Sometimes we lose touch with the things that really bring us joy. When my wife, Becky, and I were first married, we really enjoyed camping—and that was with four kids!. And no RV for us (well beyond our budget, even if we’d wanted one, which we didn’t). All of our time in the great outdoors was spent in a tent (actually, two: one for us and one for “them”). Once the children were grown, the camping trips became pretty much a fond memory. Okay, on two separate occasions we purchased a pop-up trailer, but we had to sell both, each time for a different reason. It appeared that our camping days were behind us.
However, last year, while Becky was in Scotland with her daughter, I got the camping “bug” once more. I did some extensive research and finally bought a beautiful tent, complete with a top-of-the-line, self-inflating, queen-sized mattress and quality sleeping bags. I couldn’t wait to try everything out, so I spent a night in a local campground—all by my lonesome—and thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn’t wait for Becky to get home so we could try it together. Unfortunately, a week or so after she returned, I had a stroke, and for the next six months or so I had other more important things to concern myself with besides camping (like staying alive).
Fast forward to this past Tuesday. After much groveling and cajoling on my part, Becky finally consented to try camping again—but “only for one night.” When I failed to locate the two Bluetooth speakers I had purchased specifically for camping, I should have known that things might not go as planned. But, in my eagerness to return to nature, I ignored the subtle premonition, and pressed ahead with my plans for the trip.
The campground was only a thirty-minute drive away, and, once there, it took only about two hours to set up camp alongside the trout stream that bordered the campground. We positioned our folding chairs to face the water, and then sat alongside one another, reading, for the next two hours. We had agreed that we wouldn’t get all involved with cooking, so when hunger moved us, we drove the few miles to a nearby town and enjoyed a delicious Mexican dinner.
When we got back to camp, we made a campfire with the wood we purchased earlier. We toasted marshmallows and drank a little beer, all the while holding hands. It was fantastic! We played some cards, took a few silly pictures by firelight, and then it was time for bed. And that’s when the fun began. I can’t speak for other 71-year olds, but I am not the most limber guy in the world. Couple that with my poor balance, night blindness, and peripheral neuropathy, and you can imagine the difficulty I had just getting my shoes and socks off, much less crawling into the sleeping bag atop a quivering inflatable mattress.
After reading for a while, we turned off the lantern and drifted off to sleep . . . well almost. Let’s just say that I went to sleep, and Becky began to suffer some ill effects from her dinner. A few antacids helped with that problem, but then a new issue arose. The stillness of the night began to be regularly interrupted by passing traffic: cars, trucks, and motorcycles—way too many to count. Becky spent the remainder of the evening in the car, insulated from the vehicular noise, while I managed to mostly ignore it inside the cozy confines of the tent. An hour or so before dawn, Becky returned to the tent, and we lay there, snuggled up in our “married” sleeping bags, insulated from the chilly early morning air, playing footsies and making small talk .
In the morning, we drove to a local McDonald’s for their “Big Breakfast.” Then it was back to the campground to break camp. I wanted to take a picture first, and that’s when I discovered that my camera was missing. After a frantic thirty-minute search that included three full examinations of all the possible locations, I finally found the camera right where it should have been—in my duffle bag. Crisis averted.
Then, it took only about an hour to break camp. Thirty minutes later, and we were home— and totally exhausted. We’d actually been away from home less than twenty-seven hours. But despite the minor inconveniences we encountered, we both agreed that we had thoroughly enjoyed the experience and felt good about getting back to the basics. In fact, we even vowed to do it again—real soon—like maybe in a year or two!