Confession time....I have never been tent camping, until now. Yes, I know I am a nature blogger and it doesn't seem consistent, but it's true. Being outdoors is one of my favorite things but there are some valid reasons why I have avoided this outdoor-lovers pastime until this point in my life.
What led us to this momentous family milestone of going tent camping is the upcoming eclipse. The closest vantage point for us is about an 8 hour drive from home. As we discussed where we could see it and how we could squeeze out a memorable last hoorah vacation before school starts, we landed on camping.
Bear in mind that my three remaining kids at home are teenagers. My son couldn't have been more excited - his mentality is that we FINALLY get to go camping. My daughters on the other hand are less enthused. Picture eye rolling, lots of sighing and questions like, "Are we hiking EVERY day??"
Needless to say, it has taken quite a bit of planning and discussion to get everyone on the same page. Two days from now, we will be heading off to North Carolina, car loaded to the hilt with camping gear for the inaugural family trip. Whether it will be the first of many or an experiment that failed miserably is still to be determined. Stay tuned for Part 2.
In the meantime, let me tell you why I haven't been so keen to tent camp up until now:
The whole bathroom thing.....
I am just not excited nor talented at peeing in the woods. (Don't even talk about the other kind!!) My first attempt at peeing in the woods out of desparation ended up with urine soaked underwear. Yes! Disgusting! My husband tells me its a physics thing. I prefer to say that I am just not designed for toilet-less bladder relief.
I have to tell you, though that I did have success last year when my husband and I took a backpacking trip in Banff National park. Before we left, my older daughter had proudly presented me with a plastic device that was sure to solve my problems. Basically a female urinal, this device was an epic fail when tried at home! Realizing this device was not going to be my savior, I had to go device-free. Success!
The key, ladies, is positioning yourself uphill, deep squatting and getting your clothing around your ankles. Peeing in the woods made me feel like a real outdoor girl.....sort of. In all honesty, I'd pick a smelly outhouse to dropping my pants in the woods!
So, that said, on our first camping trip, we have selected campsites with bathrooms. Maybe next time we will try the backcountry....You never know!
2. Equipment out the whazoo!
UPS deliveries have been streaming in at our house in the last few weeks with camping equipment - thanks to end of season sales. Do you know how much gear it takes to go camping with a family of 5? (We actually have 4 more kids who have moved on to adulting - that is 4 less people to drag,,,,I mean take...camping, which may be why this is happening so late in our parenting life.)
Tent, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, stoves, pots, pans, lanterns,wash tubs ......The list is endless. Camping is not a cheap or simple endeavor. Reason #2 is a big one. Let's just say, I hope this is fun because we have acquired a lot of "stuff."
Another aspect of why I have been avoiding camping is the whole sleeping bag situation. Sleeping in a sleeping bag for me is akin to being put in a straight jacket! I am a side sleeper and there just isn't room for that and sleep just doesn't happen. With that said, my research-gifted husband thinks he has come up with the ultimate camping solution. It is some type of "sleeping system" composed of self-inflating bed pads that hook together, quilts and pillows. I will let you know how it works out.
3. Hours of Food Preparation
Having witnessed friends who have gone camping and seen them preparing food for days ahead of time, I did not see the value of camping. THIS is vacation?? Camping is not something you can pull off without some serious planning. Sure if you go last minute you can grab some hot dogs and a can of beans, but who wants to do that for a week? Not me!!
So, I have been doing some research and looking on Pinterest (probably a mistake) and I am determined to have some yummy, non-packaged food meals on our first camping trip. Aside from the traditional S'mores, we should be doing some fine dining. I will let you know how it goes. (And by the way, my son got to plan a meal and he chose hot dogs! But we are going to be wrapping them in crescent rolls for a more refined approach. And we are avoiding the beans, because you know what they do......)
Given the option of having maid service and a comfortable room or setting up a tent, prepping meals for days, peeing in the woods, I would probably choose the first option. But I am looking forward to making memories with my kids that we will talk about for years to come. I am thrilled to be spending some time away from the rat race, immersed in the woods, building connections with my kids. I can't wait to tell you how it turns out.
What were some of you favorite camping experiences? Give me the good, the bad, and the ugly