The problem with nature is that so much of it wants to feed on me.
Last night was the city campout at the park next to the pool we go to in the summer time. The deal was that you could go down and pitch your tent, play in the pool or partake of the other planned activities, have hot dogs and smores for dinner, and camp out – all just a couple miles from the comfort of your own home.
Kim loves camping, and so do the girls. Me, I’m kind indoorsy. As I’ve noted before in this space, the great outdoors does not figure into my definition of an ideal day in any meaningful way. I’m perfectly content to sleep in a nice bed in an air conditioned house surrounded by my stuff. I’m funny that way.
Not that we weren’t surrounded by our stuff. We do not pack light in the best of circumstances, and camping is one of those things that seems to bring out the “how much more can the car hold?” gene in Kim. We once camped our way out to Colorado with some friends, before we had kids, and I drew the line at the 25 feet of garden hose that she tried to have us bring along. You know, there’s an easy way to have all your stuff with you. It’s called “staying home.”
But off we went.
It was a hot, humid day, and while Kim and I set up the tents Tabitha, Lauren and their friends Taryn and – eventually – Grace went over to the pool to hang out. They had a good time. Further good times were had around the dinner fire, as the organizers handed out hot dogs and let us roast them ourselves. There were games – the tug of war was a big hit, as was a bewildering variety of relay races – and general running around. A number of the kids present even took turns telling scary stories by the fire as the evening wound down. It’s nice to see the old chestnuts get dusted off by a new crowd.
In addition to all that, there were also midges, no-see-ums, and enough mosquitoes to restock New Jersey should that state experience a catastrophic mosquito failure. Between varying grades of sunscreen and bugspray, I ended up slathered in no less than five different layers of chemicals in order to commune with nature.
I am not sure that this is the way one is supposed to do that.
Eventually all of the blood was sucked from our bodies and the sun went down, leaving us to retire to our tents unmolested. The girls all crashed in one big pile in their own tent. Kim and I had our own. There was much cloudiness and lightning off to the west, but we were okay.
About 4am, however, the Family Vacation Mojo kicked in. It always rains on our vacations. This is not so bad when we are visiting family members who have actual houses, though it is something of a drag out in the open, with only nylon between you and whatever Category 3 hurricane is bearing down on us this time. The wind picked up, several of our fellow campers hurriedly stuffed everything into their cars and fled, and it began to rain. We just staked down our rain fly and rode it out. It turned out to be not so bad.
The rain that came at 8am, though – that was bad. Fortunately we had already packed up most of our stuff and gone home, so that was fine.
I went back afterward and retrieved the tents.