I Went Camping And Survived

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Okay, so let’s start this off by saying that to call what I did “camping” is a bit of a stretch.

Four nights were in a hooked up RV with running water, air conditioning, and electricity; in an RV park with free Wifi by the beach.

Two nights were in a hotel.

Regardless of those little details, it was camping and I did it and also I survived.

I have a very complicated history with camping.

On one hand, the bulk of my childhood is made up of one camping story after another stitched together. So you’d think camping brought about fond memories.

I camped a lot when I was very little in Girl Scouts. We hiked and made s’mores and eggs in paper bags over campfires and we sang songs and did crafts, and all that other happy horse shit the Girl Scouts do that I currently am at a loss to remember. I think there was some ghost story telling and TAPS playing in there somewhere.

My grandparents owned a lot up at The Pines (near the California-Nevada border), so we went there often when I was little as well. In fact, there’s a huge pine tree on the mountain today that I planted when I was only 6.

As I grew older, though, I became way more high maintenance; the result of which was that camping was no longer something I generally enjoyed. I grew to love my conveniences and my hair dryer and my makeup. And, more so, to dislike things like hiking and allergies, being bored sitting and fishing and getting nothing, and really not liking to be almost eaten by a bear.

…which, for the record, happened once. We were camping when I was 15 at Kings Canyon and after my entire family hiked to a waterfall, someone started screaming because a brown bear was walking up the pathway, straight for us. It ended up turning back (or something); nonetheless, I slept in the car and stayed close to our campsite for the rest of the trip.

Everyone this year was doing big vacations and trips, though; and – by comparison – my kids had an all time shitty summer. It started with a funeral for my husband’s grandmother; and shortly after that my oldest daughter sprained her ankle, effectively canceling all of her summer tennis plans. My younger daughter still played some, but then around mid-summer we found out she has Osgood-Schlatters, further hindering our tennis stuff…and to make matters worse, we have no AC and it has been HOT AS BALLS since mid-June.

All in all it just kind of sucked.

So as summer started coming to a close, I was determined to figure something out to salvage the season. But I was also on a tight budget, it being last minute and all; so when my mother in law offered us up their RV whenever we want it, I knew that was the best option.

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In all honesty, with the amount of a high maintenance, pain in the ass princess I am now – today, 21 years after that day the bear almost mauled us all to death up at Kings Canyon – I considered our four nights in an RV and two nights in a hotel really roughing it.

  1. Have you people ever showered in an RV? First off, it made me feel like Andre the Giant. My head hit the ceiling; and the shower head was effectively a glorified hose. And to make matters worse, calling RV hot water “hot water” is a bit of a stretch.
  2. It was just me and the three kids. That, alone, was absolute craziness. I had to make fires, put together the charcoal grills, use matches – all while keeping the baby from falling out of the RV window, and the girls busy and happy enough to feel like the summer had been salvaged.
  3. The third morning we were there, it rained. This soaked all of our stuff outside, including our firewood. It wouldn’t have been that big of a deal (the sun came out shortly after the rain storm); except that the firewood wouldn’t light in the evening. I came up with the GENIUS idea to pour lighter fluid all over the small amount of flames I had been successful in getting going. I’ll let you guys know when my eyebrows grow back.
  4. The final morning we were there – and this was a big one – the RV toilet clogged. As it turned out, we were using the wrong type of toilet paper. Nevertheless, we couldn’t figure out how to get it unclogged, until finally we found this magic wand my in laws had stored in one of the outside compartments. It sprayed the paper out of the toilet, but after we got it back outside, my daughter started unscrewing it from the hose before the water was fully off; and, in short, there was a large mess.

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Okay, obviously two nights in a hotel was not even remotely like camping. But it was      still roughing it. We were on the first floor with some noisy walkers above us; and there was a local corn hole tournament going on, so the hotel was packed with rowdy corn hole enthusiasts.

We’ve been home, now, for two days and I feel like my entire perspective on life has changed. I can handle a long and rough vacation with the kids, alone. That’s a really big deal. Also, I can figure out how to do things like build fires and unclog RV toilets if I’m given enough time and resources.

