Friday, August 5, 2005

not a happy camper

I married into a camping family. My husband's family plans at least one--but up to three!--family camping trips each summer. There are varying degrees of enthusiasm for these trips. Most everyone--and especially my dear mother-in-law--adores the idea of spending time with our families. I, on the other hand, look on these trips with a sense of intense dread.

It's not so much the community showers, late night trips through the darkest darkness to use the bathroom, or even the idea of sleeping on the ground (or very close to it) that gets me. No, it's not so much the lack of creature-comforts that makes camping so undesirable for me. It's the abundance of creatures! And namely, bears!

I once made the huge mistake of watching a television program called "When Bears Attack". In said program, a man attacked by a bear said these words which live in infamy for me "All I could hear was the sound of the bear's teeth crunching through my skull." These are the words which play over and over in my head. Ever crunch of branches I hear--and I hear them all00 sends me into a deeper fear.

While I recognize now while safe in my home and in perfect daylight, that there are no bears lurkcing around the tent waiting for a chance to chew on my skull. The darkness of night brings with it for me a certain irrationality.

If I manage to convince myself that there are no bears poised to attack, my second fear is sure to kick in. Axe murderers. The wa I see it, we lock our homes tight ever night. We arm the burglar alarm, we bolt the doors, we lock all the windows. All of this we do to keep us safe so that we can feel secure enough to sleep in peaceful reassurance. But when we are camping, in truth, there is nothing but a thin layer of fabric...and a zipper! to keep every axe murderer out there away. How am I supposed to sleep knowing this?

Add to these (albeit) irrational concerns, there are very real concerns about comfort while camping. Number one issue is sharing a bathroom with hunderds of showers. Something as simple as taking a shower becomes an ordeal while camping. First you have to anticipate every single toiletry you could possibly need and bring it with you. Goodness knows you don't want to traverse all the way from campsite to bathroom only to backtrack once you've discovered you've forgotten the shampoo!

Once you get to the shower, you have the annyance of having to shower wearing flip-flops. You must hang your clothes so that the somehow stay dry hanging just inches from the shower spray. And invariably the shower curtain will not stay closed. When that happens you'll have to shower knowing that anyone who cares to can see all there is to see.

As bad as camping is, and believe me, I could talk on day on the subject, the truth is that I'm destined to camp at least once a year for the rest o fmy life. That's how I'm interpretting the "for better or WORST" part of the bargain. Since it is a reality and it doesn't help much to complain, I'm determined to make the most of this year's camping trip in just two weeks.


Waterfall said...

I really don't like campgrounds, either. Would much rather camp in an isolated area, where there isn't much camper food lying around (to attract bears), and where no axe murderer would be able to find me.

Kim in Carlsbad said...

I have had many family members and friends espouse the joys of camping to me. I do hear their passion. But camping is not for me. I do not want to lower my standard of living on my vacation. I know the beauty of nature, the stars, the fresh air. The beauty of nature can also be seen in the cabana boy bringing me another Mai Tai! I love the air in a 4 star hotel complete with spa!! To me camping is living like a refugee, think about it - community showers, sleeping on the ground. lots of strangers, etc. As I recall Tom Petty said I dont have to live like that. Amy, have fun on your trip and don't leave any food out for the bears!