Sunday, August 02, 2009

Ah, Wilderness

Cary and I agreed (perhaps even suggested) that we spend Saturday night camping on Seneca Lake with our friends who are very outdoorsy. Since we were not planning to cook anything at the campsite, our friends went up a day early so they could make spider dogs and hike. They have a 3 y.o., and a 3 month old. So, yeah, they're pretty intrepid.

Cary and I thought we'd take our kids camping before they developed the same distaste we have for sleeping in the out of doors.

Things started to go wrong not long after we hit the road. We forgot pillows! So we stopped at the Batavia Target to pick up some extras. Our friend called just as we were exiting the highway. I thought he was checking in, but later we found out that he was hoping we hadn't left yet, so we could go look for the rest of the parts of the tent we were borrowing from his mom! (I'm really glad I didn't know that until later.) So his family went to the Watkins Glen Wal-Mart and bought us a tent, which was very sweet. After all, he could have just asked me to pick one up at Target while I was there.

Our first planned stop was at the Fox Run Vinyards Garlic Festival. It was a fun event, full of wine, maple syrup cotton candy, and garlic farmers selling both fresh garlic and products made from the bulb or the scape. I even got some to plant in my yard this fall. So far, so good.

Next we were headed to Earle Estates Meadery since everyone was curious what meade tastes like. When we arrived our friends were nowhere to be found. Their cell phone was off. (Why? Not sure.) So we spent about half an hour waiting and wondering, dodging invitations from a Karaoke-type performer to join him so he could, "play something from The Little Mermaid for the kids." Once our friends arrived (after driving 20 minutes out of the way on a hunch), it was time to try some meade. Overall it was kind of like dessert wine, but less syrupy, and pretty delicious.

Then we drove to the southern tip of Seneca Lake and took a ride on a 75 year old wooden boat. When the Capt. asked if there were any children who wanted to volunteer to drive the boat, Lucy's hand was the first in the air. Henry eventually volunteered as well. Fun all around.

We had dinner at a lackluster restaurant in Watkins Glen, then headed to the campsite. I was a little concerned that the tent we were sleeping in hadn't been opened or assembled and it was already the children's bedtime, but I was determined to have fun.

Once we arrived at the campsite, Cary looked out and said, "Well, we're just an hour and a half from home. We could just turn around." I did want to leave right then. Not only could we see a guardrail at the far side of the campsite, but not even 20 yards away the neighboring campers were playing Thumper, screaming , "What's the name of the game? Thumper? And why do we play the game? To get fucked up!" To their credit they changed the words once they heard the voices of our little children.

For me the low point was when I took Lucy to the bathroom (which was @ least 150 yards from the tent) to change into pajamas and realized I was putting on clean clothes while I dripped with sweat. Surely we would all just keep sweating and then freeze that night.

Cary played his guitar around the campfire, and the kids had glow sticks and s'mores, but the kids really had trouble settling down, and I couldn't relax either. We'd planned to have wine, but no one really wanted it, nor did we need another reason to pee in the middle of the night.

We went to bed around 9:30, but I've got no idea when we actually fell asleep.

These are some of the thoughts we had while not sleeping:

Cary said he felt more empathy for Hurricaine Katrina victims.
I thought about what it must be like to be homeless
Cary thought about the Stephen King story where a time traveler fails to fall asleep and experiences eternity.
I thought about our friend who was waking up every few hours to nurse her baby.

Cary said the next we camped it would be in a tent that had a foundation and brick walls.

Around 3 am it started to rain, not just a sprinkle, but a full-blown storm with thunder and lightning. I'm very happy to report that the new tent didn't leak, and until Henry had to go to the bathroom at 5:30 the tent was dry inside.

As we made our way home we still couldn't understand why people like camping. What a hassle! And we didn't even cook, or put up our own tent. But we did enjoy spending time with our friends, but next time we're going to Toronto, in a hotel with a pool!


Auntly H said...

I want to hear Henry and Lucy's summaries of the adventure. You might have to send one of them to MN to camp with me sometime. I'm hoping to go next weekend, the stormy forecast kept me home to start my birthday celebrations with Circus Juventus and assembling IKEA furniture.

Susan said...

I'm not a fan of this point in my life I feel that I don't need to make my life MORE complicated, which is how I view camping. Having said that, however, as a kid we used to going camping at Watkins Glen all the time and I have such fond memories of it. I hope my kids will have equally fond memories of staying in a hotel and ordering room service...

kirsta said...

We grew up camping in cabins in Allegeny (sp?) and that wasn't half bad. Sherry went with the kids a few years ago and the now have flush toilets. :-) All of our friends have campers and they love to go out, but it's so much work preparing to leave and then cleaning out the campers when they get home. Dylan often asks, "Mommy, why don't you like camping?" and this last time I said it was because I like to sleep in my own bed, but I'm starting to run out of reasons that placate a four-year-old.

Anne said...

LOVE this story! Especially the part about all the things you were thinking about when you were lying awake in the tent ...

I, too, am not a fan of tent-camping, but I have been flirting with the idea of buying an RV and spending a year driving around the country. I could live in a small space like that with no problem, it's just too much contact with the actual outdoors that I want to try to avoid.

BTW, is that Watkins Glen where they have the NASCAR race?

Anne said...

Your story makes me think of this:

(This is supposed to link to a song with *awesome* lyrics, but if it doesn't work tell me and I'll send you the file...)

JSE said...

Ask Tanya to tell you about the time we pitched our tent on top of a sprinkler.

ek said...

The last and final time I went camping was on a hike to Macchu Picchu, but we had sherpas carry our stuff, pitch out tent and cook. Even so, I still had a hard time sleeping in the middle of nowhere with strange animal noises all night and the fear of someone coming in to kill me in the middle of the night. I'm all for the hotel and room service.

jesuiseval said...

When I read this I was SO confused. I have only ever met one person who "says" she doesn't like to camp, and I sincerely doubt she's even been in the past 10 years.

I spent most of my childhood camping at different places and had I not, I think I would feel like I completely missed out. I hope there is some compromise you can make so your kids will have such awesome memories too. Maybe a motorhome? Or a HUUUGE plush tent with nice comfy air mattresses and all the comforts of home(ish)?

Camping is GREAT! :) I bet your kids had a blast...

Doug said...

Had there been singing would this post been titled "Summer Holiday"?

Not sure I can get Beth and the boys camping but I'm gonna try...someday.

Kagemom69 said...

I only camp in my backyard. Where I can sneak back into the house and leave the kids on their own. DUH!