There’s a mythology that’s been around for a long time regarding camping and drinking. The popular belief, probably since the days of cavemen, was that camping and drinking were a magical combination of outdoor fun coupled with drunken antics and hilarious or inappropriate conversation that yielded some sweet times. i.e. camping + drinking = awesome. It’s simple camping math that seems to make sense, sort of like the pizza math you do when you need to order pizza for a large group. I love making up “math” for stupid shit because I suck at math. I’m a genius at pizza math though and I’m about to disprove camping math using some kind of new logic, it’s a proof or maybe an algorithm. Yea, I used to watch Numbers, that’s right, recognize.
So you think that equation for camping sounds like a really good time, right? Take some beer, hidden in a stainless steel waterbottle and call it “Iced Tea” and then take a bit of wine that you hide in a keg cup, you can call it grape juice if you want or make some kind of religious reference that may or may not offend everyone, add in a roaring camp fire, marshmallows and chocolate, some good company, a dark night and some very bright stars and you’ve got a no-fail combo that promises some damn good times. And as usual, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong. Very wrong. Camping and drinking are a myth, one that conceals misery, fear and sickness. Wanna hear how? You know you do!
Labor day weekend, 2013. Not nearly as wild as it could be, in fact a VERY tame weekend by anyone’s standards, especially those of my own youth. Afterall, you must remember that I’m in my 30’s now. My heavy drinking days are done, curses to those who are older than me (my hubs) who still somehow manage to have a decent amount to drink and never feel the worse for wear. CURSES!! However, surprise, surprise, the myth of drinking and camping did in fact rear its ugly head.
So there I am camping. I set up the tent like a champ cause I have lots of practice camping as it was the pastime of choice of my parents growing up, as well their obsession of mixing it with massive quantities almost to the point of OD’ing of sailing of all kinds. The weather at the camp ground was muggy as hell and any movement resulted in disgusting sweating. And there was no chance to shower, not that it would have helped, what with the mugginess, but also because the bathrooms are nothing to write home about either, no showers and they are this disgusting spidery mess with wet floors and toilet paper that you cannot “unroll” you have to unwind it from the rectangular piece of metal it’s been locked onto with a pad lock. Sexy.
The afternoon was fun as it poured and we huddled under a tarp in camp chairs and did the best thing you can do while camping, which is snacking. Camping is fun because you rush, rush, rush to pack everything in your house, then you get up early to beat traffic and then you unpack like a fiend, sweating grotesquely until camp is a sight to behold and then you sit the hell down and proceed to do absolutely nothing but eat and talk.
Luckily after dinner (we went out to a local restaurant, it was raining ya’ll) the rain stopped and we were able to enjoy the camp fire festivities as they should be enjoyed. We visited with la familia, had ridic conversation which eventually degraded into the kind of conversation that 5th graders enjoy as the night wore on and the alki flowed. I had had wine before dinner (in a plastic cup, obvi!) and then some with dinner and I was nicely primed (for a lightweight). The hubs had some beer, or many beers. More than a handful. So this is all very good and nice. Except maybe for the embarrassing family conversations in front of a new boyfriend of my cousin. Otherwise, perfectly acceptable family holiday.
So…it gets late, I’m freaking tired from not sleeping the night before and the hubs and I go back to the tent. He’s being pretty funny and generally annoying because of the beer but he falls asleep STAT after we brush teeth etc. Oh and yeah, I decided trying to wash my face was not happening because the bathrooms suck so badly. Not only do you have to hold the tap down on the sink to get any water, there’s also only cold and there’s no hand soap or paper towels. NOT even a hand dryer, that hated of all bathroom devices. So I went to bed gross. No biggie, we’re camping. Roughing it, if you will and I’m sure my skin will thank me.
Now we get into the fun part. First off the bed (correction, air mattress) was nasty as the blankets and pillows were damp from the mugginess and rain. It was like lying down in a cold wet non-smelly diaper. You can imagine my joy. Plus I was nicely dehydrated and burning hot from those damn tannins. I’ll curse the tannins with my every last breath. Too bad I don’t really know what they are, except to know I like to blame them for my problems. Then things got interesting around 2.5 hours later (in the meantime I was fever dreaming, always a fun trip) because I get rudely prodded awake by my bladder (jerk!) because I have to go to the bathroom really bad (thank the lord this didn’t involve any kind of vomiting because that would be truly terrifying, although I wasn’t feeling strictly perfect either).
