This post has absolutely nothing to do with my passion for writing but another passion I recently discovered. Well, it wasn’t a passion at first. I’d say it was more of a curiosity and, let’s face it, a little fear that I might hate it. I’m talking about primitive camping. Now let’s be clear – this isn’t “glamping” – you know, that sweet little family room on four wheels with its own kitchen, toilet, a nice couch and for some, a flat-screen TV. I’m talking about a tent on the cold, hard ground. And let’s also throw in the fact that I don’t have a twenty- or thirty-something body that bounces back like a rubber band. I’m over fifty and yes, admittedly, have started to feel stiff hips and achy joints.
Just let me back up a minute and explain that I’m not really sure where my husband’s idea that we should try camping came from. Maybe it’s the fact we are empty-nesters and he feared we might sit around the house staring at each other, wondering if this is it. First, he talked me into purchasing an inflatable kayak and we took it out on our local reservoir. I admit, I was in fear of an impending divorce if he tipped me in that thing. Anyone who knows me could tell you that nothing would mortify me more. But once I got the hang of it, I really loved it. Who knew! I’m not even a water person, but there is something very mind-clearing about being out on a body of water like that.
So our next step was to take that thing to a state park that had a nice, long river. Sounds fun, right? How hard can a river be? Turns out, we were pretty stupid about that river. We put the kayak in and went north a ways. It was great – no one was around. It was a weekday and we relished the idea of being the only ones on the water. On the way back to our launch spot, we couldn’t believe how much quicker we returned. Guess we were going with the current. So we stopped and had some lunch, resting up for the next half of our day when we would head down the other direction.
Well, it was fun! Gliding through the river, hardly having to paddle. But then my husband starts catching on, telling me we need to stop and turn around or we’re going to find ourselves too far from our launch spot. I laughed and thought he was being too cautious. I was enjoying myself. But, finally, I agreed to turn around and start the trek back.
Holy heck! We found ourselves fighting the water, finally realizing that you’re not supposed to paddle going upstream. We were complete novices using no common sense! But we weren’t giving up. We couldn’t even stop to rest our arms or else we would undo all the work we had just put in, the river was moving that fast. It felt like we would move mere inches after paddling like mad for five minutes. This continued for over hour, and I felt like I was going to die before spotting the landmarks that told us our launch spot was close.
I’m not a quitter. And my husband couldn’t quit because how would that look? So we kept going and, yes, we finally made it. But my arms were like noodles, and I couldn’t help carry that damn thing back to the car. He had to drag it himself while I whined about how exhausted I was.
But we love our kayak and we still visit rivers. We now know that you take two cars, parking one at the beginning and one at the end. And we still laugh about how stupid we were. It’s a story, right?
So visiting all of the state parks must have lead him to want to camp. He did it as a kid and thought we should try it. Now, I’ve always had the reputation of being a little high-maintenance – wouldn’t leave the house without great hair and a made-up face. There are plenty of girls out there like me, believe me. But let’s face it, I look dead without eye makeup. No, seriously, someone would call 911 – I’m sure of it. But as we age, we tend to not care as much, and I’m slowly starting to get there. Besides, all of these people who see you camping don’t know what you’re supposed to look like, right? I’m pretty sure my husband had a slight stroke when I actually agreed to go.
I never saw a man buy a tent so fast in all of my life, thinking if we bought one, I couldn’t change my mind. And then we bought all of the equipment we would need. He was in heaven at Cabela’s – throwing things in our cart left and right, still hardly believing I said yes.
Our first camping trip was last Labor Day weekend at a place called Pete’s Lake in the UP – go big or go home, right? We were ten stinking hours from home. Looking back, I wonder if he did that on purpose, knowing if we were close to home it might be too easy to throw in the towel if it got too buggy or something.
It was one of the best weekends of my life! I absolutely loved it. There’s something so liberating about no showers, vault toilets, no make-up (well, almost) and three-day-old hair. It made me start to think about all the time I wasted in my bathroom in front of that damn mirror.
The beauty that surrounded us took precedent over any hair product or foundation that I could slap on my face. And I never wanted to leave. We heard loons at night as we lay in our awesome new tent. And the fires! There’s nothing better than sitting around one – I dare anyone to find anything more peaceful or rejuvenating. And I found out my husband is an awesome fire-builder.
We didn’t have a care in the world. Just about what to fix over the fire for dinner. That’s it. No time constraints. No phones. No emails. No worries. It was life-changing for me. My husband couldn’t believe how quickly I adapted. I still think he’s in shock but no more than anyone else who knows me – they are still shaking their heads. I say let ’em. I am not the same person I was ten years ago. Even five years ago. Perspectives change. Priorities change. And, yes, people change. And for the better, most times.
Now my husband has decided he wants to backpack the Pacific Trail or something like that. I told him he’d have to find a buddy or go solo – carrying my life on my back doesn’t really sound appealing to me. But I support him – even encourage him.
If I can write a book, he can certainly hike for days on end.
I’d rather write a book any day.