Let’s Go Tenting! Are You Crazy?

Do you go camping? Specifically, tenting? Do you enjoy roughing it? Me? Absolutely NOT! My ex and I decided to take our daughter, who at the time was very young, to go tenting for a week of vacation. We were going to go all the way around Lake Ontario. I was not happy about this “adventure” and was very vocal about it. My idea of roughing it was staying a t the Holiday Inn without a continental breakfast. We got to our first campsite, unloaded all the gear, set the tent up while keeping track of an inquisitive toddler, and when night fell, so did the buckets of rain. It took very little time for us to learn the borrowed tent was not waterproof. In the middle of a serious storm, we packed everything up and went to a motel. I took a shower and climbed between clean sheets in a comfortable bed. That was the extent of my camping. We spent the rest of the week going around the lake staying at various motels. None were more than 3 stars. That was rough enough for me. It was never even suggested again.

One year, we rented an RV and had a fabulous time. We were mobile and I felt safe and secure when I laid my head down at night in a clean, sturdy bed. I agreed to camp that way going forward. Actually, I liked it so much my goal is to eventually buy one to live in and travel all around the country.

We got divorced. Not because he suggested we go tenting again.

I met and fell in love with another man. Guess what he loves to do? You got it, rough it. Not just tenting but he’s really gone roughing it, with a tarp and a knife. Oh, hell no! So, he spent weeks trying to talk me into just giving it a try. Did I tell you I love him? That’s the only reason I agreed to give it a go. We needed to get away anyway, for some sanity and quiet time alone. We found a sweet campground owned by a sweet older couple. We were promised the prime spot on the lake, off by ourselves in the back of the campground.

We spent a couple weeks gathering necessities. We bought a 4-person tent, a big tent awning with mesh sides to cook in, a two-burner hot plate, two gas lanterns, fire starters, blowup queen mattress, a water-resistant extension cord, bug spray, pots band, and food. Oh yes, and a ceramic heater. Why? because although we’re in the south, it gets flippin’ cold in January! I was thanked profusely for at least giving this a ry and promised if I didn’t have a good time, I’d never have to do it again.

We checked in at the office and encountered an older woman who learned makeup application from Tammy Faye Baker. We located our site and it was everything promised. It was secluded, on the late, in the back, with water and electric hookups. We were close to the bathrooms and showers. They had a fantastic heater in the shower/bathrooms. I was going to be a happy camper.

We pulled out our tent. Our FOUR person tent. They obviously meant four Pygmies because it certainly wouldn’t fit four Americans. We had in mind to put the mattress on one side and a couple chairs on the other side when inside the tent. Ha! We could see we were going to have to duck while in the tent but when we put the blowup mattress in the and inflated it, we about died laughing. It filled the entire tent and came three quarters of the way up the opening to get in. By cramming the mattress into one corner, we created a space of about one foot by one foot in the opposite corner to put the heater. I made the bed with sheets and blankets. That was all but a magic trick.

Our sleeping tent was tiny. Our cooking tent was monstrous! While Steve made a fire and unpacked everything else, I put that bear together, by myself. Never again! By the time I was done, I was in a foul mood. We each took a lantern to put together. I’m a smart woman, I can read directions. Here is where I insert all kinds of expletives. Needless to say, we only had one lantern.

We made dinner, sat by the fire in the peace of the evening and it got seriously cold. Steve said, “Now, isn’t this nice.” I couldn’t even speak. I just glared. Who in their right mind would find this fun? I’m in the group of “Not me’s.” I told him to ask me again the next day, when I’d had time to get a good night’s sleep.

He turned the heater on for a bit before we went to bed, to warm the tent up. We crawled in, because that was the only way to get in there, laid down and I froze all night long. We didn’t think to bring something to put over the mattress to keep the cold air within it from chilling us to our bones. The heater would turn on and it would get to the point of suffocation. It would turn off and we would almost instantly freeze. It was awful! I seriously considered taking a blanket and my pillow and sleeping in the bathroom. The next day Steve suggested we lay on one blanket and cover with the other. He also managed to regulate the heater to make it comfortable to sleep through the night. When the day warmed, I did take a long, solid nap!
I was adjusting and finding myself resting and peaceful. The sunrises, yes, I actually got up to see each sunrise, because I knew I could go back to bed anytime I wanted, and sunsets were exquisite. The days were warm and the fires always helped. We read and wrote and talked.

The second night there, we were sitting around the fire, in the dark when there was a HUGE splash in the water in front of us. What
the hell was that? We couldn’t see anything and it sounded big enough to have been a body dumped in the lake from our cliff above the water. We went to bed! At four in the morning, the rooster started crowing. Yes, an actual rooster. And he wouldn’t shut up! We were sitting around the fire. drinking coffee when one of the men who live there year-round came by. We told him about the loud splash in the water the night before. He clued us in. There’s a lard beaver that lives in that lake. Great! At least it wasn’t Sasquatch and wouldn’t be planning us as dinner.

Yes, I will go tenting with him again. Not for a long time to come. I will borrow my daughter’s tent to do so, since hers really does sleep six grown adults on queen size mattresses, with plenty of space to set up chairs and such. And I can promise it won’t be during the southern summer heat, nor the only month that freezes here, January. But I will try it again, once I’m far enough away from the trauma of the last time. However, I’m still holding out for a bus RV.

Written by: Laura Ranger

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