry everything out, we went back to bed. I ended up having to squeeze with my friend into her sleeping bag and have both of us stay on the air mattress. It was a long, cold night. We finally gave up very early in the morning -- before the sun was really up in north central Minnesota in the middle of July, that's early folks.

In fact, now that I think back on it, I don't remember doing any canoeing. I vaguely remember searching in vain for a laundromat -- the other sleeping bags finally got wet, too, as the rain continued to come down -- but I think we finally just gave up and came back home.

And you wonder why I've never truly been camping again. Let this be a lesson to you -- always bring tarp to place under your tent. I will say that I'm an expert in outdoor picnicking and keeping blankets dry and dew-free thanks to this experience.

But camping? Let's just say that I'm hoping Mister Man is never interested in being a Boy Scout.


Sheryl March 5, 2009 at 9:22 AM  

As a kid I went camping with my parents, we used a camper. So I have never been tent camping - neither have my girls.

So as not to deprive them from the experience, we borrowed a tent and had a camp retreat in the back yard. I hardly slept at all, between the rocks I was lying on (funny, I never noticed those rocks in the yard before) and the fact I was scared to death a squirrel was going to join us, I just don't think tent camping is for me.....bring on the RV.

septembermom March 5, 2009 at 9:48 AM  

This city girl is not a good candidate for a camping trip. Leeches would have totally freaked me out! I'm sure that so many people enjoy camping. Clearly, I am not equipped physically or emotionally for camping outside. I have three boys and luckily none of them see to be camper types. Neither is my husband so I guess I'm spared.

lsnellings March 5, 2009 at 10:16 AM  

I am so sorry! I am not a camper at all! You held up better than I would have!

Kaycee March 5, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

LOL. I actually love camping, but not in a tent. We have an old trailer that I just love. When it rains, we all cuddle up on the couch under a blanket and read or play cards.

It's the best of both worlds. You get to be outdoors without actually "touching" it.

Debbie March 5, 2009 at 11:42 AM  

No way would I have camped again if I had encountered leeches!

Jill March 5, 2009 at 1:28 PM  

I would love to go camping but not where there are leaches. The thought of them crawling all over me... I've got goose bumps.. OUCH!

April March 5, 2009 at 3:11 PM  

I love camping and anything outdoors. I don't mind bugs either. BUT, leeches, that's a whole other story. I would have FREAKED over that. Gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

Anonymous March 5, 2009 at 4:37 PM  

After that experience, I'd be afraid to even go outside!

Aunt Julie March 5, 2009 at 7:31 PM  

Every time I think of camping, I think of that Lindsay Lohan remake...was it The Parent Trap? Or was it that Olsen Twins flick with Kirstie Alley? Anyway, the kids go camping with Dad and fiance/girlfriend. Much hilarity ensues, mostly at the expense of the girlfriend! I'm a room service kinda gal, myself!

Michelle March 5, 2009 at 9:12 PM  

Sheryl - Hee hee... I can just picture the squirrel snuggling up with you in the tent. Awww, how cute.

septembermom - You chose your husband well! And there are people who enjoy camping, but ummm I don't think I'm really among them.

Lauren - Keep in mind that I was in eighth grade hanging out with my best friend and her dad. I had to keep it together at least somewhat, right?

Kaycee - I ask my husband this sometimes... is that really camping, though?

Debbie - Sadly, it wasn't the leeches that did me in. I was actually sorta ok with them.

Jill - Fortunately, the leeches aren't too interested in crawling... they just want to attach and eat :)

April - Wow, apparently I'm in the minority with leeches not freaking me out. I never would have guessed.

blueviolet - I have a book for you to read then... if only I could remember the name of it. It's something about kids today being afraid of nature and the nature deficit. It's a good read!

Veggie Mom - Ummm, never saw either one? You've got some interesting movie taste there! And room service sounds lovely right about now.

Cookie March 5, 2009 at 10:48 PM  

I totally agree! I do not want to go camping. Hub keeps asking me. I always say no. One day I hope the kids are big enough to go with him because I'd rather stay home!

Sandra March 5, 2009 at 11:59 PM  

I am so with you there!!!

I only camp in our motorhome.

BloggessJ March 6, 2009 at 2:50 AM  

I've only camped outside once, the racoon's attacked our campsite....Needless to say now our camp ground is Holiday Inn.

Angela Tolsma March 6, 2009 at 3:12 PM  

You are very brave!

Michelle March 6, 2009 at 3:51 PM  

Cookie - Hey, at least the camping is pretty up by you. I was going to say that you don't have to worry about snow in Seattle either, but ... I won't!

Saundra - So you've had the leeches issue, too, huh? ;)

Jaimie - Oh wow. The raccoon would totally freak me out. There's no way I'd finish out the night if that happened!

Namine - If you say so... I think I'm a wimp for not doing more camping type things. I do love to be outside!

Angela March 7, 2009 at 1:57 PM  

Stories like this remind me why I'm thankful that we have an acre of forest behind our house. Because I won't like to you - my idea of roughing it is sleeping in my usual bed in my usual house, while anyone who is interested in doing so camps out in our backyard - where you probably won't find me, LOL! That said, I love mountains and fresh air and even hiking. I just like to overnight in places with walls, running water and climate control :-)

Michelle March 7, 2009 at 10:04 PM  

Angela - I'm with ya. Except that the wetland behind my house probably wouldn't do so well for camping! Hanging out outside is all good though.

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