Now, I admit that I have never been the kind of person that ever looked twice at an RV. When I used to camp a lot with aunts and uncles back in the day, they had their small traveling houses but we were hardly ever let inside. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that my dad was able to scrape enough money to bring a little version home. And I do mean little—nothing like the behemoths that are on the road now. The kind of RV where there was one little bed above the driver’s cabin and one bed in the back that you could only assemble if you didn’t need a dinner table. The kind of RV where you didn’t want to ever have to use the restroom because it was basically like going pee in public. It was never warm and it was always cramped, but it was good for not sleeping on the ground and you could turn on the radio when you were playing cards. Let’s just say that I have some fond memories about those trips, but I’m not anxious to participate again any time soon.
That’s what it was such an amazing experience when I got to go inside of the mega-RV during what was turning into the camping trip from Hell. There was a fully stocked kitchen and a living room with couches! There was a deluxe bathroom and a big screen television. There was a freaking washer and dryer! I could not believe what I was looking at—and it was all at my disposal. Turns out, everyone was watching me tiptoe to the RV, getting soaked to my very marrow. I’m sure it must have been extremely entertaining…
Towels were immediately thrust upon me and I was patted dry in what seemed like a nanosecond. The hubby was already in the shower (and not a little corner job with a hand held shower head) so I sat in the lap of luxury for a few minutes. The place was nicer than my first apartment, I kid you not. Everyone was happy, watching television, and I was waiting for my turn in the shower. It was probably my best camping experience. I mean, they even had sodas and snacks. I was seriously contemplating moving in.
I finally got my turn to warm up and get dry and it was time to do some serious deliberation about how this entire camping trip was going to continue—nay, even if was going to continue at all. Everyone seemed convinced that the worst of the weather had come and gone and that it was going to be just fine for the rest of the night. I figured we didn’t have to make a decision right away (I mean, it was probably only 3pm by this point) and decided to put the final verdict on hold until a little bit later.
Everyone started to pour out of the RV and right all of the damage that had been done to the stuff that was still outside. I had absolutely zero desire to wrestle with the tent and all of the ruined items inside of it, so I did the only thing I could think of—I grabbed a hand towel, dried off the nearest lawn chair and sat down. It was muddy and cold, but I was grateful for it. Someone got the stuff together for a fire and lit it up. Others started to set up tables and put out items for making a meal. I knew that we only had enough stuff to make sandwiches (but pretty fancy sandwiches) so I didn’t move. I watched all of my worker bee friends buzzing around and I didn’t feel bad at all. For all of three minutes. Next thing I knew, I was slopping back to the tent to take care of some business.
The hubby had already been pretty busy and managed to gather our supplies into a corner of the tent. Everything was damp, but things were not as terrible as I had imagined them to be. There was still no desire for either of us to sleep in the there that night and the kid could not have cared less. We still couldn’t decide if we wanted to continue our most excellent adventure, so we packed everything in the car and then went back to relax.
Someone had stolen my chair (which didn’t make me happy) but I remedied the fact soon enough. There was a strong odor of damp burning wood and sizzling steaks (yeah, that RV living doesn’t suck) and enough heat to penetrate the three layers of clothing I had draped myself in. The kids were running around the site and the adults were chugging beer and settling in. It was pretty nice. Too nice. It convinced us that we needed to stay the night anyway and make do with what we had.
Which was pretty negligible, to say the very least. We weren’t about to drag out the large tent again, but the hubby had remembered that he packed the smaller two person tent in case the kids wanted to sleep together on their own. We decided to use that as our shelter. It really was a little thing, but it was dry and it wouldn’t take much room to put it up. We decided to make camp in a spot that had cleared out when people started leaving (I think about eight families pulled stakes and went home) that just happened to be closer to everyone else. The bonus was that it was not too muddy at all. We spread out the damp sleeping bags and hoped they would dry out by the time we went to sleep. Ha. Ha, ha.
The night was pretty fun as we told dirty jokes, ate s’mores and bags of candy while sitting in front of the fire and I began to get worried about the very real possibility that I would have to sleep in a wet sleeping bag. I hate sleeping bags on a beautiful, bright sunny day when they are nice and warm (I don’t like being confined so tightly) let alone when they’re limp and cold and (let’s face it) very, very, VERY stinky. I sure as hell don’t know where we kept those bags when we were at home, but it seemed like they were reeking a combination of cat pee, dog pee, dog hair, and cigarette smoke. It was disgusting. I was thisclose to sleeping in the fucking car. I didn’t want to go! But the kid was falling asleep beside me and I didn’t want to wait too long to find my own sleep, so I gathered the hubby and the kid and we climbed into the tent.
It was as awful as I had thought it was going to be. The bags were heavy and damp and I didn’t want to change any of my clothes before I laid down. But I knew that I would just freeze more if I stayed in the clothes I had worked and sweated in all day. We had one flashlight between us and about six inches clearance from the tops of our heads. The kid was already bundled tight (so I didn’t have to worry about him anymore) but he was directly in the middle of the freaking tent and I had a hard part moving around him. I came to understand the futility of changing into non-sweaty clothes because I had just sweated into my new ones trying to find the space to twist into them!
