Monthly Articles

Fishing in the Dark

fishinginthedark

When I started to write this article, I realized that I’ve experienced three types of camping. All three have been vastly different and it’s been fun thinking about my camping memories. Perfect camping for me is now a trailer with a tv, dvd player, air conditioning, shower and a real bed. Fuck it, I’d just take the real bed…and the air conditioning.

When I was a child, camping was filled with reading, swimming, riding bikes with  my siblings, fighting with same siblings, and fishing. Fishing was my least favorite thing to do. Unless the fish were actually biting, then I’d happily worm up my hook and catch some fish to clean and cook over the open fire. For some reason, I loved cleaning fish. Maybe it was because it was always a surprise to see if there were eggs inside or not. Plus, I loved the feeling of the fish guts. I know, fucking weird. It’s a good thing I didn’t choose to become a surgeon because it would have been awkward when asked why I chose the life of a healer to say “Because I like the feeling of your intestines between my fingers.” If the fish weren’t biting I’d read in the boat while my family fished. My parents always said that you catch more fish when it’s raining so we’d still have to fish if it started to rain. I’d sit on the floor of the boat, huddled underneath my rain poncho and read in the red light that filtered through my shelter. If you ask my parents what the worst thing about camping with me was, their answer would be my asking “How many scoops?” every damn time they asked me to make a pot of coffee. I wasn’t being sassy. Numbers will forever be my kryptonite.

Before children, camping meant my boyfriend (now husband) and I taking off in our Toyota pickup with pillows, blankets, chips, water, and a can of ravioli or some other food in a can that you could sit on the edge of the fire pit to heat up. *ALERT!! Don’t forget the can opener like we did on one occasion. We looked at the tools in the truck and the grease/oil caked on them and decided we could survive off of chips and water for the night.* We’d spend 5 minutes packing the truck, drive an hour and a half to a forestry campsite and start a fire. We were the only ones there in the middle of the week and could skinny dip and do whatever dirty things we wanted to each other while being one with nature. We slept in the truck while listening to music with the sunroof open like a portal to the stars. The song that we listened to the most and reminds me of those trips whenever I hear it is Fishing in the Dark by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.

Then came children. It became a lot more work to shop, pack and unpack for relaxation. I guess the work/relaxation ratio kind of evens itself out by the end of the trip. Tenting is fucking evil and if I never inflate another air mattress in my lifetime I’ll die a happy woman. The first trip with a new air mattress usually works as intended. Somehow, even if it’s in perfect condition when you deflate it and carefully pack it away (using 2 people to hold it and fold it so that it doesn’t touch ANYTHING), it has a slow leak the very next trip. Not packing repair patches, even with a new mattress, leaves one parent sleeping on the inflated mattress with the kids and the other parent sleeping on the ground. We rotated nights for ground duty. It was surprisingly much warmer sleeping on the ground but the next day my body felt like it was 80 years old.

Our pre-children forestry getaway campsite is the first place we took the girls tenting when they were little. It was on a weekend and the site was full with people wandering everywhere. My oldest daughter was using an outhouse for the first time and when she was done she yelled, as loud as her little voice would go, “Where’s the flusher??” That still makes me smile. That was also the trip with the one flat air mattress.

As much work as it is to go camping and as much as I detested tenting when that’s all we could afford to do when the kids were small, the memories that we have will make us smile (and sob quietly on the inside) and hopefully be continued on by the girls with their families. I hope they experience tenting with small children, just once, so they know how much I fucking love them because of the years of pain and suffering I endured in that asshole tent.

Check out our Top 10 Ways You Can Ruin Your Family Camping Trip.

After reading Beerlicious Volume 1, The Art of Grillin’ & Chillin’ we wanted to try a menu of make ahead, easy to prepare food for our next camping trip. We had a great evening listening to live entertainment in the park and then returned to their house at 9 pm and fired up the grill. Everything had been prepared early in the day and was ready to throw on the grill. This made for a fun, relaxed dinner with our two families. The number of planned and impromptu dinners our families have had over the years is too many to count, especially for a number-phobe like me.

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Make Ahead Menu

We also took the grilling theme to the next level (just like Cotton Weary did in Scream 3) and made two completely different campfire grills:

~C.Dolly

Top 10

Top 10 Ways You Can Ruin Your Family Camping Trip

  1. Not prepackingNOTHING will get your camping trip off to a shitty start more than leaving everything until the last minute. I’m the queen of procrastination so I have life experience with this and know what the fuck I’m talking about. You will start your magical family trip off with anger, stress and hours of wondering “Did I forget anything?” You will have even less patience to deal with your annoying husband who had everything on his list done ahead of time and lets you know it every time you mention that you’re feeling a little stressed. You will tell him to “Shut the fuck up or I’m gonna cut a bitch” and he will laugh and say “That’s okay. I have time to go to emergency because all my shit is done.”  If you have small children, you will not only be frantically rushing around but you will have to deal with: 

“I’m hungry!!!!”

