Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Camping and Insanity...

I'm in the middle of a million projects. I started writing an "ode to mothers" post… On. Mothers'. Day. and I haven't finished it (which might actually be fitting). I have bathrooms that need to be cleaned. Piles of preschool projects that needed to be sorted and -- gasp! -- purged. Newborn clothes that need to be boxed up to make room for our little slugger's 3 month wardrobe.

Mostly, though? The laundry. We went camping over the weekend and virtually every piece of fabric we own smells like campfire. Does it matter that it was chilly, which means that we all wore the same 3 articles of clothing the whole weekend? No. Does it matter if the clothes were touched by campfire-scented hands? No. Does it matter if it even went to the lake with us? Absolutely not. I have clothes in the back of my drawer that I haven't worn in 3 1/2 years (which just so happens to be around the time I had to move into maternity clothes with J. Damn you, birthing hips.) that I might wash… just to be safe.

But, as I recuperate from the beautiful chaos that was the 3 days of prep and 3 days of camping, and find myself knee-deep in what is sure to be 3 days of clean-up, I thought maybe some camping story background would be appropriate therapy.

When we were first married, we lived in Western Washington (state, guys, not D.C.), and I pretended to be adventurous. One October (roughly 6 months into wedded bliss), K got the hair brained idea that we should go camping. Not the KOA "Kamping," mind you, which had been the vast majority of my camping experience until that point (what can I say? My mom has a penchant for running water and heated showers… a trait that she passed right on down to me.). Oh, no. He wanted to go the pack-in-pack-out camping where the "facilities" are a glorified outhouse and there aren't "camping spots" as much as "find a kind of flat place to set up your tent and hope it's not in a flood zone." The lovely part of living in Western Washington is there's tons of beautiful rainforest. The crappy part about rain forests, though, is it rains kind of a lot. Especially in October (this is what we call foreshadowing). Against my better judgment, I agreed, which was just as surprising to me as it was to K.

(P.S. - I've never seen this movie, so don't judge me if it sucks.)

K found some lake that was a 3 mile "hike" in, and a few days later, we packed up our gear and set out on a grand adventure. Except, it was raining… it rained the whole 1 1/2 hour drive to the trail, but we were being adventurous. Plus, how long could the rain last, really?? (Spoiler alert: a really damn long time. That's why the call it a bloody rain forest.) So we busted out the ponchos and set off into the pouring rain.

Regarding the rain: this wasn't the Seattle Drizzle, where you don't really need an umbrella, just a lack of concern for your uncontrollably frizzy hair. I was wearing a ball cap under my poncho, and it rained so hard that it turned into an excellent textbook example of the wicking effect: the water soaked the cap, gradually made its way back so that the entire hat was dripping wet, then soaked my hair, which in turn started dripping down the back of my fleece. 

After about 2 1/2 miles of this deluge, I started asking if we were getting close. K kept telling me that it was just around the next corner, which was a lie. Only 6 months into our marriage and he was already lying to me. This wasn't a good start. About 2 3/4 miles in, I started to cry, I think. I know that my face did that "sonofabitch I'm experiencing unpleasant emotions" thing, but there was just so much water that it all intermingled and I couldn't tell. 

We finally reached the campsite, and K set up the tent, engineered a little shelter with a poncho and some string, and dug out the camp stove and tuna helper, while I went to the "bathroom." Like I said earlier, it was a glorified outhouse. The stench was incredible, and I found myself sobbing and trying to decide which was worse, being in the monsoon or enduring the fetor that comes with years of use. I finally braved the conditions once again to return to our "camp site," and start preparing our gourmet dinner. Except, the only spoon we had was plastic. I kept trying to stir in the tuna, only to have it immediately become bent to the point of ineffective. And then, I sloshed half of it on the ground. Did I mention that this was bear country??

K returned from his surprisingly unsuccessful attempt at starting a fire, and noticed that the poncho-turned-canopy was sagging from the accumulated water. Without considering the shape or construction of typical ponchos, he stood directly under the center and pushed, which dumped about 17 gallons of water directly on his head. At that point, we decided to take the crappiest tuna helper ever made (which, let's face it, is saying something) and head into the tent, where at least we'd be dry. 

Following best camping-in-the-rain practice, we had set up the gear that needed to be dry by morning in our tent, which meant that there really wasn't room for us. But, we busted out the wine and Dove chocolates and tried to be less than completely miserable.

(In case anyone was wondering, this was not a scene from our trip. Mostly because I didn't have pearls on. Kidding… it was because we were miserable and not in a Nicholas Sparks book/movie.)

A little while later, I felt some water on my face. I wasn't sure if it was a drip or just my nerves recreating the trauma of the previous 4 hours until I felt several more in quick succession. Then, I thought maybe there was a leak in the tent. But, after being assured by my outdoorsman/husband that it was actually a high quality tent that had no potential for leaking, I realized that we had successfully, though unintentionally, performed science experiment #2: creating rain. Apparently, as we had warmed up the air in the tent, the condensation had accumulated at the ceiling of the tent, until it started dripping. And voila! Rain. 

And that was the moment. I turned to K in the tent-rain, at 2 am, in the pitch black, 3 miles away from our car, and said, "You need to get me out of here. Now."

We hiked/slid back down to the car, all while making conversation in loud voices so as to avoid being mauled (I did mention that this was bear country, right??). It was still pouring. I dug out a bunch of clothes that never made it to the Goodwill drop-off, and we drove the couple hours back to the warmth of our condo. 

Among the things that were ruined that day: a $200 point-and-shoot camera and my desire to ever go camping ever again. 

That is, until a few weeks ago when K convinced me that we should rent a pop-up tent trailer and take our 2 kids out into the wilderness. That story to follow. 

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