Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Camping? Maybe Not.

by D'Ann Mateer

I’ve been camping exactly one time in my life.


It all started with a Lucy and Ethel moment, my best friend taking the Lucy role.

“Hey, you know what we could do?” she said. “We could go camping!”

We’d been lamenting our lack of money and time to go on vacation with our little ones. And I do mean little. At the time, her boys were 4, 2, and 6 months. My daughter was 3 and my son 18 months. We each took our meager stack of vacation cash and went to the sporting goods store where we purchased camping equipment for our families.

I’ll admit, I was wary from the beginning. After all, I’m not an outdoorsy girl in any sense of the word. And my husband isn’t an outdoor guy, either. But Lucy can convince Ethel that even the craziest of schemes will work out in the end, can’t she? So we loaded up and headed for a state park about an hour from our houses.

Oh—have I mentioned yet that I was 8 ½ months pregnant with my third child???

I can’t remember how we managed to get all set up, but we did. I mostly sat in the chair since I couldn’t bend down very far. The first day (or ½ day by the time we got there) was fairly uneventful, although keeping my I-have-to-touch-everything three-year-old out of the fire was a bit stressful. But the real fun started during the night. My friend’s two-year-old began coughing. A croupy cough. Fortunately we had picked a campsite near bathroom facility with showers. Since sleeping on the ground at 8 ½ months prego isn’t a pleasant experience, I was happy to accompany my friend and her baby to the showers. We sat in the dressing area letting the steam from the hot water soothe his chesty cough.

The next day, of course, we were exhausted. But things weren’t too horrible—until early that afternoon. That’s when the storm rolled in. And I do mean storm. Churning black clouds. Huge gusts of wind. Fortunately, the guys started loading the car as the rain began to spit. By the time we’d shoved everything, including the children, into the cars, rain fell by the bucket load. Then the hail began. So we headed home. Wet. Dirty. Tired.

Almost sixteen years later, I still hold to my mantra:

Camping + 8 ½ months pregnant + Texas weather = I’m never doing that again!

So what about you? Is there a vacation experience you refuse to repeat under any circumstances? Have you ever planned a trip where EVERYTHING went wrong? 


  1. I've been (real) camping exactly one time too. Like you we got rained out. But I was so relieved!! It was hot. And humid. (Can you hear the whine in my voice?) Oh, and I saw a snake while trying to enter the one stupid restroom for miles around. Couldn't use that one. It was not pretty.

    I have definitely decided that I am more of a resort kind of gal. But see it was a valuable experience. It helped me learn about myself!

  2. D'Ann, oh my, you are a heroine for camping at 8 1/2 months pregnant! At that time, I couldn't do without a bed full of pillows. I'm such a wimp. ;)

    Thanks for sharing that great story. Have a wonderful Tuesday!

  3. Ugh. Camping. My parents took me as a kid and all was well, but my idea of a vacation includes crisp, clean white sheets. EVERY time!

  4. Lisa and Jules--after this trip, I told my husband that my idea of "roughing it" was a three star hotel!

    Yes, Gwen, I was miserable trying to sleep on the ground!

  5. We used to camp all the time. I've camped in the provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and in the Yukon Territory.

    We started off with a tent. When Crystal came along, we switched to a cube pop-up trailer which slept 3.5 people. :D

    On one vacation to the Rockies, it rained for a solid week. We couldn't dry out. The inside dripped with condensation. The rain brings out such amazing scents, doesn't it? I loved it! But, when we started to sniffle, it was time to leave. We headed east to Saskatchewan to visit Nelson's dad and dried out in a day due to the drought. LOL

    After that, we bought a motorhome. The rain never bothered us again, after that. Haha.

    Loved the post, D'Ann.


  6. D'Ann, once again I find more kindred spirits here, which is lovely, because I am surrounded by camping aficiandos and dwell in the midst of a camping wonderland. My "camping is voluntary homelessness" theory is definitely in the minority.

  7. Kudos to you, D'Ann, for camping at 8 1/2 mos pregnant! WOW! At 8 1/2 months preggo, I thought I was hot stuff just waddling to the grocery store.

    I used to have a marvelous time camping with my best friend's family when I was a teenager. They'd take me along to the desert and the beach and my friend and I would hike and read, hike and read. My memories of mountain camping with my brother's boy scout troup aren't so fond...

    My husband loved mountain camping, but a lot of his stories involve bears, so I'm not too excited to indulge his nostalgia.

  8. You are amazing Anita! I do admire women who can do what I cannot! Sounds like y'all have a good thing going!

    Niki, so does that mean you are really a city girl at heart?

    Hey Susie! Nice to have good memories! And while my foray into camping was faught with complications, it is fun in the retelling!

  9. I admire you Anita. The fact that you enjoy means you're made of sterner stuff than I am!

    I think I saw one too many Disney movies. Turns out the birds and bunnies don't want to sing with you and rocks are hard when you're lying on them. Nature isn't really a smiling mama waiting to embrace her children.

    Huh! Who'da thunk it?

  10. Oh dear. What can I say? I love camping too. Camping in a week of rain makes you appreciate camping in nicer weather, that's all!

    Okay, I admit, camping much less anything at 8.5 months pregnant is asking for trouble. But what are friends for if not for making memories?! Great story, D'Ann

    My dream is to have a motorhome. With WIFI, and gas money for it.
    I don't mind sleeping on the ground unless I get chilled. Cowboy camping is not for me. At least give me an air mattress at my age!

  11. I imagine I could do a motorhome with WiFi, Deb! If you ever get one, let me know how it goes! :)

  12. My place I'll never go again is the Great Wolf Lodge. Someone please explain to me how you can stuff truckloads of pool chemicals and thousands of screaming children under a giant, echoing bubble and call that fun.


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