Tag: Camping

First Camping Experience

So my first adult camping experience occurred in 1996. Family Camp for Cub Scouts. Michael was a Tiger Cub and Nick was just a little guy, 6 weeks or so away from turning 3. We borrowed a heavy canvas tent and I began packing. Clothes for me and Nick, supervising which Michael’s choices. Food, toothpaste and brushes, band aids, antiobiotic ointment, acetaminophen for adult and children, benydril, cooking utensils for a campfire and a camp stove, gallons of clean water, juice, coffee, creamer, hairbrush, comb, shampoo, soap, toilet paper, paper towels, matches, marshmallows, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags, plastic bags for laundry, a mountain dulcimer, games, dry shoes, water shoes, lots and lots of socks, jackets, and more – you get the idea. Scott got home, loaded the station wagon, threw a few things in a bag and we were off – a mere 10 hours after I began packing. Two hours later we arrive at Camp Sunnen, which now belongs to Greater St. Louis Boy Scout Council.

Setting Up Camp:  Luckily, we weren’t the first ones there, so while I’m playing ringleader to the boys, Scott and some of the other dads put up our tent. Then he takes over with the boys and I set up the sleeping bags, pillows, suitcases, cooking supplies, showering supplies. We’d stopped to eat a quick dinner in Potosi, so at least I didn’t have to figure out the camp stove. The Scoutmaster got a nice bonfire going and before long we were all gather around it, long sticks in hand, making smores, eating cheese and crackers, laughing. Michael in particular thought Smores were the greatest thing on earth and ate his weight in them. He made more for me, his dad, his little brother, anyone who wanted one. As the evening became chillier, we bundled up and got ready for bed. That was when it started to drizzle. That was also when little 3 year old Taylor, the sister of another scout, said, “I gotta go potty.” She couldn’t go alone – her bottom was so very tiny and the hole in the outhouse was large. Her mom, a nurse, took her, held her over the opening then told her husband there might be a problem. She cried when she’d peed. I had, as it turned out, brought cranberry juice. Taylor drank all of that and then went to pee again. about five more times, actually.

The First Night.  Just when we were settling in for the night, the boys in their jammies, tucked into their sleeping bags, we were assaulted by bright lights, slamming doors, loud voices. A family had just arrived and were trying to set up their tent – right next to ours – in the dark. After about 30 minutes of shouting and cussing, Scott and other dads got up to help. Turns out, the new family had just bought their tent – it was still in the box – and had never set it up before. An hour later, it was finally set up and things were settling down.

Taylor:  I gotta Pee.

Michael:  My tummy hurts

Ed (Taylor’s dad):  I’ll taker her this time

New Guy:  Grufffff, hoooonnnkkkkk (snoring)

Michael:  I don’t feel . . . arghhhhh (throws up on MY cloth suitcase)

Scott grabs Michael, unzips the tent, and takes him outside.

Nick:  pee. (I take him)

New Guy:  Gruffffff, hooooonnnnkkkkk

Taylor:  I gotta Pee again.

Dee (Taylor’s mom):  My turn.

Michael:  What smells so bad in here?

(Scott takes my suitcase outside and puts it in the back of the station wagon.)

New Guy:  Gruffffff, hoooonnnnkkkkkk

Needless to say, it was a long night with very little sleep.

Day 1:  Breakfast. Scott starts up the camp stove while I get the kids dressed. Michael, now perfectly fine, runs to joing his friends. I root through my suitcase and find my swimsuit, one pair of shorts, two t-shirts, one pair of socks, and one pair of sweatpants that have not been touched by smore vomit. I manage to scramble some eggs for breakfast. Scott and Michael go hiking with the group and Nick and I stay at the camp and do crafty shit. The ground is soaked from the constant drizzle, and Nick decides he doesn’t like the feel of wet grass and refuses to walk in it, so I have to carry him everywhere. Dee decides that Taylor isn’t improving, so she bundles up the little girl and takes her to the local ER (a VERY scary place!) Lunch is cold cut sandwiches. After, there’s creek crashing. Nick wants to be a part of this, but he’s afraid of the turtles, so while Scott keeps an eye on Michael, I go into the water with Nick in my arms. By now, my arms are numb. I take Nick back to the banks where he can look for periwinkles and crawdads. This works for a while, then he gets bored. He wants to go back to camp The grass is wet. I carry him again. Dinner is hot dogs cooked over the communal bonfire. This is when Michael discovers he doesn’t like hot dogs. Nick, however, loves them. More skits, stories, and smores – not to mention fireflies and mosquitoes. We get the kids cleaned up and are back in the tent trying to sleep.

New Guy:  Gruuuuffffff. Hoooonnnnnkkkkk

Taylor:  (now on antibiotics) I have to Pee

Michael: gawwwwww (yes, he snored as a child too!)

