Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Camping: nature's way of promoting the motel industry.

~ Dave Barry

I have great memories of camping as I was growing up. Sleeping in a tent was always fun, even if it meant there'd be a stick imprint in your shoulder when you crawled out of your tent early the next morning. Your exit always coming just about the time that the temperature of said tent went from 70° to 130,000°F when the sun hit it.

It may have been getting to eat those tiny little single-serving boxes of cereal. Or pancakes made outdoors, on a griddle perched at the end of a picnic table.

It may have been that there were usually playgrounds nearby, with new kids to play with, and paved paths that curved intricately around other campsites, just begging you to ride your bike and explore.

I'm not a girlie girl - I can set up a tent or build a fire like no one's business. But back when I was three months pregnant with Nick and Hubs and I made our usual Memorial Day trip to camp with my brothers and my Dad in Buckhorn State Park, where you park in a lot and then load up all your gear into carts to walk a mile into the woods and camp on the shores of the Wisconsin River?

I decided I no longer wanted to camp. May in Wisconsin is as unpredictable as it sounds, and that weekend we had 40mph winds coming straight off the water, driving rain and river water into the seams of our old tent. Getting up in the middle of the night to pee in a porta potty in the middle of the woods as often as a pregnant woman needs to? I was soaked to the bone and cold and smelt like campfire and the nearest shower was a very long walk and a car ride away. It was miserable.

We cut our weekend short, apologizing to no one for our quick departure. When the zipper ripped out of the fabric while taking our tent down? We threw the damn thing into the garbage.

With two little kids at home, the thought of camping never crossed our minds. Our typical vacations were at indoor-waterpark resorts or rented cabins with indoor plumbing and satellite TV.

But last year, some damn show introduced to Nick the idea of camping and convinced him that sleeping outside was everything a four-year-old needs in life. How could we deny him when (as kids) Hubs and I loved to camp as well?

So we decided we'd take them to the Yogi Bear Campground in the Dells (as family friendly as you can get) for a few nights. We'd swim in the lake and make s'mores and possibly even catch a few fireflies.

Nick & Daddy doin' mushmellows

I wish I could tell you it didn't suck.

But when we checked in and got our site assignment, we found we had paid for a site that was separate from the rest of the entire campground. We? Were across the road in an open field. Nowhere near the water park or playground or even the nice indoor bathrooms with flush toilets. We were in an area as big as a football stadium with only a half-dozen other suckers campers with no shade and a porta potty.

Poo. (Literally.)

Our first night there? Temps dipped into the low 40s. Our kids slept in winter PJs, sweatshirts, and sleeping bags, with an extra blanket over the top. Some friends joined us our second day (wisely staying in a hotel down the street, btw) and we had a good day riding the Ducks and going out for ice cream.

sleepin' boy
The kid falls asleep EVERY time he's on a boat.
He lasted 10 minutes into the Duck ride.
The weekend had begun to look promising - until that night when Nick tripped over a stick and we thought he broke his hand.

Its a good thing that at 9pm we had to load him into the car and drive 20 minutes into Baraboo to the nearest hospital, because we were literally pulling into the parking lot when he exclaimed, "MOM! I CAN MOVE MY HAND! LOOK!"

We must have looked insane in the middle of the little country street, dome light on, twisted around in our seats barking orders at a small boy: "Now lift your arm up and touch your head. OK - now, can you give me thumbs up? How 'bout the pointer? Now twist it around like this!"

Long story short, it was a long night and no one got any s'mores.

The next morning we decided our camping adventure was OVER and decided we'd spend the next evening in a hotel. (Thankfully Carrie got us a great rate!) I happily drove down the street to get coffee, parking the car sideways and leaving the radio on while we packed and had breakfast. At some point I walked down the street to take a shower.

It never occurred to me when I got back that the radio was no longer on.

A short while later, Jay hit the button on the tailgate to open the glass partition, then shook his head. "Did the kids lock the doors?"

"I don't think so, why?" As soon as the words were out of my mouth I knew what had happened.



Enter the World's Greatest Friends to come save us. AGAIN.

Our day in the hotel/waterpark was fun and uneventful, but next time?

We'll just skip the tent camping, thankyouverymuch.

Dells shoreline

Macro flower

ice cream

Dells rocks - water ripples


Kara @ His, Hers and Ours said...

OMGosh!! That sounds like something that would SO happen to us!!

So glad to hear Nick didn't break his hand. I can so imagine a mom and dad twisted around in the front seats. And great timing, Nick! ;)

Gorgeous pictures too, by the way!

Happy WW!

WeaselMomma said...

I am so with you! Camping is for the birds, literally. My idea of roughing it is a hotel that doesn't offer room service.

Roger said...

I can't believe you let nick watch THAT show. :) Anyway, I like the idea of camping, and occasionally I enjoy spending a night out in the wild. But I have found that as i get older and add more children to my family, I don't like it as much.

I still like making fires though.

Laurie, Mobile Mommy/Halo Secretarial said...

I LOVED camping as a kid. I want my kids to have most of the experience with as little discomfort for me as possible! So I think next summer we are going with the rental cabin option with hopefully a firepit for smores and a nearby beach. Good enough, right?!

Kelly said...

I used to love to camo as a kid. Ever summer we went at least 3 or 4 times. Now....not so much! I went last year to camp at Myrtle Beach with two kids and me 5 months prego with my third. Can you say HELL?!? Sleeping on the ground is horrible when you get older. Plus sand in all the wrong places was a big downer. The only upside was that the kids LOVED it. They were begging to go again as soon as we got home!

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh man. Poor kid. Poor parents! I've come to realize that there are other ways to satisfy my sons' urge to camp--a tent in our back yard. Sending them to boy scout or church camp. All ways that don't require me to sleep on the ground or use a porta potty.
You? YOu are a good person to give it the college try for their sake.

Cheryl said...

I would have bailed at the first sign of port-a-potties. :) Your pics are beautiful! Thanks for the bloggy love- and I agree that while Jack Sparrow is a great character, I don't want him in my bed, lol. ;)

Melissa B. said...

WHAT?!?!? Camping and no S'MORES? A true tragedy, if you asked me. And I totally agree with you AND Dave Barry about camping. Although you did get some Superior Snaps! BTW, I appropriated one of your shot from a couple of weeks ago. Gave full credit, natch. Please drop by and see what all the fun is about...

WeaselMomma said...

I keep trying to add you to my blogroll but your feed won't stick and when clicked it says error. This has been going on for weeks. Do you have any helpful answers?