Monday, August 11, 2008

The Frazier Camping Project

Lately, the cool,quiet mornings and chilly evenings remind me of camping weather.
Of staking out a little corner by the river bank and becoming one with nature;
Of being an independent soul and breathing in fresh air -
even if it's just for a weekend.

There is something magical about dancing firelight and twinkling stars;
about hot dogs on a stick and gooey smores; Of fluffy, plaid sleeping bags and the smell of burning wood.

Just thinking about it makes me almost want to go camping...

Then, I am suddenly jolted back to reality!
What kind of self torture am I considering?
Why would I even think about exposing myself to that type of punishment?

But for you to understand my reaction, let me go back in time for a few minutes.
Let me take you to a beautiful summer day when a group of us decided to go camping....


"Make a list," my husband bellowed, climbing in the attic to retrieve the tents, "We don't want to be twenty miles from civilization and not have the essentials."

See, there was Problem No.1, (which should have been my first clue).
What is essential to my husband may not necessarily be essential to me.
And vise versa.

Of course we agreed on the obvious basics of a camping trip:
Toilet paper, ice, beer, food, sleeping bags, pillows, and coffee.

But on this particular day, the list became longer and longer -
spreading across two full pages of a legal pad,
cramping my hand, and dulling the pencil -
till in frustration, I just chewed it sharp.

"Why do we need the chainsaw, the weed eater, the three extra coolers, a dozen lawn chairs, the gas grill, a giant tarp, the 4-wheeler, a blow-up raft, a shotgun, and fifteen tiki torches?" I inquired.

"Well," my husband shot back,"why do we need ten Woman's Day magazines,
eight satin pillows, four changes of shoes, your daily planner, a gallon of Oil of Olay, instant Expresso, Grey Poupon and a king sized Memory Foam pad?

And, Problem No. 2 was the fact that we were setting up camp twenty miles from the nearest modern conveniences.
(I really don't recall getting to vote on that).

"Should I rent a U-Haul?" I asked sarcastically,shoving the last shovel, pick, rake, and ten pound bag of charcoal into the truck bed.

"Oh, where's your sense of adventure, honey?" he asked, throwing my stack of magazines from the front seat and back into garage.

Problem No. 3: My husband's definitions of words are from a screwed up dictionary.

My definition of adventure?
Taking a flower strewn path through the woods, not knowing where it will lead.
Taking an alternate route home from the grocery store.
Buying generic Hamburger Helper.
Trying on a cute outfit I can't afford to buy.

His definition?
Peeing on a tree and squatting in the woods.
Going without deodorant, a shave, or a shower for three days.
Seeing how hot a person can get before melting.
Camping somewhere in Deliverance territory.

The road to the river was mostly gravel, but the last two or three miles would take us through shallow creek beds, low-lying tree limbs, falling rocks, and the Blair Witch project.
The going was rough, with winding curves and muddy slopes and the deepest pot holes in the universe.

"Back up!" I shouted to my husband as we sped along through the dark woods.
"What for?" he asked,staring in my direction, but not slowing down.
"Well, you missed a hole back there. Thought you might want to go back and hit it, too," I sneered.

I can't begin to explain the weekend that followed.

All I know is, we were rained on, blistered by the heat of the day, frozen at night and kept awake by scary jungle animal sounds.
We were attacked by ticks, gnawed on by gnats
and mauled by mosquitoes.
We boiled the coffee, lost the marshmallows- and all the hot dog buns got soaked
in the tornado.
We ran out of ice in fifteen hours, had to resort to a road map for extra toilet paper, and our tent from the 1970's decided to collapse and die.

Returning home, it took us six hours to unload the truck and put everything back in its place. (Its final resting place, I must hope.)

"Wasn't that fun?" my husband asked me later that evening- a goofy cartoon smile on his sunburned face.

Problem No. 4: Thou shalt not kill.