Happy Trails and Fishy Tales

There once was a lady who had a wrinkle, right in the middle of her forehead.
When she would frown, in her crease you could drown,
And when she thought deeply, she looked horrid.

An obvious solution to this unattractive affliction is to think less. It's hard not to think when camping. Without the distractions of home and technology, what else can one do but ponder and/or worry. I tried hard not to think about my fears, but out in the wilderness, six miles off the freeway, my fears were staring me in the eye.

Snakes We saw two, swimming in the river, deeper than I thought snakes swam.
Bears We received a flier from the camp host about a recent sighting.
Forest Fire Always a threat this time of year.
Injuries The kids survived with minor scrapes and bruises.
Allergic reactions to bites, stings, etc. Avery had no apparent swelling or difficulty breathing after a bite from an unknown assailant.
Ticks I'm still checking crevices.
Losing my keys or a kid in a camp toilet. I know, losing a kid in a toilet sounds like an irrational fear, but after potty training while camping several years ago, you realize how small children are when placed over such a large, deep hole in the ground. Fortunately, we made it safely home with keys and children.

On the subject of camp bathrooms, and the lack of proper washing facilities, I tried very hard to not think about microbiology. I tried to not think about swabbing the table, the fishing pole, or my son's hands and growing whatever lurked there on a petri dish. I tried not to think about the microscopic particulates that made the bathrooms stink for such a wide radius. I just poured another glass of wine and hoped the soap I washed the dishes with would work it's magic, despite the cold water rinse.

Instead of dwelling on the microscopic unknown world, I thought about my other favorite college course, Cultural Anthropology, and the way people live in the known world. As I carried buckets of water to our camp for washing and cooking, I considered the trek that millions of millions have made and still make on a daily basis in pursuit of water. Cooking over an open flame, trying to dodge smoke, I developed a whole new compassion for people who cook every meal over a flame. Foraging in the forest for wood to burn, I realized that people the world over spend many waking hours gathering fuel for their fire, and not just sweet smelling wood. Yet after two days of carrying water, gathering wood and tending the camp fire, I know that I have very little in common with those whose survival depends on these skills. These activities fell under the category of Recreation and Leisure for my family. This was our vacation. It was fun to cook over an open flame while the family gathered around the fire. Collecting firewood and learning to break dead branches into smaller lengths using another tree for leverage was the highlight of our day (although the highlight of Avery's day was gutting a fish). It was a relief to know our soiled bedding could go straight into the washing machine when we got home. No rock pounding laundry necessary.
Will I truly be grateful for modern conveniences now that I'm home after "roughing it" for two days? Will I continue to feel compassion, respect and awe for those who spend their whole lives without the conveniences we take for granted? Will I ever be able to clean this grime out from under my fingernails? All I know for certain is that when the dust settles I will have another successful camping trip under my belt and etched in my brow, and a smile on my face to relocate the creases.


  1. Glad you are home safely! It sometimes seems funny to me that most consider camping a "vacation." I love it, but once a year is enough for me. Then I remember how much work it is... until next year. :)

  2. Snakes and bears? EEEEEEk! We love to camp, and do it a lot when it's not 400 degrees out. We've got it down to a science. Honestly, it's not so much the camping that seems like hard work to me now, it's the coming home, unpacking, cleaning, repacking nonesense that does me in. Just about the time I want to veg on the couch, there's a mountain of crap to week through and put away. Anyhow, so glad to hear that you had fun and managed to dodge the venom, claws and infections! :-)

  3. Laugh lines and frown furrows are the yin and yang of the face -- they provide balance. If you only had one and not the other you would be at risk of being either a silly ninny or a sourpuss. They add character and beauty to your face the way wobbles and small blemishes make old glass more interesting and beautiful than modern machined glass. Besides, a mother who does not frown is a danger to her children. Far from looking horrid, you are beautiful.


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