Friday, June 25, 2010


When my ex and I first got together, we went on an epic road-trip from our college in northern Idaho, down through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California and ended in Oregon. It involved more powdered black-bean paste than I care to remember and pretty much camping for the entire three months. It was an incredible adventure that I will never forget; we saw amazing places, met interesting people, and learned a lot about each other and ourselves. We learned, for example, that camping was Eric's idea of "vacation". We learned that my idea of vacation is NOT camping.

There is nothing easy about camping. First you have to go through the garage and various storage closets to gather all your equipment and supplies, taking inventory of what you have and what you need ("I found the flashlight but the batteries are dead. We have spoons but no forks. Where are the damn forks?? I know we bought bug-spray last summer. Have you seen the tent stakes??") sorting and arranging it all, stuffing it all in the car and then you drive to your destination. You find a camp-sight that is somewhat close (but not too close!!) to the foul-smelling toilets and far enough away from the neighboring camp-site that you won't be kept awake by the house-sized RV's generator. Find a spot for the tent that is flat and not too rocky, dig out aaaall the supplies, set up your tent and sleeping bags, light the citronella candle in a lame attempt to keep the bugs at bay. Cook dinner in several stages over an open flame, scrub pots and pans with sand to remove gunk. Next you must put everything back in the car so as not to attract wildlife. Then and only then do you get to collapse into your sleeping bag, feeling every stick and rock under your back and wishing like hell that you'd remembered your pillow. Sleep, thrash, repeat. Then you pack it all up, stuff it in the car, drive home and then spend another hour or two putting it AAAALLL away! Wheeee!!! I always come home from camping exhausted and in need of a vacation.

The truth is, camping is only relaxing for a few hours between your arrival and departure. I'd much rather spend my time actually hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking, reading....or oh! I know: relaxing.

Ok, ok, there are SOME things I still enjoy about camping (or would, if I actually went, you know, camping). Falling asleep to the sounds of night-hawks and crickets. Waking to the sounds of the birds as the sun comes up. Taking a nap in the shade after a day playing in the lake or hiking., that's about it.

I have to admit that at this point in my life, my idea of "camping" involves a log cabin within walking distance to a lodge that serves bacon, fresh-squeezed orange juice and huckleberry crepes.

My husband David and my daughter, however, still like the idea of actual CAMPING. In fact, there is talk of a possible camping trip this summer in Glacier National Park. You may have heard of Glacier while reading the latest report of grizzly mauling.

Grizzlies consider a tent to be the dry, uninteresting tortilla that must be endured to get to the soft, pink meat-flavored filling.

In fact just a couple of days ago, some poor sap camping somewhere in Montana awoke to the unmistakable sensation that the side of his head was being eaten. Because IT WAS. An otherwise "harmless" black bear bit through his tent and made a snack of the guy's ear. Fun!

Call me crazy, but I just can't sleep when I'm afraid for my life.

And so, it seems to me that this is the perfect "camping compromise:

See, one of these little beauties would provide bear-proof shelter, a somewhat comfortable mattress and a place to keep your stuff. That's all you need. These babies are so light that they can be pulled behind a Volkswagen!

And think of how spontaneous you could be, which is the other thing that drives me crazy about camping: it is IMPOSSIBLE to say on a Friday afternoon "Hey, let's go up to Priest Lake for the weekend!" Even car-camping involves the above-mentioned excavation of the dark corners of the garage to find all the bits and pieces and supplies and equipment. This process literally takes hours. You can not spontaneously tent camp. Period.

With one of these little trailers, however, it's all in there: the plates, forks, coffee-maker, matches, flashlights, sleeping bags, bug repellent, stove! You simply grab your clothes, hook your little trailer to the car and you GO!! To Priest Lake! To the Oregon coast! To Canada! To Glacier!!

The fact that this is one orange has nothing to do with it. Swoon.

Of course, if we ever win the lottery, one of the first things I'd buy would be a sweet vintage Airstream.

Maybe a little something like this. A 1948 Airstream "Wee Wind". Have you ever seen anything so adorable?? It's even for sale, but they don't say how much which means "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."

A girl can dream, right?


Jodi said...

Oh my God you MUST have one! I have to admit, Glacier is the one place I would never camp. Bears = scary.

Make sure David's life insurance is all paid up before he and Anna take off. You have my permission to stay home and slug back a few bottles of wine...

kate said...

Ok, this is weird. Last year our friend/neighbor Laura bought a tear-drop trailer, which is what sort of got me obsessed with the idea.

So I was just on some national website that lists trailers for sale and I saw one in Spokane! Being sold by someone named Laura....

Uh huh. Coinkie dink or fate?? Now I just need $6,000. I think it's worth every penny, to keep from becoming bear food....

Dee said...

1. a bear will pick that itty bitty thing up, put it under one arm and take it some place comfortable to eat the contents
2. there's never enough room to pack everything you need in that tiny "trunk"
3. after having one for a short time ( one trip) you'll decide to go bigger, then bigger, etc----till there you are


(Having taken many trips in RVs, I KNOW #3 is true, having also talked with many RV owners)

Jodi said...

You never offer what they're asking...

Linda said...

I LOVE the visual of the bear picking that thing up, tucking it under his arm, and heading home to find a can opener!

Mom, you're such fun!

Marguerite said...

People say Australians are crazy for camping where there are Crocodiles etc. Bears scare the sh!t out of me. My brother and his wife cycled around Canada and the US for 4 months and camped every night. That is dedication I reckon. They were camping in Canada someplace where the week before someone had been mauled by a grizzly. Mmmm.....No thanks! How cool are those trailers?! These type of trailers are popular in Australia They unfold out to a tent and living area. Also has everything in rolling drawers so you can hitch the trailer on and go. Very expensive. But I will keep dreaming.

Megan said...

You are scaring me with all this bear talk. We are prepping for a summer full of camping right now, and as much as we enjoy it, we really don't know what the hell we're doing.
And now after writing this comment, I'm imagining the newspaper quoting it in its story about how a Spokane family of four (my family of four!!) got eaten by a bear because they left out a Dutch oven of pineapple upside down cake.

sarah said...

i have to say that right now camping is not making my vaca list. i would much rather be on an island with a nice mixed drink and sand between my toes. i could really use that.

i love the campers though. it is amazing the things that people can make look cool.

come on over and check out my blog.

xoxo, sarah

Jodi said...

Ok Marguerite, I love your blog! I covet the old cupboard and cast iron bed! I can't believe you stumbled on to them, I must come to Australia and go through your dump! I'm adding your blog to my watchlist!