Friday, May 16, 2008

Our First Camping Trip

I grew up camping. I absolutely hated it. I'm not quite sure why I wanted to get into camping when I had children of my own. It is one of the mysteries of my life.

I believe it was the Christmas that the kids were 5, 7 and 8 that we bought all of our gear. We got it all! Tent, sleeping bags, stove, cookware, dishes, canteens, whistles, huge first aid kit... anything and everything you could want or need. Then we waited for the weather to warm up. I was nervous about going because it had been years since I had camped so I talked Mr. Macchiato into camping in our backyard that first time.

We had a huge backyard. It was like a little fenced in forest. We lived in a strange little house. It was pink with red shutters and white trim. Don't blame me. Mr. Macchiato rented it without me. There were no windows or doors that led into the backyard. You had to go through a little side yard to get to it. There was nothing but forest on the other side of the fence. I thought it would be a nice place to have our inaugural camp out. That and I could use our own bathroom and still shower.

I love new stuff. It is all so clean and pretty. I pulled all of our camping stuff out and we were all pretty excited. We cleared away a large area so that we could have a fire pit. I left Mr. Macchiato in charge to go buy some scalloped concrete edging that people usually use around the base of trees for planters to put around it. We briefly discussed the placement of the tent. Or so I thought. When I got back he had put the tent up in the lowest part of the yard. And it was FULL of neighbor kids jumping around and squealing. My brand new tent that I hadn't even stepped foot into yet. I was upset but hid it as I nicely shooed them all away. Then I saw that they had ripped a hole in the bottom of the tent. I was NOT a happy camper. We had us some words.

Things were tense but we tried to shake it off and continue on with our jolly family memory making. Our pastor friend came over to hang out at our campfire and have some dinner. As I was carrying food from the house to the backyard, I slipped and fell flat on my back. I was a bit shook up and it hurt, but I worked it out and we went on. We sang some songs, roasted marshmallows and managed to have a good time... for awhile. He brought his dog, Izzy, who happened to be the sister to our Maggie Mae. Only Maggie Mae had become very territorial and basically chased and terrorized Izzy throughout the evening which was stressful at times. The kids were anxious to sleep in their sleeping bags so we settled in as soon as our friend went home.

Our tent is one of those that has two rooms. We thought we could sleep on one side and the kids on the other. It is really just a large tent with a piece of chintzy, flimsy fabric that can be removed going down the middle. It also does not connect to the floor of the tent. It wasn't long before we had to put Mr. Macchiato and Double Shot in one "room," and the girls and I in the other. We wanted to include Miss Maggie Mae so we brought her into the tent with us. Along with the kids hands going back and forth under the wall of the tent... so was Maggie Mae. This made me very grumpy as we already had a hole in the bottom of the tent and I felt that each time Maggie Mae shoved her way under the "wall" she was making the opening bigger. The kids were in spazmo mode and we had a hard time making them settle down. And... my back was getting stiff and really hurting.

Then... Maggie Mae discovered that she could nose open the door to the tent and get out. She did this several times and would run all crazy through the yard and not come when we called her. And... the kids started fighting. I became outwardly grumpy, as did Mr. Macchiato. There may or may not have been some yelling. Okay. There was yelling.

After about two hours and many threats, Mr. Macchiato picked up Double Shot and drug him into the house. Double Shot was crying because he wanted to sleep in the tent but just would not settle down and behave. The girls and I snuggled in together and I looked forward to getting some sleep at last. Just as sleep was descending on the three of us, Maggie Mae up and decided to go for another joy run. I had to extract myself from my warm cocoon to go get her. The temperature had dropped significantly and it was cold. My back had stiffened to the point that it was difficult to stand completely upright. Maggie Mae made me so mad I decided to put her in her crate inside the house.

I rarely have my house completely together. Even when it is clean there is some sort of mess lurking in some room somewhere. Most of the time you really don't have to look far to find it. The weekend of our little camp out I did have my house completely together though. I am talking every closet, every drawer and all laundry done. I felt on top of the world! Everything was organized!

I stepped inside. It was warm. Wonderful toasty warm. Mr. Macchiato and Double Shot were both snoring away. I noticed that the house wasn't quite as clean as it had been earlier in the evening. I stood over Mr. Macchiato... watching him... suddenly becoming suspicious... wondering if he decided to bring Double Shot in just so he could sleep in the warm house... while I stayed outside with the girls. Yes, I was sure of it. There wasn't a thing I could do but to go back out to the tent and crawl back into my no longer warm at all sleeping bag.

My back hurt. I must have been clenching my teeth because my jaw hurt too. I laid there in the dark listening to the girls breathing... thinking not nice thoughts. Eventually, I fell asleep.

"Mommy... Mom?... MOMMY! It's raining!"

I don't know what time it was but it was before dawn. I told the girls to just go back to sleep and to not touch the sides of the tent. We all drifted back to sleep. I don't how much time elapsed but when I woke up there was water in the bottom of the tent. Remember Mr. Macchiato placed the tent in the lowest part of the yard. Well, that area also became a bog or swamp of sorts when it rained. There was standing water all around the tent. It was also still raining. I got the girls up and we slipped and slid all the way to the house. My clean house? HA!!! There was mud everywhere!

Amazingly, we made it to church that morning. We spent the rest of that day cleaning up the mess. Mr. Macchiato had to string a line between trees so that he could hang the tent over it and take the hose to it to get all of the mud off of it. It was awhile before we attempted another camping trip.


OKGardners said...

This made me laugh - because we tent camped in Rocky Mtn. National Park during a cold rain. One of our cots (with heavy quilt on it) TOUCHED the side of the tent while we were gone all day. When we got back to our dark, cold tent, that cot and the blanket were saturated with COLD water. So guess who got to take one 7-yr-old into MY cot and the only way we could sleep was to make my DRY heavy quilt into a taco-shell shape so we'd have warmth on top AND bottom to sleep on. What a miserable night. I slept on the open side of the "taco-shell" and was exposed to the cold most of the night, while my little girl was warm and toasty. Oh, the fun memories we create!

I guess we all lived through it, right?

Lesson Learned: Cots are not made for 2 sleeping people.

Betty in Oklahoma

Laura ~Peach~ said...

reminds me of just about ever darn camping trip we tried... it always rained and without fail water would make it in!
How do I back up the story on my blog?
I have to put everything into favs too or i am so lost... I have a lap top supposed to be arriving today... its a refurbished one and I am not positive just what all it has and will do but the price was right and ... well we will just see .
the pictures will tin out pretty soon unfortunatley but for a couple more years I have alot and other documents ... My aunt is enjoying rembering some things...its a rough story but, hopefully someone will be helped out there and realise they are not alone :D HUGS

April said...

Precisely why I do not camp. I go to Disneyland instead. :)

Trisha said...

But you DID go camping again? Girl are you nuts? My idea of roughing it is a nice clean, warm hotel!

Karen Deborah said...

Ok now I know for sure, you do these crazy things for good writing material. I bet your back really seized up afte sleeping on the ground! your kids proably love the memory, and the dog proably wanted to go in the house too, they are not dumb.

Anonymous said...

That is horrible! I think it would have deterred me from ever going again.

MUD said...

I spent a year in Vietnam and for the most part I slept where ever we stopped for that day. I camped then and do not now. I did laugh at all the grand plans gone astray.
Thanks for the advice on how to post a You Tube.