Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Checking Things Off the List - Go Camping

Go Camping - Completed in August of 2010

Pretending I'm homeless is not my idea of a vacation.

This has been my motto whenever someone asks if I like camping. Living in Colorado, you tend to meet a lot of outdoor enthusiasts. You know, the people who use carabineers as key chains and buy their cars based off of how well it perform in the mountains. I have nothing against this lifestyle, to each his own, but I have just never been able to figure out why people would spend their few days away from work sleeping on the ground. If I take time off of work, I prefer to go to an all inclusive beach resort.

Now that's not to say I have never been camping, I have. I guess that makes this item on the list a little misleading when I say "Go Camping". What I really mean is "Give Camping a Fair Shot".

I've been camping a few times in my life. I remember going once when I was about nine with my sister, her boyfriend and my brother Marc. Marc is the one member of my family who loves to be outside and he even slept outside under the stars. I prefer large windows to look at nice views while I sit in an air conditioned room and read a book. Anyway, I don't remember much about the trip except that I hated her boyfriend and so in my mind, that made everything miserable.

I think I went to one night of girls camp once. Growing up I had horrible social anxiety and refused to go to school, church or just about anything that would make me interact with people my own age. Pretty much I stayed home all the time and made my moms life miserable (I now try to call her once a week to apologize for what a pain in the ass I was/am). The fact that my mom was able to get me to go to even one night of girls camp was a small miracle in itself. I remember very random things from that night. My mom drove me up on the last night of camp. For dinner they served a combination of chili and spaghetti-o's, which was surprisingly tasty. It rained all night, and if you touched the walls of the tent, the rain would soak thru. It was miserable and I just wanted to go home.

I know I went camping again sometime when I was a teenager. Camping with other teenagers without any supervision is never a good thing. I remember there was a lot of beer (why is it teenagers, or most people for that matter, literally have no idea how to have fun without drinking?), people peeing on the campfire and what seemed to be everyones goal of who could get the most STD's the quickest. To put your mind at ease, I did not take part in any of that. This was well before my "I'm going to do stupid crap to mess up my life" phase.

Several years ago I dated a true outdoor enthusiast, wait, that's putting it way too lightly, it's more like he was obsessed. He lived for being outdoors. One entire room of his house was devoted to outdoor equipment of every kind. any free time when he wasn't working, was spent on some adventure. Again, nothing wrong with having a passions for something, but when you fall in love with a man who's main hobby is something you hate, you just know it isn't going to end well. I tried to do a few outdoorsy things with him, but he was at such an advanced level, it was embarrassing for him to have to stop and wait for me all the time. Once I convinced him to come on my idea of a vacation to Aruba. He agreed, but didn't enjoy it. He ended up breaking up with me during the trip. Yea, that didn't make the last day together awkward or anything. After that, as soon as a guy mentioned he loved the outdoors, it was an instant turn off for me. But that's a tough thing in Colorado. I've found if a guy doesn't love the outdoors, then they seem to love video games and have an overwhelming desire to live in their parents basement forever. Tough choice.

I decided I would be willing to try camping again, but I had a few requirements.

1. I will only go with the right people. If even one person going is a "debbie downer" or a whiner, I'm out.

2. I have to be able to bring an air mattress. Sleeping on the ground with nothing for padding but a thin sleeping bag sounds like my idea of hell.

3. I have to have a bathroom of some kind. The thought of squatting behind a tree is not something I'm looking forward to. Not because I'm too girly to do it, but because I would be so paranoid about peeing on myself or my clothes. I have a fear that if I can't get at just the right angle, my pants would be covered. So does that just mean I should just take my pants off while attempting this? Well peeing pantless in the woods isn't sounding much better. And knowing me, I would loose my balance and fall directly into it. So there I would be, pantless, on the ground, in my own pee. Yes, a toilet is a must.

When the opportunity to go with Sara Rutman and Lauren Woodbury to the Sand Dunes (this is also on my list, but I will cover it in another blog post) and camping, I jumped at the chance. Sara is way fun, and lauren is hilarious, so I knew it would be good.

I realized I had zero supplied for camping, so I decided to go fully prepared. First, I didn't have a sleeping bag. I could have borrowed one from someone, but I figured if I enjoyed camping, I may as well have my own to take in the future. After much searching, I decided on a pink and grey camouflage bag. Not the most normal choice, but who knows, it may come in handy in case I ever have to hide out in the Barbie Corvette.

I also ended up spending way too much on things like; trail mix, a camping chair, every medicine known to man (just in case), a backpack, water bottle, air mattress with pump etc. I also had to make sure I got bug spray. It seems that mosquito's are drawn to me like rednecks to a free taping of the Jerry Springer show. For everyone who says the best part about camping is that it's cheap, I would like to show them my $200 receipt from Target.

Because we left after work on Friday, we didn't get to the Sand Dunes until after the sun had gone down. Also, because it is located in a national forest, you can't use any brush you find for fires, you have to buy it at the little check in station, which was also closed. We stayed at one of the reserved campsites which was actually pretty nice. It had a picnic table, bear proof storage for food, fire pit and was in walking distance from actual bathrooms! Hooray for indoor plumbing!! But because we didn't have wood for the fire, it meant setting up the tent in the dark. Thankfully, the people I went with came prepared with some cool forehead flashlights. In the midst of buying multiple packages of trail mix, the necessity of a flashlight slipped my mind. Mostly I tried to stay out of everyones way and do whatever they told me. Sara brought a little propane grill and made some tasty burgers for dinner. It's true what they say, all food tastes better when you're camping.

Sleeping, well it sucked, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. The air mattress I bought was half deflated by the morning so my shoulder was digging nicely into the ground. I normally don't get out of bed before 8am, but as everyone knows in camping, no one sleeps after the sun comes up. I think it's actually impossible to. The lack of sleep, along with crappy sleeping positions caused me to feel like I had a hangover. Thankfully, Lauren was creative enough to put a cooking sheet on the grill so she could make us pancakes for breakfast. Looks and brains, quite the combination.

After breakfast, we packed up camp (another thing I like about hotels, you pack your bag and leave. You don't have to pack all the furniture and fit it in your car to take home) and headed off to our next stop, Mesa Verde. Keep in mind, we went to both of these places and then home within 48 hours. We camped in Mesa Verde, and the sites were even nicer than the other, these were a little more private. We had bought firewood on the way there and even got to camp while it was still light out. I filled up my mattress even more this time and it was a much better night. I even got a smore that night, yummy.

So all in all, I can't say that I hated camping. I will also not go as far to say that I loved camping. The most accurate statement would be that I tolerated camping. If done in the right circumstances, I can see how it is a lot of fun. i am even willing to go again sometime. But you're smoking crack if you think I would choose camping over a resort on the beach :)

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