I used to worry about axe murderers while camping especially the part where they would look into the tent with their axe ready to strike through the canvas. But I got over that by zipping up the windows so just a small flap is open. This way I can’t see them coming and, somehow, the lack of warning has eliminated the fear. The question to contemplate: would you rather have a long illness that would allow you to get your affairs in order and say goodbye to your loved ones or fall on your ice skates and crack your head open on the ice? I know where I stand. I want people to say, “she never saw it coming.”
When you are camping, peeing at night becomes an issue of epic proportions. If you are a man, you can take aim. This assumes that doing so wouldn’t offend your camping neighbors. In other words, such peeing needs to be completely out of the community’s sight, but if you’re standing, a tree will do. You can pretend to be smoking a cigarette. But if you’re a woman, you are faced with squatting outside, in the dark, possibly under a full moon, within inches of the swarming life of the forest. No one smokes a cigarette in this position. So, in the middle of the night when my husband crawled out of the tent to pee, I envied him, not just in that moment but for hours afterward. And in the morning, I walked the however many yards it was to the bathroom as if, you know, it was no big deal. Such is the gender divide.
People are nice but I usually don’t want to talk to them. My husband is the one who talks to people. He becomes friends with the most unlikely folks in five minutes. He stands and chats or, worse, sits and chats. And while he does this, I look for the door except when you’re camping, there are no doors. You are outdoors so there is no way to leave without walking on down the path in search of a rare butterfly or something. It’s okay because his conversations always end up yielding interesting information and unique insights that, in my rush for the non-existent door, I would never hear. I always ask him afterward to tell me every word the person said. Which he does. Because he’s that way.
We didn’t fry the Spam and I didn’t ride a horse. These were disappointments. There was fresh food – bacon and sausage – demanding to be fried first so the Spam had to wait. And I got weirdly lightheaded and unsteady on the day that I would’ve gone horseback riding. I am not an expert horse person but I can ride a horse, especially one whose profession it is to carry old ladies around a national park, but I worried that the world would spin so I said no. After a day of drinking a lot of water, I was fine but by then we were in another state thinking about other things.
I love camping because I love making do. Camping is all about making the best out of what you have. You can choose from what you packed in the food box and the cooler. You can cook what you can put on the fire or the Coleman stove. Whatever you choose subtracts from tomorrow’s choices. And so the options narrow, making each choice more precious. And, if you are smart, and an experienced camper, you save the Spam for last. It is there as a last resort which is fine, very fine.