The British adventurer from Running Wild with Bear Grylls has some nifty one-liners: “Life is an adventure – live it” and “If you risk nothing, you gain nothing.”
Okay. I was ready to welcome adventure, to gain something. I was about to go camping.
My inaugural day could best be described by a “hangry” interpretive dance. Since you can’t see me dance, simple words must suffice.
First I e-mailed my sister to let her know that Paul and I bought a truck tent and planned to enjoy evenings cuddled around a camp fire, communing with nature. “It’ll be an adventure,” I wrote, “discovering how much I enjoy this, or how much I need a hotel room. Can’t say until I try, but I’m game. Wish me luck.”
Her reply wasn’t heartening: “I can’t be objective because I haven’t camped for so long, and my experiences were pretty primitive. Maybe it’s the teenage drunken mosquito-filled nights of camping I remember! No sleep, someone always vomiting and someone always burned by the fire. Hangover mornings. Good times.”
Fast forward a week. I emailed my sis again: “On Saturday we took the new tent to a secluded place for a dry run. When I say secluded, I’m talking no Golden Arches and no bathroom, only the far off engines of ATVers also communing with nature.
“Other campers had been there before, based on the meat poles for hunting, fire pits and log stump chairs. But the place was too quiet, not even a bird call. M Night Shyamalan movies looped in my brain.
“The temp was 32 degrees, the sky overcast and the wind gusted non-stop. Did I mention it was snowing?
“Our new truck tent? The assembly advertised a ten-minute set up in the box of our truck. It took an hour. One of the poles was too long and didn’t fit, no matter how we struggled. I envisioned the pole snapping and flying like a javelin, and one of us losing an eye.
“On to our romantic fire. The smoke plume followed me, no matter where I sat. There was no cuddling. I was too busy playing musical stumps and blowing my nose. I’d feel Paul’s glare every time I bailed to warm up in the truck, preferring a reclining leather chair to a hard stump.
“By noon I was starving because we didn’t bring any food. Why? Paul said we wouldn’t stay long enough to worry about meals. I foolishly believed him. And luckily I have strong thighs and decent balance. Men have it easy when nature calls in the woods.
“By the way, did you enjoy your hotel suite in New York last weekend? Wanna change places and commune with nature? . . . Still there?
“Paul grew sullen when I complained of being cold, hungry and smoke-choked. Good times.
“Tent dismantling took considerably less time – we jammed it into the carry bag. Nothing ever fits its carry bag after the first use.
“Returned home in the afternoon, thawed in a hot tub and downed a glass of something strong. So what’s new with you?”
Will I ever head out again with Paul and a tent? For sure. When the thermometer hits the mid-70s and when the cooler is packed with enough food to feed Bear Grylls. Or a Grizzly bear.
Scratch the Grizzly comment. Who needs to worry about fighting off wildlife? I’ll be happy if my thighs hold out.
Did I mention good times?