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Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The Great Outdoors...Ugh.
Loved everything about it: sleeping in a bed with curtains for a door; sliding into the bench seats around the table; hearing the exaggerated sound of rain on the roof.
Camping, however, well...that's another thing.
When my husband first took the 9yr old and 7yr old for a one-nighter a couple of years ago, I was all for getting the Taj Mahal of tents, in light of the fact it seemed only logical that the 4yr old and I would join in the 'fun' later, and why waste money on something that wasn't going to go the distance?
Hubby was dubious at the time. "You won't want to go camping," he accused. "Yes I will!" I protested, probably sounding a little more convinced of the fact than what I actually was. I started ticking off my fingers, "Firstly, there was the time I camped at Margaret River when I was 17, and...well...I camped there for a WHOLE week!" Hubby just shook his head in dismay.
Still, he went off and purchased the three room tent I requested, and I, in turn, promised that the 4yr old and I would eventually join him and our brood in their great outdoor adventures.
However, as time went on, and the suggestion of said camping trip started to look like becoming a reality, I felt even more hesitant. I liken it to looking back on what I thought parenthood would be like before my children were born. (Need I say more?) Hence, my concern about the camping thing. I felt quite certain it wasn't going to be how I imagined it: lazing in my camping chair, reading a good book whilst my children frolicked and played around me. Picking flowers to place in my hair. Hubby catching our dinner from the nearby waters that he would later cook over an open fire he had built from scratch earlier.
I had managed to avoid that promised camping trip up until last weekend, when Hubby and I, the kids and the dog (not in my original daydream) all set off on a short camping expedition up to the central coast.
Before we left, there was the overly ambitious attempt to fit our Taj Mahal tent, camping chairs, esky, clothes, sleeping bags, gas burner, picnic table, the fishing rods, inflatable mattresses, five pillows, the dog, and more, in to our car. (Oh, and the kids.) To say we were cramped - even in my four-wheel drive* - wouldn't be underplaying it.
Then came the car trip from hell. There was the random rolling of a car tyre across the road at full speed towards us on the highway (Hubby managed to swerve and it only hit our back left tyre - we couldn't work out where it came from). Having to stop after the first twenty minutes because the dog started hyperventilating in the back (probably smothered by all the pillows, no doubt). Then there was the one hour crawl in bumper-to-bumper traffic, caused by a truck losing it's load on the F3 - all through the incessant rain.
Fortunately, on arrival, a break in the weather allowed Hubby and I to erect the tent without getting wet. (Small blessings and all that.) Which meant we had time to go fishing. You know, for that dinner I had imagined.
Now, that was kinda fun to begin with. We even caught some fish. Four of them, in fact. However, not even all four together would have made a substantial meal for the 4yr old alone, so sadly, they were sent back to their watery home. Then the dog ate some of the bait, we lost our tea towel to the murky waters and the 9yr old managed to get the hook from his fishing rod lodged in to his thumb. (This did not go down well. Believe me.) He survived.
There was no fish for dinner, however there was the culinary delight of baked beans, sausages and buns - most of which the dog greedily consumed.
Post-dinner with three overly tired children, and two rather exhausted parents, it was no surprise a shouting match between all ensued at one point. (Lots of 'GO TO BED! It's LATE!' But hey - at least we no doubt entertained the rest of the holiday-makers.)
Having (naively) anticipated tired, sleepy children and a full evening ahead without computers and/or televisions, I had packed two books - neither of which I could read because the lighting was so bad from the camp lanterns. Sigh. With the rain persisting, the possibility of sitting out in front of a fire chatting to Hubby or the like went, well, up in flames, and so I retired early after taking to Twitter briefly (you don't think I'd travel without my iPhone, now do you?) with boredom being the overriding factor for my early night.
During the night, there was the obligatory toilet visit to be made, which involved the unsuccessful attempt at quietly unzipping, zipping, unzipping then zipping two layers of tent doors without waking anyone; repeating the process on my return after traipsing through the dark in drizzling rain to the closest amenities block - watching out for bats, snakes, spiders and anything creepy, flappy and/or crawly as I went. Interesting.
And may I say, that if you think having a 4yr old squeeze in to your side of the bed in the mornings is uncomfortable, try doing that in a sleeping bag.
We managed a fairly incident-free, if not slightly dull, breakfast (Vegemite on bread rolls) before packing up the damp tent and making our way home. The return journey, thankfully, far less drama-filled, and much quicker. (Except for the dog puking just prior to our departure. Still - better that he holding it in until he was in the car, right?)
Just as I thought: camping's not really for me. Give me a 5-star hotel...hell, give me a 3-star one any day, and I'm there.
But the kids? Loved it. LOVED it. No doubt, there will be a repeat performance for this family.
God help me.
Do you go camping? Did you go camping as a kid? Do you like it? Love it? HATE it? What's your ideal family holiday?
* But please note I'm not one of those rude, terrible 4-wheel-driving Mums you see on the road near your local school. Honest!
Image: We Heart It