Eventful Camping Education
I have a confession. I’m more of a ManCamper than my husband. He’s all about planning and checklists and preparation. Me…. Not so much. There are certain things I’m not really allowed to do when it comes to getting ready for trips, and that’s mostly because I “may” have not accomplished the task very well in the past. Although, he continues to give me responsibility for packing food. This is odd because I usually miscalculate portions and always seem to bring too little of some stuff – like coffee – and too much of other stuff – like pasta. And then there was the time(s) when I completely miscalculated how much dog food we needed. Let’s say the dog thought it was awesome to be sharing the people food.
*Sigh*. I don’t do it on purpose. It just kind of happens.
The one thing I’ve discovered over the years of being a ManCampingWoman, is that no matter how much or how little you plan, sometimes shit is just going to happen. Sometimes, all the checklists in the world just aren’t going to save you. Especially when you’re a ManCampingParent who trips with a kid and dog. It’s those moments that make getting out there truly eventful. (See what I did there?) Now, being a responsible adult means that I’m able to take those eventful moments and spin them learn from them, turning “Eventful” into “Educational”.
Eventful: New tent trailer with a water heater. Water heater didn’t work. Why did were we always smelling burning plastic on our first camping trip with the new trailer?
Educational: Learn how to use stuff BEFORE you leave for the first-ever trip with a new trailer. In addition, you can buy insulating material to cover the burned insulation on the water heater you didn’t know how to operate.
Eventful: Keys locked in the van. On a campsite. In Algonquin Park. The rescue cost us about $200.
Educational: Don’t let your kid play unsupervised in the van while you’re trying to get organized on the campsite, because you may have trained her too well to be the responsible type who hits the all-door auto lock when she gets out of the vehicle. While you’re at it, place a spare vehicle key in the trailer. But make sure you can get to it if you haven’t opened it up yet (because you don’t have the key). And when you get home, buy an autoclub membership that will cover the cost of getting keys out of your van.
Eventful: That weird clunking sound and awful drag we felt while driving down a highway was a flat tire on above mentioned trailer. Which we didn’t discover until we’d driven for over an hour.
Educational: An auto club membership is worth it’s weight in gold. And they’ll service your trailer right at your campsite. They’ll even get locked keys out of your vehicle, if needed.
Eventful: A bear walked across our campsite at Grundy Lake Provincial Park! While we were on the site! How awesome was that? I’ll tell you…. it WAS awesome.
Educational: Seeing a bear only 20 feet away is an adrenaline rush! Especially when you heard the lady on the site next to you yelling and banging pots, and thought she was trying to scare away a raccoon. It is wise to grab the dog leash before the “raccoon” pops his head out of the bushes and you discover it’s actually a bear. It is not wise to hold the leash across the front of your legs when you’re holding the dog back from trying to chase after the raccoon bear. Rope burns hurt. And they take a long, long time to heal.
Eventful: About an hour from the campground, the child started complaining about “not feeling so good”. Then she threw up. In the van. All over the dog.
Educational: Tim Horton take-out cups make good barf bags. Same goes for McDonald’s cups. Keep a few old towels or blankets handy in the vehicle so you can wipe off the dog in a hurry. When you get to the campsite, be grateful that the dog beach is close by so you can wash the dog. Travel size Febreeze is one of the best things ever to keep in a glove compartment.
Eventful: Last day of a most-excellent camping trip, that turned out great even though the child barfed on the drive to the park. I was sick. Throw-up sick. Husband had to take down camp while I tried to keep myself reasonably upright on a chair, then on the bench of the picnic table. It was the longest drive home ever.
Educational: Little kids aren’t the only ones who get sick on vacation. Pepto Bismal doesn’t always do what it says it will do. Especially when the problem is a possible case of food poisoning. Keep bags within reach of sick people while driving home. They work better than take-out cups. I didn’t need it, but I had it right beside me. Kind of like a comfort blankie. Just knowing it was there was a good thing. Breaking camp alone sucks. It is important to say thank you to the person who had to do all the work while you try to keep anything left in your stomach right where it is supposed to be.
Eventful: I convinced my husband that we could totally do a section of the Western Uplands backpacking trail in Algonquin Park and make it to our target site before dark for a quick weekend trip… after a morning appointment and 4 hour drive from home.
Educational: Every single portion of the Western Uplands Trail from the Oxtongue River trailhead is uphill. Even the downhills are uphill. And in July, going uphill all the time with a 35 lb pack is hot, buggy and hard. Trying to go uphill all the time when it’s hot, buggy and hard and make it to your campsite before dark after you’ve had a morning appointment that ended after lunch and then driven for 4 hours is stressful and not a very good idea.
Eventful: We reached our target site on the Western Uplands with about 30 minutes to spare for dark. Perfect. We decided to filter water right away because we drank everything on the hike and then we’d set up our tent and eat dinner. We were hot, tired, stressed and thirsty. And that’s when we discovered that a crucial piece of the water filter was missing. Actually, it wasn’t “missing”. It was sitting on top of the washing machine at home.
Educational: Always check your gear before you leave home to make sure all the pieces are where they are supposed to be. Also, always carry water purification tablets in your first aid kit. Those things saved us in the moment, even if they do make your water taste like something taken directly from a recently treated public swimming pool. After my husband dehydrated with his pool water, he was able to think a little more clearly and totally MacGyvered the water filter to work. They don’t call him the “Gadget Man” for nothing.
On that same backpacking trip, while waiting for the water purification tablets to do their thing, husband decided to set up our tent. And snapped a tent pole in the process. Man – that trip was full of craziness. We haven’t gone on a backpacking trip since then.
I could tell you about a whole bunch of other eventful things that have happened over our years of getting out there. But this post is already getting too long and I think you got my point. Getting outside is always eventful, not matter what you do to be ready. But with a little bit of luck, a little bit of ingenuity and a LOT of humour, a trip gone wrong will always teach you something. Or at the very least, will give you really good stories to tell over the years.
Make sure to check out SomtimesEventful.ca , Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to follow Gayle! SometimesEventful runs a great twitter chat every Tuesday at 7:30pm EST. search the hashtag #WeGetOutside to join in the conversation.
(From the sounds of things… there is no “Sometimes”Eventful …. Sorry had to put in a terrible pun/dad joke) ~ ManCamping