The last time I went camping, I woke up soaking wet in the middle of a field. I was in Girl Guides and shared tent with Lorna Ramstead. The fact that Lorna and I had pitched our tent on a huge slope without enough tent pegs meant there was nothing to keep me from rolling out of my tent in the middle of the night during a sudden torrential downpour. My dinner of Chili Surprise and my bubble mat air mattress (essentially the bedding version of a slip and slide) meant I was ripe for midnight wakeboarding. The fact I lay on the field for about 45 minutes before I woke up is an indication that the conditions outside the tent were about equal to the conditions inside the tent. Alas, I swore at that time, camping was not for me.
When the boyfriend, Peter, suggested we go camping, I was excited. In my mind, camping is something that occurs when you stay at a hotel of less than 4 stars. In these tough economic times, I thought it would be fun. When he clarified that we would be camping outside, I froze. “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…!” I screeched internally, while passive aggressively saying, “That would be fun,” externally.
Pete’s version of camping is very different from most people…..even those who like camping. If there is no risk of forest fires, bear attacks or tornados, he is really not interested. He refers to the TV show Survivor as Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. So as Pete packed oxygen masks, bear spray, and a harpoon gun, I packed life insurance, rosary beads and extra booze.
We arrived at Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park just in time to hear reports of possible landslides in the area. Pete was thrilled. We set up our small hurricane proofed tent and proceeded to look around the grounds. I was shocked at how much camping had changed. We were the only ones in a tent. Everyone else brought their homes with them. The site next to us was occupied by a family from Langley. Their RV was easily the size of the space shuttle. It had a chef’s kitchen, a soaker tub and a 42 inch plasma TV. The dad, Ralph, said they loved camping because it allowed them to return to a simpler time. I guess the fact they could only get 145 channels returned them to the simpler time of 2008.
Cooking meals on this trip was tricky because of the campfire ban due to extreme forest fire risk. Pete was thrilled. This meant we had to cook with his tiny survivalist camp stove – a strange contraption that most military officials would call an incendiary device. We heated canned chili (no surprise there) and ate it with fresh Cobbs bread, real butter and a six pack of beer. I must admit the food got better tasting with each can of beer. By the end of the six pack, I could have sworn I was eating at Bishops.
A couple of hours later, I faced my next real challenge. Earlier in the week, Peter had given me the resource book “How to Sh*t in the Woods, 3rd Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art” by Kathleen Meyer. Pete was mortified that I had no practical experience sh*ting in the woods. I was mortified that he had a book on the subject. I was also surprised (and pleased) that Kathleen Meyer’s editors could get that title past censors but I guess when you are talking about bodily functions, you can use medical terms like that. Even though I studied the book and looked at the pictures from every possible angle, I could not see how any gal could possibly sh*t in the woods without sh*ting in her pants. Perhaps the gals in the photos have better aim than I do. This meant I was relegated to sh*ting in the camp outhouse. Thank goodness Pete brought the oxygen masks.
Entertainment in the evening consisted of hunting mosquitos, questioning why we were camping outdoors and gossiping about the neighbours. I soon realized the campsite was a microcosm of a weird wilderness suburb….and I was the Gladys Kravitz of that world. It didn’t take long before I got to know everyone around me. I didn’t know them by name – I knew them by my personal judgement.
The trucker with tattoos in site 6 spent his time hacking down tree branches to make more poles for his awning. I guess he liked to return to nature so he could destroy it. Thus, I nicknamed him, Global Warming.
The people in campsite 18 rode their ATVs everywhere – even to the campsite 17. I called them the Jabbas after Jabba the Hut.
The guys in camp 13 sat outside their RVs drinking beer for the entire trip. I called them the Single Alcoholics
Pete made me stop speculating about people when I insisted on calling the Ranger so I could twitter a sighting of the Black Eyed Peas in campsite 72.
In the end, I actually really loved my time there. And this trip, I didn’t roll out of my tent – mainly due to the ground staples that Pete put in my sleeping bag to stop it from being sucked into a twister – but I loved breathing fresh air, walking in the woods and watching people. I can’t wait to camp outside again soon.