Growing up, we never went camping. I know my dad did, out of practical necessity, when he was young. With six brothers and sisters, I am sure his parents noticed that hotels get very expensive! But my mom just said, "no, I don't do that", and that was that.
I went on a backpacking trip when I was 17, and it was one of the best experience of my life. I remember coming home and feeling like the house was too small for me. I was so used to having unlimited space around me, and I think I had grown too, in some ways. I have always remembered that trip fondly, but other than one or two times since then, I have not gotten over the ingrained non-camping habit.
Now, my husband grew up camping. He was a boy scout and with scouting goes camping. I was excited when we imagined the prospects of having children that his experience and familiarity with camping would break down my ingrained hesitancy, and that we would be a camping family! I love the idea of being unafraid of the outdoors. I want to be in tune with the seasons, and I want myself and my children to feel like capable and familiar stewards to the earth.
Perhaps, someday, my husband will have the time to fearlessly lead us into the wilderness, but the time demanded by his current job and position do not allow for leisurely weeks of outdoor time. And so I took it upon myself this week to face my fears(?), hesitancy, and habit, and to take B camping.
I did notice, as we started out for the campground (a nice, easy to get to, close by campground) that the weather report said that it would be cooling down later in the week, but that "today we will be in the hundreds, hot, humid and sunny". I had a moment of doubt. I thought "shouldn't I just wait until it's cooler?" But I had already packed our 24 hour meal plan (we were only going to stay one night. This was a trial run after all.) And I just didn't want to be a wimp.
We finished off the watermelon the minute we got to our campsite. It was going to get warm anyway, and boy were we thirsty already!
We had a lovely little camp! I brought the baby "corral", which I thought, at first, to put around the fire, whether it be a bbq or fire ring, but then just ended up putting around the baby, for the duration of the cooking.
I was super proud of my cooking! I am pretty sure I had never built a fire before. But I had seen my husband do it. And I wasn't ashamed to use six or eight matches! My dish had three steps to it; cooking bacon, cooking potatoes, putting it all together with an egg batter. So, that afforded me a lot of time to figure out how best to keep the fire going, and how to regulate the heat. I was able to get all the food thoroughly cooked, and it tasted great in that way that things inexpertly cooked over an open fire can only taste.
We had a very bold visitor. And, no, I didn't catch him. He could get in and out easily between the bars. He watched us from maybe seven feet away as we ate, and moved in quickly when we weren't there to protect our things.
After we finished dinner, I really didn't know what to do. We went for a little walk, enjoying every little tickle of a breeze, but we were both drooping. We were both really hot, and dirty. The campground is an old campground, and the dirt at the sites has almost completely become soot after the countless campfires over the years. I was able to get B cleaned up for bedtime, in his jammies, and in the tent, but it was still light out, and we were hot hot hot in the tent, and there was no sleep in sight, so, we made a dash for home.
I am actually quite glad that we did come home. I had inexpertly and inefficiently cooled our groceries and many things went bad in those few hours, so there would have been no breakfast. I also just cannot imagine that we would have been able to sleep in that tent, and it was too dirty to sleep outside. And when we got home, and I guzzled down a pint of hot, salty soup, I realized just how dehydrated we had become even though we had been drinking bottle after bottle of water the whole time out.
I am so glad that I made the effort! I am so glad that I faced my fears! I am so happy with my outdoor cooking! I am so glad that there was a back up plan!
Now I know a bit more, and I definitely look forward to doing it again, with a bit more preparation and a bit more knowledge.