Still don't believe it? Well, it's true. As the daughter of a computer nerd and a bonafide beach bum, my family spent our vacation time on the Gulf of Mexico, collecting sand dollars, swimming in the clear, calm waters, and nursing our sunburns in the comfort of luxury hotel beds. The only time I can recall one of us wanting to go into the woods was a week after Andy was born. While my eight year old self nearly suffocated my new baby brother with hugs and kisses on a daily basis, Alex wanted to abandon his role as middle child immediately. I couldn't blame him. Try as he might, he couldn't outsmart his older sister and couldn't out-cute his infant brother. My mother found him in his bed one day, sobbing into his pillow. "What's wrong, Al?" She said. "I hate having a little brother!" he wailed. "I'm going to take him to the forest and feed him to the lions and tigers!" He eventually gave in to Andy's charms, but I think that statement pretty much nixed any chance of my family spending time in the great outdoors.
When Mike suggested the idea that we spend Independence Day weekend with our friends camping on the Tippecanoe River I figured he must have hit his head and had completely forgotten who I was. I began to speak to him like Americans speak to foreigners. Loudly, slowly, with a hint of condescension.
"Camping, like, SLEEP ON GROUND? NO TOILET? CAMP-PING?"
"We'll have sleeping bags and a tent."
"Bugs. There will be bugs. Bugs are BAD."
"It's only for one night."
(I paused to think about whether or not I could survive outside for a full 24 hours.)
"Can I drink and smoke and blow stuff up?"
"Fine. But I might sleep in the car."
Arrangements were made to borrow my in-laws' tent and sleeping bags, I assembled and packed a few outfits I considered camping-chic (high-waisted shorts, t-shirt, bangles, electric pink lipstick, turban), and off we went. Now, I myself do not drive for personal/practical reasons, but I very much enjoy being the passenger through trips down windy, country roads.
That is until the sky gets all "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" and I find myself in the middle of a lightning storm that looks like this:
The lightning gave way to heavy rain just as we pulled into the campsite. I might have been a baby about this, but luckily I fell into a huge pool of mud five minutes after getting out of the car and was freed of any hopes I had about staying clean and dry. I should also mention that I was hanging out with the four badass ladies that make up Neon Love Life (check them out!) and their, "fuck-it-let's-drink-whiskey-and-rock-this-bitch" approach to the situation rubbed off on me, making things like peeing outside and finding a worm between my toes less harrowing than I thought was possible. I was starting to get the hang of the whole camping thing, and was even enjoying it. That is, until it was time for bed. I will never understand what you naturebots find pleasurable about sleeping outside. Perhaps you all don't look like this after five hours in a tent (if you have a heart condition, you may want to scroll through this close-up*):
"Hey Lora, sleep well?"
(Had Ashley and crew not gone to get coffee right after I woke up I was going to drown myself in that river.)
We didn't get to go tubing like we had planned, since the storm turned the river into a murky aquatic death trap, but we did get to do one last thing before we left..
All things considered, my first camping trip wasn't terrible. I mean, technically speaking, it was terrible, but I did have fun and even made it out of there without a tapeworm.
While I already have plans to go camping again next weekend (yeah, I'm really pushing my luck on this tapeworm thing), I think I'll always be the kind of person who would rather take a nap on the couch with a couple of spoiled poodles.
(post-camping poodles courtesy of Dorreen Carey)
* Madam Donut is not responsible for any medical/phycological damages that may occur from looking at these painful photographs of her face.