Honestly, I wish that I loved camping. I really do.
I love the idea of it. Heading out into the wilderness, setting up a tent, cooking dinner on a campfire or gas stove, and falling asleep to the gentle rustle of leaves sounds so wholesome and wonderful.
But I find the reality to be much less pleasant.
Rob and I were recently invited to camp in a friends backyard in the Catskill Mountains over the July 4 weekend. I debated it for weeks as some of my previous camping trips had been not-so-fabulous and I wasn’t keen on repeating those experiences.
In the end, our friends bugged me about it until I finally caved and agreed to come along.
The last time Rob and I decided to go camping, we drove from Hobart to Fortescue Bay in Tasmania, where we did a 3 hour hike to Cape Hauy then settled down for the night in a campground by the beach. It was a gorgeous spot, and it showed the potential to be a great place to camp.
At around 7 PM, a caravan in the campsite beside us turned on their generator. Through the thin canvas of our tent, the sound of the engine was deafening. I tried to block it out, with no success.
I eventually decided to go over and ask them politely to turn it off, and was met by a bunch of argumentative adults who told me they needed it on to heat the van for their sleeping baby. Apparently, this baby’s warmth was more important than everyone else’s sanity. Defeated, I went back to our tent and sulked. Thankfully they turned it off about an hour later.
At about 9PM, it started raining. The sound of the water droplets hitting the tent was so loud that I couldn’t sleep. After a restless night, I rose at 6AM and walked out to the beach. By this time it had stopped raining and the sun was rising over the ocean. The scene in front of me was gorgeous, but I was so tired and grumpy that I barely enjoyed it.
As we packed up our tent, which was still dripping and muddy on the base from the rain, I decided that I wouldn’t be going on another camping trip anytime soon.
This time around, we were invited to camp for 2 nights in a friends backyard. I was hesitant, but I reasoned that at least a backyard wouldn’t have idiots using generators beside our tent.
We borrowed a tent from one of our friends (I hadn’t bothered buying one since our last camping experience) and took earplugs to help block out noise from potential rain. The tent was the type that automatically erects itself when taken out of its case. Pretty cool.
I went to bed at around midnight on our first night, only to discover that the air mattress we had inflated only a few hours ago was already half deflated. Rob and I ended up sleeping bundled together in the center of the mattress, unable to turn over or move without waking each other.
When morning arrived, I could see the silhouettes of about 10-15 slugs through the canvas of our tent as the sun came up. I’m not afraid of slugs, but I wasn’t particularly keen on the idea of them getting inside the tent. I took extra care unzipping the door to ensure they stayed on the exterior.
On the second night, we decided that it would probably be marginally more comfortable to just deflate the air mattress. I went to bed around 1AM (way past my usual bed time but it was the 4th of July weekend so I stayed up late) then tried to get into a position where my hip bones weren’t digging into the ground beneath me.
This night was colder than the last, and at around 2AM I needed to use the bathroom. In the middle of a cold night with multitudes of slugs on the outside of our tent, I definitely did not want to venture outside, but my bladder wasn’t going to let me go back to sleep without emptying it first.
I reluctantly got up and circumnavigated the slugs, plucking two of them off the zips using large leaves, then walked through the dewy grass to the house, hating every moment that I was outside.
Both mornings, I awoke feeling groggy and uncomfortable. The quality of sleep that I received in a tent was never enough to make me feel refreshed the next morning. Yet again, I had tried to like camping, but had not really enjoyed it.
The weekend itself had been loads of fun. The house was amazing – made from 2 connected shipping containers that had been painted on the inside and covered with wood panels on the outside. Rob and I both loved it and immediately decided that we wanted one just like it for ourselves.
We built a campfire in the backyard and set off fireworks in the evenings. We used the grill to cook our breakfasts and dinners. On one of the days we ventured out to a nearby lake to go kayaking and swimming. It had all the qualities of a great weekend.
It was just the act of camping that I couldn’t like.
I wish I could say that I’ll never camp again, but that statement would be entirely untrue. I’ve actually got a trip planned early next year that will definitely involve some camping. But I can say that I will avoid it as much as possible.
I tried to love camping. I really did. But alas, camping did not love me.