I pushed myself into the bag and finally took a deep breath. It was a terrible mistake. I must have inhaled five pounds of dog hair in that one moment. I started to wheeze and had to wrestle myself onto my side to breathe. I started to fight my growing panic by thinking of my favorite songs and re-reading my favorite book in my head. A long few minutes later I started to relax and found myself starting to slide into some much needed sleep. But I couldn’t quite pass over to blissful slumber. It was like my brain wouldn’t let me. So I lingered in a semi-conscious state, trying so hard to fall asleep but not finding my way there.
But, I guess I must have dozed off (for a little bit anyway) because when I came to, noticed that sounds outside of the tent were much different than they had been just hours before. There was no rustling or coughing coming from other tents and everything seemed extremely still. Except for the hubby, because he just couldn’t stop tossing and turning. I realized that my feet were tangled into the bottom of the sleeping bag and that it felt like I had about fifty pounds of material pushing me into the floor of the tent. My teeth started chattering and I began to panic! I couldn’t breathe and if I didn’t get out of there I was going to scream.
After de-tangling myself from the sleeping bag I rushed to the zippered door and felt around for anything that could free me from my prison. I didn’t have my glasses on (it would have wasted too much time to find them) and I was so caught up in my own distress that I didn’t notice that the hubby was also heading for the door. He found the zipper and pulled it down and beautiful, beautiful air began to pour into the tent. We both took deep breaths from the bitter cold and just sat there with our heads hanging out. I felt like something really bad had just been avoided inside of that enclosed place and I rushed back in to check on the boy. He was the only one that seemed to be completely unaffected from the situation we found ourselves in. He looked as snug as a bug in a rug and I was momentarily jealous. I really hated to mess with his peacefulness, but I had had enough. I looked at the hubby, he looked at me, and without any words we both put on jackets and started packing our shit.
It’s really tricky to pack a car in the daytime, when you actually have the light to play car Tetris with all of your stuff, and that night I found out that it’s much easier in the dead of night when there is only your car headlights and a real “I don’t give a crap how things fit in the car, let’s just get the Hell out of here” attitude underlining the entire event. We moved the kid to the car, buckled him in, and shoved the rest of our crap into the car. Yes, the Prius is a freaking amazing car. Fifteen minutes later and we were sneaking out in the middle of the night like a couple of high school kids. Should we leave a note? What will everyone think when they wake up? Do we care?! I decided to take over the driving duties and I hightailed it out of there.
Only, I didn’t get very far. I needed to pee in the worst way and decided to make a detour to the nearest facility just up the road. Those things are sketchy in the daytime and I DID NOT want to go in there, but truly, when you have to go you have to go. I grabbed the flashlight and tried for a new outhouse speed peeing record. I began to rush out of the room when I realized that the door wouldn’t unlock. Let me repeat. The freaking door would not unlock. I began to push and pull and instantly thought—I can shimmy down the toilet. There’s got to be a way out from there, right? Did I mention that it was the middle of the FREAKING NIGHT? I wasn’t exactly in my right mind.
I thought about yelling to the hubby, but I didn’t want to wake everyone in camp. Then I started to get really angry and decided that there was no way that I was going to get stuck in a freaking bathroom on my way out of what was one the worst experiences of my life. I shoved my shoulder into the door and used all of my strength to turn the lock. Thank goodness it opened because I was ready to scream the place down. I marched to the car and threw myself inside. I slammed the door good and hard (that’ll show ‘em) and woke up my clueless little angel. Well, tough.
The only way I could get through the rest of the night was to break it down into different phases. Phase one was to get away from the lake as fast as I possibly could. Phase two was to drive a half hour east to get back on the highway. Phase three was to drive home for two hours on the highway without killing my entire family. Phase four was to find enough energy to haul the kid into his room and onto his bed. Phase five was to get undressed and fall into blissful slumber on my own pillow top comforter. We did a pretty good job with all phases except for five—neither of us even bothered to take off any clothes.
The boy was astonished to find out that he was at home when he woke up and was fairly dismayed to know that he wouldn’t be hanging out with his cousin anymore that day. I was happy to spend an hour of my morning in the shower, trying to wash of the remnants of such an up and down day. The hubby was chucking all of our destroyed gear in to the trash can and trying to figure out how to get the nasty smell out of the car. But you know what, it was one of the most beautiful mornings that I ever had.
We really haven’t gone camping since that day—not even in the backyard. I have decided to limit my camping experiences to bed and breakfast facilities. I’ll hang with you around the campfire until it’s time to go to sleep and then I’m hightailing it down the road. See you in the morning for breakfast burritos.
It turns out that our camping buddies understood what had happened and didn’t freak out too much when they didn’t see us there that morning. They all went on to have a great camping experience and have continued to do so many times since then. I love them and hate them all.
I’ll always remember the last time I went camping—but I won’t remember it fondly. I’m all camped out.