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.
Make Ahead Menu
- Spicy Shrimp and Sausage Skewers
- Campfire Potatoes in Foil
- Boozy Mason Jar Tropical Fruit Salad
- Bannock on the Grill
- Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
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: