Thursday, June 28, 2007

The evolution of camping

I'm going camping this weekend!

It's actually just a mini-camping trip. My friend is picking me up tomorrow after work, and we're headed about two and a half hours out of town to where her boyfriend and his friends will already have set up camp.
I'll be a brave Princess and be spending the night solo in a tent in the wilderness. We're spending all day Saturday there, and then my friend and I are headed back to the city that night (her to work, me for my Sunday Canada Day plans).

I'm a little curious as to what to expect from this trip. My friend's boyfriend and his friends are the most Italian of all Italians- and apparently their camping dining consists of elaborately made pasta! Whatever happened to hotdogs? Isn't camping food supposed to be as low effort and as full of preservatives as possible?

It got me thinking about memorable past camping trips. It's part of family folklore how I went on my first camping trip at the age of one-- and how, on one of these first trips, we were tenting right on the outskirts of a hurricane. Fitting with familial legend, even when a several year interval has passed, I still seem to have some sort of an instinct for setting up tents and cooking over the campfire.

My childhood camping trips, which always occupied several weeks of summer holidays, all sort of blend together, to a certain extent. I remember swimming, finding snails and minnows, the feeling when you first opened your eyes to see sunlight peering through the roof of the tent, my embarassment over my mom's proclamations that "we're having wienies and beanies for dinner", frantically trying to hold my breath to avoid the intrusion of any outhouse odor, piling items to the middle of the tent when rain started pattering on the roof, counting mosquito bites, and trying to to achieve that perfect shade of brown on my marshmallows, without burning, while my dad played his guitar by the campfire.

Camping took on a whole different meaning around the age of 16. Though I certainly still enjoyed elements of the outdoors, weekend camping trips represented the epitome of freedom for one with access to a car and very little money. And, such, camping trips became less about hiking, and more about drinking and being able to zip together two sleeping bags for sleeping with your boyfriend.

One trip in particular stands out as epitomizing the debauchery of teenaged camping. Six of us, three couples, set off for three days at a fairly remote site down a trecherous dirt road about an hour and a half out of town.
However, the debauchery started before we even got to the dirt road. Not 15 minutes out of town, our driver was pulled over by the police for speeding. When the police officer noticed the camping gear strewn throughout the car, he promptly ordered us out of the car, and confiscated our alcohol stash. Two tickets later, undeterred, we headed to the next liquor store and found some willing adults to replenish our lost bottles of whiskey (the police officer never found my secret bottle of tequila, which, looking back, probably would have been a pretty big blessing).

As you can imagine, some drunken hijinks ensued. We weren't bright enough to bring sufficient juice to mix with, and my 100-pound sixteen year old self became convinced that I could keep up with the guys in their alternating whiskey and tequila shots.
I made it to four shots.

Adding to the crazy nature of this trip was the presence of my relatively new long-distance boyfriend.

A little foreshadowing... he obtained the nickname Psycho on the basis of the trip.

I discovered on this excursion, that, amongst other admirable traits, my boyfriend was apparently a pathological liar.
Prime example: A mere few hours after him telling the entire group how he was the star of his high school swim team, I was swimming in the lake, where he was wading. I playfully splashed him and tried to pull him into the water, to which he angrily exclaimed "Princess, you know I'm afraid of water!" He reacted to everyone's laughter at his self-cause hypocrisy by throwing a rock at me (reasonably small, granted, but it did hit me rather squarely in the ankle) and trying to chop down a tree. (see where psycho comes in?)

And, finally, there was the ravenous squirrel.
Being the practical teenagers (*cough, cough*- oxymoron!) that we were, we left all the food on the picnic table overnight.
We came out the next morning to find gnaw marks on our peanut butter jar lid, and the shape of a squirrel head and paws imprinted into the flesh of our half watermelon.

Chief, however, was the fact that the critter had made it into our twelve pack of jumbo muffins, and had chomped into all the muffins (blueberry, poppyseed, chocolate) except for the bran.
Gee, thanks.


With all this in mind, and this being my first real (e.g., tenting in someone's yard doesn't count) non-family camping trip since high school, what do I expect?
I'm hoping a little less emphasis on tequila and a little more emphasis on hiking.


SMARTBuddy said...

Great memories! Camping rules; No hangover in the open air either.

Ant said...

Some interesting perspectives on camping there - in theory I'm all for camping, but have relatively little experience: a couple of festivals (which are a very different scenario to wilderness camping) and a couple of well-organised expedition affairs with "responsible adults" overseeing things.

The emphasis tends to be on the peacefulness of the outdoors these days though...

Hope you have a good time!

iFreud said...

Ahh camping! We camped a lot when I was a kid, it is among my favorite of childhood memories. But, like you said, it evolves. Camping as a teen consisted of a tent, beer and chips. Now I would love to go camping!

Have fun, and take lots of pictures!

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

Smart is right, as usual.

I love camping. I have done most of the kinds you listed, and enjoyed them all in one way or another.

chris said...


LMizzle said...

Man I fucking NEVER get to go camping because everyone I know hates it.

I wanna go!

Airam said...

Have fun! And being an Italian ... I'm surprised that their camping food doesn't also consist of panini with cheese and coldcuts ... or veal cutlets ...

LeeEeeMuR said...

camping is great... especially when you have a large crowd of friends.... I personally dont like marshmallows but with a little help from my cousin we discovered that when they are on fire they stick to everything........ using coat hanger we stick em in the fire and when they burst into flames take em out and fling like a fly swatter ... the burning mallow flies off the end and splatters all over whatever it hits.... it was funny as a teen to see the burning splat marks.... I dont recomend it now that I'm grown.. but it's still funny

eric313 said...

I love when nature is so snarky it takes on human characteristics. Like the ravenous squirrel. At least it had a sense of humor and left you the brand muffins.

Or the nature of life-lusting drunken teenagers. Hijinks indeed! Hope you love pasta--or hope you still love it when you get back. That will be the barometer of your trip, for certain. ANd thanks, I answered you back on my site, like I always try to do.

Crashdummie said...

Wow, I’ve neva been a camping girl myself. Sounds like a adventure – do let us know how it all went.