Thursday, March 17, 2011

(43-233) Pros & Cons Of Camping

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Jenny M, asked me if I'd like to take the kids camping at Lake Pleasant for a couple of days during Spring break.  I thought that sounded like a good idea; until it became more apparent to me that she meant SHE and I take the kids camping.  As in, no husbands; and I jovially reminded her that this was ME she was talking to.  As much as I enjoy camping.  Yes, OLD friends; you read that right.  I said as much as I ENJOY camping; and yes I mean REAL camping with a tent; but admittedly, I wouldn't go without my Aerobed; nor would I go to a campsite that doesn't have flush toilets.  But the fact that I sleep in a tent; and spend time outdoors; now that's gotta count for some camping credits; but I digress.

Jenny told me that Luis was welcome to join us; but David had to work on Friday.  I didn't think that Luis would mind camping with just the women and kids; and sure enough, I was right.  Luis happily agreed to go; and for some reason that I still don't understand; I didn't make the big  deal planning, shopping and packing for this trip, that I usually do; but, I can tell you that this was a mistake.  Yup, a big mistake; (say it with me,) HUGE mistake; because I was rushing my kishkas out; (Kishkas ~ guts for anyone unfamiliar with that Yiddish term;) and I was exhausted by the time we left for camping. 

Now let's take a U turn.  While the kids and I were having lunch today, Jenny left me a message, saying that she had been in Wal-mart and it seemed that a lot of people were buying camping equipment; and that perhaps we should consider what we would do if there were no spots available for camping at Lake Pleasant, since it's a first come, first served camp site and not one that takes reservations.  I suggested that we try Lake Pleasant first and if they didn't have room we could go to the White Tank  mountains; and Jenny agreed.   I tried to call Lake Pleasant to see if someone could tell me if there was still availability; but I had to leave a message.  I then called the White Tanks and a lovely woman, checked and told me that there was still plenty of room.

I shared this info with Jenny; and we agreed to take a chance and try Lake Pleasant.  As I was trying to pack up our clothes, our  food supplies, our cooking utensils, our hygiene products and medications AND make potato salad; I found myself thinking yet again, "Is this really worth it?"  Yes all of the doubts that I'd expressed about camping in, "To Camp Or Not To Camp..." just resurfaced.

Jenny called and said that she would be on her way to the lake by 5pm.  I told her that I needed at least another half hour to get ready; because in between all of the things that I'd been working on; I spent over 40 minutes at the Orthodontist with Nicky.  Jenny and I agreed that she'd call me if there were no spots available at the lake; and if there were; she'd find two.  Just before 6pm we finally turned off of our street.  We'd only gone back to our house twice since pulling out of the driveway; because of forgetting everything from Hershey's food; to a can opener.  A knife, a cutting board and Kelsie's allergy medicine.  We finally hopped on the highway, destination rest and relaxation; and within seconds of getting off our first exit; Jenny called to let us know there was no room at the Inn.

We immediately put plan B in action and headed towards the White Tank mountains.  I was slightly apprehensive about the White Tanks, because with all of my rushing around, I still had to write and publish my blog; and since I'd never been there before and I had no idea how far the nearest McDonald's or Starbucks was; and I would need to go to one for Internet access.   It didn't take us very long to get to the White Tanks; and just as we arrived at the entrance; Jenny pulled up right behind us.  I asked the kindly gentlemen that greeted us if there was any availability and he told me that he thought they had two spots left.  I told him that we in fact needed two spots and he contacted the park host to confirm.

The park host told him to send us up and he'd show us the spot.  We were told to drive about three miles; and as we stopped to use the restroom; we saw a young deer.  We continued on our journey and met the less than charming, park host; who advised us that he'd had a very long day and worked very hard.  He told us that he had two spots left in the trailer parking area; but he felt that he should wait to see if a trailer came in within the next 55 minutes; before giving them to us.  He seemed very reluctant to permit us to stay in the trailer area; even though it was well within the rules; and took us to a restricted area, where he said we'd be welcome.  The sun was setting, and the scenery was beautiful but it was his over enthusiastic warning about snakes, that sent my kids into a tailspin.  The host said that there were a lot of Diamond head rattle snakes there; and I must admit, that scared the bejeezus outta me.  This is when I started weighing some of the pros and cons of camping.  Hmm, Con - I rushed around like a loon trying to pack up.  Con - the work that it takes to load, unload and set up camp; not to mention breaking it down too. Con - having to put up our tent in the dark.  Con - SNAKES.  Pro - when not unpacking, setting up or breaking down; camping is relaxing.  Pro - the peace and quiet. Pro - the cool breeze.  Con - three crying children, who are afraid to stay at this campground because the camp host has scared the crap outta them with his vigorous, warning about the snakes.

At this point; I'm still not willing to make a final determination about camping being worth it.  But, I can tell you that after all of our hard work and preparation; we decided not to camp tonight.  Nope; not gonna do it.  Not gonna have crying kids, miserable and afraid; so instead, we went home.  Jenny, brave soul that she is, decided to stay; and I apologized profusely.  I know that her kids were very disappointed that we weren't going to stay; but I said that we would come back the next day; and MAYBE we'd decide to stay then.  Jenny's kids  replied "OK, but come early!"  I KNOW that my kids feel badly about disappointing their friends; and I was very happy to see that they recognized and owned that; but I explained that if they were afraid and uncomfortable, they couldn't chose to stay just to avoid disappointing their friends.  My kids seemed very relieved to be heading home; even if it only was temporarily; and, I must admit, that for the sake of keeping my commitment to writing "The Bumpy Ride" daily this year; it was the best decision for me too... for now.

What can I say?  It's been A DAY!  I am utterly exhausted, and I barely made it through telling this story; but I am very interested  to see how things will look in the light of day tomorrow.   Perhaps the pros will outweigh the cons and we'll camp after all.
Till next time...

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