This past weekend Jen, Jackson, and I took a much needed and spontaneous camping trip to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. We decided Friday afternoon that Saturday afternoon, we’d back up the Jeep and hope there were campsites available. There were, so we spent the next eighteen hours in wooded, peaceful bliss. Except for the group two campsites over who had one very volumous laugher amongst them. It was nice to relax and hang out, just the three of us, playing cards, reading, and staring blankly into the trees. Its amazing what just a brief escape and change of scenery can do for your psyche.
I guess that’s why people like to spend extended periods of time sleeping in the dirt, getting smoke in their eyes and lungs while cooking dinner, not showering, and having to do #2 in an outhouse. For some reason getting back to those very primitive conditions helps us to relax and recharge. Maybe its the fresh air, or maybe the exercise of building your own shelter (tent) and cooking your fresh kill (burgers) over an open flame (propane Coleman stove). Whatever it is, it touches some primeval chord in our brain, or at least in mine. I know not everyone is keen on camping, and I really can’t blame them (see first sentence of this paragraph), but for me at least there are few activities that are as good for the soul, enjoyable, and relatively inexpensive.
I’ve been really into camping lately. I even requested a tent trailer, or at least contributions toward one, for my birthday. I didn’t camp much when I was a kid. My dad has a serious aversion to dirt, dust, and the like, so therefore is physically unable to camp. I can remember only three times in my childhood where my family did honest-to-goodness camping.
#1 – Burney Falls approx. age 4
We went with my moms parents and my uncle and I think we stayed in a trailer. Some of my earliest childhood memories are from this trip. I remember my dad, grandpa, and uncle walking down near the falls and coming back all wet. I remember we went to some caverns nearby. I don’t remember it, but I know I bathed in a very small brown wash tub. My mom was kind enough to snap a photo of this seminal event. I also know that my dad, the man who spent the first two decades plus of his life growing up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Minnesota, caught his first fish ever. Just sad.
#2 – Eagle Lake approx. age 10
Our family went with some friends of ours, who had no sons and two daughters much younger than me, and if something could go wrong, it did. First off, it rained. Actually, it monsooned and we were staying in tents. Second, everyone got violently ill from some bad re-fried beans. Everyone except me. So here I am, in a drenched campsite, with no one my age to hang with, while everyone is puking their guts out. Good times. Third, when Mike, the family friend, was feeling better, he and I got up one morning at six AM to go fishing. It was early, it was cold, and we got nary a nibble. The most exciting part of the morning was when I got a pretty bad snag and lost my hook. More good times.
#3 – Trinity River approx. age 13
This trip was good. Again, we went with some family friends, different ones, who had no male children, but I got to bring along a friend. This time we actually caught some fish, the campsite had an arcade, and a bear kept ransacking the garbage cans every night. Now that’s camping.
On a related note, when Jen and I went this past weekend, we didn’t really tell anybody we were going, save maybe a couple. Not because we were being secretive or anything, it just didn’t occur to us. But when I didn’t show up for my fantasy football draft, which I had half-forgotten about, my buddies got a little worried. I wouldn’t just miss a fantasy draft without saying anything. They became more worried when they tried to text me and got no reply. I always return a text. Our friend Leslie even called one of the hospitals in town to make sure we weren’t in it. What can you say about such friends?