I love camping. But, I don't love packing or unpacking from camping. Or all the laundry. And the camp toilet is no vacation either. I always worry that either my phone or the key fob for the car will slide out of my pocket and down into the putrid, fetid, noxious abyss. Then there's the threat of wild animals. I've given it a lot of thought and I still can't decide which would be worse...getting mauled by a bear or a mountain lion. But, none of these things is the worst part of camping.
When I arrive at camp I hurriedly set everything up so I can relax and do nothing. But first, let me check my phone. I was looking forward to a mandatory reprieve from checking my phone because I was positive I wouldn't have service out here in the middle of nowhere. Except I do. I have better coverage in a valley next to a mountain stream than I do in my kitchen. Dammit. What now? I turn my phone to airplane mode to force myself to appreciate the chipmunks stealing our food and breathing in the smoke and ash from the nearby wildfires carried by the wind, setting off my asthmatic cough.
Thankfully, there's enough water in the stream next to us to tube down. But, there was a family with at least eight little kids (they all looked the same, dressed in only underwear which made it hard to count them) wading in the water. They got locked out of their van and were waiting for the locksmith to arrive so they could pack up and go home. Although I suspected from the looks and sounds of things that they might be feral. Finally, the locksmith arrived, the feral family left and we got to tube down the stream in peace. Which, of course, is the absolute best part of camping.
Before you know it, it's time to cook dinner. But, not over a campfire like I'd normally do because there's a fire ban. Then there's the dishes to wash. Then cleaning up every ounce of food and locking it all in the car, which is on the other side of the mountain stream, for the night. Cause wildlife. Also, it's more challenging to make sure you've gotten every trace of anything edible when you're searching for it in the dark after a few margaritas.
Finally, I settle into my sleeping bag convinced I'm going to have a good night's sleep. After all, I haven't been on my phone and I've been breathing in (and coughing out) the fresh mountain wildfire filled air. And it's fantastic for the first hour or two. Until the coyotes start yipping. Of course, first I needed to identify that the sound was indeed coyotes and not the feral children returning. Because that's exactly what a pack of coyotes sound like. After that, I'm awake. Worrying about whether I moved all the food or if one of my kids has some in their hammocks they're sleeping on strung between the trees. That's when I realize I have to pee. But, it's gotten cold outside. And there's a pack of coyotes out there. I'll just hold it...for a few hours. It's not like I'm sleeping anyway. Cause have you slept in a sleeping bag on the ground lately? It's not exactly conducive to sleep.
Now here comes the worst part of camping. The sun comes up and I'm awake. Not because I want to be awake, in fact, it's probably because I never actually fell asleep. But, I don't want to get up, because once I start unzipping the tent, I'm the asshole who wakes everyone else up in the campground. So, I've got to wait until someone else gets up, so they're the asshole. And I really, really have to pee at this point. Finally, when I hear someone else in the campground is up, I make a bee line back across the stream to the toilet. With the key fob so I can take the cooler out of the car to schlep it back across the stream with me on my return trip, worried I'm going to drop it in the shitter. Miraculously, I don't. That would definitely be the worst part of camping. But, right now the fact that I'm exhausted and achy from trying to sleeping on the ground at nearly 50 years old and there's still 10 more steps until I get my first sip of coffee....that my friends, is the worst part of camping.