Monday, July 21, 2008

Thanks For The Laser Light Show

I never went camping when I was a kid, nor did I ever attend a summer camp. Oh now before you start feeling sorry for me, I had a great youth that included tons of just plain, old fashioned playtime. Hubby man, on the other hand, camped often in his youth. He even went ice fishing with a friend’s family and stayed in one of those little frozen huts like you see on PBS nature shows. So, when we got married, hubby man was determined to expose me to the delights of camping. My only criteria was that a) I wanted to sleep in an enclosure free of creatures that have more than 4 legs, and b) if I need to make a trek to the, um, facilities during the night, that he accompany me. Yeah, I'm a city girl, but I've come a long way since our first camping excursions. Over the years, we’ve had some great camping experiences, but it initially got off to a rough start.

Our first camping trip was to the Oregon coast, where we experienced an unseasonably cold weather snap accompanied by driving rain and high force winds. Then there was the time we went camping in Yosemite. There was a healthy dose of bear activity in the camp and warnings were posted everywhere. I did not know about the bear stuff until we arrived. As I stated, part of my agreement to go camping from the onset was that Hubster’s had to accompany me to the, um, facilities, should I need to visit them during the night. Initially, he faithfully held true to his promise and all was well. On this particular trip to Yosemite, he had spent the day partaking in some strenuous hikes (not me, I stayed in the Valley and took a sketching lesson!), and he fell into a deep, deep sleep. Anyway, wouldn’t you know it, on this particular night, I needed to heed to the call of nature.

So, I nudge him with a quiet, “Hon, get up, I’ve got to go”. No response. So, now I resort to shaking him, which gets me a muffled groan and a roll over. At this point, I’m fully awake and having acknowledged to myself that I needed to go, now I REALLY needed to GO. So, no more Mrs. Nice Wife. I just know that I'm going to become a midnight snack for a hungry bear. So I’m really persistent to which he grumbles the words he still regrets to this day. He says to me, “Can’t you just go by yourself?” I’ll let you imagine my response. It was as if thunder and lightning went off in my head. Ok, maybe that’s a bit heavy in the drama department, but I was a big chicken back then and it was pitch black in the campground. No moonlight to illuminate the area; no stars shining to guide me. I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. You get the picture. The only light was the lone dim orb on the side of the bathroom building in the distance.

At that point, I was performing the “I really have to go” dance, so I bucked up to make the long trek to the facilities sans husband. You could just make out the building from our campsite, and the traitor, I mean hubby, promised to watch me the entire time. Yeah, thanks, babe. Way to be there for me. You can expect the silent treatment for a looong time. So, off I go, with my high beam flash light. Every little noise caused me to swing the flashlight this way and that, up and down, side to side. When I get to the building, there was another bear warning sign on the door advising caution that the bears have been known to get in the building, but were unable to exit. So I slam open the door, do a quick bear check (yeah, like I would have known what to do if one was in there), take care of business in record time, and psych myself up for the trek back to the relative safety of our tent. So with a deep breath off I go, trotting on my toes as fast as I can, with my trusty flashlight that is shining up trees and into bushes here and there, trusting that it can also double as a club if I need it to. When I get back, out of breath, and shaky from my exertion, what does the love of my life say to me? Does he ask if I’m ok? Did he ask if I saw anything suspicious? Noooooo. He looks at me and at my flashlight and says, and I quote, “Thanks for the laser light show.” With those words, he promptly lays back down and is asleep in seconds, leaving me standing there blinking like an owl. So much for my silent treatment!

Believe it or not, about 30 minutes later, everyone in the camp ground was woken up by someone hollering “Bear!” It turns out there were two juvenile male brown bears in the camp that night, one of which was caught and relocated; the other was captured a few days later and also relocated. Those juveniles were hungry and rummaged through cars and coolers, but didn’t hurt anyone. Of course, hubby man felt so bad afterward for not chaperoning me, and he turned on the charm for the rest of the trip. Still, having a bear in our camp is something that we'll always remember. And, for what it’s worth, I don’t blame the bears at all. To this day, though, I still refer to nighttime calls of nature as being "laser light show" time. Now a days, though, it’s more likely that a child has to go!

