I went camping recently, and I gotta tell you. There is nothing like nature to remind you how remarkable indoor plumbing is.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. You think I’m gonna trot out the same stale jokes we’ve all heard before about how wonderful it is to stay inside with all these lights and endless streams of running water. Well, get ready because I am. I am going to tell you all of these jokes and more.
Listen. I like being outdoors. I like it a lot. There are trees outdoors, and I’ll have you know I’m fond of trees. I have a special place in my heart for trees. Sometimes I leave the house specifically to commune with them. There are also mountains and rocks and plants outdoors, and I like those too. And I’m not a frilly, fussy, or nervous person, so on some level camping just fits me.
So whenever anybody brings up camping, I am always all over it. Camping never ceases to sound like an extraordinary idea. Yet it’s an extraordinary idea much the in same way that jamming pizza in your drunken piehole at 2:30 a.m. always sounds like a dazzling plan. It’s only when you’re in that hazy mid-chew reverie, a trail of cheese tracking down your chin, that a tiny flame of thought sputters to life in your brain. You start putting two and two together. Nearly-forgotten memories of the last time you did this come surging into your consciousness until you have to put your half-gnawed piece of crust down and go, oh, shit. This isn’t going to end well, is it? And it never does, my friend.
It never does.
I’m not trying to insinuate that my camping experience ended in tears, or missing limbs, or even jail time. It was just that I was in the semi-wilderness for approximately 42 hours and it was utterly exhausting. You know why? Because everything takes five times longer than it normally would while you’re camping. The simple act of brushing your teeth now involves trekking across your campsite, unzipping your tent, digging around in a bag, trekking back across the campsite to find some water, going BACK to the tent when you realize you forgot the toothpaste, getting utterly distracted by chasing a large insect off of your sleeping bag, and so on. By the time you actually finish brushing your teeth, an hour or more has disappeared. Poof! Never to return. Heaven help you if you dare to take on the staggering task of washing your face; you may as well write off half of the day.
None of this is necessarily a bad thing, really. Since my everyday modern life consists of sprinting from one task to another in the spirit of productivity, there’s something to be said for a weekend in which washing your face is the crowning achievement. Still. It was surprising. Something I’d forgotten about since the last time I went camping.
Other facts I’d forgotten about camping since the last time I went camping:
It’s dirty outside. Really dirty. Think of the dirtiest, sweatiest, most filth-encrusted you’ve ever been. Now multiply that by 800. That, my friend, is cleaner than you will be when you’re camping.
The silence is deafening. In the light of day, the peace and quiet is charming. Invigorating, even. But in the dark of night, you just lie there with your eyes wide open, waiting to hear the footsteps of the serial killer approaching.
Animals are dicks. The foxes that barked and scuffled outside our tent all night? ASSHOLES. And the birds when the sun came up? Seriously, sunlight is like ultraviolet cocaine for birds. I HEARD YOU, MOTHERFUCKERS. Guess I’m up now!
Things in nature want to kill you. Arguably, things in the city want to kill you as well, but at least there I have more than a flap of canvas between me and them.
Toilets are the best invention ever. Best ever. I’m like the Jimmy Stewart of camping1; I saw a glimpse of what life was like without toilets and I promise to never ever take them for granted again. I will never again
wish I was dead dream of a dishwasher as long as I can have my family and friends back my toilet back oh god oh please oh god.
Mountains are okay.
You know what else is okay? Hiking on a beautiful summer day with friends. Are you throwing up now? I bet you’re hurling under your desk from all this sheer optimism. Sorry, it won’t happen again.
You know what’s not okay? Poison oak. This area is absolutely riddled with the stuff, but it’s never affected me. UNTIL NOW. I shouldn’t complain because it affected the beau a lot more than me.2 And here I’d smugly thought I was impervious to the stuff.
What have you learned from camping?
1 Except with fewer high-waisted pants.
2 Now I get to head to Michigan on Friday with what looks like giant red pimples all over my legs. Don’t worry friends, I’m not contagious! I just look like I am.3
3 The Ohio meetup is on and I’m excited!