“Lucifer hit me” “

“I lost my marble up my nose!” (In which case, you can tell your husband to take your child to emergency with him since he’s headed there to get stitched up anyways)

2. Not packing appropriately – Depending on where you live, rain gear is essential to having a happy camping trip. Rubber boots, waterproof jackets and waterproof pants are a parent’s best friend. Blowing through every outfit that you brought for your child in 5 hours because of a downpour is hardly conducive to a relaxing trip. Also, forgetting your swimsuit and watching everyone else splashing each other, having fun and keeping cool in the sweltering heat either leaves you swimming in your undies or damaging your children for life by skinny dipping with no fucks given.

3. Not calling ahead to make reservations – Don’t be a douche. Seriously. Pulling into a RV park/campsite and getting pissed off at the person in the office because YOU didn’t make a reservation and THEY have no room to accommodate you is a dick move. It’s not their fault that your poor planning has led to everyone in your vehicle being hot, tired, cranky and homeless for the night. When you make reservations, also ask if there are gates that are locked at night or office hours for check in. Some of the provincial parks have gates that are locked at 11pm.

4. Not packing supplies for emergency repairs – Make sure the spare tire on the back of your trailer/motorhome is in good shape. Things like tarps, extra tent pegs, tent patches and air mattress patches are essential for tenting. Also, make sure you have a fully stocked first aid kit for when you or your husband get hurt from flailing around, cursing and all but throwing yourself down on the ground in a tantrum while trying to successfully repair something.

5. Food poisoning – Dealing with vomiting children while vomiting yourself is hell. Sorry, I mean it’s HELL!!! If you’re camping in a trailer, it’s pretty much like being at home except you have nowhere to hide and pretend that you’ve disappeared so your partner has to take a turn on vomit patrol. If you’re tenting, well, you’re fucked. Ain’t nobody sleeping while the air mattress is moving like the sea in a storm because someone on the other side is violently hurling over the edge.

6. Tenting – Tenting, for me, is akin to willingly taking a family road trip to Hell for a week. Fire and brimstone raining down upon you as you canoe down a river of lava that is filled with big-ass hungry spiders who have been waiting for your arrival so that they can: #1 – Eat you and #2 – Lay their eggs in your corpse to hatch. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but that’s what the definition of “tenting” should be in the dictionary. No matter what you put underneath it, the air mattress sucks up every bit of cold from the earth until you can barely sleep because your body has become hypothermic. However, once the sun even begins to rise, your tent is like a fucking incinerator. There is no happy medium.

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Dusk
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Dawn

7. Lopping off a body part – Any sort of medical emergency while camping can put a damper on the festivities. Laying back and relaxing in your anti-gravity chair, drinking wine and eating some delicious junk food that only seems to be purchased for camping trips is completely ruined by your husband or child running up to you holding a finger from their left hand in their right hand. Sometimes you’ll luck out and they’ll only lose the tip of a finger. Fingertips are like lizard tails, they grow back. At least that’s what I told my kids and they could be hand models now, so I wasn’t wrong.

8. Obnoxious neighbours – The best camping trips are those that you take with friends and family. You expect to hear: kids playing, laughing and crying; music playing in at least one campsite; and boats and Sea-Doo’s razzing around on the lake. Obnoxious parents who have 8 obnoxious kids, ranging from late teens to small children, that run around with their spawn playing hide and seek underneath your trailers and trucks, running behind the lawn chair that you’re sitting in and almost pulling you over backwards because they grab onto it so they can crouch down to hide, peeking in everyone’s windows, their kids stealing someone’s canoe in the middle of the night and then abandoning it part way down the lake at the end of a trail are the neighbours we once had and that you hope to avoid. People also need to respect occupied campsites. Don’t be a dillhole and walk through the middle of an occupied site. Take an extra few steps and follow the path to your destination.

9. Not having enough things to keep busy – “I’m bored!!!” Two words guaranteed to destroy that nice relaxed glow you’ve got going on. We always hauled the girls bikes with us when we went camping and we had a dvd player for the car so they could watch a movie in the tent/trailer before bed or if it was raining. Most kids are pretty good at seeking out others of their kind and we’d quite often see the horde of bikers grow with each lap they made around the campground.

10. Underestimating your alcoholic needs – This is a biggie. Especially if you encounter any of the above situations. You would sell your soggy, vomiting, bleeding 9-fingered children for just one glass of wine. I mean, I wouldn’t because that’s WRONG! I could probably get a whole bottle for one of my kids. This is why I love camping in places that aren’t too far from a city. You run out of booze? ROADTRIP!!!! ~ C. Dolly