Camping this weekend was fancy as far as camping goes. So much so that I hesitate to even call it camping. The Oregon State Park system is so wonderful, and we have multiple campgrounds to visit. Plus, many of the parks now have yurts or cabins that you can rent. Some are rustic and some are fancy. This was my first time in one of their cabins, and let me tell you, this is the way to go. We had a two room cabin. The front room had a futon and sofa type table as well as an eating table and four chairs. The bedroom had two bunk beds, with the bottom bunk being queen sized. All in all, including the futon, the cabin sleeps 8 comfortably, and you could easy squeeze in more folks on air mattresses. And ... this cabin had heat, hardwood floors, electricity, windows with screens and curtains, and ceiling fans. Sigh. This is the good camping life, folks.

Doesn't my girl look right at home in the woods? She's wearing her favorite "Stop Global Warming" t-shirt. Her current goal is to become a scientist and figure out eco friendly, plentiful alternative energy/fuel sources. She'll do it, too. She's a smart nature girl. You go girl! She's like her daddy ... loves the wilderness and could spend weeks at a time communing with nature.

We went with four other families, totaling 10 parents plus 12 children ages 7 - 12, and we each had our own cabin. We've done this for years, now, and the kids all know each other and spent time exploring the woods and playing zillions of variations of tag. In this photo, my campers are the little thing in front in glasses, then my long haired beauty in the white t-shirt, and the handsome fella in the red shirt. There were no complaints of being bored on this trip. Plus my husband and another adult took the kids on a 6 (?) mile bike ride through the wilderness. Smores were plentiful at night and we had so much fun socializing around the campfire. Oh, and by the way, one of the families just went to boy scout camp last week where a bear rummaged their tent, ate their toothpaste, and generally made a mess of things. I kid you not!!! I had seen it reported on the news, and commented to my hubby that our friends were camping that week and I wondered if they had any trouble. Anyway, I admit that I sometimes dread going camping, but once I'm there, I have a fantastic time. And, ahem, after almost 25 years of marriage, I’m glad I’m a camper. Speaking of marriage, hubby man and I will be celebrating our 25th marker this Wednesday! And, yes, I was a baby when I got married!


Jan said...

Great post, Paula. I brought back a lot of memories of our camping (tent) trips in Northern California. We always seemed to get warnings about bears where ever we camped.

Jan said...

I just realized I didn't wish you Happy Anniversary. I hope you both have a great day.

Lisa said...

Congratulations! 25 years is no small thing. I know, I remember, and, yes, I was a baby when I got married too. Lol!

Marjie said...

I guess you never convinced Mr. Paula that roughing it is a hotel without room parents had a tent when I was a kid. Can't say I'm sorry to have seen the last of it.

12 kids & 10 adults? Piece of cake!

Happy anniversary to both of you! And many more!

Cheryl said...

Wow, I love that cabin where is it at, I would love to rent it! My hubsters and I celebrate our 25th next year, good for you, we dont see many folks married as long as us!

Pam said...

Great story! And Happy Anniversary!

Linda said...

Happy anniversary, 25 years is no small feat especially when he makes you face down bears on your own in the middle of the night:)

Firefly Nights said...

The first thing to learn about camping other than that done in a building is to have a porta pottie to avoid those walks in the middle of the night. One of the best Christmas presents I ever got. It started out in our tent and moved on to a Coleman pop-up and now one of its taller relatives lives in our Aliner.

OhioMom said...

Congrats on the 25th!

I am reading about the "laser light show" at 6:13 AM and LMAO!! I am sure the hubby is wondering what in the world I am doing in here.