I never camped out as a kid. My parents weren’t campers. We didn’t even own a tent. At the time, I felt righteously indignant. What kind of childhood doesn’t include sleeping in a tent at the lake? I swore, when I grew up and had kids of my own, I would never, ever, ever, put them through the human rights violation of NOT camping.
So when my two oldest kids were seven and ten, I bought a tent. It still boggles my mind that camping was originally MY IDEA! And that I willfully spent money on camp stoves and lanterns -- money that could have been put to better use on housekeepers, laundry service, or paying someone else to take my kids camping.
The tent was more of a pavilion in which to billet a squadron than it was a family tent. Why go into a new hobby half-heartedly? The heck with those little pup tents. I bought a full-grown dog tent, probably a Great Dane, thank you very much.
Like many hobbies that other people pretend to enjoy, camping might have fared better had our timing been a bit different. When I had reserved a lake camping spot months earlier, I’d been optimistic about my burgeoning geriatric pregnancy. Although with my first couple of children, I had gained 65 and 67 pounds respectively, I reasoned that now that I was past age 40, I’d be much wiser with my diet choices. Most likely, I would be able to avoid gestational diabetes and high blood pressure, now that I had the benefit of experience. Certainly, my ankles wouldn’t be splitting open this time around. Running after two active children was bound to help me stay fit.
For another thing, I also naively reasoned that early August would be a wonderful time to be at the lake. After all, “the hottest summer in recorded history” had been last year, and surely we couldn’t have two record breaking hot summers in a row, could we?
Unfortunately, my uncharacteristic optimism was misplaced, because by the time our reservations rolled around, I had gained an impressive 75 pounds. My seven-year-old son was duly impressed, and was rooting for an even hundred before it was all said and done.
I probably should have been tipped off to the inevitability of an obese, geriatric pregnancy when my wedding ring quit fitting two hours after I conceived. Little tip for all the future fathers out there, the words “obese,” “geriatric,” and “pregnancy” should never be uttered in the same sentence by anyone with an XY chromosome pairing.
Regardless of the poor timing, we gamely set about packing for the trip. We piled Joel’s midlife crisis van with a bunch of crap, leaving room for my mattress. Since I had been struggling with aching hips and back during the last couple months of pregnancy, I was worried that sleeping on the ground might compound my discomfort. So I had hit upon the brilliant idea to buy one of those expanding foam mattresses that are delivered to your home in a box. We had purchased one for our guest bed previously, and were impressed with the comfort level. My idea was to leave the box unopened for travel, then open it once we had it inside the tent.
My husband agreed: I was a genius! I actually slept BETTER on that mattress on the ground than I did at home. And the really clever part was that we had needed a new mattress for our king-sized bed, so once our camping trip was over, we’d still use the boxed mattress.
We had a great time, and I mentally congratulated myself on my fortitude and problem solving skills. Although temps had hit 109 each day, I had suggested that we do many of our activities in the lake water, which was only 92 degrees. And I had double checked, the toxic algae bloom due to the heat wave was confined to the west side of the little lake. What luck that our reserved spot was on east side, at least three quarters of a mile away from the poisoned area!
This is Valerie, the Little Spouse on the Prairie. Interact with me on the Facebook page. Tune in next week!