Hey Internet! Happy Tuesday! Spring is in the air (ish) and I thought today I would usher in the season with the story of my first (and only) time camping. This story is a bit of a doozy, so I think I am going to break it up over 2 Tuesdays. That means you have to make sure you come back next week to catch the ending. Because the ending is the best part (although it is all pretty good).
So, let me preface this story with the obvious fact that I am NOT a nature girl. I hate all things involving bugs and dirt. Grass makes me itchy. The idea of going somewhere that lacks things like pristine bathrooms and in-door showers is not appealing to me in the least. I think the best part of camping is the food (followed closely by the fun new utensils you can buy), but I am a master of candle-roasted marshmallows, so camping really isn’t a necessary part of my s’mores equation.
But I was in college and college is a time for adventures! A group of my friends was going camping and convinced me that I at least had to TRY camping. So I did. This is how it went:
In the weeks before our trip my friend, Jackie, began prepping me on what I needed to bring and what I could expect. Our group was going to be 5 girls and 5 boys. We were going to make s’mores and bananas with peanut butter and nutella and chocolate chips and hot dogs and it was going to be fun. This is what I was told.
The day before, we gathered all the food and sleeping bags and I took an extra-long show in the hopes that if I could get extra-clean before the nature, maybe I could create some sort of dirt-barrier and not get all gross too quickly (note: this does not work). This is also the day that all the girls except for Jackie and me dropped out of the trip. It was now 2 girls and 5 guys. But Jackie explained that this was ok because it meant that there would be more room in the girls’ tent and we could have extra special friend bonding time. This sounded good to me, though I couldn’t help but think that this just meant there would be less clean-oriented people on the trip for me to commiserate with.
The day of the trip: We pack up the cars and one of the guys (who is a bit obsessed with weather, and who I tend to not get along well with) told us of a storm headed towards our campground. Turns out that that is why the other girls decided not to go. “A storm? Is it bad? Will we die? Should we stay on campus? “ I asked. Apparently those were silly questions, because with little to no discussion we packed up the cars and left.
We get to the camp site. I help pitch the tents. (By “help” I mean I held up metal sticks of various sizes and said “Where this go?” and then handed it off to someone else. I am a GREAT camper.) The pitches get tent, we go exploring and I collect some good Harry Potter wands (read: sticks).We build a fire and we drink some pop and eat some food. Weather boy wanders off and when he comes back his face is covered in poison ivy. I laugh and laugh and laugh and he gets very mad. He goes and sulks with his tornado-tracking radio.
We hang around the fire for a while and weather boy comes back telling us a tornado is coming. I take this to mean that we are all going to die. I make a pretty moving case of why we need to leave NOW. But I am the only one who wants to flee. It gets dark and starts to smell like rain so we pack everything away and head to our tents.
This is when things go terribly terribly wrong.
There are scary noises outside. I convince Jackie (a seasoned camper) that there is a murderer outside and that this is how we die.
It starts to rain.
It starts to POUR.
Our tent starts to leak.
It starts to lightening.
The tornado sirens start to go off.
How we will die is now a toss up: We will either be murdered, struck by lightening or swooped up by a tornado.
I begin to panic. I ask Jackie if our metal tent sticks will attract the lightening. She doesn’t know. I ask if they do, will we get electrocuted. She doesn’t know. I ask if it would be safer to sleep in the car. She doesn’t know. I ask what the tornado protocol is. Do we need to find a ditch to duck and cover in? She doesn’t know. I ask if we can call one of the guys (a marine) and ask if he can sleep outside our tent to protect us. She says yes.
He does not answer.
None if the boys answer because apparently they all fell asleep and are completely oblivious to the fact that we are about to meet our untimely demise.
We huddle together and scream in terror at the lightening and laugh at the absurdity of it all. I point out that I’m pretty sure this is NOT the way someone’s first camping trip is supposed to go. Jackie assures me that camping is usually not so terrifying, but I am pretty sure that the only thing scaring away the murders is the storm, and if the weather was quiet we would be able to hear them stalking in the night. Which would be just as scary.
At some point, after the worst of the storm is over, we manage to fall asleep.
We get 2 hours of sleep. After that, nature decides that its time to wake up. It is 6 in the morning. I start to hate everything – the chirping birds, the shining sun- EVERYTHING.
The boys are still in bed so we zip tie their tent shut (Jackie had assured me that the best part of camping was the pranks) We set out to saran wrap the car of the guy who said he would only go camping if he could sleep in his car – because if I sleep in a tent, then ANYONE can sleep in a tent!
I slice my thumb open on the saran wrap. The wound is deep.
After some first aid, as we try to saran wrap our friend in his car without waking him up, Jackie gives her fingers blisters (the blisters will end up scarring. She still has blister marks).
Our pranks are unsuccessful.
Unbeknownst to us, our Marine basically has a machete, so he manages to cut the zip tie from the inside of the tent. Our other friend is able to kick his way out of the saran wrapped car almost immediately after waking up.
I feel a deep sense of camping shame and failure.
But its ok, because I eat nutella for breakfast. Nutella solves many of life’s problems.
The pitches get untented. The cars get packed.
Our friends drive away leaving me, Jackie, and weather boy.
“But Liz,” I hear you say. “You said this would be two posts. You just packed up all the camping!” And it will be two posts, Internet. There is an EVEN BETTER story coming next week of what happens before we leave the camp ground. Spend this week getting excited. I promise it will be worth the wait.