Did I mention Nick didn’t like the dark? He’s sleeping on top of me.

Day 2:  Breakfast at the Hall.  This was a communal breakfast held in the open air Image result for camp sunnen pointpavillion. Pancakes, bacon, strawberries, milk, coffee. We all eat and laugh and talk. Then, after it’s all cleaned up, we head up to the Point, an absolutely beautiful peak which overlooks the lake. It is also, however, a really long, steep hike, especially while carrying an almost 3 year old boy because the GRASS IS STILL WET!! The service is very nice. There’s singing. We’re almost to the end when Michael says, “I have to use the bathroom.” I glare at Scott. He sighs, gets up, and takes Michael into the woods. A few minutes later, they come back. Scott gives me that “you’re not going to like this” grin. I raise my eyebrows. Michael, “Runny poo isn’t any fun.” I closed my eyes and begged all the gods that be for strength. Nick, “potty.” I glare at Scott. He gets up again. Minutes later, they’re back and he holds up three fingers. OMG!!!! The service ends, we hike back down. Several kinds are taken into the woods by a parent and they all come back with an odd look on their face. Back at camp we begin to pack up. My stomach begins to rumble. Crap. Literally. I run to the outhouse. Wait in line. LOTS of intestines are grumbling. Around noon, we’re packed and ready to go – complete with having used the facilities OFTEN. We have to stop three times on the way home.  Between the vomit soaked suitcase, laundry, wet shoes, and noxious gas, the car was unpleasant. We finally got home, I run to the bathroom and dig out the anit-diarrhea medication and hand it out like candy on Halloween night. Within 15 minutes I’ve got a load of laundry going. The rest of the clothes and bedding are on the back porch. NO WAY was I going let all that smell up the house.  Two hours later, the car is unloaded and I’m lying on the couch wishing for death.

That night when I’m tucking the kids into bed, Michael says, “That was so much fun!! When can we do it again?”







Worst Camping Trip Ever

I was reminded last night of why I no longer camp. Seriously, this was the absolute worst camping trip ever. It was a few years back over the Columbus Day  holiday. Now I gave up tent camping a long time ago. I’m too old and asthmatic to sleep with my fat ass on the ground, so we bought a pop up camper. Normally, I was okay with this. I mean we had a routine. We’d camp at Giant City State Park. In the morning we’d go hiking then come back to the camper for breakfast. I swear that bacon tastes better wen fried over an open fire in a cast iron skillet! Then I’d go to the shower house, come out wearing a pretty dress, sandals, and often times, pearls. I got a few incredulous looks, but I’m down with that. Then, we’d head out to several wineries (Rustel Hill and Starview are two of my favorites) to enjoy live music, wine, and food until after dinner. Then we’d take our bottle (or dozen bottles) of wine back to the campsite. Scott starts a fire, I change into sweat pants, fat socks, and four sweaters. We sit by the fire, drink more wine, go to bed then repeat the next day.

But, I digress. We left Friday after I got off school. Actually, I didn’t want to go at all. All the omens were NOT portentious. First, it was raining. Second, Scott slid into the car in front of him on the way home. Third, did I mention it was raining? Nonetheless, Scott insisted we go. Besides, he assured me, the rain was supposed to stop. It didn’t. We rolled into the campsite – in the dark – and I very so helpfully pointed out that it was still raining. We managed to get the pop up set up, but by this time my hair was drenched. Soaked. Now if you aren’t aware of the difficulties of my hair, you might want to scan this Bad Hair Life. I knew it would be at least damp for the next 3 days. Scott actually thought I was going to fix dinner – in the camper. Well that’s just cute. I braided my hair and off we went to Rustle Hill. Dinner was lovely, the wine delightful and the people met astounded that we were camping (the one guy kept staring at my pearls).

Day 2.  Follow regular procedure despite all the mud on the hiking trails. Then, we went into Carbondale where there was an Irish Fest. A really lame one. We were sitting beneath a tent listening to a mediocre Irish band when someone sat down next to me. a Little Person. (At one point in time I’d have said “midget”, but that is no longer politically correct and I really don’t wish to offend anyone.) He leaned over and seductively whispered, ” What do you think of them?” I told him I’d heard better. Then he placed his creepy little hand (you’ll understand the “creepy” part in a minute) and said, “I’m got to get a drink. Why don’t I get one for you too, sweetheart.” Scott’s shoulders were starting to shake at this point and it took all of my will power not to slug him. I looked at the lecherous man and said, “No thanks. My HUSBAND and I are just fine.” At this point the creep leaned forward, looked at my husband, and said, “I hope he shows you enough attention.” These words alone were not the creepy part. The creepy part was the strong suggestion that if not, he’d be happy to fill in the gaps. Then he ran his hand up my leg, patted it, and winked! He left and Scott about pissed himself laughing. We left, did some wineries, heading back to camp. I went to the shower house, used the facilities and almost shit myself when, coming back out, I almost walked directly into a field dressed deer hanging from a tree. I screamed and a fellow camper laughed hysterically before stating that perhaps he should have hung his “first kill” a little farther from the lady’s room. When I got back to our camper, Scott said, “Hey did you know deer season opened today?” Yes. Yes I did.

