I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy. Ernest Hemmingway.
Ah, Hemmingway. I haven't been to Africa, but Hemmingway's words could be applied to mornings while camping.
That was if I got to the bathroom in time.
You see, it wasn't just a five-step stroll from bedroom to toilet. It required a scavenger hunt through dirty clothing, toys, flip flops, and wet swimsuits to find my glasses, shoes, and coat. Once dressed, I'd sit and wait until my husband returned from his early sojourn through the wilds. The girls were too little to leave alone.
nFive hours later, Les would return, unaware of my clenched teeth through an angry scowl. Instead, he'd wax poetic about seeing a waterfall or deer. I didn't care. I needed the bathroom! With my legs tightly crossed, I'd drag my body over rocky terrain to find release and relief.
Then I'd return and start preparing breakfast.
Once breakfast was finished, the family would all leave and get cleaned up and dressed. I'd do the dishes and clean the campsite.
They were ready to go (hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, etc.) before I was ready. "Hurry on, Mom!"
Truth be told I didn't like camping too much when the girls were very little. Besides running my version of Club Med, I worried about one of girls falling off the rocks or drowning or getting a tick embedded into their flesh, or worse, getting a snake bite.
I loved camping as a little girl, teenager, and young adult.
When I became a mother, I understood why my mother didn't seem too thrilled with camping. It's a lot of work to take all the stuff you need to live when you're away from home.
I'm not a camping guru. I don't have answers as to how to make it easier and more enjoyable. All I can say is since I've delegated tasks and decided not to worry about death and destruction, camping has become fun.
We also have a pop-up camper. The girls are grown up, so I don't have to worry about them falling into the fire.
Oh, sure we still have our share of snafus - like when our truck decided not to run when we left for Memorial Day camping.
And the bathrooms at some of the campgrounds are gross. So are the showers. They're certainly not as spider-free as they are in a hotel (but I've been to some motels where you have to wonder). And some of them you have to keep pressing the faucet in order to get water while dealing with too hot or too cold temperatures. Remember to wear flip flops in the shower!
Food, however, while you're camping just tastes better - if you don't overcook it. Pudgy pies anyone? My girls aren't too thrilled with these, but my husband wants to have pudgy pies for every meal.
Not familiar with pudgy pies?
They sell pudgy pie makers (or Campfire Pie Iron) at camp stores or big-box stores. You take two slices of white bread. Butter them. Sprinkle a little sugar on them. Place the buttered side on the metal. Fill one side with your favorite fruit filling. Be careful not to overfill or the fruit will ooze out and burn. Close the pudgy pie maker. Put the loaded cast-iron into the fire. Check every few minutes. I'm pretty proficient at getting a golden crust. My husband is pretty proficient at getting charred crusts. He still eats his pudgy pie.
You can make all sorts of sandwiches with a pudgy pie maker.
Grilling other foods over the fire is also great, especially hamburgers or chicken. I don't mind cooking as long as we return back to the campsite before it's too dark. I’m not one of those campers who love spending lots of time preparing a camp meal. We attended a class put on by a ranger about cooking with cast-iron Dutch ovens. Too much work, if you ask me.
Les makes breakfast.
One thing I like to do while camping that I hate to do at home is wash the dishes. When you're camping your hands get grimy. Doing the dishes helps with that. My girls complain about having to dry and put away the dishes. Oh well, too bad.
After dinner if it’s not too dark we’ll take a walk. Then we’ll get the wood together and start a campfire. I was a Girl Scout and earned my campfire badge. I brag about that every time I set up a campfire and it lights. If I have trouble igniting it, I keep quiet.
Since COVID, finding campsites at a Wisconsin State Park is difficult. We often have to go during an off-season time or use a campsite without electricity. I like electricity because I can brew my coffee in the morning and have lights on without using flashlights. It's probably not "true" camping, but I’m not a true camper!
It doesn’t matter if you’re a “true” camper or not. Don’t let anyone scoff at you for your creature comforts, and don’t scoff at others for their creature comforts. It’s wonderful to be away from home, enjoying the wild animals (sometimes they come in the form of other campers), the scenery, the fresh smells (minus the outhouses), food, family, and memories. Ernest Hemmingway might have been referring to waking up in Africa, but I think when you’re camping you always wake up happy (if you can get to the bathroom on time).
Thanks for reading! Please go to this month's YouTube and listen to more stories of camping.
I have a Caboodle bag I found at a rummage sale. I am able to put everything I need for a shower. It’s plastic, and I hang it on a hook outside the shower. So, even though the shower is less than wonderful, the Caboodle keeps everything neat and accessible.
I do not receive any advertising money from L.L. Bean or Caboodle. I inserted their links in case you were interested in learning more about these products.