I’m definitely more of an all-inclusive resort kind of gal, though. What about you?

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Saying Goodbye to Summer

I don’t mean “saying goodbye to summer” as in it’s nice and cool and you can all break out your Uggs and seven-layered scarves and crap. No, no – as I sit here and think about changing my shirt since the boob sweat has now soaked through – no, I don’t mean that.

I mean that all these little bastards are going back to school somewhere between the end of this week and the Tuesday after Labor Day. This is a blessed thing, in my book.

Now before you all get huffy because I called your precious cargo “bastards,” please keep in mind that I don’t actually mean to say all kids are bastards. Just the majority of those in my community are. And we’ve all got to admit that some kids just are not the little sweetie-pies kids are supposed to be anymore. I think video games, television, and the culture of entitlement really ruined it for everyone.

Being a homeschooling family, I don’t usually get a sense of “back to school” time. I know when the kids are back to school, because those little jerks aren’t running their scooters into my car and letting off fireworks outside my bedroom window anymore. They aren’t screaming at 6:30 in the morning to each other. Their parents are back to work too, rather than overcompensating for their lack of involvement during the school year.

I think you know what I mean, though, when I say we don’t really get a sense of “back to school” time. We are in school all the time.

There will be no “back to school” supply shopping for me because homeschooling is done all year in this house. Sometimes I take advantage of the back to school sales – because, quite frankly, homeschooling ain’t cheap – but if I don’t really need anything at the time, it usually comes and goes with no notice. This year, I already had more than enough of everything and had planned through the end of December of this year.

I will have no overachieving parents to contend with whose children are in the same class as mine. I won’t have to stand around at the bus stop and chit-chat with mothers who don’t know my name, no matter how many times I’ve told them. There will be no carpool to deal with. No pick up/drop off lines. I won’t have to dread the return of the P.T.A. or P.T.O. or whatever the school calls them now. The “back to school” carnival will have no fish for us, because we won’t be there. My husband won’t be worried that this year he will finally have to volunteer for the carnival’s dunk tank. And when the Halloween party comes, I won’t have to take a Valium to prepare for the parents yelling at me – the room mom – for not presenting the baked goods in a way that properly highlighted them.

There will be no volunteer hour requirements to once again meet. There will also be no fundraisers. There will be no auctions that I have to make baskets for. There will be no bake sales. There will be no cookie dough orders and gift wrap sales. There will be no bills for funds not raised and hours not volunteered.

Summer may be coming to an end, but my sleeping until 9 in the morning every day won’t.

Summer may be coming to an end, but trips to the museum whenever we want won’t.

Summer may be coming to an end, but the added traffic and lines and public hassle sure will.

At the end of the summer, I usually celebrate the return of school by scheduling all of our really fun stuff. This year we’re going to Catalina Island, although there will be very few people there. We’re going to Disneyland and there will be no lines. We’re heading to the Angels/White Sox game – in the middle of the day on a school day. No one will be around, but we will and this is so awesome words cannot describe.

There are plenty of reasons why I am envious of the end of summer for many of you. You get showers again. You get “me” time again. You get order again and eight free hours a day to sip your coffee or tea or whatever until it’s time to get the kids and start on the homework. You don’t live and breath school, which is exactly what we do.

There will be no day that comes and it is suddenly quiet in my house. There will be no quiet shower in the morning; uninterrupted by questions and complaints and “I’m hungry”s. There will be no eight hours of uninterrupted “me” time, when I can go to the spa or mop the floor in peace. Shopping will still include a stop at the toy store as a bribe to get the rest of the shopping done with no issues.

But on the note of shopping, we will have no “school clothes shopping” day, where I am suddenly confronted with dress codes and the rising cost of uniforms.

In the end, I still prefer my end of summer much better. Without the hassle of supply shopping, and the drag of getting out of bed before 7. Without the jerk kids running their scooters into my car and the overachieving parents forgetting my name. Saying goodbye to summer is saying hello to pretty good times for me.