Rule number one with drinking, if you’re going to do it, do it somewhere where a toilet is very close by. Waking up, I realized I had only a few options. Walk to the bathroom (which in the dark of night seems like 2 million miles) or try to go “outside” which never ends well in the dark. Something is always compromised and plus it’s just difficult to do. Also there was the problem of bears. My aunt had told us earlier in the day that she and my uncle had seen a mother bear and 3 babies and that they were eating blackberries and apples. We had an apple tree right outside the tent. So as much as walking to the bathroom seemed like a bad idea, in light of this information, going to the bathroom right outside of the tent seemed somehow worse. Being caught unawares with your pants down, literally, doesn’t sound like a very cool way to be when a bear comes upon you under the apple tree. Well hello to you too Mr. Bear!
So I get up. Going to the bathroom is a pain in the ass, even more so if it’s raining, which luckily at this time it wasn’t. So I put on some pants, I put on some socks, I put on some shoes and then I tie them so I won’t trip in the dark (add a raincoat or umbrella and count on your pant legs and shoes getting soaked if rain has been mixed in). Then I scrounge around to find my flashlight and unzip the annoying tent zipper which always gets caught on these weird flaps that are supposed to keep rain out of the zipper. Lame design. After I unzip the tent, I move the flashlight around the scene hoping to either scare away or illuminate any bears that might be hanging out in the forest enjoying camping and drinking. Luckily I didn’t find any. By this time I was wide the freak awake.
Then I climb out and head to the bathroom. It’s freaking pitch black outside because there’s no electricity except for the lights in the bathroom and tripping and stumbling is a very real problem. It was quite pretty really, but I didn’t have time to enjoy it because I was walking by the dumpster and then through the wet grass near the bathroom which soaked my shoes in seconds. The trip did seem like a million miles. Or at the very least, like 200 feet. Maybe. I don’t do well with distances. Finally I got to the spider bathroom for some relief.
I finished my biz with a distinct sense that things were unwell because the phone that was in my pants pocket proceeded to try to commit suicide by jumping out of my pocket into the nasty water surrounding the toilet when I was struggling with the toilet paper that doesn’t unwind. Fan-freaking-tastic. Then I couldn’t get it (my phone) or myself truly clean because there’s no soap. So after a quick cold hand washing, I got the flashlight back out and braved the bears for the tent.
Thank the lord that I didn’t have to go to the bathroom again because it would have been worse since after I got back into the tent it started raining like crazy with thunder and lightning. So, like normal, I decide to lie awake for a few hours or so, obsessing about my bladder and whether or not I detect any faint sign that I’ll have to go soon because the process of going to the bathroom while camping simply makes one miserable. And not even the going, the thinking about going. OH and BTW, the hubs didn’t even stir while all this was going on. He was dead to the world, snoring slightly, clearly not aware that his wife was going to be eaten by bears at any minute. How loving!
The next day, as you can tell, I was very well rested and happy, at one with nature if you will. Ok…no. I lied. I was exhausted, felt kind of crummy cause that damn red wine got right on top of me. Ha. And now you can see how camping and drinking are a joy. It might just be the fact that it’s no fun for those of us who refuse to either puke or pee in the tent, right in the bed (uncomfortable airmattress that has lost most of its air)and then sleep with it until dawn. That kind of thing is reserved for the 25 and under crowd. Once you get a bit older your bladder somehow seems to shrink and your standards go up for bed cleanliness.
So camping and drinking are a myth. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking it’s a good time. It might seem like the right choice, but it’s not. You’ll be terrified of bears, you’ll have to pee 10 times per night which includes a lengthy process that has to be signed off on by any one of twelve people before you can move to the next step, that’s how slow it is. It’s like passing a law, except instead of inducing sleep, you’ll be wide awake by the time the process is over. You’ll also feel crummy to your stomach and you won’t be able to get clean when your phone jumps into a puddle of…something. You will also be stinky and sweaty and you won’t be able to wash your face. The next day you’ll grudgingly sand blast a new coat of spackle or shellack on your face to hide how tired and hideous you look. All in all, a good time had by all.
Remind me again why I even go camping? All that work, just so I can suffer to get up a million times in the night to go to the bathroom just because I wanted to enjoy an alcoholic beverage with tasty tannins? The only good thing about camping is camp fires and extreme croquet. I rest my case, I’ve lost my damn mind.
P.S. BTW I totally disproved camping-drinking math. Camping + Drinking = Dirty Phone, Bear Attack, Anxiety and Bathroom Visits. My genius is undeniable.