Day 3.  Morning Routine. Heading to more wineries. By late afternoon, I pointed out to Scott that the Jeep seems to be running a bit rough again. Transmission? (Keep in mind, I know next to NOTHING about cars, but this damn Jeep had been having transmission problems for a good year so I’d become familiar with the sounds.) “It’s fine,” he says. We head back to the campsite after dark and I notice more coughing from the Jeep. “It’s fine,” he says. Back at the site, more dead deer hang from more trees and it’s all a little Tim Burton meets Wilderness Survival guide like.

Day 4.  Sunday. The lodge has a lovely breakfast buffet on Sundays so we decide to go there for breakfast. Shortly after leaving the campsite, the Jeep coughs, chokes, dies. “It’s fine?” I say. He doesn’t answer. He gets out, opens the hood, tries to perform a resurrection, fails. “We’re going to have to walk to the lodge,” he says. A mile and a half later – keep in mind I have a really bad knee and I’m hungry – we make it to the lodge were Scott talks to the guy at the front desk who gives him the name and number of a tow truck guy. I ask about breakfast and am informed that the buffet closed at ten. It’s ten minutes after ten. I glare at first the guy then my husband then back at the guy. The guy slinks to the dining room, comes back, and says that since they haven’t cleaned it all up yet and since we’ve had such at trying morning, he’d be happy to seat us. Personally, I think he was terrified he’d either witness a murder or be murdered. This line of thought might not have been totally out of line. We call our children, who find great humor in the situation, but agree to drive down to give us a car – my car – a mini cooper. The guy at the desk told us that if we can get someone to tow the camper to the parking lot we could just leave it there for a week or so if needed. I think he was still trying to stay on my good side. We hike back to camp to wait for our sons. Meantime, the tow truck guy has come by, picked up Scott, and they went off to get the Jeep. They get it, come back to camp, and I notice the guy’s name tag. Seriously people, I can’t make this shit up. His tag read “Mater”. The repair place in town doesn’t open until 9:00 the next morning. We’d planned on leaving Sunda
y, but now had to stay another day. The boys showed up, dropped off my car, made fun of their father, offered to take me back home (It’s a testament to my love for my husband that I stayed), made fun of their father some more, and went on their happy way. That was when Scott told me that we were out of propane and firewood. We needed to scavenge. So, we went tramping into the wooded area – which was still muddy from the rain Friday night – to gather wood. Suddenly, I was flat in the mud. I’d tripped over something. I looked up and found myself looking at a skeletan. (Can’t make this up!) Luckily, it was the remains of a deer and not a person.

Day 4. Monday. My hair is now finally dry from being drenched FridaImage result for 1997 black jeep grand cherokee tire on topy night, but it’s – well – impressive in frizziness. I contain it as best I can, we clean up camp, and the nice man next to us hauls the camper to the lodge parking lot. We’ve loaded up my mini and head into town. Eventually, we find out that the Jeep needs – get this – a new transmission! (You have to understand that the boys and I had been saying this for close to a year, but Scott insisted that IT WAS FINE!!). We’re ready to leave town but are stopped by the arms coming down in front of railroad tracks. We wait. We wait. The person on the opposite side of the track wait. We start waving to each other. Then, (again, Can’t make this shit up) a woman in an electric wheelchair crosses in front of us. We both stare, open mouthed, and the guy across the track from us mouths the words “What the fuck!” Then, a train finally goes by. For the record, the wheelchair bound woman was on a sidewalk like thing that ran next to the tracks, and she had gotten off before the train sped by. Three hours later, we were home.

The next Saturday. Scott got a call from the repair shop that the Jeep was ready for pick up. He looked at me and I looked at him. I blinked. He looked at Michael and asked if he’d mind taking him down to Carbondale again so he could pick up the Jeep. Michael looked at me and grinned. He’s a sweet kid, but he’s got a fabulous evil streak sometimes. Nonetheless, he agreed. We’ve since sold the camper, but still, remarkably enough, have the Jeep.



Correction.  It was actually Baby Boy #2 who took Scott back to Carbondale, not Michael. We can’t remember what Michael was doing exactly, but most likely packing. He’d just been offered an impressive job which required him to move to Oklahoma. so in the interest of fairness, it was Nick who saved his father from being murdered, not Michael.