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Monday, April 20, 2015

Back to Nature (and All its Dirt)

Last weekend we camped. Read: last weekend we didn’t sleep. Correction: I didn’t sleep well. I wasn’t surprised, really, but I’m still grousing about it—8 days later. I need my sleep!

The kids slept great. What is it with kids? I remembering slumber parties as a kid—you slept on someone’s floor and woke up refreshed and rested—well, as much as you could expect, having stayed up half the night, talking and giggling. But my point is, as a kid, sleeping on a floor was not a problem. Something changes, at some point. As an adult, sleeping on a floor no longer cuts it. But I think kids can sleep anywhere. And my kids like camping. The change of scenery may be part of it. But also, all they have to do is show up. They don’t have to pack, set up, cook, clean up, pack up camp, drive home, unpack, do loads of laundry full of dirt, wrestle kids into the bath, and then clean residual camping dirt out of the bath tub.

But back to my no-sleeping rant. At times we tried camping on those foam mats. Approximately one inch of foam protecting my tired body from all the rocks and twigs on nature’s floor? Might as well be sleeping on a saltine cracker for all the protection and comfort that gave. I even did this while pregnant (the hormones must have messed with my judgment). Eventually we upgraded to an inflatable mattress. Better than the floor mat but it lost air. No deal.

A year or two ago Hubby found some fold-out camping cots, which are great for lounging. But I hadn’t tried to sleep on one until our trip. During the night I literally wedged a hard-covered book between the cot and the small of my back for extra support. My flashlight was under my back at one point, too (I swear I’m not making this up!) and I was too tired to move it. I convinced myself it was giving my poor back some extra support. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep much. Everyone else did. But at least I wasn’t cold. (Camping in January in Santa Cruz, years ago, turned out not to be a great idea. Almost had to break icicles off my eyelashes.)

And did I mention the snakes? The first one appeared ten minutes into the trip—no exaggeration. A rattler! One of two. The ranger was summoned to grab it with his special tongs and relocate it. Another camper commented that it was “just a baby.” Excuse me. JUST? I don’t care if it’s a newborn rattle snake wearing a crochet bonnet—I don’t like rattle snakes! Especially near our campsite. When I’m camping. Hubby shrugged it off. Apparently he is fine with danger and snake bites. I am not. I don’t want my weekends to involve scares, wild animals, pain and hospital trips. The school week is exhausting enough—like a marathon: three kids in two different schools with different schedules. I need my weekends to be less stressful than the school week. (And did I mention my need for good sleep?)

But lest you think the whole adventure was pure misery, let me assure you it was not. There were great moments. The lake was beautiful and serene. There were many trees: eucalyptus, pepper trees, oaks, cacti and quite a few geraniums, too. (Campgrounds must have seen my memo about the power of a splash of color.) I loved hearing the sound of the breeze through the leaves. It was fun to see animals like squirrels, bunnies and hummingbirds. We took nature walks. The kids made friends with kids in neighboring sites.

I’m so glad the kids had fun. And I gave myself a pat on the back for giving camping another try.  

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