Stories and thoughts about family and life

Camping Walker Style

on October 7, 2013

As I was cleaning up something on Facebook today, I saw the tag for this, and went back and read it. Before I had a blog, I wrote things in Notes on Facebook. Here is one of those early treasures:

April 4, 2011 at 9:37am
I was in the military, and I remember bivouac, which is the Army’s version of a “campout.” It’s meant to be with the intent of troop movement or potential fighting. I’ve done it with no tent, or with a very small tent (of course, I was a very small person at the time, so imagine what that tent size would mean now. . . ). I’ve done bivouac with huge tents and cots, and I’ve done them sleeping out under the stars praying that some night creature or bug wouldn’t decide I might make a tasty snack.
My boys are 10 and 8 currently, and when Lucas (the 10 year old) started boy scouts at age 6 and my husband started talking about campouts, I decided I wasn’t going. It wasn’t until we were in scouts this year and I had gotten to know several of the moms that I thought it might be fun. We went on our first family campout November, 2010. We didn’t even own a tent. Now that I’ve set the scene. . .
In November I went to a local athletics store and bought a tent that was supposed to sleep 4 people. Lesson number one learned: sleeping four people and comfortably accommodating four people is NOT the same thing. When they say sleep 4, they mean, lined up like sausages in your tent. This meant something as simple as changing clothes could become really complicated. We arrived at the campsite and set up our gear. The boys left for their hike that afternoon and I set about inflating the queen airbed I had also purchased (because at nearly 40, I’m not interested in sleeping on the ground anymore). With the airbed now inflated, there really wasn’t room for anything else in the tent, including much in the way of people.
When we went to bed that night, and I wiggled down into the sleeping bag (did I mention it was in the 30s too?), I questioned whether this was going to be a restful night. By the time Louis also got on the mattress I realized that every move either of us made was akin to being back in my 20s sleeping on the water bed. After about 15 minutes of that and realizing I was quickly developing motion sickness. I slept in the back seat of my vehicle instead. Very warm, very comfy, good night sleep.
We just went camping again this past weekend, and having learned from all our previous experiences, we go back to the athletic gear store and decide on a new tent. We buy a ten person tent and settle on a new queen air mattress. I spot one that has almost like a double mattress, which sits higher off the ground. we agree that should be better and happily leave with our new camping gear, feeling ready and adventurous (or as adventurous as you can be creating your own little cabin in the woods). . .
Again, while the boys are gone on their afternoon hike, I’m in the tent, airing up the mattress and situating our gear. When Louis returns, I’m proudly showing him the new mattress and we’re happy that it seems a lot more comfortable than the previous one. When it’s time for bed, we open my sleeping bag completely (which is much lighter than his) and decide to use it as a blanket. It becomes obvious as we both lie down that the air movement on the mattress could potentially cause problems during the night. After a few minutes, we’re both in a “hole” in the middle of the bed, laughing about how much like our old waterbed this is probably going to be. As one of us moves, the air is displaced, moving the other one. When you get two overweight people on said mattress, it’s even more dramatic.
I wake up at midnight with the wind absolutely HOWLING around the tent, and I’m freezing. Louis gets up and puts me in his mummy bag. For anyone who doesn’t know what a mummy bag is, it’s a zero degree sleeping bag that has you, quite as the name implies, packed in like a mummy. It restricts your movement and warms you up. That would have been great, except that after he gets me in the mummy bag and I can’t really move, I don’t have any way to prevent myself from rolling across the bed and ending up in the middle, which causes him to roll into the middle too (again, displacement of air creates a hill on his side of the bed which is either going to roll him to the middle or roll him off the bed). He rolled me over and he rolled over (both toward the edges), and 30 minutes later we’d be back in the middle. Finally, about 4 in the morning, I rolled into the middle and he rolled over to the side and right out of the bed. Nothing wakes you up like hitting the floor of your tent in the middle of the night!
I’d like to get up and help him, but I’ve moved around in the sleeping bag just enough that the zipper is now BEHIND me, and I can’t unzip it. He has to get himself up, unzip me, help me “right” the sleeping bag and us both go back to bed. We are both laughing like little kids at the mess we’ve created with something as simple as an air mattress and a couple of sleeping bags. We’re nothing if not exciting, huh?

I’m wondering how much more excitement we’ll have in our next two camping trips. . .


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