After so many years my first association with camping is still sleeping under a night sky dotted with stars, waking up to the sound of birds chirping and eating breakfast in the shade of a tall maple tree. It beats me how every year I manage to forget the rain, snores coming from the nearby neighbors and attempting to squeeze camping equipment of gargantuan proportions into the car. Here is a list of things that can only happen on camping:
1.Never enough of camping gear
Eleven years ago the two of us were invited on a camping trip to Tuscany. We said yes without really thinking it through, as we had no camping equipment whatsoever. Like complete camping novices we took pillows and blankets from home and borrowed a tent my father won in a game. A tent so small, we realized when we set it up in the camp, I could barely fit in. To avoid hubby spending the night in the fetal position, we didn’t close it. We woke up at around four o’clock in the morning with ants crawling all over us.
Fast forward eleven years, I wish I could say we have it all. But that would be wrong, because somehow every time we come to a camp, we see something we could definitely use.
So, I gather you are never really done with the gear.
At some point however you have to say enough: we have all the stuff we can fit into the car and really need. Besides this is camping – translation basic. Don’t go overboard, otherwise you would be better off at a hotel.
2. Noises to deal with
Last Summer, on our final day of vacation, we arrived at an over crowded German camp. We were so late, we only had half an hour of daylight tops to set up. Thanks to years of practice this was enough and in no time we were ready to retire. The camp was pretty loud, but at around ten it was getting quieter. I was relieved as we’d be able to sleep, but our neighbor had other plans for us. He snored so loud and without taking a breather. After what felt like hours, I wanted to murder him. I have spent the rest of the night contemplating how I would do it.
Pack ear plugs when you go camping.
I always bring earplugs along, but I rarely manage to remember where I’d put those small suckers. All the different noises are basically what you have to take into account, if you enjoy camping. And we had our share of weird birds arguing on our tent in the middle of the night, parties, TV’s, card games… But this guy was something else, he took noise to a whole new level.
3. Needing a loo in the middle of the night
I rarely have to get up at night to go to the toilet, but when sleeping in a tent that’s a regular occurrence. Still I would never set up a tent near the restrooms because of all the people coming and going.
Don’t drink beer before going to sleep.
After a day full of adventures, you get to enjoy a nice dinner and a glass of beer before hitting the sleeping bag. But that glass could easily be the difference between waking up in the middle of the night or not. Still, if you don’t wake up, kids will due to one glass of juice too many, and it might be raining and they might really, really, need to go… I would not give that beer up.
4. Raining, wind and all the natural occurrences
Thus far, we had to set up a tent during the rain, which stopped the minute we were done. We had downpours daily on our last trip, but that’s what happens when you go camping in Normandy. However my absolute worst is eating in the crowded tent, because due to the rain, you can’t do it outside or having to take kids to the restroom.
Pick a good tent and don’t worry.
Plan around the weather, since you can’t beat it. Make sure your tent will hold and that’s as much as you can do.
5. Packing all the gear
Back to the gear: “Are you serious?” that’s a question my hubby directs at me, every time he sees what I’ve put together for our next camping trip. After initial surprise, he turns into a magician and manages to somehow squeeze everything in. In France, we had the car packed, all set to go, when hubby turns to me: “Where are the keys?” Oh, no, they were in one of the pockets, safely tucked into our folded, neatly packed tent. In complete silence, we unpacked, opened the tent again and got the kids. Then put everything back in. The silence continued till lunch.
Packing gear in the car is like playing Tetris. You get better with practice.
I realized when it comes to camping and camping gear, going for one week or a weekend doesn’t make much of a difference.
There it is and to tell you the truth, I still can’t wait to go camping. Let the season begin.