Have you ever heard of a “practice” camping trip? Yeah, me neither. But my husband insisted that it was necessary. When he first suggested this abominable plan in January, gently noting that I hadn’t set foot in a tent in almost two decades and insinuating it might be better to know how to set up a tent BEFORE we embark across the country for a month, I pursed my lips and glared. He says I outright refused…I am pretty sure, I simply said that I hated the idea. While vaguely acknowledging that he was probably right. But…mmm, no, wasn’t ready to go there yet.
After allowing the idea to simmer for a month, I finally, with as graceful an air as possible (read: gigantic sigh, followed by lots of grimacing), told him that he really was probably right, and we should probably schedule a practice camping trip.
Now, for those of you who missed it, I DID attempt a camping trip, after much cajoling, last year, and you may read about the experience in my post Pioneer Days and Camping: spoiler alert – we went home after four hours.
So, it was with great trepidation I approached this trip. It helped that I resigned myself to it, as well as to sticking it through this time, because, in all truth, it was an excellent way to ensure we hadn’t forgotten anything in the long packing list we have made for June, as well as to learn how to set up and take down a tent for those times he might be working when we break for camp.
We started by going to the wrong campground. I mean, seriously. Who would have thought that the Antietam Campground and the Antietam Creek Campground were two different things? Like, really? Thankfully, the actual campground was only another ten minutes, and we found it without any more mishaps, though we were made slightly anxious by the repeated reminders in our reservation emails to call the campground authorities if there were other people squatting in our reserved space. This particular campground happens to be alongside the Potomac River, which, let’s admit, is pretty cool. But also…it is next to a river. So I oughtn’t have been so surprised when we emerged from the car, straight into air so thick with gnats that part of me wondered if they were supposed to replace our oxygen supply. We trudged through the gnats, over a wooden bridge that crossed the Ohio Canal, and located our campground, noting with relief that we did not have to kick out any freeloaders. We were also pleased to see that it, unlike some of the others, was only a five minute walk to the outhouses. Note that: it becomes relevant later.
We returned to the car, making it our first order of business to apply enough bug spray to kill half the gnats and mosquitoes in a Minnesotan lake, and began unloading. It was somewhere between checking out the campground and the application of bug spray that we realized, to our immense dismay, that this particular campground apparently did not sell firewood. And that, somehow, we were the only people in the entire row of campgrounds to have missed this fact, since everyone else either had merry fires going or a stack of wood waiting to be turned into light and laughter. And it was somewhere in between the second and third loads (or was it a fourth?) being towed from the car, across the bridge, and down to our site, that I began working on a solution to minimize the amount of things we brought so that we could get it out in a maximum of one load, thank you very much.
And my husband, who has done me the kindness of pre-reading my post to affirm its entertainability, has now reminded me that the longer a post is, the less likely people are to read it, and therefore, I am going to end the narration here for today. Tune in next week to hear about our attempts to have a fire against all odds, and why the location of the bathrooms became of the utmost importance.